Monday, February 4, 2008

Comic reading binge weekend.

Red Hulk; usual meaningless superhero fisticuffs, but, hey, it's a number one. Not bad, I may even read the second issue.

Black Summer, #1-5; written by the sick and twisted Warren Ellis, and published by Avatar, who can be relied to take that sick and twist it even more. Super hero leader of an outlawed group wipes out the top of the government, and other members of hisgroup are suddenly being hunted. Bloody, politically pointed and did I mention sick?

Twelve: group of 12 old fashioned superheroes are captured by Nazi's just before the end of WWII, and frozen. Discovered by today's government and woken up to work on the side of the power's that be (since modern super-heroes are a bit cynical). Fun comic. Contrasting the old-timey feeling with modern world. Written by J.Michael Straczynski, the Babylon Five creator.

All-Star Superman. Did I say I don't read superheroes? Lots of exceptions to that, actually. This is one of my favorites: written by Grant Morrison, evokes the feelings of the old Superman stories, with wonderful, fabulous art by Frank Quitely. A real treat, whenever it deigns to come out....

All-Star Batman, #'s 4-8. How to describe this? As if Batman lived in Sin City? As if the 300 were a bunch of wimps? I really like it. Frank Miller called him the "goddamn Batman" in the first issue, and fanboyhood took umbrage. By the 8th issue, he's using it the "goddam Batman" with every paragraph, as well as the "goddamn Batcave" and the "goddam Batmobile." He's goofin us, but he still tells a better story than 99% of comics. Also has the really great Jim Lee art: which is lavished on Black Cat, Batgirl, Vicki Vale, Catwoman, and a man-hating Wonderwoman. Hoot. Hoot.

Only problem is, it only comes out every six months or so.

Northlanders #1& 2: Viking revenge story, written by Brian Wood. Typical Vertigo imprint story, right up my alley.

Dan Dare, #1-3; classic English character from the fifties, equivelant of Buck Rogers.
Written in somewhat muted style by Garth Ennis (who I like when he's outrageous, i.e. The Boys or Preacher.) Harmless fun.

The Boys, #11-14; ah, yes. The OUTRAGEOUS Ennis. You know, I don' think I'd even sell you this comic unless you knew what you were in for....

Punisher #17-54, 4 one-shots; Got a taste for Ennis, and Punisher is my current favorite comic, and....I've been so far behind on so many of my titles, I'm intimidated. So I wondered if I could catch up.

Thing is, I came to appreciate comics late, and never have quite gotten used to reading them in snippets, so I tend to save them up, but then... it goes from too little to too many...

Plus....and I shouldn't say it since I sell them, but I always, still, forget how much I like them....and how GOOD they can be. Because it isn't in my blood, my beginning bias is still there. Until I read a good batch of comics and slap myself up the side of my head.

What brings this to mind is, well, I love hard-boiled mysteries, they are the meat of my diet of reading, 2 or 3 every week. I love my Ellroys, and Sandfords, and Crais and Lehane, and so on.

But these 41 issues of Punisher as good, in total, as any mystery novels I've read in the past year. Damn that's good writing. The art is great, too, and of course they go together, but somehow Ennis has got a lock on the character of Punisher, making him an unstoppable avenging force. Making him a real bad ass, but with a believable heart of gold. And just enough sex and violence, a lot, to make it interesting. At the same time, with a moral underpinning.

I think it's also, because the format, somehow fresher than just about any mystery I've read recently. Mysteries, like fantasy, a genre being a genre tend to be similar to each other. Somehow, because of the mix of visual and text, Ennis is able to pull off some new tricks, such as multiple points of view, that make it fresh.

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