Posted by: Abhay Khosla on July 5, 2008
I hope the Cybermen show up again.
Here is the beginning of my post.
And here is the rest of it:
Tor #1: I enjoy Joe Kubert’s war comics but I don’t think I’m the audience for his barbarian comics. I’d particularly enjoyed the Sgt. Rock comic that Kubert did with Brian Azzarello a few years ago, but I can’t seem to find a barbarian comic that’s the right fit for me.
What I found interesting about this comic:
There are only 10 panels in the comic which are silent. The overwhelming majority of panels contain insulting narration which explain in obtuse detail what Kubert’s drawn. I haven’t seen issue #2, but there isn’t a panel in issue #1 that needs any narration whatsoever— not a single panel— and yet only 10 are silent.
This is an amateur hour technique being done by someone I think we’d all call a legend. Why is it there? Without it, what a fine example of a silent comic; with it, it’s no longer a fine example of anything– it’s just another comic. I’d hate to be the guy trying to sell a serialized silent comic in today’s market, but hopefully, the collected edition will expect more of the audience.
I guess I’m more interested in who was responsible for the decision to add it in, Kubert or DC editors, than any of the contents of the book itself.
Logan: I think one or two of us on this website mentioned not caring for the writing after the first issue, but I don’t know if anyone checked in on this series after its conclusion with #3. I kept with it because I so love Eduardo Risso’s art.
But I did not enjoy this comic’s story, no. To be fair, I’m not a Brian Vaughn fan. While I certainly respect his accomplishments, I tend to avoid his comics. I think the problem I had with this one is it’s about Wolverine at Hiroshima, but it turns out the problem with Hiroshima? It interferes with white guys fulfilling their creepy Asian fetishes. That’s about as bad as it ever gets for Wolverine. After surviving Hiroshima.
Where’s post-Hiroshima Japan? Where are people being vaporized? Where are the dead bodies? Where’s the Barefoot Gen shit, you know? Instead, it’s some nonsense about how wonderful a docile and subservient Asian woman can be. Dudes and their weird, silly fetishes are creepy, sure, but not as creepy as, I don’t know, A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST. This jut felt like a wasted opportunity, especially with Risso— no slouch with violent imagery— behind the wheel.
The Grave of the Fireflies shout-out aside, I just found that line ghastly and clunky, though I’m having a hard time articulating why. Something about how he’s trying to anthropomorphize the Bomb gives me the willies. You could argue it’s a double entendre, referring both to the bomb and the country making it… I just think that’s a fantastically stupid way of thinking about the United States’s actions during WWII, especially the decision to drop the bomb.
All that having been said, Marvel’s decision to make this available in black and white, as well as color, is maybe the best decision that company’s made in the last 500 years. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Pretty Baby Machine #1: This is historical fiction by Clark Westerman and Kody Chamberlain, published by the Shadowline division of Image, about Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson and Machine Gun Kelly teaming up to fight Al Capone.
That’s a solid enough premise for a comic book, I guess. Chamberlain’s got a menacing chiauroscuro noir style that I’m a sucker for, but the problem with a style like that is it requires especially strong character designs so that the reader can tell people apart. Here, it seems like the character designs might be based on historical photos; personally, I had a devil of a time telling characters apart. Westerman doesn’t help the reader any by referring to Machine Gun Kelly as, uhm, “George”. Which, yes, was his name, but: I would argue that clarity should have trumped accuracy. At least, I’m confused why he didn’t go with “Kelly.”
Confusion aside, no one’s going to go too wrong with me by doing a comic involving tommy guns. Any comic involving gangsters or crime shit will have something there for me. Chamberlain draws old cars and other period details in a way I enjoyed. However, a gunfight cribbed from Millers Crossing and a later scene involving a match going out and another match being struck both felt like they were written for the movies, not for the comics page, and not for Chamberlain. Big points, though, for a completely gratuitous page involving a stripper. I approve!
