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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Eight comics to die before you read... or something...

Tony Collett points me to this article, and, naturally, I must exceptionalize:



First, here's what The Authoritaz (i.e., Peter Hartlaub of the S.F. Chronicle) say:

Here's our ultimate comic book mix tape - title it Eight Comic Books You Need to Read Before You Die, or the only slightly less cumbersome Comics for People Who Think They Hate Comics. I would suggest reading them in the order listed below. All of these are available as trade paperbacks, which compile several comics into one book. In the case of Y: The Last Man, Bone and Sandman, which have multiple editions, we've chosen the first volume - read the rest of the saga only if you get hooked.

Y: The Last Man: Unmanned (Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra): I'm an even bigger fan of Vaughan's "Ex Machina," which weaves an intriguing alternate reality around the Sept. 11 attacks. But the recently finished Y: The Last Man is his masterpiece, taking a B-movie premise - what if every man on the planet suddenly died - and turning it into an intriguing, realistic, funny and ultimately touching epic.

Daredevil: Born Again (Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli): Forget that bad Ben Affleck movie. This mid-1980s work from Sin City and 300 writer Frank Miller is a powerful and wrenching tale, throwing the attorney-by-day-crime fighter-by-night down a staircase of addiction and betrayal. It looks a lot like the old X-Men and Avengers comics that you used to enjoy but shows a maturity that will mark much of Miller's later work.

Swamp Thing (Alan Moore): Another early work by a comic book legend, Alan Moore took over this DC Comics franchise in 1984 when it was all but dead. He completely re-wrote the character's history, but what could have been a "Highlander 2: The Quickening"-style disaster works in all the right ways, with narrative depth and a love story that resonates.

Marvels (Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross): Told from the point of view of a photojournalist, Marvels gives a street-level view of the greatest moments in superhero history - covering half of the 20th century. Busiek's story is interesting, but the selling point here is the hyper-realistic art from Alex Ross, who later drew the equally incredible-looking Kingdom Come.

Bone Volume 1: Out From Boneville (Jeff Smith): Imagine if someone took a handful of Looney Tunes characters and tossed them into a Ronnie James Dio song. This cartoonish independent comic, which ran for more than a decade in the 1990s and early 2000s, can be very funny but also has a "Lord of the Rings" vibe. And not just the happy parts in Hobbitland.

Watchmen (Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons): We'll have to see if the version from "300" director Zack Snyder, co-written by Lowell High graduate Alex Tse, can make what appears to be an impossible transition to the big screen. ("Watchmen" is coming in 2009.) The 1986-87 publication tells the gripping and incredibly dense story of costumed adventurers wrestling with their past and future during the Cold War. Arguably the greatest comic book in history.

The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (Neil Gaiman): Gaiman is known as a strong storyteller, but his biggest gift is with language. This introduction to his most famous character - Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams - passes through a reality and fantasy world, painting an often pessimistic portrait of mankind. Later volumes are better, but this is a necessary introduction to the series.

The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller): The tale of Batman's rebirth as an aged crime fighter is packed with action, with a storyline that includes the Joker, Two-Face, a one-armed Green Arrow and an epic showdown between Batman and Superman. This 1986 series is Miller's best work, filled with darkness and despair but also an underlying hope.


My (spit) take:

I haven't read "Y: The Last Man", so, no real comment there.

DAREDEVIL: Born Again is solid work. Miller's apology for all that godawful ninja hackwork and retroactive insertions of ex-girlfriends turned assassin and crusty but lovable mentors we'd never previously heard of that he inflicted on Matt Murdock in his first writing assignment on the title, this particular Daredevil saga goes to eleven, and as such, was a very welcome breath of revitalizing air in the midst of the sea of stomach churning stupidity that the Daredevil comic book quickly became under Miller's first turn as writer, and remained under his various successors, especially the appallingly ungifted Ann Nocenti. Miller even seems to apologize for and retract his idiotic insistence that Matt Murdock had never had a radar sense, as Matt frequently makes use of said sense all the way through this story. Miller seems unable to write very well when he's doing his own art, so it falls on me to be especially thankful for David Mazzuchelli, whose brilliant visual depictions on this and on BATMAN: YEAR ONE seem to inspire Miller to the best writing heights he has ever achieved. Yeah, yeah, this is definitely a comic everybody should read.

