13 November 2005

Comics Roundup (told you it'd be back.... CS)

Many of us are told from a very young age that you can't judge a book by its cover. But for most publishers, and especially in the realm of comic books, a lot of thought and effort is put into covers. When you're browsing the racks, looking for your usual weekly allotment of books, occasionally a great cover hooks you in, at least long enough to take a look at what's going inside and sometimes enough to include the issue with your ever growing price tag. Happened to me recently with Incredible Hulk #88.

The cover in itself isn't mind-blowing and doesn't compare to some of the covers done by Lee Weeks during the Tempest Fugit storyline, but there's something about the simplicity of the Hulk stalking through the woods that appealed to me (especially after putting up with the House of M interlude, bleh). It's when I paged through the issue that I saw not only the great art of Keu Cha (who'd I'd never heard of up until now), but where I also saw.....
Bearded Hulk!! Fishing!!!

And as if that weren't enough to hook me (pun intended, though Hulk need no fishing instruments).... Bearded Hulk make friends with Bears!!
Have you ever seen a more awesome Hulk? Or a happier bear? Together!??! Now i challenge you to tell me that you don't need this issue too.

Speaking of great covers, Eric Powell's recent lending of his talents to the cover of the most recent Swamp Thing sure had pretty results.
And speaking of Mr. Powell, he hit my sentiments spot on in an IGN.com piece interviewing writers and artists on who their favorite villain is (check it out):
"Hands down Doctor Doom is the greatest comic book villain ever. It's great that those movie guys are so much smarter than the guys that invented him and gave him character... HOW THE HELL DO YOU MESS UP DOCTOR DOOM??!!! C'mon. I refused to see that movie just because of what I was hearing about the way they handled Doom. And from what I hear, I was right to do so."

Right on, Eric. Did I not voice the exact same sentiment once upon a lifetime (last summer)? Also, you'll notice in the IGN piece that there's a whole lot of love thrown Viktor Von's way. Hell yeah.

And finally, The New York Observer ran a piece reviewing Charles Burns's Black Hole. It's your average template for reviewing a "graphic novel" where the reviewer compliments the work, but bashes comics on the whole, citing brief moments of artistic integrity among what is seen as a silly and "colorful juvenilia." I see more and more reviews like this as the comic fan base, its market, and the reach of indie books like Black Hole spreads. It's somewhat infuriating, actually. It'd be nice to see a review by someone who has read beyond R. Crumb and Will Eisner rather than your average, pretentious lit critic asshole. As great as Eisner and Crumb might be, that's certainly not all there is. And any reader of the great writers like Moore, Morrison, Gaiman, Brubaker or even Geoff Johns, Brian K. Vaughan and many more will be able to tell you that there's comparable complexity infused into books like Swamp Thing, Captain America, or Batman than a lot of the crap that gets published these days and passed off as literature. I'm not going to say that comics can't be a bit silly at times or a bit simple or crazy... Of course they are, they're here to entertain, let us have fun. But it's frustrating to constantly hear the medium called stupid and childlike and seeing the possibility of the rise of graphic novels being equated to the dumbing down of America, when the majority of comic book readers I know are also some of the smartest and most discerning ones. Being an avid reader of comics and knowing this makes me feel that it's the reviewer here who is being mindless and juvenile rather than his ideal of the spandex clad, violence driven superhero book.

That being said, I'm off to read my new issue of Drax the Destroyer.


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