Saturday, February 24, 2007

Random Reading: Shitload of Books for Break Week Part 1 . . . WAREN ELLIS!

So, I've got this week off from school, so I'm back in London. Been almost two months since I've been back and that means, almost two months of not buying my usual comics here. Needless to say, I dropped a shitload of money yesterday on a shitload of books. I don't really feel like discussing them all right now, so I'll pick and choose and spread them out over, oh let's say, five posts. Why? Because I got 25 comics and I'll do five per post. Today, we'll discuss Warren Ellis.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #12

It . . . it's over.

Fuck you, world, it's over.

And it ended in the funniest, most shocking way possible.

It also ended with two words:




newuniversal #3

People I know know I read comics. So, obviously, they assume that I must watch superhero movies and superhero TV shows--when, in fact, I tend to avoid them like the plague. Yeah, that's right: I've yet to see either of the Spider-Man movies. Didn't see Superman Returns either. And I'm not about to anytime soon. I think the only superhero movie of recent note I've actually seen is Batman Begins and that was only because it was Patrick fucking Bateman as Batman--which ever since seeing and reading American Psycho I thought was totally about Bruce Wayne, except if he went the other way. And, actually, I was totally underwhelmed by Bale's performance based on what he did in American Psycho. I'll probably see the next one, mostly because I genuinely did enjoy Batman Begins despite the fact that they ALWAYS have to give him a love interest. I don't see why. Most Batman comics I read have him only needing a teenage boy and an elderly man for companionship. That's the Batman I grew up loving, dammit. And what does all this have to do with newuniversal? I don't watch Heroes for the same reason I don't watch (most) superhero movies? I've got comics that do that stuff already--and they're done with words and pictures. To paraphrase (or perhaps directly quote) Harvey Pekar: you can do anything with words and pictures. Why the fuck would I watch Heroes, the product of a system where writers are lucky if 40% of what they intend gets shot, everything is micromanaged and churned out based on focus groups when I can read Warren Ellis' take on the idea? Seriously: Hollywood writers' room versus Warren Ellis. Who the fuck do you think I'm going to choose?

In this issue, more information is leaked to us--much more than I suspect I picked up. We got a lot of history here and now know just how many superhumans there are. Maybe. And what their roles are. Maybe.

Oh, and Eminem and Angelina Jolie appear. Does Heroes have them? No? Fuck Heroes.

Thunderbolts #110-111

Buying this book is sort of like acknowledging a debt I owe.

I was, what, twelve at the time? Yeah, twelve. It was the summer. I'd just come home from a week at camp and it was in my room. Thor #491 (or some other number, but I'm pretty sure it was 491). I was always interested in Thor. Liked the mythology. So, after my dad stopped buying the title for himself, he kept on buying it for me. And if you read the book around that time, you'd know it was shit and totally lacking direction. Thor hung out with weird animal people that the High Evolutionary created and wore a godawful-looking costume. Then, he wandered through a series of meaningless events that I remember vaguely--shit like fighting the Hulk or the Thing for no good reason other than to fight them. The issue before this one, Tom DeFalco wrapped up the whole Thunderstrike thing. And then #491.

Blew my fucking mind.

Thor is dying. He's mortal. He talks like a mortal, thinks like a mortal and going to die like one. He asks his dad for help. Odin is massive, frightening and just fucking mean. He tells his son to go to hell and then Thor is attacked by zombie viking warriors. And the Enchantress has a group of her boytoys rescue him. I don't actually remember where the issue ends, so maybe I got into the next issue a little there. But, the point is, is that it was NOT the Thor I knew. It was not the superhero comic I knew. I haven't looked back since. It was written by Warren Ellis with art by Mike Deodato, Jr.

So, yeah, figured I owe it to my 12-year-old self to buy this book as long as these two guys are doing it. The fact that Ellis is writing is would have been good enough, but the two of them together? Gotta do it.

And I like it so far. It doesn't blow my mind anymore, but it's decent. It's got that cynical Ellis feel to it. A bunch of supervillains protecting America or else they'll be killed? Come on, how could he not have some fun with it?

One thing I particularly like is how in #111 Jack Flagg ALMOST wins. He's up against superior numbers with superior firepower and, like you'd expect, he kicks the crap out of them. Except not really, because they're the heroes now and he's the villain. It's basically, the Avengers show up to capture a villain they know is hiding out and he almost wins, but the heroes somehow pull it off.

Some interesting dynamics being played with here and I look forward to see where it goes.

Fell #7

I've been enjoying Fell, but not loving it. While others have been praising it, I've been going "It's alright, but I've seen Ellis do better." I think my problem with the series is that Ellis has always balanced his optimistic, fight-for-right side with the horrible, cynical, things-fucking-suck side. And Fell has tilted a little too much towards the former. Yeah, Detective Fell has dealt with some fucking sick people, but he's won out. He's made the world a little better each and every time.

Except this one. This one, he fucks up. This one, his virtues fuck him over. And it's what the series needs, I think. Up until this issue, Ellis had been too nice to Fell. I don't mind the humanity and hopefulness in Ellis' work. Hell, it's what puts him above everyone who tries to rip him off. All those fuckers who just see the swearing and violence and think "Oh, that's so cool!" But, something else Ellis always done is evened it out. You climb up, you think it's going to be okay and then something knocks you right back down. And it finally happened to Fell.

That's not to say that I haven't enjoyed the book to this point and I have enjoyed it a bit more with each issue, but this issue clinched it for me. I moved from liking it to loving it with this issue.

The cover to this issue is my favourite so far, by the way. You don't even need to read the issue if you see the cover. It's all there, laid out for you by Ben Templesmith, who does wonderful, wonderful work here.

Tomorrow: Brian Michael Bendis and the New Avengers.