I read the following comics over the course of the past two days:
MARSHAL LAW #3 – This seems like a fairly interesting and well-executed comic, an intelligent satire of the grim superhero comics of the ’80s, but I had trouble getting into it. Pat Mills is clearly a talented writer, but I was unable to understand the story without having read the first two issues. Kevin O’Neill’s artwork is considerably less polished than his later work on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and suffers from muddy coloring.
THE STARDUST KID #5 – I bought the first issue of this series in 2005 because I was a fan of Abadazad, to which The Stardust Kid is a spiritual sequel. Somehow I never saw any of the remaining issues until I picked this one up in a 50-cent box. It turned out to be surprisingly good. Mike Ploog’s artwork here is possibly the best of his career, reminiscent of both Miyazaki and Charles Vess. The story is not particularly groundbreaking by fantasy standards, but J.M. DeMatteis makes it readable through his excellent prose style.
WEDNESDAY COMICS #10 – This is an example of the kind of work DC was capable of producing back when they actually cared about making good comics instead of… I honestly don’t know what they care about now, but it certainly isn’t making good comics. Not all the stories in Wednesday Comics are equally good; I particularly dislike the Teen Titans and Sgt. Rock stories. But the best ones, e.g. Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook’s Kamandi, Paul Pope’s Adam Strange, and Kurt Busiek and Joe Quinones’s Green Lantern, are visually stunning and take full advantage of the four-page spreads. I have three more unread issues of Wednesday Comics; I plan to get to them soon.
THE UNWRITTEN #1, <2 and 8 – This was an exciting discovery. I bought a few issues of this series back in 2009, but since I started with issue 3, I had no idea what was going on and I quickly gave up on the series because I was unable to get into it. Thus, when I bought issues 1 and 2 at a comic book convention in 2010, I just let them sit there and never got around to reading them. Now that I’ve finally found the time to start reading the series from issue 1, I realize that it’s actually fantastic work. The basic premise, in which characters from a fantasy novel turn out to actually be real, has been done before — Jonathan Carroll used this premise in The Land of Laughs (1980) and it was probably old even then. But The Unwritten is a reasonably original take on this premise (e.g. by being obviously based on Harry Potter) and it effectively adapts this premise into the medium of comics. I would actually consider teaching the first Unwritten volume at some point.
THE MUPPET SHOW #10 – I initially had trouble understanding what was going on here, since the Muppet Show was before my time, but once I got into it, it was pretty funny. One of Roger Langridge’s greatest strengths as a creator is his ability to create adaptations that show a genuine understanding of the original work; this is evident here (at least I think it is, based on my aforementioned limited knowledge of the Muppet Show) as well as in his Popeye series for IDW and in the next comic I’m going to discuss.
SNARKED #3 – This comic was a lot of fun and fulfilled the high expectations I had after reading #0. Langridge’s storytelling, draftsmanship and dialogue are basically flawless. This is clearly one of the best all-ages comics of recent years, and might even be comparable in quality to Bone.
DETECTIVE COMICS #485 – This issue was from the period when Detective Comics was merged with Batman Family to save it from cancellation, and it has an editorial note on the inside front cover saying that people were annoyed that previous issues contained two Batman stories, and henceforth there would be only one per issue. The Batman story in this issue, “The Vengeance Vow,” is one I’ve already read, but it was worth rereading; it’s a chapter in the ongoing Ra’s al Ghul saga and features some beautiful artwork by Don Newton. This issue also includes stories featuring Robin, the Demon, Batgirl and Man-Bat. The Robin and Batgirl stories are not worth mentioning, but the Demon and Man-Bat stories are both very well-drawn, by Steve Ditko and Don Newton respectively.