I can’t wait to see Inside Llewyn Davis. The images from the trailer & the Bob Dylan take on “Farewell” are haunting, & it’s been nearly three bloody years since True Grit.
I hate on DC Comics often; however, the company rarely screws up Batman (unless the Batman comic has a Tony S. Daniel byline). DC has resurrected a favorite old series of mine, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, as a weekly, digital-first Batman anthology title. It is a smart move, and the first story is excellent.
The writer, Damon Lindelof, turns in a neat one-off story that gives a new variant on the perennial revisiting of Batman’s origin. I’ll be experiencing two Lindelof works in one day, since I’m going to see the Ridley Scott sci-fi flick Prometheus later today, which Lindelof co-wrote.
The artist, Jeff Lemire, is the real hero here. I loved his work on The Nobody, but his style takes some getting use to for Batman. Lemire’s art has a great, quirky cartoonish expressionistic quality that he uses to great effect.
My favorite panels in the issue:
-the small panel on page 4 with minimalist Gotham City skyline as seen from a waterfront
-the penultimate panel on page 16 as Alfred leaves Bruce Wayne in the shadows
-the first panel on page 17 of a fat-lipped and bent-eared Batman
Lemire kills it; “The Butler Did It” is well worth 99¢.
I am torn about which I love more: the tagline, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Vengeance,” or the question, “Kill white folks and they pay you for it, what’s not to like?”
Click the photo above to read an amazing piece on why David Brothers isn’t buying Before Watchmen and you shouldn’t either.
I don’t think Watchmen fully deserves its Holy Grail status amongst comic book readers, but I hold these statements to be pretty much self evident: Watchmen as a story doesn’t need continuation, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons ought to have significant authority over Watchmen as a property, and supporting Before Watchmen as a publishing practice only encourages DC Comics and other publishers to pursue further masturbatory, unoriginal, unethical, and backwards-looking comic projects.
If you had told me a year ago that DC would launch an initiative featuring work by Brain Azzarello and Darwyn Cooke, then I would have been ecstatic. Now that I know what the initiative is, not only will I not buy it, but I am hesitant to buy future work from two of my favorite comic writers. Cooke’s adaptation of Donald Westlake’s Parker novel The Score comes out this summer (I think). Cooke’s adaptations of Westlake’s work have been beautiful, well-crafted, and done with respect to the rights and intentions of Westlake as a creator; however, I find myself reluctant to purchase the new one. I’ve lost most of my interest in reading Spaceman and Wonder Woman after the announcement of Azzarello’s involvement in Before Watchmen. I may read the books in trade, or I may not return to them at all.
Before Watchmen is wrong and creatively bankrupt. Individual comics in the initiative may well be great, but more important is what Before Watchmen damages in terms of creators’ rights, comic publishing practices, and using the medium to tell full stories with endings.
Brothers closes his post with a great clip from David Simon’s and Ed Burns’s The Wire. The situation reminds me of a great (and ironic) speech by Jon Polito in the Coen brothers’ gangster film Miller’s Crossing (1990) for which I could not find a clip:
“Kid, you got a lip on you. But you’re honest. That’s something we can’t get enough of in this business. I’ll admit since last we jawed…my stomach’s been seizing up on me. If the Dane’s saying we should double-cross you—you double-cross once, where’s it all end? An interesting ethical question.”
I picked up Antony Johnston’s and Sam Hart’s The Coldest City today, and forty pages in I mostly love it. If you dig Oni Press’s other espionage books, Queen & Country and Petrograd, then this pretty little hardcover is essential.
Dare we hope for the shootout in a cocktail lounge with an evil Rat Pack this Esad Ribic cover may suggest? I’m very excited that Megan Abbott is writing a Punisher issue in August. Also Jason Latour is writing a Punisher issue in July, so it’s good to see Marvel’s continued commitment to recruiting quality crime writers.
I hate more on DC than Marvel for being inaccessible; however, my friend Jess wants to know about getting into the Avengers and Hawkeye, and Marvel hasn’t done a great job of making stories about either that are both good and accessible for the wake of the movie. I’m not an expert or widely read in the Avengers and Hawkeye, but my answer to Jess follows.
The current writer of most of the main Avengers comics is Brian Michael Bendis, and he has run the franchise since ’04, is heading towards the end of his tenure, and has a massive back catalog. Some people love Bendis; some people don’t. I like his David Mamet- and Aaron Sorkin-influenced crime books, but I don’t think such writing works well with superhero teams. A year or so back Marvel started a new Avengers title written by Bendis and drawn by the great John Romita, Jr. with the holy movie trinity of Cap, Thor, and Iron Man plus Wolverine and Spider-Man (adding those two to the roster has been Bendis’s run’s main innovation). I haven’t read the new title and don’t know how accessible it is, but if you wanted to read current Marvel Avengers stuff it’d be the place to begin.
Avengers history hasn’t had many good runs. The first creative team was the legendary Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the sixties, but Avengers may be their weakest collaboration. Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, and Roger Stern have well-remembered runs as writers during the sixties, seventies, and eighties, but their runs may not hold up for modern sensibilities.
A quality run with modern sensibilities would probably be Kurt Busiek’s and George Perez’s run starting in ’98. I haven’t read it and don’t know how accessible it is, but I unreservedly attest to both Busiek and Perez being quality. Marvel has reissued it in big Avengers Assemble trade paperbacks in anticipation of the movie.
Another alternative is the Ultimate universe, which Marvel started in 2000 as a way to reimagine and update their most popular superheroes. Mark Millar’s and Bryan Hitch’s reimagining of the Avengers as The Ultimates is the major influences on the movie; however, they are big, sometime fun, sometimes stupid and sexist action move comics, so people’s mileage varies.
For Hawkeye solo, there isn’t much. Movie Hawkeye owes more to Hawkeye from the Ultimates than he does to regular Hawkeye, although regular Hawkeye now looks like Ultimates/movie Hawkeye. Most of regular Hawkeye’s origin stuff is from dated, sixties Iron Man comics; however, in August one of my favorite writer-artist duos, Matt Fracton and David Aja, start a Hawkeye comic that should be both accessible and awesome.
Hershel Brown, a manufacturer and dealer of chocolate weapons, debuts as Chew's newest wielder of food-related powers.
John Layman’s and Rob Guillory’s Chew v5 Major League came out last Wed. I picked it up today and blazed through it this afternoon instead of researching. The series continues to be one of the best ongoing comics books and, despite it’s gross out qualities, always makes me hungry.
Major League felt like more of a return to form after some of the science fiction strangeness of Chew v4 Flambé. Which isn’t to say the series is any less outré. The series continues its quest to find more disgustingly sublime examples of necrophagy as protagonist Tony Chu’s psychic eating powers are co-opted for possibly the most creative end so far in the series. Major League's rotating focus gives great character moments to most of the book's wonderfully weird cast except Chu siblings, Chow and Toni, who have brief cameos.
I met John Layman briefly at this year’s Emerald City Comic Convention, and he’s a friendly guy. Support his book, and don’t let Chew’s bizarre premise prevent you from enjoying a crime comic that deploys some of the most inventive storytelling and wild ideas in comics today.
Rating: 5 out of 5 cybernetic animal agents for the USDA.