- Posted by Johanna on March 25, 2007 at 9:22 pm
- Category: Superhero Reviews
I caught up on a month’s worth of superhero comics this afternoon, and boy, was that a mistake. Put me in a grumpy mood all evening. There’s just too much mediocrity out there, too much stuff that would have been satisfying in bigger chunks, too much trying to make meaning from connections to other titles instead of their own stories (or using characters other people made mean something as shortcuts to provide weight), too much disappointment from well-respected names who should have known better, too much navel-gazing.
So what was good? First rule: look for Jeff Parker’s name. Even though it’s issue #7 of 8 of X-Men: First Class, he provides a story that means something on its own, without reference to previous issues. And it’s a classic type, one that most people can identify with, based on young love from opposite sides of a deep-seated divide.
It seems that Angel has been sneaking out of class to meet the Scarlet Witch. Her brother, the speedster Quicksilver, accidentally attacks the X-Men while looking for her, leading to misunderstandings and eventually a shared search. Meanwhile, the two dating heroes are in that “should this go any further?” phase of getting to know each other.
Through well-chosen scenes and bits of business, I was reminded of the characters’ personalities, motivations, and powers, such that I didn’t have to look elsewhere to put names with costumes. I know this seems like congratulating a master chef on making sure the salad’s cold and the entree’s hot, but you’d be amazed at how many comics come out from DC and Marvel where those basics aren’t established. Or worse yet, other comics can pay so much attention to emotional drama that they forget “hey, these kids have powers, maybe they should use them!”
Artwise, I knew what was happening (again, covering the basics admirably), thanks to Roger Cruz. They seem like teens in their attitudes and dialogue, too. I think this title was meant to “fill in the blanks” around previously published stories, but I didn’t much care, because enough was happening “present day” that the occasional “remember when” didn’t bother me even though I didn’t.
I was also glad to see something to take away at the end I agreed with, when they address the issue of how controlling family members should be, even out of good intentions. I wanted to call up a friend of mine, one with a daughter about to graduate high school, and read it to him, because it was a message that could have important meaning in real life, too.
Also by Jeff Parker, the fun and even silly Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #11. How can you not have fun with such classic villains as It the Living Colossus and a bunch of guys with snakes? And I loved seeing Spidey say “Will anyone ever remember that I’m really, really smart?”
On the other side of the aisle, I’m still enjoying Darwyn Cooke’s Will Eisner’s The Spirit #4. He’s so creative in his updating — Silk Satin becomes a CIA agent chasing the terrorist Octopus. It’s pure comics: imagination and skill put down in words and lines. I can get lost in individual panels, marveling at their construction and subtleties.
(If you want to know more about his modern take on the classic character, be sure to find issue #3, which retells the Spirit’s origin.)
I never got the appeal of Eisner’s women — they were nicely drawn stereotypes, in many cases, and maybe it was surprising just seeing them be smart and devious in that era — but this one, in this version, I am with 100%. She’s tough, beautiful, and still a three-dimensional character. She even saves the day — just check out that cover! Bless you, Cooke.
Update: I see that this issue is getting plenty of blog attention just because Girl Hero Saves Day. Which is cool, but disheartening, that such a basic role reversal is still so unusual as to be worthy of widespread comment.