May 31, 2012
Since I don’t have quite as much free time anymore, I’m liking this new model of “posting clumps of short reviews every so often,” as opposed to just writing until I feel stupid every Wednesday. Other stuff I was doing will be folded back in–right now the only issue is getting the rest of my life’s schedule in tune, before I worry about, you know, blogging for fun.
America’s Got Powers #2
Image Comics. Plotted by Jonathan Ross and Bryan Hitch. Scripted by Jonathan Ross. Penciled by Bryan Hitch. Inked by Andrew Currie and Paul Neary. Colored by Paul Mounts.
The first line of dialogue in AGP #2 is “With a total of two fatalities and seventeen serious injuries in the first show, the all new America’s Got Powers is the most talked about and highest rated show on the planet.” Unfortunately, Ross and Hitch still haven’t found any deeper veins to mine. Hitch draws the hell out of it–his stuff’s looking better, and far more energized, than it has in years, if we’re being frank–but it’s not enough sizzle to overcome a lack of steak. Tommy Watts, mysterious figure of great power in the tradition of Final Fantasy protagonists, is still something akin to a hapless pawn surrounded by dickhead rockstar supercocks and characters about whom the descriptor ‘suits’ says everything. The stakes still feel arbitrary, and the world around Tommy is still neat details arranged without pattern or cohesion. But fuck, that Hitch art.
Self-published. Imagineered by Michel Fiffe. Acquire here.
The only good tribute to the Suicide Squad is a tribute that ends with a pie in the face. Michel Fiffe takes Ostrander, Yale, McDonnell, et al.‘s post-Crisis-DC masterpiece, Suicide Squad — from my perch, the best ongoing they ever published — and, in sixteen pages, runs breathlessly through nearly everything that made the old series fantastic. It’s not quite a cover song, so much as a band’s catalogue crammed into one five-minute medley. Government-corralled black-ops team the Suicide Squad is at war with their snarly terrorist rivals, the Jihad — until the mission goes to hell, almost literally. Fiffe eschews modern continuity-cop tactics for the terse, declarative style of 80s action movies and 8-year-olds, and spends panel after panel indulging design ideas too clever for trash pulp superheroes to really deserve. It’s handsomely-printed showboating — but what’s the point of infringing copyright if you’re not going to show off?
Icon/Marvel Comics. Plotted by Mark Millar and Nacho Vigalondo. Scripted by Mark Millar. Penciled by Leinil Yu. Inked by Gerry Alanguilan and Michael Jason Paz. Colored by Sunny Gho and Javier Tartaglia.
What’s entirely welcome about Supercrooks is how briskly it moves. The premise of this series has always been something like “Ocean’s Eleven robs Sean Connery, except they’re all assholes,” and it gets exactly as much page time as it needs. Does that mean zipping through maybe-romantic subplots with two pages of conversation, as opposed to a twenty-page Special Luke, We Need to Talk Issue? Hell yes, and praise Jesus. The characters are thin, the plot beats are familiar, and the villain is as old and tired as he claims to be (his revenge for someone ripping him off is the sort of thing Mark Millar lives to make other humans draw). Brevity is the soul of heists, though. Leinil Yu continues to elevate the entire book with his pencils, keeping his lines loose but limber in a way that entirely suits the ropey, silly material. It’s his show to steal.
love and luck and LTZ
May 28, 2012
Adventure Time #4
Kaboom!/Boom! Studios. Written by Ryan North. Illustrated by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb.
Did Pendleton Ward conceive of Adventure Time as turning into the perverse, twitchy-thighed teenager it’s become? This is still the fantasy series of choice for hipster doofuses — after all, it stars a boy who thinks jean shorts and an ironic(?) hat are okay to wear whenever, to say nothing of Marceline — but the mask of sanity keeps slipping. A dog with no genitals picks up a living candy heart whose chest says “TUG ME” and dissolves his lower half, effectively candy-castrating him. No one seems to regard this as a particularly vile crime, and then the dog crossdresses for a panel. It ends with leading an army of girls made of sand — no feminine softness — into a giant hole and leaving them there, forever, after depriving them of life itself. Adventure Time is the comic book Buffalo Bill would make if he hadn’t turned to tailoring.
