- SAGA #9
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staple’s space opera/love story has been consistently good since it’s debut last Spring on Image Comics. And it isn’t just me saying this: all over the net and in stores across the country people who have been entrenched in comics their entire lives are saying the same thing. What makes it so good? It delivers on everything only comics can do (unique, high-concept, bizarre), whilst also delivering everything a good novel or film does (beautiful, hopeful, funny, witty, with healthy helpings of heart). In this issue a character who has been mentioned before makes her proper debut appearance and definitely throws another piece into the puzzle, as she is someone with a personal connection to the new family that everyone is after. Upon second reading I’m seeing some parallels between this new, pseudo family in the corridors of The Will’s ship and the title family. And I’m starting to feel like I know Gwendolyn and Will as well as I do the main characters. Both are written and drawn with care, and definitely not painted as “bad guys”. They are real people, each with something that’s driving their hearts and actions. Staples draws brilliant expressions and gestures. She’s one of those artists that is neither highly stylized or highly detailed, just spot on. Whether it’s action or subtle conversation she’ll get the proportions and angles perfect. And Vaughan is of course a wonderful craftsman of character. Everything in this book breathes. Anyone who’s into comics even just a little owes it to themselves to at least give SAGA a try.
- NEW AVENGERS #2
While the lineup of Jonathan Hickman’s other — more popular — Avengers book just continues to expand, New Avengers is taking the opposite path, focusing solely on a very select few of the best minds of the Marvel Universe to tackle massive, mind-bending problems that have no easy solution. What’s happening in the pages of this book (only 2 issues in, mind you) is the reuniting of the think-tank type organization known as ‘The Illuminati‘: Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Namor, Black Bolt, Dr. Strange, a dead Charles Xavier, and Black Panther. The first issue saw a mysterious and other-worldly figure show up in Wakanda (Black Panther’s home country in Africa), to announce the destruction of Earth a result of a collision with another planet looming in the sky. What’s going on here is somewhat explained in the pages of this issue, though not entirely because even this team of geniuses does not understand this fully. Hickman uses his design skills (if he isn’t making money off of side graphics design gigs he should be) to present the high concept through the eyes of Reed. It’s heavy stuff, but the chart (for lack of a better word) Reed uses spells it out plainly. The team makes a decision to — if it comes to this — destroy another planet to save their own, at the behest of some of the more honorable and/or idealistic characters like Cap and Black Panther. It’s an interesting moral dilemma, and I’d like to see more of this type of conversation from this book. So far and for the immediate future it’s drawn by Steve Epting who does amazing work all the time. I still remember the days of Warren Ellis’ Thunderbolts and just being blown away by Epting’s work. I typically don’t read big superhero stuff like this, but I am very excited to see where this goes.
- THE MASSIVE #8
The Massive is easily the most plausible and realistic of these three books I’m writing about today, and I can’t stress enough how smart it is in the context of the World we live in now. When baby-boomers tell me that they haven’t seen such uneasiness and unrest in the world in their lifetimes (including the 60s) that they’re seeing now, I know that there’s something special going on with the human race. It isn’t good or bad, it’s beyond those terms. It’s beyond all previous applications of what we thought we knew. Transitional phase. The Massive takes these gigantic problems we face and cranks them forwards until they’ve snapped, and now the world is on full-on reset mode. Culturally, geographically, morally. And the organization known as “Ninth Wave” — who had in 2004 blockaded a gulf with their sister ships to protest one of the big energy companies, to give you an idea of what they do — is struggling to find their place in the new world that has emerged from the rubble of the old one. The current arc, this is part 2 of 3, sees the crew stumbling upon an abandoned oil rig in the middle of the Indian Ocean, where an ex-terrorist has supposedly found a new purpose and creating a thriving community on the decks of said rig. While they’re anchored a storm hits, and the entire rig gets put on lockdown. In this issue we really get to see new sides of the crew of Ninth Wave, beyond its leader Cal and his right hand (trigger) man Mag. Each of them have their own ideas of what their purpose is in a post-Crash society, and that is highlighted here. It’s looking as if this arc will usher in a change in the organization, for good or bad.