3rd 5 Books : 2010

Static Shock Vol. 1: Rebirth of the CoolThe Days are Just Packed (Calvin and Hobbes Series)Icon: A Hero's Welcome (New Edition)
The Best American Comics 2009Dispensation: Latter-Day Fiction


Dispensation: Latter-Day Fiction edited by Angela Hallstrom, finished March 24

full disclosure: i received this title as an advance reading copy from the publisher

You can read my minireviews of the individual stories here, but now it's time for a brief review of the work as a whole.

It's good. It's not perfect by *my* standards, but I was never so unreasonable as to imagine it might be. Anyone who buys a collection like this and expects to be gaga over ever single page is nuts. Some you will like, others you might not.

A bigger question is quality. And the quality is generally very high. There are, I'll admit, a couple stories by authors that I think have hornswaggled the reading public, but hey. I'm famously cranky. I get to say things like that.

This collection both turned me off writers I had been dying to read and turned me on to writers I had never heard of before. In my opinion, that makes this collection a rousing success.

I have interviewed the editor for Motley Vision and written a longer review for there as well.

The Best American Comics 2009 edited by Charles Burns, finished March 22
This year's volume was good. Some good stories, some meh stories. Nothing I anticipate still talking about this time next year, but nothing I was angry had been included. My general complaint about the inbreedy selection process continues. Though one of the few Crumb stories I've ever liked, I still can't quite believe it was one of The Best Comics of its year. I would like them to choose as editor someone far from the groove previous editors have come from. Whether that's from the Neil Gaiman end of things or the Randall Munroe end of things I don't really care. Just someone unexpected, given previous years' choices.
almost three months

Icon: A Hero's Welcome by Dwayne McDuffie and MD Bright, finished March 17

I was aware of Milestone back in the heady 90s (I even have some Milestone trading cards) but I never took them seriously until Mr Fob's review last year. So I borrowed it from him. (He also lent me a Static volume which I liked better. See review below.)

From his review:
    In the early nineties while other writers were following in Frank Miller's footsteps, making superhero comics more "mature" by adding more violence and crudity, Dwayne McDuffie was creating a superhero comic that actually approached adult themes with maturity beyond that of a hormone-charged adolescent--and managed to do so in the context of a genuinely fun story.

All this is true. And as the hours pass from finishing the story, I am more and more prone to give the story props for what it does well. It's good to see a superhero story deal with issues like institutional racism and teenagers contemplating abortion, but as I was reading it, I was equally underwhelmed with moments of clunky dialogue and art. Some of this was unavoidable --- it's not easy to create ex nihilo an entire complex world the likes of a DC or a Marvel without expository dialogue and other suchlike crimes.

So let's laud Milestone generally and Icon specifically for its successes. And mourn its loss primarily for imagining what might have been, had it survived into a new century.
a few days

There's Treasure Everywhere by Bill Watterson, finished March 15

The Big O was so enamored of my complete Calvin and Hobbes that I found an old paperback from the garage and gave it to him. We rushed through it and are reading it again. So I may not be listing it again, but I think it's safe to say, even if this six-year-old doesn't understand half of that that six-year-old says, we have witnessed the birth of a new fan.

about a week, probably less

Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool. Finished right at midnight between March 13 and 14

I remember when Milestone started releasing comics like Static back in the early Nineties. I never bought one because something about Static's X cap just looked like a prepackaged cliche. In fact, it wasn't until Ben's recent review of another Milestone title that I first took any Milestone property seriously. He lent me that title and threw this one in too, which I ended up reading first.

Static (incidentally, I know most people associate the word with electricity but really --- doesn't that seem like a bizarre name for a superhero?) is in high school (in the great tradition from Spider-Man to the new Blue Beetle) and is in the same class of excellence as those two. He's so far from the Stereotypical Black Teenager to almost be the Stereotypical Black Teenager on Opposite Day, but the writers have wit and panache and pull it off.

There's some "social" undercurrent to some of the story lines, but ultimately it's just a teenager with powers fighting bad guys and hiding his secret from his parents and liking girls and so forth. Plus a huge amount of characters to be introduced because this is a new comics universe.

In fact, a lot of story happens between the two stories collected in this volume. I don't know the real-world history of Milestone or this character well enough to explain it, but it's startling. Fortunately, the change in artist served as a good signal that things had changed and instead of being off-putting as a change in artist mid-book generally is, this one was a good move. Didn't hurt that the second style seemed a better fit anyway.

One last comment: Something that randomizes Planck's Constant as an explanation for superpowers? Has to be the most ludicrous bunch of pseudoscience concocted yet by comics writers.

So good job, guys!
(under a week)

Previously in 2010 . . . . :

First Five

1 comment:

  1. .

    Hmm. Just noticed that that's the wrong Calvin image. Whoops.