Avengers vs. X-Men #4
Marvel Comics. Plotted by Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and Jonathan Hickman. Scripted by Jonathan Hickman. Penciled by John Romita Jr. Inked by Scott Hanna. Colored by Laura Martin.
Avengers vs. X-Men #4, courtesy of Hickman and Friends and JRJR, is an aggressively stupid comic book. It devotes more thought to explaining why it is that Hope Summers, Phoenix Girl-Child, has a fake ID than it does to anything remotely resembling the metaplot of the series. It’s just more clanging and banging, death and destruction, riding tightly until yet another person gets to utter those immortal, near-meaningless lines, “It’s here.” It even tries to be witty — not really. It’s as if Hickman braved the abyss of the fanboy soul, realized that pleasing them was as simple as delivering more content, and whispered into that sweaty collective ear, “Fine.” The worst part, though, is that maybe he’s not just kowtowing to stupor — maybe he means it. Romita’s stress fractures are starting to show, and the only person holding the boat together is Laura Martin, the colorist, who’s dynamite.
Mind the Gap #1
Image Comics. Written by Jim McCann. Illustrated by Rodin Esquejo. Colored by Sonia Oback.
Mind the Gap #1 reads like a TV show. Not in its technique — certainly, it doesn’t read like the afterbirth of a failed TV pitch, which is more than I can say for some. McCann and Esquejo are creating a world represented almost entirely on television. There’s no comic-book equivalent to the self-conscious speedfreak banter of Gilmore Girls, or the pop-culture-gratia-pop-culture wrist-deep jill-off of Glee. Mind the Gap comes close. These people live in Esquejo’s pretty, uncluttered landscapes and never look like they have a feeling-not-so-fashionable day. The things they talk and care about — shout-outs to TMC and Lionel Richie and ringtones, a coma ghost devoting half a page to Pink Floyd trivia… This is a comic written for young people who think Tumblr is essential to first-world civilization. Is it? I’m in my late 20s. Maybe I’m out of touch, and this just might be the truth.
Image Comics. Written by Brian K. Vaughan. Illustrated by Fiona Staples.
The gift of Brian K. Vaughan is that one of the most likable characters in comics recently is a disemboweled child rebel soldier ghost who appears to be half monkey, half Dorothy Spinner, even though she commits unforgivable crimes like saying “whatevs.” He and Fiona Staples have loosened their collars and really settled into the vibe of Saga, which still has a terrible title but makes up for it everywhere else. Unlike, say, Mind the Gap, it takes the sort of TV-friendly genre roles that inspire suicide-vest devotion amongst Twitterers and spins it into something that can’t be found outside of comic books — at least, not without losing a significant amount of charm. There’s violence and politics and funny animals and jokes and breasts and everything. I’d ask why we can’t have more books like this, but honestly, I don’t want to see the money-scenting hacks even try it.
May 25, 2012
More reviews, including more ‘actually new things,’ on Sunday.
Captain America: Operation Rebirth, To Serve and Protect, American Nightmare, Red Glare
Marvel Comics. Written by Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek, Barbara Kesel, and Karl Kesel. Penciled by Ron Garney, Pino Rinaldi, Dale Eaglesham, Andy Kubert, Mark Bagley, Doug Braithwaite, and Lee Weeks. Inked by Scott Koblish, Mike Manley, Dennis Rodier, Mike Sellers, John Beatty, Jesse Delperdang, Andy Smith, Bob Wiacek, and Robin Riggs. Colored by Paul Becton, John Kalisz, Malibu, Joe Rosas, Digital Chameleon, Shannon Blanchard, Kevin Tinsley and Chris Sotomayor.
