“He’s the hero Gotham deserves…” A reading of Snyder and Capullo’s Batman: Zero Year

…instead of exploring the dark, mean streets of Gotham City in Zero Year, Snyder and Capullo’s opening move is to show us a devastated, overgrown Gotham, one where the subway tunnels are flooded and where a young kid spear fishes for brightly colored fish on the city streets. Richmond Lewis’s rusty, urban colors have given way to FCO Plascencia’s vivid, lively natural colors. A story of the Batman who prowled by night is replaced by a Batman who exists and fights in daylight. Snyder and Capullo threw off the specter of the past and tried to create a Batman for 2014 in Zero Year.

Reviewing in my dreams– The Sandman Overture #3 at Newsarama

In this third chapter, Gaiman and artist J.H. Williams III get lost in the story as the two Dreams continue their walk through the cosmos, picking up and orphaned child who is unironically named Hope. Along the way, Williams III gets to continue being one of the hardest working artists drawing comics right now. Every page is a medley of panels and styles as he crafts his images around the story. From Kirby gods to Moebius landscapes, Williams III uses style as any other tool in his toolbox. The decision of style is a decision of storytelling as he changes his layouts and lines to illustrate more than Gaiman’s words; he’s using style to tell you how you should be reading this comic.

“…And you’re the only one who came.” The Wicked + The Divine #2 at Newsarama

As their characters perform their roles, Gillen and McKelvie, you’ve got to read The Wicked + The Divine #2 as you would any gossip rag or TMZ-like website. This is about celebrity, the people who have it and the people that want it. Godliness and worshippers are just another type of fame in Gillen and McKelvie’s world; it’s a fame that has all of the highs and lows of any fame that someone on the top of the charts right now has.

A Meaningless Game in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds

O’Malley isn’t afraid to get messy in this book but he seems very uncomfortable with truly tormenting his characters either. Katie is an adorably cute girl but she’s hardly likable. She’s just wrapped up in her own life like almost everyone her age is. It’s not a character defect; it’s a defect of her age. As the book goes on, we grow to emphasize with her but Katie never becomes the hero of her own story. We don’t even see her learn to correct her mistakes without the help of her magic mushrooms, the ones she has to eat to change the world around her.

Gødland Ex Machina #1: HELLO, COSMIC!

Gødland is the perfect Marvel legacy comic. More than just Tom Scioli’s clearly Kirbyesque artwork, Joe Casey and Scioli tap into the energy and excitement of those early Stan Lee/Jack Kirby comics. Gødland Volume 1: Hello Cosmic is the type of comic that so many creators in the 1970s tried to reverse engineer out of old Fantastic Four comics. Casey and Scioli focus squarely in on the spectacle of those comics but never lose sight of the inner humanity of their characters. Personal discord runs hot and heavy through these comics, recalling everything from the family dynamics of the FF to the youthful uncertainty of Peter Parker. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, we talked about how all of the mainstream artists were trying to be Jack Kirby but we never talked about how all of the mainstream writers wanted to be an updated Stan Lee. Look at the Wolfman/Perez The New Teen Titans; for as much as it was counter programming to the Claremont/Byrne The Uncanny X-Men, it’s written as a Stan Lee Marvel comic book, trying to overwrite the DC DNA with the Marvel formula.

The Funny Pages– Paul Pope’s Escapo

Z2 Comics has rereleased Paul Pope’s Escapo. Written and drawn in the mid 1990s, Escapo doesn’t feel as fully formed as Pope’s later work but the Pope’s raw energy is visible on almost every page. In recent interviews from the past 2-4 years, Pope has said that the only comic artists he’s looking at now are Kirby, Moebius and Miyazaki and that shows in all of his storytelling. But there’s no one before Pope that has just animalistic power in their artwork. That rich, quirk brush stroke of Pope’s has so much emotion in it that so many cartoonists now try to imitate but no one can achieve it like Pope does.

Advance review of a terribly silly (or is that just a silly terrible) comic book– Alien Legion:Uncivil War #1

Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. What a minute, that’s the wrong opening. Instead of that, Chuck Dixon gets away with writing in Alien Legion: Uncivil War #1, “These are dark days for our friends the Harks” and the writing just gets sillier from there with made up slang like “Bospor,” “rammer,” and the lovely descriptive compound phrase “ramming’ Bospor!” Opening with a civil war in some alien galaxy, a group of soldiers called the Nomad Squad has to check all of the refugee ships to make sure that they actually contain refugees and nothing more sinisterly nefarious. Chuck Dixon, Larry Stroman and Carl Potts begin with that idea for a story and never get any farther than that in this first issue.