Comic Book Round-Up

Shit, my WordPress custom CSS subscription has expired. Oh well, black text on white is a bit easier to read, so I’m going to leave it for now.

I have read some intereting comics recently, which made me want to spread the word. Actually, I’ve read tons of comics including all my regulars, but my reading is all over the place and I’ve fallen behind here and there. In fact I have completely lost track on the Green Lantern and Avengers titles, which are my mainstays. Hence, I’m going to ignore them and write about some more interesting stuff.

America’s Got Powers 1 (of 6)
By Jonathan Ross and Bryan Hitch

Unfortunately, I posted about meeting Jonathan Ross and said I would have to be nice about this title, so now anything positive I say is going to sound phoney and forced. Nevertheless, I shall plough on.

I never bothered with Turf partly because I didn’t find Jonathan Ross all that credible as a comic book writer, partly because it looked somewhat verbose, partly because the premise didn’t appeal. Really, it’s not that I was put off by his writing, because I’ve always been at least curious enough, but I figured it was his first title and I knew he would need to find his feet anyway.

I didn’t pay much attention to the release of America’s Got Powers either, but the Bryan Hitch artwork is a big attraction. I had just had to pick it up after I had an opportunity to flick through its pages. Now I’m really glad that I did as this is a seriously great first issue. It’s helped along by the beautiful art, but there are lots of hooks to the plot and it kept me engaged a hell of a lot more than most of the output from DC and Marvel has managed recently. I will definitely pick up the second issue and unless there’s a serious decline in quality I will be onboard for th rest of the series. I know this recommendation will probably go ignored, but pick it up if you get a chance.

Well played, Mr. Ross.

Secret Service 2 (of 7)
By Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons

I never find myself very disappointed by Millar’s work. Even when it’s not great, like Secret Service, it’s still entertaining.

Millar made a big deal out of working with Gibbon prior to the release of Secret Service, saying he wrote him fan letters when he was a youngster and it was a dream come true to be collaborating with one of his heroes. I can understand that as Gibbons is the guy who drew Watchmen after all. His artwork is still pleasant to look at, but I don’t think it lends itself very well to Millar’s style of writing.

Alan Moore has a dense writing style and broke up Watchmen into very text heavy panels, often with nine panels to a page. Millar on the other hand rarely if ever puts more than five panels on a page. It’s okay, this is the way comic book writing has gone and today’s writers tend to opt for a lighter more reader-friendly style. Millar’s writing typifies this development and I usually like that his comics are fast-paced. However, Gibbons’ strong point is that his art is very clear and he can handle detail. It worked in Watchmen because Moore was asking him to communicate so many little things to the reader per single page. Millar doesn’t ask so much and consequently Gibbons’ art looks blown up and a bit crude. He’s not a dynamic artist like Lenil Yu or Bryan Hitch, artists whose work fits Millar’s writing style much better.

I wouldn’t expect Millar to write like Alan Moore, but he could have played to his hero’s strengths and written something a bit more complex. Secret Service reads like something Garth Ennis might write without putting much effort into it, which is to say it’s fun and full of shock value, but not great.

Super Crooks 2 (of 6)
By Mark Millar and Lenil Yu

This is more like it. Millar doing his high concept thing as he rolls out a super-powered heist story. Two issues in and I am completely hooked on this one.

The first issue introduces failed villain Johnny Bolt, freshly released from prison and looking for a big score. Between the first and second issues he then assembles a string of super-powered criminals in order to carry out a caper, the nature of which is revealed at the end of the second issue. It’s like any good heist story, except instead of looking for a locksmith, Johnny looks for an “intangible” and so on and so forth.

Super Crooks is fresh and the characters are great. Dip, check it out, because this comic was made for you.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man 7
By Brian Bendis and Chris Samnee

This title almost deserves its own post given how much there is that could be said. The death of Peter Parker in the Ultimate universe caused a lot of controversy and the letters column of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man continues to provide a platform for a chunk of fans unwilling to accept that he’s been replaced by Miles Morales.

The big attraction of the Ultimate line for me has always been its unpredicatability and seeing what fresh spin the writers and artists will be able to put on established characters. I therefore have no problem with Marvel killing off Peter Parker and replacing him with Miles Morales. In fact, if they had not done so then I would probably still be ignoring Ultimate Spider-Man the way I did previously.

However, having read most of the current line, I’m not all that impressed by the new Spider-Man. To begin with, for all the hype about his ethnicity, if the colourist got confused and coloured him and his family pink I don’t think it would affect the story telling. I mean he might as well be white because his preoccupations are the same as if he were and not once so far has his ethnicity really played a part in the stories or the character’s personal life. So, if you’re going to kill off an established character and add some ethnic diversity to your range of characters, at least go ahead and do it properly. I’m not saying I want to see Morales as some kind of racial stereotype, but it would be nice to see his ethnicity reflected in the story rather than just the colour palette.

In addition, Morales is so damn young. He is more like Spider-Boy than Spider-Man. This is good for younger readers and I loved titles like Impulse and Robin when I was a kid because I could relate to the characters more. However, he’s just a boy, which limits the type of issues the comic can deal with and necessitates that a lot of his behaviour is unrealistically mature.

Ah well, Bendis knows how to churn out readable comics and this is no exception. For that reason alone I will give it a chance and keep reading for a bit longer. Plus I do love the new costume.

Batman 8
By Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Just a quick mention for Batman, which is one of the few “New 52” titles I still care about on any level. Scott Snyder’s Batman writing is fantastic and I adore all of the “Night of the Owls” stuff so far.

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