A few years ago, while promoting these collections, Mark Waid said that he might not be able to write Cap today — he’d gotten too cynical. Here we have Cap as unassailable force of human good — walking away from the fights that are beneath him, even. Ron Garney illustrates iconic panel after iconic panel, giving Cap the unbeatable superpower: dignity. Then we get Andy Kubert, and he and Waid exchange one look and then gleefully leap over the edge, hand in hand. Abandoning the squinty blandness of his X-Men days while keeping the bizarre poses, this is Andy’s best work ever, kinetic and raging. Over and over, the stakes of Cap’s battles are nothing short of freedom itself. In each Waid/Kubert tale, one wrong step means enslavement and oblivion. There’s no cynicism here, in the final gasp of the Silver Age — just a few really shitty page reproductions.
Doom Patrol #19-22
DC Comics. Written by Grant Morrison. Penciled by Richard Case. Inked by Carlos Garzon and Scott Hanna. Colored by Michele Wolfman and Daniel Vozzo.
“Crawling From the Wreckage,” the first storyline of Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s weird, wonderful Doom Patrol run, ends when the enemy is forced to acknowledge that it does not actually exist. It begins with the throes of existential despair and the promise, however fleeting, of recovery. As the four issues go on, illustrated in Case’s style that’s permanently if slightly askew, healing disappears. That’s not to say the Doom Patrol — freaks, misfits — embrace their problems. When comic book characters are confronted with the abyss of non-existence, the only appropriate action is to keep going and extend their inkbound lives page by page. That’s what makes Doom Patrol one of the most uplifting series in Morrison’s canon. These fictional totems are surrounded by stories that fragment themselves, laugh off citations, and that aren’t so much resolved as endured. What makes them real characters is that they press on.
Marvel Comics. Written by Jim Starlin. Penciled by George Perez and Ron Lim. Inked by Tom Christopher, Joe Rubinstein, Bruce Solotoff, and Mike Witherby. Colored by Ian Laughlin and Christie Scheele.
Is it any wonder that Thanos is one of Jim Starlin’s darlings? It’s easy to imagine Starlin relating to the Mad Titan, whose bid to become a cosmic autocrat is thwarted by his own self-consciousness when he’s too patently uncool for the abstract concept of death to give him a handjob. I’m sure Starlin has better luck with the ladies, but that sense of doomed, ambitious collapse is so deeply coded in Infinity Gauntlet that the creators themselves lived it out. After starting with George Perez-drawn feats of hubris — such as assuming Mephisto, the Devil, doesn’t know how to spell “GOD” — to Ron Lim rushing out a final confrontation that amounts to a million explosions drowning out everything, including outer space (the only thing easier to draw). Throughout, Adam Warlock assures incredulous onlookers that he knows what he’s doing, which was likely verbatim from Starlin’s editorial calls.
Live Kree or Die: Iron Man #7, Captain America #8, Quicksilver #10, Avengers #7
Marvel Comics. Written by Kurt Busiek, Richard Howell, Mark Waid, John Ostrander, and Joe Edkin. Penciled by Sean Chen, Andy Kubert, Derek Aucoin, and George Perez. Inked by Sean Parsons, Eric Cannon, Jesse Delperdang, Rich Faber, Al Vey, Bruce Patterson, and Bob Wiacek. Colored by Steve Oliff, Jason Wright, Digital Chameleon, Joe Rosas, and Tom Smith.
Carol Danvers, formerly the swimsuit-clad Ms. Marvel, is now Captain Marvel in an attempt to claim the respect inherent in a red-and-blue clingy bodysuit. You laugh, but it’s a marked step up, especially when her most famous early stories amongst Internet cognoscenti are the one where she was raped and the one where she was put into a coma. In one of the periodic attempts to rebuild her into a non-embarrassing character, Kurt Busiek made her an Avenger, newly christened her “Warbird,” and gave her a drinking problem. That alcoholism fuels “Live Kree or Die,” where the Avengers fight a bunch of Kree rebels in disjointed, disconnected vignettes strung together by the throughline of Carol drinking too much and fucking things up. The scene where she staves off the D.T.s by drinking alien liquor out of an unmarked beaker must be read to be believed. Earth’s Mightiest Heroine can party.