Ordinary Victories—What is Precious: This is part two of the Eisner nominated, Angoulême prize-winning graphic novel; it came out a week or two ago, I think. I bought part two by accident (whoops!); I never read part one, but according to the back cover, it’s a novel about “banal sadness”. I don’t think I missed anything too important plot-wise. Very little happened that I didn’t understand; very little happens period, though I unfortunately may not have had the full emotional experience of the book.
It’s about a French guy who smokes cigarettes, has trouble with his woman, sometimes is an asshole. I’d greatly enjoyed a graphic novel with the same premise a year or two ago: Dupuy-Berberian’s way-more-comedic Get a Life collection of Monseur Jean stories had been one of my favorite books of that year, whichever year it came out. I know it’s not true but I like to imagine in France, stories about Frenchmen smoking cigarettes and having trouble with their women is their equivalent of Spiderman comics. That people go to Angoulême, dressed up as Monseur Jean. Massive Multi-player Online Games where characters run around complaining about their nosy landlords, and having wistful flashbacks to their childhoods, and oppressing Arabs. “Science fiction, westerns, romance, mysteries, and Abrasive Frenchmen” – a world where that’s one of the pillars of genre, you know? That’s the world I want to live in.
Anyways: Ordinary Victories #2 is actually not a very funny book, but a meditation on the passage of time, the journey into adulthood, dealing with parents, children, and then at the end, it swerves into this lengthy digression about modern French politics.
It’s the kind of comic that a lot of fans online might want to call boring: “I get enough banal sadness in my life, buddy; when I read a comic, I want to read about lesbian werewolves who use dildos made of silver to kill-fuck one another. The banal sadness I can get for free, buddy. I’m going to call you buddy.” The whole “there’s too much minimalist slice-of-life hoo-hee in comics” crowd. I can see the argument. I just don’t get how you can want one flavor of thing all the time, whether that flavor’s sad or crazy or whatever. I don’t get how this existing takes away from or prevents something else existing. Beats me. Anyways, this, it caught me in the right mood. I think a point in favor of the book though is it’s not completely dour and “life is all 100% horrible shit” like the American equivalents that might come to mind for most people.
Anyways, I was enjoying the banal sadness before that swerve at the end. There’s no story to speak of, but the moments of banal sadness are convincing. A favorite moment for me involved the main character watching his infant daughter be bullied by a young boy who she’s infatuated with and pursues, and the father’s reaction to that. That sort of thing.
Larcenet’s art is a pleasure, deceptively loose, but with a strong sense of lighting– that’s a bad scan above; my scanner’s dying, the colors are way more muted than that. Anyways: I like how Larcenet draws people. Their noses overwhelm their faces—he takes a delight in wrinkles. Why are other countries so much more comfortable with the idea of funny drawings than we are? But the swerve into modern French politics threw me. The last chunk of the book is a depiction of the night of Nicolas Sarkozy’s election; I mostly know Sarkozy from having spent a few minutes—well, hours– looking at photos of his super-hot lady. Why are other countries so much more comfortable with the idea of hot, naked first ladies? DAMN YOU, MAYFLOWER!
Anyways, I felt very put out by that portion of the book because I’m sure there were subtleties to what was happening that I didn’t appreciate. But: there’s a moment in Goddard’s Bande a Part where Anna Karina starts babbling about politics on the subway. I’m not a huge Goddard fan; that’s probably my favorite Goddard movie. But I was okay with that moment because it was more so about the Anna Karina character’s youth than what she was saying. Similarly, here, I could at least appreciate that it was about the characters’ aging, that we all try to grasp for something to hold onto as we pass through.
Angry Youth Comix #14: A lot of people profess not to get Johnny Ryan, or not find him funny, but I really just don’t see how that’s possible. Especially in light of issue #14 of Angry Youth Comix. I love how the cover is almost like a brown paper bag, like the contents were the comic equivalent of a homeless man’s liquor.
A lot of people’s Top Ten Favorite-est Comics of the Year lists this year will involve comics about Israel or the exquisite sadness of being an Asian man who likes blondes, all that stuff; mine will involve cheeseburger-flavored semen…? I got dropped on my head a lot as a baby.