Happy day-after-Free Comic Book Day to everyone, and welcome to another edition of What are you reading? Our guest this week is Rick Marshall, editor of MTV's Splash Page blog. To see what Rick and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading this week, read on ...
There's an underlying current of disappointment when I read most of James Robinson's writing these days (the recent Blackest Night Starman 81, being a noticeable exception). My disappointment was reinforced even more when rereading the early days of Starman, thanks to Starman Ominbus Volume 1."Talking with David, '95" is just an amazing example of how well Tony Harris and James Robinson worked together. Robinson put it perfectly when he wrote in this volume's intro: "In my time working month after month with Tony Harris, our personalities were never quite on the same page, yet our differences combined to make something far more interesting that either of us, at that time, could have done on our own. (Do you think I would have had one pirate reference, if Tony hadn't been on board? His version of Grundy--thin, gentle Grundy--led to me revising/explaining Grundy's various incarnations/personalities to the point that that's become a part of DC lore. Grundy would have been a one-appearance villain if Tony hadn't 'gotten all creative on me'--but again to the betterment of the opus as a whole.)" Harris has gone on to other strong storytelling successes (for example, Ex Machina by Brian K. Vaughan and Harris), but if he can spare the time, Robinson might benefit by collaborating with Harris again.
Kudos to DC for running Mike Carlin's editorial this month about the late Dick Giordano under his classic Meanwhile... banner. Read the piece, it's a good one.
I don't know if Roger Stern and Lee Weeks would be willing to become one of the regular Spidey writers in the rotating lineup the book sports, but it would be a delight if they were. I know there's a retro vibe to their work, in a sense (Weeks even does the half Spidey face bit [when Pete's in civilian mode], a bit I always liked), but for my money Stern and Weeks are as contemporary as any of the other comics creators on the Spider-Man books. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that over the coming issues (starting in Spider-Man 634) Stan Lee will be doing a two-page multi-issue tale with artist Marcos Martin. Interesting choices that Spider-Man editors are making these days, choices that make an old fanboy like me happy.
I continue to enjoy Mark Waid's Incorruptible series at BOOM!, but as much as I appreciate the company's effort to deliver on time every month, this issue suffered due to the absence of regular series artist Jean Diaz. Guest artist Horacio Domingues, at one point, is called upon to do a pivotal scene reaction shot with Max, and Domingues gives us a virtual Shaggy/Scooby Doo Yoinks! campy facial expression (a scene that Diaz would have handled quite, quite differently and less cartoonishly). In other BOOM comics, Incredibles 8 shines the spotlight on Elastigirl and brings back a character that has not been seen (unless I'm mistaken) since the actual film. I appreciate an all ages book like Incredibles that tries to expand the continuity as this series has to date.
Sean T. Collins
I'm back, back in the reviewing groove! Over the past couple weeks I've finally started reading and reviewing comics en masse on my personal blog after a month or two "prose break." (Seriously, everyone, go read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels.) Here's the first half-dozen comics I took a crack at:
The Arrival by Shaun Tan: Can we please mail a copy of this awe-some look at the immigrant experience to every single resident of Arizona?
Young Lions by Blaise Larmee: A Xeric-winning slice-of-lifer that's a thing of beauty for the Tumblr generation.
Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki: Subtle and gutsy teen angst for the young-adult market.
Keeping Two by Jordan Crane: A lush and painful look at loss from one of comics' best draftsmen, now available as a webcomic.
Death Trap by Lane Milburn: Another Xeric winner--a mutant Texas Chain Saw homage, with some really powerful cartooning.
Tales Designed to Thrizzle #6 by Michael Kupperman: After five unimpeachably funny issues, a let-down!