Alan Moore's SWAMP THING: Up through the seemingly endless "American Gothic" story, this is some fine stuff. After "American Gothic" starts, it rapidly gets very tedious, other than a two part story guest starring Adam Strange, which completely rocks (but which seems to have been ret-conned into oblivion since).

Busiek and Ross' MARVELS -- The first two issues are great, the third is a let down, the fourth is pretty much crap, and nobody but me and Kurt's mom would have bothered with the thing at all if it had been illustrated by Sal Buscema (no knock to Sal). But, yeah, the Alex Ross artwork is a wonder to behold.

BONE Volume 1: I don't know. Maybe you can read BONE and enjoy it. Maybe you have it in you. After hearing people heap praise on it for decades, I finally tried to read one of the collections a few months ago (got it out of the library) and found it... disappointing, to say the least. I'm not saying I wanted to roll it tightly, set it on fire, and cram it entirely up Jeff Smith's ass or anything, but I sure couldn't see what everybody else apparently does in the fricking thing. Pass.

WATCHMEN, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons - WATCHMEN is overrated, but nearly everyone overrates it, so, whatever. Moore has done much stronger stuff than this since; I'd far sooner see an uninitiated non-comics fan (especially one with literary pretensions) exposed to PROMETHEA or FROM HELL than WATCHMEN, which is so full of inside-superhero comics references that a non-geek would probably find it mostly baffling, anyway.

Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN - Yeah, yeah. Good stuff, go read it, etc etc. I love Gaiman's SANDMAN, so does everyone else, and it's especially nice to read it all these days, because if you do, you can skip AMERICAN GODS, where he basically retreads all the cool concepts from SANDMAN without dumber and more boring characters. (I wanted to type 'without the pretty pictures', but, unfortunately, other than for brief artistic insurrections by Shawn McManus and Charles Vess, the artwork Gaiman works with on SANDMAN is near universally a horror to have to look upon.)

Frank Miller's THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS - Nah. As with WATCHMEN, this is very overrated. Read Miller and Mazzucheli's BATMAN: YEAR ONE instead. As with their BORN AGAIN, this story very much seems to be Miller's apologia for all his idiotic excesses in DARK KNIGHT.

My own "Eight Comics to Read Before Dying"? Well, the arbitrary '8' number is a ridiculous limitation, but, well, let me take a hack at it:

FROM HELL by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell - simply breathtaking graphic storytelling, perhaps the finest the comics storytelling medium will ever see. Campbell's deeply unconventional visual stylings and lettering make this extremely hard to get into in the beginning, but once you're twenty pages in you'll realize that it's perfect for the story and never be bothered by it again. Moore tells his story in an equally challenging manner, mixing non-linear and layered narrative techniques in a way that is guaranteed to baffle and perplex nearly any ALL NEW, ALL DIFFERENT X-MEN fan who has ever lived... but if you can get through it, it's maybe the most rewarding comics work you will ever read.

Either "DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN" or "BATMAN: YEAR ONE" by Miller and Mazzuchelli. Both are fine works in the superhero comics sub-genre.

"The Laughing Fish" Batman/Joker two parter by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers. Or the "Nomad" story in CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE FALCON by Englehart and Sal Buscema. Or the AVENGERS/DEFENDERS WAR by Englehart, Sal Buscema, and Bob Brown. Or the Sise-Neg/Genesis story in Dr. Strange by Englehart and Brunner. Or the Gods Go West/Squadron Supreme story in AVENGERS by Englehart and Perez. Or the Englehart/Milgrom CAPTAIN MARVEL stuff. Or... y'know what, just go read everything Steve Englehart wrote for Marvel or DC in the Silver Age. Yeah. That will cover it. Plus, Englehart's first eight issues or so of GREEN LANTERN, leading up to the CRISIS.

