- Posted by Johanna on September 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm
- Category: Indy Comic Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Mike Carey; art by Peter Gross and Vince Locke
- PUBLISHER: Vertigo / DC Comics; $2.99 US
The storyline begun in issue #27 reaches part 3 of 4 here. It tells of Miri Walzer, an early comic writer working under a male name to get her stories out. A hit man has been sent to eliminate her (and thus her work) by a syndicate conspiracy, but he’s fallen in love with her. Classic, right?
Now he has to figure out what to do to save her — although his choice for her is definitely not the one she would choose for herself, thus demonstrating how much he’s a man of his times. He thinks he’s got to solve things himself, while keeping her in the dark, and that he can figure out what’s “better” for her life. That his solution would keep her alive while making her life not worth living to her never occurs to him, but then, no man wants to think about a woman who would choose her work, her creations, over him.
Although set in the early days of comic books, there’s a lot here that will strike a raw nerve with today’s clued-in readers. She lives and loves comics, while those around her want to punish her for it. No one sees her work as the art it is, because they think the books are disposable. The men don’t want a woman (particularly this one) making books, especially those that have a message they find inappropriate. But mostly, I was struck by one speech a hardboiled character makes:
It’s not about the writers any more. The medium is the message now…. Forget about the writers and control the product. You said these stories were like bombs — well, if the copyright’s yours, they can just as easily be pablum…. Keep it all nice and safe. If the writer complains, kick him out and get some other shmuck to take over.
How particularly timely, no? Given the relaunch of the entire DC line in a way that emphasizes brands and characters over creators, that gave me a shiver.
The framing structure, with a creature perhaps fictional himself (and definitely so, in relation to us) trying to find out why Miri’s Tinker character and his comics are so important, is a terrific way to explore what reading means and the power it has to create new worlds. It’s exaggerated and full of magic and sometimes ridiculous — but that’s what makes it entertaining as well as postmodern. Especially when it comes to the cliffhanger!
And isn’t that old-book mockup cover by Yuko Shimizu dynamite? Eye-catching, sets the mood, appropriate to the story (about researching a 30s pulp story), attractive without being exploitative … I wish more “mainstream” comic covers were that well-done. I’m already wishing that I had the collection of this storyline available for purchase, because I want to read the whole thing, all four issues, and gain the deeper clues they provide taken together.