Now, see, this is why we all fell in love with Alan Moore in the first place. I've been waiting for most of my comic-collecting career for this series...moreNow, see, this is why we all fell in love with Alan Moore in the first place. I've been waiting for most of my comic-collecting career for this series to climb out of legal limbo and be reissued, and I'm overjoyed that it finally has.
Young Alan Moore was so much more fun than the modern Artist Formerly Known As Alan Moore. The stories are still dense, but they're accessible, readable, and don't presuppose that the audience has an encyclopedic knowledge of every obscure, forgotten novel written in the last 500 years. (End LXG rant.)
Moore doesn't even suppose that you know who Marvelman was. (Utterly crap 50's British Captain Marvel rip-off.) He just gives you the basic facts, then he and the great Alan Davis dive into a story about how horrific it would be if superheroes really existed. I was reminded of the carnage in Man of Steel (which I loved, btw) - but in that film, the audience was still expected to view Superman as a hero despite the sheer destruction, and that I think was what made audiences so uncomfortable. Miracleman puts the idea right on the table: if these beings existed in our world, whatever their intentions, they would be monsters.
That this idea came forth in an early 80's weekly super-hero strip was nothing short of revolutionary.(less)
I've loved the Doom Patrol ever since reading a reprint of "The Man Who Lived Twice" in an issue of Super-Team Family back in the late 70s. Then there...moreI've loved the Doom Patrol ever since reading a reprint of "The Man Who Lived Twice" in an issue of Super-Team Family back in the late 70s. Then there was a DC Digest collection of classic stories a few years later, and the shocking New Teen Titans #13. When I got back into comics in college, Grant Morrison's take on the series was always at the top of my "to read" list. These classic stories, however, still hold up really well in comparison to the safer stories appearing in the more mainstream DC titles.
Morrison called the Doom Patrol "the post-modern Fantastic Four." Like the X-Men, the Patrol are alienated and shunned because of their powers, but as Morrison points out, what sets the Doom Patrol apart isn't race or mutation but the fact that these are superheroes with disabilities. I didn't catch on to that when I first came across them as a kid, but it probably explains why I reacted to them so strongly.
It's almost as if Arnold Drake took a look at the disaffected attitude of The Thing and said "Oh, yeah? I can come up with a whole team of those guys." He then went the extra step of making this book utterly crazy. How else could you explain a villain like Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man? If I remember right, it only gets kookier from there.(less)
Fun, never boring, and an excellent audio production, but ultimately unsatisfying since the conclusion fails to deliver on the promise of the opening...moreFun, never boring, and an excellent audio production, but ultimately unsatisfying since the conclusion fails to deliver on the promise of the opening chapters and never rises above the level of melodrama. Neither of the main characters, the super-villain Dr. Impossible and the newbie superhero Fatale, really grows or changes as a part of the story. Neither of them achieves anything. There are no lasting consequences or any true surprises. In the end, the book is little more than a guided tour of the super-hero world Grossman created with a cookie-cutter, run-of-the-mill supervillain plot as a framework for an ungodly number of flashbacks.
Holy Crom, the flashbacks. I started this book a couple of times several years ago, but never finished it until my book club picked it as the next monthly title. The problem was the constant overuse of flashbacks and narrative histories of the various characters. Even at the end, at what should have been the emotional beat-down of the novel, all the characters can do is sit around and tell origin stories. Large parts of this book felt like entries from the Handbook of the Marvel Universe.
Also, Grossman’s attempt to deconstruct the superhero genre feels strangely dated, as if he read lots of 70s and 80s comics, read Watchmen, and then quit. Much of what he seems to be going for here was done a lot better by Kurt Busiek in Astro City.
Still, I’ve got to give props to Grossman for coining the phrase “Malign Hypercognition Disorder” as the reason why mad scientists do what they do. That’s worth an extra star all by itself.(less)
The one problem with Kick-Ass (both the comic and the movie) was that Hit Girl stole the show pretty much every time she made an appearance, so it's o...moreThe one problem with Kick-Ass (both the comic and the movie) was that Hit Girl stole the show pretty much every time she made an appearance, so it's only natural that she get her own spin-off. Mindy is certainly the cutest, most lovable mass-murdering psychopath in all of fiction, but deep underneath she's still just a little girl trying to win her daddy's approval. Never mind that thanks to her daddy's expectations, she's now completely insane. Oh well. It's been long established that Mark Millar is one sick customer, and in Hit Girl he really gets the chance to cut loose. Can't wait for the movie.(less)
So, here we go: The Phoenix is back. The Avengers think it will destroy the world, the X-Men (or some of them, at least) think it will reboot the muta...moreSo, here we go: The Phoenix is back. The Avengers think it will destroy the world, the X-Men (or some of them, at least) think it will reboot the mutant race. Let the fisticuffs begin!
I started seriously collecting comics right as the X-Men where sliding into the now-classic Inferno. There’s one thing I clued into pretty quickly, and my opinion has never wavered:
Cyclops is a dick.
What I’ve enjoyed about the past few years of X-Men comics is the grudging respect I’ve finally developed for the character. However, this is the one “super hero goes bad” story that I felt was completely justified by decades of writers’ and artists’ work, and not merely from some marketing guy in a brainstorming session saying “You know what.. What if so-and-so turned eeevil?”
But that’s not fair. Cyclops isn’t a bad guy, and never was. No one in this story is, any more than in the original Dark Phoenix Saga, of which this is a redo on a massive scale. The writers of this crossover (and there are several) did a fantastic job of balancing the “Who’s right, who’s wrong” issues, but the ending is maddeningly ambiguous (as these crossovers always are) and everything after the halfway point feels inevitable, not surprising. That inevitability works somewhat to the story’s advantage, since it gives the general feeling that this is a story that can’t possibly end happily for anyone.
I’ll note here that the end of AvX marks my end as a monthly follower of mainstream comics (DC & Marvel). Not because I don’t enjoy them, but because I’ve been reading these things for my entire adult life, I’ve read all the stories they have to tell, and this was a good one to go out on.