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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 14 March 2012

‘We are happy lovers. Aren’t we? And happiness makes one stupid. Happiness and wisdom do not go together, just as body and thought do not go together. Because only pain is the thought of the body. In other words, happy people become stupid people. It is only when they get tired of their happiness that lovers can become wise again, if that is what they otherwise are.’ (Milorad Pavić, from Last Love in Constantinople)

No one can see you! Action face KICK!!!!! It can't be comfortable sitting in milk like that 'What do you mean, I have to leave a tip?!?!?!?!' That guy is thinking that it's too cold for this shit What a controversial cover!!!!! How nice for it to show up ...... finally! Aliens ... Hispanics ... oh, I get it now! I kind of wanted the J. H. Williams variant, because it's damned cool Wasn't that a Red Hot Chili Peppers song? I'm hung up on some comics from the Sixties, man! That's a damned fine cover! MCKELVIE!!!!!!

The Activity #4 (“What Goes Up Must Come Down”) by Nathan Edmondson (writer), Mitch Gerads (artist), Joseph Frazzetta (color assistant), and Jeff Powell (letterer). $3.50, 23 pgs, FC, Image.

This issue of The Activity is slightly better than the ones that have come before, but it’s still not making me stick with the book (I have pre-ordered through next issue, and then that’s it). This is more exciting than last issue and more clear-cut than the first two issues, and even the fact that Edmondson is trying very hard to make sure that the team doesn’t do more than they should and that they’re part of a great machine and therefore we might not see every part of the operation is a good move, because it lends to the verisimilitude of the venture. However, it’s still stuck in first gear, and now Edmondson has introduced a possible leak in the team, and as we don’t really know the characters all that well, I don’t really care all that much.

Gerads’ coloring is too murky, as well. Much of the operation takes place at night, true, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t appreciate some “fake” lighting to make things clear. Some movies try to recreate the actual darkness of night, and don’t you hate it because you can’t see what’s going on? There’s a full page panel in this book that seems like it would be hella cool if it weren’t for the fact that we can barely see it. It doesn’t even need a lot of light, but it needs some. It’s annoying, because while the art isn’t great, it’s not bad, but the most exciting parts of this book are really dark. Sigh.

This is the best issue of The Activity so far, so if you’re keen to see what it’s all about (each issue is relatively self-contained, although, as I mentioned, Edmondson is introducing grander plot points), check it out. It’s not enough to get me to keep buying it, but that’s the way it is, isn’t it?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

HIJINX!!!!

Batwoman #7 (“To Drown the World Part Two”) by J. H. Williams III (writer), W. Haden Blackman (writer), Amy Reeder (penciller), Rob Hunter (inker), Guy Major (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

If you haven’t heard, Amy Reeder is off Batwoman due to the ambiguous “creative differences” (which is like the “irreconcilable differences” that always break up celebrity marriages), and Trevor McCarthy will replace her on issue #9. Several things are interesting about this. First of all, Reeder has been working on this book for a very long time, so I’m surprised she hadn’t finished issue #9 yet, unless Williams hadn’t gotten her the pages. Second of all, this can’t be about the plot of the book, so it must be about the artwork, and hasn’t Williams had a long time to evaluate her artwork on the book? Third of all, some of the people complaining about McCarthy taking over puzzle me. Some of McCarthy’s work on Gates of Gotham was positively Williams-esque in terms of layouts, and his pencil work is probably just as good (or just as bad, depending on your point of view) as Reeder’s – they have some differences in style, but they’re not opposites by any means. If you’re going to get another artist for this arc and you want to keep it somewhat visually consistent with the first arc and whatever Reeder has already done, you could do a lot worse than getting McCarthy to do it. I understand that some commenters are upset because Reeder is a woman and she’s being replaced by a man and it’s just another instance of a woman losing a job, and that’s fine, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the actual work. Art-wise, I think the transition will be fairly smooth.

It’s too bad about Reeder, but it’s part of the shift we’re seeing in mainstream comics back toward the dominance of the writer, if we accept that the dominance of the writer ever went away. Others have been noticing this, mainly with regard to Marvel’s double-shipping policy that doesn’t allow a single artist any time to do even three or four issues in a row, so the book becomes linked to the writer with a bunch of artists showing up (David Brothers wrote about this recently, and I agree – if you think about it all, you don’t think about it as “Waid and Rivera’s Daredevil, you think about it as Waid’s Daredevil and whoever happens to be drawing it), but I noticed something very odd about DC’s solicitations for June: Underneath the title, there is one name – the writer’s. It doesn’t even read “Written by _____,” it’s just GEOFF JOHNS or J. T. KRUL, and then underneath that, we get “Art by ______,” subtly implying that the artist is not as important as the writer. Twenty years ago, I might have agreed with this. I like to think I’m wiser now. So dumping Reeder (if indeed Reeder was dumped) or Reeder leaving on her own because she felt expendable (if indeed that happened) makes a bit more “sense” if we accept the primacy of the writer. It’s not a trend I really love, but it appears that’s what’s going on.

Anyway, I like the way Williams and Blackman are writing this arc, with a bunch of different threads occurring at different times, all presumably leading to the present. I’m still not a fan of the supernatural bent this comic has always taken, but it’s been enough issues that I suppose I’ve made my peace with it. The best parts of the comic are when Kate or Chase or Maggie actually has to do some detective or other police work, and then the weird ghosts and other shit show up, and I just sigh and hope it’s not too annoying. Usually it’s okay, but they’re never my favorite parts. Reeder is still not done any favors by the weak inking, unfortunately (she had this problem on Madame Xanadu, too – I know she’s influenced by manga, but some muscular inks might help her out quite a bit), but she puts together some nice pages, and doesn’t Kate look adorable when she’s having sushi with Maggie?

Reeder’s departure may have dominated the Batwoman news this week, but I still think this is a pretty good arc, because I always appreciate it when writers try to tell a story in an unusual way. Williams and Blackman might not stick the landing, but it’s still nice to see them try to put this all together.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The part of Bloody Mary will be played by Tony Todd

Blue Estate #10 (“White Russian”) by Viktor Kalvachev (story/artist/colorist), Kosta Yanev (story), Andrew Osborne (writer), Toby Cypress (artist), Nathan Fox (artist), Dave Johnson (artist), Peter Nguyen (artist), and Kieran (artist). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Image.

