So I’ve still got a buncha funnybooks here that I read while I was on blog vacation, and a bunch more that I’ve read since, and I don’t know which ones are which anymore, but I’ve got a buncha categories to put ’em all into, starting this week with…
All good things must come to an end, and that includes funnybook series. In the last few months, we’ve had a few of the good’uns say goodbye, so I thought I should maybe devote a column to commemorating their passings.
First up, we’ve got Powers: The Best Ever, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming.
I haven’t read Powers in a while, because (like everything else Bendis tries to do when he’s writing way too many book) it kinda sucked for a while. Once upon a time, though, it was one of the best comics on the stands. And that original Image run (and a lot of the Icon run, too) still stands tall on my list of The Best Comics Ever. So when I heard that Bendis and Oeming were wrapping it up with one final OGN, I couldn’t not buy it. Old time’s sake, and all that.
And I have to say, they did a pretty good job sticking the landing. Bendis’ writing isn’t as sharp as it once was, either because of bad habits picked up in 20 years of corporate spandex work, or because of the afore-mentioned over-work problem, but it’s good enough here. This felt more considered than his corporate work, at least. Less glib, and with more heart. He resolves some long-standing character and plot arcs, puts a nice cap on the series, and gives us an ending that’s also a new beginning. It’s nice, and I enjoyed reading it. Which I guess is all you can ask for.
Of course, you COULD ask for more. Which is what we got from Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky in Sex Criminals #69.
No, there haven’t been 68 previous issues of Sex Criminals. This issue skips ahead in time by… an undisclosed amount of time, but just long enough for there to have been 69 issues of Sex Criminals published. Because HAH. This book’s always been as much about the jokes as it is the startlingly honest emotional content. And this issue gives us plenty of the latter. We pick the story up however long it’s been, and… Jon and Suze are no longer together. Everything they went through, everything WE went through with them, and they…
They broke up.
It happens, I guess.
It’s amicable, and I should have seen it coming. But it still stung a little. Their reunion at a wedding is bittersweet, but all around them we see the rest of the cast getting happy endings, their various issues and problems settled or at least made more bearable by the relationships they’ve forged. And Jon and Suze are fine, too. They’ve found themselves by being apart, and that’s nice.
But damn this book, and its damn emotional honesty.
Let’s move on before I get all choked up…
We got a different kind of perfect ending in David Lapham‘s Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses #42…
…the final issue of his flashback series detailing exactly how Beth and Orson wound up on the run with a bunch of stolen drug money, way back in the second volume of the original series. I bring that aspect of the series up because of how all the pieces came together in the end here. Some are taken off the board, while others are set up for things we already know happen later.
That could be a boring exercise in checking off boxes, of course, but Lapham gave us something better than that with Sunshine and Roses. He deepened both Beth and Orson as characters, establishing context for things we didn’t know needed it, and making their relationship make sense in a different way than we had previously understood it. And that, in turn, also makes their eventual fates that much more affecting.
But he also used this series to set up characters referenced in the previous story arc, Killers, giving them ample backstory that can be used in their next appearances. That book starred Stray Bullets’ other main character, Virginia Applejack, and set up a looming gang war against a backdrop of teenage heartache. And since Lapham’s said that the next arc will be called Virginia, I’m assuming we’ll pick her back up where we last saw her, with the gang war running hot.
But now I’m just speculating on a book that hasn’t even been put on the publishing schedule yet, as far as I know. So maybe it’s time to end this.
One more neat thing about this issue, though: the original Stray Bullets series ran for 41 issues, with something like a seven or eight year break between issues 40 and 41. Which means that Sunshine and Roses, which tells a story that literally happens in-between two issues of that series, actually ran longer than the book that spawned it. AND (because COVID) there was also a long gap between its final two issues, as well.
Which kinda sucks, but is also kinda neat.
Alright. That’s all the Departures, and all the time we’ve got this week. Next time (assuming something else doesn’t come up and take its place), we’ll deal with ARRIVALS. Hope to see you then.