Finally up to date (ish) with my thoughts on recent comic books with this post, just in time for more new comics to arrive tomorrow. It never ends, but in a good way. On with my ramblings.
Astro City: The Dark Age Book 3 #3
I’ve always enjoyed Astro City but this series has dragged in parts, not helped by the problems with the schedule. However, this issue sees things happen: we see Apollo Eleven in their missile silo, where they are attacked by Pyramid, Charles and Royal make a move, and the Silver Agent returns (with knowledge of something seriously important about to happen). The art from Anderson is still the same – it works for Astro City but I still don’t like the style – but Busiek is doing his usual excellent job, and it’s nice to feel like the story is actually reaching somewhere.
Batman and Robin #2
What a cracking opening page – Quitely really is a great artist. The way he moves the story around with his panel transitions are sublime, and his detail and action are fantastic. Not that he does all the work – Morrison tells a lovely story, as Dick Grayson relates to Alfred how the night with Damian went after responding to Gordon’s Batsignal. Damian is a psychotic little turd who can’t be controlled, and there are some lovely moments between Dick and Alfred. Grant also throws in the first use of ‘Kushti’ in a mainstream comic book I’m aware of, as well as circus slang (‘I rokker the jib, Toby’). Another great issue of excellent comic book entertainment.
The Boys #32
Without going back to issue 31, I’m sure that The Female looked like she was being killed, not just put in a coma. Is she indestructible? Seems a bit of a cop-out for Ennis, who likes to kill properly. Not that he doesn’t fill this issue with more of his eye-watering violence, when the remaining Boys are attacked by Payback in the fake hospital where The Female has been taken. In between, there is an aside where Starlight is given a new costume that is basically some shoe laces tied together; it’s supposed to be a satirical piece about the sexualisation of superheroines in mainstream comic books, along with the use of rape as a character origin. It’s a genuine point but it turns very serious halfway through, which mixes the tones and causes a slight narrative wobble. Still, back to the ultraviolence next issue.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #26
The dialogue in this issue is true to the television series – Jane Espenson was a regular writer on the show (my favourite line being ‘We have a submarine?’)– but the story doesn’t seem as intense as it should, as exciting as it should; the threat in the narrative doesn’t come through. All Slayer-related teams are attacked in unison, meaning Twilight is making a concerted effort to wipe them out (is the naming of the Big Bad a snub to Stephanie Meyer?), which leads to the Retreat of the title. This gives us the best moment in the book, as they seek out Oz, but it only highlights the fact that comic books are not television because the Oz ‘Huh’ in response to seeing a submarine appear outside the monastery works because of Seth Green’s delivery; on the page, it’s flat without that knowledge in your memory. Let’s hope this picks up with Oz returning to the mix.
Greek Street #1
If you didn’t try a new comic book that was $1 for full colour, 32 pages of story, then I don’t know what else can be done for the industry. Whether you like it or not is irrelevant. Which leads to my reaction: I didn’t like it very much, even though I appreciated the quality of book itself. The art is good – I’ve never seen Davide Gianfelice’s art before, but he’s got a clean, funky, loose style (albeit muddied by the Vertigo house palette of brown), which tells the story and creates characters you care about. I’m not sure about his depiction of Soho – I was raised in London and work near Soho, and it doesn’t look the place I know – but that’s not important; his work is sharp, visceral and dynamic. But this book is being sold on the name and work of Peter Milligan, a writer who has suffered a ups and downs in his career as his unusual themes have waned in and out of public affection (particularly his attempts at more mainstream work). He is a clever man, who loves his literary allusions, so he’s perfect for an updating of the Greek myths in a modern setting. However, the problem I have is that those stories are from a different world and never felt relevant, so trying to change that is going to be hard to gel. This is well written, as a story that sets up its mysteries to keep you wanting to read more, but doesn’t provide enough narrative satisfaction to have enjoyed the comic on its own. I’m sorry I didn’t like it more, and I hope it does well, but I won’t be around for the next issue.