6
Jan
2011
Chris' Comics Corner
Chris' Comics Corner
Chris
Hello all! Welcome to the first Installment of Chris's Comics Corner. I would like to begin with a big thank you to Jordan, both for hosting this feature, and for coming up with the awesomely alliterative title.

I'm guessing that most of you reading this are not die hard fans. I will assume that, at best you have a casual interest in and a passing knowledge of comics. I get that. I want this feature to be accessible, and I'm going to do my best to keep it that way. This isn't a column for the fanboys, this is a column for people who enjoy cool stories, and want to learn some more about one of the most fascinating and most misunderstood mediums of storytelling. I can only hope that my enthusiasm for the material I'm writing about might encourage you to swing by your local comic shop, and flip through some great books.

The feature will consist of two parts.

1.) Reviews. Each week, I will try to review a few newly released books. The reviews will be short, and I will be using Jordan's letter grade system.

2.) Where Do We Go From Here. This section will be a look at the business aspect of comics, as I believe it is equally as fascinating as the stories themselves. I will examine trends in storytelling, try to shed some light on the motivations behind the decisions of the publishers, and occasionally make predictions for the coming year. This section could also include a list of five somethings related to comics. For Instance, Five Artists To Watch, My Five Favorite Batman Stories, etc.

Now, let's get down to business, shall we?

REVIEWS :

Superboy #3
DC Comics
Writer: Jeff Lemire Artist: Pier Gallo
Superboy follows Connor Kent, a teenaged clone who shares 50% of Superman's DNA, and 50% of Superman's arch rival Lex Luthor's DNA, and chronicles his adventures growing up in and protecting Superman's home town of Smallville. Jeff Lemire is a writer best known for his independent non-superhero related work, and while I think he is still finding his footing as a writer in the superhero medium, he is definitely steering this title in the right direction.

This issue finds Connor distraught over the destruction of Smallville's crops by an alien device of unknown origin. Connor saved Smallville, but not the crops that this rural community survives on for their livelihood. Instead of moping, or ignoring the problem, Connor finds a solution, one that is rooted in DC tradition: He asks his friend and teammate Kid Flash to participate in a race as a fundraiser to help the town's farmers get back on their feet. Pleased with his solution, Connor heads to school, only to witness the entire student body black out from extreme migraines due to the arrival of a strange visitor from the future.


Superboy is unique among superhero comics, in that it walks a fine line between horror Sci Fi, and Norman Rockwell. Smallville was always a strange place, but Lemire has injected a much welcome Sunnydale-esque strangeness into this sleepy little farm town. But at its heart, this book is the story of a kid coming of age in rural America, living on a farm with Superman's adoptive mom, and having adventures with his super powered dog Krypto. It's that down to earth and wholesome quality, epitomized in this issue by Connor's concern for his neighbor's plight and his actions to help them, beyond just stopping a super villain's evil plan, that makes this title great. Extreme property damage is a staple of superhero comics, and is often forgotten, or dismissed with a tongue-in-cheek joke. However Connor follows through and cleans up the mess. With little touches like this, Lemire is fast making Connor one of the most likable protagonists in comics.

Grade: B

Brightest Day #17
DC Comics
Writers: Geoff Johns & Peter Tomasi Artists: Ivan Reis, Ardian Syaf, Scot Clark, & Joe Prado
Brightest Day is a 26 issue Bi-Monthly Maxi-Series that follows the adventures of six heroes (Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Firestorm, and Deadman) who were resurrected at the end of last year's mega event, Blackest Night. Each hero has their own separate plot line (with the exception of the Hawks), and each individual issue focuses on two or three of these plot lines. Despite the phenomenal creative talent behind this book, its quality can best be described as uneven. This issue however, was a pleasant surprise.

The Firestorm, Hawkman & Hawkgirl, and Deadman stories took center stage this week. The Firestorm and Hawks stories have traditionally been my least favorite of the bunch, but both installments proved to be fairly enjoyable this time around. However the real highlight of the issue were the portions with Deadman. Deadman was a character who began his superhero career by dying and becoming a disembodied spirit, so watching him come to terms with a second lease on life has consistently been one of the most enjoyable parts of this series. Whether it's his surprising and touching (though strangely not creepy despite their age difference) relationship with fellow heroine Dove, or his reunion with the grandfather whom he dismissed and ignored as a boy, Deadman, a character who was defined by his vanity and isolation, is finally discovering how to embrace life, and realizing it is best when shared with others. These scenes are beautifully rendered by Ivan Reis who has proven that he can do quiet emotional moments just as well as he can do blockbuster action scenes. The characters' expressions say volumes, especially during the almost completely wordless reunion of grandfather and grandson, and the joyful motorcycle ride at the issue's close.

I'm willing to cut the creators some slack as a bi-monthly release schedule following nine protagonists in five different story lines is a massive undertaking. When a title is released this rapidly it's hard to change course and correct mistakes. However it's a shame that the impact of the higher quality stories like the Deadman and Aquaman features are adulterated by the space constraints of having to advance the plots of several different stories in so few pages, and the fact that due to the shifting focus, it will probably be another two or three issues until we get the next installment of this very moving story.

Grade: B

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
FIVE REASONS 2011 WILL ROCK


1.) Fear Itself. Not much is known about Marvel's next big blockbuster event, except that Captain America and Thor will play a large role. All you really need to know is that this book is written by Matt Fraction, my favorite writer at Marvel and one of the most fresh, intelligent, and creative voices in comics today. And it is drawn by the incomparable Stuart Immonen whose runs on Nextwave, Ultimate Spider-Man, and New Avengers made him a super star. These are two of my favorite creators and I am so happy that Marvel is highlighting their talents by entrusting them with what is sure to be the biggest book 2011.

2.) Spider-Man Titles. Dan Slott is writing a bi-monthly Amazing Spider-Man that is bursting at the seems with content and simmering sub plots. Peter has a new job, a new girlfriend, and a new supporting cast and Spider-Man has to deal with a new Sinister Six, a new Venom, and the return of the Kingpin. Ultimate Spider-Man kicks off the Spring with the very secretive Death of Spider-Man storyline which reunites penciler Mark Bagley with writer Brian Bendis. These two superstars not only launched the series, but also produced a record 111 issues in a row, the longest uninterrupted run of any writer/artist team ever! 2011 will be a good year for Spider-Man fans.

3.) War of The Green Lanterns. A crossover between the three ongoing series (Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, & Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors) of DC's hottest franchise? Yes please. Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, and Tony Bedard continue to expand the Green Lantern Mythos in this event which will focus on an ideological conflict between the four main GL's (Hal Jordan, Kyle Raynor, Guy Gardner, and John Stewart), sparking a Green Lantern civil war.

4.) DC's Line In The Sand. Just when it seemed like a 3.99 comics price tag was inevitable, DC announced a firm 2.99 price cap. This is an incredibly classy move on their part and shows a great amount of empathy and support for the fans. It will be interesting to see how Marvel responds.

5.) New Casanova. Matt Fraction's mature readers, creator owned psychedelic, science fiction, super spy thriller returns to delight our senses and induce brain hemorrhages if stared at for too long. This book is one of a kind, and all around awesome. 2011 will see the in-color reprint of volume II and the first new installment of Casanova in years!

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