Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sunny Days Indoors 23/04/08

It's with great pleasure we here at Gosh introduce our first regular guest columnist! Long time Gosh folks may recognise him as an old staff member: a hirsute pusher of quality graphic fiction. He's never afraid to speak his opinion, and he's generally got something interesting to say, so it's with great pleasure we present the occasional musings of the man they call (in a professional capacity) Mr Will Shyne!

(All opinions expressed are those of Mr Shyne, etc, etc...)

Now where to begin...?

All Star Superman is great. It's not controversial to say so. However, it's getting better. Frank Quitely made the choice towards the end of his X-Men issues to ditch inkers as he felt no-one managed to make it look how he wanted. It's taken a while (i.e. all of WE3 and the previous nine issues of All Star Supes) but this is the first issue I didn't read wincing at bits that I wish he'd inked or had someone else ink.

The storytelling, grace, detail and sense of scale that he's always had hasn't gone anywhere and Morrison is stripping the sory back to the absolute minimum of text, making the book so rewarding on a reread. Highlights of this issue are a great Lex Luthor moment, the innovative illustration of Superman's X-Ray vision (above) and Superman creating a mini universe to see what would have happened if he'd never 'come' to Earth (below).

Continuing with Superman, Action Comics #863 finished up the Superman and the Legion of Superheroes arc. Difficult to to remove any image to show without damaging the resolution of the story. No beat is wasted by Geoff Johns, and Gary Frank's art - as repeatedly mentioned before - is great. I was left wanting more and I'll get more. In the future though, when James Robinson starts on Superman, Action and Superman will run closely together, often crossing over. This pisses me off a little as I like James Robinson but I'm really not sure about the regular artist on the book (Renato Guedes). It's really souless and I'd already stopped getting the Busiek Superman because of it. We'll see.

More Superman (what the f*ck's going on). Well, Darwyn Cooke and the Justice League New Frontier Special anyway, which came out about a month ago. Cooke's written the whole thing and drew half of it, a missing scene from his mega mini New Frontier. A conflict aluded to only briefly in the series is elaborated on, Batman Versus Superman. The whole thing is told on three panels per page and feels a little like storyboards. Everything is set up perfectly. Batman stages the fight in a junk yard so the lead will screw up Superman's x-ray vision and then doesn't stop hammering at him. Interesting, too, are mentions of Batman stuff that retroactively foreshadow the Dark Knight Returns; interesting because Cooke was very outspoken about Miller's Dark Knight Strikes Again. However as much as New Frontier was very settled in time because of Cooke's research and structuring of the series within the "real" events of the DC silver age, these nods to Dark Knight, for me, secure it as part of DCs future.

The back ups in the book are good too. The director of the DC:NF cartoon, Dave Bullock does a great Robin and Kid Flash story and Darwyn Cooke's frequent collaborator Jay Bone does a fun Wonder Woman/Black Canary strip. Oh and DAVE STEWART colors it all.

Which reminds me...the Eisner nominees were announced last week, reminding me how out of touch I am for the for the most part, but Richard Isanove nominated for best colourist!? Awards are always controversial, but bloody finger's really not on the pulse.

Moving on, Loveless is one of the series I pick up just for the art when it's drawn by Daniel Zezelj. The latest one, a stand alone story, makes me question my judgement. While the art is superb and the colours a perfect fit, the story is incredible. Really great. X amount of years after the main story takes place, a couple of gangsters turn up to hide at a farm house and lie low. They're pretty callous to the old man who lives there, who tells 'em a story of when he was a kid, racing horses in a touring racing team. The reveal at the end isn't necessary (though I still shan't spoil it) but if you've read 100 Bullets, this is similar to the Kennedy issue. Pick it up, if only when Zezelj is drawing it. Great stuff!

Along with Loveless, from Gosh I received issue one of Suitcase Nuke. The comic's funny, very well drawn with creative layouts and story telling. I don't, however, know what Wang Chung is. Regardless the comic was a really pleasant surprise (I've met him) and I recommend checking out his stuff at The book also inspired me to flex my Polish movie poster muscle for the first time in ages, the result of which you can see at the bottom of this post.

Also funny: Zeb Wells and Bachalo finished their three part Spidey story this week in Amazing #557. This is very much the kind of story which once would've been given a mini or have been relegated to Tangled Web (a place for good solid Spidey stories which didn't fit into the convoluted continuity).

However, thanks to a load of convoluted continuity, there's now a new unconvoluted continuity so that while some stuff might go over your head, you can enjoy what you're reading. As my mate Anthony pointed out: if Spidey was this good every month, we wouldn't miss it. Chris Bachalo's seemingly involved in the colouring of the book, from what I understand, directing the colourist so that it looks like he coloured it himself. It looks great, though yet again Tim Townsend ducks out just before the end of the three issues and while Bachalo's pretty hard to overpower/ruin, the art suffers a little for it.

Couple of last mentions of things I can't scan cause it'll f*ck the books up.

The new recoloured Killing Joke has a healthy price tag but is really gorgeous. I had the book in black and white, which I love, but would never have imagined anyone else colouring it other than the very lively John Higgins. I had a happy moment at Alan Moore's signing at Gosh! when he agreed that the Batman Annual story he did with George Freeman (love letter coming soon) was a better Batman story than Killing Joke. It's questionable of course whether its supposed to be a Batman story at all.

Picked up the Mad Archives Volume 2 a few weeks back and though I'm dipping in and out (as I feel I have to with really old comics), it's plain gorgeous. Not much to add really, just don't assume it's the weakest link in the EC stable until you've looked at what Wally Wood's capable of with Kurtzman.

Lastly, a friend bought me a book (in the form of giving me the money for me to pick it up). I chose the collection of Michael (Heroes) Green and Denis Cowan's Batman Confidential arc. I'll give it the full review next time but so far, really liking it.

- Will Shyne.