Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. This week our special guest is none other than Ed Brubaker, acclaimed writer of such exemplary comics as Captain America, Daredevil, the new Incognito and Criminal, the latest trade collection of which, Bad Night, was let loose in stores last week.
To find out what Ed and the rest of us are reading, click on the link below …
Michael May: I just finished up a reprint of 1942’s AIR FIGHTERS COMICS #2, which was the first appearance of Airboy. It had its moments, but after that much Japan-hating I think I’m going to cleanse my palate with AKIRA. I started it a long time ago, but never finished it.
I also enjoyed BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #1 this week. It wasn’t as insane as I’ve come to expect from the cartoon, but Aquaman (intentionally) made me chuckle out loud and I expect great things from the rest of the series.
Tom Bondurant: I’ll be reading big chunks of Trinity and Final Crisis over the next few days. Before jumping into all that, though, I read the 1990 miniseries Twilight, wherein writer Howard Chaykin and artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez recast DC’s Silver Age sci-fi characters as … well, as Chaykinesque heroes and villains. I know these characters mostly from their Who’s Who entries, and I think it’s better to read the series without trying to spot the Easter eggs or reconcile Chaykin’s versions. Star Hawkins, Manhunter 2070, the Space Museum, the Star Rovers, and the Knights of the Galaxy are all major players, set against the supreme evil of (yes) Tommy Tomorrow. I halfway got the feeling that this was Chaykin’s response to everyone who hated what he’d done in the late ’80s with the Shadow and Blackhawk.
Twilight represents some of Garcia-Lopez’ best work. His layouts seem to owe a lot to Chaykin, but I don’t know if that was his choice or if he worked from Chaykin’s breakdowns. In any event, Garcia-Lopez’s designs cover a wide range of sci-fi aesthetics, from deco to asymmetrical kitbashes and (in one memorable two-page spread) the horrific mash-up of both. Twilight’s characters include humans, aliens, robots, intelligent animals, and combinations thereof; but Garcia-Lopez directs them well. Colorist Steve Oliff uses a washed-out palette which suits the faded glory of Twilight’s universe. Finally, regular Chaykin letterer Ken Bruzenak turns in typically excellent work.
Although Twilight offers a lot of backstory on its characters and the various ways in which humanity has screwed up the rest of the universe, the miniseries focuses on a “plague of immortality” which starts competing religions and apparently exacerbates civilization’s decline. Twilight zips along for two and a half issues, propelled by Chaykin’s wicked sense of humor. However, it ends up feeling like at least four issues’ worth of material truncated into three, as Chaykin rushes the ending without really exploring the ideas he’s introduced. Still, Twilight is a fun read, especially the second or third time around.
Matt Maxwell: ESSENTIAL MAN-THING v. 2. More Gerber! More! Just when you thought he’d backed off the sword and sorcery lunacy, he brings it back FULL FORCE. Also included is the later Chris Claremont-written run on the book, which was one of the first Marvel comics I read regularly, so there’s more than a little nostalgia there.
NIKOLAI DANTE: HELL AND HIGH WATER. The adventures of everyone’s favorite Russian continued. I started reading along with this when DC was putting out the collections in their agreement with 2000AD. High adventure and intrigue with a splash of ribaldry and “Did he really say that” moments in a futuristic Russia torn by civil war and what bold men would call “varied opportunities.”
CRIMINAL v. 2: LAWLESS. I expect this to be very good. Very good indeed.
John Parkin: Currently I’m reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I’m only a few chapters in, so the jury’s still out so far. Also recently re-read and read Pixu 1 &2, the self-published comics by the creators of last year’s Eisner winner 5. Well, four of the five — Becky Cloonan, Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon and Vasilis Lolos. It’s a horror story set in a boarding house, and each creator drew what happens in one of the four rooms in the house. It’s equal parts psychological and physical horror, making it a whole lot more fun and creepier than if they’d gone completely one way or another. In addition to the whole thing holding together well despite it being a collaboration between four different artists, there are also plenty of smaller, creepier moments that kind of stick with you after you’re done. I think you can only get it at shows or on khepri.com.
Tim O’Shea: This week, I finally got around to reading The Family Dynamic, a three-issue miniseries by J. Torres and Tim Levins from 2008. I’m always a sucker for family hero dramas, and this one looked like it had potential for the long haul. Originally intended to be a longer miniseries, something happen along the way. I’ve always liked Levins’ art and I wish I saw more of his work on a regular basis.
Secondly, I know it’s not the same without Alan Moore, but after sitting down and greatly enjoying Top 10: Season Two written by Zander and Kevin Cannon with Gene Ha on pencils and inks. As an old fan of Hill Street Blues/St. Elsewhere 1980s style drama, I’m pleasantly surprised at the balance of crime solving and alien soap opera the book offers. And kudos to the little fun asides (Zeta Ray Bill Catering in issue 3) whomever is injecting into the scenes.
Meanwhile, in the current batch of this week’s comics, my nominee for best title featuring a living Batman: The Brave & the Bold #1. It contains the best line of dialogue in comics that I’ve read in quite awhile. Power Girl (in the 1970s sans “window to cleavage” costume) utters in the heat of battle: “This creature’s made out of innocent English people. Hundreds of them!” Extra points for utilizing the new cartoon series’ pompous-jackass/Errol Flynn-style Aquaman. Also, I love a week where my son can read Paul Tobin and David Hahn’s Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four — guest-starring a Watcher as the manager of a fast food restaurant. No, really.
Chris Mautner: I’m currently midway through the lastest issue of the Comics Journal, having just read through Sean Collins’ very good interview with Brian Vaughn. I’m also about halfway into Miss Don’t Touch Me, a suprisingly absorbing thriller/mystery set in a bordello.
Ed Brubaker: Okay, what’s literally on my bedside table right now?
RASL book 1 by Jeff Smith. I bought the issues, but I want to have the big book and read it all in one sitting.
Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest by Millar and Hitch. Nuff said.
The Resurrectionist by Jack O’Connell. Jack O’Connell should probably be writing comics. If they do a Marvel Steampunk line, he should write the whole thing… maybe.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane. A book of plays by Martin McDonagh. One of my favorite writers.
Twentieth Century Ghosts by Joe Hill. Locke and Key was great, his short stories are better, though.
And that’s about it for now…
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