Christian Ward's artwork is the main attraction here. The immersive layouts call to mind J.H. Williams III, and the colors call to mind a 1970's prog-Christian Ward's artwork is the main attraction here. The immersive layouts call to mind J.H. Williams III, and the colors call to mind a 1970's prog-rock album cover. The character designs are similarly arresting, particularly the Cyclops.
As for the story, it's a fairly faithful rendition of The Odyssey, only with the added complication that Zeus has killed most of the men in the universe in a (failed) attempt to stop reproduction, and most characters are either female or cebex (a new sex created by a Prometheus analog). Matt Fraction is known for smart, funny explorations of gender and sexuality in his other creator-owned comics (Sex Criminals, Casanova). What he does here is definitely interesting, but I can't tell yet where (if anywhere) this aspect of the story is going.
Fraction's narration is going to be a sticking point for some people. Mimicking the style of The Odyssey, Fraction writes narration boxes in (almost) hexameter verse, with diction that doesn't conform to any one era, but sounds vaguely "old-timey." This is the sort of affectation that will drive some readers nuts, but personally, I liked it. The narration boxes are integrated well with the art, and the language is lyrical without drawing too much undue attention to itself. I'm less keen on the cutesy use of modern-day profanity, which is kinda funny the first time, and irritating the seventh time.
If you can get past this, you'll find a genuinely innovative and gorgeous comic, with sequences that can inspire real terror and wonder. ...more
Imaginative watercolors and line-work. Stories that explore depression and self-improvement with grace, humor, and curiosity. Not every story worked fImaginative watercolors and line-work. Stories that explore depression and self-improvement with grace, humor, and curiosity. Not every story worked for me, but the ones that did will stick with me for a long time. ...more
Volume 2 adds a few layers of emotional and moral complexity to the hipster-cool vibe and hyperactive violence of Volume 1. It's sometimes an awkwardVolume 2 adds a few layers of emotional and moral complexity to the hipster-cool vibe and hyperactive violence of Volume 1. It's sometimes an awkward fit, and not all of the emotional moments land the way they should, but it's great to see a comic grow while still retaining what made it unique and fun in the first place. ...more
This is the fifth China Mieville book I've read, and so far it's the only one I've disliked. It actually starts off well. The plot is pretty basic, buThis is the fifth China Mieville book I've read, and so far it's the only one I've disliked. It actually starts off well. The plot is pretty basic, but it serves as a clearing-house for a lot of fun, purposely outlandish ideas. The idea of Magic Familiars unionizing and going on strike is great, and I enjoyed the interactions between the police officers on the Cult Squad. But the second half of the novel devolves into an endless series of fight scenes involving dull characters that I just did. not. care. about. The first time a character shoots somebody with a steam-powered harpoon gun or a phaser from Star Trek, it's good, geeky fun. The seventh or eighth time they do it, it's tedious.
I also have a lot of issues with the ending...(view spoiler)[Mieville pretends an obvious Deus Ex Machina is actually a profound statement on the Power of Belief. Worse yet, the villain's motivation makes zero sense in the fictional world of the novel. The conflict between Judeo-Christian faith and rational Materialism just does not apply in a universe where Chaos Magic, ghosts, teleportation, and warrior angels are all REAL. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>...more
Your enjoyment of this book hinges on two factors:
1) Your interest in the comic book industry and the history of English-language comics. 2) Your toleYour enjoyment of this book hinges on two factors:
1) Your interest in the comic book industry and the history of English-language comics. 2) Your tolerance for atrocious mid-1990's artwork.
Supreme is an old-fashioned Superman analog attempting to make sense of the "gritty" and "extreme" world of 1990's superhero comics, while flashbacks tell the history of comics from the 1940-1990s.
The flashbacks are homages to different eras and styles of comics. Moore and artist Rick Veitch pay tribute to Golden Age superhero books, E.C. horror comics, Mad Magazine, 1960's Romance comics, 1970's cosmic comics, and more. The art and writing are faithful, detailed recreations of each period and style, with Moore adding commentary on how different styles of comics reflected broader changes in culture. My favorite issue is the one with the E.C. and Mad pastiches. It examines the ways in which World War II-era superhero stories felt dated by the 1950's, and how horror and satire were better responses to the social changes of Post-War America.
