Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Captain America (2004) by Robert Morales, Chris Bachalo and Eddie Campbell (Marvel)
I loved Truth: Red, White & Black; it was controversial, yes, but also a really well-written and thought-out book. So when news came out that its writer, Robert Morales, was partnering with Chris Bachalo for Captain America himself, I was psyched. I loved their “Homeland” arc, but found myself among the few as it delved into political turmoil and critiques on fine art; right up my alley, but apparently not the Captain America the world wanted at the time. Morales’ extended run was cut short, but Marvel hired the excellent Eddie Campbell for Morales’ last two issues — well worth the price of admission on its own.
Daredevil (1986-1991) by Ann Nocenti, Barry Windsor-Smith, John Romita Jr., et al. (Marvel)
The worst part of making a character famous with a specific style of story is trying to live up to that. Just ask anyone who’s worked on Daredevil since Frank Miller. Swallowed up in that immense shadow is the run of editor-turned-writer Ann Nocenti, best known for introducing Typhoid Mary and Blackheart. However, beneath those star-making moments Nocenti and an all-star crew that included Barry Windsor-Smith, John Romita Jr. and Al Williamson saw Daredevil fighting crime in and out of costume, even venturing to Hell at one point. Nocenti used the title to engage in social issues of the time, even taking on the idea of patriotism as a negative in culture. Nocenti pushed the tagline of the series, “Man Without Fear,” to full effect, showing Murdock as somewhat of a risk-taker, sometimes to his own detriment.
Gen13 (2002-2003) by Adam Warren, et al. (DC/Wildstorm)
OK, this little run is the impetus for this entire feature, so bear with me. Warren is best known for his own work on Dirty Pair and Empowered, but sandwiched between those two projects is a run that begged for further attention: DC/Wildstorm’s Gen13, which Warren transformed into the quintessential superhero teen book that it merely tried to be since its creation. In 18 issues, with the help of such artists as Kaare Andrews, Rick Mays and Ed Benes — not to mention Warren himself — the book became a knowingly self-referential Animal House of teen superhero drama. What Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch did for the mainstream superhero team in The Authority, Warren was doing with the subset of teen superheroes in Gen13. He played up the sexualization of superheroes, but with a knowing voice and an acerbic, tongue-in-cheek patter.