Pointless Nonsense

Posted in comics by Bill on September 5, 2012

Mostly older comics, roughly best-to-worst:

Promethea is a sort of pastiche of Wonder Woman written by Alan Moore and drawn by J.H. Williams III. Though I admire both Moore and Williams tremendously, I’d avoided the book because it sounded a bit too fantastical to me. And that is the main obstacle to me going forward, but I’m still enjoying it. The story is centered around the idea that imagination is just as real as the physical world. Promethea is a spirit from the fantasy world, or Immateria, who possesses people who remember her story and gives them super heroic abilities. She’s mostly possessed those who worked on a series of Promethea pulp stories and comic books, but the main story is set in an alternate and crazy futuristic 1999, where a college student researching Promethea for her thesis becomes the newest host for Promethea. I find very little of the Immateria action interesting at all, since it gets magical, philosophical, and metatextual, which are rarely words used to describe stories I enjoy. But I do like the stuff set in the physical world pretty interesting. It’s a weird world, there’s a constant background presence of a Mayor with multiple personalities and a popular comic series called Weeping Gorilla. And whether it’s by Moore’s instruction or Williams’ decision or a combination of the two, the elaborate panel structure and artistic experimentation with things like fotonovela certainly keep things from ever getting boring. This should at least occupy my time until new TV starts.
Channel Zero tells the story of an artist named Jennie 2.5 in a near-future world with an oppressive government run by religious/moral extremists, and her attempts to rebel against it. It was written in response to Guilani’s New York City in the late 90s, but turned out to be eerily prescient in anticipating post-9/11 America. The story isn’t much, and I hated the style of the artwork in it (it’s just like his DMZ and Global Frequency covers that look like xeroxed propaganda posters, which work fine as covers but I don’t like them at all for telling a story). But I did like the overall… anger of it, I guess? Apparently this is set in the same universe as The Couriers, and I could have recognized Jennie 2.5 in that if I’d read them in order. Oops. I also read the prequel, Jennie One, which takes place apparently 1.5 Jennie units earlier. She’s in art school and playing by the rules and follows the events that lead her towards rebellion. The art in that is much nicer, drawn by Becky Cloonan, but like virtually all prequels, somewhat pointless.
Astro City is Kurt Busiek’s series from the 90s about a city with a large superhero population. It was quite well-received at the time, won some awards, and people still talk about it favorably, but I couldn’t get in to it. The cast of characters is huge, and I think that was what did me in. The series, at least as far as I got, tells short stories, one or two issues in length, with a different protagonist each time. They sometimes intersect with characters from previous stories, but for the most part each story was a new introduction. I stuck with it for quite a while, hoping some larger story might come together, but it never did. I think the appeal of the comic is its retro sensibilities. At a time when ultra-violent antiheroes were dominating superhero comics, Astro City‘s heroes are generally pretty heroic. But since I was not reading this in the 90s, I think that appeal was lost on me.
The Phantom Lady and Doll Man is a new series (limited, I think) from DC that tries to modernize the golden age character. It didn’t work. It used a weirdly cliched setup (her father was trying to take down organized crime and was killed for it, so she swears revenge!) and an odd amount of casual sex (she’s sleeping with both the organized criminal she’s trying to take down and with the nerdy scientist (soon to be Doll Man) who’s giving her tech help). It’s not a good issue at all, so I will not be continuing. I mostly checked this out because I saw Amanda Conner’s name, but it turns out she just did the cover.

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