Powers Volume 2, Astro City Volume 2, Animal Man Volume 2, 100 Bullets Volume 2, The Boys Volume 2, Dr Who: The End of Time

Powers Volume 2:

Collects issues 8-11 – (half the issues of the previous trade paperback & seemingly excising the 7th issue). This is half relief (including scripts in the first tpb fattened unnecessarily) & half disappointment  at the brevity. An excellent three part story all the same. It adheres to the police procedural ‘reality’ created, without too much sackcloth & ashes over said reality. A solid mystery, good tension, good story & a very careful ‘?’ in the end. The idiosyncratic art & dialogue continue – hard to read but good to read.

Astro City Volume 2:

Haven’t read vol 1 – on order! – but this is … genius. Clever. Compact. Surprising. Thoughtful.

Astro City is Busiek’s creator-owned comic. Ostensibly, Busiek says the classic comic A-plot is the B-plot & the B-plot is the A-plot – really though, the classic comic clash is the context, the A-plot is the drama. It maps the classic destinies that we know & that we love – and that is purpose. Busiek doesn’t let other writers play in his sandbox because ‘if they blow up the moon, then I have to write with a blowed up moon’ – rather, I think Busiek could write a blowed-up moon, but he couldn’t write it if someone did something character-changing; murder, death, crime. Astro City is my attraction to creator-owned incarnate – the see-saw of constant character change is wearing on larger titles, sometimes.

Astro City Confession details the Confessor & Altar Boy, as told from AB’s point of view. Yes this is Batman, and not-Batman at the same time. All the formative experiences & answering drives are different, all the tropes & questions are the same. Won’t speak to the details – this is one set of surprises upon which one shouldn’t spoil on oneself – but there are several notable mentions: One of the first superhuman religious supergroups I’ve seen in a while that haven’t been cast as crazed zealots or hypocritical conmen. One of the first guy-brought-in-to-succeed-where-superheroes failed wasn’t underlined as evil. A Crowning Moment of Heartwarming story ‘Called the Nearness of You’ at the end.

Also: Alex Ross of Kingdom Come fame does beautiful covers AND character design – so don’t be shocked that the Superman, Wonderwoman, Capt Marvel & Batman alternates bear a passing similarity to the KC styles in-comic & are pretty much those characters verbatim in the cover art. Except The Samaritan (guess?) has blue spit-curled forelocks.

Animal Man Volume 2:

Excellent yes, and a terrible tease! The double-epilogue mysteries have developed into whole-issue mysteries, as Post-Crisis continuity quakes annihilate the known & the forgotten. The concept of being retro-reduced to an artist’s sketch is a clever & visceral type of Nightmare Fuel. And then Morrison goes ahead and lays down a smart, informed & undecided view on animal rights & experimentation, just to screw with us on several levels, the genius.

100 Bullets Volume 2:

Conspiracy on the scale of the Manchurian Candidate. Tragedy on the scale of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. References, suggestions, double-feints & surprises. Graves & Shepherd, Dizzy & Lono, etc. Short stories, long arches – it is crime drama & government coverup written by a guy in Chicago & drawn by a guy in Argentina. ‘The Game’ – 100 bullets, the person who screwed up your life & an untraceable, diplomatic immunity gun – is writ large here, self-conscious of what a large play it is, & its smallness in the world being revealed as the untrustworthy Trust – yet avoiding the crypto-crime that leads to stream of consciousness nothing . . .


The Boys Volume 2:

7  issues – we meet another Batman ( i like those, you see ) – exploding villains try to takeover Moscow – and we meet the creepiest comicbook version of Stan Lee ever. This is knock-Icarus-out -the-sky action with Iapyx pulling the trigger. First read suggests that is Ennis’ Crapsack World – all heroes are perverted, deluded dictators. Second read suggests that this is Butcher’s not inaccurate, not strictly accurate take on things. It also introduces the true villain of the piece – an unrecognisable suit, blending to the background even better than Billy’s Badass Longcoat – an appropriate enemy for Billy, whose elegant shutdown plan hopefully promises more than the usual evil executive.

Dr Who: The End of Time:

So. Slipping this in with the comics is appropriate. Death of Batman, Death of Sandman (re-read recently, also by Gaiman), death of an unnamed favourite in the selection above – the Death of the Doctor is, appropriately, one that gives dignity to the death and puts a portion of the emphasis on the aftermath as well as the act. Curious guy-love between Master & Doctor aside, it was stylish tragedy.

Yes, a gun apparently threatened a guy with an annihilation hand. Yes, a gun apparently threatened a guy with force lightning powers. Yes, apparently radiation killed the guy who absorbed triplified x-ray machine rays casually into his shoe. No, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it was a good death. We all know that Batman, Sandman & (censored) could all die – and therefore they never die. We know they have limitations – and therefore we allow them to have none.

All those deaths were different – some with the guy who never killed killing with his final breath, others where he didn’t until the last – some with the ultimate guy killing our guy, some with our guy making a quiet, unknown sacrifice. All the same – The Doctor prophecy, foreshadowing in human form as it was, was effective because they usually get so much less warning, less able to express the bitter taste of someone else walking off with your clothes & your memories – and the bitter release from the cycle of endless death & loss.

Was glad about the ending – when I saw the cast listing including Pretty Much Everybody, was worried Journey’s End was coming about again. This was better. The silence, the note, the save, the sontaran, the lottery ticket – particularly liked the tragic little laugh-sob thing Tennant pulled off about the Journal of Impossible Things. I hope we don’t see those assistants for a while, if ever again – not dislike, I just want to see this character build his own gallery, of good & evil, and not be weighed down.

Afterall, as with Sandman, This Doctor died when he needed to change, as change is a little a disease – its why its called a ‘growth’.

Spring 2010.


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