Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Friday, December 17, 2004

things comickal

-- things comickal -- comics read in 2004: good stuff, bad stuff, in-between

Note that I'm just talking about the stuff I read in 2004; some of it was published earlier.

The good stuff, in no particular order:

- Volume two of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill. I've always loved the pure literary quality of the series, and the way the artwork fits the period it's supposed to take place in. Volume 2 is notable for some of the more startling moments in recent comics, such as the seduction of Alan Quartermaine by Mina Murray, and the rape of one male leading character by another -- probably the only such moment in recent comics history. (Yes, I do know all about the whole thing with Apollo in Millar's first volume of The Authority, and I have but this to say about that: I've seen the issue, the event is never ever EVER referred to again, and absent something said by Millar along the lines of "Why, yes, Apollo did get raped by that guy in the middle of the street and nobody noticed or ever spoke of it again," then I'm pretty sure that all that happened was that he got beat down bad. You can't have something that big happen in someone's life and never reference it again unless you are a wretchedly bad writer, and Millar doesn't seem to be quite so wretchedly bad as all that.)

Orbiter by Warren Ellis and Colleen Duran.

Global Frequency: Volume 1, Planet Ablaze and Volume 2, Detonation Radio, by Warren Ellis again. A variety of artists working on the 12-issue miniseries, collected into the abovelisted two volumes. I will admit that generally, I preferred the artists working on the last six issues to those on the first six, but it was all good. The WB was making a series out of Global Frequency, starring the ever wonderful Michelle Forbes, but recently, after going to pilot, decided that the series didn't quite fit their schedule. They did release it to be shopped around to other outlets, and Warren Ellis keeps hinting on his list that something is happening with it, so with a little luck, we'll see this happen. I especially want to see what they'd do with the Le Parkour issue, or with the issue where Aleph finally gets in on the action.

- And, in the end of the Warren Ellis lovefest, Transmetropolitan: volume 10 - One More Time and Transmetropolitan: Tales of Human Waste. The end of the series. Alas.

- Days Like This, by J. Torres and Scott Chantler. A story about the making of a 50s-60s girl group, and the difficulty and costs of making it back then. Two social issues are explored at the same time; the issue of being black and trying to make it, and being a woman trying to make her way in the man's world of the record company.

- Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek. (Superman for people who don't read Superman, really, which would be me.) What would happen if someone, coincidentally named Clark Kent, suddenly developed super powers? Busiek explores what would happen if, in today's world, that sort of super person suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

- Arrowsmith: so smart in their fine uniforms also by Busiek. The World War I era, in a universe where the configuration of nations in Europe and North America, at least, are very different from those that we know. A world where magic and old gods exist and play a role in the everyday lives of people. Very good, but also intense and depressing in a way that I'd never expected from Busiek.

All of the Powers compilations by Bendis and Oeming, which I read for the first time this year. With the possible exception of the most recent, Powers: Forever. That specific story arc has a few problems, not least of which is that some fairly spectacular and traumatic things apparently happen directly after the Who Killed Retro Girl? storyline, and somehow, we're expected to believe that nobody ever even talked about any of it, not even once.

- Fallen Angel by Peter David. I wish they'd hurry up and do the next volume; this is another one where I'm late enough in that even wanting to read it in loose issues, I'd be missing too much story right now. I want to know more about what's going on in Bete Noire, about the relationships between the characters, about what it was that Black Mariah wanted.

- Three Strikes and Maria's Wedding by Nunzio Defilippis, Christina Weir and various others, are very good stories about family and society -- the former is depressing by design, and the latter by an accident of timing, these days, but they're still good. The Tomb, also by them, marries Indiana Jones-style action to a genuine horror story; it doesn't wind up the way you'd expect given its apparent genre.

- Aria: The Uses of Enchantment by Brian Holguin. I love the artwork in this series. However, you have to have like "fairies in modern New York" types of stories, since that's what the series is. (I can't tell if it's an ongoing series or not. In theory, someone somewhere must sell loose issues of "Aria", if it's published that way, but I've never seen even one in the four local stores that I sometimes go to. As far as I can tell, once a year, a compilation volume appears, announcing that it's a compilation of issues that I've never seen on sale. The Soul Market and The Magic of Aria are oversize folio volumes, while The Uses of Enchantment is a more normal size trade paperback.)

Loose issue stuff: Planetary, Promethea (I hope that last issue kicks serious ass, and would they hurry up with the trade paper on compilation volume 4 already?), Olympus Heights, Ultra (which I just discovered is a miniseries and not a series, and I'm a little peeved about that, because eight issues just won't be enough), Fierce by Jeremy and Robert Love (blaxploitation meets the X-Files), Fables, The Witching, Small Gods, Angel Town.

The in-between:

- Scandalous, a story of gossip columnists back in Hollywood in the 50s, wasn't bad, but it wasn't as interesting as the abovelisted Days Like This by the same people.

- The Awakening by Neal Shaffer and Luca Genovese. Pure horror, terrorizing and murdering teenaged girls. I don't know what made me pick it up, since it's not normally my cup of tea. The artwork is very well done and evocative -- which is part of my problem with it, I think. I'm kind of glad that it's black and white and not color.

- City of Silence by Warren Ellis. A consistently realized, if difficult to follow, vision. The "what the hell is going ON?" factor was perhaps just a bit too high.

- Switchblade Honey, Warren Ellis again. (Hey, I devoted an entire entry to the thing; I don't need to say more here, do I?)

- In loose issues, The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty started out well, but kind of lost me after a bit. I may give it another shot when things get compiled, if Beckett compiles their titles.

The bad:

Thankfully, only one entry for this year's "Bad" list. And, the Grand Bull Moose Winner of the "What the hell was he thinking?" award would be: Chaykin, for Bite Club. Think "Miami Vice", but taking place in Joss Whedon's "Buffy" universe (without the need to spike vampires), and you more or less have the approach down for "Bite Club." It actually didn't start badly, but sort of hurled itself downhill rapidly to the completely unbelievable ending. (Yes, I stuck with all six issues. No, I don't know why.)

Posted by iain at 10:42 AM in category things comickal