Sep 17, 2005

yet more comics

Even though my last venture into comics was a bit of a washout, I still had some comics on order that finally came in. Luckily this batch was a little more interesting than the first. Surprisingly it's the superhero books that were the most promising.

Batman - The Long Halloween
Author - Jeph Loeb
Publisher - DC Comics
In short this is much better fare than what I read before. It's more interesting, more thought out, and there's a real story here that goes beyond what I was reading before. It's not Pulitzer Price stuff, mind you, but it is entertaining. The title refers to a 'calendar' serial killer who kills on holidays and he begins on Halloween. There's good character development which is largely missing from the other comics I read. Bad marriages, conflicts between right and wrong, etc. My only complaint is the use of most of Batman's enemies to little effect. I'm not sure why some of them were involved as they didn't push the story forward. The telling of how Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face is well done though.

Author - Alan Moore
Publisher - DC Comics
This by far is my favorite. The concept here goes beyond traditional superhero stuff. First off, we have old superheros in this story (as well as new). The washed up kind. In the twilight of their years they yearn for the action they were once a part of. What do washed up superheros do with their lives? Second these superheros walk the line of good and evil much more daringly than I've seen before. Imagine if a Montana Freeman or a Bernard Goetz were a superhero. Things are a little grey. In fact it's more than grey. Some of the so-called superheros are clearly bad at times. Lastly they aren't really superheros at all (bar one - Mr. Manhattan). They're all like Batman. Resourceful, smart, and athletic humans. I wish someone had suggested this first.

Global Frequency Vol 1&2
Author - Warren Ellis
Publisher - DC Comics
Christ more Warren Ellis. As if Ocean and Planetary weren't enough for me to put the hex on this guy, I had to buy one more. This got consistently high reviews from everyone I had seen. Consistently! But it's a joke. It's the same format as his other junk. Same contrived plot and storytelling. It's just so bad I don't even know where to start. The storyline is a stupid. It's a bunch of social outcasts banded together called Global Frequency. When an emergency happens on earth people are called in and they tackle the problem. If he just stuck with one of his storylines and drew it out and just started to maybe explain his characters and their motivations this could be good. Otherwise it's just cotton candy made for little kids. Horrible. Never again Warren. Never.

Egg Story
Author - J. Schmidt
Publisher - Slave Labor
Stupid but fun. It's a throwaway but my daughter will like it at some point and it was only 4 dollars. Even my wife liked it. It follows the lifecycle of an egg. From birth to (in this case) freedom. Once they figure out they are meant for the frying pan they decide there must be a better life. It's silly but the 'Rocky' training sequence for the egg that decides to become a ninja is priceless. An egg meditating in front of a candle with a headband on is just funny.

Batman Year One
Author - Frank Miller
Publisher - DC Comics
Awesome. You can see where Frank Miller became famous. It's similar to Watchmen. There are no true superpower superheros. And there are no evil superheros (superbaddies?) either. The bad guys are the cops who are corrupt. With the exception of one lone cop who tries to do his best but has his own problems as well. The 'good' characters walk the line of good and bad. The graphics didn't wow me initially but actually they are perfect for the story. They are a little rough but so is the story. It's a good place to start if you are interested in Batman. Supposedly this was a return to form of Batman who started out gritty and conflicted and became the joke we knew on TV. Frank has a few other Batman's out as well and I reviewed his "All Star" comic last time (which wasn't as good). The "All Star" line is a revamp of Batman which the big comic houses do every now and again. All Star Superman is coming out soon too.

Astro City
Author - Kurt Busiek
Publisher - DC Comics
Again this was outstanding as well. No overarching story here just small vignettes of life in Astro City. A city much like Clark Kent's Metropolis. While the stories are not related they are integrated. The city is real in the sense it is thought out. They even drew maps of the city before writing. The topics are slightly offbeat. How does dating work for superheros who have a day job as well? How to manage time when you have two jobs? How do superheros affect the psyches of ordinary criminals. This really is an homage to the old superhero comics and the stories are great. My only disappointment is that the graphics on the inside aren't as retro as the cover. That's a shame because the cover has great 50s art-deco styling. There are a number of works out (Astro City is one of them) by Kurt that I will pick up. He has a love of the concept of comics, the history, and the concept of storytelling.

I also picked up two more "Y: The Last Man" TPBs. The stories are stronger if anything in these later two. The concept of being the last man on earth is such a powerful vehicles for storytelling that they could continue this for years. They take chances and have great dialogue and character development. I'll continue to read this.


Bill said...

If you're looking at comics, I'd also suggest picking up the TPB for Invincible, if you haven't already read it. Great coming of age comic about a kid growing up as the child of a Superman-like character, and realizing that he has powers of his own.

There's four volumes of the TPB out, very good stuff.

C. Fuzzbang said...

I haven't even heard of that one. I'll take a peek through one of the volumes this weekend. Thanks for the tip. Go Vikes!