Random Comics Thoughts on a Saturday Night

Yes, my social life is that depressingly desolate. I will illustrate why with the thoughts about this great American Art Form currently occupying my headspace.So, I liked Spider-Man: Reign #1 (a reprint of which I picked up on a whim last week), despite the fact that it was exactly what you'd expect from a comic that has the high-concept of "What if the Dark Knight Returns had been done with Spider-Man". I probably would have bought the third issue this week if I had picked up the second one already. So, I was catching up on my blog reading when I saw Graeme McMillan's review of the latest issue over at the Savage Critic. I didn't expect it to be positive, but I wasn't quite expecting why. And my reaction to his "spoiler" of the big revelation in this issue pretty much went like this:






And then it became a series of grunts and confused facial expressions (sort of like this). So, yeah, I was pretty bewildered.

I usually regard doomsaying about the state of Marvel and DC with the same enthusiasm as I do actual doomsday predictions (I mean, seriously, the real inconvenient truth is that you're boring, Al Gore!), but if Marvel is publishing comics about Spider-Man's lethal radioactive sperm, well, I mean, this is where we're at in mainstream comics in 2007? Even in an oddball Elseworlds style comic, I am amazed that this saw print; especially, as Graeme points out, since it stars Your Friendly Neighberhood Pop-Culture Icon and Licensing Cash Cow. I mean, he's had a rough go of it in comics for the last few years, but... killer radioactive sperm? This may be worse than Norman Osborn's Oh-face, and I was pretty confident that would be hold the title of dumbest thing in any Spider-Man comic ever for a good long while.

I mean, does anyone, at all, ever, say no about anything at Marvel anymore? Was there no one in the creative process who thought "Hey, Kaare, to hell with your creative freedom, we're not publishing a story about how Spider-Man's love juice killed Mary Jane!" Do we really need to get Jim Shooter to quit his job scaring children and employ him at Marvel again so they'll have someone who will say "Radioactive Spider-Jiz? Yeah, get the hell out of my office." And growl, for emphasis, I imagine.

Look, I'm all for creative freedom, but, you know, I have limits. Spider-Man's bodily web fluids? That crosses a hell of a line. I'm really just flabbergasted that it saw print. I didn't think Marvel was that laize faire. What do the editers do for their money? Tell people how to spell and pronounce JMS's last name? Proof read Bendis's scripts? Play "Guess the photo reference?" with Greg Land original art pages? Find new ways to screw over Jack Kirby, just to keep that proud tradition going? I mean, all of these are demanding, time consuming jobs, but are they allowed to do any actual editing at all? Or was I on to something when I wrote this?

Wait. What? Did I really just devote that much space to Spider-Man's radioactive man-nectar? From a comic I haven't read? One Marvel's made me distraught; maybe a family of them can help save my faith in mainstream comics. Who says this isn't a great time for awkward segues?

And really, you can't get much more awkward of one than going from that to Jeff Smith's new all-ages Captain Marvel comic. Which I haven't read yet. I want to, mind you. Between Joe and Alex convincing me that the concept was a great one with their incessant bolsterism of it, on top of the fact that Jeff Smith's doing it (with a long delay factored in to really marinade the comic in anticipation), I was very excited to pick up my copy of the first issue, expensive format be damned.

But the local didn't have one. When I went to inquire about a re-order, the shop owner said "We have a couple copies of Trials of Shazam. Is that what you're looking for?" I'm not sure I've ever said no that many times in response to any question in my life (except maybe that one time with the Bearded Lady and the Narcoleptic Midget at the Fair, but that's another story). Thankfully, we sorted that out, and I should be getting a copy soon.

It occurs to me that they didn't have the latest issue of Fell, either. And yet they're still the best shop in town. Hopefully I can get a copy of both soon. Just so I can read a whimsical Captain Marvel story and a gritty police procedural back to back for my weekly dose of extreme contrast. Who says comics aren't eclectic?

I guess I could read a Sin City trade and Carl Barks' Duck Tales back to back to get that contrast fix for the time being. I'm also really looking forward to reading Mark Millar and Brian Hitch's last issue of Ultimates and Jeph Loeb and Joe Madueria's first for the same effect. I may very well get some form of figurative whiplash from that one.

The school in which I'm interning in has some comics in the library, including Chynna Clugston Major's Queen Bee, which reminds me it's been too long since I read her work. I also borrowed a copy of Persepolis from a teacher's library shelf. There are multiple copies of Maus, including a complete hardcover collection. The most interesting thing, to me, was a series of books about different "graphic novelists" (I just got used to calling alt/art comics creators cartoonists!). They had books on Colleen Doran, Joe Sacco, and, of course, Art Spiegelman. I may have to check a couple of those out. I even had a teacher tell me how I could use word balloons from comics to teach kids about the concept of dialogue (the fact that there are kids in high school who don't understand the concept of dialogue kind of scares the crap out of me, now that I think of it), which somehow lead to us making fun of her ex-husband, an obsessive X-Men collector. Who says comics can't be part of your otherwise dreary teacher education?

Well, other than Joe, who, no matter how cute those pictures look, is really just creating his own Captain Marvel sweat shop. I'm sure of it. He'll be like an old comics publisher, but with inner city youths instead of young Jewish cartoonists. Mind you, I am sure he could do better with the character in that way than DC has done since they bought him from Fawcett, Jeff Smith comics aside. Who says that child labor can't produce wonderful results?

Okay, I'm out of content, and this has gone on for awhile. Really, though; who says brevity is the soul of wit?

Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales #2

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