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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Comics this week: a microcosm of comics in general

So this week's purchases was a weird, varied group. But, really, I think they kind of represent comics these days. Half of them were superhero books, and two thirds of those superhero books were bad. The other half jumps all over the place, content-wise, but tended to be more consistently well-done. IT IS FUN TO TALK IN GENERALITIES. So before my neighborhood starts going crazy for Cinco de Mayo, let me type this stuff.

First lets get the cape books out of the way. So the Englehart/Rodgers Batman run was really significant, huh? That's cool. But it really shows how insular this stuff is that Batman: Dark Detective was given a greenlight just because people liked the Batman story these guys did, what, thirty some years ago? Jesus. I was reading the old JLA synopses at Movie Poop Shoot and it really reinforced that the IDEAS of old comics were really fun and awesome . . .it's just that the writing technology is so outdated that they're pretty much unreadable now. Maybe that's what this Englehart/Rodgers stuff is. Because holy CRAP this was a bad comic book. The art was spotty, weird, and, frankly amateurish. The writing was unexciting, unfunny, uninteresting . . .it was pretty much what the average person probably thinks comic books always are. I guess if you loved the last run these guys did you might like this . . .I certainly didn't.

So that was Oldschool Bad Superhero Comics. Representing New School Bad Superhero Comics is Lex Luthor: Man of Steel. Now this book isn't without its merits. The character work is decent. The dialogue works. And the art is absolutely gorgeous. And let me just say that Lee Bermejo draws the best looking Bruce Wayne I've ever seen. The slightly-longer hair works perfectly. God, he's hot in this book. And the wealthy characters' clothes LOOK expensive. That's not easy to do. And either Azzarello's a foodie or he did his research, because Wayne's dialogue in the restaurant was impressively spot on. Maldon salt . . .that's a hell of a detail. Plot-wise, though, nothing really happens and what does happen doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's typical of the decompressed style we're stuck in these days that the events of this issue could have been a couple pages in a tightly-written story. But, BOY, that art. Wow.

Speaking of WOW, Shining Knight. The first issue was impressive in that I liked a fantasy book. That's pretty uncommon. But this one . . .wow. Beautiful art. Amazing story. Every little thing works. There's a lot going on here, from one of the Seven Unknown Men to a Guilt monster to . . .geez, there's just so much awesome in this book. Are they all going to keep getting better like this? Unbelievable. Is there seriously anyone out there who's not buying this because it's "not the original Shining Knight"? If so, you're an idiotard and I don't mind saying so. It's like those people that think Morrison is "weird for weird's sake." These are the people that are afraid of ideas and want to read Dark Detective.

Now that we're talking good, fun comics, let me talk about felt. Jim Mahfood (who I heart) was approached by underground hip-hop group felt about doing a comic project to be read while listening to their new album. Well, the album isn't out yet, due to a timing screwup, but you really get the feel of the group and the album, and I'll damn sure be buying it. The art is fun and the jokes generally work. It's a unique experience in comics, and I hope more people try it.

Johnny Ryan is damned hilarious and that is that. You may disagree, but you are wrong or my mom or something. Blecky Yuckarella is what Johnny Ryan fans expect and what Ryan-not-liking losers will hate. I will quote a few parts of these strips for you. If they crack you up, you will like this book (and you are awesome). If they don't, buy the book anyway so Johnny will become rich. Anyway: "Caution, Wet Taint!"; "a documentary about fartheads who play with their buttholes;" "the thinnest turd I've ever seen."

This is a bit of a cheat, as I'd started reading the next book before, but finished it this week. It's The Four Immigrants Manga: A Japanese Experience in San Fransico, 1904-1924. And the title is pretty explanatory, really. Four friends from Japan come to America at the turn of the century. One of them, for whatever reason, decides to do an auto/biographical comic strip about it written in a mixture of Japanese and English and drawn in a style more "Bringing up Father" than Astroboy. And, by damn, is it fascinating! True stories, usually about a page in length, of an era and a group from whom we hear too little in the mainstream media. We see the casual racism, taken with generally good humor by its recipients. We see the social strata, the politics of the time . . .just great stuff that I hope to write more on later.

So, yeah, that's a microcosm of comics. Half superhero comics, which are mostly bad; but a varied landscape of greatness outside of those confines.

6 Love Letters:

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