Issue #12 is the final issue of the first “season” of Blue Estate (I’ll rant briefly about “seasons” of comic books below, believe me), so Kalvachev and Osborne are ramping things up nice and quickly, as various threads are coming together and the book ends with many, many heavily-armed men converging on a single location, which can’t be good for anyone. There’s also the wonderful phenomenon of a horse getting stoned in the back of a VW van, because why the hell not???? There’s also an entire page devoted to a sexual event (I’m not sure if it’s a position or not) called the “Beluga,” because why the hell not???? There’s a couple in what honestly looks like a physically impossible sexual position (NSFW!), because why the hell not???? As usual, Kalvachev’s coloring and clever use of artists makes the book, even with so many artists working on it, look seamless (yes, I know I was ranting about interchangeable artists above, but a few things mitigate this: it’s always been that way and has been planned fairly carefully by Kalvachev from the beginning, and I give non-Big Two books, with their thin margins, a longer leash than DC and Marvel comics), and as usual, this is a blast to read. It’s just one of those comics that doesn’t take itself too seriously but still manages to be an exciting and tense comic. Oh, yeah, and there’s a David Hasselhoff cameo, because why the hell not????

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The hat rules

Glory #24 (“Once and Future Part Two: The Way It Is”) by Joe Keatinge (writer), Ross Campbell (artist), Ms, Shatia Hamilton (colorist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

In this issue, Glory gets out of bed (that would be a bulletpoint is there were a DC or Marvel book) and takes Riley to her Bat-cave, where she explains some things. Meanwhile, in more flashbacks, we get caught up even more on her history, and if this is part of her established history, Keatinge is doing a nice job with it, because I feel like I know enough about what happened in her past to make the present comprehensible. Of course, Keatinge pulls the rug out from under us at the end, but it’s not that big a surprise because, frankly, I’ve been reading comics for too long, I guess. But surprise endings don’t make or break a story for me, and getting there is pretty fun. Campbell gives us another bloodbath early on in the book (well, beside the cover …), but he also does a good job on the rest of the book. It’s nice to see how big Glory is, and Campbell makes sure she still looks beat to hell – she might heal quickly, but not that quickly. So she looks both imposing and vulnerable, because she’s a giant, muscular chick who happens to have bandages and scars all over her body. Campbell, hilariously, cannot escape the problem that so many artists have with feet – Glory’s look like stumps when she walks into Riley’s room – but that’s okay; at least she has feet! Mainly, this is a gorgeous comic, Hamilton’s wonderful colors complementing Campbell’s detailed work very well. Two issues in, and I’m sold on the comic!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

If I could choose a superpower, it would totally be flying

Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #4 (of 6) by David Petersen (writer/artist). $3.50, 23 pgs, FC, Archaia.

By the time this entire series comes out, it will be well over a year for the six issues to show up, and I do hope that if Petersen has any more Mouse Guard stories to tell (and why wouldn’t he?) that he does them in a graphic novel format, because the wait between single issues is really annoying and, I imagine, works against the book quite a lot. Because this issue, in which two mice hunt a fox so that the Ferret King will release their companion, is really good. Petersen does a nice job showing how they stalk the fox, and the actual battle is superb. He also gives us an eerie scene in the fog early on in the issue, which adds to the sense of doom in the entire book. Finally, he shows how death affects everything, as the fox might be a predator, but even predators have families, and Petersen does a good job injecting a sense of tragedy into the story. Finally, there’s the ending, which leads well into the final part of the series. It’s a fine issue, put together very well, and highlighted by Petersen’s stunning artwork. Mouse Guard continues to be an excellent comic book, and I hope it still has a decent audience, even though I think it would be better to skip the single issues and go straight to the hardcover!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Well, that's a sticky wicket

Northlanders #49 (“The Icelandic Trilogy Part 8: Wealth 1260″) by Brian Wood (writer), Danijel Zezelj (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

The penultimate issue of Northlanders feels a bit rushed, unfortunately. I’ve speculated before that Wood hasn’t adjusted too well to the 20-page limit, as some of his latter work on the book feels like it could use an extra page or two, and this issue is no exception. It’s not a bad issue by any means, but Oskar’s sudden rise and fall in this issue feels, well, sudden. Last issue he imprisoned his father so he could go to war, and in this issue, he’s successful quickly and, just as quickly, unsuccessful; although he’s still around at the end of the issue, everything is aligning against him. The best part of the issue is Freya’s conversation with Godar, because the old man knows exactly what’s going to happen and Freya, doing her best Lady Macbeth, refuses to believe him. She’s too smart, though, and the instant things start to turn against Oskar, she realizes it and begins to take steps to save herself. I can’t believe that this story doesn’t end with Iceland losing its independence, and Oskar as a symbol of that works, but it still feels like it’s happened too quickly. Unlike some of the other comics that work under the 20-page mandate, this comic is too complex to rush, and that’s too bad (that’s not a criticism of other comics, in case you’re wondering, but because Wood is writing about things that occurred in a precise historical time frame, he has to at least pay a little bit of lip service to real-world concerns, which are usually more complex than what’s happening in a superhero comic). Oskar’s rise and fall is fascinating because of the way it happens, and it’s too bad Wood wasn’t able to devote a bit more space to it. I suppose we’re lucky he was able to end the series with this ambitious 9-part story in the first place and accept what we get. I’m bummed about next issue being the last one, but I’m keen to see how Wood brings it to an end.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

On the plus side, the crows ate well!

Saga #1 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Fiona Staples (artist), and Fonografiks (letterer). $2.99, 44 pgs, FC, Image.

It’s a big week for #1 issues, and I bought three of them. Let’s begin with this monster!

First of all, no matter what I or anyone else thinks of Saga, you should buy it. It’s 3 dollars for 44 pages of story, and that’s a damned fine value. A few years ago, when Vertigo was charging a dollar for their #1 issues, I checked out a few that I probably wouldn’t have looked at otherwise, and it’s just a good marketing strategy to lower the price on your first issue (or offer more for the same price) than, say, charging 4 bucks for your first issue and then lowering the price on subsequent issues (which Marvel was doing for a while). So go buy this, because that’s the best way to figure out if you want to keep buying it, right?

As for the issue … well, I wanted to love Saga, and I didn’t. I liked it quite a bit, but it’s not the greatest comic ever written and it’s not even the best comic I bought this week. Overall, the plot is fine – that there couple on the cover are from two different sides in a long, long war, but they have sex (I refuse to say they’ve fallen in love), have a baby, and now both sides want them dead (but not the baby, mostly because it’s a curiosity, as no one thought these two species could actually produce a baby). Romeo and Juliet in space, essentially, which others have used because it’s so accurate. So in this issue, the baby is born; Alana and Marko (the parents) escape from cadres of soldiers from both sides; both sides send assassins after them; we meet several of the principals who will, probably, continually vex our star-crossed lovers; and we discover a bit about the war, which has been farmed out to many other worlds because the two sides live on a planet and its moon, and neither world can be destroyed without causing chaos on the other one. There’s a lot going on, in other words, and Vaughan does a nice job pacing the issue to get it all in without going too fast. Plus, robot sex, so it’s got that going for it.

