Saturday, May 31, 2008

Comics Roundup 31/5/2008

I want to write more about comics, so I will try to be more disciplined with reporting back on each week's crop of new floppies. Here's what I got this week.

berlin #14, by Jason Lutes

This is the issue before last of Lutes' long running tale of Berlin in the inter-war years. I have bought occasional issues of this mainly through interest in German history and politics, and in Berlin as a place. I've never really read enough of this to get the overall story or to see how the characters relate to each other and stuff, but the political context can be interesting. This one is fascinating for that kind of thing. It is early 1930, the Great Depression is beginning. The story begins with a pimp and petty thug being hassled for the rent by his landlady; it ends with his funeral. The dead man was member of the Nazi party, his murderers Communist comrades of his landlady, so the Berlin Nazis have turned him into a martyr. The issue ends with Goebbels talking prophetically of how soon endless marching columns would sing the song that the dead Horst Wessel had been composing.

As noted elsewhere by Katherine Farmar, the art has an endearingly European clear-line style, for all Lutes' North American origins. On a second reading, I was struck by his frequent willingness to not bother drawing backgrounds.

Final Crisis #1, by Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones

Grant Morrison writes a lot of interesting comics, and is someone who can engage well with the mythic qualities of the superhero genre. This, however, is a load of formulaic DC crossover crap, made worse by it being a kind of sequel to the dreadful nonsense that was Crisis on Infinite Earths. I did, however, like the scene where Lex Luthor was addressing a meeting of villains, one of whom was an un-named gorilla. Maybe some of my readers with more in-depth knowledge of the DC Universe can advise on just who this fellow is.

All Star Superman #11, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

The penultimate episode! The premise of this title is that in episode 1 Lex Luthor pulled a fast one and exposed Superman to so much funny radiation that he started dying. Oh noes! In this one, Superman is getting very poorly indeed, but he manages to save the world one more time, before apparently dying. Lex Luthor, meanwhile, has temporarily developed superpowers and busted out of jail, and looks like he is about to go on an unstoppable rampage.

Eh, I appreciate that this makes this sound like the kind of formulaic superhero crap dismissed in the previous entry, but in All Star Superman Morrison manages to use the genre's tropes for good rather than evil. The incredibly beautiful art (by Quitely, with assistance from Jamie Grant and computers) is a help.

Batman #677, by Grant Morrison, Tony Daniel, and Sandu Florea

The various Batman titles are running some kind of crossover thing called Batman R.I.P., which may be an indicator that Batman is shortly going to die for a bit. In this story, Batman is sulky about some lot called The Black Glove, who have been menacing him for the last while, but he is also getting some action with a hawt lady called Jezebel Jet. Ms Jet isn't just a looker, she has worked out that Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same. She also asks Bruce whether all this masked superhero stuff might not be an indication that he is a bit mental.

|'ve been enjoying the Grant Morrison Batman stuff, it is endearingly strange and off-kilter with what you expect from a Bat-title, even if it is a bit discontinuous from issue to issue.

Dan Dare #6, by Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine

This is Garth Ennis having a crack at recreating Britain's favourite comics character of the 1950s and 1960s. It has an enjoyably up and at them quality, though the usual Ennis macho bullshit creeps into this. I know his Dare is an older man than he was in the original comics, but I reckon Ennis has made the character a lot more hard-edged than the original; I can't really see Frank Hampson's Dare being as gratuitously tough as the character here.

This ends with a huge-o space battle just beginning, Dare leading the heavily out-numbered British space navy into battle against the evil Mekon. I was amused that Ennis has Dare basically adopt the same tactics Nelson used at Trafalgar; to ram the point home, Dare's flagship is the Trafalgar, and his second in command is a Ms Christian. That should be enough to tell you how the next issue will end.

bat-panda image source


Andrew Farrell said...

Maybe some of my sadder readers can advise on just who this fellow is.

I can, but if you're going to be an arsehole about it, it's hard to see why to bother.

Ray said...

Gorilla Grodd is a villain from the Flash comics, could be him?

ian said...

Thanks for writing in, guys!

Andrew Farrell said...

My earlier comment was intemperate, and I apologise.

It was Grodd, as Ray said. If it had been in a jaunty beret, it might have been Monsieur Mallah, except that he was recently beaten to death by Grodd in Salvation Run, which is a miniseries about the authorities teleporting all the DC villains to the same planet to let them sort it out Lord of the Flies style.

I think it's possible that you're projecting regarding how much of Final Crisis requires knowledge of arcane continuity. I think that everything you need to know is there on the page (provided you know what a Monitor is, which you do), but I'd be happy to answer any specific questions.

ian said...

I would rather I had not implied a greater level of sadness in those with in-depth knowledge of the DC Universe; to each their own.

I will read FC#1 again, but I do not expect my impression to change.

kvlol said...

The All-Star Superman is great! The bound volume 1 is a lovely edition (and addition).