13th Oct2013

Panel Discussion #24

by Jack Kirby


2nd October

So it took all of one issue for the novelty of The Star Wars (#2, JW Rinzler, Mike Mayhew, Dark Horse) to wear off. I liked the curio factor of the first issue of this new series, which takes George Lucas’s first draft of the Star Wars script as the basis for its plot. This issue sees the Empire launching its attack on the planet Aquilae, where General Luke Skywalker (closer in age and stature to Obi-Wan Kenobi in the actual film) leads the defence.

There’s some fun stuff to see, but ultimately, it’s a bit too much of a mess narratively to persevere with. It’s interesting to see the original Death Star design, which is pretty gnarly (basically, there’s more sticky-out bits) and it’s very weird to meet an R2-D2 that speaks English, but beyond that, things seem perhaps unsurprisingly under-developed. We also see Annikin Starkiller (closer in character to the Luke Skywalker we’re familiar with) punch out Princess Leia, which is weird, uncomfortable and not exactly in keeping with the heroic.

After reading some positive stuff about it, I also picked up the first issue of Matt Fraction’s Sex Criminals (illustrated by Chip Zdarsky, published by Image). It’s the tale of two lovers for whom time quite literally stops when they orgasm. In this first issue, we’re given the origin story of Suzie, who also narrates. We see her in the immediate aftermath of her father’s death, experimenting with masturbation where she discovers her gift/curse/USP and meeting Jonathan, who is as shocked as she is to discover that they share the same talent when they first have sex.

There’s some lovely art to look at (in particular the groovy, time-stopping effects) and there are some very funny bits, notably when Suzie seeks sex advice from one of the Dirty Girls at school. Fraction deserves points for inventing/introducing a whole new audience to sex positions such as ‘The User Agreement’ or ‘Auto Erotic Twerging’. However, I found the narrative device of having older Suzie narrate her past whilst sharing the panel with her younger self annoying and glib and the ‘meet-cute’ between the couple is as cringe-worthily, tongue-chewingly twee as anything I’ve read in comics. It’s all a little… hipster. As such, I don’t think I’ll persist with it.

In Jonathan Hickman and Mike Costa’s second issue of God is Dead (art by Di Amorim, published by Avatar), we see the ancient gods returned to earth continue to wage war on those who refuse to worship them. It stretches the limits of my suspension of disbelief (and that of a character’s) to see the dedicated faithful beating the US army with ‘weapons made of stone’, but I’m kind of going with it. Hickman clearly has a partiality for including real-world scientists in his stories (a la The Manhattan Projects) as the best scene in the book involves characters that are clearly parallels for Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. It doesn’t feel like we’ve taken a huge step forward plot-wise, but a twist in the last few pages suggests Hickman is prepared to take his concept in an interesting direction that I’m happy to accompany him on.

Morning Glories (Nick Spencer, Joe Eisma, Image) continues, seemingly at a rate of knots. Issue #32 is another time-bending and romantic caper featuring Vanessa, a member of the cast who to be completely honest, I have forgotten in what way fits into the plot. Sorry. We’re so steeped in internal intricacies that it’s impossible to recommend any new readers starting anywhere other than the very beginning of this series. It’s gorgeously presented and filled with references both reflexive and literary, indicating that the creatives behind the book know exactly what they’re doing (I sincerely hope!), but when those who’ve stuck with it for thirty-odd issues are a bit lost, it’s a big ask to advise newbies to dip into it midway through.

Lastly, All New X-Men #17 (Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen, Marvel) is the X-book of the week for the Battle of the Atom crossover to continue in. I’d suggest this is the first in the story that feels like it’s dropped the ball a bit. After a bravura opening sequence set in a future that sees America electing its first mutant president, things get a bit dull as the past/present X-Men visit the real future X-Men and argue a bit. Perhaps nothing too different from what’s been happening already, but this chunk of story doesn’t feel like it needed a whole issue in which to tell it. Which is all I’m going to say about the book this week, though on a related note, I’m a little unconvinced by the ‘Battle of the Atom’ tag this crossover has got. I mean, no one’s really fighting over atoms. They’re fighting about the moral implications of time travel. ‘Battle of the Tachyon’ or ‘Battle of the Flux Capacitor’ would have worked better.


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