Sunday night, I went to a concert with my mother. That’s right, I&Nmates: it was just the two of us: Mom and #1 son–well, and about twenty-five other obviously enlightened folks–average age of dying–who knew the names that brought not a little bit of culture to the marquee and, as it turned, not a bunch of people through the doors below it. (I’m pretty sure that even the marquee was scratching its bulbs every time the names flashed.) See, we saw John Gorka and Michael Johnson–the former one of my favorite folkies–a major influence, really–and the latter my mother’s musical crush; oh, and she was crushing hard–from the first row and from the very first song. Yeah, she was giddy as all get out. Good thing she didn’t get out her undergarments; but she was leaning that way–especially after elbowing me once she recognized the first few bars of “Bluer Than Blue,” the song that Johnson said helped him make the down payment on his first house. (You know you know it! Sing along: “Because I’m bluer than blue, sadder than sad/you’re the only light this empty room has ever had/life without you is gonna be/bluer than blue…”) My mom sang along like she was in church, with her signature insistent vibrato nearly drowning out the Johnson’s amplified voice! Even God was like, “Hey, c’mon, Pat: I paid to hear him!” Wouldn’t you know, despite Gorka’s playing my request–the still oh-so-relevant “Where the Bottles Break”–and our meeting both artists after the show, my mother’s getting lost in the once-in-her-lifetime moment was my favorite part of the night.
This week, I’m paying to read these:
- BPRD: Hell on Earth #134 (Dark Horse)
- Death Head #2 (Dark Horse)
- Astro City #26 (DC/Vertigo)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #49 (IDW)
- Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #7 (Image)
- Wolf #2 (Image): I&N Demand I, too, love myths–and I’m loving Ales Kot. Wolf, wow, offers a lot of food for thought–hell, it’s a food fight in the collective unconscious! Kot borrows and invents, showing he’s Jung at heart but so much more in every other part of his body. He’s the present and the future of comics–and I can’t wait, month after month, to see what he comes up with next.
- Archie #2 (Archie): I&N Demand Re: #1: This serious reinvention of the Riverdale gang never for a minute lost its innocent spirit: it was fun without being goofy; it was sweet yet didn’t sugarcoat the classic Archie Andrews conflict, which just popped off the page–thanks to Fiona Staples’ best work to date (in part, thanks to Andre Szymanowicz’s colors)–and reminded of the best moments of Mark Waid’s Daredevil reboot. Gosh, I hope they can keep this up.
- The Disciples #3 (Black Mask): I&N Demand So far, The Disciples is everything you might expect from a space-horror comic. Instead of feeling played out, however, it feels frighteningly fresh. Re: the end of #2: I haven’t gone to church in like forever; but Niles and Mitten have me brushing up on The Lord’s Prayer.
- Giant Days #6 (BOOM!)
- Oh, Killstrike #4 (BOOM!)
- Oxymoron #1 (Comix Tribe)
- Welcome Back #1 (BOOM!)
- Young Terrorists #1 (Black Mask): Just I&N It’s Fun with Titles Time! Who are the real young terrorists? It’s Black Mask, baby–because they are blowing up the industry with some great, great books. Make sure you head down to the shop early to strap this one on–before it sells out!
Avery’s Pick of the Week
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #33 (IDW)
What are you looking forward to this week?