As wonderful as the flashbacks are, they are dragged down by the present-day sections. The general feel and tone of these stories is that of a slightly-snarkier Astro City, but the warmth and joy that comes naturally to Astro City feels forced here, and Supreme's (purposely? I think?) over-exaggerated 1990's artwork is painfully, distractingly ugly. ...more
Miracleman (fka Marvelman) is Alan Moore's first major superhero run. All the formal experimentation and deconstructionist tendencies of Watchmen areMiracleman (fka Marvelman) is Alan Moore's first major superhero run. All the formal experimentation and deconstructionist tendencies of Watchmen are already in place, but here they are wedded to charmingly over-the-top Claremont-style narration and big superhero fight scenes. The detailed art by Gary Leach and Alan Davis is top-notch, suggesting a realistic world gone slightly askew. Another highlight is the introduction of brainwashed British Nationalist hero Big Ben ("The Man With No Time For Crime!"), simultaneously one of Moore's goofiest and saddest creations. The only real misstep in this volume is the awkward, poorly-written stab at commentary on racism and Black British identity. I think (?) it's well-meaning, but it makes no damn sense. ...more
In the near future, women who don't conform to society's standards of beauty, femininity, and submissiveness are labeled "Non-Compliant" and imprisoneIn the near future, women who don't conform to society's standards of beauty, femininity, and submissiveness are labeled "Non-Compliant" and imprisoned on another planet (guess what it's called!). This is a knockout premise. It allows DeConnick and De Landro to explore issues related to misogyny and mass incarceration while also riffing on exploitative 1970's "Women-in-Prison" films. If I was grading on premise alone, this would be 5 stars. Unfortunately, I just did not like this book as much as I'd hoped I would. The story is too decompressed for my tastes, and the main character is not nearly as well-developed as the supporting cast. There are some clever touches (the inmates are taunted by holograms of society's Ideal Woman - it's a bright pink cross between a nun and a Barbie doll), but nothing in "Bitch Planet" feels as outrageous as it should. In the back-matter of the single issues, DeConnick talked a lot about how she and De Landro revised the story and the art very carefully to make sure the politics and intentions were clear in every scene. I admire that level of care and commitment, but I also wonder if it contributes to this volume's slightly labored-over feel....more
Janni Dakkar and her crew run afoul of Citizen Kane, so he contracts a gang of American science-adventurers (led by Tom Swift) to take her out. They tJanni Dakkar and her crew run afoul of Citizen Kane, so he contracts a gang of American science-adventurers (led by Tom Swift) to take her out. They track her to Antarctica, where she is attempting to one-up her father's legacy by exploring further than he ever did. There's some commentary about the costs of ambition, and the camaraderie of Janni's diverse crew is contrasted with the callousness of their White/Male/American/Industrialist pursuers, but mostly this book is an excuse for Moore and O'Neill to riff on At the Mountains of Madness and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. The highlight is the deliberately disorienting "time dilation" sequence with out-of-order panels and overlapping dialog. The rest of the comic is enjoyable, but the characters and story both feel a little thin; once you've figured out all the literary allusions, there isn't much left to chew on. ...more
Casanova Quinn is a super-spy and Mick Jagger lookalike caught in the middle of a war between the militaristic E.M.P.I.R.E. and the anarchic W.A.S.T.ECasanova Quinn is a super-spy and Mick Jagger lookalike caught in the middle of a war between the militaristic E.M.P.I.R.E. and the anarchic W.A.S.T.E. The plot bears some superficial similarities to Sleeper, but Casanova is as colorful, sexy, and funny as that book is grim and paranoid. The retro-futurist artwork and the hyper-compressed storytelling make for a blissfully disorienting reading experience. ...more
Grant Morrison continues to mine Batman's long and convoluted history, reviving forgotten characters and concepts with mixed results.
The first storyGrant Morrison continues to mine Batman's long and convoluted history, reviving forgotten characters and concepts with mixed results.
The first story here is the worst of the bunch. Reintroducing Batmanga favorite Lord Death Man is a good idea, but the writing is weak (Catwoman doing cat-themed wordplay is my least favorite thing in comics), and Morrison's version of Japan is based on corny and tired stereotypes (Morrison apparently finds Japanese game shows and hentai hilarious).
