My No Superhero Week
The Pull List:
X-Men #51 - Marvel (Thumbed Through)
The Punisher #12 - Marvel (Not Read)
Birds of Prey #10 - DC (Not Read)
Batwoman #10 - DC (Not Read)
Wonder Woman #10 - DC (Not Read)
Before Watchmen: Comedian #1 - DC (Not Read)
The Walking Dead #99 - Image
What I Did Read:
The Massive #1 - Dark Horse
Morning Glories #1 - #19 - Image
Scalped #1 - #50 - Vertigo
Last week I made a goal for myself, no superhero comics. I didn't realize how difficult that was going to be. Yes, superhero is the primary genre that people think of when comics comes up. It is also the genre that got me into the medium and the main money maker of the big two. But come on, I know there is more than just that. I only teach one Superhero book a semester in my Writing About Graphic Narratives class, I'm the one that recommends the non superhero stuff to students. I guess that's why I was so surprised when I looked at the potential for this week. Aside from The Massive, that I vowed to finish for this week, I only had one other book I could look at from my pull list, and that was The Walking Dead. Then there is the fact that The Walking Dead is issue 99 and I should just wait a couple of weeks to get issue 100 and write something about the whole series. So that left me with one book that I already, kind of, discussed last week. How was I going to pull this off? I was tempted to just break down and succumb to the siren's song of tights and capes.
I was even more tempted when I got my books. I couldn't stop myself from flipping through the new Astonishing X-men, plus, look at all those female led books up there. The ladies really represented this week, but I digress.
What ended up being a big help for me was an interview I ran across with Jason Aaron talking about the fact that his series Scalped had just two issues left. Scalped! I thought, I have read some of that and had quite enjoyed it. I couldn't quite remembered why I had stopped, so why not start at issue 1 and run to the end. Then all the reviewers I follow were talking about how the most recent issue of Morning Glories was such a big surprise that they had all been asked to not say anything about it. I had also heard quite a bit about this series, and this gave me a reason to jump on it. Plus, now that I've been trying to convert myself digital more (a tough decision for a book lover like myself, but I can't cart it all over in a suitcase to England) it was easy to get all the issues I wanted to read.
I had my game plan all set, I loaded up my iPad, made a pitcher of Arnold Palmers, snagged a bag of Buffalo Pretzel Crisps and put on my comic reading playlist. Yes, I have a playlist of music especially for comic reading. It consists of music I like to pretend that my favorite comic writers would listen to. So in my head, Scott Snyder and Brian Wood listen to a lot of Pixies, Modest Mouse, Silver Sun Pickups, Nirvana and Phoenix.
I have been trying to figure out how best to describe Scalped to people, and this is the best way I have found: Imagine the hit HBO show The Wire. Now imagine the hit HBO show The Sopranos. Now imagine them having a baby that was born and raised on a South Dakota Indian reservation. Do you have that image in your head? It is that good and more. Actually, why isn't there talk of a hit HBO show Scalped being developed? I actually have a bit of a problem with comparing things this way. I don't think it really gives the best idea of what you are getting. The basic idea is that our main character, Dashiell Bad Horse, left the Praire Rose reservation when he was 13, but is now sent back in as an undercover FBI agent. There is murder, corrupt cops and political figures, Native American history and culture, drugs and gang wars. I have lived a lot of my life next to reservations. From Kanab it is just a few miles drive and most of the drive to Flagstaff is through one. Even though, I never had a real idea of what life on the rez might be like, but Aaron has opened a unique window into at least one experience of it. My first concepts of Native Americans came when I played one in a school Thanksgiving assembly. I believe my lines consisted of both "HOW" and the use of the word "Wompum". Man I got along with those pilgrim kids well. It wasn't until I got to college that I learned that off stage those kids were giving me small pox infected blankets and trying to force me into christianity. Aaron does a lot help open my eyes to a lot more of those historical facts. I ordered a copy of the first trade of the series yesterday so I can put it in one of the SUU professor's mail boxes. She teaches the Native American Lit class and I wanted to get her opinion and maybe persuade her to use it in one of her classes - just trying to inject more graphic novels into academia. The series will be ending with issue 60 that drops at the end of July. I'm not sure how long they will wait to put out the final trade, but I need to find an excuse to buy all of them when they do. This is something I want to have on my shelf and direct my future kids to after a few too many Thanksgiving plays. I will need them to be a bit older though. This series rivals Deadwood in using the term cocksucker. And now that I've hit 3 HBO references.
Morning Glories is a series that has also invited a lot of comparisons to famous TV shows. I had heard a lot of people invoke Lost when discussing the series. I enjoyed Lost a lot. even just 2 issues in, I understood why people were making the comparison. The story, in a nutshell, is about a small group of kids that are selected to attend Morning Glory Academy, a very prestigious private school. When the kids arrive, strange things start happening immediately. The teachers all seem to be sociopaths, ghost type things are hidden in basements where they kill careless students and the new students are cut off from contacting their parents. So you have a group in a mystical place, surrounded by apparent danger and hints of some larger world changing conspiracy in motion. There is something about the covers that throughs me a bit though. They seem so shiny...that may not be the right word, but they tend lean as far to the photo realistic side of the spectrum as possible. As for the story itself, I really like it, but I think I need it in larger chunks. When issue 20 comes out I probably won't be getting it the day it comes out. The problem is, I can't shake the feeling that they aren't going to actually tell me what's going on. I can already hear the voices talking about how Lost didn't answer everything and how they kept the viewer in suspense for whole seasons about things. Yes, all of that is true, I guess the big difference for me here is that my stream of information is much much slower. It's one thing to spend twenty some odd weeks getting forty three minutes worth of story and information. I consumed almsot two whole years worth of stories in an afternoon and still not being fully grounded in where I'm at. It's the difference between getting a drink from a water fountain and getting a drink from a dripping faucet. Also note, I'm not saying that I'm going to abandon this series, I am intrigued and I want to see how things play out. I just may have to wait a few months between readings and then just gorge myself on a stack of issues or a trade paperback.
Finally, The Massive. If you read last weeks post, then this shouldn't come as any sort of surprise, it was great. I read through it once, then picked it up and read through it twice more. The basic idea is that the environment has started to freak out in biblical ways, and the first issue focuses on the crew of the ship Kapital who are searching for their sister ship The Massive, both part of a conservationist force. In just 1 issue, Wood has created interesting, multidimensional characters and shown off a staggering amount of world building and background research. Now I just have to wait for more issues to come out. Yup Brian, it looks like I'm committing myself to your writing for the next six years or so. Just remember, if you are going to go longer than that with this, just keep me this happy and entertained into my 40s. Thanks.