18 Days, Alan Moore, Americatown, Andrea Mutti, Android's Amazing Comics, Ashley Wood, Avatar Press, Beauty, Bloodshot: Reborn, BOOM!, Brian Wood, Crossed +100, Cullen Bunn, Daniel Gete, Danijel Zezelj, Dark Horse, Dave Stewart, DC Comics, Death Sentence: London, Declan Shalvey, Ed Brubaker, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Fernando Heinz, Grant Morrison, Graphic India, Harrow County, IDW, Image, Injection, Jacen Burrows, Jamie McKelvie, Jeff Lemire, Jeremy Haun, Jordie Bellaire, Kieron Gillen, Matthew Wilson, Mercury Heat, Montauk, Montynero, Nelson Daniel, Phonogram, Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl, Providence, Rebels, Robert Venditti, Scooby Doo Where Are You?, Sean Phillips, Si Spurrier, Starve, Steve Epting, String Divers, The Fade Out, Titan, Tyler Crook, Uber, Valiant, Van Halen, Velvet, Warren Ellis, X-O Manowar
Four days in the hot-spot money pit that is Montauk have me hoping I’m not going to miss some of this week’s big books. With apologies to Van Halen:
Ain’t Montaukin’ ’bout love
Vacay will keep me from the store
Ain’t Montaukin’ ’bout love
Cash-only shopping–I’m poor, yeah, I’m poor!
Doesn’t mean I won’t get out to Android’s to pick up these books, some semi-good lookin’ and some–mostly from the increasingly impressive Avatar Press–downright I&N Demand.
- Harrow County #4 (Dark Horse)
- Rebels #5 (Dark Horse)
- String Divers #1 (IDW)
- The Beauty #1 (Image)
- The Fade Out #8 (Image)
- Injection #4 (Image)
- Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1 (Image): Just I&N and I&N Demand The team of Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson–I think they’re OK. (OK: more than OK, really. OK?) If you don’t give them proper credit, you better just walk away–or I’ll slap you upside the head with a copy–I’ll make you pick your own copy, too; there’s a switch!–of The Wicked + The Divine to set your damn head straight. Oh, baby: I’m mad–on a roll, right? And to think: I missed the original Phonogram series; so I’m coming to this kinda like a virgin, no?
- Starve #3 (Image): I&N Demand Through two: Starve is full of bold, assertive notes–it’s a massive success! When Gavin–Starve‘s Top Chef–tells Sheldon, “I’m going to show you my city,” I hear Brian Wood himself, who’s so very good at cooking up deliciously diverse worlds with depth of flavor; and his art team of Danijel Zezelj and Dave Stewart (a 2015 Innie nominee for Best Colorist) are the perfect sous chefs, plating–er, paneling–with brash black lines and shadows amplified by alternating–and often blended for a striking contrast–warm and cool tones. Hungry for more? I sure am!
- Velvet #11 (Image)
- 18 Days #2 (Graphic India)
- Americatown #1 (BOOM!)
- Bloodshot: Reborn #5 (Valiant)
- Crossed +100 #7 (Avatar) I&N Demand Alan Moore’s set the stage for Si Spurrier with a sick six issue arc that relied on obsessively intricate world building and long-fuse storytelling; but, damn, did it explode in the end. What an effing payoff! Man, Moore didn’t have to cross the Crossed line to be affective–he just went and redrew the brown out of it. Now, Spurrier’s no stranger to Crossed. In this case, however, he’s working off of Moore’s notes, which puts him in an odd position: he’s sort of a filter, right? One that might miss the mark tone-wise; hell, he might languish a bit with the oft-awkward language Moore’s crafted. It’s a risky proposition, for sure. Spurrier–the winner of the 2014 Innie Award for Best Writer–is pretty damn great, but he’s not Moore. Here’s hoping that he’s not much less, either.
- Death Sentence: London #3 (Titan)
- Mercury Heat #2 (Avatar)
- Providence #3 (Avatar): I&N Demand Patient, potent: Providence is only two issues in, but Moore’s in deep–basement deep–and we’re right there with him. His commitment to the book is palpable, and he demands one from us; he demands our full attention–and Cthulhu knows he’s going to take advantage of it!
- Über #27 (Avatar): I&N Demand Kieron Gillen’s delivered some strong issues along the way, but none as powerful as #26. Leah’s deployment was “everything [I] could have hoped for”–and more. Sure, the German Battleships may have gotten the best of the Brits in this, “the largest enhanced confrontation on the Western Front,” but I was emotionally destroyed by the relationship between HMHs Churchill and Dunkirk. Goddammit, Gillen’s killin’ it!
