Just an awesome selection of reads heading your way this week. I think you’ll be surprised by my selection of the pick of the crop. See if you can see where I’m heading.
I remember the first time I met James Robinson. I had lugged all of my Starman Hardcovers downtown for the sole purpose of having him sign them. Imagine: six massive, whomping big hardcover comics books crammed into a backpack exerting excruciating pain on the central mass of bone and mucle in between your shoulder blades. I forget what that’s called.
He wasn’t there.
Yup … Robinson had taken mysteriously sick for some reason. The next day, a friend called me to tell me that he had unexpectedly showed up at the comic-con so I was able to repeat the same experience. After abandoning both wife and children to hurriedly carry aforementioned books downtown Toronto again for the sole purpose of finding this man and recognizing his talent, I discovered the reason why he had missed his signing time.
He looked hung over.
I vividly remember that encounter. He was incredibly apologetic and looked so sincere that I was ready to forgive him in an instant. I love his writing. When Robinson introduces a character to you, you don’t forget the meeting. He graciously signed all of my books, but it did make me wonder what this guy’s life was like. After reading Airboy #1, maybe I have a bit more insight.
Now, this obviously is an exaggerated comic view of Robinson’s and Hinkle’s process into the creation of this book. But it lends itself into considering some of the factors that go into the fabrication behind the creativity in rebooting a comic title.
This isn’t a reboot of the title; more of a reboot into the way a title is rebooted, if you follow me. Airboy is a face-slappingly imaginative way of approaching how old ideas can be presented anew. It’s gritty and shocking, and definitely takes you by storm. If you were expecting a golden-age reproduction of Airboy’s adventures done in a classic Starman-esque manner, then this isn’t your book and I would advise you to run the other way.
But the “Fear & Loathing”- like inspired adventures of the artist and writer as they struggle through a romp of vice and corruption in an attempt to provide a new vision for this public domain figure is an intrepid and at times, overwhelming experience. I am literally gob-smacked by this book and my puritanical self is still trying to process my reaction to it.
In short, it wasn’t what I was expecting but, damn me; if Robinson was ever worried about becoming stale then this is the creation that should alleviate his fears. Darkly cynical and with a vein of humility that throbs incessantly through the story, you are captivated by this book’s deep-seated honesty. You know what Robinson fears and these feelings are the set-up to introducing Airboy to a new audience. Robinson deprecates both himself and Hinkle to make Airboy look shiny and new.
Maybe Robinson will be fresh-faced and sparkly the next time I get to meet him. At the very least, this is a guy I want to have a drink with.
Jupiter’s Circle #3
I’m a sucker for classic era stories. Back in the 50’s, mystery men were noble heroes of sterling character. I love how Millar dispels this ideology. His revelations of golden age of heroes as flawed men and women just as we are today make them more relatable to us than the realistic heroes or anti-heroes of modern comics. I am enjoying this series with every issue more and more.
Still, the blatant disregard for institutions commonly regarded as unassailable in the 1950’s makes this such a jarring read. We see the real truth behind these Cold War era paragons of virtue and realize that they are just as human as we are – that is Millar’s talent. These aren’t gods … they’re liars, clinging to an outdated belief system and fighting to uphold a veneer of society. Millar challenges us to rethink our notions of superheroes and does an amazing job of it.
Justice League #41
Whoa! Completely blown away by the set-up and delivery of this first issue of the Darkseid War arc. Scott Free, the appearance of a new super-villainess who strikes fear into the hearts of the Crime Syndicate and then the arrival of a completely unexpected other master villain who dwarfs even Darkseid? Unbelievable!
Then other developments including Lex Luthor, a new heroine and even significant changes to Cyborg! This comic has it all and it’s all so well put together. Comic writing at its best and Geoff Johns certainly knocked this one out of the park.
Yup … gonna be pretty up-front about this one and throw caution to the wind, especially with the choice of subject material in this comic. It’s not that the gay content offended me – hell, if two people regard each other as who they want to spend their lives with – go for it and all power to them. I respect love and commitment in all its shapes and forms.
What I can’t abide is extremism.
That’s what this book is about. Forget about the plotline – the Gardener is attacked and defeated. Who is the Gardener? Oh, that’s right. You have to remember the Midnighter and his crew hail from a rather obscure section of the DC Universe known as the Wildstorm universe. He is a member of the group that used to be known as the Authority. Then the Wildstorm universe was folded into the regular DC continuity in a book called Stormwatch. Essentially these guys lived between universes in the dimensional rift known as the Bleed.
Making any sense? Well, it’s pretty obscure material and it really wasn’t all that successful. So that’s the first fault in book. You don’t know anything about the character and you need to for it to make any sense.
The second thing wrong with it is that the action that introduces Midnighter’s capabilities to the reader is presented incredibly wrong. Combat sequence effects mostly happen off-stage and the Midnighter’s dialogue is laden with bravado and bluster, not fully presenting his capabilities other than “he has a computer in his head”.
Finally, the comic is inordinately overbalanced with how sexually aggressive this guy is. About 9 or 10 of the 22 pages are basically about his orientation and how he’s constantly on the make, recovering from his failed relationship with Apollo (yeah, you need to know more about Stormwatch for this to make any sense too) and tagging some one-night stand he’s picked up with a GPS tracking chip for some reason. It was just overdone and completely ranked of insecurity and a lack of confidence. This one’s not going to last.
