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Captain Kirk’s Pick of the Week: The Fade Out #1

… And the back-dating begins. Like I said before, my comic guy is still out of sorts; it’s a lot more serious than we thought. However, his friends have rallied around him and are helping him out with the operation of the store. So while I may get my comics late, I’m getting my comics and so are a bunch of other loyal customers.

With that said, I read some doozies this week and I’ve got a few interesting observations that I’d love to share with you. If you pick these books up, see for yourself and let me know what you think.

My picks this week.

DARK HORSE

Star Wars #20

star wars 20
(Dark Horse)

What I love about this comic is that it’s what the prequels should have been like. In all honesty, seeing Darth Vader as a precocious six-year old really didn’t do very much for the grandeur of his villainy. But seeing Luke Skywalker experiment with his developing awareness of the Force in this issue really does add a new dimension in appreciating his character in Episode V. While these comics occur between Episodes IV and V, instead of re-defining the Star Wars universe, the simply compliment it … and that’s all you need to do for an established storyline: don’t make it your own, just support its inherent greatness. The writing will stand for itself.

The Strain #1

the strain 1
(Dark Horse)

I actually wasn’t blown away by this comic. I found it fairly formulaic and predictable. The motif is a well-used one: vampire hunter against overwhelming odds with the only difference being that the vampires have won. It’s a bit worn out and I have to confess, I was expecting more from this comic.

ICON

The United States of Murder, Inc. #3

united states of murder 3
(ICON)

Great story … hate the art. There: I said it. Sorry to be so blunt, but the sad thing about this is that the comic’s amazingly cool premise is brought down by the artwork. I can’t criticize it on the basis of its technique, but I just don’t think it’s the right art for this story. It’s very cartoon-y and simplistic and it just doesn’t represent the gravitas and drama of this storyline. With that said, it should be read, but be prepared for the art.

VERTIGO

Astro City #14

astro city 14
(Vertigo)

I love this book; real-life problems considered at the macro-level. When you scale down superheroes, they’re still people too and they have real-person issues. But what I really love about Busiek’s work is that he’s able to so easily migrate back and forth. Sure, superheroes can have regular problems but what about regular people having superhero problems? Busiek is really gifted at oscillating back and forth between these two perspectives that it creates a refreshing and completely welcome approach to comics. Without a doubt, it’s certainly worth your time and effort in hunting down the back issues of this book and seeing its development.

IMAGE COMICS

The Fade Out #1

the fade out 1
(Image Comics)

This was a real surprise for me. I honestly didn’t have any background knowledge on this book and simply picked it up for the artists: Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Brubaker’s one of those gifted writers who’s able to lead you down a path you wouldn’t expect to take and then make you want to keep on walking. So when I started reading this book – set in 1950’s Hollywood – I wasn’t expecting to be so taken in by a classic film noir thriller. Another winning title for Image as far as I am concerned.

DC COMICS

Batman #34

batman 34
(DC Comics)

Year Zero is over and now the Batman comic is finally reconciled with the events of Batman Eternal and the present day. A few posts ago, I was lamenting the loss of the single-issue story in comics. Not every comic has to be part of a 12 issue arc that will sell hardcovers and trade editions. The prime quality in a decent comic is fun: pure and simple and Scott Snyder gave us a pure Batman story at its finest. Batman doesn’t have to simply fight super villains every day; sometimes he just stops bad people. A beauty of a story and takes us back to the essence of the Dark Knight.

MARVEL COMICS

Nightcrawler #5

nightcrawler 5
(Marvel Comics)

The only reason why I’m mentioning this book this week is an interesting line I read that makes me wonder how committed Chris Claremont is to continue writing it. In one panel Nightcrawler muses:

“Today it seems that people who were once closer to me than my heart have become strangers. Worst of all, I don’t know how to win them back.”

I don’t want to give any more than that away (I can hear the SPOILER alarm going off already), but this comic is rife with nostalgic reminiscing and Nightcrawler trying to reconcile his status with the present team. Part of me makes me wonder how much of this is story and how much of this is Claremont? Remember: this is a guy who steadfastly believes that Jean Grey died in in X-Men #137. How is that lack of compromise going to faire in supporting upcoming X-Men storylines?

I respect Claremont … I really do and I acknowledge his instrumental and foundational work in building the X-Men franchise, but times change. Can he?

My pick of the pulls for this week is:

The Fade Out #1

Buy at Amazon

It’s not a superhero title but the complete surprise of loving this story – not to mention the high quality writing – really captured my imagination this week. I have to acknowledge its quality and the complete attention to 1950’s morales, lifestyle and an inside look at the inner workings of a Hollywood studio. Every character is an enigmatic treasure to discover and Brubaker delivers perfectly defined characters of all levels. Even the supporting characters are presented with the one feature that makes them uniquely memorable and interesting to the reader.

It’s a retrospective reward to read this book and it really challenges your knowledge and perspective of the glamorous side of the 1950’s Hollywood scene. I really can’t wait for the next issue.

So, like I said, some real doozies to consider this week. Do me a favour though, check out that Nightcrawler #5 issue and let me know what you think. I hope Claremont’s planning on sticking around but see if you can see what I saw. The Comments section below awaits your responses!

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About Captain John K. Kirk

Captain John K. Kirk
John Kirk is an English and History teacher and librarian in Toronto, Canada. In addition to the traditional curriculum, John tries to teach his students to make sense of geek culture. And with the name "J. Kirk," it's hard for him to not inject "Star Trek" into his lessons. Comics, RPGs and the usual fanboy gear make up his classroom resources.