"Flash of Two Worlds" by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino. You cannot be a superhero comics fan if you do not love this story. No. I'm not listening to you. You. Can. NOT. Be a superhero comics fan if you do not LOVE this story.

Steve Gerber's DEFENDERS. Or his MAN-THING. Or his HOWARD THE DUCK. Or his OMEGA THE UNKNOWN. Or his... y'know what I said about reading everything Steve Englehart wrote in the Silver Age? Same for Steve Gerber, plus, his FOOLKILLER series from the early 90s.

Jack Kirby's KAMANDI. I cannot speak with you as regards the art of comic book storytelling if you do not worship Jack Kirby's KAMANDI. And his OMAC. And his FANTASTIC FOUR. And his AVENGERS. And his X-MEN. Plus the whole FOURTH WORLD thing... well, maybe not FOREVER PEOPLE. Still. Kirby stuff, 60s and 70s. Go read. I'll wait.

Yeah, yeah, Gaiman's SANDMAN. Especially if you're trying to get that hot non-geek babe you know who just WON'T read comics to change her mind. SANDMAN will nearly always do it, especially if you start out with "Dream of a Thousand Cats". Chicks absolutely cannot resist that story.

Lee-Ditko's SPIDER-MAN. Have superhero comics ever been finer? No, no, I think they have not. Amazingly intricate Ditko crime-oriented plots and fantastically fluid Ditko pencils awesomely enhanced by some of Stan Lee's best dialogue and caption work ever. Life don' ged much bedda dan dat, at least, in superhero comics.

Well, except for Busiek and Perez's JLA/Avengers crossover. Which everyone should read, too, even if that makes nine, instead of 8.

Now, how about "Eight Comics To Die Before You Read", just to really piss people off?

* Anything by Warren Ellis. I know, I know, everybody seems to love Ellis, and I'd profess not to know why, but I'm pretty sure that in fact I do -- he works with fabulous artists, throws in a lot of sex and violence, and his characters are always really really pissy with each other. On the other hand, his plots make little sense and in addition to being pissy, his characters are also puerile little pud-wallopers with dumb ass powers and fucking retarded names. If you're all about the pretty titties and strange energy beams issuing from odd orifi... but wait, what am I saying? That's the Modern Age in a tokamak powered nanotech-augmented super-suppository right there.

* Anything written by Gerry Conway. Unless you're looking for a horrified laugh at just how bad superhero comics can be, avoid anything with Conway's name in the credits box at all costs. Possible exception: some of his run on SPIDER-MAN, around the time Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin both died. However, I've heard rumors that Jim Shooter punched up a lot of Conway's dialogue around that time, too. Extra credit for being perhaps the worst thing ever to happen to superhero comics for being the Marvel Editor in Chief who drove Steve Englehart to DC and Steve Gerber off DEFENDERS.

* Every single post CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS reboot except BATMAN: YEAR ONE and Alan Brennert's lovely Black Canary story in SECRET ORIGINS.

* Everything ever published by Image Comics, unless it was written by Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman.

* Everything Chris Claremont has ever written. Except maybe IRON FIST, which I have a childish fondness for despite its histrionic wretchedness.

* Everything Marv Wolfman has ever written. Except maybe for TOMB OF DRACULA, which I have a childish fondness for etc etc etc

* DEATH OF SUPERMAN. Right hand to Jesus, if anyone ever says you have to read this comic or DIE, choose death. It is without a doubt the worst superhero comic book ever published, and yes, I am including all those truly appalling Jerry Siegel scripted MIGHTY CRUSADERS stories, too. A mesmerizingly meretricious story arc that climaxes with an issue entirely comprised of single and double page spreads in which Superman dies, kind of, for a little while, until he gets better. That final issue is like some sort of demented "WATCH A SPIKEY GUY POUND SUPERMAN INTO TROPICANA'S PURE PREMIUM EXTRA PULPY ORANGE JUICE" coloring book, that somebody has already colored for you, completely ruining what little utility it might have once possessed. Seriously, rip your own eyes out with a pasta ladle before you peruse this one, True Believer.