It’s the small things that bug me about the book and keep me from loving it. Scant seconds after Alana gives birth, the bad guys burst in and try to kill her and Marko. We never get a sense that childbirth has any impact on her physical well-being at all. Maybe her species recovers really quickly from pregnancy, but Vaughan doesn’t get into that. It might sound like nit-picking, but if you’re going to have one of your protagonists give birth on panel, you have to get into how she deals with it. So that was weird. Plus, are we really supposed to believe they both survived the big battle even though they’re stuck between two sides with a lot of weapons? Staples’s art is pretty good, but I imagine she’s had some time to work on this, and it does look sloppy in places. Her character designs are fine – impressive, even – and the action scene that comes right after Alana gives birth is well done, as is the introduction of The Will, but her figure work is occasionally stiff and awkward. The biggest problem I have with the art are the backgrounds. I’m sure someone knows the process by which they’re created, but it’s different than just straight pencils. The figures are pencilled and inked boldly, while the digitally-created backgrounds are usually in soft focus (due, I would imagine, to the coloring and wash techniques Staples uses, but I can’t be sure), occasionally feature some embarrassingly amateur stuff (the entrance to the “royal embassy,” most notably), and because of the difference between the strong figure work and the backgrounds, the book often looks like the characters have been photoshopped into a diorama. Staples has done this kind of thing before, but in something like Mystery Society, on which she was superb, she blended the figure work better and filled in the background more. As she gets better, she needs to stop doing this kind of thing. Well, in my humble opinion.

Vaughan has a reputation for writing good characters, and Alana and Marko seem like they fit nicely into the stable of “good Vaughan characters.” Something the ladies of everyone’s favorite podcast said about the book hit me in the face, and I’m going to go all mouth-breathing and knuckle-dragging for a moment, if you don’t mind. They liked the character of Alana because she’s the leader of the couple even though Marko isn’t a sniveling weakling. That’s perfectly fine with me – Alana is the leader, but Marko is still able to hold his own against her (even though I don’t agree with some of things she says; “we have a family now” is not the rallying cry for losers, because when you have children, you do sacrifice some of yourself to make the child’s world better, and you don’t put the child in danger just because it’s not in your nature to keep your head down). I submit, though, that Marko is a more interesting character, and the reason that Alana is the leader of the group is because Vaughan would get in trouble if a woman voiced some of the concerns Marko does in the book. If, for instance, Alana instead of Marko said they should lay low and stay out of trouble, would it have been good writing or an example of the woman being weak? If Alana had rejected the map as silly but Marko had told her it was exactly what they were looking for, would it have been an example of the woman being dim? If Alana had been nervous about the weird things in the night, would that have been an example of a woman being a coward? Marko seems to have more common sense than Alana, plus he shows that he can be both brave and scared, while Alana seems too perfect. As we move ever so slowly from women as eye candy in comics, are writers – men, especially – making female characters too perfect because if they show any weakness, it will be seen as sexist? I don’t know, honestly. I love female characters like Jessica Jones partly because she’s a bit of a mess, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t think Alana is that interesting a character yet, because she doesn’t seem to have anything wrong with her. Marko has plenty of things wrong with him, yet he still manages to be strong when he needs to be. You might ask if I’d feel the same way about Marko if the dialogue was switched, and I don’t know. I’m not even sure if I’m articulating the way I really feel. All I know is that there’s something off about the way Alana is written, and it’s enough to bother me.

I don’t know – maybe I’m talking out of my ass. It’s certainly possible, as I’m not that bright. I do know that I didn’t love Saga, but I do think it has a lot of potential. A lot of smarter people than I seem to love it, though, so take that as you will. I’ll be there for issue #2, and I strongly encourage you to check this out. Forty-four pages for three dollars, people! Make up your own mind!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

It's funny because he's a dick

Saucer Country #1 (“Run Part One”) by Paul Cornell (writer), Ryan Kelly (artist), Giulia Brusco (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

As you may recall, I’m trying to stop getting new series from the Big Two and move to trades exclusively, at least for those two companies. So I wasn’t going to get Saucer Country even though it sounded keen. Then, I was in the comic book store … and I totally caved. Oh well. It’s not like it’s a bad comic book, right? I still haven’t decided if I’m going to keep buying it in this form or if I’m going to wait for the trade – this seems like it’s very much written for the trade, so it just might have to wait.

But hey, it’s Cornell and Kelly, so you know it’s going to be at least worth a look. Cornell begins the book on a dark desert road in New Mexico, where the governor, Arcadia Alvarado, and her ex-husband, Michael, wake up in a car and don’t know what happened. Governor Alvarado keeps having flashes that seem to indicate she was abducted by aliens, but even though she tells her chief of staff and head strategist about it at the end of the issue, we still don’t quite know if she was really taken or not. Maybe she’s nuts, after all. The backdrop of this is that she announces in this issue that she’s running for president, so that might throw a spanner in the works. And there’s a professor at Harvard who has written a book about UFOs and whatnot who is fired for being loony and who talks to (possibly) imaginary people. You know, like you do.

Kelly’s great, so it’s no surprise the book looks great. The set-up is intriguing, although not perfect. I don’t quite understand the idea of Chloe Saunders, the Republican strategist (Alvarado hires her because she’s from the opposite party and can give her a different perspective, and I’m glad Cornell actually used the political parties in this country, because too often writers punk out in that regard), telling the governor to let people think her ex-husband beat her. I’m not sure if Michael actually did beat her and Chloe wants Alvarado to let people think that, or if Michael actually didn’t beat her but she should let people think it anyway. Alvarado goes along with it, so I hope it’s the former, because that would be a douchey move to make if he didn’t actually beat her. It’s unclear in the issue which it is. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. It’s a small thing, but it bugged me.

Overall, though, this is a decent beginning. Cornell has given us what will probably be interesting political intrigue, as presidential campaigns are dramatic enough without throwing alien abduction into the mix. Plus, Alvarado has some specific ideas about the aliens, so we’ll see where that goes. I’m not sure it’s a great comic, but we’ll see. I’ll have to mull over whether I want to keep getting it, either in single issue or trade format. I have a feeling that if it’s any good, it will be because it’s good in trade form, as Cornell seems to be going for a really long-term story.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I love this panel so hard

The Secret History of D. B. Cooper #1 by Brian Churilla (writer/artist) and Ed Brisson (letterer). $3.99, 23 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

If you want to make a monster comic, there are certain artists you can call to make it awesome, and Brian Churilla is one of them. Churilla knows this, too, so instead of waiting for someone to write a monster comic for him, he decided to write his own damned monster comic! Now, technically, this comic is about D. B. Cooper, the famed skyjacker who disappeared in 1971 and who has been a subject of speculation ever since. In this comic, he’s a CIA agent who has an ability, apparently, to appear inside other’s minds and kill them from there, making him a particularly skilled assassin. We begin a week before his famed exploits over Washington/Oregon, as he’s stalking his prey, and when he ends up in someone’s mind, he encounters a lot of weird beasties, which is where Churilla gets to cut loose. His companion is a large, one-eared teddy bear, he finds a monster inside what looks like a giant vagina, and things get messy. But he’s really good at what he does!

