15th Sep2013

Panel Discussion #21

by Jack Kirby

Jack-Comics

Better late than never…

4th September

I bought lots of comics this week because there were lots of comics that I thought looked interesting. After being pleasantly surprised by the first book in the new Infinity (Jonathan Hickman, Jerome Opeña, Dustin Weaver, Marvel Comics) series, I was looking forward to the second issue. However, where the first issue was reasonably accessible and not a total mash of incomprehensible gibberish to any non-hardcore Marvel fans, the second has edged considerably towards this description. There’s a big space fight between The Avengers and The Builders and Thanos’s agents, the The Cull Obsidian (meaning ‘The Midnight Slaughter’, for those unfamiliar with synonyms) lay down a challenge to The Inhumans. There’s a twist at the end.

With so many factions, it’s hard to either a) understand what they all wish to achieve and b) know why this matters, if indeed it does. As such, I can’t really say objectively whether it’s any good for fans. For outsiders, it’s alienating. I am kind of interested to see what exactly it is Hickman wants to do with the story and characters, but as yet it’s somewhat opaque.

Infinity isn’t the only Marvel event comic I read this week as I also picked up X-Men Battle for the Atom #1 (Brian Michael Bendis, Frank Cho, Marvel Comics) and All New X-Men #16 (Bendis, Stuart Immonen, marvel Comics) in which the story continues. I guess I enjoyed this more as I like the X-Men more than I do The Avengers. They’re easier to understand as all the characters come from the same place, metaphorically speaking. The X-Men were also conceived as a group from the beginning rather than a bunch of well-liked individuals with not strictly compatible backstories stuffed into a single book to make money.

In this story, the original X-Men from the past who’ve been living in the present are being told in no uncertain terms that it’s time for them to go back to the past and stop dicking around with the space-time continuum. As if to drive this point home, a bunch of gnarly looking future X-Men turn up to back up the argument. It’s more light-hearted than Infinity and much more clearly written. I wasn’t so keen on Cho’s overly cartoony artwork, but it’s still quite nice, if not to my tastes. Regular readers will know I dropped All New X-Men as it wasn’t going anywhere and am wary about Battle for the Atom’s impending incurrence on X-Men. On the basis of these two books, I don’t think I need worry. This event is kind of what All New X-Men has building to and I don’t feel like I’ve missed much. Best of all, a favourite character of mine from a different book crops up in the future X-Men team and I was delighted to see her again.

My fairly avid Hickman reading continues with God is Dead #1 (Hickman, Mike Costa, Avatar Press). A staff member at Orbital Comics, where I choose to spend my money on these things, slipped it into my pull list this week as they thought it would be to my tastes. Turns out, it was a pretty canny suggestion. God is Dead posits an earth in which the deities of ancient Greek, Viking, Mesoamerican, Egyptian and Hindu religions return to modern day. Their return is heralded by massive natural disasters and a general breakdown of society.

Of course, as a first issue much of it is all set up, but it’s an amusing and interesting enough set up to maintain my interest. As Mark said a couple of weeks ago, Jonathan Hickman writes long convoluted narratives that don’t necessarily lend themselves to a ‘stop buying it when it stops being interesting’ philosophy (though that’s the only manner with which I’ll buy comics). As such, it’s nice to see that this’ll be a  six issue limited series meaning I have a foreseeable chance of reading an entire Hickman run on something beginning to end. I’m rather looking forward to it.

I haven’t read anything of DC’s Trinity War, so the circumstances of their villains month, in which all New 52 titles are being replaced by relevant antagonists, were a little lost on me. I thought they were just stand alone one shots, essentially, but it seems some have a role in the New 52 continuity. I picked up Joker #1 (Andy Kubert, Andy Clarke, DC Comics) which replaces Batman and Two Face #1 (Peter J Tomasi, Guillem March, DC Comics) which replaces Batman and Robin. Joker came on my standing order (complete with ‘3D’ lenticular cover) and Two Face is my favourite Bat-villain so I picked that up. It’s interesting to me that Two Face will be featuring in a major arch in the latter book starting next month, so I may well be buying those.

Unfortunately both books seemed pretty slight to me. Joker shows the eponymous villain raising a gorilla to be his evil sidekick, which was amusing but ultimately inconsequential and Two Face just seemed to have Harvey Dent shooting a lot of people without any of the pathos or moral intrigue that normally accompanies stories featuring the character. I have a feeling these won’t be the last villains month books I read, but on the strength (or lack thereof) of these two, I’m not feeling optimistic about it.

I heard about The Star Wars (JW Rinzler, Mike Mayhew, Dark Horse Comics) in a previews episode of the excellent Comic Geek Speak podcast, forgot all about it, then was pleasantly surprised to see the first issue on the shelves. It’s a comic based on George Lucas’s very earliest draft of the Star Wars screenplay and is as such a very mixed up version of the recognisable galaxy from a long time ago. Kane Starkiller is a Jedi-Bendu who brings his son Annikin to be trained by old war leader Luke Skywalker, who is preparing for an attack on his planet by the Empire.

For even fairly casual Star Wars fans, it’ll be an intriguing read and visually hugely interesting. The changes that were implemented between this 1974 draft and the original film’s release in 1977 are in some ways very significant and in others largely the same. For example, the Star Destroyer space ships maintain their familiar shape, though in this comic they’re two man fighter craft. Narratively, it’s a bit all over the shop, but it’s one hell of a curio.

Finally I got the latest issue of Sheltered (Ed Brisson, Johnnie Christmas, Image Comics), which I am enjoying very much, which is a little unusual as not an awful lot really happens in this issue and I usually demand a bit more from a comic. Basically, our hero Victoria comes out of hiding for a little bit, finds out a bit more of what happened to the prepper colony and gets chased back into hiding. Nevertheless, it’s well told and beautifully illustrated and its sense of realism is highly commendable. I’d strongly urge you to have a read of it before it gets too popular and then you can be all hipster and claim you liked it before it was cool.

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