* AVENGERS FOREVER by Busiek and Pacheco. What? You think a miniseries in which a writer establishes that any character in the Marvel Universe could at any time in the past, present, or future actually have been or could still be or might well become a Space Phantom, without even necessarily being aware of it, is a good thing? Helloooooo, Warren Ellis fan! Also, bite me.

Okay, I have to go take a shower.

5 Comments:

At 8:22 PM , Blogger MJ Norton said...

I continue to avoid coming up with a Top 8, 10 or 100 list of comics, knowing that my tastes shift over time and I almost always tailor recommended reading lists to the person I'm addressing.

That said, I'm with you on Miller's work on Daredevil - both on the Born Again arc being generally better than his first bit of major continuity surgery on DD, and on Batman: Year One being the superior work. Still, what bothered me about Born Again were the Roman Catholic elements, which I don't so much immediately fault Miller for as I do find it immensely regrettable because it's just the sort of horseshit that seems to almost inevitably attract Kevin Smith. Smith's work on the character years later rendered him almost unrecognizeable as for his behavior. Ghastly stuff. But, hey -- "fan favorite" stuff, so what do I know? (I like many of his movies and hope his Reaper series survives the writer's strike and ratings to go on for a while, but nothing I've read from him in comics was a happy time for me. Maybe I should have looked at his Green Arrow series since, frankly, I've never really given much of a crap about Ollie Queen.)

I was fine with Alan Moore's Swamp Thing past the point you were, enjoying both him being exiled from Earth's "green" via the last creation of the Silver Age Lex Luthor and aspects of his space journey as he slowly learned how to control his frequency. It's been years, though, and I'm not sure how the re-reading would go.

My sense of the decline of Marvels is that its shift in quality was due to the source material. The broad, grand, strokes and generally underpopulated landscape of the Golden Age worked. The dense, character- and event-rich Silver Age -- well, that could have sustained more than it did -- but after that the characters focused on and their stories (largely Spider-man) were from a far less satisfying period. (There may be some shakiness there in our interpretations as you roll the Silver Age into the seventies while I tend to go with the more traditional 1970/Kirby lights out for DC endpoint, not bothering to come up with an era tag for the next wave as Stan largely faded out and more voices than Roy's were heard from.)

Really, once Gwen and Norman were done in (and, actually, for most of the previous couple years) Spidey (especially Amazing Spider-man)really hit the skids despite him going on to star in more monthly books than ever.

I think Kurt had a problem at the point of reaching a stage where his deep fan interest in the Marvel universe had faded, even if he hadn't realized it at the time.

Bone never really impressed me, either. Passable entertainment in the very short term, but horribly over-hyped by people who should have simply viewed it as a nice little modern entry point to comics for people who didn't care for the other, prevalent genres. Repeated references I'd seen to it being reminiscent of Pogo still raise a chuckle.

I continue to think very highly of Watchmen, but years of passing it in front of newer readers has shown me that it is very much a creature of its time and only maintains its status in that bubble. The themes explored there have been so pored over and rehashed that were ground-breaking at the time have become quaint. Moreover, I've found that readers who are even just six or seven years younger than us -- much more those who are now only in their thirties or twenties -- lack the Cold War context that's so essential for the backdrop.

I have From Hell - I can see it over on one of the bookshelves from here - and while I read it through and enjoyed it I don't believe it occur to me as something I would laud to the level you have. I certainly agree that the illustration and lettering style make it a wonderfully thematically-matched work, and it provides a fairly large, complete work, making it satisfying on that level. However, the tale's not going to be for everyone, though, and I wouldn't put it in someone's hands without noting that even the author has noted that while it's rich in details it's not intended to be an historical piece where the writer-as-historian has presented a best-case scenario for the Truth behind the Ripper murders.

