The Voice is All: A Manifesto (Of Sorts)

Hello Revuers. As I am sure you have seen already, there is a new kid on the block. That kid is me. I am that kid. By way of an introduction, I thought I should write a few brief thoughts on comics. What I think of them. What draws me to them (or not). What I look for in a great comic. My plan is that this post will set the tone a bit for my contribution to this site. Andrew (who was so kind as to ask me to write for DR) will continue all the great stuff he is doing – the week to week stuff, the interviews, the cons, etc. – while I will tend to gravitate toward the bigger picture, both literally and figuratively as I will be writing about comics, writ large, graphic novels (and trades), and about comic book films, which have turned what was once a throwaway entertainment to one of the most popular mediums in the world. This is my first post here, so thank you for reading this far. I’ll try not to lose you.

I would describe myself as a comics agnostic. I am not a zealot, and I do not think I am a heretic (though some may disagree). There is a ludicrous amount of comic books, and comic related films, produced each year. Some of them are good. Some even exceptional. Most of them are not very good. This is true of every artistic medium, especially in an age when we can create something and then release it to the world in mere seconds.

So here is what I love: Sandman, Calvin & Hobbes, Fables, Watchmen, Essex County, Blankets, The Long Halloween, Peanuts, Kingdom Come, Little Nemo in Slumberland, Persepolis, Marvel 1602, Hellboy, The Far Side, All-Star Superman, Tintin, Maus, The Dark Knight Returns, Bone, Garfield Minus Garfield.

I love Jacques Tardi. I love Sam Raimi’s Spider-man. I love Nolan’s Batman. I love del Toro’s Hellboy. I love Ang Lee’s Hulk. I love Donner’s Superman. I love Batman: The Animated Series. I love The Incredibles.

I love that Miles Morales is Spider-man. I love that Riri Williams is Iron Man. I love that Amadeus Cho is Hulk. I love that Jane Foster is Thor.

What unites these things, and what separates them from the many comics I have read and merely liked, or read and not liked at all, is the strength and singularity of their creators’ voices and their unwillingness to play by the usual rules of comics. They mess with tradition. They forge new territory. They take creative risks. Above all, they tell good stories. Comics as a storytelling vehicle works best when a strong, individual voice, meets a distinctive visual stylist. This is why Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther is so exciting and wonderful. It’s why things like a prominent essayist for The Atlantic writing a mainstream comic book should happen more often. Call it an auteurist theory of comics. Call it heresy. Call it whatever you like. I call it comics at their best.

Forget the canon. Forget what comics are “supposed” to be. Once we begin to reach uncharted waters, that’s when I start to get interested.

So that’s what I’m here to write about. And hey, if you know where to find more good stuff, I’m always looking for recommendations. I’ll be around.

 

-Ian

Tales From The Pull List (01/06/2016): My Spidey Sense is tingling

Hello Revuers! It’s the first Tales from the Pull List of the year! It’s hard to believe how quickly last year flew by. 2015 was a year of great comics and I hope that 2016 continues the greatness. If this weeks pull list is any indication then I’m not worried at all.

 

Pick of the Week

Spidey #2: This series sees the return of Peter Parker to high school. Writer Robbie Thompson does a great job of making this step back actually feel like a step forward. With old faces seeming fresh and old story’s seeming new. In this issue we see Spidey in a fight with Sandman and a tutoring session with Gwen Stacey (Stacey rules Mary Jane drooles). At the beginning of the issue we see Peter talking to Aunt May about his upcoming tutoring session and she tells him to “Just be yourself” which leaves our hero to ponder “Which version of myself” At first all the versions of himself seem bad, as like with most teenagers, he struggles with self-esteem. Spidey slowly realizes over the course of the issue that in the right situations all the things he thinks are bad about himself (nerdy, geeky, etc.) are actually strengths (except for being broke, that’s not a strength). This realization gives him confidence (and the inner monologue that works though this gives the reader plenty of opportunity for laugh out loud funny moments). Not only that but he finds out that his secret crush knows who Gandalf is, so…..that’s a win. The art by Nick Bradshaw is beyond perfect for this series. His version of the Sandman is perhaps the best I’ve ever seen. All in all Spidey is a fresh and fun take on Spider-Man that the other more dramatic Spider-Man (Amazing) is missing. Rating: 10/10

Buy

Doctor Strange #4: What grave peril is threatening the Sorcerer Supreme of all the dimensions? What can kill magic and old books? What’s the Chloric intake that Doctor Strange needs to command the mystical? All these questions are pondered in the fourth issue of this fantastic series (ok, maybe not that last one). Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo gift the reader another action pact and visually stunning book. If you aren’t reading this series you really have to ask yourself why? Rating: 8/10

Invincible Iron Man #5: This issue continues where number four left off. A stand down between Iron Man Madame Masque…….and Doom? That’s right Victor appears to be on Tony’s side in this one. Although appearances aren’t to be trusted. Speaking of appearances, I wonder what caused the appearance change for Doom? Perhaps something from the end of Secret Wars? Rating: 8/10

Amazing Spider-Man #6: The other Spider-Man title that was released this week saw Peter Parker doing more Tony Stark things half way across the world. Be that as it may the return of a surprise villain and an interesting appearance of a fabled team of super heroes made this book interesting to read. Although a bit heavy for what I like in a Spider-Man book. Rating: 6/10