Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Amazing, Spectacular

It's rare that an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man is poignant and claws at your insides the way the most recent one did. Bot that Spider-man is not well written and consistently enjoyable, but it's generally that lighthearted and delightful Ol' Webhead. This... well, this was different.

When last we left our hero, J. Jonah Jameson's wife had been killed by Alistair Smythe. Smythe had long been seeking vengeance on Jameson and Spider-man, and finally exacted a little piece of bloody revenge. This issue finds Spidey in mourning, coping with yet another loss.

Spider-man, like many superheroes, finds himself coping with death a lot. He is an orphan motivated to heroism by the death of his uncle and father figure at the hands of a criminal he failed to stop. His girlfriend was murdered (or perhaps he killed her). He has killed a woman before. In short, he is surrounded by death and frankly is unable to cope with it on a serious level.

This issue is incredibly well drawn and paced. A lack of dialog and text of any kind in the first pages clearly shows the emotional weight placed on Peter and the incredible sadness. It's hard to read and hard to describe.

I just really want to commend the writers and artists on this one. I've never read anything like this, especially in Spider-man. Bravo.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monsters and Morrison

So thanks to my roommate I've been on a total Hellboy kick. I had seen the movies and dabbled a little bit, but never really read anything seriously. Now I can't put it down. I also finally got around to reading some more of Grant Morrison's work outside of the mainstream, specifically The Invisibles. I'm not sure what I think about it yet. It's very good, don't get me wrong, but I'm not sure just how much I like it.

I want to go back to Hellboy. I think if anything, Mike Mignola has a gift for characterizing without actually just telling everything. One of the interesting things about comics and characters is that because of the format (few words, lots of pictures, short issues, etc) you don't just say a bunch of things about Hellboy or Hal Jordan. Comics are the epitome of the creative writing doctrine "show, don't tell". Telling is waste a space, plus with someone like Mignola who prefers to let his panels do the talking.

I can say a lot about the character of Hellboy. It's an incredibly impressive undertaking.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On Rebirth

I've written about comic book death before. It's weird, to say the least. People never really stay gone. Of course, they're missed but there is always the possibility of their return. It's a nice thought; that the people you love will be brought back by a Kryptonian regeneration chamber or Lazarus pits. I keep coming back to a Boondocks strip I saw a long time ago. Huey and his friend Caesar are talking:

Caesar: Hey man, are you ok?
Huey: A friend of mine back home just died...I never got to say goodbye, you know? I keep wishing he'll come back as a blue ghost, like Obi-Wan Kenobi. There's so much I want to say to him. [sigh] Why can't life be like Star Wars?
Caesar: Well, then Jar-Jar Binks would be real, and there'd be a bunch of Ewoks running around everywhere - nobody wants that.
Huey: A small price to pay if the people you love could come back as blue ghosts.
It's a poignant point. What would you give to live in a world where death was impermanent?

This is something that has been on my mind a lot. My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer a bit back, and it is terminal. It's weird that I keep coming back to this idea. Perhaps it's a form of denial or maybe I have been reading too much Geoff Johns, but I keep wanting this to be undone by some sort of cosmic magic or mystical power. I know it's futile and probably not healthy, but damn it would be nice.

But on the other hand, the impermanence of life is what makes it valuable. The impending, resounding end is a constant reminder of how we must cherish the little time we have. In these last few months I have become closer with my grandmother than ever. I wish I had earlier, but that's life. You never have as much as you want. C'est la vie, as the French in France would say.

I'd wager I'm just ranting out of hurt or fear, but it's something I think it's hard to rationalize. In an era of instant respawns and extra lives, actual death is hard to come by in the average nineteen year-old's life. It's pretty scary. It'd be a lot easier if the people you love came back as blue ghosts.

Monday, February 7, 2011

DC Universe Online Diary 3 and Other Stuff

So, after nigh a month of traipsing through Gotham and Metropolis and getting up to level 28 on my main hero, I have realized what DCUO really reminds me of.

There is an elseworlds, Kingdom Come, written by Mark Waid and Alex Ross which details a world full of metahumans. It is violent and horrifying for normal humans who cower on the ground below as the "champions" of humanity do battle in the sky. DCUO is a world filled with thousands of metas of immense power fighting in the streets. People flee in terror. The vast majority of cities or overrun with violence and crime. Superheroes and Villains fight constantly.

In short, it is a brutal world. Gangsters and hostile aliens lay waste to cities. Demons from hell rise with the mass of new evil sorcerers. In short, it is a world in dire need of heroes where there is little to no normalcy to counteract the fact that the cities are essentially war zones. I just feel bad for all of the people who are just trying to go to work when the Sinestro corps decides to level city hall or something.

And other stuff

My personal sleeper hit of 2010-11 is Knight and Squire. The new book comes out on Wednesday and I am pumped.

Also, I keep coming back to Nightrunner, the Batman of Paris. I want more of him. I think the cultural context is amazing and that the character design is absolutely flawless. If I could pick one character at DC to write right now, it would be him.