Thirteen Thoughts About Thirteen Comics – Supreme, Savage Dragon, Daredevil, Supurbia, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Action Comics, Fanboys Vs Zombies, Danger Club, Hulk, Mudman and Wolverine And The X-Men
Another week, another chance to look through a bucket load of good comics. So what do we have?
What goes around, comes around. Supreme going on hiatus for years, and now having Alan Moore's final issue finally drawn (weirdly, his penultimate issue was created by cutting and pasting images from previous issues) and suddenly the idea of rare and collectible comics is topical again. Hell, it's quite possible that this very issue may be selling out and going to second print by the weekend. Also check out the comic book details in the background, some manner of Ultraverse made out of Image characters, and two copyright-busting characters from Erik Larsen, Herakles and Daredevil.
And Daredevil also appears in Erik Larsen's other book out this week, Savage Dragon #179. Do we have any proof that Daredevil is no cream puff?
Well, Marvel's Daredevil can hear heartbeats. In a strange numerical quirk of fate, as well as being Daredevil #10.1 it is also Daredevil 101, going to the heart of the character. How he perceives the world – and also how the world perceives him. From those who believe Matt Murdoch is Daredevil, to those who can only believe the evidence of their eyes. A pitch perfect introduction to the character, that feels not only timeless, but topical regarding the use of distraction torture on suspected terrorists. If retailers only sold one copy of Daredevil to possible punters, this should be it. Forever.
I should have some very welcome news to run about Supurbia shortly, but for now it's time for the an-entire-year's-worth-of-comic-soap-plotlines-condensed-into-one-issue speciality of this title once more. Seriously, we go through several of Paul Levitz's A, B and C arcs in this thing, since you remove some of the unnecessary superhero fights to get to the good stuff. Everyone with their own agenda, few of them fitting well together, this feels like Chris Clarmeont with the franchise reins off. Special note should be given to the minimal role played by Eve, yet how it affects everyone.
The Week In Kissing. Hell, Yeah.
Animal Man and Swamp Thing continue to rip apart flesh, and limited plant matter, at every available opportunity. They continue to hurtle towards each other at breakneck speed, without actually ever meeting up. Both books have the protagonists now physically in combat with The Rot, both see physical transformations of major characters, and both seem to invade each others territory. Animal Man sees Maxine take on one of the earliest tricks that Alan Moore gave to Swamp Thing, while Swamp Thing gives us… well….
In Action Comics #8, I still find myself drawn to Lex Luther as a preferred protagonist for the book. Paul Cornell spoiled me for this, I think. But a man trying to save the world, as long as he gets the credit for it, and sees his rivals crushed along the way, is a heady mix.. And both here and in All Star, Grant Morrison continues to write him well. Just a shame he has to put all that stuff about Superman in too.
Fanboys Vs Zombies is the self-aware zombie book of choice, it's very aware because it's set at San Diego Comic Con. Where people are already dresses up as zombies.
The art style is most interesting here, San Diego is bright, very bright, with reflected light everywhere and the art captures that, there's not a spot black in the whole issue. Well, maybe someone's eyebrows. The side effect however is that nothing seems grounded, it feels ephemeral and empty. This is mirrored by the characters attitude to zombie invasion, it's something they just expect, or have pre-existing ideas how to deal with. But despite death all around, it never actually hits home, unlike say Shaun Of The Dead. Sam Humphries excels in juxtaposing one geek trope with another, but it doesn't land here. It's no Our Love Is Real or Sacrifice.
However, at least a mutating hot dog does a rather good Kevin O'Neill impersonation…
The Danger Club hits big time. I reckon this will be the underordered comic of the week. A hell of a lot of kicksplode all over the place. I don't think a comic book has done a superhero vs superhero fight as well since the likes of The Authority. Hell, it's even got a major superhero with sun powers called Apollo. But this is an interesting twist on the usual, and there's another famous fight its referencing. Remember Batman Vs Superman in The Dark Knight? There's a definite reprise here. But it's handled as Robin Vs Superboy…
The Hulk meets The Walking Dead! In the fiftieth issue of the General Ross-as-the-Hulk title, General Ross finally has some conflict with his military past in a rather direct fashion, and in a way that totally conflicts with his current status as Hulked out hero. It's been a central tenant of the character, but he hasn't really gone up against the dichotomy in any believable sense. And yes, zombied ghost friends makes for believable.
Paul Grist is one of the most imaginative and most natural storytellers in comics today. Taking a strong lead from Dave Sim, he's one of the few mainstream creators to hand letter his own work, which allows him to take greater strides in the medium. In the panel above from Mudman #3 we have someone speaking from inside a speech balloon, and someone thinking from inside a thought balloon, both used as part of the actual speaker and respondents actions. It's an incredibly complex piece of storytelling told in an incredibly simple way. Some people find it hard to look past the simplified, sketchy artwork. I think it's wonderful, but others need the more visceral thrill of a Jim Lee or a Ivan Reis. I wonder if Paul has ever considered providing layouts for such artists? It might blow certain people's minds…
Something does seem to have gone wrong with Wolverine And The X-Men though. I've been citing this as one of Marvel's best books, up there with Journey Into Mystery and Daredevil, but this issue is… broken. The Beast leaves the new Jean Grey school to pop up into space to fetch a doodad to help Wolverine and gets into trouble. For the first time, the focus of the book is away from the school and the students. Oh, they still manage to get into their own trouble, but the focus of the book is lost, and what makes it great goes with it. This comic has been most sucessful when it has been set in the school. It echoes aspects of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's best, while creating its own reality for these kids. Recent issues that saw Wolverine take Quentin Quire to an inter-spacial gambling den might have just qualified as a field trip, but the best of that book was Kitty Pryde, at school, pregnant with Brood. The Buffy Season Eight comic found a flaw in going for over-the-top-budget storylines, rather than sticking to what it was best at and I think this book is suffering from it too.
Keep it focused on the school, folks. And if you have to leave its premises, stay focused on the kids. Like this.
Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics of London, currently exhibiting original artwork from It's Dark In London.
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