Welcome to the latest installment of your breath of snark free air!
COMIC BOOKS I REALLY DIG
Clearly, no two people lived identical childhoods.
People had very different experiences. Some people were popular, some were not. Some people had family problems, some did not.
With that said, I believe there are a certain amount of childhood events that, if not literally universal, are pretty darn close to it.
An embarrassing thing happening at school.
Your parents doing something embarrassing.
Your younger sibling being annoying.
Your older sibling thinking that you are annoying.
Basically all these events that, as a child, seem to be really big deals, and even when you look back at them today, you recall that same feeling of how important these events were.
Well, in Joshua Cotter's series from AdHouse, Skyscrapers of the Midwest, we see an assortment of stories that recall these childhood events.
And if thinking of these embarrassing moments in our past sometimes feels like a knife in our side, then what Cotter does in this series is twist that knife, and make the pain exquisitely felt.
The main stars of the story are two brothers in the early 80s in the Midwest. The conceit is that the brothers are drawn as anthropomorphic animals. Which is a conceit I have never really gotten behind. Even Spiegelman in Maus II sort of mocked the concept, as in Maus II it is clear that the animal faces are just masks for people, masks that Spiegelman thinks he is using because of a fear to get too close to the story.
I do not believe that is what Cotter is doing here, but still, it is a strange conceit. Heck, I do not even know what animal they are supposed to be. Anyone know for sure? Someone told me they are supposed to be cats, but they look more like dogs to me...but not totally.
In either event, whatever they are, Cotter draws them well. But as good as his art is (and it IS good), his strength is certainly his storytelling abilities.
From the fat kid who turns his playground embarrassment into an avenue for fun with his imagination (to typically disastrous results), to the abusive father, to the visit to Grandmothers, to the kid who has an embarrassing "accident" at camp, to the kid who does not want to go to Church, and finally, to the kid who has to tell his mother that the "cool" present she bought him will only get him mocked at school....Cotter doesn't just drag out and intensify the trauma of these situations, he manages to make them frighteningly realistic. He has the dialogue all down pat. He has the characterizations all down pat.
The series also contains occasional forays into different storytelling styles, like telling the story for awhile in the format of a school yearbook, or of the Sunday funnies. It's quite clever.
All in all, while Cotter almost always goes for the painful joke, he does so with a steady and almost surgeon-like quality, so the book reads very well.
It may not be a happy book, but it's certainly an accomplished one.
One cool point to the first person who can tell me which cover this Challengers of the Unknown cover is homaging!
SNARK FREE THEME DAY
This week's theme is "A Hero Marks a Momentous Change In His/Her Life With a Costume Change"!!
1. To signify his coming to terms with his new-found understanding of how his ionic powers work, Simon Williams adopted a brand new costume in Wonder Man #25.
2. To signify his coming to terms with his place in the grand scheme of things, Kyle Rayner adopted a brand new costume in Green Lantern #150.
3. To signify his coming to terms with his status as THE Flash, Wally West adopted a brand new costume (think the original costume only shinier, with his eyes covered) in Flash #50.
4. To signify his long-awaited debut as Batman's partner, and to show that he was a different person all together from his predecessors, Tim Drake debuted a new Robin costume in Batman #457.
5. To signify his coming to terms with his place in the DC hero world, out of the shadows of Batman, Dick Grayson debuted, in Tales of the New Titans #44, his new costume (and identity) as Nightwing.
6. To signify Thursday, Wasp debuted a brand new costume in Avengers #...too many to mention.
Let's hear some more!
SNARK FREE CHALLENGE
Who would you trust with a secret more - Doctor Strange or Wonder Woman?
COOL SUPPORTING CHARACTERS
One of the coolest things about Ben Urich, in my opinion, is that he existed for five issues before Frank Miller became the artist on Daredevil, and fifteen before Miller became the writer on the title.
So to see Miller basically treat Urich as a pet character is nice to see, as it is always nice to see writers look affectionately upon supporting characters of previous writers.
Miller handled him in such a manner that is quite commonplace nowadays (letting the supporting character narrate the story), but at the time, it was quite innovative for a comic book, and Miller gave Urich such depth that it was COOL to follow the comic from his perspective.
In addition, Urich was SMART - he figured out Matt Murdock's secret identity using just know-how!
But he was honorable enough not to use that info, and he was also honorable enough to stick up against the Kingpin, even though he was basically a gnat to the power of Kingpin.
Recently, Paul Jenkins has been using Ben Urich as one-half of the reporters followed around in Civil War: Front Line
Well, that's it for this installment of Snark Free Corner.
Hope you had fun!