Sparkplug Books. Imagineered by Katie Skelly.
Nurse Nurse is the sort of story that a person can only really make in their twenties. That’s the only phase of your life when thing still feel disproportionately important and confusing, but you’re just old and wise enough, barely, to recognize when it’s just ridiculous. If this little book — about Gemma, a space nurse, who goes on a strange adventure involving aphrodisiacs, space pirates, television, and identity — was made by someone in their 30s or (god forbid) 40s, it would be a lightweight lark, or worse yet, crushed under the weight of self-seriousness. Katie Skelly uses her loose, wabby-limbed style to make things cute, but also fragile and awkward. The single best panel is when Lucian, a doctor turned pirate, is having his leg amputated, and he lays in a trance, surrounded by visions of splintered bones, hearts, skulls, and butterflies. A benevolent comic book mushroom trip.
Squadron Supreme by Mark Gruenwald Omnibus
Marvel Comics. Written by Mark Gruenwald. Penciled by Bob Hall, Paul Neary, John Buscema, and Paul Ryan. Inked by John Beatty, Sam de la Rosa, Butch Guice, Dennis Janke, Keith Williams, and Al Williamson. Colored by Paul Becton, Kevin Feduniewicz, Mike Higgins, Joe Rubinstein, Christie Scheele, and Tom Smith.
Mark Gruenwald didn’t survive long enough to see his favorite work’s prophecy fulfilled: this 12-issue series is the playbook that modern superhero comics have been working from for over a decade now. Before this book, the Squadron’s world had been devastated by a demonic faux-President in the course of a Defenders story; the Defenders then went home, because it wasn’t their problem. This series asks: so what next? How do a handful of superheroes actually try to rebuild a planet, and should they? Bob Hall’s early issues have a rough, twitchy quality that suits the shaky ground — when Paul Ryan comes in, things get smoother and more “Marvel”, just as everything goes to hell. Gruenwald sews superheroic morality to the real big questions of power and responsibility (dictatorship, mind alteration, cures for cancer), and then fails to come up with an answer, which is really the only mature option.
Too Many Nitrous #1
Self-published. Imagineered by Billy Burkert and Samuel Rhodes.
In this extremely unofficial prequel to the Fast and the Furious film franchise, Vin Diesel’s character — terse gangbanger Dom Toretto — reveals his secret origin. Not only was he a fat kid, he’s a fat kid driven to become a major motion picture action anti-hero by the traumatic experience of his favorite fast food restaurant being blown up. No doubt this raises a dozen red flags about the already notoriously fragile continuity of the series — where in the films does Dom, during a heated street race, pass a glowing Burger King display and, for one moment, risk losing his focus as a cold rush of nostalgia creeps up his spine? This book doesn’t have answers, but it does have cheerful mania and the most adorable Vin Diesel ever drawn. This is only issue one — hopefully we’ll see the first meeting of Dom and whoever the Rock played.
Transformers: Regeneration One #80.5
IDW Publishing. Written by Simon Furman. Penciled by Andrew Wildman. Inked by Stephen Baskerville. Colored by John-Paul Bove.
Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman’s Transformers comics are the highest peak in the byzantine metalwork mess that’s arisen from a Japanese line of toys being resold to American kids. When I was 13, I went to a Transformers toy show, where a grown man and I got to talking about the Transformers comics. Back then, there was only the Marvel product, long out of print. I mentioned how I’d collected most of the issues, and the guy snorted and bragged about how he had all of “the UK issues” — the less candy-colored sci-fi tales where Furman got his start. After moving to the US Transformers, Furman continued pushing out grim-faced, Wagnerian melodrama with Wildman, whose work worshipped chrome-plating and angry paranoia, until cancellation at #80. Who knows what “best Transformers comics” means, but Regeneration‘s for adults at the toy show, bragging to the 13-year-old Michael Bay fans of today.
