Marathoning shows, or binging, has become part of the parlance, and my most recent binge for television was the CW’s popular Arrow.
Sure, I’m the targe...moreMarathoning shows, or binging, has become part of the parlance, and my most recent binge for television was the CW’s popular Arrow.
Sure, I’m the target audience for a superhero TV show, (this column’s first appearance looked at the 90’s Flash TV show.
I’ve even been known to seek out old episodes of Birds of Prey (2002) to see what can happen in New Gotham.
Truth be told, I never cared about Green Arrow until I’ve seen what Stephen Amell can do as Oliver Queen. I steered clear for an unknown reason, but Netflix recently gave me over 16 hours of popcorn & candy archery and DC easter eggs.
Frank Miller’s most recent, and somewhat anticipated Holy Terror surprised me with its form factor immediately. Landscape comics are decidedly uncommo...moreFrank Miller’s most recent, and somewhat anticipated Holy Terror surprised me with its form factor immediately. Landscape comics are decidedly uncommon, but a clever way to have books stick out on the shelf. Miller has been working on this conceptually since 9/11. Partly a tribute to the Cap punching Hitler days, this work pits a superhero against a real world terrorist threat. Unfortunately, the master cartoonist, storyteller, and artist has missed the target.
Storytelling was awkward, abstractions were obtuse, and politically the story was tough to swallow. Also, make no mistake, this is a Batman story. Co-starring Catwoman. And Jim Gordon. Originally slated for a pre-relaunch “Dark Knight Returns” continuity DC Comics release entitled “Holy Terror, Batman”, we miss out on all of the good stuff in this release from Legendary Comics.
A WORD ABOUT LEGENDARY COMICS
Legendary Comics is a subsidiary of Legendary Pictures. The studio dropping such great comic book movies from directors Nolan, Snyder, & Singer drops Holy Terror as its inaugural title. Safe bet there, with Miller being a true master of the genre. We look forward to books from other Batman creators Paul Pope (Batman Year 100), Matt Wagner and Simon Bisley. Editor-in-Chief Bob Schreck was installed in late 2010. The personable Schreck is perfect for the job with over 30 years in comics. As a writer and editor he’s worked at Dark Horse, Oni Press, DC, and most recently at IDW. Will Legendary be the new ‘boutique’ publisher for high-end graphic novels and creator owned work? That answer has yet to reveal itself, with only three titles announced.
All the pretending and dancing around that this is not a Batman book is most certainly a copyright and intellectual property issue, and not the truth. DC Comics would never back this up. Seventy years of establishing this important Bat-brand, only to be sullied by an attention grabbing pro-American graphic novel would not be good business. I estimate The Fixer to be sitting comfortably in the timeline of Bruce after his retirement, and roughly five years before putting the cowl back on in Dark Night Returns.
There’s minimal dialogue, and no lettering credit. It’s safe to assume Miller lettered the book himself. Cool lettering and sound effects, too. His voice and his penstrokes are definitive. I’d love to watch him ink a page of rain coming down on a character! Ever since Sin City I’ve been in awe of his black and white Sumi-e brush strokes, the balance of the page, his chunky flat spotted blacks, wide eyes, and dynamic action. Dave Stewart provides masterful, well-directed, minimalist coloring (with a palette of no more than three colors).
I’ll drool over Frank Miller’s art any time, but this was more late-period Sin City than it was of earlier works of personal favorite cross hatch inkgasm, Ronin. AS A COMIC BOOK / GRAPHIC NOVEL
The biggest failure here is that the work is painfully aware of itself. This is a comic book. There are comic book tropes such as callbacks to other Miller comics, and a rather awesome play on the nine panel grid structure. Is this book for comic book fans or the general public? I had trouble figuring that out, and still have no answer.
The Fixer is murderously acting out a revenge fantasy that most Americans dreamed of post our nation’s greatest tragedy (and many still do). Is there much of an audience for that, even ten years on? Or have we all grown from those feelings, focused on our families, regretted our wars, and decided to live our lives? I have buyer’s remorse after reading this. I feel like this was a cash grab from both fans of Frank Miller and from über-Patriots who would read abour this book in USA Today and relive a hatred never to be forgotten.
The story was compelling, but not surprising. I had known the plot from the original title, and internet rumors. The location change to Al-Queda’s Subterranea parallel was interesting, but by that point I was just wanting the whole thing to be over. I kept struggling to imagine that this was a young independent creator, speaking volumes on our social troubles. But this book was not the product of that. I was reading the work of an elder statesman of comicdoms’ elite who had nothing to say that wasn’t hateful, short-sighted, and frankly a bit empty.
MAYBE I JUST DON’T GET IT
Is Miller’s intention of this book being “bound to offend just about everybody” justified? By that, am I to be offended and just walk away feeling offended and say he did his job? That would be irresponsible and dishonest. Since when are critics to listen to an artist’s intention? The public is to digest and make their own opinions on ‘the work’. My strong relationship with Ronin and Dark Knight Returns are based on my formative years as a comic book fan wanting to read more of Miller’s work, and emulate it. Now I’ve got sour grapes because he’s telling me how to react to it. No way dude. You put out Dark Knight and I heard about it in 1987 because it was an amazing story. Not because you said it was. I’m not detecting an homage to old comics or irony at all in Holy Terror. Why is that, Frank? Hey, I stuck with you through that Spirit movie…is this how you’re going to leave us?
