I was convinced that were I to read a ANOTHER comic about ANOTHER superhero team trying to save the world by beating the crap out of ANOTHER over-powered Douche Canoe, I would start either foaming at the mouth uncontrollably while having full-body spasms akin to twerking OR give up reading comics altogether.
That's how bad it has gotten for me.
Then Djeljosevic sent me The Victories to review. I read it fully expecting to foam/twerk or quit, but surprisingly neither of these things happened.
Because this is a good comic.
For some reason I think I like it when my heroes are more fucked up than I am, and The Victories seems to be an entire superhero team of damage cases. And yet, still, despite all their flaws they persist in being heroes -- acting in a heroic manner -- saving the day and all that -- for no other reason that I can discern except it is "what you do" when you have super powers.
Life Through the Lens is a comic about two Chicago-based film critics who are struggling to separate fiction from reality in their lives. As a new year begins, they find themselves at some sort of pivotal moment in which ideas about narrative form and the actual narrative of their lives seem to overlap, and, in this, they become disassociated from each other as well as their own sense of self. It's a book thick with ideas, references, and subtle meta-textual tricks. It's the kind of book you would expect from someone who majored in both philosophy and film studies.
(Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, Frank Martin; Image)
When reviewing East of West #1, CB's Nick Hanover called this title "one of Hickman's slow burns,"and he compared the book to Bowie's Station to Station. Issue #2 continues to languidly climb the wooden match, and, to continue the Bowie metaphor, Hickman has just released Low. Dragotta is Brian Eno, giving shape to the ideas. Frank Martin is Iggy Pop, throwing in the firebombs just by being around.
The experiment that is East of West continues and grows in complexity. Issue 2 moves confidently, both writer and artist are laying down a new groove. Pieces begin to be put together while new questions arise. War, Famine and Conquest start taking matters into their own hands. Death, all in white, he is constant... or is nothing, starts making deals. Antonia LeVay (seriously Hickman, you got balls) becomes President. The Chosen still are at work trying to orchestrate the end of the world. The Message is slowly being transmitted. We end with "A cup, of a cup. A chalice, of a chalice," and with that even more enigmatic conundrums are raised.
Were this anyone else but Hickman, I think we all would have thrown this series into the bargain bin by now. It is dense and seemingly impenetrable and a reader has to have faith that the author is not taking them down a dark tunnel only to abandon them when the journey becomes to difficult or exhaustion sets in. Hickman has enough cred now to warrant following him through his spelunking. We trust that he knows where he is going and, when we get there, we'll be glad he was our guide. It's a pretty crazy gamble -- ballsy in fact -- but you have to admire Hickman for it.
Let's just get one thing straight -- if you start a comic with a Walt Whitman poem, you've got my attention. Add to this comic a musing on the nature of morality and an exploration of religion as a concept, and I'll probably ask it out on a date. Then add the fact that this book was created by Ted McKeever and I'll probably go down and one knee and propose marriage.
Miniature Jesus #1 is my new wife.
Ted McKeever makes great comics. They are smart, clever, well-executed, thought-provoking, entrancing, off-the-wall, poignant, insane, touching, masterful, and a host of other positive adjectives that, as I have lost my thesaurus, I could spew here. I understand he's also a really nice guy.
Anyway, let's talk Miniature Jesus #1. This is a book in which nothing is wasted either in art or in intent. Every panel contains a doctoral thesis of ideas, symbols, heft -- from an open mailbox in front of an abandoned motel, to Star of David crosshatching on the window of an open door, McKeever is begging you to go deep, to read with your eyes open and your brain engaged. And this is only on the first page for goodness sake.
Much like last year's Lincoln mania, this year it's all about the Fitzgeralds, F. Scott and Zelda. Baz Luhrmann is set to release his much-hyped interpretation of Gatsby (which fills me with an unsettling mixture of excitement and dread), and there is slated to be a whole slew of biographies about these icons of the Jazz Age.
I fully expect to see a great deal of bobbed hair, gin-drinking and Charleston dancing the next time I venture forth from the Bunker.
And I'm not immune to the hype. I'm teaching The Great Gatsby to my junior class right now, and, as a lead-in activity, I talked a bit about F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, calling them "the Beyonce and Jay-Z of their time". I'm not proud of that analogy, but it worked on enough of a fundamental level for my students to grok it. Scott and Zelda are legendary characters as much for their volatile relationship and epic intoxication, as they are for the art they created. One Peace Books' latest publication, Superzelda: The Graphic Life of Zelda Fitzgerald, explores all of this and, by doing so, elevates Zelda even further.