Two Eyes of the Beautiful #1-2
Closed Caption Comics. Imagineered by Ryan Cecil Smith. Adapted from the original by Kazuo Umezu.
“Why do you ask, Mrs. Coppard, and what are you doing with that rope–?” Two Eyes of the Beautiful is Ryan Cecil Smith’s ongoing adaptation of a 70s “monstrous mother hunts children” horror manga by Kazuo Umezu, Blood Baptism. Smith is a clever cartoonist, and while the techniques here aren’t as gorgeously creative as the color printing in S.F. Supplementary File #2C, it takes a lot of audacity to do a completely blacked-out sequence in a mini-comic, while still working in the necessary information in a way that flows easily. The second issue is where Smith seems to become more assured with using his own style as a bridge to Umezu’s original — there’s simply no silly cartoony way to draw a dog with its brain scooped out, if you want it to look horrifying and not like some Lenore icon, ready to be disseminated via t-shirt to Slipknot fans.
Winter Soldier #5
Marvel Comics. Written by Ed Brubaker. Penciled by Butch Guice. Inked by Stefano Gaudiano, Tom Palmer, and Butch Guice. Colored by Bettie Breitweiser.
Winter Soldier #5′s artwork looks like it was finished by a small army of inkers, who weren’t just dividing up pages amongst themselves, but panels. Butch Guice’s individual style gets stretched to its breaking point as he, Palmer, and Gaudiano struggle like oxes to crank this thing out, and Bettie Breitweiser is left with the bewildering task of tying it all together, like an engineer who has to master a CD recorded everywhere from Abbey Road to Fort Apache to a sewer pipe. There are pages in this thing that are as incomprehensible as old X-Men annuals. And yet — it’s got its charm. For one thing, seeing Guice somehow dredge up his inner Gene Colan only makes me want more. Brubaker remains committed, as ever, to long-term plotting in a straightforward Mighty Marvel Manner. When you’re this good, you can count on readers trusting that the seeds’ll pay off.
Wonder Woman #9
DC Comics. Written by Brian Azzarello. Penciled by Tony Akins. Inked by Dan Green. Colored by Matthew Wilson.
This is a comic book that opens with a David Caruso CSI sunglasses joke. A couple pages later there’s a joke about Wonder Woman’s “hole” being “filled” in her wedding chamber. What Brian Azzarello and Tony Akins have done here is make a very smart — almost overbearingly smart comic book. The most beautiful goddess of all is only shown from behind or the neck down. War, the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems, is the author himself, aged and slathered in blood. But at the end of the day, this is a comic where a hot-headed, waxy-skinned, blind-to-what’s-around-him man-child still spending his days seated in his father’s lap attempts to bully a fantasy superheroine into being his loveless, beautiful bride, to imprison her with all of the other souvenirs in his hollow kingdom. Wonder Woman is smart, yes, but then you can’t spell “smartass” without it.
May 17, 2012
May 16, 2012
One of Charlton’s recurring features throughout its 60s heyday was the Gunmaster–a mild-mannered traveling gunsmith who, by night or just whenever, would put on a blue mask and go around shooting evildoers. Because of moral concerns and the Comics Code, Gunmaster was no Old West Punisher. Instead, he was always careful to shoot only to wound, or more often, to simply shoot his enemies’ weapons out of their hands. The images below are sampled from just two images of Gunmaster, and as far as I’m aware, after being disarmed by a masked man who shot at their fingers, none of the bad guys attempted to continue the fight.
May 15, 2012
This is what happens when a mid-list superhero company attempts to create a horror title in the vein of Vampirella, back when Vampirella‘s title character was just the hostess of an anthology:
This is what happens when a mid-list superhero company tries to ape the artistic style of certain Vampirella illustrators, without attentive coloring or a high-quality printing press:
Gaze into the rotted faces of fear:
May 13, 2012
May 12, 2012
To fill up space while I’m away on vacation, I plugged in various gaps with a bunch of filler articles that I’ve dubbed “CHARLTON WEEK.”
