Happy Canada Day! Yup, as I write this, my family is fast asleep after a busy day of picking strawberries, making jam and watching fireworks in celebrating the 148th birthday of this great nation!
I stole some strawberries, watched some fireworks but then I had comics to read. Yup … despite the federal holiday, my comics still came in. Oh Canada …
The words “degenerate piece of sh*t” strongly come to mind when you read this book … and not just because it’s the last phrase uttered by Airboy himself.
This has to be the most self-deprecating approach to re-inventing a classic age super-hero I’ve ever come across. What boggles my mind though, is how can I focus on the character when James Robinson comes across as such a starkly honest but corruptive influence? Inserting himself and Hinkle into the story may be innovative and unique but it’s also pretty damning. It opens the door to simply rejecting the comic on the basis of the character of the writer (and by association, artist) alone.
It’s an incredibly bold book at the very least. I love Robinson’s stuff, but in this comic there’s a voice that laments the loss of status and perhaps creativity? Is Robinson past it? That’s a question that is unashamedly apparent in the subtext of this story.
I honestly don’t know what to make of this book. As I said before, I’m a fan of James Robinson’s work, but I’m not a fan of the persona he presents in this book. I want to focus on a story, a hero, an escape into fantasy. This comic drags me deeper and deeper into its creator’s combined collection of vices and neuroses. Moreover, I get to watch the sublimation of a classic WWII era superhero as Robinson explains the challenge he has in re-inventing the character for modern times. The way to do it is to highlight the comparison between the seemingly higher moral values of the WWII era society in relation to those of the 21st century. Oh, and the neutral ground where these two meet up?
The bathroom stall, standing in front of a kneeling transvestite prostitute.
This is a real Hunter S. Thompson approach to superhero storywriting that I think I’m just going to slowly edge away from.
Jupiter’s Circle #4
It’s a great story. The culmination of a middle-aged superhero’s life crisis, and once more, we are reminded just how human superhumans can be.
It’s very similar in theme to Kurt Busiek’s Astro City, where the mundane aspects of superhero life are explored as well. But what sets Millar’s work apart is his historical perspective of the evolution of North American mores from the golden age of superheroes (the 1950’s) to the present. He shows us that behind the scenes, things weren’t so much as different as they are today; just better marketed.
We Stand On Guard #1
I’ve been waiting months to read this one! I love the fact that it was released on Canada Day.
If anyone needs an explanation, the title for this book comes from the lyrics of the Canadian national anthem. The premise is that in the future, Canada has been invaded by the United States.
The cause of the conflict is pretty vague – apparently there was an explosion at the White House and then a few panels later on, we see 22nd century missiles rain down over Ottawa. Well, at least that’s going to prevent the Senators from making a bid for the cup.
I don’t like the Ottawa Senators.
But like my last reference, the Canadiana was abundantly present in this book. References to Canadian Tire, hockey, the prominence of the French language, and of course, there had to be some historical mention of the War of 1812 and Canada’s proudest military moment: the burning of the White House. I even love that even though he wasn’t named, Joe Shuster got a little bit of love for his part in creating Superman.
Brian K. Vaughan is American, but his partner – artist and co-creator Steve Skroce is Canadian. This is the only type of partnership that could have created this book. I think Vaughan considers himself an honorary Canadian; I believe his wife is one of us. In any case, Vaughan clearly understands the insecure relationship between the US and Canada. We are well aware of our dependence on the American military for our own defense. We also know that we have different values and that we often herald our British origins as a line of difference between the two nations, but the fact that we hold the majority of the Earth’s fresh water is something that we know will definitely be a point of contention in the future.
This book not only taps into those insecurities but it also shows that despite our military imbalance, the fierce Canadian pride will always manifest itself – even in the face of Manifest Destiny.
I liked it a lot. There will be a lot of Canadians reading this, especially today. It was a lot of fun but it will also incite a lot of pride in its Northern readers. For my American friends, think Red Dawn. You get it?
Princess Leia #5
This was a great ending to a five issue story that illustrates why Princess Leia is such a heart-throbbing crush for guys in my generation. After all, Carrie Fisher had the look, but the character is a regal princess, a leader and warrior in her own right. This book had all those ingredients as we see Leia Organa gather the remnants of the Alderaanian population together into a ramshackle fleet of ships and throw them into an assault against an Imperial Star Destroyer. It is hopeless, but only Princess Leia can accomplish such a herculean task. Mark Waid understands this and that’s how he has written her and that’s how the Dodsons have drawn her. Spectacular story.
Darth Vader #7
I love how Keiron Gillen has incorporated the prequel origin into this book and actually manage to justify it by showing us a smidgen of remorse in the present Vader’s character. We are also able to watch Darth Vader learn that he has a son who has not only shown himself to be a formidable student in the Force but also poses a threat to the Empire and his own power. Despite Vader’s mask, Salvador Larroca still manages to instill emotionality in the Lord of the Sith. This is my favourite Star Wars comic right now and it should be yours.
Secret Wars #4
This comic just hit a new level of entertainment for me. I mean it … after three issues of having Doom force-fed down our throat as the arbiter and savior of all Marvel existence, in this issue we begin to see the Doom we remember from the old universe. It’s refreshing to see that despite this new universe, the more things have changed, the more they stay the same.
Doom, even in his godhood, still fears and Reed Richards and covets all he has.
That is the crux of this book and that’s what brought it all back. Excellent story by Jonathan Hickman and beautifully illustrated by Esad Ribic. Now I can’t wait for the next one.
Years of Future Past #2
What a striking cover by Art Adams. An X-Men favourite artist, to be sure, Adams is the real lure for this book. Anything he draws really grabs your attention and makes you want to read the book. While mike Norton isn’t a bad artist, I have to say that I really wish Adams had have drawn this story.
Speaking of which, the story is a very slow one. Lots of pontificating about the nature of hate and moralizing; I mean, almost every other page has a character holding a mini-debate about the course of his or her actions. Also, the arrangement of the dialogue balloons is also annoying and forces your eye to follow odd paths with almost no thought to their placement. It was a pretty clunky story that I found I had to force my way through.
But now it’s time to pick my choice of the week, and without any hesitation, it has to be …
We Stand on Guard #1.
You see, here’s the thing: even though the Canadian references might be a little stereotypical, this is a difficult subject to broach. Canadians are polite, thoughtful and we usually don’t force our interests, unless we really have to. That’s a big difference that we always manifest in the face of our American siblings, who we have to acknowledge have a shared heritage with us.
The big difference lies in how our two nations were formed: one was shaped out of sudden and violent revolution while the other took a little more time and by simply asking for permission. I’ll let you guess which one was Canada in that comparison.
But this is a story where Canadians have to re-draw the line in the sand, or in this case, snow. There aren’t too many of those stories out there where Canadians are portrayed as desperate survivalists fighting for what they believe in, using whatever weapons they can scrounge instead of tactful diplomacy. It’s bold, it’s refreshing to see Canadians kick a little arse and it’s a story that bears some notice.
So, Happy Canada Day to everyone, and if you aren’t fortunate enough to be Canadian, then take this as some comfort: we’d love to let you become one!