While the world is recovering from San Diego Comic Con, with its toys and videogames and movies and television shows, I thought I’d take a moment to actually talk about comic books. Aside of Scott Pilgrim, there have been plenty of memorable comic moments over the last couple weeks. Let’s take a look, shall we?
First up is The Man with the Getaway Face from IDW, an oversized, bargain priced prelude to Darwyn Cooke’s second Parker adaptation. The first, a brilliant adaptation of The Hunter, introduced comic readers to the gritty 1960’s world of Parker, a methodical and ruthless career criminal.
Cooke’s unique art, a highly graphic (in terms of design, not violence though there is some of that too) and strangely nostalgic mix of retro advertising and old cartoons is always a joy to behold and Getaway Face is no exception to that rule. A perfect dose of elaborate heists, double crosses and amoral violence, it is just enough Parker to get fans through til The Outfit drops in October.
Over at Marvel, Bendis continues his reign as resident wunderkind with New Avengers #2, where a high stakes game of superhero keep-away made for one of the most frenetic, well paced and straight-up fun action sequences I’ve read in a very long time.
As enjoyable as the beat-em-up was, it was the conversation between Wolverine and Spider-Man outside the action that was the book’s true highlight. There is something about Bendis’ dialogue and characterization of those two guys…I am pretty sure I could read an omnibus sized collection consisting only of scenes of the two of them hanging out in a living room watching TV. If such a book were to appear, it might be the crowning achievement of Bendis’ career.
Speaking of two dudes hanging out, I picked up Henry & Glenn Forever, by the art collective Igloo Tornado, a mini-comic that ponders what life would be like if Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig were gay roommates. Its a hilarious idea, but unfortunately the funniest thing in the book is the quote on the back cover from Rollins saying “Has Glenn seen this? Trust me, he would NOT be amused.” The attempts at humor inside consistently wind up being either too much or not enough. The art is equally crude (surprising, since I rather like what is on display on their official site), though I have to admit, I kind of love the Tom Neely’s Nancy-style interpretation of Danzig.
Back to the good stuff.
Like Ghostopolis, by Doug TenNapel, a fellow who has built an entire career around drawing cool monsters and aliens.
The surprisingly thick graphic novel from Scholastic’s Graphix imprint tells the story of a boy accidentally sucked into the afterlife and the down on his luck ghost hunter who has to save him. The result is a funny, fast-paced adventure in a ghost world filled with all sorts of weirdos and critters. TenNapel has been a little heavy-handed with the morals in the past, but aside of a few brief and heartfelt life lessons, Ghostopolis has its sight set firmly on the fun. Rollicking, even. Really, you can’t get too preachy when one of your characters is a farting werewolf.
On to DC Comics, where J. Michael Straczynski made his debut on Superman #701. The issue sees the Man of Steel trying to get back in touch with the regular men and women of flesh and blood who populate the world he protects. It was an issue that could have easily become a sappy Forrest Gump pastiche, but JMS ably avoids the schmaltzy pitfalls to tell a story that is an evenhanded and affecting rumination on the nature of heroism.
Meanwhile, in Batman and Robin #13, the delirious web Grant Morrison has been weaving over the last few years is beginning to draw closed. Throughout his career, Morrison has taken a lot of crap about being incomprehensible, but I’ve found his run on Batman to be, while elaborate, never less than thrilling. He has consistently infused Batman’s world and villains with a sense of overblown, pulpy madness that stands without rival. If that seems confusing to the average reader, that’s perfectly all right with me so long as it keeps delivering scenes like this:
Yes, that is Robin taking a crowbar to the head of the Joker. Turnabout is fair play!
Finally, the first issue of Hellboy: The Storm has hit shelves. With or without Mike Mignola drawing the book (in this case, the frighteningly talented Duncan Fegredo is manning the drawing board), Hellboy has earned a reputation for high quality. A new issue comes out and readers rejoice. Commentary is pretty much unnecessary.
Well, almost. I have to ask. Did Alan Moore just make a cameo appearance on that darkened country road? You may want to quit comics, Mr. Moore, but they will never quit you…