Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thoughts on Several Comics

In X-Men: First Class, Jeff Parker focuses on the original five members of the team by setting his stories within their first days as classmates and teammates at Charles Xavier’s school. The most endearing quality of this collection of eight issues is the sense of fun one gets when reading. The world doesn’t hang in the balance, and the story is resolved by the end of the issue. It’s just fun. Yet there are touching moments as well, such as a trip into the heart of Africa to save the professor or Xavier’s granting Scott’s wish for time alone with Jean. And unlike the X-Men stories I have read of late, Parker does a great job getting back to the original metaphor of the outcast mutant being a stand-in for the alienated teenager. While the series doesn’t exactly portray teenagers in a realistic light, it is a delightful collection that would be ideal for children as well.

I wasn’t a fan of Kurt Busiek’s Astro City when I read the first collection, but after some recommendations I decided to go ahead and take a look at the second. Entitled Confession, this is a typical coming of age tale in which a young man named Brian travels to the big city with the intention
of becoming a superhero. He quickly becomes the sidekick of the Confessor, a sort of religious superhero. Going by the name Altar Boy (no joke), Brian comes to understand that the simplicity of the good v. evil in theory is not the case when put into practice. Despite the worn storyline, this held together pretty well and was rather effective. However, the depiction of a mayor with as much power as this one seemingly had is ridiculous; the federal government would not cede their authority and voice to a city mayor on issues like detention of superpowers. And I continue to be baffled by the ridiculous creations like a clown who fights crime and cheesy names like ‘Samaritan’ and ‘Honor Guard.’ Yet I am intrigued enough to seek out the next collection and will have thoughts on it in the future.

I had meant to write some thoughts on Brian K. Vaughan’s Ex Machina, especially pertaining to the lack of political savvy by the mayor of New York, but I feel uninspired to do so. The series is heavily flawed but has a hint of promise with the storyline in the sixth volume. However, I could make almost no sense of the dreadful League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier. Violating the rule of ‘show don’t tell,’ the comic went from boring to incomprehensible at the end. Apparently there have been several incarnations of the league, but we get this information through written reports rather than actual storytelling. I’ve found the collections to have interesting ideas with lackluster execution, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from drooling over this fanwank.

I’m reading a lot of comics, so I would expect more of these brief reviews in the coming months. Of course that’s assuming I have any time with this new job and school competing for attention.

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