This is a wacky comic, but it works. Churilla gives Cooper a daughter who will, presumably, have an impact on the series. He gives Cooper a douchebag rival in the agency, who will, presumably, continue to be a douchebag. There’s a nice Cold War vibe to the entire comic, with men in cheap suits smoking cigarettes in seedy locations, and Churilla has a lot of fun with the monsters, because he’s good at it. He has a nice, loose cartoony style that helps him create these wacky creatures and keeps the messy violence from being too awful – it’s a somewhat gory comic, but it’s never gross. If you’ve never read a Churilla comic before, do yourself a favor and give this a look. Come on – you know what Bagley’s work on Avengers Assemble is going to look like, and this costs exactly as much as that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Monster mash!

Wasteland #35 (“Breaking the Warrior”) by Anthony Johnston (writer), Justin Greenwood (artist), Matthew Razzano (toner), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.99, 23 pgs, BW, Oni Press.

I don’t know how Greenwood was “coloring” the book before this, but this is the first time I’ve noticed Razzano’s name in the credits (forgive me if I missed it before), and even before I did, I noticed the tones were a bit slicker than before. The art isn’t quite as rough as it has been, which doesn’t bother me too much on this book, because it still feels gritty. The tones do make Greenwood’s already cartoony art a bit more so, so that some panels look like Scott McDaniel. But that’s fine – I don’t mind Greenwood’s art, and he tells the story well enough. Johnston does some nice things in this issue – Abi reminds us why she’s so kick-ass (mainly because she kicks ass) and we find out a bit about Michael, which, considering how mysterious he’s been for so long, is nice. I’m not sure what the last page is supposed to mean, but it might be because of how long the book has taken coming out that I’ve forgotten something important. Oh well – no big deal, as I’m sure Johnston will explain it.

As I’ve said since Greenwood came on board, I’m so glad that this book is back on schedule. It’s not quite as good as when Mitten was drawing it, because Greenwood isn’t as good as he is, but that’s to be expected. Greenwood is working well, and Johnston’s scripts are tighter when he focuses on one or two primary characters. The last arc was interesting but sprawling, and the delays between issues didn’t help. Now the story is more concerned with Abi and Michael and the issues are coming out with regularity, so the book feels like it’s getting its footing back. It’s very cool to see.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Dude, you're fucked

Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea by Hugo Pratt (writer/artist), Hall Powell (translator), and Patritzia Zanotti (colorist). $25.00, 253 pgs, FC, Universe Publishing.

I’ve read very little of Pratt’s writing, and unfortunately, it hasn’t really worked for me. I figure if I don’t like this, his masterpiece, then I never have to worry about reading his stuff again.

Womanthology: Heroic. $50.00, 321 pgs, FC, IDW.

True story: The gracious Ms. Kelly Thompson, responding to some of my whining, sent me a link so I could read this early. I was going to do a quick review on Tuesday to remind y’all that this was coming out this week. But I sat on the link too long and it expired, because I, apparently, suck. So now I have the hard copy, and it’s pretty awesome. It’s a gigantic hardcover with not only the various stories, but a lot of other stuff too – bios of pioneer female comic creators, a comic strip running along the bottom of the pages – and it just looks freakin’ cool. Now, I might hate everything in it, but the package is amazing. It’s fifty bucks, sure, but you can tell that a lot of work went into making sure it’s a very cool comic. I’m really excited to read this sucker.

X-Men: Season One by Dennis Hopeless (writer), Jamie McKelvie (artist), Mike Norton (artist), Matthew Wilson (colorist), and Clayton Cowles (letterer). $24.99, 100 pgs (plus a reprint of Uncanny X-Men #1), FC, Marvel.

Boy, I hate calling these things “seasons,” don’t you? I mean, they’re not television shows. I wonder if DC copyrighted “Year One,” but couldn’t someone at Marvel come up with something better? Sheesh. Oh, and I forgot to mention when the news came out, but as two of the three creators are working on this book – NEW PHONOGRAM COMING!!!!!! Man, I cannot wait. Yea, verily, it will be tremendous.

**********

I can’t discuss my current state without getting blindingly angry – here’s yet another bill the Arizona legislators have come up with – so I’m not going to. I mean, once we have the sponsor of that bill claiming that employers should have the right to fire women for using birth control pills because we don’t live in the Soviet Union, we’ve officially gone through the motherfucking looking glass. I mean, come on, Arizona. I know other states come up with absolutely idiotic shit, but why has this contraception thing suddenly become the issue? I mean, if I were a Republican, I’d be super-pissed that the presidential candidates are basically handing the election to Obama, and while Arizona is a conservative state, how long can the legislature waste their time with shit like this before the staunchly conservative electorate realize that they don’t have any jobs or, you know, freedom? Fuck politics sometimes.

In more fun news, this week was the first week I bought a DC comic with the new logo (it debuted last week), and I still can’t get over how furshlugginer ugly that thing is. I mean, look at that shit:

Someone got paid more money than I make in a year to come up this

So I asked my six-year-old to come up with a better one. I told her it had to have the letters “D” and “C” in that order, and I showed her some logos to get her started. I left her mostly alone, although I did suggest she could do more than just write “D” and “C” in different colors (although that would still be better than the new one). She eventually came up with this:

Norah FTW!

Wouldn’t buying a comic with that logo on it just make you happy? It has butterflies on it, for crying out loud! I expect DC to make another logo change soon, just when they realize how shitty their new one is. Pay my daughter some straight cash, homey, and we can talk!

My wife reset my iPod (she does it accidentally quite a lot, unfortunately), so there might be some repeats from recent weeks as we check out The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “Shake It Out”Florence + the Machine (2011) “I am done with my graceless heart so tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart”
2. “Indian Summers Dream” – Stress (1991) “Should I force the moment to its crisis just to provoke an emotion within you?”
3. “All My Little Words”Magnetic Fields (1999) “You said you were in love with me, both of us know that that’s impossible”
4. “Hope Alone”Indigo Girls (2002) “You were looking for your distance and sensing my resistance you had to do your will”
5. “Take a Chance on Me”ABBA (1978) “You say that I waste my time but I can’t get you off my mind”
6. “To Be Lonely”1Mucky Pup (1989) “Look for reasons why, but nothing becomes of it”
7. “Need You Tonight”INXS (1987) “All you got is this moment, twenty-first century’s yesterday”
8. “Get Out the Map” – Indigo Girls (1997) “We’ll leave the figuring to those we pass on our way out of town”
9. “Memories Can’t Wait”Living Colour (1988) “Don’t look so disappointed, it isn’t what you hoped for is it?”
10. “Happiness in Slavery”Nine Inch Nails (1992) “Stick my hands through the cage of this endless routine, just some flesh caught in this big broken machine”

1 I couldn’t find a video for this song, so here’s one for “Hippies Hate Water.” They totally do!

Finally, for no good reason except some commenter on a blog mentioned it recently, here’s a picture of Colleen Camp in a French maid’s outfit. I’m going old school this week!

