Saturday, February 9, 2008
This week, the 50/50 Deathmatch is all-Image, as Hazard #4 (August 1996) goes head to head with City of Silence #3 (July 2000). Let's take a look, shall we?
Hazard (my pick): a bland, unimpressive cover, a cop holding a gun to a woman's head in the foreground while a dark, leather-clad type comes toward him from the background. You know what, just go ahead and shoot her. I don't much care. This all seems to be happening under a pier. Very Baywatch.
City of Silence (Ed's pick): very design-oriented, large black bars letterboxing an image of a dreadlocked man thrusting his tattooed hands toward the reader. Nice-looking cover, though perhaps a slightly tighter logo would help clean this up a bit. The back cover gets a treatment too, with some crazy-making folks lookin' all bad-ass against a wild cityscape.
Round One: Hazard - 0; City of Silence - 1
Hazard: Oooo...nanotech (very 1990s), angsty hero, some sort of mob angle, a villainous couple aiming to make our hero their last project before they retire to California, and some OK hard-boiled dialogue. All of this is apparently linked somehow to the Wildstorm Universe, though I only got that from reading the letters page. And the recap for new readers is at the top of said letters page. At the back of the book. Thanks. All in all, a big mess o' mediocre, brought to you by Jeff Mariotte (Story) and Roy Allan Martinez (Pencils -- substandard mid-90s Image with a touch here and there of Berni Wrightson, though this may be due to Gerry Alanguilan's inks).
City of Silence: Dark future, cyberpunk, sex scene right off the bat, technomagick, Russian cannibal military werewolves?! What the hell? Who wrote--oh, Warren Ellis. Never mind. Actually, this was a really engaging story and, for being the third part of three, pretty easy to pick up on. Nice art from Gary Erskine, though D'israeli's ultra-limited color pallette doesn't do a whole lot for me. Another fun one from Mr. Ellis; nothing Earth-shattering, but fun nonetheless.
Round Two: Hazard - 0; City of Silence: - 2
KNOCKOUT! City of Silence easily walks away with this one. Good on ya, Warren. (And way to go, Ed!)
(P.S. Wikipedia tells me that City of Silence was initially meant to be an Epic publication called Silencers, but when Epic folded in the mid-90s, Silencers went with it. Until Image came along and rescued the project from obscurity.)
Thursday, February 7, 2008
- Action Comics #861
Oh, if only I had an Interlac font handy to show my true appreciation. Thank you, Geoff Johns, for penning tales that are appreciative of continuity without being slave to it. Though this is Chapter 4 of an ongoing storyline that I've no other familiarity with, I was easily able to come in on this one and fully enjoy it. I've heard from some corners that the current Shooter run on Legion feels like the real return to greatness (I've yet to sample that), but this would certainly do for me in a pinch. As a child mostly of the Levitz and Giffen eras, I never really warmed fully to the reboots that returned the Legion to their "teen" roots, so it was nice to see the more adult Legion depicted here. I'm not sure I'm in love with the story itself so much as thrilled to see these characters again, but Johns tells a quick-paced tale with good action, some nice character moments (the Spider Girl/Radiation Roy interaction is particularly poignant), and one page that I could all too easily imagine penciled by Giffen (Storm Boy going under the knife). I don't really know the status of the various Legions currently appearing in the DCU, but it would be nice to think that there's a place (maybe even a clubhouse somewhere) for a Legion that's all grown up. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go get my ProFem prescription filled. (Kidding! Geez...)
- Jack of Fables #19
Bill Willingham: no-brainer. By which I certainly don't intend to imply that the man has no brain. Rather, if Willingham's name is in the credits, pick up the book, and chances are you won't be disappointed. This has been true for me since his Elementals days (if only some miracle would free up those characters!), and generally speaking, it holds true for his current DC output. Fables is a solid, fascinating title, and while I wasn't sure how well Jack would carry his own book, he's a pretty fun rogue to follow. That being said, however, this issue didn't make a whole lot of sense to this reader who hasn't checked out the book in some time. Little attempt is made to bring the reader up to speed, and while I'm not saying that every issue needs constant recap, some context would have been nice, particularly as this issue moves the characters all over Americana. That being said, this is an attractive, amusing book. I'd probably rate it a bit higher if I had any clue what was going on. Great Bolland cover!
When I refer to the "Golden Age," of course, I mean specifically the era surrounding World War II, a period that holds an enduring position in the American imagination, as evidenced by the continuing spate of films and television documentaries about the period. I'm loath to speculate as to the reasons for our fixation on this particular moment, and others have done and will do a far better job of it than I can manage here. Suffice it to say, however, that the "Greatest Generation" still exerts its influence over our fantasy lives.
As far as superheroes are concerned, this has most commonly been inflected as a kind of nostalgia for a simpler era, a period when we knew who was good (we were, we being Americans) and who wasn't (the Axis powers clearly weren't). Of course, this has been problematized in a number of ways, and sometimes the thrill of nostalgia has existed side-by-side with a more critical historical understanding of the time. In superhero terms, we need look no further than Roy Thomas' fantastic evocation of the Golden Age in a couple of much-loved books from my youth, All-Star Squadron and its post-Crisis follow-up Young All-Stars. For instance, Thomas introduced Tsunami as a Japanese foe for the All-Stars, but later issues found her working with the group as they tackled the compexities related to the internment of Japanese Americans by the United States government. Marvel, of course, had its own Invaders (also a project from the fertile imagination of Thomas), a generally more straightforward rendering of the Golden Age, soon to return to the spotlight in a 12-issue Avengers/Invaders maxi-series spearheaded by...surprise! Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, and Stephen Sadowski, the team bringing you Project Superpowers. Weirdly enough, Marvel also has JMS' The Twelve, also a series about Golden Age heroes who find themselves in the modern world.
Friday, February 1, 2008
- Countdown #13: "Only a human could believe such nonsense."
- Countdown to Adventure #6 (of 8): "I love it when the sexy ladies talk tough..."
- The Death of the New Gods #5 (of 8): "Now that indeed is a sad and long story."
- Green Lantern #27: "I trust the Guardians as much as they trust me."