Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Tales from the nerd sack

I feel like I've spent a lot of time moaning about comics lately, which is a shame really because leaving aside the rising prices, frustrating delays and execrable Secret Invasion style crossover muddles, there are actually some damn fine books on the racks at the moment.

I admit that since the birth of my son I haven't had as much time to read them as I once did, but when I do manage to slip on the old smoking jacket and relax with my tottering To Read pile, I'm often amazed by the quality of some of the comics that are coming out.

Take the new Rick Remender book Gigantic, for example. Wow! What a fucking great read. Giant Robot ACCIDENTALLY attacks San Fransisco in a thrill packed blaze of exploding buses and toppling skyscrapers. What more do you want? Well, how about some sci-fi satire on our obsession with reality TV, a healthy smattering of evil aliens and a nice afterword from Remender himself?

Folks, this is a top comic. Perhaps the colour palette is a little too muted for such a fiery spectacular, but the art itself is excellent. Well worth a look, ESPECIALLY if you're the kind of person who makes this sort of thing for a living...

Yeah, if LLC chum Mr Wheatley doesn't like Gigantic, I'll eat my run of Rom!

Final Crisis: Resist is almost as good as Gigantic, particularly if you miss Greg Rucka's Checkmate. I've enjoyed all the tie-ins to Final Crisis, but as a fan of Checkmate, I have to say this is probably my favourite so far.

Story? Well, basically you've got a beefed up revamp of Snapper Carr teleporting around the world blowing up Darkseid's bases, shagging cat women and getting into post coital scrapes with Gorilla Grodd (Mmmm post coital scrapes). Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Mr Terrific figures out that to save the World from the Anti-Life equation he's going to have to sacrifice the woman he loves to free the Omac nanites in her body so that they in turn can release the latent Omac population of earth to do in Darkseid! Whew. I realise that this will make no sense to most people, but trust me, it's great.

As is The Unknown Soldier. Josh Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli's re imagining of the classic DC property is set against the bloody backdrop of Northern Uganda, where Moses Lwanga, a pacifist doctor working in the refugee camps of his wartorn country gets possessed by the spirit of the Unknown Soldier and finds himself compelled to turn to violence as a result.

Dysart went out to Uganda to research the comic, and his righteous anger at some of the atrocities being committed burns brightly in this story. Occasionally this works against him, as some of his characters sound like they're quoting statistics from a UN report rather than speaking their minds, but mostly it makes for an entertaining and informative read. Ponticelli's art is SENSATIONAL - bloody, sweaty, dusty and violent. His style reminds me of Eduardo Risso (of 100 bullets fame) and that's a big compliment.

Funnily enough Mario Alberti's art in X-Men and Spider-Man #1 has a similar feel to it, perhaps with a bit of Marcos Martin thrown if for good measure. Set in 60s Manhattan, this Christos Gage penned tale will probably draw comparisons with X-Men First Class. It's a light frothy take on the early days of Marvel, which I enjoyed a lot. Gage's script is snappy and fun, but the real star here is Alberti who captures the spirit of the 60s perfectly. He makes Gwen Stacey and Mary Jane look like groovy chicks and Peter Parker look like the slightly awkward (not quite ready to leave the 1950s) teenager that he originally was. It's beautiful stuff. Oh and he draws a mean Blob.

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