Have a nice day, everyone. It’s currently in the 80s here, but it’s supposed to be in the mid 60s and rainy this weekend. Soon I’ll be yearning for those cool days when it was only in the 80s!

34 Comments

You are right about the the bogus ink work on Reeder’s pencils, man. I read issue seven today, and thought much of it looked like Top Cow level stuff. Not good, in my personal opinion. Her interpretation of Batwoman is actually really nice, though.

I’m a fan of the band Phish so I’m often thought of as a hippie and I don’t have anything against water. I’m just sayin’.

Randy Moss approves.

I have Corto Maltese shipping to me for exactly the same reason: so I can decide once and for all whether to read more Pratt. I’m torn between hoping it will be awesome (because… Good Comics, right?) and hoping that I can not worry about hunting down more of his work never knowing whether it will be great or whether it will be “Indian Summer.”

Seth: Yeah, it’s a shame. She has good skills, but her inkers (I think Hunter might have inked her on Madame Xanadu, but it also might have been Richard Friend, who inked part of issue #6) don’t do her any favors.

Kris: Just kidding!

jjc: I thought he might!

Seth: Yeah, I would have no problem getting more of Pratt’s work, and I imagine this will be the make-or-break book with regard to that. I know you felt much the same way about Indian Summer as I did, so we shall see, won’t we?

What’d you think of Dark Horse’s second Manara collection? Or are you planning to review it and don’t want to spol the surprise? I haven’t picked it up but am curious whether it improves on the first. (If only all the Borders hadn’t closed down, I’d have somewhere I could flip through it to see.)

Glad to see I’m not the only one who felt that way about Saga. The extra pages certainly helped, but it wound up being par for the course. Now it’s a trade wait for me at best.

It was the little things for me as well, like when one guy is complaining about tech issues on his phone. Like the rest of the comic, having somebody complain about dated tech issues wasn’t a very creative decision.

“but they have sex (I refuse to say they’ve fallen in love)”

did you miss the part where it mentioned they were friggin’ married?

and complaining about the art is ridiculous. this book was gorgeous.

Greg-

I’m so happy you were also let down by Saga, as I was worried I’d be the only one. Paste gave it a 9.1 rating! Like you, I also wanted to love it, and I completely agree that it’s a phenomenal bargain and I have no qualms about recommending people test it out based on that reasoning. But I thought it was a pretty lousy comic, and I usually love Vaughan’s stuff. I agree that the art was sloppy, to the extent that the quite nice and clean cover nearly looks like it’s by a different artist. I also thought the story didn’t distinguish itself from any other space opera story, and too many of the story elements felt recycled. I felt like it’s essentially the characters from Sweet Tooth thrown into the Rann-Thanagar war, using the plot from Children of Men. Vaughan’s best stuff has all been extremely original, high-concept fare (Y, Ex Machina, & Runaways never felt anything BUT original, even when they hit rough patches in the stories), but this is the opposite. It certainly tries to be high concept, but it feels rote in the execution.

But my biggest complaint with the issue is with the graphicness of the sex and language. Believe me when I say I’m as far from a prude as you can get. Pulp Fiction is my favorite movie, and I love Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis. But to all things a time and a place. With Preacher, the graphic content was all about pushing the envelope, and existed in fascinating dicohotomy/concert with the religious and moral themes of the book. And with Transmet, the graphic content always felt justified within the characterizations of the future and Spider Jerusalem. But in Saga, everything about the sex and language feels totally out of place, and it undermines the book’s story impact, like a 14-year old overusing fuck thinking it makes him sound “adult.” Same with the nudity on page 5. I’m not prudish about breast feeding, but that didn’t feel like it was justified nudity. That just felt like throwing naked breasts on page 5. There was plenty of nudity in Y: The Last Man, but it never felt gratuitous or even slightly out of place. Here, it did. Everything about the first few pages took me out of the story before I could even get into it. If Saga wants to eventually become a great comic book saga, it didn’t do itself any favors by having the first words on issue 1, page 1 be “I’m shitting.” I still remember the first words of Swamp Thing #21 (The Anatomy Lesson): “It’s raining in Washington tonight.” I’ll remember the first words from Saga for completely different reasons.

Look, I think Vaughan is a very good comic writer, and I fully believe he has a good, engaging story to tell with Saga, but everything about the execution of the first issue felt wrong. Even if it won’t be a bad series, Saga #1 was a bad comic.

My thought about the “primacy of the writer” stuff is that the writer can establish a run a lot easier than an artist these days. A writer can easily do a long run on a book, but artists, for whatever reasons these days, are not sticking with a book for a long, or even a decent run on a book. DC’s played musical chairs with their artists a ton just since the new 52. There probably are artists that have done decent length art runs recently, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of any.

Cue everyone to tell me long artist runs to show me how wrong I am.

So basically, if an artist can’t establish a long run, they aren’t going to have the equal billing that they should in a run.

For example, I would have dug Morrison’s recent Bat-run even more if it had been Morrison and Kubert’s Bat-run, or Morrison and Quitely’s Bat-run, or whoever, and I hope that Burnham’s gotten a good enough start on the new Batman Inc. to actually do the whole 12 issues (or however many it will be to end the Morrison run).

I wanted Saga and the DB Cooper book, but didn’t find them at any local shoppe. I’m hoping that the local book store chain has them, maybe, and I gotta see about Glory 24. My LCS guy got me the second print of 23, cuz I missed it, but he missed getting me 24. But he’s damn good, so if something slips through, I don’t sweat it. I probably shouldn’t spend all the money anyway… He looked for the Anubis GN volume 1 and Phazer War of the Independents xover book, but apparently Diamond doesn’t have any more, but he says he’s got a list to look for online for stuff and he added them to the list, so way cool.

As for the importance of writers and artists, I think writers are definitely more important. And I don’t wish to demean the impact of artists at all–I certainly don’t enjoy reading comics with bad art, and great art can make a huge difference in the overall quality of a book. But even still, it has to start with a writer and a compelling story.

