Monday, February 26, 2007

Comic Reviews

This week I wanted to offer up some brief write-ups on comics that have recently caught my eye. I read a lot of comics and cover a pretty diverse variety of books. I love the Archive editions of classic old works, especially silver age DC and the recent line of EC Archives. Great stuff, but at $50 a pop ($33 on Amazon) I can only afford so many. I have decided to purchase the entire line of the EC books, since I consider these to be the some of the best stories ever published in the field. I enjoy the cheaper Essential and Showcase printings (particularly the Marvel stuff. It seems to me that DC's Silver Age stuff is superior to most of the early Marvel stuff but Marvel's 70's output had so many talented creators just throwing stuff out there that it's easy to get caught up in their energy and forgive the mistakes. - Hell, one of my favorite books, recently reprinted in a full color version was the Champions, a West Coast based Marvel super team made up of Russian super spy defector the Black Widow, Hercules (from Greek Myth), former X-Men Iceman and the Angel, and satanically cursed motorcyclist Ghost Rider! There is no logical reason whatsoever that this grouping of people should exist, yet they were damned entertaining.

A few recent books have stood out for me. First up is Batman 663, written by Grant Morrison with art by John Van Fleet. As is often the case, Morrison defies traditional comic book layout for a slick pulpy feel with painted images accompanied by large chunks of text. The most important issue is his introduction of the newest incarnation of the Joker, and while I read the book I shivered with chills. really. Grant's Joker is a vision of true criminal insanity, genius wed to sadism and evil. No logic, no reasoning, no endgame or purpose, just pathological violence and gleeful mayhem. Disturbing and compelling, it is an absolute must read. (As a one issue vision of the Joker, it brings to mind The Killing Joke, by Alan Moore, another must read. That version has a twisted Joker, but one who is still trying to make a point (the thin line of sanity we all tread, and how easily any man can be pushed across that line.) - Morrison's issue was so good I pulled out my hardcover version of Arkham Asylum to reread, (eventually, but with a small box of unread comics, trades, GN's and Doc Savage pulp reprints, pluse a stack of DVDS, and prose reading... well, you get the picture.

Blade 6 - I'm not a huge fan of Blade the vampire slayer. I've read his appearances in Essential Tomb of Dracula, and I saw the movies. The selling point for me on this new Blade series was initially the Howard Chaykin art (although I still prefer Chaykin when he operates in auteur mode, pencilling, writing, and inking his own work). I've been pleasantly surprised with Marc Guggenheims writing, as he has worked hard to integrate Blade into some level of interaction with the Marvel Universe proper (without resorting to shameless guest starring shots to boost sales). He also does a nice job utilizing a split screen style of storytelling, telling bits of Blade's past and intercutting with current events that spring from or are connected to the past scenes. This technique could (and will) eventually grow old, but it continues to work quite well for now.

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