I just reread this for the second or possibly third time. This was the first time I read all the text sections that follow the first 11 issues. HonestI just reread this for the second or possibly third time. This was the first time I read all the text sections that follow the first 11 issues. Honestly, they weren't as illuminating as I thought they'd be. I think it's possible to skip all of them and come away with a perfectly good understanding of Watchmen from the comic book sections alone. Not that I'm recommending anyone do that ... the autobiography of Hollis Mason (the original Nite Owl), "Under the Hood," was great, and gives the reader information about the "first wave" of costumed heroes that the comic sections do not. But many of the other sections, such as the essay on Doctor Manhattan's powers and his role in the arms race, or the Nova Express interview with Adrian Veidt, seemed perfunctory. I especially didn't like Dan Dreiberg's article on owls. Alan Moore is a much better comic book writer than he is a prose writer, and his repetition of the word "scintillating" in two different paragraphs, one right after the other, that are supposed to be quotes from two different writers, is unforgivable.
Minor quibbles are all I have with Watchmen, however. This is still a great story told in comic book form, and every time I read it, I marvel at how well everything fits together, and how much the story moves me....more
This is a sublime collection of six standalone issues of the new series of Jonah Hex. The art is beautiful, the writing is solid, and the scenarios arThis is a sublime collection of six standalone issues of the new series of Jonah Hex. The art is beautiful, the writing is solid, and the scenarios are very, very violent. Hex's hideously scarred face is truly hard to look at, but he's an old-school hero, who dispatches swift justice to evildoers in the post-Civil War old west.
The touchstone is Sergio Leone's "Man With No Name" trilogy, as well as spaghetti westerns in general. Clint Eastwood is obviously the model for Luke Ross's conception of Hex, and sometimes it's a little too obvious, but other than that I have no complaints. This volume is as entertaining and addictive as the best violent B westerns of the '70s....more
This eight-issue miniseries by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting reimagines the early days of Captain America, Bucky, Namor the Sub-Mariner,This eight-issue miniseries by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting reimagines the early days of Captain America, Bucky, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Nick Fury, the Angel, the Human Torch, Toro, the Red Skull, and many other World War II-era characters from Timely Comics (which would later become Marvel Comics), and tells the story of how the Nazi-fighting super-team the Invaders were formed. It begins in the late '30s and ends on December 7, 1941.
On the one hand, this is basically just a retelling of origin stories that most serious comic fans already know. On the other hand, it's a beautifully told pulp story that evokes a sense of doom and a world in flux on the level of the old Norvell Page "Spider" stories. It could have easily taken the iconoclastic tone of Watchmen, but instead engages in mythmaking on a grand level. I can't quite put my finger on why I liked it so much. I like pretty much everything that Brubaker writes, but the tone of this work, and the feelings it evoked in me, were really something special....more
I'm reading every issue of Daredevil, and I'm currently bogged down in the period when Gerry Conway was writing it. I really don't like his style, soI'm reading every issue of Daredevil, and I'm currently bogged down in the period when Gerry Conway was writing it. I really don't like his style, so I decided to take a break and read this limited series that Frank Miller did with John Romita Jr. back in 1993.
Miller wrote this as the "Daredevil Bible," and it's similar to his work with David Mazzucchelli on "Batman: Year One." You get everything that leads up to the hero becoming who he is, and a lot of things that weren't necessarily in issue #1 of the series, but that have become an accepted part of the canon.
"Daredevil: The Man Without Fear" covers Matt Murdock's childhood in Hell's Kitchen with his father, an aging pugilist named "Battlin' Jack Murdock" who's forced to make ends meet by working days as a mob enforcer, and is murdered after he fails to throw a fight. Matt is blinded but gains super senses. He is trained by a blind martial arts master known as "Stick," he loves and loses Elektra, he graduates summa cum laude from Harvard Law School, he prowls Hell's Kitchen at night as a vigilante, and he goes into business with his best friend, Franklin "Foggy" Nelson.