- X-O Manowar #39 (Valiant)
Avery’s Pick of the Week
- Scooby-Doo! Where Are You? #60 (DC): Zoinks!
What are you looking forward to this week?
2000 AD, Action Lab, Afterlife With Archie, Archie Comics, B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth, BOOM!, Brass Sun, Brian Wood, Dan Abnett, Dan Slott, Daredevil, Dark Horse, Dave Stewart, Dry Spell, Dynamite, Eric Shanower, Francesco Francavilla, Gabriel Rodriguez, Greg Rucka, Guiu Vilanova, Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., I.N.J. Culbard, Ian Edginton, IDW, Image, Innie Awards, J. Michael Straczynski, Jordie Bellaire, Ken Krekeler, Laura Allred, Lazarus, Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, Matt Kindt, Matt Wilson, Michael Lark, Mike Allred, Mind MGMT, Moon Knight, Nelson Daniel, Roberto Aguirre Sacasa, Silver Surfer, The Massive, The Twilight Zone, The Wicked & The Divine, Wild Blue Yonder, Wild's End, zero
What does ‘Innies’ stand for? Well, other than an attempt at shameless self-branding, it stands for ‘independence’! Being ‘in’ the know! Part of the ‘in’ crowd! And possessing the non-freaky type of belly button.
Since we don’t have the big-time budget of the fancy-pants Eisners or Harveys, we’ve limited ourselves to five categories. (Sorry Best Translation of Foreign Material for Tweens!)
Keep in mind that these are for comics that were published in 2014.
If the Eisners are the Oscars, and the Harveys are the Golden Globes, then the Innies are the Independent Spirits–or at least the People’s Choice Awards!
Best Limited Series:
- Brass Sun by Ian Edginton and I.N.J Culbard (2000AD)
- Dry Spell by Ken Krekeler (Action Lab/Danger Zone)
- Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland by Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
- The Twilight Zone by J. Michael Straczynski and Guiu Vilanova (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Wild’s End by Dan Abnett and I.N.J Culbard (BOOM! Studios)
Best Ongoing Series:
- Afterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla (Archie Horror)
- Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (Image)
- The Massive by Brian Wood and various (Dark Horse)
- Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt (Dark Horse)
- Silver Surfer by Dan Slott and Mike Allred (Marvel)
- Matt Kindt, Mind MGMT (Dark Horse)
- Ken Krekeler, Dry Spell (Action Lab/Danger Zone)
- Greg Rucka, Lazarus (Image)
- Dan Slott, Silver Surfer (Marvel)
- Brian Wood, The Massive (Dark Horse), Moon Knight (Marvel)
- Mike Allred, Silver Surfer (Marvel)
- I.N.J. Culbard, Wild’s End (BOOM! Studios), Brass Sun (2000AD)
- Francesco Francavilla, Afterlife with Archie (Archie Horror)
- Matt Kindt, Mind MGMT (Dark Horse)
- Gabriel Rodriguez, Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland (IDW)
- Laura Allred, Silver Surfer (Marvel)
- Jordie Bellaire, The Massive (Dark Horse), Moon Knight (Marvel), Zero (Image)
- Nelson Daniel, Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland (IDW), Wild Blue Yonder (IDW)
- Dave Stewart B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth (Dark Horse), Hellboy & the B.P.R.D.: 1952 (Dark Horse)
- Matthew Wilson The Wicked + The Divine (Image), Daredevil (Marvel)
Now it’s your turn. Did we miss anyone or anything?
Let the internet shouting begin!
Derek & Scott
My smallest week of books in a long time. To celebrate, I’m embracing brevity.
And a Dark & Stormy.
- Neverboy #6 (Dark Horse): Never quite lived up to its promise. Feel compelled to see it through to the end, however.
- Airboy #3 (Image): I&N Demand What is the most remarkable thing about Airboy thus far? James Robinson’s pen is. Wow. Who knew? (Thanks to Greg Hinkle, now we all know!)
