Monday 4 November 2013

The Comics Ramble. Moving Out Mini-Rambles part 1

Since a) it's going to be some time before the trades I'm now determined to collect outpace the single issues I already own, and; b) I have to start thinking about moving out so it's time to have a clear out. I've spent a little over three years in my current flat collecting all sorts of junk and sending some of it down the charity shop should make the actual act of packing somewhat easier.

So, in no particular order, I'm going to put the contents of my bookshelves under the microscope and see what I can bear to part with and what goes in a box waiting for new shelves in a new flat to call home. Warning: here be spoilers!

Axe Cop
The idea behind this series is insane but brilliant: artist Ethan Nicolle plays a “let's pretend” game with his 5 year old brother Malachai about a character the kid created called Axe Cop and publishes it all in comic strip form. The result is an unpredictable stream of consciousness narrative with the inventiveness only very young children have: completely unburdened by logic or ideas about what “shouldn't” happen in a story. Also, poo jokes. Keep.

Judge Dredd: Origins
I bought this just after seeing Dredd 3D in the cinema and whilst it isn't in any way bad it doesn't feel like a keeper. 2000AD was never a magazine I read so my emotional attachment to Judge Dredd is effectively nil when the idea isn't paired with Karl Urban's natural charisma. Charity shop.

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon
Hands down I think Matt Fraction's Hawkeye is the best series Marvel are publishing right now. What I like the most is that Fraction is clearly writing a 70s cop show that just happens to star a superhero. Bringing the other Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, into the mix gives the series all kinds of opportunities for one or other of the characters to be the fish out of water: Kate in Clint's street level world, Clint in Kate's world of high society and wealth. There's also a whole essay to be written about Matt Hollingsworth's use of the colour purple in this series. Keep.

Serenity: Those Left Behind
I honestly think this series is better than the film it was written to lead into. The film focussed on explaining the Reavers, a minor element of the earlier series, and linking them in with the Alliance. That was fine but lacked much emotional connection to the TV series. Those Left Behind resolved the threat of The Men In Blue Gloves, a more significant recurring element of the series who never got a face-to-face confrontation with the crew on screen. Bringing back Agent Dodson also gave it a nice “season finale” feel. Still, hardly essential to my enjoyment of the series: charity shop.

Love as a Foreign Language volume 2
Where's volume 1 gone? Anyway, a very sweet fish out of water comedy / romance series. It's about a Canadian man teaching English in Korea. He hates it, living in constant culture shock but just as he decides to quit he falls for the school's new receptionist. It's really sweet and I hope volume 1 turns up at some point. Keep.

Spider-Girl: Turning Points
I didn't even know I owned this. I've immense nostalgia for the May “Mayday” Parker version of Spider-Girl but this is hardly the most thrilling collection of issues. It's mainly single issue bottle stories and... I don't know, re-reading it there doesn't seem to be the spark I remember the series having. Tastes change, I suppose. Charity shop.

Secret Avengers: Run the Mission, Don't Get Seen, Save the World
Definitely one of my favourite Avengers runs. Warren Ellis takes what could have been six issues of filler between creative teams and writes a series of brilliant one-issue bottle stories, each with a different artist. And what artists! Jamie McKelvie, Kev Walker, David Aja, Michael Lark, Alex Maleev and Stuart Immonen, top bench talent and all favourites of mine. Keep.

Doctor Who: Oblivion
To go into all the details of why this was good would take an essay but here are the cliff notes: the Doctor's companion Izzy is gay, she's also adopted and insecure because of it. To make her confront these issues the writers had her body swapped with a very non-human alien so she had to constantly and consciously define what was “her” and what was merely the body she was in. The ending of the arc, Izzy defining moment of self-acceptance, actually brings a tear to my eye. Keep.

Heavy Metal, Hearts + Flowers: a Scary Go Round story
Keep. I might have the old Bobbins strips this is based on stored on my hard drive but this book is an artefact of nostalgia. Scary Go Round was one of the first webcomics I ever read. Plus, the way John Allison writes dialogue just doesn't stop being funny.

Mouse Guard: Autumn 1152
There are mice, they have a civilisation, they're vulnerable from all sorts of predators and the Mouse Guard are the ones protecting them. David Petersen writes and draws a series that makes a surprisingly good stab at doing medieval fantasy with mice and turning crabs and grass snakes into epic monsters. Keep.

Hawaiian Dick: Byrd of Paradise
I love a good hard boiled detective story but some of the tropes get boring after a while. There's only so many untreated alcoholics in New York you can take before you need a change and, well, 1953 Hawaii is certainly a different setting. It's got a supernatural twist as well as an interesting period setting but it's a detective story so saying anything else would be wrong. Keep.

The Question: Zen and Violence
The series that just says “bollocks” to every moral convention DC Comics usually harps on about. There's a great one-issue story in here about the city descending into chaos after the villains are killed which keeps switching back to an old woman sitting on a bench in the snow waiting for a bus that's never going to come. We keep going back to her again and again between scenes of the Question and the supporting cast dealing with the violence and looting and processing recent events. Then on the final page we switch back to the old woman and realise she froze to death ages ago. O'Neil really knew how to sell the fallible hero, how to have characters commit cold blooded murder and not make you hate them. I really should get the later volumes in this series.

Doctor Who: The Crimson Hand
This collection was a great last hurrah for David Tennant's Doctor: a big comic strip story arc like back in the old dys before the TV show came back. He got a new companion (the wonder alien conwoman Majenta Pryce); a big UNIT story; one last melancholy monologue; a pastiche of Eisner's The Spirit; and even a trip to Stockbridge to meet Max Edison. Keep.

And that was just the first shelf.

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