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Posts tagged “Jonathan Hickman

All New Marvel Now Title Explosion

Avengers-All-New-Marvel-NowWord coming out of the Marvel panels at NYCC has a slew of new titles being announced, some of which are extremely interesting indeed. Let’s give a quick rundown.

  • All-New Invaders by James Robinson
  • Secret Avengers gets a new # 1 issue with the new creative team of Ales Kot and Michael Walsh.
  • Avengers World by Nick Spencer and Jonathan Hickman with art by Stefano Casseli.
  • Avengers Undercover, a replacement for Avengers Arena by Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker
  • Loki – Agent of Asgard by Al Ewing and Lee Garbett
  • A new Black Widow book by Nate Edmondson and Phil Noto
  • She-Hulk by Charles Soule and Javier Pulido
  • Silver Surfer by Dan Slott and Mike Allred
  • Iron Patriot by Ales Kot and Gary Brown

What are you most looking forward to? Personally, Black Widow and She-Hulk look the most promising and I cannot wait to see the internet explode over Dan Slott’s Silver Surfer. I’m not sure we needed ANOTHER Avengers title to go with Avengers, New Avengers, Avengers Assemble, et. al. But seeing Hickman filtered through Spencer could make for some interesting stories.

 

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Weekly Comic Reviews – 8/14/2013

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse CusterIt’s been a hell of a week. Busy is the word I would use to describe it. But no in the “I have things to do” sort of way, more in the “why are so many things happening to me” sort of way. You know, viral infections, dead car battery, relationship drama; the usual. I haven’t had much time to blog it up, but thankfully things have quieted down enough that I can slip in and do some reviews. Not many, because there wasn’t a whole lot that I was interested in diving into this week just from a casual glance. As I climb deeper into the rabbit hole of reading weekly books on the regular, I’m sure the number of reviews that pile up each week will expand. That said, what I did read carried some heft, so we’ll dive right in and get right to it.

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BATGIRL # 23
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Fernando Pasarin, Jonathan Glapion
Cover Artist: Alex Garner
Price: 2.99
On Sale Date: Aug 14 2013

The new “Batgirl: Wanted” epic begins here, as Commissioner Gordon must track down his son’s murderer—who happens to be his daughter! But has Barbara already given up the Bat?

I stepped away from Batgirl when Gail Simone was ceremoniously booted from the title a short while back. When she reentered the fray I neglected to jump back on board but the storyline here intrigued me enough to pick up last month’s issue as a refresher and threw this one on the stack as well. For those not in the know, Batgirl is on the hook for the death of her brother and that isn’t sitting all too well with their respective father, Commissioner Gordon. Barbara is going through much in her life at this point. She’s beginning to date a reformed criminal who can’t seem to escape his past and trying to reconcile what happened with her brother at the same time. She’s a big ball of emotions and her father is looming over her in more ways than one, needling her about staying safe and afraid of losing another child as well as chasing Batgirl down in a way that even Batman remarks is dangerously close to a vengeful tirade. The rooftop scene between Batman and the Commissioner is excellently written and gives the reader a good idea of what we can expect in terms of character beats from Jim Gordon.

That is really what drives this book and makes it such an interesting work; the character beats. Barbara is heavily conflicted here, and conflict makes for compelling reading. Barbara Gordon, at least as Batgirl, has never come across as a character who really elicits much of a response from me because she reads as cut-and-dry in most respects. I only really started to get a feel for her as a fleshed out human being when she became Oracle. We got to witness her deal with so many different types of adversities while she was in that chair in the clock-tower. Gail Simone has taken that development on the character and given us a new lens to look at Barbara. She feels full. She appears realized. She makes mistakes and deals with the consequences.

All in all, my first reaction is that I should go back and pick up what I missed to fill in the gaps, because I am enjoying what I’m reading. There are a few downsides, mostly having to do with some predictability regarding Barbara’s love interest that are far too telegraphed to be enjoyed fully on my end, but I imagine the narrative beats that will result from certain decisions will translate into some payoff in regard to Barbara’s development later down the line. At least I hope so.