I’ll remain a Frank Miller fan, and I’ll be cuious as to what he comes up with for a next move. I’d love to see an apology, an explaination, or for Miller to go back to making great films and comics. I stand by Sin City as being as close to perfect a translation of comic book page to film as you can get. Hate speech, hate actions, hate anything will keep me away for good. If we continue to get more of this, you can be sure I’ll stay far from it.(less)
What a great 'Elseworlds' tale of the coolest versions of Batman you can imagine. I don't want to say too much...Highest possible recommendation for B...moreWhat a great 'Elseworlds' tale of the coolest versions of Batman you can imagine. I don't want to say too much...Highest possible recommendation for Batfans of all kinds. You only need a cursory knowledge of Planetary.(less)
Peter David has always been a favorite writer of mine (since The Hulk in the 90s). Here are some rather satisfying post-Wrath of Khan TOS tales, starti...morePeter David has always been a favorite writer of mine (since The Hulk in the 90s). Here are some rather satisfying post-Wrath of Khan TOS tales, starting with DC Star Ttek Annual 3, focusing on Scotty's forgotten marriage! The annual issue was drawn by none other than Superman artist Curt Swan.
The other tales are good too, the Scotty tale at the front was the highlight for me. The art and the stories compliment well the more modern John Byrne Star Trek stories being published by IDW.(less)
Exit Wounds is a cerebral, somber, and delicate journey set in modern day Israel. Superbly simple line work with sublime coloring denotes the everyday...moreExit Wounds is a cerebral, somber, and delicate journey set in modern day Israel. Superbly simple line work with sublime coloring denotes the everyday without ever being boring. Israel is an ancient place rife with violent bombings, but also a place for families to grow, travel, love, and of course grow apart. The characters are identifiable in the most common way, yet the story is set in another country. A taxi driver, a tall gangly giraffe of a lover, a missing father and doting aunts, uncles and mothers set the table of this unforgettable tale of love, loss, family, politics, and the spirit of life. This is one of the best comic stories I have ever read.(less)
Brad Meltzer along with Rags Morales and Michael Bair have created a brilliant Justice League mystery for the ages.
Art is a solid 5 out of 5 stars. No...moreBrad Meltzer along with Rags Morales and Michael Bair have created a brilliant Justice League mystery for the ages.
Art is a solid 5 out of 5 stars. No question. Morales has the sensibility of another DC heavyweight, Brian Bolland, and the storytelling ability of a Neal Adams or John Byrne. Clean Bolland lines on the inks, solid blacks, great expressions and characterizations.
Spoiler-free story review. Meltzer ties the Justice League and Justice Society into a long form mystery involving the murder of the Elongated Man's wife. Third act climax and twist rivals Conan Doyle or Christie. This is frequently on the top ten lists of the last decade and I would concur.
Knowledge of the DC universe is not required, some basic knowledge of the League is helpful. Tim Drake is Robin under Batman at this time, and Wally West is the current Flash.
Recommended if you like: Watchmen, Jack & Bobby (TV), Blackest Night, V for Vendetta, Murder She Wrote, V for Vendetta, Sin City, Animal Man, Arkham Asylum.(less)
Great future / Elseworlds tale of the DCU. I was especially impressed by the Easter Eggs, the appearance of Red Robin, and the BOOM TUBE! I don't want t...moreGreat future / Elseworlds tale of the DCU. I was especially impressed by the Easter Eggs, the appearance of Red Robin, and the BOOM TUBE! I don't want to spoil this so I'll mark this one as a MUST READ for serious fans of comic books. Alex Ross is a master with the gouache. (less)
Solid art but I'm lost with the type treatment. I find it not impossible to follow with the unique text layout, but the typesetting was needlessly con...moreSolid art but I'm lost with the type treatment. I find it not impossible to follow with the unique text layout, but the typesetting was needlessly confusing.
OK, enough with focusing on the bad! I like Baker's classic Kubert or Mad Magazine style, and the political statements being made align with my abstract feelings about war. Zone and Felony are cool to read about, and brave in the face of danger.
This book turns up the weird. Well played, Kyle Baker, I'll be keeping an eye on you! (less)
I'm obsessed now. I have the next four volumes waiting for me on my shelf! I can't wait to let someone borrow this volume! What an absolute treat.
Sure...moreI'm obsessed now. I have the next four volumes waiting for me on my shelf! I can't wait to let someone borrow this volume! What an absolute treat.
Sure, Watchmen changed the way we thought of superheroes, too. This is different. Ben Grimm is a guy made out of rock, too. This is different. Concrete is really just a smart guy, with the unusual body made of Concrete. He wasn't always this way, the first volume illuminates his origin story. Concrete is gentle and has feelings. He wants to be recognized as being special, but I feel like Concrete mostly wants to make a difference in people's lives, and be a writer!
Paul Chadwick is clearly a master of the black and white comic. Stories are complex narratives, seemingly portraits of real life. The art is naturalistic and also has Kirby-esque fantastic engines and symbols!
Chadwick's introduction for this volume is the reflections of a man looking back on the creations of his past with fondness, and the tone is humble. This is truly a masterwork true to the time of its creation, and is timeless in scope and imagination.