Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Comics: I'm Back, Baby!

A few months ago, I discovered Hoopla Digital, an app where you can check out digital items from your local library. There are several apps where you can do this, depending on which ones your library uses. But the big deal with Hoopla (at least for me) is that they specifically mention comics as one of the things you can borrow. Well, the selection is pretty damn impressive. There's no Marvel, but just about every other publisher I can think of seems to be represented. It's not perfect, but free is not something to be sneezed at. Anyway, I've been reading comics. A lot. Here's a few.

fiona staples

I caught up with Saga, and I'm happy to say it is still just as good as I remembered it being.  I haven't been following comics for a couple of years now, so I don't know, but I would still put my money on Brian K. Vaughn being the best damn writer in the medium. You're never quite sure where he's going to take you, yet it always makes sense. The characters are alive in ways that very few can manage. Although, I will say a big part of his success is also his ability to choose artists that can make those characters breathe. Fiona Staples can draw these really beautiful characters that captivate. It's easy to get caught up in her work from a distance, but one reason I really enjoy digital comics more than paper now a days, is that you can focus on details in each panel in a way that you (or at least I, and my old eyes) can't on paper. When you do that in Saga, you'll notice the subtlest hints of facial expression that are not typical of the medium. It's as if these were just freeze framed at very specific moments that only a real observer of humanity would know to choose. And she does. And it comes across in a way that makes you know exactly what these people are thinking and feeling at every moment, regardless of the words. I can't stress enough how everyone should read this book.

superman

Because I'm a sucker for Elseworlds stories and it was free, I decided to give DC's Injustice: God's Among Us a try. I read 5 volumes of this shit, hating it and myself along the way at various points. Yet, I will likely read the next volumes when and if they become available on Hoopla because now I gotta see it through. To be fair, the first volume is a complete shitshow, but it does improve as it goes on. A little. Inconsistently. Without a doubt, this is the most inconsistent art I've ever seen in anything. One page will be filled with scribbles and then out of nowhere, there's a panel that looks amazing, like it was dropped in from another book. The "writing" is what you'd expect from a book that was thrown together just to justify a video game. It's ultimately nothing new. "What if Superman went mad and became a dictator" may not have been done outright in exactly the same way as this, but there have certainly been elements of all of this in other stories from Red Son to a bunch of other glimpses into alternate universes over the years. What I take most offense with in the whole story is the portrayal of Wonder Woman as almost a blood thirsty Lady Macbeth that at one point says she will be whatever Superman needs her to be. Fuck. That. Shit. I can't wait to finish reading this garbage, though. Like reading trashy novels, I guess.

chip zdarsky

What if you could stop time by having an orgasm? That's it. That's the premise of Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's Sex Criminals and I would never have expected to love this book so much. I gave it a shot and, much like Saga, I was instantly hooked by how alive these characters are. And also, it's fucking funny. Without being immature, although, sometimes it is on purpose and that's funny too. But it never defaults to lowest common denominator humor like I would have expected. It's always smart without being pretentious or loosing the comedy. There's a lot of meta stuff going on with characters addressing the reader and background jokes like crazy. I have to admit at first Zdarsky's art didn't seem like my cup of tea, but I got over that by like panel 3 or so when (again, thanks to digital) I could really see what he was doing in the fine details. It totally makes sense now that this book has won so many awards. Read this.

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