Moore went with the elements that most interested him as a storyteller and worked out from there. There are already too many people out there who've read series of what are historically-placed romance novels and believe themselves to be students of history; I'd want to be careful of not adding to that delusion. Then again, Moore definitely doesn't skimp on genuine details, so they'd be better off in that respect than with those other "historical" novels.

While hardly the highest examples of graphic storytelling arts, I've been enjoying The Walking Dead, published by Image, so that's at least one Image title I enjoy.

Thusfar I've found it to be the only work by Robert Kirkman worth reading, and even then it likely has much more to do with the appeal of the genre than Kirkman's talents as a writer. His work at Marvel has been a wall to wall creative waste (though I know those miserable Marvel Zombie titles have made them a small fortune), and such charms as his Invincible holds owe more to his apparently being at heart a Silver Age Marvel fan. I suspect we'd find that we have many of the same favorites among us from that era, but his own attempts at doing the same... eh.

We're simply going to have to disagree about Avengers Forever. You've already had your say about it in at least a couple of the Martian Vision pieces as I recall.

When I look at it, besides seeing a very visually appealing work (thanks to Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merion)I also see Stern and Busiek simultaneously revisiting some items of interest going back to at least Kurt's days as a fan, trying to resolve the elements they liked and those they didn't into a healed whole, and bringing it all through in an entertaining package while trying to tie it to possible future events that I imagine he/they would have liked to be in a position to explore.

In the end, that he resorted to Space Phantoms as a means of explaining some uncharacteristic/untruthful behavior for some characters simply didn't bother me anywhere near as much as it did you. I accepted it to the extent that it was used rather than damning it as a tool that others might subsequently misuse.

Certainly it wasn't a perfect solution, but a malleable mechanism for erasing some problems and at the very least effectively duct-taping the disjointed edges. I suspect more elaborate and intricate measures came to mind along the way, but they almost certainly would have resulted in having to go too far down the This Old Universe path of detailed fixes and could have resulted in the project being killed -- or at least trimmed, nullifying the attempts to make the fixes or, more likely, forcing him back down the path of coming up with another, single mechanism for explaining away continuity problems.

I'm also fairly sure that Kurt was already having to work all this past people at the editorial and above level who really would have been just as happy with simply reinventing everyone anew, keeping not much more in place than the names, powers and iconography that the boys in Marketing would demand.

In my view the attempt to reconcile the pieces, including elements he plainly didn't care for, rather than simply ignoring them and declaring they simply didn't happen, is laudable. Knowing that the story was being told by someone who not only cared about the characters but who'd actually read the stories -- my god, I only wish we had more of that in modern comics and especially at Marvel.

If Marvel's "editorial" crew had given Kurt (and, later, Geoff Johns) the creative freedom and support they've subsequently given Bendis, Millar, etc. in their various attempts, while working on Avengers, well, I'd likely be a much happier comics fan -- and more of a Marvel comics fan -- now.

Just to throw something out to consider -- not even necessarily to respond to: Kurt was approaching the characters and stories as someone looking to save as much of the past as possible as he moved forward. (His moves during the course of writing the main Avengers title, however much ignored by later writers, to heal Hank Pym's psyche, are among those I remain appreciative of, and this was part of what he was aiming at in the long term.) You, despite coming back as a reader for a while, had as a fan already buried the shredded, rotted and burned remains of Marvel Universe and held services for them years earlier. While some flicker of hope and nostalgia may have remained deep within, you'd essentially written it off as so thoroughly fouled and despoiled as to be beyond redemption. Pretty much only a jump back to some point in the mid-to-late '70s (depending on the series) and a declaration that nearly all of what had come after to never have happened really would have been enough.