- We Stand On Guard #2 (Image): Oh, BKV, I stand on guard for thee. No free pass here.
- The Wicked + The Divine #13 (Image): I&N Demand Has been godly in execution from the get-go.
- The Bunker #13 (Oni): Should’ve jumped off after #11. Should’ve learned from my experience with Sheltered.
- Blackcross #5 (Dynamite): If it weren’t Ellis, I’d be long gone.
- The Spire #2 (BOOM!): Loved Spurrier and Stokely’s Six-Gun Gorilla. The Spire #1 broke my heart a bit: neither the writing nor the art lived up to expectations. Hope #2 isn’t a real #2.
- War Stories #11 (Avatar): I&N Demand Erin go kick some Nazi ass. A clever follow up to “The Last German Winter”–it’s an Irish spring!
What are you looking forward to this week?
Turning pages–with another Dark & Stormy,
A Christmas Carol, Alan Moore, Ales Kot, Allen Ginsberg, Ant-Man, Archie, Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw, Avatar, Benjamin Dewey, Black Mask, BOOM!, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Chris Peterson, Crash, Curt Pires, Dan Slott, Downton Abbey, Eddie Campbell, Erica Henderson, From Hell, Garth, Giant Days, God Hates Astronauts, H.P. Lovecraft, Howard Chaykin, Ian Betram, Image, Jacen Burrows, Jeff Lemire, John Allison, Jordie Bellaire, Juan Rodriguex, Kaptara, Kurt Busiek, Lissa Treiman, Marvel, Material, Matt Fraction, Mayday, Mike Allred, Nick Spencer, Ommegang Abbey Ale, Penn State, Pete Toms, Providence, Robert Hack, Ryan North, Satellite Sam, Silver Surfer, Stathis Tsemberlidis, The Crucible, The Shining, the unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Tomas Aira, War Stories, Watchmen, Will Tempest, William S. Burroughs, zero
Summer is in full swing! As you lather up the sunscreen, fill the cooler with your beverage of choice (Ommegang Abbey Ale for me, thanks) and break out your thongs (sandals or otherwise, hey, we don’t judge) we present a list of recent comics that are well worth tracking down for your seaside, margarita-sipping, swimsuit-watching summer reading. Enjoy!
Top 5 Books of March
5. Giant Days #1 (BOOM!): OK, so, about 25 years or so ago, I made my way to The Pennsylvania State University, University Park campus; got settled in on the 4th floor of Pinchot Hall, a 10-storey sausage factory; cycled through a few roommates–smokers, snorers, and psychopaths–during my two years on campus; fell in with a group of dorks who’d be my best buds for four blurry years; and all together, as fun as I think it was–as I remember it was–it was nothing like John Allison and Lissa Treiman’s irrepressibly jocular Giant Days #1. Maybe that’s why I loved it so much. Co-ed Musketeers–Daisy, Esther, and Susan–are the hyperbolically dramatic center of this university; and hilarity revolves around them in effortless ellipses, much to our benefit. So good that I can confidently quote McGraw, the mustachioed hate interest, as I consider what the future holds for Giant Days and, fearing a sophomore slump, threaten the creators of this tasty treat: “Nothing you can do can spoil gravy for me.” (SC)
4. Autumnlands #5 (Image): Fantasy books are all about world-building. No comic in recent memory has presented a realm so fully realized as Autumnlands. Credit goes equally to writer Kurt Busiek (no stranger to this kind of thing – see Astro City) and artist Benjamin Dewey, whose lush style seems to belong to another era (it doesn’t hurt, of course, that it’s being colored by the omnipresent Jordie Bellaire, who I’m convinced at this point must be some sort of collective of robot artists). Floating cities, magical lore, calcified social strata, layer upon layer intertwine into a cohesive whole. Impressively, one doesn’t hear the awkard, behind-the-scenes clanging of this universe’s construction; rather, it’s as if it has always been there. It is merely our happy fortune to discover it, and get lost in it. Higher praise for a fantasy tale I can scarcely think of. (DM)
3. Ant-Man #3 (Marvel): I can’t even with this book. It is just too funny. I literally (and I mean that in the literal sense) have to keep putting it down because I’m laughing so hard. Literally! Nick Spencer is a comic (and I mean that in the comic sense) genius. Here’s your blurb: “The hero may be small, but the laughs are BIG!” (DM)
