Cross-Hatchings for March 2014
A little of this and a little of that… stuff that didn’t rate a full column but that I didn’t want to ignore.
Aqua-AWESOME: I was THISCLOSE to dumping the new Aquaman… but then I heard Jeff Parker was taking over as the writer and so I hung around.
That, as it turned out, was a really good decision. The current issue, #28, had me grinning like a kid by the time I was done. I’ve been a fan of Aquaman since I was seven years old, and believe me, Jeff Parker nailed it. I have been waiting literally decades for a version of Aquaman like this one.
What made it special? Well, I don’t want to give too much away about the story, but I do remember Parker saying in interviews that he was going to show some great undersea action. Specifically, “shark-punching.”
Let the record show that Mr. Parker is a man of his word.
I love seeing Aquaman doing undersea rescue stuff. For one thing, it differentiates him from Namor the Sub-Mariner– it’s Namor that’s the arrogant Atlantean that has a big mad-on for surface-dwellers, not Aquaman, and I’m really tired of DC trying to give Aquaman a tough-guy makeover by having him steal all Namor’s riffs. Jeff Parker is definitely NOT doing that, which makes me ridiculously happy all by itself.
But even better, he’s giving us an Aquaman and Mera that aren’t bitchy and tormented. I’ve said for years that it’s perfectly do-able to have a well-adjusted superhero couple in comics that are still interesting, and Parker’s subplot about Arthur squiring Mera to his class reunion was an inspired example of how you do that kind of story.
And the art by Paul Pelletier continues to be gorgeous, too.
I’ve been rude in print many times about what I don’t like about DC’s New 52, so it’s only fair to mention one that I think they are getting absolutely right. This Aquaman is a treat for both new readers and old guys like me, it’s got drama and humor and sharks getting punched in the face. It’s just a great time. You should check it out.
Worth Noting: I don’t know why this picture suddenly keeps showing up on all my social media feeds, but I have to admit it’s a great picture. So you all should enjoy it too.
Honor Blackman back in her Avengers days. Everybody loves Emma Peel, but Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale was pretty groovy too.
Signal Boost: In case you didn’t know, CAPS is doing an auction this coming week to benefit Stan Sakai and his family.
The Sakais are one of the nicest families in comics. Young Hannah Sakai was in my very first cartooning workshop I taught at San Diego Comic-Con fourteen years ago, and Stan has always been completely wonderful to every kid I ever aimed at his booth in all the years since then. They are awesome and deserve your support, and it’s a damn crime that one of our industry’s greatest talents has to turn to charity to meet medical expenses. But the auction’s going to be selling amazing stuff in any case; so you can satisfy your acquisitive nerd greed and do something nice at the same time.
Contributors include: Adam Hughes, Alex Maleev, Arthur Adams, Batton Lash, Eric Powell, Jan Duursema, Jerry Ordway, Jordi Bernet, Matt Groening, Michael Allred, Mike Mignola, Paul Gulacy, Sanjuliàn, Scott Shaw!, Jim Steranko, Tim Sale, William Stout, Bill Sienkiewicz, Cameron Stewart, Dan Brereton, Daniel Parsons, Dave Gibbons, Dean Yeagle, Doug Sneyd, Dustin Nguyen, Bill Morrison, Tone Rodriguez, Sergio Aragonés, Fabio Moon, Francisco Francavilla, Gene Ha, Geof Darrow, Gilbert Hernandez, Jack Davis, James O’Barr, Kevin Eastman, Jeff Lemire, Jeff Smith, Kazu Kibuishi, Liam Sharp, Tom Richmond, Michael Jantze, Olivia, Oscar Martin, Paul Chadwick, Richard Corben, Tom Mandrake, Walter Simonson, Charles Vess, Dan Spiegle, J. Scott Campbell and many more.
My friend Jim did a nice write-up on it here explaining what it’s all about and how it will work, and a couple of the auction pieces are posted there as well.
From the Review Pile: Titan sent me a couple of really terrific hardcover comics collections this week — one relatively new, the other a piece of history.
The first one is the collected Accident Man, from writers Pat Mills and Tony Skinner, and a variety of artists.
Accident Man is the story of Mike Fallon, a suave-but-surly hitman whose specialty is making deaths look accidental. The only other thing I’ve seen from Mills is Marshal Law, which I liked well enough but thought was kind of a one-joke premise; this is a much better showcase of Mills’ writing talent. Mike Fallon is hilariously sociopathic and brutal but still a real three-dimensional character, and the stories are twisty black-humored fun.
This collects all four of the “Accident Man” stories, both the ones that ran in the British weekly comic Toxic! and also the Dark Horse three-issue miniseries all in a nice hardcover for a reasonable $29.99.
And I was delighted to see the latest volume in the Simon and Kirby Library series: Horror. This collects all the Simon and Kirby collaborations from the fifties horror title Black Magic.
You don’t really think of Jack Kirby as a horror artist– certainly not in the same sense as, say, Graham Ingels or Berni Wrightson– but he had some chops. The stories tend to be more eerie; Twilight Zone-style tales with a twist rather than the in-your-face gore of the pre-Comics Code stuff EC was doing.
These comics have been out of print for decades except for the few that DC reprinted (badly) in the 1970s.
So it’s nice to have them all in print at last, especially in a beautiful hardcover presentation like this one. Editor Steve Saffel writes a wonderfully informative introduction and does his best to sort out the art credits; Black Magic was a studio production and everyone kind of worked on everything, so there’s some Mort Meskin stuff that Kirby did finishes on, things like that.
The collection is rounded out with a run of Simon and Kirby stories from the short-lived The Strange World of Your Dreams!
These aren’t horror comics, technically, but they’re really goddamn weird.
Interesting to look at, though, and fun to read. I have yet to see a dud in these archival Simon & Kirby collections and Horror is definitely a winner. Retails for $49.95, but it’s a hefty three hundred-plus pages of cool comics, and a smart shopper could probably find it discounted online somewhere with a little googling around.
And that’s it, this time out. I should have an announcement in a week or two about a new project I’m very proud to be a part of, and in the meantime here’s a piece of teaser art by Zach Brunner from that same project that’s too awesome not to share.
More details soon, I promise. Maybe even by next week. See you then.