What this means is that I’m going to do what every other comics blogger does, which is post a bunch of panels and run my mouth a bit. So, hey, buckle up.
The first Charlton hero we’re looking at is the first one that comes to mind when I think of how Charlton had some seriously, intensely absurd superheroes. Peacemaker grew out of a backup in Howlin’ Commandos rip-off Fightin’ 5–a diplomat and secret agent who loved peace so much, he waged war on all who would threaten it. Despite this poorly articulated mission statement, he was given a briefly-lasting series of his own, (presumably) written by Joe Gill and (definitely) illustrated by Pat Boyette:
Boyette’s art suggests a Golden Age Steve Ditko, or a less Marvelized Don Heck at times. When he’s drawing war–real war, with real soldiers–or aristocrats, he seems more engaged than when he has to draw dynamic jet legwork. (Given this script, I can hardly blame him.)
The story really picks up when the enemy tries to take out the Peacekeeper-jet with a heat-seeking missile, and he uses some clever trickery to return it to its launcher. Moments like this make the influence of Peacekeeper on Watchmen‘s sadistic Comedian very believable:
Likewise, this moment is straight out of some bizarre universe where the Golden Age never ended, and it was perfectly okay to do things like this without batting an eyelash, or incorporating interesting dialogue:
And then, in the end, it all works out okay, because despite the missile explosions and nerve gas, loss of life was minimal. Peace has been restored, and it only took a couple of dead bodies and paralyzed Russians.
Despite being weird as all fuck, Peacemaker was never able to wed that weirdness to any form of compelling storytelling. The title lasted five issues, and in the 1980s, the character was acquired by DC Comics, who have attempted to forge an interesting character from him several times since. The closest they came, naturally, was when the character was murdered as part of an ill-advised government operation in Eclipso: The Darkness Within. He has since come back, to the shrugs of literally tens.
May 11, 2012
Weeks in coming. My bad.
I had thought about taking the three songs it would have taken to catch up–two blown weeks, and this one–and combining them all into one larger essay, especially since between the three of them they comprise the bulk of the 90s-negativity antagonism on the list. In the end, I decided not to, because while they had one common thread, a certain blustery and pop-eyed sneer, there wasn’t much beyond that to tie together. So, the other two, you shall see in two other weeks, and today you will spend a few minutes with myself and my #7 Best Single of the 90s: “Life Becoming a Landslide” by Manic Street Preachers.
The Manics–before The Great Disappearance, anyway–are one of those bands that are looked back upon with a mixture of respect and incredulity: “fuck’s sake, only in 1993, man.” James Dean Bradfield (guitar/vocals) and Steve Moore (drums) came off like lads out of Cardiff who’d done a bit of school and a bit more of skinning up to Guns ‘N Roses hits. At the other end of the spectrum, Richey Edwards (lyrics/swagger) was their exact opposite in just about every way, from his Liz Taylor-and-Public Enemy image games, to the absolutely backward way he rooted himself in the group. Between the two poles: Nicky Wire, just fucked up enough, the glue that sniffed himself.
After a particularly energetic start, in which the band promised to sell a million records, sell out Wembley Stadium, and then quit forever–in which Richey Edwards attempted to carve “HIV” into his chest for a photoshoot, only to accidentally fuck it up in the mirror and be photographed with a “VIH” mark–in which the band blatantly padded their debut record with things like a Bomb Squad remix of a song that Singapore banned–in which the feminine was beautiful, and the celeb cameo of choice was Traci Lords–in which Steve Lamacq stared incredulously as Edwards, stone-faced, sensing an affront to his authenticity as a provocateur and rock legend, cut “4REAL” into his arm in great big bloody slashes…
The boys were a hit, and thus decided to properly sell out. Gold Against the Soul, their second record, was full of big-mixing-desk tinkering, bonus instruments, and all kinds of excess. At odds with this bombastic sound was the indolent emptiness of the lyrics, composed by Edwards. The process was unconventional: Edwards would compose lines of verse, and Bradfield would then have to figure out how to fit his phrases into some kind of melody. Bradfield, guitar hero, hewed aggro-pop from the black-lung discharge of Edwards’ worst impulses, and that is how things like “Life Becoming a Landslide” came to be. (Edwards, having contributed his bit to the process, would then wile away the rest of the recording process in a depressed and self-harming stupor, briefly addicting himself to Sonic the Hedgehog.)
