Sorry for the geeky post—and maybe this would work better on the Empty Checking blog, I’m not sure… But I like to talk about comic books occasionally, as many of you will know, and I thought it might be fun to write a brief description of some of my favorites that are out there right now. Like most fanboys, I’m filled with hate inside and often go on and on about the things I think are wrong in the comic industry (ie – pretty much anything Batman’s done from “RIP” onward, though “Detective Comics” is still pretty good). But I’m going to try something different. I’m going to only write about stuff I LIKE in this post. This is uncharted territory for me, folks.
So here we go… These are my favorite comics being produced at the moment. Most of them are a little bit off the beaten path. That’s not necessarily a slight to the Big Two (DC and Marvel), as they are still producing a LOT of stuff I like. I just dig the indie-scene because they get to use dirty words and stuff…and that feels a little more like the society I actually live in, y’know? But there are a couple of “bigger” titles in here too… so let’s go…
(This isn’t really in any order…just writing them down as they come to me.)
- The Unwritten – Imagine a world where Harry Potter is a real guy, but doesn’t know that he’s Harry Potter. He think’s he’s just a dude and then one day forces from within his real life’s story (the Potter books) start to manifest and try to destroy him in real life…and he has no idea why or how it’s happening. And he says the f-word a lot. That’s pretty much “The Unwritten.” Except it’s a guy called “Tom Taylor” and though the Potter influence is clear, there’s a LOT more going on here… And it’s one of the best things on stands. I’m virtually obsessed with it. It’s brilliant. (The creators, by the way, claim that “Potter” was less of an influence than was the life-story of Christopher Milne, son of A. A. Milne, who created “Winnie the Pooh.” Christopher Robin was based on Christopher Milne, and this led to Christopher believing that his father stole his youth from him and exploited him for the “Pooh” series. Which is sad. And I can totally see how that ties in to “The Unwritten” as well…but the Potter influence is undeniable.)
- Morning Glories – Quite probably the most amazing thing on stands right now. We’re only on issue three, but this thing is insanely good. One of the best comic books I’ve ever read. It’s on target to fill the gap that “Lost” left in my life when it went off the air. Seriously. If you’re a comic book fan, you’ve GOT to read Morning Glories. Just…just brilliant. It’s set around a bunch of teens who are carted off to a supposed “academy” for gifted students. Only there’s something sinister going on…we don’t know what…but it’s MAJORLY weird and very dangerous. (I know that probably sounds kind of cheesy…but it’s not. It’s kind of what it would be like if the “Saved by the Bell” kids were ACTUALLY cool and were sent off to Miskatonic University.) The first issue has one of the (I apologize for the term) best “mindf**k” endings I’ve ever seen in anything ever. But I don’t want to over-sell it. 🙂
- Locke & Key – Written by Joe Hill, who you probably remember me mentioning a while back. This one quickly became a favorite of mine and I’m hungry for more and more. It’s about some kids whose dad is murdered by a kook who wants to get his hands on some magical keys that the old man hid on his property. Again…I know that sounds stupid. But it isn’t. You have to accept the super-natural aspect of it…but once you do, it’s got a real slow-burn to it that pays off in a BIG way. I went from thinking “ehh…this might be kind of boring” on page one to “THIS. IS. AWESOME!!!” by the end of the first volume. (Volumes 1-3 are available in hard and soft cover editions at most places that sell that kind of thing.) Joe Hill is to comic books what his dad (Stephen King) is to books. He also might be the new Stephen King of books, too…but that’s a different post.
- Captain America – Never thought I’d be a fan. Picked up a couple of issues around the “Death of Captain America” era and got sucked in. Some of the best writing among the Big Two, and they made me care about a character I’d previously thought was stupid and exploitatively patriotic. Brubaker (the writer) has found a way to make Cap actually NOT be cheesy and actually have some drama and depth…and it’s worth reading. I just hope they don’t kill Bucky…
- CBGB – Fun little punk-rock reads based loosely around the old CBGB club/name. Nothing flashy here…just little throw-away punk-ish stories, that usually don’t even actually involve bands to any real extent. I dig it. Nice way to kill about 10 minutes.
- The Sixth Gun – I liked it from issue #1, but it’s getting REALLY good now. (Just read issue #5 this weekend.) It’s a little bit like “Locke & Key” in that there’s a mystery about what the guns (of which there are—you guessed it—six) are all about. It’s set in the old-west days, with a supernatural edge. But the guns go FAR back…apparently even to the days before humans walked erect. They are the key to a treasure (or is it?) that is sought after by even the dead. Each one can only be handled by its owner, and the only way to become a gun owner is to pry it from the hands of its previously deceased owner…at which point you are BOUND to the gun. (There’s a social commentary there that most readers probably miss, by the way.) It’s a great, spooky, fun read. Can’t wait to see where it’s going.
- Darkwing Duck – Complete, goofy, fun, stupid nostalgia. It’s completely aware of what it is, making you laugh and offering a decent plot at the same time. You probably had to be a fan of the show (or at least of DuckTales) for this to really work…but it works for me.
- Justice League: Generation Lost – One of the biggest favors DC could’ve done for those of us who don’t care about the Green Lantern. This gives us a *little* bit of the “Brightest Day” stuff that’s going on right now, but is keeping it to the outside of that plot. Essentially, the heroes involved are the Justice League’s “B-Team” and aren’t highly regarded. They are, however, the only ones who are aware of the evil plot of the mastermind causing all the trouble in the “Brightest Day” story—and in fact are the only ones who even remember that he exists, thanks to a global amnesia to Max Lord (the villain) ever having been born. The team seems a random assortment—and Booster Gold is somehow their leader…but it works. As I’ve said about it, they found a way to make me care about Booster Gold…so they must be doing something right. 🙂
- Scarlet – Nuts. Just nuts. Scarlet is an anti-hero. What she does is absolutely wrong…but is motivated by making things right. The whole story is based on the premise that there is NO reason for the bad things that happen in life…except that people allow them to occur. (And I kind of agree with that.) People allow theft, crooked cops, violence, and prejudice. And if no one tries to stop it, it will not stop. So Scarlet is taking matters into her own hands. And she’s doing it with a big-ass gun. (So, in some ways, she’s become the thing she hates in order to destroy it…another commentary that a lot of readers probably miss.) Definitely in my top-five comics being written today. Can’t wait for the next issue.
…and I think I might be missing a couple… But that’s the stuff I love right now. Hope some of it sounds good to you too, and you consider picking up and issue or two. (Or a “graphic novel”/trade-paperback edition.)
“Music to Work By” for 10/25/10:
- Band of Horses – “Infinite Arms”
- Hank Williams III – “Lovesick, Broke and Driftin'”
- Johnny Cash – “American IV”
- Queensryche – “Promised Land” (which I STILL maintain is their best record, by the way)
- David Bowie – “At the Beeb” – The live disc that came in the imported copy. Kinda rare, I think…
- Chris Difford – “The Last Temptation of Chris”
- The Hold Steady – “Stay Positive”
- …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – “The Century of Self”