What I love about comics is the range of audience it encompasses. Traditionally, comics have been the medium of choice for kids, but kids are different in terms of appreciation, sensibility, age and maturity. So comics include the full gamut of simplistic faery tales that my five year old could enjoy to sophisticated art and complicated storylines that I can enjoy. Many a time I’ve sat on the couch with my kids and enjoyed a good comic reading session with them! On one side is My Little Pony or Archie for the kids and East of West or Moon Knight for me.
In the middle of the couch is a big bowl of chips.
Basically, comics are a medium that are accessible to both kids and adults and I think it can make the idea of family literacy an achievable and viable activity for parents who want to encourage their kids to read. Now, if comics aren’t a parent’s bag, then there’s nothing to say that the parent can’t take a book or something they want to read and sit in with their comic-reading offspring. Reading is reading and parents are setting that time aside for shared literacy. Talk about what your kids have read. Comics can make that happen.
Let’s get to the list.
Jem and the Holograms #1
Okay, a real unexpected little … gem. Sorry – couldn’t resist. Now clearly I’m not the intended audience for this book, but I have to say it was a real workable little story – a basic origin with some depth to it. I like that it deals with the main character suffering from stage-fright and is able to overcome that fear with the use of technology. As a teacher, I like that idea as I deal with kids every day who can achieve success with the use of a little electronic assistance. It’s a real issue that kids experience and I really appreciated the fact that it could be a part of a comic hero’s background.
I also liked that the female characters were presented realistically. There were a variety of girl body shapes drawn for the characters that were still made to look glamorized. I really appreciated this seeing as the audience for this book is probably going to be tween to young teen girls. As a dad to two girls myself, I want the literature that my daughters will read to show that women can be beautiful in any shape. Good work to Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell for a comic that I would be more than pleased to give to my girls to read.
The Empty #2
I wasn’t overly impressed with the first issue when this comic came out. I think the awkwardness of the absence of dialogue balloons created a “neutral” tone in my mind when imagining the voices of the characters. I also wasn’t too keen on the presentation of Lila’s people. They seemed very childish and their aspect didn’t really seem to fit in with the post-apocalyptic setting Jimmie Robinson was trying to describe.
Reading the second issue, I have to remember that this is a one-person work. Robinson is writer, artist and letterer and that degree of effort has to be acknowledged. The story is a developing one and there are some interesting events that occur in Issue#2 that might make me want to stick with it for a little bit – if I can get over the weird dialoguing format.
The Fuse #11
This is such an intriguing book. I like the fact that Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood don’t waste any time with summaries. They get straight into the action from the previous issue. This is a feature that will undoubtedly serve them well when they turn The Fuse into a hardcover compilation but for now it simply maintains the pace in an incredibly well-thought crime story in space. I can’t say enough good things about this book. This is part five in the “Gridlock” arc and it’s wrapping up in a thoroughly unpredictable manner … as good crime stories should.
It’s creepy on quite a few levels. The one that really hits me though is that a child – someone’s daughter is involved. As a father, stories about kids hit me deeper than they used to and Scott Snyder certainly has his fingers on the right nerve for this story. What really resonates is the question: what would you do for your kid? Would you face down generations of subterranean troglodytes that have been preying upon children for centuries to rescue your daughter? Yup … in a heartbeat; even if that means applying some unknown, smelly concoction to your body and shimmying into the bowels of a hollow tree. Yeah, it’s terrifying and is an awesome story. I’m not a fan of Jock’s art – too undefined for my tastes, but there’s no doubt that this is a horrifying book to read.
Amazing X-Men #18
The Once and future Juggernaut, Part Four continues in this issue. I didn’t enjoy this book until the last five pages.
For the first ten or so, the X-Men pretty much sit down, lick their wounds and genuflect on their past failures in facing the Juggernaut and a good chunk of the character development issues the X-Men have experienced since the 1990s. Storm is no longer the bastion of serenity she used to be, Colossus is an epic life-failure and the Iceman is just an annoying twerp. There’s also no chemistry between the new X-Men and the old ones – Pixie is such a Magik-lite and Rockslide – who is he again? To make things worse, someone threw in Northstar and 80’s Saturday morning cartoon special, Firestar almost as an after-thought. Northstar doesn’t work unless he’s in Canada and Alpha-Flight is backing him up. Oh, that’s right – Marvel doesn’t do Alpha Flight any more.
