Monday, February 9, 2009
Fast Thoughts - The Week of 2/4/09
COMIC BOOK COMICS #3: If you only buy one comic with a scene depicting Adam West at an orgy this year, make it this one!
This time we go into the history of The Comics Code Authority, the creation of Mad Magazine, science-fiction pulp's increasing influence on the medium and - in a quick jump into the future - the Pop Art movement of Warhol & Lichtenstein and the hipster's loving mockery of comic culture.
Whew! That's a lot of ground.
As usual, Van Lente and Dunlavey give us a funny and educational read. But more importantly, they give us a balanced look at more well-known events and figures of this history. For instance, at the very start they describe Dr. Fredric Wertham's noteworthy accomplishments as a psychiatrist and the good he did as a progressive activist before raking him over the coals for his biased and unscientific "study" of comic books and juvenile delinquency. Van Lenter and Dunlavey also describe Wertham's complaints which had some merit (negative portrayals of non-Caucasians, unrealistic female body images and excessive BDSM imagery) and the ones (comics teach kids how to commit crimes, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin are obviously gay) which were a little more out there.
We can only hope this same unbiased view remains next month as we go into the heated world of 1960s Marvel and that the book doesn't go into describing how Saint Kirby and Saint Ditko overcame The Devil Stan Lee.
KULL #4: It's barbarian kings fighting snakemen with all the blood, guts and weird horror that you'd expect from a comic book adaptation of a Robert E. Howard story. There's not much else that needs to be said except that if you are the sort of person who enjoys that sort of thing, you'll enjoy this. Good story. Great art. Can we have this as a monthly, please?
RED SONJA #41: This issue is all exposition but it is well-written and sorely needed exposition after Brian Reed's first story arc, in which many people died over an apparently powerful but ill-defined mystic doodad known as "The Blood Legacy".
Apparently The Blood Legacy is a magic gem with a long history of death attached to it that may or may not contain the blood of The Creator God and may or may not have been the first weapon. It also seems to wind up in the hands of red-haired warrior women more often than not and may have been stolen from Cthulhu (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) at one point.
While this grand history may well have been better told at the start of the new series before we had a few dozen people being killed over the thing, I must say that this book is finally starting to build toward an epic scope worthy of the grand tradition of Robert E. Howard and Roy Thomas. And - you know - redheads in scanty armor fighting Cthulhu are always awesome.
SECRET SIX #6: Another issue - another "do not spoil the sudden twist at the end" ending. Of course we all knew that a "sudden but inevitable betrayal" was bound to happen but I honestly didn't see it coming from this character or their being able to take out the rest of the team so easily. Damn good scene there, Simone.
We also get some background for Jeanette, find out that The Mad Hatter (who rather has a grudge after the events of the Secret Six mini-series) is out for the blood of his old teammates and even get a quick history of the new Secret Six, describing the events of Villains United and the Secret Six mini-series from MH's perspective. There's also a revelation about a new uber-powered baddy who is manipulating The Mad Hatter which bodes interesting things for Green Lantern: The Blackest Night... but of that, I will say no more.
This book is one of the best ones on the shelf right now. Pick it up before it goes the way of Manhunter and Birds of Prey.