I want to feel an entertainment that’s comforting. When you’ve had a rough week, that’s not too much to ask, right? I mean, comics can do that so easily. Thirty-odd pages is just enough to pick you up by giving you a taste of the full story and over time; you can pick up the trade for a full binge later. But you know what you’re going to get and, in the meantime, you have a variety of other stories that can shift your attention and tastes to other adventures. Comics are like a variety box of chocolates, but, in this case, chocolates that you know what you’re going to enjoy.
But one turns out to be your favourite. Like I said: comfort.
Let’s get to the list.
Parker: The Martini Edition – Last Call
I don’t usually cover hardcovers in my reviews, but in this case, I felt I had to.
Why? Because it’s Darwyn Cooke.
I’d met him a number of times, and the fact that he was taken from us at such a young age was not only a crime against nature but a sadness that the comic community is still trying to accommodate.
The first edition is one of my favourite items in my Hardcover collections. I had to talk about this.
Cooke was a fan of Richard Stark’s Parker and while many may remember the popularized Mel Gibson rendition of the character in the film Payback, I don’t think there’s been anything that has leveled proper tribute to the work than Cooke’s.
IDW first published the Martini edition back in 2011 – I know, because Darwyn signed it for me.
If you don’t know this character, then he is a throwback to those days of the sixties – the “Ratpack” era, when men were hard because they made hard decisions. It wasn’t the most enlightened of time periods and definitely wouldn’t have been accepted by some comic readers of a modern persuasion but it was a time of glamour and had an attraction that many remember.
Parker is a hard man, but he is a fair man. He holds no grudges, intolerances and only takes what is his by right. He’s the type of character of a period that Cooke loved, and the way he does it is testament to that love.
The fact that IDW is reprinting this is a great addition to the comic reading universe. Scott Dunbier was the editor on the original project but this edition includes Slayground (an original story that was published in 2013 (Again – I know, because I own the signed edition) and includes conversations with Scott Dunbier, Sean Phillips, Bruce Timm, and a brand new 17-page story from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.
This was Cooke’s labour of love. It needs to be recognised.
Legion of Super-Heroes #6
I have to say, when I’m feeling low, I immediately go to the familiar things that comfort me the most. The Legion used to be one of my familiar, comfort titles when I was younger. I loved Mike Grell’s work on this and let’s face it: the Legion was so far apart from the regular DC Universe, anything could happen. It’s only connection to the hear-and-now in the DC Universe of the 70’s and 80’s was Superboy.
However, there has been such a decided move on the part of DC to unify everything that the Legion has proven to be more of a challenge to write.
I can’t fault Brian Michael Bendis on his efforts here though. If I were reading this for the first time, without the prior knowledge that I had, I’d have to say that it was one hell of a sci-fi blast. So, I’m not the audience for this book. Even though I’m a hell of a Ryan Sook and Wade Von Grawbadger fan, the art just isn’t enough for me to settle down with this book and feel comforted.
I was looking for Doctor Fate though, as he was mentioned on the cover. Just saying …
I know things have to change, and by God, I hate to be one of those old fart gatekeepers who challenges the merits of a book on the basis of my years of history in reading comics. So, I won’t, and instead I will look at this as one hell of a re-interpretation of the LSH with a new dynamic in their relationship to the United Federation of Planets to boot. It’s a bit more modern, more upbeat and to be frank, the LSH looks a lot younger than I remember them looking when I was reading. That’s a proper recollection of the fact the LSH were supposed to be teens from all parts of the galaxy – sorry, galactic – as Bendis now terms it.
So, it’s not for me, but my comfort isn’t the defining criteria for how enjoyable this book can be for someone else. However, I would urge die-hard Legion fans to take a look and see what has happened in the last couple of decades.
I’ve sort of laid low on the Batman front after Capullo and Snyder left. I gave Tom King a go and liked his stuff, but then I started to lose interest after he left. I couldn’t tell you why, but these were the guys who got me back into Batman after almost thirty years.
Still, Batman is one of those comfort characters who’s hard to let go. So, of course, I had to give this a go from James Tynion IV and Guillem March.
This was the first time I’ve been introduced to Guillem March’s work and I have to say, I was not disappointed in his renditions of Catwoman and Harley Quinn. Seeing Harley Quinn face off with her replacement, Punchline, was definitely well presented. And, as Punchline is effectively the new and improved model of Harley Quinn, the match-up was definitely a highlight of the issue for me.
