Monday, August 26, 2013

Great Comics 1: Superheroes

Man, I really bitch and moan a lot on this blog.  I suppose it's the kind of bitching and moaning that can only come with being passionate about something.  But instead of rattling off a list of what annoys me about comics, maybe I should take some time to talk about what's great about them.

Since I despise the sorting of comics by publisher as it only serves to maintain the ghetto-ization of all companies that aren't the Big Two, I'm going to present this list by genre, so bear with me, as not all of these assignments will be perfect...

Here are the comics I'm currently reading that make me love the medium.

SUPERHEROES

Batman, Inc.

After next week, I won't be buying anymore DC comics.  That's kind of strange to type, given how much I enjoy their characters, but enough is enough.  I've stuck with Batman, Inc. both because it's on vaguely a New 52 comic and because I want to see how Grant Morrison ends his Batman epic, something I've really, really enjoyed.

Hawkeye

I was late to the game on Fraction (and Brubaker) and Aja's run on Iron Fist, but I didn't make the same mistake with Hawkeye.  It's easily one of the best looking comics on the stands even when we get fill-in artists, as they've mostly been fantastic.  The relationship between Clint and Kate is wonderful and I could not have been happier when Fraction said they'll never end up together romantically, at least not on his watch.  If there's any complaint to be made about this book it's that its irregular release schedule diminishes
some of the momentum.

Young Avengers

I'm the last person who can give an unbiased review of Young Avengers.  Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie produced two of my favorite comics book series' of all time in Phonogram and Phonogram: Singles Club.  I'm also a sucker for twentysomething comic book characters and I really enjoyed the first volume of Young Avengers (haven't read the second).  Adding the wonderful Grant Morrison/JG Jones created Marvel Boy and the Joe Casey/Nick Dragotta created Ms. America Chavez to the team was genius, as they are two of the best new characters Marvel has seen in years.  This is the best superhero team book being published by The Big Two.

Danger Club

And speaking of superhero teams, The Danger Club could be the most interesting take currently on the stands.  It's suffered from some delays, and I can't imagine it's easy to publish a book while needing a full time job to survive, but the issues that have come out have been great.  Imagine if the world's superheroes went into space and never returned, leaving their teen sidekicks to take over?  This series is all that and more.

Astro City

I jumped on to Astro City just in time, just a few months before the new series started.  I'm so thankful I did.  Most people (like I used to) probably look at Astro City as being just another one of those homages to comics gone by.  Every major creator, it seems, does their own "original" take on iconic superheroes.  But Astro City is so much more than that.  Even the homages are fresh and original, and more of an expansion of those original ideas that flat out analogs.  The Astro City world embraces superheroes like no other, which gives Busiek and Anderson room to tell smaller stories.  If you love superheroes, you should be reading Astro City -- if you aren't, then I really have to question if you truly love superheroes.

Daredevil

The beauty of what Mark Waid does when he writes a Marvel book is that he expands the concepts to include the larger world.  It would be very easy to write a character like Daredevil and keep him insulated.  Honestly, it's a move that's worked out well for DD in the past.  But Waid is writing a new Daredevil, a better Daredevil, so suddenly he's facing off against Klaw and Dr. Doom (kind of) and the Mole Man.  This is a new gauntlet for DD, but it's ultimately tied together by his past.  This is truly ultimate Daredevil with fantastic art by Chris Samnee.

The Bounce 

Yeah, so technically speaking the next three comics are "superhero" books, but they're all Joe Casey superhero books, which means they're taking old concepts and trying new things.  The Bounce is Casey's version of Spider-man, except The Bounce is an actual typical twentysomething, the kind with no job who sits around smoking pot all day and suits up because it's fun.  So far, the book has felt a bit scattered, but the art by Medina is great and the central idea has potential.

Godland

Sure, Tom Scioli's artwork has a heavy Kirby influence, but the story here is all 70's Starlin/Gerber era cosmic, which is awesome.  The end of Godland (the final issue is due sometime soon) is going to be bittersweet, because reading the entire epic in one sitting is going to be mind blowing.  Also: Iron Maiden quotes.

Sex

If The Bounces is Casey's take on Spider-man, Sex is his take on Batman or, more specifically, the Dark Knight Returns.  But instead of focusing on the violence, Casey focuses on, well, the sex.  Or, in this case, a distinct lack thereof for our hero.  Being a vigilante didn't leave him with much of a chance to learn how to behave in the real world, so everything he knows about social interaction comes from his time spent on rooftops.  For more, you should check out this really nice column by John Parker on Comics Alliance.

Up next: Noir and Horror!

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