2. Silver Surfer #10 (Marvel): Dan Slott and Mike Allred are producing the definitive run of this classic character. They spent most of the first year bringing the fun, with story after story teeming with imagination and wit. But with the Silver Surfer, the piper must always be payed. They tackle the central pathos of the character head on: how can a being who played a role in the deaths of untold millions ever be redeemed? The story they come up with is so simple, so perfectly elegant, that I almost can’t believe no one’s thought of it before. Everyone knows that superhero stories from the Big Two are ‘never-ending’. That’s a shame, because this issue would serve as the perfect coda not just for this series, but for the journey that Norrin Radd has been on since Fantastic Four #48, all those decades ago. Beautiful. (DM)
1. Zero #15 (Image): The Jeff Lemire variant queries innocently enough, “What is Zero?” Answers inspired by fourteen issues of Ales Kot’s crazy, crazy calculus: Soldier. Spy. Hero. Killer. Storyteller. Everything. Nothing. Open up the book, open mind, as always, as necessary with this schizophrenic series, ask again: Who is Zero? Answer inspired by page one, panel one: I have no effing idea! <–I borrowed an exclamation point; don’t think it’ll be missed. Kot unexpectedly offers up a figure who’s furiously fingering a typewriter and, in doing so, adds a literary layer, making the book more than Zero. He’s gone meta, forging unforeseen relationships, crafting, out of the story thus far, a psych-session confession and a catharsis-in-progress. This stunning thing with its wild spirit sees Kot exploiting his poetic proclivities: his words build images that build upon artist Ian Bertram’s images and affecting layouts: it’s a conscious stream of Ginsberg and guns, fathers and sons, drugs and drugs–all of it burrowing into the brain like a drunk bullet. Stories don’t get more tragic than William S. Burroughs’, and Kot’s made magic by borrowing it–as if you couldn’t tell.
The Biggest Dis(appointment): Descender #1 (Image)
Descender is the perfect title for this highly anticipated offering from the frustratingly inconsistent Jeff Lemire: the book, which starts off well enough, descends quickly–and dizzyingly so–to robotic schmaltz, lowlighted by the insultingly saccharine introduction of Tim-21, which bored a hole nerve-deep in my otherwise pretty resilient sweet tooth. Anyone know a good dentist? (SC)
Top 5 Books of April
5. the unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4 (Marvel): There’s a long-overdue resurgence taking place in monthly comics that are putting the ‘funny’ back in ‘funny books’. We’ve been trumpeting the aforementioned Ant-Man for a while now; add to that the likes of God Hates Astronauts, Kaptara, and East of West (ok, maybe not that last one). Enter: Squirrel Girl. Ryan North (fresh of his excellent, award-winning run on Adventure Time) and artist Erica Henderson have already established a quirky charmer through three issues. Well the fourth installment is, simply put, the funniest single comic I’ve read all year. Most books are lucky to get a chuckle; this one had me laughing out loud five times before I was even that many number of pages in (I’m laughing now, just remembering them). Or maybe I should just put it this way: Squirrel Girl Vs. Galactus. Nuts Said. (DM)
4. Mayday #1 (Black Mask): Curt Pires pops for real with this frenetic filet o’ film–one that drops some noms de cinéma (Kaufman, Lynch, and Bay) and goes to effing guerre with them. Oh, yeah, man: it’s a wild ride that reads like a regiment of lines on a mirror meant to be snorted with the eyes and sorted out with a muddied mind. Re: minds: Pires, paired with the more than competent Chris Peterson, sells a story that, in terms of comics, is “sort of like” Matt Fraction channeled through Ales Kot with Tyler Jenkins and Michael Walsh trying to one-up one another from one panel to the next. Mayday #1 will leave you questioning your life choices–especially if most of them have sucked. But you will not question your choice to pick it up–even if it is “just one big blur”; nor will you question whether or not you should pick up #2. I mean, Kleio and Terrence have “just murdered two dudes.” You totally don’t want them to come after you. (SC)
