Ok, so I work at a book store that has a varied selection of graphic novels. Not much Marvel or DC, but a lot of independent and even underground comics that can be hard to come by sometimes. I started working downstairs in the kids room and it’s very boring down there so I often peruse the children’s graphic novel section. I found a few silent comic books on the shelves and decided to look through them while I did nothing.
Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon, is a silent comic book about a dog who builds his own robot friend. The two become best friends until the robot breaks down and they become separated. While it is definitely a kid-friendly book, Robot Dreams holds a lot of meaning for me because I have definitely felt loss, struggled to move on and one day discovered that everything will be alright. In the end, Varon proves that pain doesn’t always have to hurt forever. We move on and we remember the good times we once had while also looking to the future for the good things to come. I have recently discovered that the future isn’t as bleak as I once thought to believe. Sometimes things get worse, but sometimes they also get better. The robot’s dreams about reuniting with his lost friend reminded me of the days I spent lamenting the past and hoping that simple thoughts could fix a great sadness that was burning inside me. Dreams will keep you afloat, help you survive the burning sun and the bitter winter, but that’s all they can do. Get up and make things better. I have and it’s made all the difference. This might be a little over analytic of a kids’ cartoon, but I think anyone can feel something after a quick read of Robot Dreams. It was very fun, but also very real. Continue reading →
I’ve been meaning to write about Mark Waid’s Daredevil series for a long time now. I feel like I shouldn’t even have to say this, but if you don’t already read Daredevil, you need to start right now. You can find people saying the exact same thing here, here, here, and here. Honestly, if you love comic books, there’s really no reason for you not to pick up this book. It easily competes with Thor: God of Thunder for Marvel’s powerhouse series. Issue #22 has all the elements that have made the series great so far, and it’s a perfect jumping-on point for anyone not already reading the book. This issue is also one of the first appearances of the highly controversial Superior Spider-Man, as well as the return of Daredevil’s most ridiculous enemy, Stilt-Man. And in true Mark Waid fashion, he manages to do the seemingly impossible by making Superior Spider-Man likeable and Stilt-Man menacing.
Spider-Man: Fever is quite the adventure. Brendan McCarthy pulls double duty and brings Spider-Man into the world of spider magic. According to McCarthy the book is an homage to Steve Ditko’s Doctor Strange stories from the 60’s, and boy is this book trippy. Spider-Man’s soul is abducted by a spider-demon who brings him to the ancient Webwaze, a dimension that all spiders call home. Doctor Strange goes in after him and it gets weird. Bipedal talking dogs, an aborigine with inter-dimensional walking shoes, a fly that used to be a man. Also, Doctor Strange rides along a river through space in a duck boat. That happens.
Spider-Man is also in this comic book! The King of the spiders wants to eat Spider-Man so he sends him off to the insect realm to prove whether or not he is a spider or a man. McCarthy explores the dual identity of Spider-Man as not just Peter Parker and Spider-Man, but as human and spider. In recent years there have been attempts to move Spider-Man’s origins towards something more to do with magic than science. We meet the spider who bit Peter all those years ago and discover its motives. It sought out Peter before and now it attempts to control him. Peter must decide if he is a man, free to make his own decisions, or a spider, with his destiny seemingly already decided.
Glory was ‘created’ by Rob Liefeld in the early 1990s. I say ‘created’ because apparently Rob Liefeld’s idea of creating something is just to take an already existing character and change the color schemes a bit. Glory was clearly Wonder Woman, just like Supreme was clearly Superman. She was an Amazon warrior who went to go live with mankind. There were some differences: She was half demon and she possessed a woman in order to learn what it meant to be human (probably not doing that). There had to be something different. I’m surprised DC Comics didn’t sue Liefeld off the face of the Earth. They’ve always been so historically good at utterly destroying anything that remotelylooks like their characters. Maybe it was ok in the 90s.
It was clear that Liefeld’s Extreme/Awesome Universe was not very well thought out. It took Alan Moore to make Supreme into a clever pastiche of Superman, instead of just a xerox copy of him. He won an Eisner for it! The Fighting American was an old Jack Kirby/Joe Simon character who was brought in to replace Liefeld’s already shut down Captain America stand in, Agent America. A stand in for a stand in. You get the idea. Glory was no different and no better. For a time these comics were popular, but eventually Liefeld ran out of money and everything tanked. Fast forward to 2011 and Image has decided to relaunch some of the Awesome Universe comic book properties without Rob Liefeld. One of them is Glory.
The Last Resort is a cliche zombie movie on paper. It’s not an adaptation of any movie that I know of (it has nothing to do with the show called The Last Resort), but it feels like this is one of those comic-book-as-a-movie-pitch titles that come out all the time. The story is simplistic: a plane lands in a beach resort that has been taken over by zombies, but nothing interesting ever comes out of it. The multitude of characters are paper thin, stereotypical, and uninteresting. Most of the dialogue simply moves the plot along without any deep character moments or even the feeling that these people matter. They don’t.
As a zombie movie imitation, it acts exactly like a zombie movie would. We get bits and pieces of character moments, and then they’re slowly but surely whittled down until the last few survivors remain. Except a movie can actually make these moments short and sweet. It takes longer to read a scene from a movie than it does for it to actually take place and that’s where the problem lies: This is the wrong format for this story. It should have been a crappy zombie movie, but instead we get a crappy zombie comic book.
Dan Slott’s series-ending Amazing Spider-Man #700 is really two superhero stories in one: the death of a superhero and the origin story of another. From the time I discovered the ending of this story in the spoiler leak several days ago, to actually sitting down to read the issue, I’ve been trying to piece together what exactly frustrates me so much about this storyline. Is it that Peter Parker dies a horrible death? Actually, no. Superhero deaths are nothing new, and with the comic book industry’s illustrious history of retconning and bringing characters back to life, I imagine we haven’t seen the last of Peter Parker. Not to mention, superhero death stories can be genuine works of art. It wasn’t so simple as just being an irate fan who doesn’t want to see his childhood hero’s demise. So why did this disappoint me so much? After all, it is just a comic book. These aren’t real people. They’re characters in a story. But no. It is more than just a story. There is a philosophy in every comic book. People don’t read comics merely for the fireworks of two emotionally damaged people in leotards beating the hell out of each other. No, we read comics for what the stories tell us about ourselves and the world around us. And my problem with Amazing Spider-Man #700 is that in attempting to show how a villain might be redeemed and rise to the challenge of heroism, instead, Slott has written an origin story which thoroughly misunderstands what makes a hero.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll say at the outset that I’ve never liked Superman outside of the first two Christopher Reeve movies. At various times in my life, I’ve tested the Superman waters again, both on paper and film, and have been disappointed. My problem has generally been that you can’t relate to him. He’s perfect, really. If you’re a human villain trying to defeat Superman, you have to either find some kryptonite or become a magician (or realtor, apparently.) Otherwise, you have to be a super powerful alien or an alien robot. When someone pulls a gun on Superman, we yawn. Also, my impression of Clark Kent was that he’s a bit of a wiener. That’s mostly an act, because Superman (Kal-El) is quite confident and fearless. But the fact that either we see Clark as a fuddy-duddy weakling or Superman as an all-powerful half-god exemplar of interstellar perfection, there’s not much to relate to. Also, his method of hiding the fact that he’s Superman (thick-rimmed glasses) is stupid. The explanation I once received that he actually hides his identity by some kind of mind control (on everybody!?) is stupider.