Friday, January 19, 2007

Random Reading: Kid Eternity and Superman: For Tomorrow

Kid Eternity

I've seen this book in the bookstore since I came to Windsor in September and always thought "Well, I'll get that some other time." Some other time finally came on Monday.

I sat in my office and read it and, at first, it confused the hell out of me, but by the end, I became convinced that Morrison structured it in a rather brilliant way.

The basic plot is: Kid Eternity escapes from Hell, has something on his trail and gets a comedian named Jerry involved. Now, Jerry may or may not be dead and he has to help Eternity go back to Hell and rescue a friend/father figure. Except it's all much more complicated, as you can imagine, since Grant Morrison wrote it.

What I particularly enjoyed was that the basic movement of the book is chaos to order, which mirrors the plot. Chaos brings order. Fantastic.

At first, everything is jumbled and you can't quite understand what's going on, but by the end, it's all clear. Well, not ALL, but enough. It becomes clear enough and all sort of comes together and you're left going "Oh. That's really cool!"

Plot-wise, the whole thing is kind of lame. There's some interesting stuff, but nothing that's all that new or blows your mind, you know? The art by Duncan Fegredo is quite good--it's painted and doesn't look much like the art I'm used to seeing from him.

But, for me, the clear strong point is the actual construction of the book. But, I'm a dork.

Superman: For Tomorrow Vols. 1 and 2

Again, standard "I don't like Jim Lee's art" preface. Good. Moving on . . .

I got the first volume back in September and have been waiting for the second trade before I passed judgement on the story.

I liked it. But.

There's always a but.

One of my problems is when Superman interferes with the internal problems of a country and the JLA all act like dicks about it. I'm sick of stories like that. It wasn't the whole story here, but it was a part and it's boring. Mostly because it seems every four months, one of them will decide to try and make the world a better place and every other hero will try to stop them. And then, four months later, a different one tries and everyone gets together and stops him. And so on and so on and so on. It's boring and really lame.

Especially when the same hero has done it more than once, like Superman. You can say "Oh, they're just human and forget and go on whims" and blah blah fucking blah, but what you really mean is "I'm sorry, the writer isn't that original or great."

That, and when I read the scene where the League is bitching out Superman, I also kept thinking, "Hey, yeah, this is Superman and you're Aquaman. Shut the fuck up."

However, the Superman here is actually a complex person and, for that, Brian Azzarello manages to step above nearly every writer who's handled the character since--well, forever. Even the good Superman stuff usually didn't have an interesting lead character. The plot was good, the villains were cool, whatever. Superman is usually boring and rather flat.

And I don't just say that because his threat to destroy the planet completely when fighting "Mother Nature" (my term) is rather cool. It's because he's been pushed far enough to make that threat and you don't know if he's serious. There's an ambiguity about the Superman here that you don't get most of the time. And he doesn't really do anything that out of character. Azzarello just added another level to the character, one that should have always been there.

The level of humanity that has to be affected by the things he deals with. And the disappearance of Lois along with thousands of others was just the thing to push him far enough. Not far like Hal Jordan killing Green Lanterns or that typical bullshit comic way. Far enough that he struggles with being who he's always been. Far enough that he's prepared to do what it takes to make things right, except not really. A conflicted character.

Of course, I don't agree with everything, especially a lot of volume two, but it's an interesting read with the final few pages giving a tall order to future writers of the character.