Monday, August 9, 2010
For those asking why they don't make comics like they used to - here's proof that they sometimes still do, and economically, its also a demonstration of why they generally don't.
Neal Adams is one of the most respected 'super realist' artists in comics - arguably the wellspring for the whole densely illustrative, heavily detailed style that dominates the super hero genre. The Renaissance of the Batman character as a dark, brooding avenger of the night taken deadly seriously was Neal Adams 1970's run on the book with Denny O'Neil on the scripts. It's no coincidence that Batman Begins, the dark hyper-realist first Batman movie by director Christopher Nolan used Ras Al Ghul, the international terrorist they created in that run as the villain.
But Adams is writing as well as drawing this new series himself and Batman Odyssey combines his super dense, packed to the gutters art with utterly berserk almost stream of consciousness writing that is less a comic book than page after page of smacks to the face. The dialogue is a bizarre mix of non-sequiters, verbatim incoherent stuttering (“Huh? What... I can’t hear you... guy... look? Huh? What? Why?” - I'm not kidding that's a real line of dialogue in this book.) and one vertiginously odd sequence where Batman interrupts a fight scene in order to slam a thug up against a wall and give him an impromptu science lecture on the explosive properties of hydrogen.
If I'm not being clear enough, I loved this comic with an unreasoning joy even while being completely befuddled by it. As incomprehensible, over packed and just plain nuts as it is, it's also enormous fun and very pretty eye candy. Fashion designers have a term 'Hot Mess' to describe an ensemble that by any reasonable critical standard is a disaster (It's ironic that this issue includes a literal train wreck) but is still too much fun to look at to dismiss.
CHRIS ROBERSON and MICHAEL ALLRED
This super fun go-go boot monster comic continues and just keeps getting better. Starring Gwen Dylan, a morose zombie girl who is able to think and look alive only by chowing down on brains, izombie is just a heck of a lot of fun with ghosts, werewolves, vampires and mummies exuberantly thrown into the mix in every issue.
With issue #4, Roberson and Allred offer a cohesive 'rules for the undead' structure to explain every kind of monster we meet in this book. It's internally consistent and satisfying, but wasn't entirely necessary. I was quite willing to accept that the characters live in a world with zombies, vampires and were-terriers without needing a theological under-pinning for them but for the rules junkies there's a satisfyingly complete set here.
In this issue the monster hunters are circling and avoiding them will doubtless soon become part of Gwen's nights - equally doubtless is the heavily telegraphed love triangle lurking between Gwen, the smooth talking mummy who explains the world of the supernatural to her and the rakish monster hunter character staking vampires in alleys. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking or innovative here, but its an appealing enough production that there doesn't really need to be.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Sunday, August 1, 2010
by Patrick Rosenkranz
Canada's revered and preeminent artist of the underground comix era, Rand Holmes contrasted a beautiful Wally Wood inspired illustrative style with subject matter lauding outlaws and scofflaws like his hippie hero Harold Hedd and glorying in the humiliation and downfall of authority figures. His beautifully rendered brush stroke could throb with paranoia or add a density and panache to hilariously scatological funny animal epics.
This book serves double duty as a biography and a collected edition of the bulk of Holmes' creative output in comix, covers and later painted work including the complete hippie high adventure epics Wings over Tijuana and Hitler's Cocaine (Think the Freak Bros. epic Mexican Odyssey but with a real world gloss to the druggy antics.) along with a frank appraisal of the unconventional life of a hippie dropout contrasted with a painstaking craftsmanship. Recommended.
Written and illustrated by Steve Pugh
Continuing the character and story he co-created with Warren Ellis in Requiem for the Dead, Pugh brings us the continuing adventures of Alice Hotwire a police exorcist in a future where ghosts are a powerful and dangerous electromagnetic phenomenon requiring high technology to fight.
The art is beautiful and the story retains the inventiveness of Ellis with perhaps a little less of the horrible cynical bastard pose that is his trademark.
Still enough of a futuristic Ghostbusters with a hungover bad attitude to make a very entertaining read.
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