11.03.10 Releases: On Deviants & Zombies

I think it’s actually going to be a small-ish week in terms of what will make it home, yet there’s a whole lot I feel like commenting on. Obviously, I’ll be picking up the last installment of Brian Wood’s identity laden deconstruction of the superhero paradigm, in DV8: Gods & Monsters #8 (DC/Wildstorm). It feels like it’s going to be one of those “all will be revealed!” type issues. Strange Tales: Volume 2 #2 (Marvel) has an extremely tough act to follow, as I remember Rafael Grampa’s Wolverine story and Frank Santoro’s Silver Surfer from the first issue. I have high hopes for the second issue, but it’s still got to pass the casual flip test at the LCS. I’ll definitely be picking up Sarah Glidden’s How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less (DC/Vertigo), since I was reading and hyping single issues from Sparkplug Comics as early as 2008. Though I’ll be purchasing it online thanks to some Amazon store credit (for ~$66 with free shipping no less), I still have to make you aware of the Absolute All Star Superman HC (DC). Though it’ll set you back $100, it’s well worth it as one of the definitive takes on the character and certainly my favorite of the contenders out there.

Batman & Robin #16 (DC) also comes out this week, and umm, I think this is the last issue with Grant Morrison(?), which shows you about how much I care. I re-read the run again and can firmly say that unless Frank Quitely is on the book, it’s not a keeper for me. Sure, the 14 year old in me has some marginal interest in seeing Dick Grayson as Batman, but I’m pretty checked out on the convoluted cross-title story machinations, and (sometimes quite mediocre) rotating artists. I doubt this will make it home. Supergod #4 (Avatar Press) is also slated to make a showing, and I really don’t know/care if this is original content or some sort of “auxiliary edition” con reprint of something I’ve already seen. Did I even buy/read the third issue, come to think of it? I don’t know. Generally, I’m always pretty interested in what Warren Ellis is up to, but there’s a lot of inconsistency for me. On this title, my recollection is of a bloke standing around expositing to the reader and of the art not being as good as many/most of the Ellis collaborators. I don’t see this making it home either. Scarlet #3 (Marvel/Icon) will also be on the shelves and, though I thought the first issue was okay, I can’t seem to muster any enthusiasm for this. So much so, that I don’t even know if I bought the second issue. Did it not pass the casual flip test or did Sea Donkey just not order it? The fact that I can’t even keep track doesn’t bode well for its chances.

It’s cool to see DC reprinting an almost forgotten cult favorite with DC Comics Presents Chase #1 (DC). This was JH Williams III in his earliest DC work, which in collaboration with D. Curtis Johnson and Mick Gray, introduced Cameron Chase and the D.E.O. to the DCU. Fun, fantastic stuff! Hey, what’s this? It’s Superboy #1 (DC). I guess that shows how much I’m paying attention to the main DCU these days. No idea what’s up with Superboy or that it was undergoing a soft re-launch, but that’s great to see Jeff Lemire working a big property. Good on him. I also liked seeing Berlin #17 (Drawn & Quarterly) on the shipping list this week. This is Jason Lutes' opus, and this issue begins the third (and final?) chunk of the series. The Art of Jim Starlin: Life in Words & Picture HC (IDW) also caught my eye. If you say “cosmic comics” to me, I don’t see Lee & Kirby’s FF or even Starlin’s own Marvel work, but instead I see Dreadstar in my brain. Those comics hit me in my formative years growing up and the long form storytelling at play is infinitely readable, aided by Starlin’s gorgeous art and world-building abilities.

Last up, the Walking Dead TPB: Volume 13: Too Far Gone (Image) listing is as good a time as any to segue into my thoughts on the premiere of the AMC TV show! I’ll caveat this heavily by saying that yes, I’ve kept up with the comic in the big hardcover collections (when I get them at a discount), so I’m a little behind on current continuity. I didn't even intend to watch it, I was flipping around earlier in the day trying to find a show for my daughter, passed AMC and saw a scroll that had a countdown ticker (shit, those actually work!?), and thought, huh, that's interesting, maybe I'll just record it for kicks. I don’t like zombies in general, but I think the comic is okay. It’s good and competent. It’s just sort of “there” to me. The story is well told, if not supremely engaging. The pencils are fine, but the black and white rendering always felt flat and lifeless to me. I don’t think the book is awful, but it doesn’t blow me away at all, and obviously if I’m not buying the singles or even bothering to keep up with the regular trade schedule, that says a lot about my interest level in print.

However, the TV show was excellent! I really liked it! It seems to take all that’s good with the book and then amplify it, thus eliminating some of the problems I have with it in print. For example, instead of the B&W art, we get really grainy color in the tight shots, with these huge cinematic expanses for the wider vistas. That shot of Rick riding his horse into the Atlanta skyline is downright iconic. It’s shot just beautifully. It feels like it’s got lavish film production values and not like it’s being done on a relatively low TV budget. The performances are all acted well, very understated and minimalist. It’s realistic. There aren’t people screaming or doing dopey things that make you want to yell at your TV, it’s just regular folks trying to sort shit out the way any of us would. It’s not at all rooted in the horror genre. There is no sensationalism or shock value, the intent is not to scare, but simply relay an environment and the choices that people make when faced with an extraordinary situation. What I like the best about it (and the comic does deserve credit for this) is that there is a plot well beyond “and then they killed some zombies!” What will make The Walking Dead succeed as a TV series, I think, is that it’s primarily rooted in the characters, their relationships, and their arcs and journeys, the zombies are sort of an incidental backdrop for the drama. The drama is the key here, not the inclusion of the zombie hook. Yeah. It’s so nice to see an adaptation to a different medium done correctly. My DVR is set to record, and yours should be too.


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