Look at books like Morrison’s New X-Men when Igor Kordey had to knock out an issue’s worth of art in a few days, or look at the first handful of Alan Moore Supreme issues (pre-Chris Sprouse), when the art was being handled by an assembly line of second-rate Rob Liefelds (perhaps the single worst title that can ever be bestowed upon a comic artist). Those comics are still readable, and arguably even great. But, on the other hand, look at stuff like McFarlane’s Amazing Spider-Man run, when he was the most popular artist in comics, but David Michelinie was at his creative nadir. Or even McFarlane’s solo run on Spider-Man. Or the early WildCats stuff, or Battle Chasers, or Pitt, etc. Those comics barely come off as readable in hindsight.

Or look at Watchmen. Obviously Dave Gibbons’ art on Watchmen is beyond phenomenal, and I don’t wish to imagine the book without him. But, it’s at least conceivable for Watchmen to have existed with someone else doing the art. Most of Moore’s other 80s collaborators (Bissette, Totleben, Veitch, Alan Davis, David Lloyd, etc.) could have at least created a reasonably good version. Would it have been AS good? No, probably not. But try imagining Watchmen without Moore, just Gibbons and some other writer. Inconceivable.

It reminds me of a line from Moneyball, when Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane is arguing with the A’s manager about his contract, and Beane says building the team has to come first. Beane says “Right now, if a grounder’s hit to first, there’s no one there to stop the ball.” It was Beane’s way of saying “Sorry Art, but the players have to come first. You’re important, but they’re more important.” I feel the same way about writers vs. artists. As much as great art can elevate a book, the story matters more.

As for why artists aren’t typically knocking out extended tenures on books anymore, I think it’s about monopolization of time and artistic output. Writers can stick with books for a long time, because a 5-6 year run on a title isn’t necessarily keeping you from pursuing other creative paths. A writer can juggle multiple titles (some better than others, but it’s possible all the same). An artist, on the other hand, can generally only be working on one title at a time (with a few exceptions–Bagley, Romita Jr, etc.). So while Geoff Johns can write Green Lantern for 5 years without sacrificing his other creative opportunities, Ivan Reis can’t do the same. If Reis wanted to stick with Green Lantern for 5 years, that would have come at the expense of any other comic he could have possibly wanted to draw. For artists, the sample size of your legacy is infinitely smaller, so the urge to spread that legacy out among multiple titles/characters/companies becomes more pronounced. Especially if an artist ends up on a title with a bad writer and/or low circulation, that pretty well means that his/her art isn’t getting seen and appreciated without a project switch.

I haven’t read Indian Summer so can’t comment on that, but while Ballad of the Salt Sea is not the best part of Corto Maltese stories (but it is the first one, so it serves as an introduction), it should indeed give you an idea whether to continue or not.
Of course it would be great if you liked it, it’s a wonderful set of stories and Corto Maltese is one of the names that pop up regularly when the question of Best Comic Ever is discussed, but I admit it is not everyone’s glass of rum…

Gotta say that Vaughan’s dialogue is Saga #1 reminded me of Bendis’ trendy, punchy, hipster talk. It makes me tired.

I’ll be interested in seeing what you think of CORTO MALTESE. You can click my name to read my full review, but in a nutshell: I had some serious problems with it, and none of them were Hugo Pratt’s fault. It’s beautifully drawn, and the story is engaging, but the English adaptation is colorless, and the lettering is distractingly terrible.

Overall it was like watching a dubbed foreign movie; the essential quality of it shines through, just in the visuals, but it’s ultimately frustrating because you know you’re missing so much of the original experience. When I finished BALLAD OF THE SALT SEA, I still felt as if I hadn’t *really* read any Corto Maltese.

I agree with you regarding Brian Wood, he needs more than 20 pages. But I also think that his sense of pacing is partly to blame. There have been many issues of Northlanders and DMZ that had 2, sometimes 3 pages of establishing shots, which is something that you complained when you reviewed Fear Itself 1. I’m not calling you a hypocrite, but I think that you are letting him off the hook too easily.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, your daughter Norah has skills!

@Greg: (Re: Saga) For what it’s worth, I don’t believe I said that Alana is the leader of the couple (or the alpha), Sue said that. I don’t actually agree. I think they’re both “alphas” which makes for an interesting relationship dynamic.

But I would disagree of your characterization of Alana. I think they’re both flawed, which is part of what makes them interesting. I didn’t find Alana to be perfect at all…though I did find her to be saucy (which I enjoy).

Totally disagree with your regarding Staples art though. But art taste is subjective if nothing else!

I actually quite enjoyed Saga…but wasn’t blown away by D.B. Cooper. Those were the two #1′s I grabbed this week. I’ll be picking up Saga #2…but not likely D.B. Cooper #2.

I just really miss The Anchor…so I picked up D.B. Cooper to get some of that magic back. Oh well. Can’t win them all.

Seth: I reviewed the second Manara volume here. “El Gaucho” is better than Indian Summer, but I’m still not sure the actual volume is worth 60 bucks.

Riley: Yeah, that complaint was odd. I guess Vaughan was trying to make the reader relate to the story more, but I don’t think it worked.

I Heart Catman: Oh, so the fact that they’re married means they’re in love? I’ll be sure to tell all those celebrities who get married after knowing each other a day. Oh, wait, I can’t – they’re already divorced.

Vaughan doesn’t give us much to go on to show they’re in love except Alana’s pronouncement when they’re about to get killed. He also tells us they apparently fell wildly in love after less than a day together and had sex after they had a fight, which is a cliche that I wish writers would stop using. I don’t know how long Alana’s gestation period is, but let’s just assume it’s nine months. I’m not sure if having sex for less than a year with the threat of death hanging over you is enough to determine that you’re in love. I certainly don’t have a problem if Vaughan continues to develop them and they are a well-written couple, but right now, it seems like a classic example of lust at first sight. Most successful marriages or long-term relationships I know did not begin with a crazy night of sex, but maybe I’m just too pragmatic for this book. There’s a reason Shakespeare made Romeo and Juliet teenagers (and young teens, for that matter) – because the stuff they do doesn’t seem idiotic, just hormonal.

As for the art – well, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I don’t know if you’ve read Mystery Society, but her art is much better on that series. Her art on her short story in Womanthology is better, in fact.

Travis: You’re right about writers, but I think part of that might be that editors don’t demand anyone work on a deadline anymore, artists can make a lot of money doing commissions (which eats away at their time), and that the Big Two insist on doing the practices I mentioned in the post. I blame some artists for being ridiculously slow, sure, but there are other factors. I can think of two current books right off the top of my head that are (relatively) timely and have a consistent artist – Chew and The Sixth Gun. Brian Hurtt has missed one issue, and The Sixth Gun has come out pretty much every month since it debuted, while Rob Guillory has done every issue of Chew and the book only got behind because his wife had a baby. He pencils, inks, AND colors the book, so it’s pretty impressive that the book keeps up. It’s not impossible, especially because Marvel and DC employ inkers and colorists, but it’s the way it is these days, and it’s too bad. A consistent writer/artist team can make a book great, while I wonder if people will keep loving Daredevil, for instance, when we get Chris Samnee followed immediately by Khoi Pham followed immediately by someone else. They’re good artists, but the look of the book is all over the place.

