I read a lot of comics this month, none of them particularly exciting or amazing. Here’s a quick summary.
Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. by Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen
Meant to be a funny riff on superteams, Nextwave was moderately funny, but suffered from the boundaries it put on Warren Ellis’ delightful (but usually debauched) sense of humor. A good effort in the context of Marvel, but The Authority (also by Ellis) and The Boys (by Garth Ennis) are better yanks on the same chain.
Phonogram: Rue Britannia by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
I don’t really know what to make of this comic. Gillen and McKelvie craft a world where music fandom can, in certain people, be a source of magical power. What they use that power for is unclear to me, though. Mostly to fight with one another about how to get more musical magic power. The story and art are solid in Rue Britannia, but this is really a comic about music, and your interest in (and love of) British music will probably determine how much you like this comic.
The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century by Dash Shaw
A collection of comics, storyboards, and other detritus inspired by or informing Shaw’s IFC show of the same name (which I have not seen). There are little gems that work really well in this comic, particularly the moments of narrative that fold back on themselves and re-imagine earlier segments in new ways. That said, this isn’t a complete story so much as, well, detritus from Shaw’s show. I would be interested to see what a more careful narrative from Shaw would look like, but this itself didn’t do much for me.
Green Lantern: Secret Origin
Green Lantern: Rage of the Red Lanterns
Green Lantern: Blackest Night
by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis
I am not adequately prepared to review these books, as I am definitely not the target audience. The expectation is, to my mind, that you will be thoroughly versed in Green Lantern-ania before you start.
At its heart, the Green Lantern story is just plain weird. The whole premise of a wish-fulfilling ring that manifests the will of the user and becomes stronger when the user is fearless already hurts my head. But then add in that the ring is some kind of interstellar supercomputer and that the user is part of a galactic police force and you’re in deep. A friend recommended the Johns Green Lanterns and I will agree that they’re intricate and interesting, carefully-plotted and built into a crescendo. But as a neophyte to Green Lantern, only the Secret Origin part was very accessible, and even that has a lot of inside baseball, so-to-speak. But Rage of the Red Lanterns, in which all sorts of other lantern colors appear, and Blackest Night, which appears to be Green Lantern’s version of Marvel Zombies, are both so dense with already established characters and multiple plots that I was doing my best to hold on through the many permutations of good and bad, multi-colored rings, and never ending intergalactic fistfights.
Two other ideas about this reading experience come to mind. First, I’m reminded of my sordid attempts to read Batman comics as written by Grant Morrison. Inscrutable. Second, I imagine my bewilderment echoing in the minds of all the poor souls who decided, this year, that they would check out True Blood for the first time.