Great Caesar’s ghost, I love this book. It’s the funniest thing going. I think I’ve finally got a handle on its weird, weird world: a gay astronaut crashlands on an alien world and runs into… wait for it… the Masters of the Universe. Well, sort of. The whole thing is kind of Errol Flynn-does-He-Man, which is a very strange idea, I’m sure you’ll agree, but the way it works is just really ingenious. It’s like of Saga made some sort of sense (I’m okay with Saga. Not super high on it, not a hater, but it doesn’t make a lick of sense at the moment and I’m skeptical that it will call come together. I’m still reading it, though!). Anyway, Chip Zdarsky is now in a class with Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore and Warren Ellis and Grant Morrisson as a writer whose work I will read, no matter what book it’s on. What a fantastic story this is; I wish I could describe it in more detail but really all I can do is ruin the jokes. Kagan McLeod, the artist, is a real talent, too; his work doesn’t look like anybody else’s in action comics and it’s totally delightful. There’s a spread from the current issue, #5, that I kept trying to find and couldn’t; it’s some of my favorite comic art this year, and it was a good year for comic art. I demand that you all go read it immediately.
DARTH VADER ANNUAL #1
I’ve continued to surprise myself by liking pretty much every Star Wars book I’ve picked up; I just discovered that the fantastic Simone Bianchi did the second arc on the main series so I’m guaranteed to pick it up this week. I have to say the only exception to this rule is that I started Star Wars proper and didn’t particularly care for it – John Cassaday is a really wonderful artist but (as with most people) his work suffers when he’s rushed and the first arc had some horrifyingly dodgy anatomy. There’s some crazy editing going on at the new imprint (Disney took the Star Wars license back from Dark Horse last year and gave it back to Marvel): essentially every hot writer and/or artist who works for the company is getting paid a premium to work on the books – the catch is very obviously that the books absolutely must come out each month, mustmustmust, on the same week every month, no backsies. Comics have gotten kinda laissez-faire about publishing regularity, entirely to the good as far as I’m concerned, but the Star Wars books are essentially part of a massive advertising campaign for the new films as Disney tries to make the Star Wars purchase pay back its $4bn cost. And poor Jordan White, the editor on the imprint, clearly has carte blanche to hire whoever he wants and an absolutely cast-iron schedule. So the Cassaday stuff got really ugly, which is a shame given how great his work elsewhere has been. (I mean get serious) But the Darth Vader annual, written by Kieron Gillen and drawn by the great Leinil Yu, is my favorite single-issue comics story I’ve read in months. It’s highly reminiscent of the old eight-page stories guys like Alan Moore used to write for the UK anthology series. Go pick it up.
This NYT piece was just the trolliest troll that ever trolled. I liked reading this guy’s reminiscences of his own childhood collecting
superhero comics but found the article weirdly trolly on the whole.
Sure, okay, superheroes are an American idiom, but they’re an American
*immigrant* idiom. Siegel and Shuster were both born to Russian
immigrants. Kirby’s family was from Austria, Stan Lee’s is of Romanian
extraction. Gil Kane was *personally Latvian* by birth for godsakes. Beyond
that, English, Scottish and Irish writers have had some of the most
perceptive takes on the whole idea in the last twenty years (in fact
you could argue pretty persuasively that Moore, Morrison and
Garth Ennis are the three most popular writers in the genre); manga,
contrary to the author’s assertion, is incredibly rich. I mean, really?
Tezuka’s Astro Boy is just a “rip-off?” Pull the other one. Further
still, Jim Lee was born in Korea and he is the highest-ranking creative
executive at the company that created the superhero; he’s also
best-known for illustrating a book at his main competitor, called the
X-Men, which includes as prime cast members Jubilee (Asian-American),
Storm (African), Colossus (Russian) Armor, Thunderbird, Dust and so on
ad infinitum. Diversity and unlikely heroism is *the entire point,* the
whole idea of Superman is that he’s an illegal immigrant with curly
black hair and looks like a nebbishy dork who can’t get a date but kicks
the stuffing out of bullying ubermenschen at a time when people thought
that Hitler guy had some fresh new ideas. So no sale on this one. At all.