Friday, March 16, 2012

Comics of the Week - There's Really Only One

Fantastic Four 603
For a few weeks in a row, now, I've been going on about Fantastic Four and the epic story Jonathan Hickman started telling a couple years ago. This week, Fantastic Four #603 concluded this story and the ending did not disappoint. Big action. Big ideas. And it all came together going back to the very beginning of this saga. What's left after all of this sets up a great status quo going forward. Hickman is off of Fantastic Four in October, I believe, so it will be interesting to see what's next.

Another arc that wrapped up was in Batman and Robin #7. One of the great things about the relaunch has been the tonal variety of the books. Yes, there are a lot of Batman books, but each one is slightly different in tone and you have a Batman for each taste. For me, it's been Scott Snyder's Batman, mainly, but Peter J. Tomasi's Batman and Robin has been right up there as well. This first arc was a great re-introduction to Damian as we see him and Bruce adapt to being partners as well as father and son. The dynamic between Batman and Robin is skewed from what Bruce was used to in many ways, such as Damian possibly being a tiny bit of a psychopath. Patrick Gleason's art continues to impress me. He's not getting the same attention that Capullo is getting over on Batman, but this book looks just as good.

Fiona Staple
Then there's Saga. . . . I read this first, and I very nearly didn't bother reading anything else. I just sort of sat there, wondering why all comics couldn't be this good. Brian K. Vaughn may be the best writer in comics right now, if not, ever. And I don't think that's an overstatement. There is just something about his characters that can keep the most insane things grounded and the reader fully absorbed. Saga is like taking the craziest elements of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and maybe Dune, amping up the far out concepts, but then, somehow, making it all cohesive, relatable and completely plausible from page 1. I think he does this because regardless of the concepts, he's telling a story, first and foremost, and is concerned with the human element, even if the characters aren't human. He can somehow make you care about a character the minute you see them, because he chooses what your first impression is going to be so carefully, and then backs it up as the story moves forward. He's not re-inventing the wheel here, so it's ironic that that is what makes this such a breath of fresh air. You never get the sense that he's trying to blow your mind in any way. There's no pretension and the whole thing comes off as completely organic. It's like the author completely disappeared and this book is just happening. This is about as perfect a first issue as it can get. Everything is laid out, without tons of exposition. You never feel lost. And a big part of that is Fiona Staple's art. She clearly has the chops to be flashy if she wanted, but instead she gives us visual storytelling of the highest order, never showing off for the sake of showing off. Every line, every expression is there for a reason. The looks on faces tell stories of their own. And that's not to say the art isn't beautiful, because it is. But it's there to serve the story. This is a creative team that is clearly in sync here. Pick this up now! This book will save your life. . . . OK, that was over the top, but still, pick it up and read it in issues. I can tell it's going to be a great ride already.

1 comment:

  1. I agree completely on Saga. I'm glad there's a comic out that I think I'll be picking up whenever it hits. It completely follows my hopes that if you're going to make a comic, you're going to go big, all in, or you're just adding to the mass of mediocrity on the shelves.