I picked up several free comics yesterday, but due to company coming into town I've only gotten to read one, Marvel's Iron Man/Thor team-up to save the world from ... the moon? Written by Matt Fraction and drawn by the incomparable duo of John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson, the two Avengers team up to save the world from a series of natural disasters being caused by a group of "multibillionaires" using old Stark technology to terraform the moon into a place they can build expensive condos and eat caviar while the rest of the world dies off. I was pleased to see JR Jr.'s take on Thor and Iron Man again, and there were some nice disaster pages (some caused by the moon, some caused by Thor).
Also, Iron Man? Kind of a smug jerk in this story. "Hey Tony, one of your inventions is causing tidal waves and what have you across the globe." "Oh, that old thing?"
Up next: more free comics, including the first issue of The Sixth Gun, the other Iron Man comic, War of the Supermen, Love & Capes #13 and something I'm forgetting ...
With Splash Page's focus on the area in which comics overlap with other media, my reading habits have shifted a bit toward titles that have been optioned for big- or small-screen adaptation or have some connection to the mainstream media world by virtue of subject matter, author, or any number of other factors.
That being the case, I often find myself mentally assigning what I read into one of three categories: work-related reading, personal reading with work-related potential, and purely personal reading.
What can I say? I'm a sucker for multitasking, and compartmentalizing all of it helps me keep all of the competing narratives separate in my head.
Here's what I'm currently reading:
Work-Related: I recently finished Greendale, Joshua Dysart and Cliff Chiang's Vertigo graphic novel based on the Neil Young album. I'm a big fan of all three of the creative minds involved in this one, and though it fell a little short in the end, it was a really fun read. It reminded me a lot of a smaller, simpler version of Stephen King's The Stand, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It hits shelves in June.
I've also been catching up on The Losers and 100 Bullets, two series I was into early on but lost track of somewhere along their run. I sort of rediscovered the former series due to the movie hitting theaters this month, and the latter because it's only a matter of time before it gets picked up somewhere. Brian Azzarello hinted to me in an interview last year that an option was likely at some point soon, so now's as good a time as any to get caught up, right?
Personal/Work: Anyone who knows me is probably aware of my unhealthy obsession with all things Doctor Who. I've been devouring IDW's Doctor Who comics as they hit shelves, especially during the drought between the last season and the current one. Tony Lee is doing an amazing job with the series, and it's great to see what happens when you have someone writing a series like this who's both a big fan and a supremely talented writer.
I've also been re-reading some of my favorite webcomics that were collected in print over the last year. In particular, Jon Rosenberg's Goats collections feel like new material with all of the polish they received during the transition to paper. The publisher of the series, Del Rey, did a bang-up job freshening everything up and making the strips really jump off the page. Similarly, some of DC's print collections of Zuda Comics have really impressed the heck out of me — especially High Moon and Bayou. To be honest, Zuda had never really been on my radar until I started reading some of the print collections of the series published there, but I'm glad that's changed.
Finally, I just finished reading through all four books in Top Shelf's "Swedish Invasion" line. All four are great reads, but Hey Princess and 120 Days of Simon were really good. The former felt like a Swedish version of a Jeffrey Brown or James Kochalka bio-comic, while the latter was an experience all its own. The author, Simon Gardenfors, is a popular Swedish rapper who travels around the country at the whim of fans who signed up on his website to feed him and let him crash with them. It's a wild, wild story.
Personal: I usually read a novel as a counterpoint to all of the comics — a constant narrative that I can keep coming back to between issues and such. I'm currently about halfway through Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, but I've been reading a novel between each Wheel of Time chapter so I don't overload on the sword-and-sorcery stuff. This time around, it's Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy (I have them all collected in a single novel), a sci-fi classic I'd been meaning to read for ages but finally got around to recently. My copy of the book is a fairly old and was sitting on my bookshelf for years before I finally took the plunge. It's a great reminder of why Asimov is such a big player in the sci-fi world, and given how much of today's sci-fi is all shiny metal killer robots, it's also a reminder of what can happen when science was just as important as the fiction. It's a true classic, and I can't recommend it enough.
So, there you have it! That's what I'm reading these days — or trying to, at least.