Random Comic Thoughts/Reviews on Demo, Love and Rockets, Spider-Man, Criminal, etc.

News on the user generated content contest/Cracked rip off: it will go up next week at some point. Everyone who contributed (all four of you who got by my spam filter, and anyone I can fish out of there) will have their entries up here in some form; I haven't decided what exactly. So, specifics!

Now, back to my periodically scheduled linguistic vomit on a bastard artform! Now with Cliff's Notes! Seriously; do a search for that.

Mostly Read Graphic Novel Review

Been reading Demo in regular intervals between worrying about hurricanes and playing a reputedly awful wrestling video game that's not as awful as people think! Which may be the best review it will get. Hey, at least it's fun to flip around as the X-Division guys! Really, it mirrors TNA as a promotion; bad, but not as irredeemably bad as people think!

Wait, I was talking about Demo, right? I should probably get back to that and save the wrestling talk for where they allow me to shoot my mouth off about it and it's thematically relevant.

So, Demo; what I've read is very good. Its earliest period in gestation (that I know of) was as a pitch for a MAX version of NYX. Once Joe Quesada decided to do that himself, Wood decided to take the remnants of that project and use them for his own devices. Or, how he puts it here in his proposal for the book I'm nominally talking about. Somewhere in there, I also remember his artist on the MAX project, David Choe, not taking their version of the book being canned very well by Marvel. In a spectacular fashion on the Warren Ellis forum. I'll be damned if I'm going to go looking for a link to that, though. Mainly because it wasn't on the first page on Google, really.

So, yes, I do believe Demo totally fits that reference to Morrison's X-Men. That and my other torrential tangents of words, words, words, aside, it's just a really well written book that uses self contained, single issue story telling as beautifully in anything I've seen in the monthly format. I could see how this worked so well in single issues that even Wizard was fond of it.

Each issue (I've read) features a completely different main character. The main theme of each issue is taking the idea of people with superpowers and doing it outside the context of superheroes (of course, you surely got that if you read that whole proposal). Each story is about young person dealing with how their powers effect their lives.

These cover a lot of ground. Some are straight up slice of life dramas with a fantastic element, others simply take the idea of having a special skill and put it in a context to where the idea of superpowers is pretty mundane, one is even horrific. Cumulatively, they show how much you can do with the idea of stories where people have superpowers but aren't superheroes.

That seemed like a really big trend when Wildstorm was doing the Eye of the Storm line and Marvel seemed only a few steps removed from an indie company at times, and like Vertigo from 1993 most others, at least talent wise, but has really gone by the wayside in recent years. Even Heroes, which used that hook to snare millions of viewers, has become more of a (dopey) adventure show as it has progressed. I've always liked that kind of magical realism in a superhero comic context, so it's nice to see Demo do it so well.

Obligatory Token, Fumbling Reference To The Art From A Guy Who Thinks He's Writerly- Becky Cloonan's a revelation here. She does a great job with her use of black here. There's a manga influence obvious in some stories, but not to the point where she looks like she's tracing from whatever it is that Danielle reads.

Cliff's Notes Version- I am enjoying Demo so far. It sprung from Brian Wood's NYX pitch but took on a life of its own. Becky Cloonan does a great job on the art. It's emotionally resonant, and really does a great job of varying its settings and protagonists. Also; wrestling, hurricanes, wrestling, Warren Ellis forum freakouts, wrestling, Marvel used to have cooler creators, wrestling.

A Public Service Announcement

This week, my copy of Love and Rockets: New Stories arrived at my LCS. I did not believe it existed until then. But it does! And it features many pages of Jaime Hernandez drawing female superheroes. So, you know, I'm just going to assume everyone who reads this blog (and, indeed, everyone who can read at all) owns a copy and continue a relatively happy existence. Because, really, you all should, because... it's Jaime Hernandez doing superheroes! And his brother and fellow world class cartoonist/woman drawer Gilbert also has a ton of work in there, too, some of which features Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis pretty much!

I mean, holy hell, what else do you need? Some artsy fartsy pants type (you can buy those at Wal Mart for $3.99 a pair, by the way) like Jeff Lester to gush about it?

Wait. Really? You do?

Well, I don't have an artsy type like Lester handy, but here is some actual Lester gushing. Best I could do. But really, I shouldn't have to hard sell any of you on this at all.

Other Single Issue Comics I Bought This Week, To Be Reviewed In A Relatively Brief Fashion

Amazing Spider-Man#571- A big fight between two iconic characters we haven't seen go up against each other (that I can remember) is going to happen! Next week! It's weekly for this story arc and I just didn't notice in advance, right? Slott and Romita are pretty much my Spider-Man dream team of living, active creators, so I have no idea if their name value is totally carrying this or if it's actually good, but hey, whatever gets you through the big dumb fight comic, right? At any rate, I'm still enjoying this storyline, and Brand New Day in general, a lot. It helps that they're pairing my favorite writer of the Spidey brain trust with such consistently awesome artists.

Batman Confidential #21- Final part of the very fun Batgirl/Catwoman/Batman/All of the Famous Members of the Rogues Gallery in Arkham by the last part for the hell of it chase story. I enjoyed this a ton. Sure, Kevin Maguire drawing a nearly nude Batgirl helped a lot; I'm man enough to cop to how much of a manchild I am. Maguire's art in general was the draw for me here.