All New X-Men #41
Totally misleading cover and a story that involves the worst mistake in X-Men history: bringing back the original X-Men from the past which has gone on for too long without any paradoxical effects.
And I still hate what they’ve done to Magik’s sword. Please … can we make it a normal European sword and not one of those ungainly manga-like blades?
I’m an X-whore. That’s my problem. Someday I’ll learn to overcome my problem but for now, it’s a cross I’ll just have to carry.
Sigh … there’s so little in this story that it is wrapped up in one issue. It’s not Byrne and Claremont any more, boys and girls. Why can I not accept that?
Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1
There’s already a huge thread of thought out there on this comic already, but the upshot is that I pretty much agree with the current trend. Peter Parker is a moral standard in the super-hero world. Essentially, the acronym: wwppd (“What Would Peter Parker Do?”) is an unofficial measuring stick to gauge what a super hero would do in a given situation by writers. Having Peter Parker strike a deal with Mephisto and end his marriage was just about the lamest thing ever done in the realm of comics.
This comic removes that mistake. Of course, it took the destruction of the multi-verse to do it, but doesn’t Spider-Man deserve a break once in a while? It’s Mary Jane Watson for Pete’s sake! Isn’t she worth a universe or two?
Yeah … but what’s worth more is your kid and what would you do for her?
As a dad of a kid who has faced death, I can tell you, there isn’t anything you wouldn’t do. When you see what Peter Parker does for his wife and kid … well, it makes this comic really stand out and though it isn’t the Peter Parker we know, it’s one we can understand from that perspective. I loved this book.
Darth Vader #6
Some clever machinations of the Emperor have brought Darth Vader to a realization. Of course, it is one that any die-hard Star Wars fan would already know, but the clever intricacies between Sith Master and student are entertaining to watch and to see how even Vader must watch how he must carry himself in the web of politics that exist even between Sith Lords.
It’s a beautiful comic and definitely is one that you need to pick up.
Princess Leia #4
Dodson beauty but I have to say I wasn’t crazy about this particular issue. Something seemed … off. Maybe it was the spacing but a lot of the panels seemed too expansive. The colours also seemed overly bright as well and the premise seemed a little over the top. Obviously it’s leading to a conclusion with the next issue, but this storyline seemed overly simplistic and trite.
Star Wars #6
Now there’s a bit of a buzz going around about this one. I even have a friend who’s normally fairly reserved about topics like this literally gnashing his teeth over it. Now that I’ve read the book I can honestly say that it’s not that bad. After all, the matter in question surrounds Han Solo and we know that Han Solo is a disreputable smuggler with few scruples Anything he has been involved with in the past tends not to have long-lasting implications unless it is something that he feel particularly strong about.
In short, I say to my friend and anyone else who might be worried about this, don’t worry about it. It’s just a wrinkle that will be ironed out in time.
However, the really cool factor in this is how both Gillen (the writer of Darth Vader) and Aaron (the writer of Star Wars) managed to establish an extremely cool scene of continuity between the two books that was hallmarked of an era when writers and editors actually cared about such a thing. You have to look at it to get a true sense of appreciation for the work that went into coordinating it. Let me just tell you though that the fight between Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker is just awesome. Check both books out.
Secret Wars #3
Okay … the main event.
Well, I wasn’t disappointed. The level of complexity that Marvel has brought itself into with the destruction of the 616 and other universes and the replacement by Battleworld definitely found itself well-founded and cared for by Jonathan Hickman. I have to say though, that I was immediately impressed by the similarity of the structure in Secret Wars #3 to Hickman’s other awesome creation East of West published by Image Comics.
This is the issue where the introduction to the new world that Doom has created ends and the realization of the other worlds begins. It’s pretty amazing. I was pretty impressed by the level of intricacy and detail in this issue, but that’s Hickman’s signature trait. The man knows how to build a world and if you are in need of a writer with a true world focus, then this is your guy.
Years of Future Past #1
With an amazing cover by Art Adams, kudos go to Marguerite Bennett and Mike Norton (colours by FCO Plascencia) for tackling a particularly high-profile reworking of one of the most holiest of X-Men storylines. Days of Future Past will always be my favourite of X-Men story arcs and to see it twisted would be a grievous sin in my eyes. However, these folks (whose work has escaped my notice, I am extremely apologetic in saying) have done an amazing job in re-inventing this arc for a new purpose under the Secret Wars premise.
In short – it rocked, to my honest surprise. Let’s hope it continues to do so.
So we come to the end of yet another review. This week, the pick of the pulls has to go to
Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1
Even though I have to concede that both Justice League #41 and Secret Wars #3 are amazingly well crafted, I have to say that ASM: Renew Your Vows struck me on such a visceral level that I was overwhelmingly moved by it. I mean, what wouldn’t you do for your wife and kid? It’s one thing to say that Peter Parker has a morale code of conduct developed in the wake of losing his Uncle Ben, but that was when Parker was a kid. When you marry and have a child, there is a higher code that you hold that you hold yourself to and sure enough, WWPPD becomes what would Peter Parker – father – do? This works and it really made its mark on me this week.
You may disagree with me – and that’s totally cool – but until you hold a tiny life in your hand and know that the only reason that child came into existence was because you and someone you love dearly wanted her there, you suddenly find yourself beholden to a higher cause that surpasses anything you believed before. That’s why I loved this book this week.