Sunday, January 04, 2009

Comics Roundup 4/1/2009

I have somewhat fallen off the Comics Roundup wagon. My own literary endeavours are a factor here. Although I did not stop reading comics in November, I did find myself a bit stuck for time to write about them. Once NaNoWriMo was over, I was then a bit torn between going back and trying to write up all the comics I had read in November, or starting with a clean slate. As is the way of things, I did neither. But now we are in a new year, so I reckon this is a good a place to climb back on the wagon as any. So on with the show.

Madame Xanadu #7, by Matt Wagner, Amy Reeder Hadley, and Richard Friend

The eponymous immortal fairy lady is now in late Victorian London and trying to stop Jack the Ripper from claiming any more victims, largely without success. This is pretty good, but Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell basically own Jack the Ripper now. Anyone else having a crack at the subject would need to be bringing something very new to the table, and I am not sure if the Madame Xanadu really do.

I have started thinking that one problem with this title is that it is all moving along a bit too quickly. This is the #7 and already the fourth change of time and place. I think maybe they might be better letting the stories breathe a bit more. They are also going to find themselves up in the present day very quickly, and it will seem a bit strange spending (presumably) for-e-v-e-r in the present time period after scooting through so many past episodes so quickly. Another problem with this title is that it seems to be a falling into a very generic storytelling mode – Madame X finds herself in some time period while some interesting historical phenomenon occurs, the strange fellow with occluded eyes shows up and says enigmatic things, and then Madame X moves on once more. I can see this getting very tiresome.

For all that, I enjoyed this issue a lot more than the two set in the French Revolution, so maybe the creators are able to do good stuff even within the constraints of their story's structure.

Incognito #1, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

This is however more like it. Brubaker and Phillips are the creators of Criminal, a wonderful comic about criminals and low-life types. I have mentioned it previously and recommend it highly. This new title is in a similar vein. In some ways it is a bit like more normal superhero comics, but it is like an entryist title in which the creators have managed to sneak some of their ideas into a superhero-y setting. The main character in this story is a bad-ass former supervillain who testified against his old crime boss and is now in witness protection. The Feds have given him some shitey job as an office drone and are pumping him full of meds to keep his superpowers offline. You get a bit of flashback to his life of crime, and then by accident he discovers that his powers are back. "Wa-hey!" he thinks, but as with Criminal, the reader knows that this will not end well.

Incognito #1 comes with an interesting essay on pulp character The Shadow. If they follow the pattern set by Criminal, this will probably not make its way into the collections.

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