Thursday, February 9, 2017

Back Issues to Pursue

Some people are unaware that I wrote for and did interviews for a variety of different comic book websites.  CBR, Slushfactory, UGO, and more were cursed or blessed, depending on your worldview, by my presence.  I did this along with starting the original site where this blog grew out of, called Popthought . com .  Popthought was savaged by hackers in 2008 and truly wiped out.  But over the years since I began, I've done over 200 interviews, and reviewed a great number of comics.  I tried however not give much time to the "odd turd" of a comic, and hold up high the best.  As such some people considered me a whore, and someone who had no taste, I liked everything.  I understand why they think that, in an often hyper critical world, being positive either looks like you are lying, or stupid, or both.  I simply felt there was enough of the negative, I wanted to hold high the books I thought deserved attention.  Perhaps I was wrong.  But the present piece of writing is focused on COMIC BOOKS I HAVE ENJOYED.  Therefore, these are recommendations.  I'll try to explain why I liked them, but this isn't a review.  It is an offering.  Please consider reading these works yourself if the ideas sound good.

James Vance has a way of writing stories from human events that ring true, and he is very good at making stories of those events work as comics.  The American past, especially the 1930s Great Depression era are interesting, but having these works takes you on a tour of the past with crisp writing and excellent art.  As such, people who love history would probably find these comics well worth your interest.

By including four different books by one creative artist it might seem that I like Matt Wagner personally.  I've had a couple brief experiences with him, and I was not a fan of him.  But, that doesn't stop me from seriously enjoying much of his work.  His character Grendel is a demon, in many forms, genders, and incarnations, who is the protagonist of his works, but Grendel is not a good guy.  No, like I said, HE/SHE IS A DEMON.  There is a maturity in the writings that make Grendel interesting, at the same time evil and miserable.  I like, very much, Wagner's art, and writing nearly as much.  The collection The Demon reprinted his mini-series of the DC Comics character, one that took a modern more accessible look at the whole of the character and his human alter ego.  I liked this book because it treated the original character as done by Jack Kirby justice, while making the character more interesting and sympathetic by being a serious story.  The works about the character but not by Kirby or Wagner were nearly always disappointing to me, because the character was mostly seen as a boob.  And since I liked the concept, Wagner's take returned it to the tone it works best as.

I liked the concept of The Red Star.  It was a brilliant idea, taking the former Soviet Union and making it a still alive if also decayed empire, and adding futuristic concepts.  Afghanistan and the future conflicts of the USSR are made into sites for the battles, with epic heroes, and modern science fiction style equipment.   It has many forms of media to interpret it.  RPGs, Video games, and perhaps a movie in the offing.  I really enjoyed these, and while I might have loved the book, I regret the slow output of the chapters.

I like the character of Batman.  In my childhood my brother was always Batman, and I was Robin.  I believe there is actually photographic evidence of this.  Anyhow, I like the Batman, and think him perhaps the best concept that comics have created.  I think most people who don't like him don't get him, but I accept that I am probably wrong there. So, when I read the best works of Batman I generally enjoy them.  At one time I wanted to own all the tpbs of the Batman, but, since that time I've decided that reading the stories once, I don't altogether need to keep reading them.  These four comics, Batman Masque, Batman Castle of the Bat, Batman Holy Terror, and Batman Leatherwing are four comics that can be read as stand alone what if events in the 4 color history of the bat.

Each work is considerably different than the iconic midnight hero that appears every month from DC.  These are Elseworlds, considerations of the Batman's life if fixed in the fictional settings, Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein, Pirate adventures, and as the foil of a Theocratic Nightmare.

I was greatly entertained by each, and recommend them, unless you hate the bat.

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