Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Jeff Recommends: Good Comics

So enough whinging and moaning about Civil War. There are a number of worthwhile, interesting, fun comics out there for your perusal, even if they don't get the same level of attention as the mega-events. Here are some.

Truth, Justin, and the American Way is by Scott Kurtz (of PVP fame) Aaron Williams (Nodwick) and Giuseppe Ferrario. You liked the old TV show, The Greatest American Hero? This is that book. Indeed, it exists in TV-Land of the 80s, and has cameos of every sitcom and action star of that era. Five issues, it just wrapped up, and they really should do a trade (Image Comics).

Nextwave by Warren Ellis (Writer) has also wrapped up with 12 issues and needs a trade as well, is just brain-melting goodness. The concept is that a group of lower-tier heroes (Machine Man, Bloodstone's daughter, Boom-Boom from the New Mutants, the black female Captain Marvel) discover the corporation they are working for is evil and strike back. It sounds serious, but it really isn't, taking massive swings at all that comics holds dear, from SHIELD to Forbush Man to Elvis MODOKs. Good for what ails you (Marvel).

New Universal, also by Warren Ellis exumes the corpse of one of Marvel's frequent attempts to open up a new universe, in particular, their New Universe from the 80s. The original was painful in places at the time (it was touted as "The World Outside Your Window", and then they blew up Pittsburgh), the new version is getting off the blocks and looks interesting. (Marvel).

Helmet of Fate, a little miniseries of four unrelated issues that is supposed to set up DC's magic in its post infinity-crisis era. The best of the group are Sargon the Sorceror and Black Alice. Detective Chimp was fun, but pretty much set up as a funny funny-book.(DC)

Brave and the Bold How can I recommend a book (by Mark Waid, words, and George Perez, pictures) after one issue? Well, its like this - A long while ago, in comics time, Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan went a little nuts, turned into a villain, and offed the rest of the Green Lanterns, among other crimes. He got better, but there were trust issues with the JLA, in particular Bruce (Batman) Wayne. So I was dubious about a teamup book launching with these two. And much to my surprise, there wasn't a word about the psycho-history, instead an old-school mystery and punch-em-up that rewards the silver-haired fans of days of yore.

Daredevil and Immortal Iron Fist, both currently by Ed Brubaker, but Daredevil has some good earlier stuff by Brian Bendis. Here's a great example of pushing the heroes beyond their comfort zones and forging new territory. Over in Daredevil Matt Murdock is outed as a superhero in a fine old style, and gives Daredevil a new starting point without either negating the change or the character. Over in Iron Fist (about three issues in), Brubaker turns the 70s kung fu champion into a line of legacy heroes. I really disliked the retcon this writer pulled on the X-Men (short version, Professor X IS a jerk), but here he shines. (Marvel)

Welcome to Tranquility Twin Peaks weirdness in a town of retired superheroes. Nice off the beaten track stuff from Gail Simone, who wrote the Black Alice book. (Wildstorm)

The Spirit (Jeff Loeb, writer)Three issues in, go looking for the previous ones. There is no character so identified with his creator as the Spirit, and this series both gives its props to the master, Will Eisner, but does not copy. All the tales are excellent and accessible, and around issue three, we get an origin story. (DC)

Girl Genius Available only as collections and worth hunting down, this great series is now running as a web comic that you can follow Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I mention it here because it looks like it is just starting a new arc. Danger! Romance! Mad Science! (Studio Foglio).

So there ARE good comics - they just don't get the attention of "mega-events" from their companies.

More later,