Sunday, March 13, 2005

Recent Comics Reads

(I'm trying a slightly different format today, just to see if it works for me.)

I've been buying mainly manga and collections of older stuff lately. One of the things I picked up recently was Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol Vol. 2: The Painting That Ate Paris.

Now I didn't know a darn thing about the DP before reading this, and in a lot of ways I still don't. Morrison's style for this was about the big idea, the characters seem interesting, but there isn't a lot of time spent on bringing them to life for me. The villains in the first storyarc have more screen time and personality to them then the DP crew does.

Yet that's okay as while the ideas Morrison puts forth are ones that could fall apart under lesser talent. Somehow he manages to make even the most oddball of ideas -- a painting that can swallow the world, a robot body that comes alive and wants to kill its brain, and a man whose tattoos are the words to a spell to destroy the world--- seem serious and interesting, rather than the silly mess they really should be.

I'm not sure I got everything I was supposed to get, but I felt like my brain got a real workout from the sheer imaginative power put into the work.

Cheeky Angel is an interesting series that I almost passed on. When I first heard about it on Johanna's site her reviews gave me the impression that it was very fight driven. The series follows a young boy named Megumi who gets tricked into making a wish that turns him into a girl.

This lends itself to an exploration of commonly thought of gender roles, and turns them on its ear. Megumi may be the sexiest girl in school now, but he still feels like a boy on the inside and won't take any crap from the boys in the school who think she must fall in love with them.

Volume 4 has an insight into an entire genre that I'd been reading recently, that I had been trying to find an answer for.

A friend had sent me copies of Worst 1 & 2 & Tough 1, all of which are part of the "toughest guy at school/in the neighborhood" fighting genre. After trying to read the series I knew they weren't for me, because page after page of fighting doesn't interest me.

Cheeky Angel 4 explained to me exactly why it doesn't hold my interest though. When Megumi is talking to her would be suitors on why she is such a good fighter, and trains so hard. Which is be cause she wants to be the toughest person in the world, just like any other guy.

The boys laugh at her and say that sure everyone felt like that when they were 8, but you grow out of it. Which explained why the fighting genre doesn't work for me, while also showing how Megumi has a very limited idea on what being a guy is really like.

I also read the first Invincible trade by up and coming writing talent Robert Kirkman. This series is widely praised for being a back to basics, fun superhero series. Yet I really didn't see that at all.

Yes at its heart it is a superhero story, but it falls into one of my pet peeves, by being a book that relies on your knowledge of others books in order to truly enjoy it. Everything is so familiar that I spend my time going "oh that's taken from Superman or that's from Spider-Man" instead of just seeing it as a part of the character's story instead.

There is just a feeling of boredom to the book, with superpowers, costumes and alien invasions are seen as common place. If it seems like even the characters in the book are bored with their story, then why shouldn't I be?

Finally I read Ruroni Kenshin Volumes 10-11, which has the gang all coming together again finally. It was nice to see how the original supporting cast and the new friends Kenshin has made on his journey interacted with each other.

Yet the big draw is seeing Kenshin finally begin to confront the villains who in previous volumes had only been building strength. The action scenes are full of energy, as the good guys battle clearly evil foes in astounding visuals.

This series approach is what more American superhero titles should be like. Heroes helping those in need, confronting problems that can challenge their personal beliefs, but never losing their heroic centers.

Now if I can only find Hot Gimmick 8, Imadoki! Nowadays 5, Cheeky Angel 5, and Sgt. Frog 7.


James Meeley said...

Nice reviewing style, James. A little less in form, but a very natural flow to it. I liked it. So, if you were looking ofr input on if this works or not, put me donw in the "it works" column. :)

But when are you gonna review the stuff Heidi and I sent you? Or are you just THAT behind on your reading? Anyway, nice reviews. Although I know Heidi would completely disagree with you about INVINCIBLe. ;)

- James

James Schee said...

Thanks for the input James!

Yeah I have a HUGE stack of stuff right now and am working 6 days a week at the moment. So it is taking me time to get through.

I've been told that later issues of Invincible get better, but hey Heidi and I can't agree on everything.:)