Friday, February 25, 2011

I got behind on my comics reviews again...

Hrm.  Oh well, I'll throw some thoughts out at you all now..

The Superman 80 page giant didn't have a whole lot of Superman in it.  The Jimmy Olsen story I found surprisingly un-annoying.  I could grow to like this guy.  The Supergirl story had Kara in the Smallville uniform (if I ever go to another fancy dress party I am def going as that version of Supergirl!).  the story was fine as a standalone piece, but I got a little worried that all of a sudden she had this other friend- potential-boyfriend and this is the first time we've ever seen him.  I hope we're not going to go back to ten different directions for Kara, depending on where she's written.  The Lois story was fun, but dear gods the art turned me off.  There's no detail on the faces and some anatomy was really poorly done.  In one panel Superman had a little pin head.  The Superboy story was also fun, but a little heavy on the ink.  It resembled the really dark days of the recent Teen Titans books.

Supergirl 61 was just as good as number 60.  I proclaim myself please with the new team!

Superman/Batman 81 had Shadowpact, vempires and a knight like Batman protecting a future demonic earth.  Count me in!  It's a combination of fantasy, magic, mythic and religious stuff.  That's right up my street, that is.

Which brings me onto Reign In Hell.  I finally bought a copy, inspired by Linda Danvers appearance in it, and I must admit myself shocked, for this was really good.   For those that don't know the book the basic premise is there's a war in hell.  All the magic users in the world (Zatanna, Black Alice, Shadowpact et al) end up in Hell trying to either get something for themselves, or to nudge the war one way or the other.  The book makes it clear that there's a natural connection between magic users and demonic hell.  I hadn't really thought of that connection before myself, and I'm not sure I really buy it, but in terms of the the end result, i.e. writing a good story and getting a group of good characters into a particular setting, it worked.

Why did it work?  Well, there's no preamable.  It's straight into the war, with the leaders giving orders, and the armies fighting.  The reader really feels the chaos and the immenseness of a war in Hell.  You feel that our magic heroes are insignificant and their situation is hopeless.  After all, they are only little people, what can they do?  How can they survive?  They spend a lot of time just trying to get somewhere safe, while the war goes on around them.

The art looks somewhat like bad concept art for a heavy metal album, but then again, it is about a war in Hell.  It's not meant to be all fuzzy and full of bouncing kittens.  It is full of art like this:

(Scan swiped from Supergirl Comic Box Commentary's Reign in Hell posts).
Hell, looks drippy, dark, painful, sharp and agonizing.  In short, how I'd expect it to look.

And of course, Reign in Hell acknowledges Linda Danvers and proves she's known within the DCU;
Hells bells (pardon the pun) I love that image (also swiped from Supergirl Comic Box Commentary).  Linda is a great character and I really wish she's be taken off ice.  She's not in the book much, but as an earth born angel it's pretty essential having her in there.

On the whole, this book feels epic, in the old, pre internet, sense of the word.  If you like Christian religious imagery, and magic, and superheroes, get this book.

I also read Superman For All Seasons and goshdarnit, it's so fabulous.  Just, just everyone go read it ok?  It's just..heartwarming, and touching, and beautifully coloured, and, and, well it's just fabulous.

The last of the new trades is Morning Glories by Nick Spencer (him of the temporary Supergirl run).  It's twitter's fault I got this.  I started following Spencer on twitter when I heard he was doing Supergirl, then saw how morning glories got lots of awards, then liked his Supergirl issue 60, so I bought this.  If anyone has read (or watched) The Demon Headmaster, it's kinda like a more grown up violent version of that.  It's good.

The colouring leaves a lot to be desired - the pencils are rather simple, and the inks are good, but the colours are very flat and there's no definition to the faces.  It's obviously been done on the computer and is probably my least favourite art style.  It's similar to the style of the Lois story in Superman 80 page giant.

This is a real shame because the layouts, body language and action within the panels are good.  Joe Eismer is credited with art, which I guess in this case means pencils and inks as a different person is given colouring credits.  Eismer is gifted at telling a story with images only - several sequences have no dialogue, just art and it's very easy to read these.  I'm not sure if I'll get the next trade or not (running out of bookshelf space) but it's definitely worth looking at.

1 comment:

Super-Duper ToyBox said...

i met Cullen Bunn, author of Superman/Batman 81 who resides here in St. Louis- real down-to-Earth guy:

We friended on FacsPlace, where Geoff Johns leaves greetings on his wall! (I enjoyed the Blackest Night stuff you recomended, btw- thanx) Kinda far-out that he lives down the road, but has such a great gig. i look forward to the next 3 issues!