I can’t stop writing! I am also chemically imablanced and not sleeping much! I bet that’s not a coincidence!
I picked up Batman/the Spirit recently. It was a really fun comic, I’m happy to say. The fact that it looks gorgeous goes without saying. While I tend to prefer the stuff that Cooke inks himself to his work with J. Bone, that’s like saying I prefer ice cream with hot fudge to ice cream with sprinkles; it’s not that Cooke and Bone aren’t great together, it’s just that Cooke is so much better on his own. Having the excellent (and, being a colorist, underrated, Dave Stewart) arround makes it as close to the heights of their work on New Frontier as you’re going to get outside of those pages. If you had any doubt that Cooke would do visual justice to Eisner’s creations, this book shouldÂ eliminateÂ that,Â ifÂ nothing elseÂ (being shallow, I was most impressed withÂ his rendering of P’Gell.Â Of course,Â the femme fatales are one of my favorite partsÂ of the Spirit). Â
But what really impressed me was Jeph Loeb’s script. Loeb gets a lot of shit on the interweb*, and most of it is not without reason, but I thought he did a damn good job here. Sure, this was a gimmee idea, and he did use pretty much every “superhero team up” cliche in the bag (they even switch costumes!), but he did it with suchÂ verve that I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face for the duration of it. I wouldn’t mind seeing him as the scripter on the ongoing, I’ll tell you that; he really nailed the jaunty spirit (for lack of a better word) that made those Eisner 7 pagers so fun here. I actually wish this had more pages, which is a good sign, I think. Jog brought up a pretty good point about Batman’s foes coming off better than Spirit’s, due to the fact thatÂ they’re more famous and all,Â but that’s really the only problem I had with the writing, and it was only a small nagging thing.
Despite my love of Cooke, I had my doubts about the wisdom of a Spirit ongoing; it just seemed like the Spirit, of all characters, should be off limits, you know? But the combination of this issue and Absolute New Frontier have pretty much negated all that. Well, that and between his assitants working on the strip and things like the New Adventures of the Spirit mini-series and the Spirit Jam, it’s not like the Spirit was solely Eisner’s work… ever, really. But it’s mostly how awesome Cooke is, and how good a job I thought Loeb did on the script.
I was looking for my Seven Soldiers issues in my back issue boxes so I could, you know, read the whole thing at some point. And it occured to me that I have a lot of mediocre comics in my collection. Stuff that I can’t believe I ever wanted to spend money on. That ever happen to you? How depressing is that? I mostly blame E-Bay, for the easy access of comics for such dirt cheep prices, but still; why did I ever want things like Kingpin or Ultimate Fantastic Four? Well, the latter was Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen’s arc on the book, but it wound up being like roughly 1/38th as fun as Nextwave, relatively, and the former had Sean Phillips art, but still… damn you, E-Bay!
Apparently, the OC’s Adam Brody is writing 1/3rd of a comic with his TVÂ girlfriend’sÂ (and I think real life, too; I don’t keep up with that thing too well) dad. I didn’t find out about this until I saw Paul O’Brien’s review. For some reason, this bothers me, even though I intentionally avoid any and all contact with Newsarama now that Graeme McMillan blogs there instead of linking to randomÂ press releases by Marvel and DCÂ for mockery. He sold out, man! So I blame him for not having a site I regularly read. I’m spreading the blame around today. Anyway, it bugs me that I was not sufficiently aware of this comic, despite the fact that I actively endeavor to be ignorant of the shipping lists, and probably would not buy it anyway, despite my unholy love for the OC. I’m not sure where I was going with that either.
I finished Marvel: Ultimate Alliance for the Playstation 2 (theÂ Playstation people won’t try to kill you for!)Â in the wee hours of the morning today. I love this series of games; the previous two were X-Men-centric; this is the first one to include the whole Marvel Universe. And when I say the whole Marvel Universe, I mean it. It’s pretty much all here; everyone from the Black Widow to the Inhumans to Arcade to the Watcher make at least a cameo. The Watcher! In a video game! I’ve been waiting for that since I was 8 and read my first issue of What If? They’re so ambitious, they even fit a boss fight with Galactus in, and in a fashion faithful to the comics, he lets you know exactly how insignificant you are to him, and you need the Silver Surfer to save your ass, because he can kill you by staring at you.
This is the kind of yearly Marvel event I can get excited for. Sure, the fact that the story solely needs to be a framing device string you along to new and different fights gives it aÂ leg up over something like Civil War; the interactivity of a video game makes up for the fact that this is really interchangable from most superhero punch ’em ups, story wise, and is in factÂ a collection of plots and scenes taken from 40 years of Marvel Comics and programmed in to the game; it’s nerd porn, in other words, and more than evenÂ “cover band comics” like theÂ Ultimate line orÂ Astonishing X-Men, they can pick and choose the bestÂ stuff tooÂ use from all of those old comics and throw out what they don’t want.Â
But it works. I think the reason I like these games more than most new Marvel Comics is that, you know, they’re self contained. You get a self contained experience out of them. They get the characters right, and don’t have toÂ resortÂ to plot hammering to tell the stories. They hit the right notes;Â UniverseÂ in peril, insurmountable odds, a rag tag band of superheroes; it’s the core themes that made Marvel Comics so compelling for generations. Sure, these are formula stories, but they’re formula for a reason, after all. And, you know, you get to break stuff as everyone from Spider-Man to Beta Ray Bill (he’s in there; as a costume for Thor, but still).
This may very well be the future of corporate owned superheroes, if their owners eventually do abandon comics and just the characters for merchandising, and between gamesÂ like this and the recentÂ Justice League Heroes, I’d say they’re in good hands.Â If one of the big appeals ofÂ comics* is escapism, then games that let you actively control your favorite superhero have a leg up on print every time. Also, games like this really heighten the social experience of gaming, as up to four players can break shit as their favorite superhero (even if their favorite superhero is Ms. Marvel or Deadpool, poor souls). That’s part of why so many people have said that comicsÂ haveÂ replaced video games, I think, even if I also think that’s an apples and oranges argument.Â
And,Â at one point, you rescue Blade from a giant claw grab machine. That’s pretty awesome, too.
*- We used to have a contributor in the blog spot days who seemed to knock his work almost exclusively, and I think by mentioning his name, T. has to magically appear to talk about how shitty he finds the man’s work.
**-I need to qualify that I mean superhero comics when I say that, since someone like Ed Cunard or something might possibly reading this and point out how that doesn’t apply to what Fantagraphics and D&Q publish. And they would be right. Genre does not equal medium and what not.**
***-Although a Love and Rockets video game would be great, now that I think of it. It could be part Sims, part Grand Theft Auto, partÂ Splinter CellÂ (because all games areÂ required to be at least 10% Splinter Cell; it’s a law) but with Maggie, Hopey, and Luba! Also, I think Jimmy Corrigan is crying out to be made in to an action/platform game, a la Mario or Sonic. A heart breaking, soul cripplingly depressingÂ platformer, where, when you beat the game, your father abandons you. Again.Â Also,Â one whole, longÂ level could be set at the Chicago World’s Fair, and be the best part of the game. It would tearÂ up the salesÂ charts, I tells ya.Â I could go on all day with this. I’d better stop before I get an idea for a Ghost World first person shooter of a Black Hole fighting game. I do think that if they really wanted to make the heads of people like Jack Thompson explode, Rockstar should definitely adapt Lost Girls.
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