Eleven Thoughts About Eleven Of Today’s Comics – JiM, Demon Knights, Crossed Badlands, Batwoman, Peter Panzerfaust, Queen Crab, Batgirl, Saga, Saucer Country, Fantastic Four and Avengers

Posted by March 14, 2012 Comment

Journey Into Mystery, while being one of Marvel’s most entertaining comics full stop, has spectacular recap pages. Rather than present a series of panels to show what went on in previous issues, we get the plot narrated by a variety of characters. In today’s issue? Cadaver Thor.

Look I know there’s no chance of a series. But c’mon, How about a one shot?

This is the only Marvel comic that has successfully made me care about the after effects of Fear Itself. For that alone, it should get an Eisner.

I just had to check and, yes, Demon Knights is still a “T” book suitable for twelve year olds and over. Which of course it is, certainly any twelve year old I know, but their parents may not agree. The violence continues to push against that in remarkably entertaining fashions and I expect it’s sliding by on the “fantasy” element of its violence, even though its actually meant to be set in a very real moment of history. I’d have loved this comic when I was twelve. I rather enjoy it now as well. But right now there’s not that much difference between Demon Knights and…

…Crossed Badlands. Which is as nasty and as haunting as ever. And today being C-Day, you get to go home in a free Crossed mask as well.

One of the traits of Batwoman has been to try new tricks with storytelling. JH Williams learned well at the foot of the master on Promethea, and he’s continued much of that here. And I know there have been problems between JH Williams and current artist Amy Reeder, but what really harms this book is dropping the colourist of last month’s issue, Richard Friend, for Guy Major. There’s nothing wrong with Guy, per se, but his work knocks the art out of alignment with previous issues. The way the colour and the grey wash worked together last issue is gone here. The book looks more normal – even when it performs innovative tricks, as the above panel design to suggest speed and motion. Good job, people.

Peter Panzerfaust #2 continues it’s Boys Own story of World War II, while dropping references to J M Barrie all over the place like, well, yes, pixie dust. While also emphasising all the dangers that the original books seemed to take for granted. Combining that with lots of action movie logic makes this a rather useful companion piece to Lost Girls.

Queen Crab is Jimmy Palmiotti’s most accomplished work to date. Funded by Kickstarter, published by Image, drawn by Artiz Eiguran, the format allows Jimmy to stretch out his usual high octane writing style, slow down and take a beat. As a result we get something closer to Daniel Clowes than Jimmy Palmiotti, as a rather complex woman, her life already sexually complex enough with a cheating husband on her wedding night that she seems to accept, her own fuck buddy, a boss who takes favours to keep her job, but nevertheless something close to a working life… gets crabs. As in, crabs arms. And a chance to totally transform her life. Even if she seems destined to make the same mistakes. A beginning, a middle and something close to an end. This could very well be the best comic you read this week.

The new issue of Batgirl makes it incredibly clear, if it wasn’t so before, that this run is steeped in The Killing Joke. In fact, if they called it After Killing Joke: Batgirl, they may even have increased sales. Because that is totally where we are. And as the book continues its cliffhanger endings by revealing a character to us, this book does the same. And this is as much of a sequel to The Killing Joke as you will ever get. Can they ask Brian Bolland to do the cover for the collection?

There’s also some fantastic Batgirl/Black Canary sparring, and Batgirl’s journey continues, not just jumping across roofs, but inside herself. And it looks like a little closure is on the way.

Saga from Bryan K Vaughan and Fiona Staples is just one of a number of high profile launches today. And for all the hype about Lord-Of-The-Rings-meets-Star-Wars, at its heart it remains Romeo And Juliet. Just one that starts off with discussions about defecating during childbirth. Of course, being a comic book, it can take certain subtexts and make them text, as with the visible signs of both her parents’ technological and mystical backgrounds, expressed clearly and physically in the child they have. This is just the beginning of course. It is, after all, a saga

Another book taking subtexts and placing them in plain sight for all to see is the new launch of Saucer Country from Vertigo, the story of a presidential candidate who is not only dealing with the idea that she may have been abducted by aliens, but used the fact that her parents were illegal aliens of a different variety to curry political favour. People often use The West Wing as a tag for anything American and political, but this series maps much harder onto that TV series, with clever, fast dialogue, a desire to dive into issues, and to fill the book with smart people. And then take all that smarts and make it accept alien abduction in all its many forms…

Fantastic Four treads in this territory as well, going for the religious angle, as the religious aspects of superhero comics get defined rather literally as well. Franklin, the son of Reed Richards, saving the world at the cost of his life. Say does this mean Reed Richards is god? I mean he’s always had an ego, but still. As I pointed out earlier this book is Jonathan Hickman’s conclusion to the story he set out to tell almost three years ago. Next month… anything could happen!

While Norman Osborne finds a new superhero to emulate in Avengers. That’s right folks, it’s time for Purple Hulk! That Hulk Rainbow meme can’t be far off… at least I could follow this comic. Avengers Assemble was a little… disjointed.

Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics of London, currently celebrating C-Day for the release of Crossed Badlands.

(Last Updated March 14, 2012 7:40 pm )