SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest this week is Spanish artist Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque, who drew the comic Elle for Soleil. He’s also working on a story for the upcoming Skullkickers #18 with J. Torres.
To see what Alberto and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
I read the second issue of The Spider this week. I loved David Liss’ writing on Marvel’s Mystery Men and he hasn’t slacked up at all on this. I especially love how similar some of the characters are to some familiar DC characters they inspired. The original Spider predates Superman and Batman by several years, and you can see the roots of Lois Lane and Commissioner Gordon firmly planted in Nita Van Sloan and Stanley Kirkpatrick. Imagine that Lois Lane was married to Gordon, had figured out that Bruce Wayne was Batman, but hadn’t told her husband (who already suspects) and that’ll give you a good idea of the relationships at play in the series. It’s kind of sad, but The Spider is actually the Lois Lane comic I’ve been waiting for.
I’m kind of on the fence about Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE now that Jeff Lemire’s gone. Matt Kindt has a nice take on it, but he writes the characters differently than Lemire did and that’s jarring. Griffith the werewolf gets snippy with Frank at one point when he’s always sort of idolized the big monster. His irritation is justified though, because it’s directed at a new trait Kindt’s given Frank: the habit of quoting classic literature. I actually like the reminder that Frank is well-read and sensitive, but the change is prominent enough to be startling. On the other hand, the plot is basically a spy story set in a world of magic, science, and monsters, so it’s hard not to like that. For that reason, I’ll stick around a bit longer and see if I can’t get used to the new personalities.
What I won’t be sticking around for – sadly – is Justice League Dark. When Lemire was announced as the new writer there were promises of Indiana Jones-style globetrotting adventure, but if that’s the case, Lemire is still building up to it. The two issues I’ve read have been much more talky than I’m looking for. Probably not a problem for other readers, but it’s not for me.
I guess I’m just about done with All-Star Western too. it’s been fun, but the series feels like it’s spinning its wagon wheels by keeping Jonah Hex in urban areas, teamed up with Doc Arkham, and fighting the Court of Owls. After ten issues, I want to be well beyond this storyline.
Back on a positive note though, I decided against trade-waiting Saga and zoomed through the first four issues this week. I’m glad I did, because I’d forgotten the extent to which I’ve missed Brian K. Vaughan’s voice in a comic. Saga is a scifi/fantasy series in which anything can happen and that’s exactly what I’m looking for. I’m glad I didn’t wait.
Although I was expecting a little more advancement in the present-day plot, I enjoyed the flashback-filled spotlight on Talia al Ghul in the new Batman Incorporated vol. 2 #2 (written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Chris Burnham). I especially liked the image of infant Talia strapped to Ra’s’ back as he scaled that icy mountainside. It also functioned well as a snapshot of the rest of the issue, which did a lot to explain Talia’s personality, and by extension Damian’s. I may be wrong about this, but in her forty-plus years of existence, I’m not sure we fans ever got a real good look into Talia’s past. Greg Rucka and Denny O’Neil looked at different parts of the al-Ghul family history in Death and the Maidens and Birth of the Demon, respectively, but for the most part not a lot of folks have gone deeper than “pulpish seductress.” Naturally I was also glad that it managed convincingly to put forty years of continuity in a five-year “bag,” so to speak; and it did so in Morrison and Burnham’s reliably-entertaining style.
This week I also read all seven issues of Winter Soldier (written by Ed Brubaker, #s 1-5 drawn by Butch Guice, #6-7 drawn by Michael Lark) and found in it the winning blend of superheroics and super-espionage I enjoyed in so much of Brubaker’s Captain America. I will probably drop Cap once Brubaker leaves, because he has set the bar so high; but with WS I am hopeful he’ll stay for a little while. I still cannot get over how seamlessly he uses Marvel U. continuity — the first arc was practically a Fantastic Four story without the FF (but with a mention of Reed Richards) — because the main villain apparently came out of one of the many Marvel miniseries I didn’t read, but I didn’t feel lost at all. (I did think she looked like Sasha Bordeaux, but that’s my Distinguished Competition bias showing.) Plus, issue #1 has that reference to a Russian agent using the alias “Bonderant,” and it’s always nice to hear about a relative….
Finally, in terms of what I will be reading, I pulled together all the bulk-purchases of Superman Family I’ve made over the past several months, and it looks like I’ve got a nice run of 20-odd consecutive issues from the mid-to-late ’70s. I didn’t read Bronze Age Supes as regularly as some other books from that period, so I’m eager to rediscover it via discrete visits with the supporting cast.
Becky Cloonan is one of those artists I’d follow to the ends of the Earth, whether she’s drawing Batman, Conan or her own minicomics, like The Mire. My copy arrived on Saturday; it’s a self-contained fantasy tale with some gothic elements and a fun twist at the end. It also reminded me that in addition to being a pretty great artist, she’s also a pretty great writer, too. I recommend both this and last year’s Wolves; you can buy both from her web store.
Tom King’s A Once Crowded Sky is a novel that reads like a comic—the chapters are even broken up into comics issues, and the different titles cross over. It’s about superheroes in the time after some major crisis in which almost everyone lost their powers. You know how guys like Stan Lee and JMS are always talking about including the human side of superheroes? King does this quite well, showing them dealing with loss and betrayal, taking care of one another in this changed universe, and dealing with the work-life duality of being a superhero and a spouse. The novel mixes prose and comics sequences, and even the prose parts feel like a comic in the way they are set up and the use of flashbacks and other comics tropes (including the occasional bit of clumsy expository dialogue). You can read the first chapter here; the book comes out on July 10.
Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque
I’m currently reading the first trade paperback of The Umbrella Academy. I’ve heard so many good things about this series that I wanted to check it out for myself, and I have to say that it’s not disappointing at all, not even a bit. Interesting characters, solid plot, mystery, action and fun…
I’ve also read recently the Thor relaunch by Straczynski and Coipel… I know it’s been a while since it came out, but I’m a bit delayed with my superheroes. Great story and awesome art!
Witch Doctor is also a great comic book that I discovered at the Emerald City Comicon this year, thanks to his writer, Brandon Seifert. The story is engaging from the first pages, and the art by Ketner makes all those creepy creatures believable.
Bookwise, the last one I read is Moon Palace, by Paul Auster. It took me awhile to get hooked, but I hung to it and I ended up loving the final resolution. Can’t say much about the end of it, but it will be surprising to more than one…
And my brother gifted me with the fifth book of A Song of Ice and Fire, A Dance with Dragons, and I can’t wait to start with it. But that’s the review for a future post, I guess.