This has been a busy week.
I mean, I have a full-time job as a teacher, which has to take priority, right? But this week saw a series of articles about Jim Shooter (generously praised by Mark Millar), my Epic, Illustrated article go out in Back Issue #88 and then a spotlight on talented artist, Dave Dorman.
Now I have this piece to pen for the Wednesday comic readers.
There’s also the interview piece with Jonathan Frakes, Chase Masterson and Klingon Dictionary creator, Marc Okrand to write up as well. You can read about them later. Yeah – they’re on their way!
Yeah – it’s a busy week, but to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Is this what comic writers feel like after they manage to put an issue “to bed”, as it were? Do they have this sense of impending deadlines? I wrote in my interview with Jim Shooter that he chose the path of expediency. So maybe I need to follow his example and just get the job done, as it were, and put this review to bed. Let’s get to the titles for this month.
The Fix #1
Have to say, I really didn’t have a clue what I was in for in reading this one. Perhaps that’s for the best. I mean, surprise is the spice of life, right?
A story of two bent cops and the twisted lives they lead. I’ll say it – this was written for television. It’s dark comedy for sure and it was pretty damn funny. Nick Spencer writes this book while Steve Leiber runs art duty. Though there seemed to be a bit of a problem with the opening page art (one of the cops is holding the unfinished outline of a rifle), other than that, the art is pretty solid.
Blame the editor.
In any event, mark my words: this one will be optioned for a film or some straight-to-cable television show. It’s got that element to it and it was filled with black humour.
Another offering from Mark Millar. Of course, it’s kind of hard to dislike anything Millar does; some people just seem to be born with the golden touch.
What an explosively awesome first issue page though! It really strikes deep in that storytelling heart that we all have; the urge to tell stories but also the primal, communal need to listen to them and be entertained and the premise of this book certainly lends itself to this idea. In fact, there’s something truly epic about this comic that taps into that “long time ago” vibe.
The work of master-artist Stuart Immonen certainly contribute to that as well. Immonen does majestic really well and the scope of this story’s dimensions are perfect grounds for him to wander and do what he does best.
This is a dazzling combination of talents. This truly has to be one of the best new comics I’ve seen in ages.
Suicide Squad # 19
Not crazy about Juan Ferreyra’s art in this book but I have to say, Tim Seeley has crafted an incredibly cool premise about putting the Squad exactly where they need to be: fighting for their lives in a twisted Survival game based around the teachings a dead cult leader. There is some awesome team interaction going on amongst these reprobates and it shows every single character at their best. Definitely one of my favourite Suicide Squad stories to date.
Swamp Thing #4
You have to appreciate the three text-box summation of this comic to date. After all, Len Wein created the Swamp Thing with Bernie Wrightson, so to have him draft a 15 line summary of the general events so far is real skill – and you haven’t even left the first page.
I love that Len Wein is writing this book again. I mean, I may be showing my age, but this guy is old-school and with all reverence to Alan Moore, Wein takes Alec Holland back to his basics. That’s worthy of respect.
A new Swamp Thing is a new start for Wein. I’m loving the simple notion of sacrifice that’s in this story, but at the same time, Alec Holland and the Swamp Thing are inextricable – or at least so we thought. I can’t help but wonder where he’s going with this struggle for identity.
Trust me – when you read it, you’ll have a better sense of what I mean.
Kelley Jones’ work reminds me of Bill Willingham’s early stuff. It’s solid and workable but it lacks fine detail. Still, it gets the job done and I can’t complain about that.
Invincible Iron Man #8
Got some more Robert Downey-esque palaver in this issue but my question about that is what happens when Downey gives up the role of Iron Man? I mean, it’s pretty fair to say that he revitalized this character. Recently the trend has been for comic writers to follow his lead.
Do you remember when witty dialogue was the province of Spider-Man? If you don’t, then you’re too young to be reading this column.
Still, it was Spider-Man who was the source of creative come-backs. Mike Deodato’s cover of this issue (sub-titled “The Road to Civil War” – oh praise to the holy saint, Déjà vu) also features a tiny allusion to Deadpool, which strikes me as wholly mercenary – if you’ll pardon the expression.
Still, I’m laughing. Spider-Man’s spider emblem on his chest now glows and if it wasn’t for the fact that they mention this in the book, I’d be really critical of it! It’s like Bendis knows what I’m going to say.
It’s also interesting to note that Stark’s dialogue is less funny than Spider-Man’s. This means I can forgive him for the Robert Downey Junior comparison if he’s keeping to the original Marvel continuum and paying respect to the Spider-Man that came before him.
I have to say though – I really liked this issue. I’m glad that Mary Jane wasn’t the focus any more – and I’d like to see her leave the story all-together, but this was a bit of a redeeming issue in my eyes.
Johnny Red #6
Oh man … this is tough. There are some really good offerings this week and they have to go up against my favourite Johnny Red.
Especially with the kick-ass Mick McMahon 2000 AD-like cover on the front! My childhood is screaming at me.
Oh, Burns and Ennis – why do you torture me like this? Life is filled with choices.
My love of this comic is well-documented, but this is an incredibly good explanation to what the Falcons are doing in occupied territory with the Nazis! Oh – and why Johnny runs face to face with Adolf Hitler himself – as we remember from last issue.
Man – I love this comic. I love the story-telling aspect of it, the historical plausibility and the homage it pays to my childhood comic reading experiences. This is probably the best comic Titan has ever put out and it is absolutely deserving of any accolades they can give to Keith Burns and Garth Ennis. In fact, if there’s a bonus they get for positive reviews, then I’d like to think that I just contributed to that.
The Pick of the Week
Okay – like I said, this is hard. Do I pick between Mark Millar’s Empress or do I choose my absolute favourite comic, Johnny Red? I always choose Johnny Red.
However this time – I gotta give the nod to:
Mark Millar’s and Stuart Immomen’s Empress.
Sorry, Garth and Keith – you know your book is my complete favourite but I have to share the love around and Empress just totally took me by storm. It’s a rollicking, energized adventure that taps into an epic sci-fi storyline set before the dawn of time when ancient advanced civilizations could have existed. I love the fact that Millar plays with this concept because the fact that readers just have to accept the premise of a story without question makes it easier for great stories to happen. This was an absolute smashing comic that will take anybody by surprise. Read it and definitely be astounded at how good it is.
So that’s it for this week. Like I said, it’s been a busy one, but what makes it easier is the fact that I get so many emails, twitter-likes and positive notes from friends and well-wishers alike who enjoy what I’m writing. Even though I’m busy, thanks for all your support!
Seriously. I get more compliments and well-wishes from total strangers than I get from my friends! So thanks for that. It makes staying up late to complete my reviews worthwhile!
Now it’s time to put ME to bed as well as this review!