Category Archives: Comics

And Then I Read: JUSTICE LEAGUE 41

JL41Image © DC Comics.

As a rule I don’t like big crossover/war stories, but I have to admit I’m enjoying this one so far. I was pretty bored with the New Gods in a recent GREEN LANTERN crossover event. This one breathes life into the characters in a way I haven’t seen before. Geoff Johns really does it for me, no question. For instance, Darkseid confronting Mister Miracle sounds like it’s bound to be covering the same old ground that Kirby started with 40 years ago, but not so. This feels fresh, like the characters have woken up from a long sleep. There’s plenty of other action and intrigue this issue, some of it I don’t quite understand yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing more. The art by Jason Fabok is spectacular. I don’t see how he can keep this level of detail and excellence up without help, but he’s done it on this issue at least. Oh, and the Justice League themselves? Many great moments for them, too.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: ASTRO CITY 23

AC23Image © Juke Box Productions

In the 1950s and 60s, then DC Comics chief Irwin Donenfeld used to track all kinds of cover elements to see how they affected comics sales, and it was discovered that whenever a gorilla appeared on a cover, it sold more. For a while there were gorillas on lots of DC covers. I was never that interested in gorilla covers per se, but this one sure works for me!

And what a great character he is: Sticks, a drum-playing sentient, speaking gorilla has come to Astro City not, as one might think, to become a super-hero, but to find and join a band. Trouble is, in Astro City, one is likely to get sidetracked by super-heroes no matter what your intentions are…

Great writing and art, as usual, highly fun and recommended.

And Then I Read: GREEN LANTERN 41

GL41Image © DC Comics.

How to give this title a fresh approach? Writer Robert Venditti’s idea is to make Hal Jordan a free-ranging renegade, no longer with a power ring but instead a power gauntlet that is cruder but pretty effective. Have him out there on his own solving small problems rather than all-universe ones, and acting a bit like a less-mercenary Han Solo. So far it works pretty well for me. The art by Billy Tan and Mark Irwin looks good, and gives Hal a long-haired look that works for me, too.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: HARK! A VAGRANT

HarkaVagrantImage © Kate Beaton

I’d heard good things about this collection, and I found it entertaining. Beaton turned to cartooning after finding working in museums unrewarding, and reports she was always drawing cartoons in school for the student newspaper. She has a love of history and literature, and that love allows her to make fun of both with knowledge and  insight. Her humor is often dry or sarcastic as she takes on Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes, Napoleon and John Adams, to name a few. Her subjects are wide-ranging, there are a few on comic book characters, and modern trends like hipsters, some book reviews, and jabs at Canadian history (Beaton’s home country). Not all the strips worked for me, and not a lot of them made me laugh, but most were entertaining and worth reading.

The art style is rough and somewhat amateurish, but it grew on me, Beaton has a way with body language and facial expressions that tends to overcome a lot of the drawing flaws. It walks a fine line between the loose but artful work of Shel Silverstein or Harvey Kurtzman and the kind of cartoons you might see in a typical school newspaper or, sadly, some of today’s newer syndicated strips. In all, it’s a good read.

Recommended

And Then I Read: ASTRO CITY 22

AC22Image © Juke Box Productions.

Kurt Busiek seems to have retirement on his mind in this title lately. This single-issue story with guest artist Jesús Merino focuses on an aging writer who is also the super-hero Starfighter. Or he was. Whether he still is comprises the meat of the story. We follow Duncan Keller from a book-signing on Earth to a distant world where he’s made a home for himself, and is married to an alien woman humanoid enough to have given him children. Duncan’s life on Jarranatha seems ideal, but he’s restless, and troubled by the thought that he may be called on again to use his powers. Duncan is not sure if he still has what it takes to play that role. Things work out deftly, and as usual, by the time we’re leaving Astro City, there’s a warm glow of satisfaction. The art and writing are terrific, as always.

Recommended