O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
At the level of the most basic concept and plot, the opening few issues of 1987’s The Question seem almost too simple to work. A guy who wants to improve his hometown accomplishes it by creating a superhero persona for himself, not based on any special powers or skills he has, nor even really because of any personal vendetta, but simply because with a mask and a codename he can get away with stuff that would be harder to pull off otherwise. His opponents are agents of the corrupt local government, which is officially run by a drunk and inept mayor, though in reality the mayor himself is controlled from the shadows by an insane reverend. None of this is inherently bad, but it doesn’t scream originality, either, at least not on the surface. The creative team behind The Question uses the series’ core simplicity to their advantage, though, producing something rich and nuanced despite the relatively straightforward foundation. Every villain, including several of the smalltime minions, has a full and distinct personality. The titular hero has a fascinating, somewhat tormented, and often contradictory internal life, so following his thought processes is always an interesting experience. The action sequences are gorgeous and well-choreographed, easy to follow but still visually gripping and unique. And all of this is made possible by the clean, clear narrative—because the larger story isn’t all that complex, all of the players and individual scenes can be. It makes for some mighty fine reading, the sort of comic where every line of text and every new image pulls you in all over again. The ultimate destination of the narrative might be obvious up front, but the route it takes to get there, and the stops made along the way, are as surprising and exciting as anything I’ve read, from 1987 or any year. Continue Reading »
In too many superhero books, architecture can be pretty low on the importance level for a lot of comic book creators. Naturally it depends a lot on the interests of the specific writer or artist, and once in a while, the environment looms large and becomes an intrinsic part of the story. More than context, a well-crafted architecture can become another character in the story, lending substance and weight to the superheroes world.
I included the name of the story to indicate that this is NOT the Denny O’Neil/Denys Cowans series from the 1980s, but the mini-series that came out in 2005. Now you know!
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Finally, it returns…! Beneath the fold, I discuss recent episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and survey this wretched hive of scum and villainy we call the comics internet.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK(S): What would EC Comics look like, feel like, read like today, if the company never closed its doors?
It was fashion week in New York City this past week and that, plus my love of Dean Trippe’s wonderful superhero re-design website Project Rooftop had me thinking about the great hits and misses of superheroine fashion. So in honor of Fashion Week and Brian’s month of Top Fives I thought I’d do a nice light post about some of my favorite female superhero costumes…really just an excuse to post a lot of fantastic images.
I kept the list to five…but then added about a million honorable mentions…because, well, because I’m a terrible editor…the secret is out. Oooh, and if you think I could keep my big mouth shut about a few costumes I think are in desperate need of an update…you’d be wrong…they’re at the bottom (where they belong). Bwahahaha!
Onto the list!
Here are links to all the Comics You Should Own essays I have written so far. Plus, I’ve added some explanation. Enjoy!
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You go all your life thinking of your parents as these crushing protective monsters with infinite power over you, and then there’s a day when you turn round, catching them unexpectedly, and they’re just weak, nervous people trying to get by with each other. (Hanif Kureishi, from The Buddha of Suburbia)
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