Well, that week just flew by – work just sucked the energy right out of me there, so no blogging for three days. Shocking. However, no surprise to any regular readers (regular readers – I’m such a kidder). Anyway, time to talk about the comic books that came out this week and that I now own.
Last week, I displayed my ignorance by revealing that I didn’t know when Watchmensch was actually in the shop (I was corrected by Rich Johnston himself, thankfully), so it’s rather nice to finally have it in my possession. It’s an ambitious idea, to do a Watchmen parody in the space of one comic book, but Johnston pulls it off – he has written a funny and smart story that actually has a point, which is quite a feat to accomplish.
Watchmensch is a story about comic book creators and the way they were screwed over by comic book companies, Alan Moore in particular. Using Watchmen the comic as a basis (the first page is lovely play on the first page of the first issue – Simon Rohrmuller does a great job of channelling Dave Gibbons while still bringing his own style to the nine-panel grid artwork), it involves comic book lawyers investigating the death of one of their own and their link to the firewall set up between DC and Wildstorm/ABC Comics. There is even a text piece by one of the characters, much like the back matter from Watchmen, which explains the details of the way Moore has been treated by DC and, seemingly, Paul Levitz in particular (although Johnston could have done with a better editor on this page – copywriters always think they know best; trust me, I edit them for a living).
This is a very enjoyable comic book – it replicates some of the surface details of Watchmen to create an indictment of the treatment Moore has received, but with jokes. There are nice little media gags (the policemen talking about The Wire), in-jokes (I liked the ‘Glycondamnit’), nice use of The Simpsons‘ Comic Book Guy as a stand-in for the news vendor, silly jokes (Nite Nurse, Ozyosbourne) – special mention for the ‘Choking, of course’ gag – and the replacement for the squid is deliriously and hilariously silly. This is what I want from a comic book: a good story, good art, good humour, and a point worth making.
Peter David wants to triple the sales on X-Factor – which, I’m sorry to say, isn’t going to happen – but he would help if he could get a single artist to stay on the book for the length of the issue and for a sustained run. Not that De Landro or Santucci do a bad job here, but a book needs consistency for the basis of quality.
David is using all his plotting tricks to keep the story in a state of flux – the reveal at the end of last issue is not quite what we expected, and takes Madrox to a different location, while leaving his reverend dupe to be shot at by a complete stranger. Meanwhile, some of X-Factor agree to a case, while the other half are on a job for Val Cooper’s people. This certainly packs a lot in, with some nice David dialogue to help things along, and it’s nice to feel as if you don’t know where the story is heading – David is enjoying ploughing his own furrow in his corner of the X-books, and I’m enjoying the ride.