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A Few Good Comics

March 14th, 2007 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What comics are you reading? Good stuff, I trust. Personally, I have impeccable taste. Okay, maybe not impeccable, or even good, really, but at least I don’t read Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose or Fantagraphics’ porno comics so shut up you pervert. :doom:

Anyway.

I’ve been really enjoying Ed Brubaker lately. Criminal was one of the best comics I’ve seen lately, and is proof positive that the Brubaker/Phillips team is the proverbial bee’s knees. They tell a tragic noir tale full of the usual twists and turns that you’d expect from both Brubaker and films noir, and then hit you with a downer ending that feels oh-so-right. His run on Captain America has revitalized the character and quietly done away with the story-arc focus that Marvel had a while back, when each story was modular. Here, the issues are composed of multi-part arcs, but each arc builds organically into the next. Bru’s first twenty-five issue all tell one story. It’s pretty impressive, and the quality of the work has been ridiculous.

Of course, you can’t talk Brubaker without mentiong Immortal Iron Fist, and therefore Matt Fraction. This book is practically perfect. The story promises us(and delivers) new insights into the Iron Fist lineage and manages to pull off the “long, lost X” angle very well. It nails Danny Rand as a character almost as well as David Aja is nailing the art. There’s a nine-grid in the latest issue, #4 I believe, of Danny flitting around the building that is just a perfect comics page.

Talking about Fraction dovetails into Casanova. I haven’t read the entire series, due to me missing out on two or three issues of the seven issue series, but what I’ve read, I have loved. It’s another nigh-perfect comic, from the words to the art to the back matter. Casanova Quinn is both a sympathetic and alien protagonist, but I love him nonetheless. Casanova, the book, is pure id on the surface, but there’s a scary intelligence working underneath. It’s whip-smart and clever. It wants to fool you even while beckoning to you. It’s passionate, and that may sound a little corny but it’s absolutely true. You can feel the emotion coming off this book. But then, you check out the back matter and you realize that with the things he says and the feel the book gives off that you’re reading an amazing book. It isn’t just id or ego, it is Fraction himself in those pages. There’s an amount of “This is cool, so we’ll do it,” but 90% of that book is about or mirrors Fraction, just like The Invisibles mirrored Morrison.

Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner cannot be praised enough. I’ve got volume one and I’m ordering volume two asap. It’s a tale I remember hearing rarely in school, and then it was always painted as something to skip over in class and unimportant. I’m rather fond of the story myself, and Baker has definitely done it justice.

This is going to sound dumb, but I really like Jimmie Robinson’s Bomb Queen. I picked up the first trade (Woman of Mass Destruction) the other day. On the one hand, its gratuitous nudity, language, and violence are exactly what’s wrong with comics today. On the other, this kind of winking-at-the-reader lowbrow humor just pushes all the right buttons. Jimmie Robinson’s official position is that it is parody, and I can see that at work, too. It’s charming, in a smutty, violent, lewd kind of way. Maybe charming is the wrong word?

Anyway, Bomb Queen tickles that same funny bone that Garth Ennis’s humor work does. Adventures in the Rifle Brigade, for example, is a completely non-serious book with really, really dirty jokes. There’s a bad joke in there about America still being a colony of England is funny just because of the earnest way that Hugo “Khyber” Darcy delivers the line. Plus, it’s a story about the most bungling bunch of soldiers this side of Beetle Bailey going after Hitler’s missing testicle, so how “mature” can it be?

The Authority: Kev cycle of four miniseries is another good example, and it blends a message into all the jokes about poop and people with hideous and/or hilarious facial deformities. How do you find the strength to march to the beat of your own drum? How do you become a better person than what you are? Kev, More Kev, The Magnificent Kevin, and A Man Called Kev almost all explore this while doing Ennis’s usual “Superheroes are jerks” and “guns are awesome” stuff. The first three minis are collected in two trades. Hopefully A Man Called Kev will hit soon, as it’s easily the best of the lot.

