10.01.2007

Graphic Novel Of The Month

Doctor 13: Architecture & Mortality (DC): This is my favorite DC book in a long time; the best mini-series of the year in my opinion, certainly deserving of an Eisner Award nomination, if not an outright win in the category. Buy it! Buy it! Buy it! This is one of those books that must be evangelized. I want to shout about it from the rooftops until people take notice. I want to purchase and distribute copies to every fan I know. This is the type of work that DC should strive for more. Yes, more of this type of “event” storytelling that embeds commentary on the craft, as opposed to the empty spectacle of something like 52. This is akin to the silent little art house film that restores your faith in the medium, instead of the noisy, full-of-bluster, mindless blockbuster that makes you weep for the future. It deserves that cult following, like Morrison & Quitely’s Flex Mentallo, Casey & Wood’s Automatic Kafka, or even Brian K. Vaughan’s recent The Escapists has; the kind where you feel the gravitas in your gut the instant you read it. There’s that whisper nagging in your brain that this is important. I was pleased that DC attempted to breathe a little new life into this overlooked story, which was buried behind The Spectre lead story in the (mostly awful) Tales of the Unexpected, by publishing it as a stand alone work. Bravo. At the end of the day, yes this story is ostensibly and unabashedly just plain fun. But, this story is so much more in terms of meta-commentary. It’s aptly titled; being about how a shared universe is built, the strengths and pitfalls of creations being under the control of their creators. It moves on to examine the flip side of that equation, about the fleeting lives in a created universe being at the mercy of the creators. The characters exhibit self-aware behavior regarding their volatile state; they understand that they’re constructs residing in a fabricated reality and because of that fictional existential dilemma they can begin to exert influence over it, ala The Matrix. Brian Azzarello is better known for his crime fiction, what a joy to see a different side of his writing skills. This work may not have been popular, but is critically important to the medium. This should be required reading in order to understand the dynamics of the creator/creation paradigm. And as a true testament to the power of the medium, I still have a crush on a fictional character. I’m talking to you, Traci Thirteen. It’s even made me question my own critical mortality, wishing that that architecture of my own grading scale went higher than Grade A+.

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