Sigh. Just releasing some X-Men angst here.
However, after sitting around the campfire, they actually come up with a semi-decent plot development: let’s fight the new incarnation of the Juggernaut and offer Cytorrak a new deal. Now I didn’t mind this last part, but the problem was that it took most of the comic to get to it. I mean, literally sitting around a campfire and moaning about their problems and poking good-natured insults at each other.
Sigh. I’ll stop now.
Uncanny X-Men #32
I have a little bit of faith with regards to this issue. Of course, I always have faith when it comes to the X-Men and I always get disappointed.
But maybe this time …
Scott Summer seems to have come to an epiphany. There was a bit of a realization in this issue that shows that maybe Bendis has an idea as to what is wrong with the X-Men and this might be the first step in fixing it. The problem is that the issue does the classic cliffhanger routine and you don’t discover what this step is going to be. But Summers alludes to it being that something that both Xavier and Logan would approve of; so I’m going to buy the sucker bait and wait until the next issue to figure out what that something would be.
I’m an X-sucker. I have a problem and I need help.
Darth Vader #3
Just another really cool Star Wars offering. How entertaining is it to watch Darth Vader recruit followers who are in the same league of evil as him? I don’t want to give away the details of the characters Vader decides to initiate into his little private army, but let me just say that it is a complete rush to see Vader build up a power base. Not only do we get to watch him get his hands dirty and show us the true darkness of his character, but we get to see him struggle. If you’re not buying these books, then you are really missing out.
On a side note, You have to love the homage the cover pays to the original film release poster. Just totally inspired.
Guardians of the Galaxy #25
More Black Vortex stuff. This is such a wasted storyline. I mean, not only does it simultaneously use characters who are already committed to other X-Men storylines, but it also contains contradictory story elements that already blatantly foreshadow its ending. Ignore this storyline until its gone and then check to see what the Guardians are up to.
Multiversity Ultra #1
Meta. Just pure meta. That’s pretty much all I can say to effectively describe this comic. When a comic – or any piece of fiction for that matter, tries to break the fourth wall and invite the audience to become part of the story, it not only changes the entire dynamic into something totally unexpected, it also forces the audience to think more critically about what it is they are reading.
The conclusion? I have no frackin’ idea as to what Grant Morrison is trying to do here.
I feel that the entire Multiversity series needs to be seen as a whole instead of in a piecemeal perspective in episodic issues. If you’re looking for a relatively simple comic tale, this isn’t it. But if you’re in the mood for something experimental and daring, then this is your book.
I like this comic. I love how Lee Bermejo intertwines themes of immigration and gladiator combat in a post-disaster American society. What happens when the American dream is left to ruin in a broken America? People begin to rely on the basics – their fists, their brains and strive to make their way in whatever new environment they can. Crime and indulgence runs rampant in this new America and how society works now is based on blood and money.
But there’s a lot more to this book than just simple gladiators and a society riddled with crime. There’s immense back-story that still promises to reveal itself. I’m really drawn to this book and can’t wait for the next issue to see what will unfold.
On another note: Lee Bermejo is a talent – one that needs to be carefully watched for. I predict that this guy is going to be a major player in the comic world. Acting as both writer and artist on this book is definitely something I admire, and meeting the guy personally, I can attest to his artistic integrity. This creator is a success story bound to happen.
So my pick for this week has to go to:
I was so tempted to pick Darth Vader #3 but I’ve already picked it in the past and though this issue was about building, so was Lee Bermejo’s story. In fact, what I have to say that I like about Suiciders is that the first issue lured us in with a quick glance of enhanced gladiator combat, but Issue #2 is the one that promises us a more layered world with intrigue, politics on top of the new society that Bermejo has envisioned for us in this story. I think this is a winning book and not only story compelling but the art is top-knotch as well. This book has definitely made my permanent pick list.
So that’s it for this week. Unfortunately it’s a little late for my kids. I’m penning this way after their bed-time, but I’m making it a point to pull out IDW’s Jem and the Holograms #1 and share it with them tomorrow after school. I’ll be reading my omnibus of classic Marvel Star Wars comics with them on the couch, but I’ll be talking about where Jem came from and why Darth Vader should be forgiven for being such a bad guy. Until then … May the comics be with you and your family.