Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Random Reading: A Shitload of Books for Break Week Part 4 . . . RANDOM SUPERHERO BOOKS!

Five comics. Four I’d get anyway and one randomly got to see what’s what. Oh, I live a wonderful life, don’t I?

Batman #655, 663

First off, I’m all kinds of happy that I found the first issue of Morrison’s run on the title. Okay, not THAT happy. But, happy.

Second off, I’m sure the issue would have been much cooler had I read it way back when it was released. I mean, Morrison begins the issue by having a fake Batman shoot the Joker in the face. And then the real Batman throws the body in a dumpster. Tres cool.

The rest of 655 is decent and, actually, better than the three issues that followed it. Seems Morrison blew his load on the first issue.

Call 663 “Arkham Asylum 2: The Clown at Midnight,” because it sure as hell feels like a follow-up to Morrison’s graphic novel of the 1980s. Except this time, it’s prose and instead of Dave McKean, we’ve got the uneven computer art of John Van Fleet. So, like any (pseudo-) sequel, it kind of sucks ass.

Morrison’s prose is . . . well, not the best. I was bored with it by the first page. Slogging through it was a chore, not a joy. It’s overwrought and bogged down in an overly verbose style that doesn’t work here. It’s a superhero detective comic, so you’d either expect a dynamic or noir style, but it reads more like something a high school creative writer would write.

The plot is somewhat interesting, especially Morrison further exploring the concept of the Joker being the next evolutionary step of humanity. Someone whose personality changes to suit the zeitgeist. It’s a shame that the new Joker’s personality couldn’t be explained or shown with more clarity; how is it different exactly? Maybe that will be shown at a later date, but it shouldn’t be. And I know, I know, it shouldn’t be so obvious, but when the entire issue is about that single point really, if I’m not coming away with at least some semblance of a what the differences are--or, more importantly, how it reflects the world as of right fucking now, something went wrong. Maybe it was me missing something in the horrid prose or maybe it just wasn’t that well-written.

And the art jumps between spooky and cool, and shitty computer rendering that reminds me of playing wrestling games on the N64.

Overall, a disappointment.

The Brave and the Bold #1

First issue time, so there’s really only one question that matters: do I want to pick up the second issue.


I think it was in a Newsarama review that pointed toward my problem with the issue. The reviewer said writers tend to write too much dialogue for George Pérez, but I think it’s more than that. I think they need to stop letting Pérez draw pages from Marvel-style plots.

And I just pissed off everyone, didn’t I? It’s one thing when I bash Jim Lee, but George Pérez? I’ve gone too far!

Seriously, it’s something I realised while reading this issue: I love Pérez’s art, but hate to read comics he draws. They’re so fucking cluttered. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Pérez can fill space like no one else, but every fucking page is so full of tedium that writers can’t help but fill it up with dialogue that doesn’t feel natural.

They wind up writing dialogue that seems decades out of date, because Pérez’s pages look decades out of date. Now, some may say filling the pages with seven or eight panels per page is great. Gives you more bang for your buck, fights decompression, and all that jazz, but I would disagree. It’s not more information or story, it’s excess story and, as I said, tedious details.

Maybe I’ve just grown accustom to modern art and storytelling techniques, and can no longer appreciate the truly great artists. Or maybe the art just wasn’t that good. I don’t know, flipping through it, the art doesn’t do much for me. From a purely storytelling perspective, it does the job excellently. Flip through it and don’t read a word and you get the entire story, which is what you want out of an artist to a point. But, Pérez makes the words so superfluous that he doesn’t give the writer a chance to do its job. I don’t know.

It just doesn’t work for me.

Gødland #15-16

You know, I really wish this series tried to make every issue self-contained. Maybe then we’d avoid this lagging subplots that are more boring, at this point, than anything else. Namely, the whole Triad thing. They first showed up in, what, issue nine? Ten? For an über-modern, super-hip title, that little plotline is moving so goddamn slowly. I don’t care anymore about them.

In fact, I’m finding I don’t care about any of the characters much anymore. Mostly because the book moves so slowly in general. Casey and Scioli try to give time for every fucking character that nothing moves forward. I would they would just focus a bit more and settle some things before introducing a new element.

Issue fifteen is pretty typical, while issue sixteen is meant to be a jumping-on point with a 60-cent cover price. Never mind the fact that issue thirteen was supposed to be one as well, in its own way, after the three-month hiatus the book took. The issue does its job in that it catches the reader up on everything in a clear and concise manner that actually fits into the story without seeming too contrived. However, it would have worked better if the previous issue had wrapped up a few of the plot threads like the aforementioned Triad.

Now, as my nature is that of one who prefers to bash the crap out of stuff rather than highlight the good parts, the previous paragraphs no doubt give the idea that I’m not digging on Gødland much, but I am. You see, I tend to bash out of both hate and love. Since this is a title I enjoy so much, I want to see it be better and am wont to highlight those areas in which I feel it is lacking. And I have no idea why I’ve shifted into a strangely pseudo-pretentious tone. Rather odd, that.

Basically, I enjoy Gødland a lot and wish a lot more people would read it, but I can see why some would be turned off with these never-ending plotlines. I would love to see the third year of the book shift very purposefully into a self-contained one issue, one story mode to see how that works. Maybe it wouldn’t suit the title, but I think it would be worth a shot.

Tomorrow: we finish our five days of break week random reading with Mr. Matt Fraction.