Rating 3 and 1/2 out of 5
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INFINITY (2013) #1
Published: August 14, 2013
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Cover Artist: Adam Kubert
Price: $4.99
On Sale Date: Aug 14 2013

The oversized kickoff to the year’s most anticipate Blockbuster summer event, chaning the way you view the Marvel Universe! • The outbreak of war on two fronts: Earth and Space, with our heroes torn between them. • The world-shattering return of Thanos! • Includes material from FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: INFINITY

If you have been reading Jonathan Hickman’s run on the Avengers you may have figured out that his handling of the team is pretty much the anti-Bendis in terms of plot progression, storytelling, and theme. Hickman’s take on the book has been much like Morrison’s deconstruction of the X-Men years back. It is as different from what preceded it as you can get and yet never feels like it isn’t true to what the book should be about. Jonathan Hickman writes the Avengers as a hard intellectual sci-fi yarn, recalling elements from classic Avengers lore like the Kree-Skrull war and Infinity Gauntlet while infusing it with his very distinct creative voice. There is never a time where you are not aware that you are reading a Jonathan Hickman story. Much as Bendis has come to be associated with abundant panels and fast, snappy dialog, the elevated science fiction overtones along with deliberate pacing and neo-modern graphic design stylings clearly indicate a Hickman joint.

Those familiar with his work on the main Avengers title and therefore comfortable with his style and pacing will find Infinity to be a strong book. He takes his time and gives us freedom to enjoy the world-building that he puts on display. We are introduced to an abundance of alien races and evil machinations. We only see the Avengers on panel for perhaps 1/4 of the book’s length. Front and center instead are the actions of our antagonists, razing worlds and infiltrating the highest order of the Inhuman’s stronghold of Attilan in a meticulously plotted cerebral espionage sequence. What I am trying to say is that people who are looking for the whiz-bang pacing of a Secret Invasion, World War Hulk, etc. may find themselves disappointed at the way the first issue plays out. I personally enjoyed it and I will do my best to explain why without sounding like a total idiot.

The first issue played out, for the most part, like an episode of a TV show. The story beats are concise and structured for maximum effect, but it is the final pages of the book, where we see our heroes putting a plan into action and a final page cliffhanger that could easily have been followed with a meme image of Michael from Arrested Development saying “I Have Made A Huge Mistake” where things really clicked for me. You see, those last few pages didn’t feel like part of the narrative of this issue so much as a quick flash of what’s to come, similar to a “Next Week on MARVEL” montage at the end of a TV show. The pacing and the implications make for effective drama, and while Infinity # 1 is definitely a slow burn, it is also very much indicative of a quality mini-series that seeks to tell its story in a very deliberate way.

Simply put, Hickman delivers a standout first issue that couldn’t be further from what I have come to expect from a Marvel event series while at the same time giving me everything I want from a Marvel event series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

COLLID_Cv1_PRINT_3pncuy4wjo_COLLIDER (AKA FBP: FEDERAL BUREAU OF PHYSICS) # 1
Written by:  Simon Oliver
Art by:  Robbi Rodriguez
Cover by: Nathan Fox
U.S. Price: 2.99
On Sale Date: Jul 31 2013

It started small: temporary gravity failures, time reversal loops, entropy reversals. With much fanfare a new government agency was formed with a mandate “to prevent and protect.” Its official title: The Federal Bureau of Physics. Humans, if nothing else, adapt to the changing parameters of their existence. What was extraordinary soon became ordinary, a part of people’s daily lives. They move on and do what people have always done: survive. But even that new status quo is now under threat. Things are getting worse, and it falls to Special Agent Adam Hardy and his FBP team to figure out what’s going on, before it’s too late… 

I know I’m late to the party on this one but following all the hubbub surrounding the abrupt title change (Beginning with issue 2, Collider will be renamed to FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics) I decided to throw this one on the reading pile and give it a go. Writer Simon Oliver has done work previously for Vertigo on Hellblazer and The Exterminators and while I may have read his work before I cannot remember if I formulated an opinion so I am going into this 100% blind.