3. War Stories #8 (Avatar): Sounds like a given: Part 2 of “The Last German Winter” hits the mark with this icy mid-arc march through moral relativism; but let’s be honest: there’s nothing easy–nothing safe–about it. I mean, who can take a Nazi, humanize his ass, then make you wonder all along when hell will come to pass? Only Garth Ennis can. Only Garth Ennis can. (No, you’re not imagining things: go back and hum the tune as you read–heck, sing it out loud, you Sammy wannabe!) He crafts a German hero–Gerhard the Gallant–who, considering the situation, is easy to root for; but we know better, don’t we? Don’t we? Just in case, Ennis reminds us, elbows us to make sure we’re paying attention; oh, but then he nudges us–so vulnerable to his charms–right back to where he wants us–seeing the man, not seeing the monster–thanks mostly to his narrative voice, the vulnerable Rachel Kohler, and to the portrayal of the even more monstrous Russians, their evil punctuated by an horrific splash from Tomas Aira. The execution is near Nabokovian! (No, you’re not imagining things: go back and Hum.) Now that, dear reader, is a war story! (SC)
2. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2 (Archie Horror): Was a long time coming–so long that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa offered up an apology to kick off the letter page!–but this second issue of Sabrina, which introduces with verve the vengeful and irredeemably evil Madam Satan, was well worth the wait. The aforementioned writer–who not only sets a scene, he sets it on fire with his precise imagery–and artist Robert Hack, whose retro style is equal parts pillowy soft and boldly bloody, own the tone of this witches’ brew, which is bubbling over with literary allusions. It’s campy; it’s creepy; it’s killer, kids! (SC)
1. Silver Surfer #11 (Marvel): Dan Slott and Mike Allred follow up the powerhouse of issue 10 with a comic that is as formalistically daring as it is emotionally satisfying. Surfer and Co. are trapped in a time loop and the question becomes not only whether they’ll escape, but whether they’ll even realize it at all. A graphic illustration of Free Will versus Determinism, a metaphor for the repetitive cycle of our everyday experience, a tale of love, forgiveness and redemption; this issue delivers all three in a thrilling marriage of form and content. I maintain that issue 10 would have provided an excellent ending to this wonderful series. But I’m glad it didn’t. (DM)
Top 5 Books of May
5. Zero #16 (Image): Collective unconscious, the inevitability of change, the destiny of DNA, the life sentence that is guilt–Zero‘s certainly much more than its title insists. It’s a proving ground, of sorts; it’s Ales Kot’s firing range of ideas: it’s rhyme-free reason; it’s a game of William Tell: Kot himself is the tortured William S. Burroughs, and we’re the trusting Joan Burroughs, with an apple of expectations balanced precariously on our head. Too. Tempting. BANG! Somehow this experimental spy story became an experiment in layers deep meta-fiction; and, despite the jarring shift, the result is nothing short of spore-born brilliance. Wherever this crazy thing ends up, rest assured, Ales Kot will not fail us–but he’ll sure as hell phallus, as evidenced by Tom Muller and Stathis Tsemberlidis’s cocky cover, which, in turn, is further proof of an air of youthful arrogance in Kot’s work, especially here in Zero. I’m more than happy to breathe it in for as long as it lasts. (SC)
4. Afterlife with Archie #8 (Archie Horror): Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla continue to add to their modern horror mash-up by seamlessly incorporating elements that you didn’t even know you wanted; everything from The Shining to The Crucible, even A Christmas Carol. The result is rich tapestry that continues to add texture to the story, a mix that acknowledges the high-points in the history of horror through the unlikeliest of lenses. (DM)
