I have been reading comics lately, both on and off the iPad. Here’s how I felt about them!
Powr Mastrs vol 3 (CF, PictureBox) – I discovered that the third volume of this bizarre series came out during my comics hiatus and quickly worked to grab it. It had been a while since I read the other two, so I re-read them all in one sitting. I really don’t know how to describe this other than to say that none of it — the sketchy artwork, the often crude content, the oddball characters — should work, but it does. It’s a rare comic that makes me want more of it immediately, and Powr Mastrs does that each time.
Lint (Acme Novelty Library #20) (Chris Ware, Drawn and Quarterly) – I love Chris Ware’s style. I always enjoy the way he tells stories. I just don’t usually care for the stories he tells. How many books about emotionally-stunted man-children does the world need? In this one he at least shifts to a slightly different type of broken male protagonist, but it’s still a lot of impressive craft in the service of a pedestrian story. Especially when…
Daytripper (Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon, DC/Vertigo) – …you read this afterwards. Very similar story, in a lot of ways, but a million times more interesting and heartfelt, and with an actual point at the end of it beyond a simple, “Christ, what an asshole.” A beautiful book, both in words and images.
Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom (Peter Hogan, Chris Sprouse, DC/WildStorm) – I have a soft spot for Tom Strong, a character from Alan Moore’s “America’s Best Comics” line left behind when Moore had yet another hissyfit at DC. I realize that Strong is just a pastiche character, but I still love the genuine spirit and soul of the creation. I was wary of someone else writing it, but Hogan does a great job of keeping in line with the wide-eyed wonder of the original work.
Planetary (Warren Ellis, John Cassaday, DC/WildStorm) – Speaking of pastiches, I finally decided to read this one through. I had read the first volume a while back, having borrowed it, but never got around to the rest. This was partly because I’m not crazy about Warren Ellis’ work. I have to admit, I just straight-up downloaded this, but I may end up buying the trades. It’s an interesting story with all sorts of nods to pop culture (especially comics) history. Sure enough, two of the main characters are typical Ellisian obnoxios, but they don’t get too much in the way. It kind of drops off at the end, but at least it has an end, which is a point in its favor.
Miracleman (Alan Moore, various, Eclipse) – I then decided it was time to read this. I have volumes 2 and 4 in trade, and had always intended to grab 1 and 3, but they never show up anywhere, so again I downloaded it. And…I guess this is something I came to too late, because while I can appreciate the work Moore has done in examining the structure of superhero comics, I already know that work in its many forms (in fact, I’m ready for us to power through it and just go back to telling some damn stories.) There’s nothing here I haven’t seen Moore himself do elsewhere, and it’s kind of old hat now.
The Bulletproof Coffin (David Hine, Shaky Kane, Image) – I had bought the first issue of this series through Comixology and enjoyed it, so I went ahead and got the whole thing. It’s an interesting “post-modernist” (in the comics blogger sense, not in the actual sense, probably) superhero story with a unique ending. I enjoyed it.
The Weird World of Jack Staff (Paul Grist, Image) – I’ve never been shy about expressing my love for Jack Staff, but the switch over to trades meant that the normally slow release period of the books transmogrified into something best measured in geological eras. Fortunately, this series (a continuation of the original series, under a slightly new name) is now available digitally, so I bought issues 1-5 off Comixology (Issue 6 hasn’t hit there yet.) And it’s the usual fun, frenetic, exciting stuff that makes it the best superhero book on the stands. (According to Grist, a trade of this story will be out later this year.)
Atomic Robo, Vol. 4: Other Strangeness (Brian Clevenger, Scott Wegener, Red 5) – A delightful collection of shorter Atomic Robo stories. This stuff is just straight-up fun comicking and always a pleasure. Another digital purchase from Comixology.
Mister Wonderful: A Love Story (Daniel Clowes, Pantheon) – For Dan Clowes, writing books about smug jerks who can’t get it together is pretty damn easy (see, “Wilson”) and I was afraid, with this title, this book would be more of the same, even though I don’t think Clowes is as rut-prone as Ware is. It’s billed as a love story and by gum it is, though I don’t think Kate Hudson is looking to star in it anytime soon. It’s actually a pleasant departure for Clowes, while still retaining his sensibility.
Isle of 100,000 Graves (Fabien Vehlmann, Jason, Fantagraphics) – No lie, I love Jason. This is a story of pirates and executioners, of hidden treasure, hidden secrets, torture, and killing. And it’s a hoot. I am not familiar with Vehlmann, but if the story is all his then it fits with Jason like a glove, and I will be more than happy to read more collaborations between the two.