Collider feels like a Vertigo book. It takes a premise and runs with it. There is mystery and the promise of expanded world building and solid character work along the way with artwork that, were it on a mainstream book, would be decried for not fitting the mold. As it stands, it is a fine book. The premise, that the foundation of universally accepted laws of physics are starting to crumble and the fallout surrounding that hornet’s nest, is one worth delving into. It hooks you and keeps you there until the end. I’ve read comments about the book being boring but I had no such qualm with the book. But then again, I enjoyed Sweet Tooth and that book was admittedly a chore to get through sometimes.

For regular devotees of Vertigo content, this will not disappoint. For those who fall more squarely in line with the mainstream, I’m not so sure you’ll enjoy this one. It has all of the hallmarks that most people mock “indy” comics for; strange yet alluring artwork, strange premise, heightened dialog… you get the idea.

I don’t want to write much about it because I feel people will enjoy it more if they just go in blind. It’s sometimes the best way to enjoy a work of art and I’ll wager that this is the sort of book that benefits heavily from a clean frame of mind. It certainly helped when I read it, as I had zero knowledge of the title when I turned the cover. Whatever you do, just don’t dismiss it outright. Give it a chance.

Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5


Trade Review – The Manhattan Projects vol. 1

Jonathan Hickman is one of those writers who seemingly exploded onto the scene a few years back from out of nowhere. His work for image with The Nightly News and Transhuman marked him as a fresh new talent with a different sort of perspective. He had a unique style that garnered the attention of just about everyone and now a few years later he is considered one of Marvel’s brightest writers, handling major projects and a-list characters. Despite the fact that he is writing multiple titles for one of the big two, Hickman seemingly has an unquenchable desire to write his own original stories and his Marvel workload doesn’t seem to slow him down a bit.

With The Manhattan Projects, Hickman teams with Nick Pitarra to give us an alternative reality version of the development of the atomic bomb. Honestly, the story feels like something that Warren Ellis would put out. Hickman’s voice still rings clear but there is something different in the plotting from his previous work that is easily noticed. The chapter breaks and title cards are straight out of his wheelhouse but the dialog seems to be divergent from his usual style. It’s more highly articulated and animated. It doesn’t have the poetic sense of reality that I tend to absorb from Hickman’s usual fare.

Personally I found the story to be somewhat derivative. I had the unavoidable feeling that I had read all of this before. While the story is supposed to be a new take on old history, the style in which it was performed made it feel like every other alternate history story you’ve ever seen before. There is not much new here. Nothing that surprises. Which is the only thing that sets it apart from everything else that Hickman has written in recent memory.

It is not a bad book, by any means. It just isn’t the sort of A-grade material that I expect from Hickman. There is a lot to like here, if you know what you’re getting into ahead of time.


Weekly Comic Book Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

The new novel is almost finished…again. See, this is what happens when I work in “Drafts.” So in between that, school, work, and a revitalized social life that includes actually having to go outside of the house for stuff like concerts (on Thursday nights), don’t be surprised if the blog starts to lie dormant for chunks of time. I try to avoid it but I’m a one man operation here. That having been said, I’m not gonna deny you guys the comic reviews you so deserve. By that I mean that I’m going back to the old format of cherry-picking what issues to review instead of doing the whole stack because it’s getting harder to go through the whole stack in a single evening.

ARRIVALS 10-06-2010
AVENGERS ACADEMY #5 2.99
BOYS #47 (MR) 3.99
BUFFY VAMPIRE SLAYER #37 LAST GLEAMING PT 2 (OF 5)  2.99
CHAOS WAR #1 (OF 5) 3.99
DEADPOOLMAX #1 (MR) 3.99
HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD #5 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #11 3.99
SECRET SIX #26 2.99
SHADOWLAND SPIDER-MAN #1 SL 3.99
STARMAN OMNIBUS HC VOL 05 49.99
ULTIMATE COMICS THOR #1 (OF 4) 3.99
UNCANNY X-FORCE #1  3.99
WOLVERINE #2 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #5 2.99

And let’s get this show on the road:

The Boys # 47 THE BOYS # 47:

Garth Ennis is underrated when it comes to giving us character moments that stay with the reader in their gut long after they’ve finished reading the issue. Here we get the inevitable confrontation between Hughie and his superhero girlfriend for the first time since he found out she was a supe and since he saw her “initiation” video into the Seven where she did more with her mouth than give a convincing presentation of her resume.