That said, Fabian Nicieza provided a fun, breezy script that never really stopped moving, and that counts for a lot in my book. It's not great, mind you; it's got a real Jeph Loeb vibe to it, in that Nicieza sees his job as writer here as mainly involving giving Maguire an excuse to draw Batgirl and Catwoman in various states of undress and making as many facial expressions as possible, while cramming as many classic Bat-characters in there at the same time.

However, I do think there's something to be said for that approach in super-books, and I found this to be a fun chase story with enough character work (a lot done via first person narration from Batgirl and Catwoman) to overcome any problems I might have had with its shamelessness or plot contrivances. So, if that sounds like something you'd enjoy, there will surely be a trade soon enough. If not, well, who asked you anyway, T.?

Criminal 2 #5- Yeah, sure, the issue was great and all and everyone of functional literacy should be purchasing copies of it along with L&R. Never mind that; I read the backmatter first.

Not only did it provide me with essays from Mark "Writer of Comics' Equivalent to Matt Hardy Without the Silver Belt, Manhunter" Andreyko and CBR's own Steven Grant, but with news that Darwyn Cooke is going to be doing Parker adaptations in Graphic Novel form and that Brubaker is writing an Internet serial that will star Zoe Bell. That those last two pieces of information were news to me really makes me think I am not using the Internet well at all.

The issue itself; look, it's Criminal. For god's sake, you should know the generic praise for it, theoretical ignorant reader! It's a comic by Brubaker and Phillips, one of the best writer/artist teams in comics! I mean, it's pretty much them, Morrison and Quitely, and that's it these days, but still! This comic should outsell any other thing out there on principle at a 10 to 1 rate! So, get on making that absurd claim a reality, damn you!

All that said (written? Shouted? Shout written?), this issue does have a particularly insane moment that went farther than any femme fatale material I've ever seen. To be fair, I had no real interest in noir before this comic, and only have a casual one now, so I'm sure there's a volume of things more out there with women who use sex as a weapon than anything Brubaker's written, and that commentors will throw them at me like flaming hot daggers of nerd derision.

Immortal Iron Fist #18- This continues to be fine Brubaction, in spite of the fact that my favorite collective entity in comics has moved on to mutant country and some guy with a really hard to spell of the top of my head last name has taken over.

If nothing else, maybe it feels too much like a natural progression from Frubaker, in that I'm not really seeing what Duane S. is bringing to the table here beyond following what they set up (although that assumes he had no hand at all in the set up of Danny Rand: Kung Fu Philanthropist, or Misty and Danny being back together again, which I'm not sure of at all). It remains a damn fine monthly superhero comic, but it lacks a bit of the verve of the stuff that came before it.

I mean, it's great that the book didn't go straight to hell when Fracaker left, but it would be nice to see it go beyond that, you know? It's like how the first non-Harmonix made Guitar Hero game's main goal was to not screw up the world beating formula, but the new ones have had profane Aerosmith career retrospective videos, drum kits, and all kinds of things. So, what I want to know is, where are the drums, Duane?

Of course, this run is a whopping two issues old, and good comics are good comics, so this is all just nitpicking in the grand scheme of things. Travel Foreman's art continues to be there; it's not as stylish as David Aja and suffers a lot in comparison to close proximity to Russ MF Heath, but it's solidly readable and, most importantly, all of the kicking is clear, so it hits all the notes it needs to in an Iron Fist comic, and really, I will probably keep reading this as long as D.S. keeps it at this level of quality and kicks per issue. If nothing else,

Marvel Adventures: Avengers #27- This was billed as Jeff Parker's swan song on this book. I can say that, without a doubt, his leaving the book is the end of an era for me. His run on MA: A has been my favorite run on any Avengers comic ever, followed closely by... nothing. I've never really liked them much before, as I've said, to the point where the only other run I've really read in any depth is the Lee/Kirby stuff, which was right down there with X-Men in their also ran category. I guess, if you really want to get technical, I liked the Ultimates for a while, but that seems too far afield, for reasons beyond the polarity between these two comics.

Anyway, this was another fun all ages super-book, with enough humor to keep the ISB Generation enthralled while still (theoretically) appealing to the young'ns. This one has a neat storytelling trick, as its two interconnected stories about different portions of the team. In Parker's, Storm, Spider-Man, Giant Girl, Ant Man, and the Hulk have fun at the county fair. Why Bendis's Avengers can't do that, I have no idea. In Paul Tobin's, Captain America and Iron Man face off without one of them being murdered, then have to foil the Enforcers most diabolical plot ever; I won't spoil it, because it's hilarious, and you people of reading ability should pencil this one in to the shopping list, too.

It's kind of a shame if only people in my age demographic are buying this. I think kids could enjoy this stuff, too. At any rate, for fun Avengers comics, this is your best (only) option. What I've seen of Tobin's work tells me he can keep up Parker's standards if he takes over the series on a monthly basis.

Kingdom Come Superman Has Returned... to Help the Justice League

More in Comics