The last time i reviewed comics was about a year ago? I’m not really sure, i mostly stopped reading comics after reviewing comics for a bit and when i actually began thinking about what i was actually consuming, felt deeply dissatisfied. Reviewing comics is exhausting, but more so it really began feeling like i was trying to find the critical value in cereal box literature. Lately though, i really began wanting to read a comic again, not anything significant, just anything i can find. Something short and sweet. Maybe it was because i’ve been making more work for myself again, feeling happier just doodling comics and telling stupid stories. When you think about taste, we don’t perceive our own perception as part of that taste. In the same way as when you take a bite from a piece of food, you don’t account for the flavor of your own mouth to see if you like it.
Maybe criticism is useless in a stagnant medium, like ice cream losing its flavor after many bites, and just tasting vaguely sweet. The comics i purchased were 3 old comics, and 2 brand new ones, all of which seemed to share a common DNA – junk food. But not all junk food is created equal.
Guardians of the Galaxy Team Up #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Art Adams
I only buy comics based on art nowadays. For the most part, i believe the writer in most american comics is almost completely unnecessary. I don’t know of any writer that i’d choose to read their work if they weren’t being carried by a fantastic artist. I don’t know of any of my peers that actually look forward to reading any comic writer’s work if its just prose. As an artist, most scripts i receive i treat mainly as blueprints or suggestions, the final form is something they aren’t aware of.
Arthur Adams is a really gifted cartoonist, and Bendis is a talented writer in as much as he is an extremely capable writer. He knows how to cross the street in the fewest steps possible. But reading this comic was probably the least exciting of all the books I purchased. It was so “by-the-numbers” that it read as a mad libs for superheroes. Vague cosmic threat, generic skull-faced aliens, quippy witty bantering superheroes. Bendis is one of the pioneers of the over-saturated ping-pong style of dialogue, he fills the same role as Joss Whedon did for television, and Tarantino does for film. It is absolutely boring at this point. Sometimes it feels every writer in mainstream comics writes in some variation of this style.
Occasionally, Gamora, the green female character speaks in the haughty ways of a space warrior, similar to Drax the Destroyer, the muscle bound green fellow. But it’s handled completely inconsistently. This is a criticism i have for this style of writing at its worst, its always at the mercy of being quippy, even if it means the character switches from Thor-speak to Gilmore Girls on the same page.
Reading this comic, i wonder how bored Bendis and Adams must be with these stories, but i also wonder if they aren’t bored at all, and believe this is great work. It reminded me of the disappointment i always felt when i was reviewing comics on the regular, so many hours are being spent around the country, so many artists and writers and conventions and airplane rides, based on so many vacuous empty ideas that say nothing new and are fully satisfied in their mediocrity. Guardians of the Galaxy Team Up #1 was made by a machine, its components happen to be humans. It is a well made product, be sure to buy the slightly different variation of this product next month.
Some Beautiful Panels:
I actually thought the above panel was some fine cartooning. Its simply a sequence where the space ship is twirling about, and so the panels themselves being flipping in circles. It is disorienting without becoming confusing, so i gotta give props to the artist for handling it with style.
That expression is awesome. Its such a cute little moment, that it reaffirms my hopes that these aren’t completely soulless automatons churning out products. A lot of Art Adams work reminded me of one the last comics i read and enjoyed, Elias the Cursed. Elias the Cursed, is a fairly typical sword and sorcery comic, but as a total piece of work, just has a bit more vitality and heft to it. I would love to read a Guardians of the Galaxy comic that was treated as a bit less disposable. I think that’s a feeling that i experience a lot reading new comics.
Ms. Marvel #9 by G.Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
Ignore that cover, its straight up terrible. Medusa, the long haired woman sitting in the throne is well rendered, but Lockjaw has a strange lecherous appearance. Some artists are great at rendering one thing, like pretty women, but drawing giant bulldogs, not their strong suit. It’s okay, sometimes i’ll get a cover job, and i don’t got time to do it, but i really need the dough, and i just wing it. I’ve made some garbage covers, and i just think “Oh well, i gotsta eat.” So Jamie McKelvie, i understand and forgive you. Please read my comic “Pug Quest” for some tips on how to draw cute smushed face doggies.
But this comic was great! Super fun and the writing WAS whip-smart and cute without trying so damn hard to seem whip-smart and cute. This was like the Tina Fey of comics, where that Bendis comic was the girl on OkCupid who insists she’s JUST LIKE TINA FEY, OMG. This is a comic where i feel like the artist and writer are not only in tune with each other, but also are working towards making a really great project, not just getting it done and cashing the checks.
It’s harder to say why something is good, versus why something is bad, so i usually spend less time on things i like. Hey, maybe i suck at telling my parents i love them too. Don’t hate me cause i have trouble handling emotions.
The way Ms. Marvel’s stretchy powers manifest is drawn with such cartoony imagination, that her powers aren’t just this neutral feature of hers, but actually reflect the character’s personality. Imagine when we thought about how Superman flies, or how Spiderman swings, artists really thought about how those characters would do those activities. Oftentimes it seems Superman flies just like every other character flies. Their is so many little moments in Ms.Marvel that the writing and art really is inspiring. Compare the stiffness of Lockjaw on the cover of #9 to the interior art from issue #8, where he is a goofy bouncy huggable giant pug.
The Saga of Crystar – Crystal Warrior by David Simons and Ricardo Villamonte
I bought this because the cover was dope, but this was pure junk food. The thing with junk food is quality still matters. You can go deluxe and get Ben & Jerry’s ice creams, or you can be a broke ass homie getting that fake vanilla stuff for 2 dollars. I did a little googling, and Crystar was supposed to be Marvel’s shameless toy cash in. I had a feeling it would be, because the comic goes through the motions of introducing and giving a brief synopsis of almost a dozen characters. At least 4 of them are superfluous. But it’s a cash grab, and these are all dope action figures. Story-wise, even for a clearly commercial property like this, there’s way more plot packed into this comic than the Guardians comic above. This thing took me like 5 times the amount of time to get through. At some points, i was like “THERE’S MORE?”
But yo, check out these dope panels.
“I AM SATISFIED” What a smug dude answer. The villain is the twin brother of Crystar, who both inherited the kingdom, and villain walks in and is like “Yo, technically, i still am also the rightful ruler of this place too, even though i’m like evil now.” And their advisor dude uncle actually finds this to be a very reasonable argument, and exiles Crystar. How he made the mental leap from “You two chill out and just rule together,” to “Ok get out Crystar, you weren’t being fair so now you get nothing,” escaped me. But I really found it hilarious that evil dude’s grand plan was arguing on a technicality. I love evil dude’s design too.
I really wanna go on ebay and buy the toys now. Merchandise advertisement = successful.
DEVIL DINOSAUR #5 and #8 by Jack Kirby
Save the best for last. Sometimes i find Jack Kirby comics boring. Like you open them up, and it’s like the moment you become an adult and fireworks no longer impress you. But every once in awhile, you hear the boom-pop-fizzle and see the brilliant lights of a fireworks display, and you become a kid again and you can’t look away. Devil Dinosaur is like that. Its such a silly idea, where Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy are practically a Sherlock Holmes and Watson arrangement. Moon Boy does all the talking, but you really get the feeling like Devil Dinosaur is the brains of the outfit. One comic was about some cavemen trying to steal Devil Dinosaur, the other one was about some giant robotic aliens have kidnapped Moon Boy. The Result – Devil Dinosaur just tears shit up. The whole book is just an excuse for action, and its pure and you really understand why Jack Kirby is so universally adored. There’s so much energy and fire and power in each panel, and it just hurtles forward. There’s no ego, no self-satisfaction, no “Look how clever and topical i’m being,” dialogue. These comics exist in their same powerful form now as they did decades ago, like a radioactive isotope with no half life, all killer.
Check out some of my favorite panels:
A lot of times i hate that we call Jack Kirby “The King”, not because the title is undeserved, but because now sits an empty throne, everyone seemingly too humble to attempt to take it. But everyone’s not reeeeally humble, they are just too fake to admit they want it, and too scared to think they’d deserve it. But greatness doesn’t come to cowards, you can’t make great art unless you see the heights that can be reached and try to go higher. I wish more artists and writers would strive and fail to be as productive and unrestrained as Jack Kirby, imagine what comics would look like if we all believed we could be like him or even better.
We are all making junk food, but i feel like Jack Kirby was like Willy Wonka, asking questions like ‘What if we made a football helmet out of brownie dough and then drove our cars into dipping dots ball pits?” meanwhile, Bendis is like ‘Here’s a chocolate chip cookie with precisely 9 chocolate chips, the optimal amount of chips for this cookie,”
Anyway, read Ms. Marvel, it does a body good.