The pathos and emotion on display between Hughie and Starlight here is gutwrenching. While Garth Ennis is able to craft visceral gore and violence with reckless abandon, his ability to make you care for the characters he writes is generally overlooked, which is a huge shame because it’s stuff like this that shows what the serialized medium of comics is capable of pulling off with a competent writer at the helm. This issue has been building for some time. It’s not rushed, it hasn’t been drawn out or decompressed, it’s simply been building to a boiling point.

This may be some of Garth Ennis’ best work. I know it’s not as roundly applauded as Preacher or Punisher Max, but it is probably his most carefully crafted since Preacher ended and I think that in the end people will recognize it for the treasure that it truly is.

CHAOS WAR # 1 CHAOS WAR # 1:

I am happy to see Hercules back. I truly am. I love the guy. As far as this particular issue, I’m not so sold on the event after the premiere as I was with Shadowland a few months ago. I think that Greg Pak and company did a good job of getting us pumped up for some good old fashioned theological thrashing in what is coming down the road, but there was no big moment that made me step firmly on board with the series. That’s not to say that it’s a bad issue, there is some good stuff set up here, and it’s bound to get much more epic as it goes on. I simply think that a good portion of people are going to be underwhelmed by the debut issue, as not a whole lot really happens. It’s a setup issue pure and simple.

The question this series needs to answer is whether or not the setup is going to pay off. This is going to be one of those series that won’t have a whole lot of impact on the larger Marvel universe the way that Shadowland will because the Marvel Gods don’t seem to get a whole lot of focus in the grand scheme of things unless they somehow relate to Thor, but seeing how Fraction is doing his own thing with the Thor-verse, the reverberations of this series will have to be felt elsewhere, and unless they relaunch an ongoing Herc series, I’m not sure where that will be.

DEADPOOL MAX # 1 DEADPOOL MAX # 1:

This is the one people have been waiting a good long while for. We’ve wanted some unrestrained Deadpool action forever and we finally get it courtesy of Kyle Baker and David Lapham. In the first issue however, we don’t actually get a whole lot of Wade Wilson. We get a lot more Agent Bob and sodomy. The violence is there, as is the swearing and the sexual situations. It’s definitely a max book. What seems to be lacking is, well, Deadpool. He really only shows up for maybe 5% off the book.

What remains to be seen is how this book will work out in regard to how they want to portray Deadpool. I doubt he’ll be breaking the fourth wall or being as goofy as he is in the 616. We already know from this issue that Deadpool will be treated more as a government assassin than a freelance merc for hire, and that he’s more mentally damaged and dangerous than gutlaugh funny. This book follows the pervasive Marvel trend of waiting until issue two to give us the full picture of what the series will end up being like in the long run. Luckily, the first issue was entertaining enough that I won’t feel like an idiot for picking up issue three.

ULTIMATE COMICS THOR # 1 ULT. COMICS THOR # 1

Jonathan Hickman can do no wrong apparently. According to the internets, Kurt Busiek doens’t like him but he seems to be the lone dissenting voice. With Ultimate Comics Thor he gives us a look into the origins of the Ulimate U’s version of Thor and it seems to be a basic mirror of the regular Thor, except in the Ultimate scheme of things, there are a lot more nazis.

This series is likely going to be one of the best to come out of the Ultimate relaunch. It’s obvious that this one is being produced to be shoved into a hardcover and rushed into bookstores around the time the Thor film hits theaters. I’m not sure how that worked for the Black Widow miniseries from Paul Cornell, but it seems like a smart enough move. It helps that it’s a damned good read. If you’re going to try to introduce someone to a character, you could do worse than the setup they use here. It’s integrated enough into the Ultimate Universe that those with familiarity will be able to place it in continuity, but new readers will be able to jump in just as easily. That’s not an easy feat, no matter what universe you’re working in.