The above process explains things like a pop single beginning with the line “Chi-i-i-hildbiiirth–tears upon her muscle…” If there was an essential conflict to the pop music of the 1990s, it was the attempt to reconcile the negativity of one’s image power with the accessibility of one’s musical power. That’s how we got things like Nirvana’s In Utero, drooling and clumsily swinging at the band’s fans while still muttering precious pieces like “Dumb.” It’s also how we got the mid-90s, post-Eazy-and-Pac-and-Big resurgence of the hip-hop hard men, with LL Cool J and MC Hammer and Kris Kross going as bleak as they wanna be: 13 Shots to the Dome, The Funky Headhunter, Da Bomb… This was the heart and soul of Edwards-era, and particularly Gold-era Manics–how to create a rousing singalong out of pitch-black despair.
When that struggle pitched too far into one direction or the other, it resulted in uneven but nonetheless fascinating singles, such as the chattering, almost-hooky “Revol” from the band’s third album (and final with Edwards), The Holy Bible. On “Life Becoming a Landslide,” a naked confession of lost hope and abandoned optimism, the band comes as close as they ever got to perfecting the balance. Bradfield’s ironwork on Edwards’ lyrical frame makes gorgeous, aching melodies out of passages like: “Life becoming a landslide, ice freezing nature dead, life becoming a landslide, I don’t want to be a man…“
The Manics–the old Manics, the Richey Manics–were educated, sober vegetarians who nonetheless felt the powerful compulsion to spit in the pop world’s face. Their first three albums are blistering, harrowing chronicles of hatred: for instutitions, for politics, for murderers and for all of humanity, with Edwards himself first in the firing line. For all of this thrashing and willful needling of the spectatorship, “Life Becoming a Landslide” is perhaps the only time they managed to sound tender.
In the late 90′s, Alan Moore–riding high on his re-imagining of Supreme–was commissioned to recreate the rest of Rob Liefeld’s superheroic oeuvre, to launch Liefeld’s then-new company, Awesome. Following the Judgment Day crossover, written by Moore and illustrated by Liefeld and a dozen friends and allies, Moore was to shepherd a number of relaunched Liefeld/Extreme properties. Two of them saw the light of day: Youngblood, Extreme’s principal super-team, and Glory, its platinum-haired Wonder Woman analogue.
Slow-operating artists and investor evaporation helped carry in a sudden crashing to Earth of Awesome’s output: Alan Moore and Brandon Peterson completed one issue of Glory before the end (although Moore’s remaining scripts were later licensed to Avatar Press and completed with new artists). Moore and Steve Skroce–who went on to storyboard The Matrix–completed two and a half issues of Youngblood. To promote these books when times were believed to be better, Awesome issued Alan Moore’s Awesome Universe Handbook #1, a skinny pamphlet containing various fan sketches Alex Ross had done of Supreme and his cast–and Alan Moore’s original proposals/outlines for the Glory and Youngblood series.
Fully aware of the metareferencing he was doing–he explicitly defines Glory in opposition/comparison to Wonder Woman throughout, suggesting characters like “a rich girl named Masonica Lodge” to replace figures like Wonder Woman’s plump WW2-era sidekick Etta Candy–his proposals are full of fantastic detail on how he would have constructed his books. His casual tone and inside-baseball nods make it seem effortless, and it’s enough to make you mourn a stillborn series. As a minor piece of Moore Errata, it’s worth tracking down, for the two or three dollars it’ll probably cost you.
I particularly like this excerpt, describing new Youngblood character Johnny Panic: