Monday, May 31, 2010

Super Genre

10 Things Superhero Comics Do Better Than Any Other Genre in Any Other Storytelling Form

What are superhero comics good at? What are we looking for in them? Are they ready to be retired, or are there things still to be done with them?

Riffing on an essay by Tom Spurgeon, I discussed these questions last week, which spawned a variety of responses—some folks offered answers; others were annoyed about the questions and just wanted to be left alone with their comics; others again suggested I get out more and discover all the beautiful non-superhero comics that are right around me and that I must not be seeing when all I do is complain about/defend those nasty American superhero things. Or something like that.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Wash: 05/21/10

o "It's a Plane! It's a Bird! It's a Machine That Turns Thoughts Into Things!"

Welcome to the Whorebaggery Edition of the Linksplurge.

First up, there's a German-language print article by yours truly coming up in next month's Comicgate-Magazin Nr. 5, available for pre-order now if you're in Europe, or at the Comicgate booth at this year's Erlangen Comic Salon.

In the piece, I look at the evolution (or lack thereof) of superhero comics since 1938, de-bunk the popular theory that they're "modern myths," ask what the genre is good for and try to formulate an answer based on works by Steve Gerber (Omega the Unknown), Joe Casey (Wildcats Version 3.0) and Grant Morrison (All Star Superman and Final Crisis), among others. Do superhero comics have to be about violent, costumed brutes? Were Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns really all that groundbreaking? Has the genre been dead since 1965? And what does The Matrix have to do with anything? Thanks to editors-in-chief Frauke and Thomas for going way beyond the line of duty and being crazy enough to print the thing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I, Zombie #1

DC Comics/Vertigo, 22 pages, $ 1.00

Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Michael Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Todd Klein

As you'd expect from a comic book with art by Mike and Laura Allred, I, Zombie, the latest Vertigo series promoted with a low-priced debut issue, looks quirky and dynamic, with settings that lend the story the required authenticity and characters that appear real and alive in how they are designed and how they "move," within panels and from one to the next.

Which is appropriately ironic, I suppose, given that the lead character is a zombie. Gwen Dylan, as she is called, works at a cemetery, lives in a crypt and hangs out with other creatures of the night. To maintain a healthy physique, she needs to feed on the brains of the recently deceased from time to time.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Invincible Iron Man #25

Marvel, 38 pages, $ 3.99

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Frank D'Armata
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover artists: Salvador Larroca, Rian Hughes

You don't need to look very long, or very hard, to find valid points of criticism in the first chapter of "Stark Resilient," the latest multi-part storyline in writer Matt Fraction and artist Salvador Larroca's Eisner Award-winning Invincible Iron Man.

There's the fact that Mr. Fraction borrows freely and without shame from the plots and the aesthetic of the Iron Man films, certainly; there are the dramatic structure and mechanics of the story, which say "textbook Hollywood blockbuster" more so than any actual Hollywood blockbuster you're liable to encounter at the theater these days, and which push the familiar buttons in familiar ways that work precisely because they are so familiar; there's a disproportionate, sometimes grinding amount of space dedicated to exposition and getting the plot in gear; and there's Mr. Larroca and colorist Frank D'Armata's tendency to grotesquely, annoyingly, distractingly over-render their characters' faces; for starters.