Uncanny X-Force # 1 UNCANNY X-FORCE # 1

This one is the winner of the week. Rick Remender may be Marvel’s new secret weapon, as the man has yet to produce a book that doesn’t totally kick all sorts of ass. He’s managed to make Deadpool funny without being over the top. He’s made X-Force not seem like a cliche. He’s managed to give X-Force a purpose beyond being an unnecessary ancilliary title predicated on having a place where Wolverine can stab people with reckless abandon.

I was originally going to skip out on this one. The last X-Force title did nothing for me. Everything about it pretty much went against my established sensibilities. I was afraid this was going to be more of the same. I should have known better. Rick Remender, who is rapidly climbing the ladder of my favorite writers following Last Days of American Crime and FrankenCastle, brings us a new X-Force that seems fresh and new, despite building off of plot threads that have been hanging for quite some time. (Archangel, people. Archangel) And while it definitely plays off some rich history, it isn’t like say, New Mutants, where people unfamiliar with the original story of Inferno might be a little bit lost with the new storyline.

So, long story short, pretty please, go buy the damn book.

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And that does it for this week. Join us next time when hopefully DC puts something out worth Reviewing. (I’d review Secret Six, but c’mon, you know how I feel about that book. I’d marry it if I could.)


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

I actually arrived home from work yesterday to find a box full of manga on my front porch, which I really wish I could have read but I’m saving those little gems until after I’ve finished this week’s American output, which is what I’m primarily focused on reviewing here. I doubt there are many of you who read this blog who really give a damn about what commentary I could provide for Battle Vixens. I mean, it’s all panty shots and using fist-fights as an analog for sex, do you really need me to tell you to read it? I sure hope not.

ARRIVALS 4-7-2010
AME COMI BATMAN VINYL STATUE 70
AME COMI ROBIN VINYL FIGURE 60
AREA 10 HC (MR) 19.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #11 2.99
BOYS #41 (MR) 2.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #34 TWILIGHT PT 3 (OF 5)  2.99
DEADPOOL AND CABLE #25 3.99
DEADPOOL CORPS #1 3.99
INVINCIBLE RETURNS #1 3.99
JSA ALL STARS #5 3.99
RED ROBIN #11 2.99
SECRET SIX DEPTHS TP 14.99
SHIELD #1 (MARVEL) 3.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #2 (OF 3) 3.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #5 (OF 6) (RES) 3.99
TURF #1 (MR) 2.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #523 XSC 2.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #12 3.99
WORLD WAR HULKS #1 WWHS 3.99

And here’s how that shit went down:

Invincible Returns
INVINCIBLE RETURNS # 1

I’ll probably catch a lot of hell for this, but I don’t read Invincible on a monthly basis. I get the trades, and I’m admittedly even a bit behind on those, being a cheap bastard and picking them up only through deep discount sales and whatnot. This comes after I bought 4,5,7, and 8 at 1/2 price and then filled in the gaps through Amazon and local clearance bins. I still haven’t read anything after volume 10, so I missed the whole “Conquest” storyline that this mini-series seems to come out of. Luckily, the book fills in the blanks well enough that even with my barely involved knowlege of the story’s progression I was able to understand what had happened in the gap where my reading had ended and the new story began. That isn’t really that amazing a feat, I mean, in reality that should be something that is a given, but luckily it’s done in a way that I feel like when I do pick up my next trade, I won’t feel like the story was spoiled for me.

Basically, Invincible Returns works as a GREAT jumping on point for new readers. Yes, there is a lot of backstory to take in, but it’s weaved into the book through character moments that help new readers get to know the cast. Truly, Invincible Returns is a damned fine read for die-hards as well as the new folks who are looking to try out the character.

One thing I want to comment on is how amazing Ryan Ottley’s art has become over the years. Looking at the first trade of Invincible and comparing it to the art of Invincible Returns, the characters still have the same style and look, but the definition is improved a great deal. Ottley’s art is truly underappreciated. His style is a huge part of what makes the book so amazing, and this single issue is a GREAT showcase for his talent. The backup work by Cory Walker is damned fine as well. I admit his style is just a few degrees off Ottley and so at first parts of it just seemed…different. But still, he nailed the look and did an admirable job.

SHIELD
SHIELD # 1

I fucking hate Jon Hickman. That guy is just too damned good. When Marvel finally caves in and lets this guy write a tentpole event for their entire company, you better hold on to your goddamn balls because he’s going to rock them off in ways you couldn’t imagine while mind-fucking your cerebral cortex at the same damned time. He’s currently writing the best Fantastic Four stories since Mark Waid and Wieringo left and he brings that same sense of otherworldly creativity to SHIELD, a book that sees Leonardo DaVinci creating a renaissance space-suit with wings and flying off into the cosmos.

This book is going to be one to watch. It might just be too good for the general comic-book fanboy crowd. It’s inevitably going to be called pretentious and slammed for overactive retconning, all the while ignoring how goddamn brilliant it is. This book is like touching Jesus’ beard; surreal and enlightening. Comic books were created for shit like this to exist.

TURF
TURF # 1

I dunno. This single issue was so damned dense that I think it’ll take another few reads to fully understand what’s going on. I mean, obviously it’s set in the prohibition era and there’s a gang full of vampires who are trying to take over the other gangs’ turf but some of them want to remain faithful to their old-country traditions of vampirism. And there’s alien spaceships for some reason. I’m not entirely sure where this is all going to lead, I just know I’m down for it, because, let’s face it, anybody willing to go this far out there in order to tell the story is worth giving the benefit of the doubt.

The only complaint I have is that this book is CROWDED with text. This compounds the already muddy art in making the issue slightly hard to read simply on an aesthetic level. The interesting story makes up for it, but I won’t lie, it did give me a little bit of a headache to read. Maybe when I revisit the issue, knowing what to expect will lessen the blow. Then again, you might not have this problem at all.

WWHs
WORLD WAR HULKS # 1

You know, when the talent pool writing the color spectrum of Hulks doesn’t include Jeph Loeb, the absurdity of the concept seems to be diminished by the fact that the characters are written with a modicum of subtlety, thus creating an enjoyable story. Jeff Parker, who is probably best known for somehow making Agents of Atlas so damned amazing, writes some great stuff here for A-Bomb, who up until this point has a generic walking ball of who-gives-a-fuck. He also writes a pretty good little Deadpool segment, featuring Bob aka everyone’s favorite agent of Hydra.

The rest of the book is just as well done. We get some good development for Talbot, who with all the focus they’re giving lately seems to be a front runner for the inner identity of Rulk. The talent assembled on the book really runs with the mediocre material they’ve been handed thus far. Kudos to everyone involved there.

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So that’s it for this week. If you’ll excuse me I’ve gotta read some really filthy manga. Until next time…


Comics as Curriculum

I think a little background would serve well to illustrate why I am writing this entry. I am an English major, in addition to a comic enthusiast/shop manager. I published a novel early last year, that can be found on Amazon though I don’t ask that you read it, as there are literally thousands of books that you could better spend your time delving into. If you still wish to purchase it, I certainly won’t stop you, but you have been warned.

Anyhow, I’ve spent a good deal of the last few years reading different works of literature from a varied selection of genres and time periods, and in the course of my readings only one comic book was entered into discussion, that of course being Alan Moore’s “Watchmen.”

I haven’t taken a course centered around comic books, though I’m told one is offered at the university. I would like to take it if time permits, but here and now I would like to offer up the selection I would offer if I were a professor teaching a class on the intricacies of graphic literature as a medium. This will be a recurring column, with new entries added every week in the hopes of compiling a sort of omnibus of books that just beg to be read and analyzed.

Strangers in ParadiseUp first is one of the greatest pieces of graphic literature in the history of the medium. One of the longest running and critically acclaimed indy series in the history of comics, “Strangers” has the sort of intricate plotting that wins countless awards for cable television shows, blending humor and pathos with vivid characterization and close attention to detail that is unparalleled in a medium known for continuity flubs and retroactive continuity fixes.

Writer Terry Moore poured his heart and soul into this book for over a decade, and the care he put into the characters shows with every panel. That alone earns it a spot as worthy of study and dissection on a scholarly level. Any work that has such a lengthy run by a single creator is worth a cursory glance, in this age of revolving door creative teams. Add to that Mr. Moore’s masterful storytelling and wonderful art, both of which are astonishing in their realistic portrayals of human emotion and anatomy, and you have a book that could be dissected a million times over.

I had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Moore at a gathering for the 2009 “Free Comic Book” day event where I was signing my own book. A highlight of the day being when he jokingly referred to me as “a real writer,” when flipping through my clumsy prose. Aside from being one of the more talented creators in the medium, he is also a gracious and hospitible man who I was able to discuss, at some length, topics ranging from the local music scene to the state of comics both indy and mainstream. He clearly has a great deal of love for his own creations, and yet he never came off as a man of inflated ego.

“Strangers” is definately the kind of book that deserves to be studied. To be honest, a single issue of this series could be dissected for hours on end. The whole series would likely require at least a whole semester, if not two.

You got the touch...YOU GOT THE POWERS!

Next up is Brian Michael Bendis’ first appearance on this list, and believe me he will show back up again later. “Powers” is the kind of book that defines a writer’s style and sensibilities so well that every reader who picks it up knows what to expect out of that writer down the line. That isn’t to say that all of Bendis’ work is identical to “Powers” but it definately establishes Bendis as a writer whose main talent lies in crafting character voice and fluid dialogue. The people that populate the world of “Powers” are a diverse and eclectic group, with every character’s arc taking them somewhere that the reader may not have expected.

Bendis’ work here will make you angry. You will experience emotion while reading this book. In that, he is special. There are few writers who can write a book filled with people you actually care about. How many major characters have the big two companies killed off where the reaction you experienced was akin to passing a car wreck on the side of the road where your only thoughs are centered on how horrible it really looks without giving a second thought to the emotional weight of the situation?

That is not what happens in “Powers.”

Bendis writes a comic book that utilizes everything the medium has to offer in the forms of storytelling technique and at the same time writes in a manner that nobody else can quite nail down without coming off as skewed and off balance. Bendis has critics that feel his style doesn’t work within the traditional confines of the comic book medium, arguing that he comes off as dense and needlessly wordy, whereas I would argue that he simply knows how to tell a story and those who don’t like his style are simply too familiar with the tried-and-true mainstream storytelling methods to truly appreciate his work.

While his style doesn’t truly fit other projects like the “Secret Invasion” mega-event, where people expected a Michael Bay-style thrill-a-thon and instead got seven issues of Bendis’ hyper-realistic character interaction, books like “Powers” prove exactly how talented Bendis is as a writer.

This is NOT CNN!

Jonathan Hickman is proof of evolution. Where Bendis, Kirkman, Johns, and a whole slew of others are the logical progression of what Alan Moore and Grant Morrison ushered in with “Watchmen” and “Doom Patrol,” Hickman is the evolution of the Image generation and the post-modern revivial of comics.

Where Bendis is all about the dialogue in the context of the medium, Hickman is all about manipulating the confines of the medium to fit the message and all of that can be seen on display in “The Nightly News” which is about as perfect a book as one can possibly fathom. It blends the sort of graphic design wizardry that has come about in the fast-paced media sphere we now occupy with the biting social commentary of the eighties boom.

This is a book that begs to be read and re-read in order to capture every detail. The truth of the matter is that the book is somewhat hard to read, because we as readers are not used to this sort of stylistic delivery of the narrative, but when you find the rythym that Hickman has created, the book cracks along at breakneck speed and weaves a tale that would not be done justice by any other creator.

Originality is the name of the game here, and I don’t doubt that others will shamelessly ape this approach in the years to come, because it really is quite effective.

***

That concludes the first installment of this series. Next week another selection will be added to the syllabus and if there are any suggestions that you’d like to see covered down the line, don’t hesitate to leave a note in the comments section, as I assure you I want to cover as many diverse titles as I possibly can.