All that said, it doesn't matter how many showers you take, I will not bite you. Not on a train or in the rain. Look around, though -- I'm fairly sure you can find someone there who'll take you up on the offer. ;)

 
At 5:28 PM , Blogger Doc Nebula said...

As far as a Top 8 list goes, I cheated pretty extensively by giving two spots over to stuff like 'all Steve Englehart's Silver Age work' and 'all Steve Gerber's Silver Age work'. And while my tastes have perhaps broadened somewhat over time, they'll have to pry my Gerber DEFENDERS or Englehart CAPTAIN AMERICAs out of my cold, dead fingers. ;)

I am fully on board with your observation that SWAMP THING's enjoyability spiked upward again agreeably with the "Swamp Thing takes over Gotham City" story, and that brief cameo by the pre CRISIS Lex Luthor (still an outlaw, still a criminal, still a renegade scientific super genius, not yet a mainstream billionare businessman with Presidential ambitions) in the weird lacunae that the post-CRISIS, pre-MAN OF STEEL DC Universe was then is perhaps the finest post-CRISIS Lex Luthor moment ever, and probably among the finest to occur anywhere at any time. ("You don't know invulnerability. I know invulnerability, and this swamp creature ain't it." Heh-indeed.)

Still, so much of the "American Gothic" storyline has become jumbled up in my mind with idiotic phrases like 'the sound of the hammers must never stop' and 'pick a number' that it's all become a nearly universal bad memory for me. You're right to point out that it wasn't all as bad as much of it, but, still, after the initial brilliance of Moore's first year on the book, it seems to me that the first CRISIS largely came along and took the legs out from under him entirely.

I also agree that the Roman Catholic elements introduced by Miller in BORN AGAIN are regrettable, but there's some grain of truth to the fairly constant conservative/religious critique that comic book superheroes rarely or never seem to be at all religious, and I suspect Miller was trying to walk that back somewhat, and, at the same time, do some naturalistic characterization using materials that other writers hadn't gone to at that point. That the lamentably untalented Kevin Smith would roll the whole thing up and smoke it years later is, well, one of many lamentable things about Kevin Smith's career. If only one could somehow restrict him to only having a very small budget in comics, he might produce something of worth, but I'm not sure how to do that... maybe assign him South Park's Timmeh as an artist, or something.

For what it's worth, I have no trouble with the concept that superheroes are such exceptional people, and generally, such internally STRONG people, that they would generally eschew the religious/superstitious crutches embraced so avidly by the common man. This pretty much flies in the face of everything Alan Moore tried to show about 'realistic' superheroes in WATCHMEN (which elements of essential weakness/sexual dysfunction have been largely adopted as being the very heart of the so called Post Modern Superhero by all of Moore's avid would be imitators) yet, oddly, Moore wasn't one to make his superheroes religious, he simply wanted them to be perverts. I hate to regard that as a mercy at this late remove, but, honestly, it probably was one.

As to AVENGERS FOREVER, well, we've tread this ground into canyons already. I would like to say that I've never doubted that Busiek and Stern had only the best intentions in their approach and execution, but, well, roads to hell and what have you. For me, while intentions are important, results are more so. A Marvel Universe in which as poor a writer as Brian Michael Bendis can, if he wants, simply decide that, say, twenty years of Spider-Man behavior can be dismissed as that of a Space Phantom with an outside agenda even it was unaware of all that time... nrrmm. Not a Marvel Universe for me, certainly.

But, then, much of the last thirty years has been a recurrent exercise in re-grasping THAT essential point. Now, Steve Rogers is dead, and Bucky Barnes is taking his place behind the shield... whoa! Can we just have everyone turn into a zombie and get it over with?

It's with some relief that I note how AVENGERS FOREVER has ultimately been a failure, by the only real measure I've ever been able to find valid within coherent fantasy multiverses like Marvel's and DC's... for all its commercial success, I have yet to see any other subsequent writer or editor make any real use of any of the myriad continuity inserts created by Busiek or Stern within its confines. Nobody else seems to have wanted to touch anything they tried to establish, and, in fact, it would seem that the future Avengers we saw towards the end, with Jack of Hearts AND Songbird both in the line up, can't ever come into being now.