Jack Fear: Yeah, translations are always dicey. It’s too bad, but that’s the way it is.

Pedro: I may be letting Wood off the hook, but often, his establishing shots don’t detract from the overall quality of the story (like I think it did with Fear Itself), so I don’t mention them. I think in the past year, though, since DC went to the 20 pages, he’s had some trouble letting them go. And Norah is pleased as punch that you dig the logo!

Kelly: I apologize – I thought you were both in agreement. And Alana might be flawed, but she’s flawed in a … good way? If that makes sense. She’s flawed in that she’s really, really brave even in the face of death, and although that might get Hazel killed, it’s still honorable. Marko seems flawed in a way that we can be a bit more scornful of him. At least, that’s how I see it.

Another Ian: That’s the way it is, isn’t it? I liked D. B. Cooper more than Saga, but I think they’re both worth a second look.

@Riley/Greg:

So funny…I loved that line about the tech issues. To me that makes things so much more relatable and also gives the book a slight (but necessary) sense of humor about itself. But I suppose that explains why you guys are not exactly on board and I’m a superfan! ;)

I dont know if its just me but while reading the first couple of pages of Saga 1# I got the strangest explosion of double deja vu of Grant Morrisons New X-men storyline involving Beak and Angel added to that a of Jack Kirbys Fourth world stuff.

Grant Morrison

How can you NOT like Corto Maltese? They are some of my favorite books…next to my Lt. Blueberrys.

Yeah, “season” makes sense with Buffy Season Eight, because it was conceived as a continuation of the TV series. But it’s just silly for something like X-Men.

I assume that Colleen Camp pin-up was in some way promoting the film Clue. In some very effective way.

“if you think about it all, you don’t think about it as “Waid and Rivera’s Daredevil, you think about it as Waid’s Daredevil and whoever happens to be drawing it”

What? No way. Daredevil has always been just as much about Rivera and Martin’s contributions as anything else or did you miss everybody drooling over the ways those two have found to represent his super senses?

Julian: But neither of them is on the book anymore, are they? Well, at least Martin isn’t, and I know Rivera hasn’t been on it for a few issues. I’m not saying you can’t drool over the way they represent his super senses, but if they illustrate less than half of the issues, how can it be about their contributions? It’s not the same as saying Morrison and Quitely’s All Star Superman or Ennis and Dillon’s Preacher or Ennis and McCrea’s Hitman or Ellis and Cassaday’s Planetary or any of the other writer/artist combo. I love both those artists and I agree they contributed, but ultimately, I doubt if people will think of them equally with Waid on the book. Maybe I’m wrong.

Re: Corto Maltese – I wouldn’t base any opinions of Pratt on this edition of Corto Maltese. One review I saw said the translation was awkward as hell (compared to an earlier English edition) and they rearranged and cropped panels to fit on an American-sized trade. I’m still getting it because it’s preordered and a good edition of the book is $60 on Amazon, but, yeah, read with a grain of salt.

It seems odd to pick Batwoman as an example of the primacy of the writer. Williams is basically writing it because he’s he lead artist, and his art was the selling point for the book. It’s certainly not W. Haden Blackman’s Batwoman.

Bill: Sure, I understand that. It’s not really a complaint about Batwoman per se, just my mind going off in weird directions. It’s still a question of DC (or Williams) not having already hashed out any problems they might have with Reeder (who’s been working on the book for over a year) and thinking they can slot in another artist easily. But yeah, you’re right about it not being about Batwoman specifically. I just follow my tangents wherever they go!

I Heart Catman

March 18, 2012 at 1:18 am

Greg, that comparison to celeb marriages makes no sense whatsoever. Especially in the context of this story and the dialogue and characterization displayed.

If you can’t tell the difference between hollywood couples versus a marriage of two soldiers from opposing alien races that are at war with each other, yet go through the trouble of getting married and expressing said marriage through a symbolic ritual, you know, actually bothering to go through the whole business of getting rings and having a ceremony, despite being chased by their respective alien military… well, then I really don’t know what’s going on in your head, man.

The dialogue alone seems to indicate there’s a love for each other that these characters have. Hell, the page that revealed their marriage perfectly summed it up too.

But even in your quickie-celeb-marriage argument, you seem to be omitting the fact that at the time, these celebs WERE in love, or at least THOUGHT they were in love. Even if it lasted a day, that was a DAY of being in LOVE. Doesn’t matter if it lasted a day, or if it lasted 20 years. These celebs marry because they have the perception, whether real or unreal, of being in love. Maybe it’s romantic delusions from sharing screen time, maybe it’s just the coke, the point is in their minds they were in love… perception is reality.

Having said all that, Alana and Marko most definitely are in love… at least for the time being. The dialogue between them in the entire issue is proof enough. The fact they married is just another layer of that. And that’s pretty much why it was mentioned in the issue. Pretty obvious.

Unless you’re just really pissed that Brit and K-fed never worked out their shit, and now it’s permanently sullied every reference to marriage in the real and fictional world(s) for you. In which case… sorry, dude.

I Heart Catman: You seem to imply that because two people get married, they’re in love. I don’t think that’s true. In lust, maybe, but that’s different from love. I don’t believe that these quickie-marriages show any kind of love whatsoever. Two people find each other physically attractive, have sex, get caught up in the moment, and decide to get married because that’s what society says they should do. Then they realize that physical attraction is all they have, and they can’t rut like bunnies the entire day, so they realize they never were in love whatsoever. Maybe it’s a poor analogy, but you seem to think that marriage is “proof” of love, and that’s ridiculous.

As for Alana and Marko – I’m sure Vaughan wants us to believe they’re in love, but the only time I got that from the dialogue is when they’re about to be killed and Alana says it. It’s easy to say you love someone when you think you’re about to die. The rest of the dialogue is fine, but they don’t seem to get along really all that wonderfully. They argue over the ritual of the wing-bleeding. They argue over the efficacy of the map. They argue over how to protect their newborn child. They argue over whether they should be scared of the night monsters. Obviously, they’re under a lot of stress, but the dialogue between them in the entire issue is definitely NOT proof of their love. As I mentioned above, the very fact that they had sex after a fight makes me wonder if they’re really in love, because that’s dumb.

Maybe you and I have different definitions of love. I’ve never fallen in love during a horrible war with a person from the enemy side, so maybe that’s how people like that act. But for me, the fact that they’re married doesn’t mean that they’re in love. Maybe the dialogue in subsequent issues will flesh out their relationship much better, but in this issue, I got the sense of Vaughan trying to TELL us they’re in love rather than SHOWING us how much they love each other. It’s just a different interpretation of the text, I guess. I’m glad it worked for you!