Later stories are more successful. Batgirl infiltrating an evil boarding school is tons of fun, and even if it didn't really go anywhere, it was cool to see the original 1950's Batwoman back in continuity. The story about the Lakota Batman analog and his strained relationship with his son/sidekick is surprisingly thoughtful and engaging. Morrison took a character from a racist 1950's "Cowboys and Indians" Batman story, and made him a smart, complicated, sympathetic Native American superhero.
The art runs the gamut from adequate-to-spectacular, with Chris Burnham and Cameron Stewart turning in the best work. The panels that imitate the style of 1950's Batman are a joy to look at.
I was a little disappointed by the ending, as the master plot hinges on yet another mysterious "Doctor" attempting to drive Batman insane, a concept that Morrison already did in Batman R.I.P.. Luckily it looks like the later volumes of Batman, Inc. move past this.
All in all, an inconsistent title that still has a lot of good stuff to offer. ...more
Planetary plays the same meta-texual and metaphysical games as a lot of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison comics, but Warren Ellis has the advantage of bePlanetary plays the same meta-texual and metaphysical games as a lot of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison comics, but Warren Ellis has the advantage of being much funnier than either Moore or Morrison. Ellis also brings a cranky optimism to the proceedings that really resonates with me. John Cassaday's widescreen art gives the world of Planetary a sense of grandeur and wonder that's perfect for a comic that's all about the importance of exploring, learning, sharing, and preserving the things that make the world a special place....more
The first 300-ish (!) pages are a perverse exercise in wheel-spinning, but some of the old A Song of Ice and Fire magic returns after that. All the usThe first 300-ish (!) pages are a perverse exercise in wheel-spinning, but some of the old A Song of Ice and Fire magic returns after that. All the usual sturdy world-building, dark humor, and byzantine political scheming are here. Martin does a great job sustaining the feeling that no matter how bad things get for his characters, they'll keep getting worse. The biggest problem with this series now is that the cast is too huge and too separated by geography to maintain any typical sense of narrative structure. It's great to have two "check-in" chapters with Arya, but she interacts with no other major characters, which makes her chapters feel less like a story and more like entertaining info-dumps. Likewise, Davos shows up in the early chapters, is given a quest, and then disappears, presumably to reappear whenever The Winds of Winter is published. The other problem is the story in northern Westeros. Martin should be commended for having the guts and honesty to kill off the region's would-be hero in A Storm of Swords, but this leaves the North a three-way battle between a gang of sociopathic serial rapists (Boltons), a dour, human-sacrificing religious fanatic (Stannis), and Theon's asshole relatives (Greyjoys). It's incredibly difficult to get emotionally involved in the outcome of that particular battle. All these problems aside, I'm roughly 4,600 pages into this series, so I'm invested. I enjoy returning to this world and (most of) these characters every few years, and I want to know how it all ends. ...more
Expansive and lyrical where its predecessors are claustrophobic and controlled. A gorgeous document of Awe and Terror and a frighteningly convincing AExpansive and lyrical where its predecessors are claustrophobic and controlled. A gorgeous document of Awe and Terror and a frighteningly convincing Anti-Human Manifesto. ...more
This is similar in structure to Annihilation but instead of exploring the uncanny wilderness of Area X, our protagonist explores The Southern Reach, tThis is similar in structure to Annihilation but instead of exploring the uncanny wilderness of Area X, our protagonist explores The Southern Reach, the agency charged with investigating and containing Area X. Even as he trades swampland and subterranean towers for cafeterias and boardrooms, VanderMeer maintains the same tone of creeping dread. In fact, I found this a good deal scarier than Annihilation, as office politics take on sinister overtones and the uncanny slowly leaks into the mundane bureaucratic environment. If Authority is a little bit weaker than its predecessor, it's because the protagonist this time out (a hapless government operative with the aspirational code-name "Control") isn't as interesting as the biologist from Annihilation. The sections focusing on his backstory and his Oedipal issues are the weakest parts of the book. Authority ends strongly though, by providing some exciting revelations and by returning the series to one of its central, terrifying questions: In the face of ecological disaster, is mankind even worth saving? ...more