As to the omnipresent Space Phantom infiltrators, well, that seems to have met the same warm universal acceptance by Marvel's writers and editors as DeMatteis' Morgan MacNeil Hardy character got back in the 80s. And thank Whoever for that, too.

Finally, you'll never catch me typing or speaking a word against Carlos Pacheco's illustrations of AVENGERS FOREVER or, most likely, anything else he's drawn. He's an extremely gifted and talented artist. I just wish he'd had better scripts to work with on AF, which I badly, badly wanted to be as good as you seem to feel it really was.

 
At 4:19 PM , Anonymous Always Esteemed Scott said...

Awesome post.

WATCHMEN, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons - WATCHMEN is overrated, but nearly everyone overrates it, so, whatever.

The first time I read WATCHMEN, I was absolutely blown away. I got the trade paperback for Christmas several years ago, and by that time I'd been way from comics for a long time, so I wasn't aware of the transformation that had taken place (the "grim n gritty comics" you love so much Doc :)).
Of course, WATCHMEN was also my first exposure to Alan Moore, and funnily enough, while I have frequently gone back and re-read the PROMETHEA series and especially the TOP TEN books, I have never had the desire to go back and re-read WATCHMEN. Whatever that's worth.

Frank Miller's THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS - Nah. As with WATCHMEN, this is very overrated.

I'll say. Although I'd take WATCHMEN over DARK KNIGHT any day of the week. On your recommendation, I'll check out BATMAN: YEAR ONE, but I have to say that my exposure to Frank Miller's work (DARK KNIGHT, SIN CITY, the script for RoboCop 2) so far has not left me with much of a desire to seek out his other stuff.

Well, except for Busiek and Perez's JLA/Avengers crossover. Which everyone should read, too, even if that makes nine, instead of 8.

I have been looking for this for years, and I cannot find it anywhere. What's it called?

As for the rest of the discussion - space phantoms? Wha?

 
At 5:22 PM , Blogger Doc Nebula said...

Moving backwards -

JLA/Avengers is pretty much called JLA/Avengers. Google search on Busiek Perez JLA Avengers, or just go to

http://cgi.ebay.com/JLA-AVENGERS-1-2-3-4-OF-4-BUSIEK-PEREZ_W0QQitemZ280204396382QQihZ018QQcategoryZ32758QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

and buy, buy, buy.

You could go to http://www.amazon.com/JLA-Avengers-Collectors-Kurt-Busiek/dp/1401202071

but that's the way pricey option.

If you do that Google search under "shopping", you'll find some much cheaper options for picking up the big deluxe edition, which even I don't have, although I'd love one. However, I do strongly recommend the package. A JLA/Avengers crossover is one of those dream projects; both companies tried to do it something like 4 times in the past 40 years, with various different creative teams on board, and every time it got derailed. When it finally happened, though, well, it's maybe the best superhero comic ever done... certainly the best DC/Marvel crossover ever done, although that's damning with faint praise. The greatest thing Kurt has ever written, the finest artwork Perez will ever do; a tremendous interuniverse romp.

As to Frank Miller, I find he generally does much better work when he isn't drawing his own scripts. To that end, I not only strongly recommend BORN AGAIN and YEAR ONE, but also (if you can find them) the GIVE ME LIBERTY miniseries he did in the early 90s with Dave Gibbons at Dark Horse.

As to Space Phantoms, trust me, you really don't want to know.

 
At 6:14 PM , Anonymous Always Esteemed Scott said...

Doc,

Thanks for the links. I've responded at length to your e-mail, but I thought I'd let you know I got them.

With the JLA/Avengers thing, Born Again and Year One and Vol 4 of 52, it could be an expensive spring :)

 

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