12th Nov2013

Panel Discussion #27

by Jack Kirby

Jack-Comics

30th October & 6th November

Infinity (Jonathan Hickman, Jerome Opeña) reached its penultimate issue this fortnight, which sets the stage its the climax. It’s already been announced that Marvel are launching a new book about the Inhumans next month, so we have an idea of what players will emerge in what kind of world after the events of this cosmic saga. If you’ve been following these posts, you’ll know that I’ve had both positive and confused opinions regarding the mini-series. The Avengers, most of whom are gallivanting in space, fighting back against the Builders’ hostile takeover of the universe, have left earth relatively unprotected. Meanwhile, purple space-bastard Thanos has destroyed the Inhumans’ city Attilan and defeated their king Black Bolt and is now set on finding and killing his son, who is in hiding. We get a kind of unsatisfying answer as to why exactly Thanos wants to do this. As I’m learning with big comic events that promise to ‘change everything’, but then in fact ‘change very little but allow publishers to make a lot of money’, I’m not expecting too much from the finale but am looking forward to seeing what is or is not going to happen.

Speaking of concluding big events, Battle of the Atom (Brian Michael Bendis, Esad Ribic, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrew Currie, Tom Palmer, Ive Svorcina and Andres Mossa) finished. Did it change the world of the X-Men forever? Probably not. Has it made some changes to which characters are associated with which mutant factions that may slightly tarnish my enjoyment of the X book I’ve been reading regularly? Unfortunately yes. Does this serve the character? Not sure. Kinda, I guess. Was there a ridiculously huge, arguably unnecessary but definitely huge fight? Yes indeed. Was the series enjoyable enough whilst it lasted? Yes. Was there any good reason to write this paragraph entirely in a question and response fashion? Probably not.

I’ve always claimed to be a DC fan rather than a Marvel one, but having said that, I only really read the Batman-related books. Then again, these account for some 89% of DC’s output, so perhaps the point is moot. I picked up the first issue of the new mini-series Damian Son of Batman (Andy Kubert), which posits a reality where Damian hasn’t been killed and has continued his career as Robin for some time. Early in the first issue, Batman is killed in a manner not entirely befitting his reputation whilst investigating a crime scene. Damian then has to figure out how to continue. Which is actually pretty similar to Image’s recently launched Sidekick series. The book feels quite retro in tone and presentation. I have to say, I’m not a massive fan of the artwork, particularly the way Kubert draws gaping/screaming mouths, which is a shame as he seems to draw quite a lot of them. I guess it’s that kind of book. Still, I eventually really came around to the Damian character since Grant Morrison introduced him in 2006 (weird to think he’s been part of continuity proper for nearly ten years now) and it’s just a four issue series, so I guess I’ll stick with it.

Other Bat-books this month include a slew of Zero Year tie-ins that tell us what some of Gotham’s inhabitants were up to when the Riddler caused a massive and extended blackout in the city back in the day. Detective Comics (John Layman, Jason Fabok) brings us a Jim Gordon story about him facing corruption in the ranks of the GCPD, just like in every Jim Gordon story. Still, everyone likes Jim Gordon-GCPD corruption stories right? They’re good for you.

Kaboom brings us another Adventure Time special, this time a Halloween-themed collection of short stories by various writers and artists. I have yet to be let down by an Adventure Time comic and this is no exception. The highlight of the book was Bryce Carlson and Frazer Irving’s semi-realistically rendered, entirely surreal and slightly disturbing ‘Secret ‘Stache’, which sees gravedigger Starchy on the hunt for his errant moustache.

My picks from Image this time include Five Ghosts, which has become on on-going series, the brand new Alex + Ada and the continuing East of West and Morning Glories. Five Ghosts (Frank J Barbiere) has got a new artist in Garry Brown, which I was slightly disappointed by as Chris Mooneyham’s art was one of my favourite things about the book. Still, Brown’s illustrations are much in the same style and Mooneyham is back next issue, so I guess that’s okay. The plot sees adventurer Fabian Gray travel to Japan to sort out some gang politics with an old friend. Most pleasingly, the book manages to be both part of a continuing narrative arc, whilst still telling a self-contained story and remaining true to its pulpy influences. Many other comics could do with takng a leaf out of Five Ghosts’ book if you ask me.

Alex + Ada (Jonathan Luna, Sarah Vaughn) sees the titular Alex, a bored, slightly depressed twenty-something being bought a robot girlfriend by his free-spirited grandma. It’s kind of like a reverse Robot and Frank, though I’m expecting sexier results. The story is told with minimal dialogue and unfussy illustration making it a quick read, but an enjoyable one. Exposition relating to the future-world in which the story is set is dumped, but in a fairly subtle manner that feels fairly organic. I liked it. It’s not a particularly original set up but I’m curious to see what direction the book will take.

I’ve said a lot about East of West (Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta) and Morning Glories (Nick Spencer, Joe Eisma) before, so I’ll keep it brief; these are both strong issues. East of West seems to have made a concerted effort to be less impenetrable whilst not sacrificing any of its weirdness or creativity, which is paying dividends. I’m actually able to enjoy an issue on its own terms rather than thinking, ‘well I guess this will pay off later’. Dragotta’s art is incredible and his way of inferring movement is uncanny. Morning Glories focuses on under-used emo kid Jade and actually brings the students of the academy together to discuss what’s going on for the first time in what feels like ages. This is something of a relief, even if little gets decided. There’s even an amusing self-referential gag about how things would be easier if characters just talked to each other, which is quickly shot down. I liked this.

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