3. Mind MGMT #33 (Image): The ultimate showdown’s coming, but there’s no sign of a slowdown–even as Matt Kindt slows things down to foster a touching family reunion, one that frames Team Meru’s Soldiers of Fortune Cookies and their receiving and executing–with stunning efficiency–their munching–er, marching orders. The decidedly deliberate issue ends with a Dalicious splash that promises a wild time. With the end of the series so near, I’m excited, I’m anxious; but, no, Pipe Kid, I’m not ready–and I’m as not ready as I’m ever going to be. (SC)
2. Providence #1 (Avatar): Avatar’s publicity department has been describing this new series by Alan Moore as “The Watchmen of horror”. But the story from Moore’s oeuvre that it more readily calls to mind is From Hell (an even more impressive achievement to this reviewer’s mind). FH brilliantly examined the underlying brutality of patriarchal hegemony through the lens of Victorian England, using the Whitechapel murders as a vehicle. Providence promises to delve into the repressed corners of American society of the past century using the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft (a passion of Moore’s for some time now) as a framework. Moore explores the Jungian implications of Lovecraft’s mythos (underlying realities masked by our limited human perception) by using them as a metaphor for aspects of the American experience that needed to remain hidden, given the times (in this case, “the love that dare not speak its name”). Yes, there is much to unpack here. Yet for all that, this first issue is a master’s class in restrained, subtle storytelling. The deliberate pacing, the seemingly minor details that gain importance as the issue progresses, the symmetry of the opening and closing segments; Moore’s assured control of the material, when he’s on, has never been matched by another comic book writer. To say nothing of the insane amount of research that is woven throughout. Which brings us to the art. Here another comparison to FH is apt: Eddie Campbell’s nonpareil art in that tome had a scratchy looseness, a sketchy immediacy that pulled the modern reader with its irrepressible energy, despite the period setting. Here, Jacen Burrows takes the opposite approach: meticulously rendered, exhaustive research evident in every carefully placed line. The effect is polished, subdued and certainly visually impressive, but with a formal stiffness akin to watching an episode of Downton Abbey. And yet this is reflective of Moore’s otherworldly precision. Ultimately, the hyperbole of comparing this new series to the well-known Watchmen is needless. This first issue promises an epic Alan Moore tale to match or exceed, in scope, ambition and execution, anything he’s previously produced. That alone should suffice. (DM)
1. Material #1 (Image): With Material, Ales Kot’s has found his forum, the perfect space for him to keep pace with the injustices of the world. No matter how desperate or disparate, they have a home here; and God knows he’ll never want for material as long as he never casts off the lenses–the perspective-altering critical approaches to analyzing, well, everything so relied upon by campus comrades, the arrogant academicians and their lecture-hall spawn–that help him to see the Ugly Spirit* in, well, everything. Despite the pessimism that pervades the four narratives, which may or may not Crash into each other at some point, what Kot’s come up with–in tandem with the ironically-named Will Tempest–is beautiful. He asserts that there’s hope in moments, in connections, and what better way to convey that point than with a comic book! Holding its pages open is like holding hands with Kot himself as he leads the march toward enlightenment–toward Utopia. And even if that march is born of naÏveté, it’s fueled by honesty, by brashness; and in the context of this comic, it’s something I want to follow.
*See Zero to see Burroughs to see that Kot’s got the Spirit–yes he does! (SC)
Biggest Dis(appointment)(April/May): Convergence/Secret Wars (DC/Marvel) – A bunch of heroes and villains from various alternate universes battle it out on a patchwork planet in a Secret Crisis of Ultimate Infinite blahblahblah. Yes, I’ve just described the plot of both summer blockbuster crossovers from the Big Two. In the cynical cycle of endless Events, this has to be a new low. I don’t know who’s guiltier: the company that seemingly pilfered the other’s concept, or the company that came up with such an awful idea to begin with. (DM)
Derek & Scott