How to approach the fantastic. Do you compare and contrast with the mundane, being restrained, giving people a glimpse of the impossible? Or do you go balls to the wall cosmic battering everyone out of the way with spectacle
Three comics came out this week which touch on that, Dark Avengers #12, Joe The Barbarian #1 and Green Lantern Corps 44.
Dark Avengers is the the second chapter in the Siege event, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato Jr. As the credits say, an event seven years in the making. Everything from Avengers Dissembled up, through House Of M, Civil War, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion and Dark Reign has been heading in this direction. But that's not enough for Brian Bendis, oh no, the origin of this particular story seems to have been in the Book Of Exodus. I'm reminded of when Stan Lee told Jack Kirby that their next comic would be The Fantastic Four fight God, and Kirby created Galactus. Well, Bendis is looking a little further, making the power of The Sentry be far beyond a radioactive spider-bite or a secret serum. It looks like we're going for the Godular here, tying the Bible into official Marvel Comics continuity. Ever wanted a Sentry/Moses crossover? Well here you go. Lots of sound and fury that signifies, well, something.
Over in Green Lantern Corps by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, the Blackest Night battle takes a distinctly odd turn as Mogo comes to fight. That's Mogo as in "Mogo Doesn't Socialise", the classic Alan Moore story about a sentient planet Green Lantern. Anyway, he's up for a fight, using whatever skills he has. Which seem to be a judicious use of gravity… now there's the crossover I'd like to see. Galactus Vs Mogo. So we get lots of massive splash pages with Lanterns fighting Lanterns, things falling over, things flying up, and basically the kind of spectacle that's outside James Cameron's budget, with various gnarly plot twists to channel the action.
And Joe The Barbarian by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy is the diametric opposite of these two books. Murphy has portrayed Small Town Anywhere with the most perfect of "camera" angles" if you like, twisting the point of view so that everything is dark and closing in on protagonist Joe. It's just as dangerous and forboding as in Green Lantern Corps, but so much smaller. The scene in the bus is spectacular, all the seats leaning in, as if to topple him, and the expanse of a graveyard, as if death is everywhere waiting. Equally his wandering around his empty house with the car of an architect helps to cement the reality of the world around Joe, just as it begins to topple in on him. We're going into territory that has been explored most recently in Stuff Of Legend and this first issue is more of a tease than anything actually satisfying, but that's the curse of the modern comic I guess. What nibble you get though is rather satisfying, and the fantasy world portrayed is in direct contrast to the mundanity- but I'm convinced I want to see more of Joe's town than the fantasy world he's getting grabbed into as part of some diabetic nightmare.
Dark Avengers #13 is $3.99 from Marvel. Green Lantern Corps #42 is $2.99 and Joe The Barbarian #1 is $1 from DC.