I never said marriage was “proof” of love. I was saying in context of this story, the marriage was one of the many things implying they were in love. It was one of the many elements. You even agreed yourself that Vaughan was “trying” to tell us that they’re in love, and if that’s the case, then he did his job. Clearly you don’t feel he was that successful, even though you understood what he was getting at, and you wanted to see more examples of this, and that’s fine, but as you said, subsequent issues will probably delve further in this.

Regarding my definition of love, love is not a tangible thing. It’s a concept. Everyone has different ideas of what love is, but it’s pretty naive to say that people who have failed marriages or relationships were never really in love, for the simple reason that it’s not a tangible thing. Even those ridiculous quickie-marriages. At that moment of time, they were in love, and that’s why they married. Even if in retrospect it was lust, it doesn’t matter, because in their minds it was love at the time. And that’s what counts. It’s their perception. You can’t go back and retroactively say it wasn’t love. We often tell ourselves that to justify the mistakes, but going back to that moment, that’s what it was, because that’s what they told themselves it was. That’s why they go off and get married, because that’s the thing you do when you think you’re in love… no matter how misguided or wrong they are later on.

We could argue about this forever, and I’ll admit I’m not exactly conveying properly what I’m trying to say here. This is why you blog about comics and I only comment. I am not saying marriage is proof of love. Or only people in love marry. I’m saying the motives for marriage is usually love (or perceived love), and in this particular case this couple was so in love they married, despite everything else.

I won’t even address the arguing thing, because arguing is one of the major backbones in marriage and you can ask any married couple that. And that dialogue sounded very married couple-y. Okay, I did address it.

I just found it odd you’d take a stance refusing to say that these characters are not in love, when every other review and promotional piece (that I’ve seen, at least) is saying they are. Everyone else got it. You even got it because you’ve said as much.

I mean, let’s face it. This book is LITERALLY about two star-crossed lovers, and that’s what it’s being billed as.

But hey, toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe.

I Heart Catman: Yeah, I’ll admit that it’s simply a matter of degree. I don’t buy it yet, but I understand why people do. I don’t know if it’s a question of going into the book (based on the promotion of it) expecting to see two people in love and finding nothing to contradict it, so you just accept it. I’m not saying the book itself doesn’t give us evidence (I know there is evidence, but not enough to convince me), but when you’re told that the book is about two star-crossed lovers, you just accept that they’re in love because you go into it expecting it. Maybe I’m just a cynical bastard. Hell, I don’t even believe that Romeo and Juliet are in love – I think they’re two stupid teenagers who let their hormones get away from them. It doesn’t make me like the play any less, but I don’t think of it as a great love story.

As for the dialogue and the disagreements, I can only go by my own marriage, which is in its 18th year. My wife and I hardly ever argue, and when we do, it’s very quick and settled fairly easily. We mock each other occasionally, but it’s much more sarcastic than what I get from Alana and Marko, which sounds like they really feel this way. I don’t know – I respond to a lot of writing by how it relates to similar situations in my own life, and I guess my life is a lot less bipolar than a lot of fictional characters, because they’re often on emotional roller coasters that would leave me exhausted.

I think you’re doing a pretty good job explaining yourself! I disagree, but I understand your stance. It’s always fun to discuss stuff, and I hope you don’t think I’m being a dick or anything. I’m just not as convinced as you are!

I haven’t read Saga, but I do know that Greg is good at pointing out stuff that other people don’t, so if he’s saying that Vaughn is telling more than showing, I’ll trust that he’s probably being reasonably accurate. I’ve also found that I enjoy people like Greg or Chad or Mark Andrew (who I believe was the one who wrote a piece several years back here about how Ex Machina was overrated) taking the piss out of critically acclaimed books. Not to just say haha, look at how that book everyone likes isn’t any good, but to say think about this book, don’t just go with what everyone else is saying, and demand better from comics.

As he says, Romeo and Juliet isn’t really a “love story” — they’re teenagers from warring families, which undoubtedly fuels some teenage rebellion sexy time hormones, and they’re so emo and stupid that because the one appears dead, the other kills themself, then when the other awakens (I forget who does what in the play, it’s been awhile), they kill themself. I don’t think that’s love, it’s wild monkey lust that turned the kids into hormone bags. If Vaughn is trying for “Romeo and Juliet in space”, it sounds like in a way he’s succeeding. From what Greg’s described of the relationship in Saga, it sounds more like the couple doesn’t really like each other all that much (or gets along badly), but have to go it together because everyone’s against them now.

Actually, wouldn’t it be interesting if the couple doesn’t stay together after all, and finds they just didn’t work, and were only together because of the taboo aspect of it? THAT would be an interesting take on the tale.

Oh, thanks Greg for linking back to your thoughts on the second Manara vol. I hadn’t seen that set of reviews—which was funny because I had been keeping an eye out to see what you thought of the next Manara. It’s good to hear that the story’s better in that volume but too bad to find that the printing quality suffers similarly to volume 1. It’s really too bad in that the rest of the packaging on those things is gorgeous. Before I read it, Vol 1 was something I was ready to proudly display. It’d be nice to hear from Dark Horse whether the flaw was in the reproduction or in the source from which these volumes originate. The occasional blurriness and inconsistent colours reminded me of my huge Little Nemo volume—but those are reproductions of 100-year-old comics, so maybe more understandable?

Also, since you put this up, I picked up Saga #1. (My first floppy in about eight years.) I agree with you wholly on the backgrounds. They’re… unimpressive. Staples’ character art is very enjoyable to me, so the failure in terms of backgrounds strikes me as particularly sad.

I might quibble on the matter of describing the book as a kind of Romeo and Juliet story because with Hazel’s narration, it’s pretty possible that Marko and Alana won’t be in the picture for long (they seem pretty well set up for a Jor-El-type sacrifice in the near future). But who knows. I suppose you may have been referring solely to this first chapter. In any case, we’ll see what we see I guess.

I wasn’t wowed either but I’m at least interested enough to pick up the first trade—which I would have done sans first issue anyway (but at least this chapter didn’t put me off it). In reference to other comments, I didn’t find any of the nudity off-putting or gratuitous. I was maybe surprised that Alana had her dress down far enough that Marko’s head could disappear entirely from sight but maybe she’s extra prudish about what exists below the waist? We just had our second child and I’ve seen more than my allotment of birth videos and careless nudity seems pretty much de rigeuer on that count. Same with free and visible breasts. In any case, I thought it was strange that Alana would be up and at ‘em so quickly. My wife (who loved Y the Last Man and wanted to see this) just presumed Marko used magic (since that seems to be his people’s Thing). Whatever the case, Vaughan could have done readers a favour and dropped some sort of hint.

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