Speaking of Ennis, though, I finally own my most favorite of his stories. It even beats out Punisher MAX, which is quite a feat. It’s 303, the book he did out of Avatar with Jacen Burrows. It is about one man, empires, wars, costs of wars, and what it means to be a man. It is, of course, in Ennis’s He-Man, War is Interesting, Guns are Awesome, Mind the Gore, Luv mode. Quite a lot of people die. The story has a point, though, as one man begins a trek for, if not revenge, honor, armed with his 303 Lee-Enfield rifle. 303 says a lot about war and the effect it has on later generations. It talks about how history chews up and spits out people. I should stop now, as I kind of want to do a dedicated post to this book later on this week. Suffice to say that it is one of Ennis’s best works. If you’re an X-Men fan, it’s everything Wolverine ever said about duty and honor but failed to deliver on. It’s played completely straight, too. No jokes, no maimings, just drama. Well done.

I’m slowly making my way through Sequart.com’s Modern Master: Grant Morrison: The Early Years. It covers Zenith through Doom Patrol, I believe, and it is pretty fascinating. I already knew a lot of it, but it’s neat to see someone else’s perspective on the same things. I’m making my way through the Animal Man section at the moment. Lit-crit applied to comics is so cool in such a nerdy way!

100 Bullets, Loveless, and Tales of the Unexpected are all obvious favorites, too. Loveless is building suspense, and genuine suspense at that, something that is rarely seen in comics. Things are heating up to a fever pitch, and Atticus, Ruth, and Wes are going to go from knee-deep in it to neck-deep in blood in only a few short issues. I can feel it. The Dr. 13 special in Tales is in a book that features Dave Lapham and Brian Azzarello both writing, which was sure to get my attention, but it’s so much better than I expected. I’d never heard of any of these characters before, save for Dr. 13, but he’s written a story that is both continuity porn and its polar opposite. I don’t have to know anything about these guys, since everything I need to know is there. Frankly, I thought he was making people up for the first few parts. I, Vampire? Infectious Lass? Seriously?

On a more sour note, Incredible Hulk‘s Planet Hulk is starting to lose me, I fear, which does not bode well for World War Hulk. I just kind of stopped caring about what happens to that planet. I’ll be mighty glad when these events are over and done with, but I do hope that WWH at least delivers on its premise.

What’re you into?

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5 comments to “A Few Good Comics”

  1. My pull list has been growing of late, with additions like “Pirates of Coney Island”, “The Damned” or “Shazam!Monster Society of Evil”. Plus other regular pulls like “Invincible”, “Ex Machina” and “Fables”. And a bunch more. Its really getting lengthy again…

    Trade wise I’ve been waiting on the various Marvel mini-series’ that give me some small hope for the direction of the company. “Beyond!”, “Nextwave”, “Annihilation” and “Agents of ATLAS”. Also filling in holes in my collection on titles like “Hellboy” and “BPRD”…


  2. I’ve relied on this site for about 99% of what I read, though recently I’ve been getting into Warren Ellis’ “Fell.” The nine-grid format works very well, and the issues are self-contained with plenty of bonus material to boot. Having the behind the scenes look at the inspiration for each story in the issue itself is quite inspiring.


  3. lurker: Beyond!, Annihilation, and Agents of Atlas were awesome. Annihilation was the best Marvel crossover last year. I’ve been meaning to check out Pirates of Coney Island, and Shazam is awesome, of course. I’m only missing two trades before I have the complete BPRD and Hellboy set. I think that I need “The Dead” and whatever the latest one is. :)

    rotor: Hey, that’s really cool! Fell didn’t quite grab me, but it’s a technically impressive comic. Casanova is in the same format. I’m a big fan of the Slimline format.


  4. My pull list is rather small, since I tend to buy trades and/or hardcovers whenever I can. (With Astonishing X-Men, I’ve been buying individual issues, then trading up.) But I’m highly enamored of AXM, X-Factor, and Nextwave.

    Watch your mailbox, dub; I finally got a chance to send you a copy of the magnificence that is The Mighty Skullboy Army, vol. 1. Feel free to pass it along– I’m pretty sure ‘vok will get a kick out of it too.


  5. Hardcovers are a work of freaking art. Companies need to stop putting them out so that I can start saving money :|

    I’ve got Punisher MAX collected in HCs right now, along with New X-Men (oh lala) and a host of other books. I need to get the last two Ultimate Spidey HCs, so that they can go on the shelf next to the Bendis/Maleev run on Daredevil, all nice and HCed out.

    I own Absolute Dark Knight, Hush, New Frontier, Kingdom Come, and Watchmen. I’ve also got JLA/Avengers, which is in the same format. I don’t even really like Kingdom Come, but it came with so many extras and it’s a hardcover and i just couldn’t resist and

    I think I need an intervention.