The Comics of February, in convenient capsule form!
Moon Knight 1, by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey
Moon Knight is a character who hasn't been served well in a long time, which is a shame. He's got a great costume and an even better gimmick: he's a highly-trained martial artist and ace detective who suffers from multiple personality disorder.
Essentially, he's Crazy Batman, and that's exactly how Warren Ellis is writing him in this new series. The first issue sees him riding around town in his computer-driven white stretch limo with the moon logo on the grill, out to investigate a serial killing in his stylin' white suit and full face mask.
click to embiggen
That's quite a change from the classic costume I was just raving about, but holy crap how can I complain about it? I mean, just LOOK at that! It's a costume that simultaneously looks cool AND makes him seem even crazier. This is the look for his “Mr. Knight, Consulting Detective” identity, the face he uses when working with New York police detective Flint, who plays along because he needs the help. And glimpses of future issues show the classic cowl, so that'll be around as well. But I'll take all of that suit I can get.
The villain for this first issue is, honestly, a little lame. Great concept (former SHIELD cyborg agent gone rogue, picking off fitness nuts for body parts to replace his own missing ones), but he's there and gone so fast that he doesn't get much chance to shine. The focus here is on Moon Knight himself, and that is thankfully so crazily compelling that I can forgive a less than stellar bad guy.
So! Crazy, funny, idiosyncratic street-level spandex comics! With nice art! This is a thing I could do with more of!
Veil 1, by Greg Rucka and Toni Fejzula
I'll give any new Greg Rucka comic at least one issue. Sometimes that pays off big (like with Lazarus
), sometimes I'm left less enthused (like with Stumptown
). With Veil
... It's hard to say just yet. There's not much to this first issue: our heroine awakens naked in what appears to be an abandoned subway terminal, alone except for a herd of rats. She's obviously addled, speaking in a nonsense stream of rhyming words, and wanders out in the street, where (being nekkid) she attracts unwanted attention. Then something horrorshow happens, and we're out.
So... Intriguing, but a little thin. And while I appreciate the unusual style of Toni Fejzula's artwork, it also doesn't do a whole lot for me. Will I buy another issue? Hmmm. At a price of three-fifty, it's hard to say. If it cost four, I definitely wouldn't be back. If it cost three, I'd probably give it another go. So, hmmm. I guess we'll find out next month...
Miracleman 3, by Alan Moore and Garry Leach
Yes, yes. I KNOW I spilled quite a few words on this book last week
. But I forgot to mention the reason I bought it in the first place: they reprinted the Warpsmith stories! This was a short two-part companion strip that also ran in Warrior
, starring characters who would later have major supporting roles in Miracleman itself. It wasn't published as part of Miracleman in the series' first American printing, and I've never gotten to read it. I've been curious about it ever since, though, so this was quite a thrill.
How is it? Pretty good, actually. Moore tosses in some alien slang that's slightly ridiculous, but it's crafted well enough that the dialogue is understandable from context, so I can only fault him so much on that front. But Garry Leach's art is beautiful and strange...
click to embiggen its Ditkoesque glory!
...and I like the weird paranoia hanging over events. Moore's exploring alien minds and alien morality in the story as well, and that's interesting to see. But it's the ending that sells it for me. I'm not going to spoil it, but that's where the alien nature of the Warpsmiths really hits home. It's short, punchy science fiction writing that's like a more well-considered version of Moore's Future Shocks or Tales of the Green Lantern Corps. It's not perfect, but I dug it quite a bit.
Starlight 1, by Mark Millar and Goran Parlov
Jupiter's Legacy 4, by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely
Mark Millar's not the hack popular funnybook fan opinion would have him out to be. He's most definitely written some hacky stuff. Nemesis
comes to mind, as does Superior,
and the later installments of Kick-Ass
. But sometimes I think that stuff's as much a big middle finger to his critics as it is a sensationalistic cash-grab. He's capable of better, and every once in a while he proves it. Last week, he proved it twice.
The buzz book is Starlight
, and the attention it's getting is well-deserved. It's the story of a Flash Gordon style space hero in his twilight years, and Millar skillfully bounces back and forth between his hero's glorious past and the crushing depression of his wife's funeral. It's simple, stylish, effective storytelling that strikes right at the heart while still being devoid of the angsty over-emoting that mars the work of so many mainstream funnybook writers who don't get labeled as hacks (well, other than by me, it seems). Combined with the classic cartooning of Goran Parlov, Millar's work here makes Starlight
a must-read. Grade: A
Getting less attention, but almost as impressive to me, is the long-awaited fourth issue of Jupiter's Legacy
. This one's a generational super hero story that delves into Millar's familiar fascination with super-celebrity in relation to the morality of the genre, and goes deeper into the super hero's political ramifications than I've ever seen him go before. In some ways, it's the promise of The Authority
brought to fruition. In others, it's Wanted
in a wrestling match with All-Star Superman
. But all the way round, it's the natural extension of the themes Millar explored at the turn of the century. It's like he's continuing the intelligent discussion he was having with us funnybook lifers about spandex fiction, after a decade-long interruption. He's in top form, aided and abetted by one of the best artists in the business, and it's good to have him back.
What else, what else? Just the usual suspects, I suppose...
Hawkeye 15 sees the return of David Aja, and the story I’m reading the book for. Seriously. The Kate in LA stuff is fine. Entertaining funnybooks. But holy crap the book is so much better when it’s in New York, with Aja on art, following this beautifully, pointlessly, gloriously complicated story about a dude in an apartment building, and the people who want to crush him. Grade: A
Mind MGMT 19 starts a new storyline, and the halfway point of the series. It also continues to be a beautiful exercise in complexity, with some of the best page design in the industry right now. Matt Kindt is a serious talent, and I hope the Marvel work he’s getting right now pays him enough to keep putting out stuff like this. Grade: A
Manhattan Projects 18 is another rollicking fun gore-fest from Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, and sees the book’s status quo shift yet again. I never know what horrible thing is going to happen next in this book, and that unpredictability is a large part of its charm. Case in point: the last page of this issue genuinely shocked me. I won’t spoil it, but… While one part of me hopes for a surprise turn-around next time, another part chuckles in delight, and revels in the chaos. Grade: A-
Secret 6 sees the action in this espionage thriller kick into high gear with some unexpected twists. Not everybody gets out of this one alive, and I wasn’t expecting that. At least, not this soon. The storytelling feels a bit disjointed, though, and I can’t tell if that’s because it actually is disjointed, or if it’s due to the long gap in publication. I’m going to have to sit down and re-read the whole thing soon to find out. But in the meantime, I can only give it a Grade: B
Velvet 4 is yet still more gorgeous spy stuff from Brubaker and Epting. Seriously, if you like adventure fiction, and you’re not reading this… You’re doing yourself a disservice. There’s not a better comic of its type on the stands. Grade: A
Aaaanndd… There’s others, but I’m tired. So I’ll hit those next week.