Some Comics

20:39 Sat 26 Aug 2006. Updated: 04:41 27 Aug 2006
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I’ve read a ton of comics in the last week or so, and some of them have been amazing.

(All numbers refer to the number of the collected “graphic novel” format, not the issue number—I’m one of those bad people who only buys/reads comics when they come out in collected form.)

Powers 1–9, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. This series is amazing. I read the first three collections and liked it a lot, but the next six just blew my mind. They’re just so well done, it’s crazy. I am now hooked. Yes, it’s superhero stuff, but a take on it that’s definitely new to me.
Some strips are available online, but they’re from the earlier issues, and while I liked them a lot, they didn’t compare to the later work:

Alias 1&2, Brian Michael Bendis. This was really damn good too. Another “alternative” take on super heroes, this time in the Marvel Universe. There are some definite similarities to Powers, but it’s definitely interesting in its own right. The basic plot os about a low-level power ex-superhero who works as a private detective. This one also blew me away—one highlight is a fantastic coffee shop scene between the protagonist and a psychotherapist.

A Small Killing, Alan Moore and Oscar Zarate. I really love Moore’s work, and even after all these years, I think that Watchmen towers above everything. This work is apparently Moore’s first non-superhero, non-science fiction excursion, and is rather good. Ther are some predictable things in it, but it’s quite well done and is content within itself—that is, I got the impression that it ended up exactly as what the creators were striving to make it.

Promethea #5, Alan Moore, J. H. Williams III, and Mick Gray. Fantastic. Excellent conclusion to a wonderful series, although I have to say that the first part of this volume, with the Tom Strong stuff in it, felt a little off to me. Still, I love the whole thing, and it’s quite an achievement.

Astro City 1–4 Kurt Busiek et al. I own #4 and read it before any of the others, and liked it a lot. The first three are also really good. This is another “different take on superheroes” comic, focusing on more realistic explorations of the characters, and just going in a variety of directions that wouldn’t be found in traditional/mainstream works. Does a lot of interpretation of older characters; in fact, the one thing that bugs me is that Busiek is clearly referencing specific characters but (presumably) due to copyright restrictions he can’t actually use those characters, instead creating stand-ins that bear an uncanny resemblance… although in some cases, as with The Confessor, he uses the fact that he can change their background to good effect.

Identity Crisis, Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales. This was a really good reinterpretation of a lot of the D.C. heroes, and how they react when the their “secret identities”, and hence their loved ones, become threatened. I can’t reveal my biggest gripe with the plot, sadly, because it would spoil the entire thing. Despite that gripe, though, it’s well worth reading, although you would probably need at least a passing familiarity with the classic D.C. heroes (e.g. Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow) to appreciate it fully.

5 Responses to “Some Comics”

  1. Cyn Says:

    Okay, you’ve convinced me. I’ll toddle out tomorrow and try to lay hands on Alias and Powers. It’s high time I caught up.

  2. Tadhg Says:

    Cool, hopefully they’ll be to your liking. Welcome, and thanks for commenting!

  3. Cyn Says:

    Had to order the Bendis books, but I did pick up a copy of The Watchmen to read again. So good it hurts, and maybe this time I can get my head around the ending.

    I’ll never forget how excited people in comics were when The Watchmen was first coming out. It was like the moon landing. Folks were simply giddy.

    (Whoa — only just realized that Gibbons did his own lettering. That’s just Ironman stuff.)

  4. Cyn Says:

    I started (okay, hijacked) a thread over at the TCTC forum, about Watchmen. The challenge is to deconstruct the text as deftly as you can. It doesn’t matter how many pages you tackle. No certs required.

    disclaimer I have deliberately NOT read any serious criticism or decontruction of Watchmen prior to writing this. I may be blowing it big time.

    Watchmen, issue #1, pages – 1-8

    The splash panel is a smiley face button in a river of blood. The blood is important, of course, as is the smiley face – the icon of the facile, be-happy seventies. Also important is the very shape of the face, and the fact that it’s a face. What’s round? The earth. What’s round? A watch. What’s round? A non-liner narrative. Hurm.

    Rorschach’s journal is the first voice we hear, ragged pages in piss yellow: jumpy, floating, attached to nothing. As the staccato words scroll – clearly troubled, obviously deranged — the camera retreats and keeps retreating, back and back, until we are in the lofty POV of a rational observer, looking down on a crime scene.

    We know all we have to know, and it’s only page one.

    Then the backstory starts to unfold. It’s going to be a helluva backstory, labyrinthine and deeply cruel, but it starts easily enough: two jaded homicide detectives chewing over the exposition. Except it doesn’t read like exposition, because Moore punctuates every important clue with a visual pun that gives the exposition the impact of an uppercut.

    At midnight, all the agents…

    At midnight one of the agents, at least –the last and least — enters a shattered window from outside, past torn curtains flapping in the vacuum breeze. Only one agent, a guy in thrift store pants and a stained duster. For three pages of silent art, he cases the empty apartment: his face is a mask of shifting white-on-black, and the lighting tells us this is a man quite accustomed to being where he shouldn’t be. He knows right were to go, what to look for. He hits the hidden button and discovers a cache the detectives missed: a closet with old costumes, photos, boots. The victim was once a hero.

  5. Cyn Says:


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