Of course, seeing the intellectual prowess of Batman at work against a classic villain like the Riddler was the highpoint of the story, and I think James Tynion IV gets that.
It was a decent story and worthwhile adding to your pull list.
New Mutants #10
Of course, I’m going to gravitate towards this title. I mean, come on! The New Mutants were one of my “go-to’s” back in the day. Like a number of similarly aged comic-philes, I still have every single one of my originals wrapped in plastic, stuck in a box in the closet.
Ed Brisson has a wonderful story here. Yeah … it’s a classic story that hearkens back to the days of mutant prejudice in the 80’s and taught comic readers and neophyte adults about acceptance and tolerance. Recognizing that the New Mutants were the extension of Charles Xavier’s dream to integrate mutants into humanity by using their talents for the benefit of all humanity has been one of the classic debates for the last fifty years in Marvel Comics.
Stan Lee was about the Civil Rights movement in the US and if anyone can’t see that, then you have some history to look up.
Brisson’s placement of the story in a former Soviet satellite nation is an appropriate setting to stage this sense of intolerance. However, with recent times, apparently it would have worked just as well in Washington, DC. At least in this story, the Carnelian Prime Minister didn’t order rubber bullets. Well, maybe that will come next issue.
But, the rescue of another mutant in development of their powers is what the X-Men and successively, the New Mutants were about. It’s great to see a story that reaches back into those days of – well, wonder – and draw out a new story that fits the original inception of those characters.
“Lift Your Fists and Fight” – I would love to be in Chip Zdarsky’s head to figure out how he comes up with these titles. I’ve never been a title guy – just ask my editor. After all, that’s why my comic reviews have to be the dullest things ever. But that’s what separates writers like me and Zdarsky, I suppose.
There’s a poetic significance to the way that Zdarsky is writing this character. He spends a lot of time inside his head – in fact, all of the heads of his characters and I’ve always appreciated internal exposition in a writer. It’s not just character motivation that’s being shared with this approach, it’s also an insight into the head of the writer. When you like a writer’s stories, you want to figure them out somewhat and as writing is the gateway to the soul, the reader is the person who passes through it.
However, when you have an artist like Marco Checchetto drawing the gate, it’s hard not to resist. I’ve become a big fan of this guy’s work and it is a comfort beyond words to look upon it and rejoice.
Daredevil is fighting against the odds in this one. Stilt-Man, Rhino, Bullet, Bullseye, the Owl and then just to add a bit of gunpowder to the fire, Typhoid Mary shows up. Is she here as a friend or foe? That’s the draw of this segment of the story – which I am thoroughly glad to finally see.
Daredevil has reconciled his rivalry with Detective Cole North (as we knew would eventually happen) and it’s a great thing to enjoy. The trope of the vigilante on the wrong side of the law is a tried and true favourite of comics, but when it’s invoked, the natural counterpoint is the acceptance of Law Enforcement that justifies the societal need for a hero.
In this case, Hell’s Kitchen is cut off from the rest of New York. There is no Law Enforcement, except for Cole North – but there are sure a hell of a load of bad guys who have moved in to teach the Kingpin a lesson for his … lack of judgement.
The allies who come to the defence of Hell’s Kitchen are surprising, let me tell you.
This was the best issue I’ve read this week. Why? Because Zdarsky and Checchetto gave me something that I needed: a new story with a familiar beat. It’s not just enough that we have characters doing what we expect them to do, but that we have them acting as we would expect them to in new situations.
Here’s the thing about writing new stories in existing franchises: times change, but people don’t. But people have to adapt to the situations of modern times so, that becomes the challenge. Readers need to adapt to those changes as much as readers need to adapt to seeing these characters in new circumstances.
Writers are free to interpret how those characters would behave in those new circumstances. But changing their personalities to reflect times rather than showing how they grow to appreciate the new situation is a challenge that a good number of writers fail to address. Zdarsky uses the history of Matt Murdoch to best effect in this case. While Wilson Fisk is the Mayor of New York, he still has an antagonistic relationship with Daredevil, to say the least. Yet both are now in service of their city.
New situation. How do their respective personalities resolve it? That’s the story in my opinion, and it still holds true to the canonical history of Daredevil.
Yeah – the best comic I’ve read this week and just what I needed. It’s the pick of the week, for sure.
I needed that comfort. Thanks to Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, Matta Iacono, Julian Totino Tedesco and Nick Lowe for their work on this book. It’s what I needed, but I think other readers will get that too.
Until next time, I hope your week is filled with comfort.