Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Longbox of Love (Part IV)

I am running out of longboxes so this week I am including some more recent stuff from the Longbox of Love.

Local is hard to categorize. You pick up a given issue and not much happens. But like a lot of great fiction, something is going on under the surface. Local is the story of a very damaged but very real family that is coming to grips with their own flaws. It may sound dry but I find it totally gripping and crushingly real. I highly recommend it.

Also on the recent side is Manhunter. You might not know this but Manhunter is sort of The Punisher meets She-Hulk. But not funny like She-Hulk at all. But by day the main character is a tough as nails attorney (in one arc she defends Wonder Woman for killing Max Lord) and by night she is a tough as nails vigilante who kills a bad guy in her first adventure. Mark Andreko has created a great fully realized character who is battling her own demons while fighting for her child (she is a divorced Mom). A book that is fast paced and thoughtful all at once.

Finally in the recent category there is this total gem of a book. Adventures in Service is a Mini-Comic created by Chicagoan Matt Fagan. I am not really into mini-comics but I found this book so delightful, I hope more people check it out. It is a collection of short episodes about two super powered Butlers (yes butlers as in Man Servants) and their adventures against crime and in love. You can get in touch with the author and check out his other work HERE

I suppose I do not have to say much about DK2. I hated it. I think Frank Miller has been on a downward slide ever since. Probably his last really good book was Sin City: To Hell and Back. I think the only reason I hang onto these back issues is when I go to throw them away, I remember how much I paid for them and toss it back into the box in disgust.

I already discussed how much I love the Animal Man. During the late Eighties/Early Nineties, DC put out a bunch of series like Secret Origins. It was sort of a retro wave but really really crappy. Every now and again a gem sprung up and lookie here, Grant Morrison! Since this was done by the Animal Man book team, this issue fits right in with the main book.

Speaking of Grant...wasn't his run on X-Men great! One day I will do my full X-Men rant but for now, know that when I was a lad, X-Men was the best superhero book out there. Somehow it all went to utter crap and never rally came back from that place until Morrison took the reigns. Of course as soon as he left it went back to crapville. Morrison focused on the X-Men as a school for outcasts and a really dysfunctional family. To me, that is the best angle to take when writing the X-Men. I think this run was better even than the really good Astonishing X-Men run by Josh Whedon.

So they make a Wanted movie based on a comic book which featured characters based on the appearance of Enimen and Halley Barry, then they cast James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie? Ok, whatever. I never cared for books that focused on bad guys unless they got their comeuppance in the end. Wanted is all about bad guys. Bad Guys vs. Bad Guys. I guess I like it because the dialogue is snappy and the art is really gorgeous. JG Jones is a great interior artist. I wish he would do less covers and get back on a regular book.

Being a child of the 70's, I love the anthology comics. I so miss them but to their credit, both DC and Marvel still attempt to put one out regularly every few years. No one buys them. These Holiday specials were always fun. To me they were sort of yearbooks that captured where the DCU was that year. Look at the ornament and you can see Kyle in his weird GL mask, Wally as the Flash, and Batman with his old school logo.

I know I have already talked about Supreme but my love for this book knows no bounds. If Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse had been able to continue their run, Supreme might be up there with Superman, Aquaman and Captain America among my favorite Superheros.

Cerebus is going to be the subject of an upcoming entry here on Strange Visitations but I love this little ditty I found. The Cerebus Jam features Cerebus interacting with Popeye (yes Popeye as in Olive Oil) and the Spirit. It sounds wierd and it is but totally fun at the same time. Track it down on Ebay. While you are at it, track down the Todd Macfarlane Spawn issue which featured Cerebus.

New Effin Frontier! When this book came out, it was very under the radar. Darwyn Cook was not an A-Lister yet and DC had some other JLA mega events going on. But eventually, everyone recognized the enormity of what was accomplished in this book. It is very close in theme to "The Golden Age" graphic novel about the JSA in that both books tell a tale of the end of the age of innocence for Superheros as they move into the modern age. This is a dense read that, like Watchmen, gets better with subsequent reads. I must get the absolute edition one day. A gorgeous and engaging read.

This book rocks! Why? It features one of the few modern instances where Superman is unleashed. No holding back, fists flying, put the beatdown on Darkseid kind of action. Best part? Even though it is loaded with action, in the end, Superman beats Darkseid with a trick. I love when Superman beats his opponents with his brains.

One of the great things about writing these is that I get to dig out all these great old comics that I have not read in years and enjoy them all over again. During the early 00's, Batman mini's were everywhere. Batman seems to go through these waves every few years. Death and the Maidens is THE definitive Ra's al Ghul story. Greg Rucka writes the most interesting and detailed backstory for both Ra's and Talia. The art is by Klaus Jansen and while many people do not care for that school of art (Which includes older Frank Miller and Howard Chaykin), because the story takes several turns for the creepy, the art totally works here. Basically this is a tale of the downfall of the demons head. Along the way we learn all about Talia and Bruce Wayne literally confronts his ghosts. One of the best Batman stories out there.

Speaking of reprints...

I love them! I found this little gem at Wonderland. I sure miss the goofy superhero stories of the silver age. Look how ridiculous these stories look! I know these days people appreciate a more "realistic" story but for me, the days when Superman could move a planet or when Superboy could restart a burnt out star with a gigantic match were gold. Since I don't want to leave you hanging, here is how Superboy deals with his monster:

The magic of headpieces.

I have said before that I have a lot of Fantastic Four. This issue is particularly good and it is unusual in that the Fantastic Four are hardly in it. This is the issue where Galactus is about to die from hunger because he foolishly made a vow not to eat worlds with thriving populations of life. Amazing John Byrne art.

When I was a child and I saw this book being advertised, it confused me. The Worlds Greatest Flying Heroes? Huh? Shining Knight? It seemed to me that a lot of flyer's were missing. Years later I actually bought the book and finally saw the back cover:

Oh!. Well that's better. Of course this issue being at the end of the Silver Age, Wonder Woman still couldn't fly so she is not on the cover.

Is there anything better than a Superman imaginary story? Ok sure there is but they are definitely up there in the fun factor.


When writers get blocked!

Ok well that's enough of that. Thanks for reading. What's in YOUR longbox?

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