Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Brian Michael Bendis has had a number of memorable comic book runs in his career so far, so what are the top five? Here are my picks.
5 (tie). Daredevil
5 (tie). Sam and Twitch
I normally abhor having ties for the top five, as it sort of gets away from the whole POINT of a top five if you make it the top SIX, ya know? But consarnit it, I just couldn’t pick between these two runs.
Bendis’ Daredevil run was one of the gutsiest runs on a popular superhero title in quite some time, as Bendis took an unconventional look at how superheroes grieve, all the while figuring his readers would think he was glossing over the loss of Karen Page, until he revealed that he took Matt Murdock’s grief into consideration the whole time. Good stuff.
Plus, he did the whole “illusion of change” thing with Matt’s identity being revealed. Good stuff, and amazing artwork by Alex Maleev.
Alex Maleev also worked on Sam and Twitch, which was Bendis totally in his wheelhouse – crime comics. Sam and Twitch was a gritty look at crime in the world of Spawn. The best thing ever associated with Spawn?
Co-written with Marc Andreyko, Torso was a brilliantly moody piece, and probably the highlight of Bendis’ artistic career. It reminds me of King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, the documentary about the two fellows battling for the highest score on Donkey Kong. The best part of that documentary was the story and the characters that the documentary makers basically lucked into. Here, Bendis and Andreyko were obviously familiar with the story beforehand, but still, they were lucky to have such a wonderful tale actually occur in American history!!!
Great characters, horror, mystery, danger, pathos – the story had it all, PLUS one of the most famous figure of law – Elliot Ness!!!
Greg recently featured this one as a “Comic You Should Own,” and he is totally correct.
Jessica Jones is an extremely strong character, and, as a nice treat, is an extremely strong original FEMALE character, which is too often a rarity in popular fiction.
I would have this book higher, but I think Bendis actually did a slightly better job with another female character…
2. Angels of Destruction
Okay, not really…
A hard-nosed bounty hunter, Jinx, I believe, was Bendis’ greatest success in the noir field, and Jinx his single best creation. What is so great about Jinx is that as good as she is (and she is great), Bendis also worked in his previous creation, Goldfish, into the comic, and Goldfish is a great character on his own, making the comic that much better of a read.
The relationship between Goldfish and Jinx is stirring, believable and witty. But at the heart of the comic is still Jinx, and while the comic meanders, it meanders because life meanders. This is probably the most effective Bendis dialogue, where his standard dialogue fits in the best and at its most natural. While perhaps his dialogue style might not fit in perfectly with, say, the Avengers or whatever, it fits beautifully with the characters in Jinx.
Powers takes the top spot in my book because, while Jinx is probably his single best creation, Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim are both right up there, and Powers manages to combine superheroes, action, drama, humor and character-based storytelling all into one sweeping tome that, more than 60 issues into the series, has not lost much of a beat from the initial, classic storyline “Who Killed Retro Girl?” (don’t get me wrong, that first storyline is still probably the best storyline in the series, but the quality has not DIMINISHED – it just so happens that the first storyline was really, really good, so that is a high standard to basically meet, which Bendis has done).
On Powers, Bendis has paired up with Michael Avon Oeming, whose character work is absolutely stunning – as great of a job as Bendis has done establishing the personalities of his characters through writing, Oeming has done just as nice of a job establishing their personalities through his art/design work.
We sure are lucky that Bendis and Oeming continue to put out this comic book.
That’s my top five!
Agree? Disagree? Let me know!
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