Hello, fellow comic connoisseurs! It’s Wednesday and I have a steady paycheck now, which means I’ve doubled my comic budget! Woo! Just in time, too, I had about fifty comics on my pull list for this week (slight exaggeration). I still had to hold off on a few to get in under budget, including The Witching Hour, which is an anthology of horrorish stories in time for the horrorish season of Halloween.
As usual, I’m going to focus my writing mostly on the stuff I think won’t get as much press (not that I’m press) elsewhere, or that I loved a lot and particularly want to highlight. Let’s get to it!
Mara #6 (of 6)
Writer: Brian Wood
Artists: Ming Doyle, Jordie Bellaire (colors), Clayton Cowles (letters)
Breaking Bad ended this week. When it ended, I was pretty disappointed. I felt as though the tone of the finale didn’t match the tone of the show as a whole, and that where the characters ended up wasn’t a satisfying closing. It wasn’t awful, but I expected more from a show that had been so amazing during its entire run. Mara ended today, and it’s been amazing since issue one. Obviously a six issue comic book is hard to compare to a television show that had sixty-two episodes spread over five years, but it’s the first thing that came into my mind. The tone worked. It fit the series. I felt… satisfied and sad.
Also I teared up a little. The best superhero comics are the ones that have the underlying message: I am different/something extraordinary, but I believe ordinary humans can be beautiful. Doctor Who does it too, and it’s one of my favorite parts of that show. Mara found its way there, and it did it through the eyes of a twenty year old woman who had always been set above the rest of the world… and then went even higher.
Mara is a book I’ll recommend to people. Just like Mara shows the potential of humanity, the comic shows the potential of superhero stories.
Earth 2 #16
Writer: James Robinson
Artists: Nicola Scott (pencils), Trevor Scott (inks), Pete Pantazis (colors), Dezi Sienty (letters), Juan Doe (cover)
There’s one panel in this month’s issue where an embedded war reporter is talking about the casualties of the World Army’s fight with Steppenwolf, and she talks about all the dead men and women. Except there are no women. There haven’t been any women. Every one they’ve shown in the battle scenes has either been a man or genderless. This book has some female supers in it (good and evil), but they’re not really involved in the battle, beyond one panel describing Beguiler and her ability to drive people crazy (yep!). Is this a conscious choice? Why is it that Hawkgirl is off looking into the death of Alan’s boyfriend, and not Alan? So we end up with a lot of heroic panels of heroes saving the day, and not a single woman among them. The only woman, in fact, is this reporter who is a witness to all the men fighting.
On the upside, it remains a fairly diverse book in other ways. Are there other Indian characters in comics right now? Sikh characters, even? It’s almost jarring to see a guy in a turban, only because I’m so not used to it. But it’s great!
And, you know, the story is kind of going somewhere cool. But if the female characters don’t show back up again soon, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll stick around to see it.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #6
Writers: Keith Giffen (script), Rob David & Lloyd Goldfine (story)
Artists: Pop Mhan (pencils, inks), Axel Gimenez (pencils), Diana Egea (inks), Kathryn Layno (colors), Saida Temofonte (letters), Ed Benes & Randy Mayor (cover)
Gosh, I love this book. I say this every month. It’s the full package! Anyway, this is sort of the end of the first arc, in that Adora (She-Ra, guys. She-Ra.) remembers who she is and she and Teela escape and everyone sort of deals with things. Before they go to Earth in DC Universe vs. The Masters of the Universe, I guess. Also Teela is sassy, because she’s amazing. And there’s a really touching scene with Adora and Cringer that would have been y favorite panel except for the not-quite-as-well-drawn-but-better-subtext panel that I did choose.
This is a fun book, and has really moved on from nostalgia factor (though I fistpumped when a wind raider showed up, complete with grappling hook).
Favorite panel (’cause I’m me):
Hinterkind #1 (Vertigo)
Writer: Ian Edgington
Artists: Franceso Trifogli, Cris Peter (colors), Dezi Sienty (letters), Greg Tocchini (cover)
Reasons I bought this book: post-apocalyptic city, woman with a bow. The end! No, but really. You know that TV show Revolution (and in case you didn’t know before, or couldn’t tell from my TV comparisons in this post, TV is my other great media love)? I tried it out, and it was pretty awful, with a totally unbelievable hero (Miles) and a lot of white people wandering around looking pretty and fighting bad guys, one of whom was the only person of color on the show. So I was hoping that comics would do what TV couldn’t, in this particular case.
And… it sorta does? I mean, this is more fantasy than post-apocalyptic scifi, really. As it turns out. I don’t want to give too much away, but the title of the first chapter is “Once Upon a Time” and that’s pretty fitting. This is an introduction to the world, mostly through the eyes of Prosper Monday, whose grandfather is leaving Central Park (where their village is) and heading towards Albany to check on some people in an outpost that we know were slaughtered but that the villagers think may just be sick. Sure! Also she’s somehow connected to this Book of Monday thing that tells us the story of the fall of mankind. At least I assume she is, what with her last name being Monday.
Anyway, I kind of like the book. I wasn’t blown away, but I like the character and the setting (mostly), so I’ll continue to read it for a few issues at least.
Fantomex Max #1 (of 4)
Writer: Andrew Hope
Artists: Shawn Crystal, Lee Loughridge (colors), VC’s Joe Sabino (letters), Francesco Francavilla (cover)
I’m not going to lie to you, the only thing I know about Fantomex is what I read in the pages of Uncanny X-Force v2. Basically that he used to have three brains but they got split up and they were all in love with Psylocke. This is a prequel of sorts! I think? There are modern references, but the description confusingly referenced Fantomex’s past. But anyway, it’s sort of The Avengers (the Steed/Peel one, not the Captain America one) style, in that it’s mod with lots of halftone and there are crimes and snappy talkers. There’s even a character who basically looks like Emma Peel, but with her jumpsuit zipped down. I’d say it’s because it’s part of the Max/adult imprint, but lesbehonest about the state of female comic characters’ zippers.
Speaking of lesbehonest, that Emma Peel character is a predatory lesbian! Yay! (Not yay.) I don’t know if the book is meant to be satire, so I have no idea what to think of this. There’s also an apparently insane AI who for some reason has a gender (female, natch) and projects holograms of itself as a sexy nurse and a sexy maid and a sexy… you get the idea. And hates all the women who talk to Fantomex, generally referring to them as bitches. Did he program this computer? Because then it’d be a biting and satirical commentary on the frail male ego. But without that knowledge, I just assume this is supposed to be funny, which it is not.
Also there’s a plot, involving a rogue group of killer spies (or something), a lady spy on the trail of Fantomex (and vice versa), and an alien gun that looks like the game pods from eXistenZ.
Also reading: Trillium #3, Lazarus #4, Two Machines (graphic novel, $.99 via Submit)
Book of the week: Mara #6