I've never been a big fan of John Romita Jr.'s art, but it really works for this story. Frank Miller's writing works really well with the visuals, and he's never afraid to go big. Good and evil are both represented in the most extreme pulp terms imaginable, and while Miller's world might be "gritty," it is never strictly realistic....more
This is an adaptation of one of my favorite Parker novels, and Darwyn Cooke doesn't disappoint. He has a great sense of pacing. Too many comic book wrThis is an adaptation of one of my favorite Parker novels, and Darwyn Cooke doesn't disappoint. He has a great sense of pacing. Too many comic book writers seem to assume that people spend as much time on the visuals as they do the dialogue, which leads to some choppy pacing. For this book, though, Cooke intersperses dialogue sections with speech-free action sections, and it really works. He also wonderfully evokes the '60s setting of the original novel without being cutesy or overloading the narrative. My favorite aspect of Richard Stark's Parker novels has always been the heists. The Score was the first big heist Parker ever pulled off, and for my money The Score is the best Cooke adaptation to date....more
I read through the first 50-60 pages of this in one sitting, then stretched the rest of the book out over more than a year, reading a single strip eacI read through the first 50-60 pages of this in one sitting, then stretched the rest of the book out over more than a year, reading a single strip each day. Why? Because I'm a connoisseur of Dick Tracy. Reading them all in a jumble makes them seem too much like a haphazardly plotted comic book, which isn't fair, since Chester Gould designed them to be read in a daily newspaper. Gould was a master of storytelling in this format. He drives the plot forward each day in a fun or shocking manner. The reader never loses sight of the overall story arc, but also never gets bored with constant exposition to explain what's happened already.
This collection features one of Dick Tracy's most memorable nemeses, the low-talking, jazz-music-playing, expensive-clothes-wearing hood called "Mumbles." Mumbles does not look unlike Robert Mitchum, and has conversations with his henchmen that go like this:
"Star tover." "What did he say?" "Quits aying whadee zay." "What did he say?" "He said for you to quit saying, 'what did he say?'."
Mumbles is more than just a menacing hood who talks out of the corner of his mouth, he's a sadistic killer unafraid to murder police officers, punch his girlfriend Kiss Andtel in the face, or leave all his men behind to die.
Gould brought his right-wing social philosophy to the pages of the funny papers day after day, but he created such a brilliant phantasmagoria that readers of any political stripe could enjoy his violent fantasies, provided they could deal with his cheerful sadism.
Of course, there are some weeks in the Dick Tracy strip that are less exciting than others. For every brilliant creation like Mumbles, there's a less-than-brilliant creation like Coffyhead, who drinks a lot of coffee and whose head is shaped like a coffee pot.
With the exception of Coffyhead, Dick Tracy's rogues' gallery is pretty great in this volume: Acres O'Riley, who's an essentially good-hearted taxi driver, but whose enormous stature makes her a danger when she's enraged; her boyfriend, the tiny midget forger and hustler named Heels Beals (he wears lift heels in his shoes); Mrs. Volts, the gangster leader of an energy concern; Hypo, a twitchy drug addict, and Shoulders, a smooth-talking man with enormous shoulder pads for smuggling jewels. While Shoulders as a concept sounds kind of silly, his storyline here is really well-done. He's on the lam, hiding out as the husband of a woman who has a young daughter from a previous marriage. There's a sense of menace and unease in the scenes of Shoulders at home, and the story plays out in a suspenseful fashion.
Gould also presages the widespread use of security cameras. At the end of this volume, a new storyline is beginning in which the millionaire entrepreneur Diet Smith perfects a "television burglar alarm" which is officially known as the Dick Tracy Teleguard, allowing banks, homes, and government buildings to be watched at all times. There's even an option for motion-activation.
This is great stuff. I've loved Dick Tracy since I read a collection in high school, which was awesome, but being able to read a strip a day and get lost in Gould's crazy world has been a real treat....more
I'm not a big fan of superhero origin stories, so I avoided reading Batman: Year One for awhile, but I'm really glad I finally picked it up and gave iI'm not a big fan of superhero origin stories, so I avoided reading Batman: Year One for awhile, but I'm really glad I finally picked it up and gave it a try. This four-issue series totally blew me away. It got to the heart of everything I've always loved about Batman, while giving equal time to Commissioner Gordon (still a lieutenant in Year One). Gordon has always been one of my favorite supporting characters in Batman's world, and I think he rarely gets his due, so it was nice to read a story that focused almost as much on him as it did on Bruce Wayne. Frank Miller's storytelling is lean and mean, and avoids the excesses that he frequently indulges in, and never falls into the trap of rote, by-the-numbers plotting that so many origin stories do. The art, by David Mazzucchelli, is gritty and impressionistic without being deliberately abstract or confusing. (Mazzucchelli also wrote an afterword for this volume in the form of a comic strip that is one of the best and wittiest appreciations of Batman's history that I've ever read.)...more