Now Reading: Crossed +100

Crossed +100 is the story of what the world is like 100 years after the original outbreak of the crossed, who if you’re not familiar with, are basically really rapey 28 Days Later-style-rage-non-zombies. Most Crossed comics since the original series by Garth Ennis have been little more than extreme gore porn, but occasionally some good stuff comes out of it and this is one of them.

Started by Alan Moore and picked up by Simon Spurrier, this story deals with how the remnants of humanity are surviving in a post-apocalyptic world and how the crossed have also been secretly evolving through some complex long-term secret plots. The broken future-English takes some getting used to, though its existence is understandable considering that this is 100 years after the collapse of civilization and modern education systems and such are all long gone.

It’s a pretty interesting look at what humanity could turn into with all their modern conveniences removed and how the crossed manage to work around their complete lack of impulse control in order to avoid extinction. The only downside is that it ends a bit suddenly. There was clearly going to be more to this story, but it was canceled before it could all play out. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them revisiting it and maybe finishing it up with a mini-series or new ongoing someday, as Avatar has been known to do that every now and then, but for now, these 3 story arcs are all there is. While it isn’t quite as good as Spurrier’s earlier Crossed – Wish You Were Here, it’s still one of the best stories in the Crossed world.

Now Reading: Phonogram

Kieron Gillen and McKelvie’s interesting tales of a group of music-based magicians and the music-related shenanigans they get into. Very interesting and energetic stuff that feels kind of like a prototype for their currently running title The Wicked & The Divine. I kind of wish there was more of it, as it’s such an interesting concept that could be explored so much more. Despite the fact that the music they all reference (a lot of 90s pop/punk stuff mostly) isn’t really my kind of stuff, half of it I’ve never even heard of, the metaphors are all clear and the social constructs of one music scene are apparently close enough to that of an entirely different one that all the good old cliches of elitist sub-genre cliques and such are all too familiar. Definitely a worthwhile read for anyone who likes Gillen and/or unusual Brit-magic stories.

Now Reading: Miracleman

Miracleman, originally called Marvelman, was originally a blatant Captain Marvel/Shazam ripoff, but upon his revival in the early 80s by THE ORIGINAL WRITER, he became one of the earliest examples of a superhero comic trying to be painfully realistic. Miracleman confronts his goofy secret origin, meets his creator, wrestles with his own godliness, and reaches the only natural conclusion that a godlike superbeing could reach, that he and the few others like him should run the world. This occurred a bit before Gruenwald did it in Squadron Supreme, and was of course, with THE ORIGINAL WRITER involved, a great deal more graphic about it.

It’s not the greatest work of THE ORIGINAL WRITER, but it was still a very memorable series while it lasted and under the Comico label, was able to deal with much more mature and dark issues than the other mainstream superhero books were allowed to touch on at the time. Neil Gaiman picked up the title after THE ORIGINAL WRITER left, but the publisher went under right before the last issue of his second arc, The Silver Age, leaving us with arguably the worst case of comic book blue balls in history. Amazingly though, since Marvel picked up the rights and reprinted all the old stuff over the last few years, they have finally made a deal with Gaiman to come back and finish the story, which is supposed to be happening sometime this year. Maybe he’ll even get to do the final arc he had planned, The Dark Age. We shall see.

Anyway, despite the way these modern Marvel reprints are disgustingly overpriced and packed full of filler “extras” pages (literally only 50% or less of each volume is actual story), they remain the best, and realistically the only, way to physically enjoy this essential classic series.

Now Reading: Scalped

Scalped is the magnum opus of big-time comic writer Jason Aaron. Whatever your feelings may be on his mainstream superhero comic work (I’m of a mixed mind myself, loving his Thor, not really liking his Dr. Strange too much), these mature readers books are where he really shines, and Scalped, in particular, is something every comic fan should see, if they’re not too squeamish for it.

It tells the story of a bunch of people on a Native American reservation: some are criminals, some are the people trying to bring the criminals down, some are just everyday people caught in the middle, and all of them are thoroughly, disgustingly entangled in a complex train wreck of bleak misery. It’s certainly not for everyone. My wife often expresses her disgust in great detail when I play her movies and shows like this, where everyone is basically just awful and all they do is try to screw each other over, and she always asks me what I see in such dark, depressing stories where there isn’t really anyone worth rooting for. I’ll tell you the same thing I tell her: I just like dark shit, bro!

Anyway, also see the currently ongoing Southern Bastards for more similarly delightful Jason Aaron bleak-as-fuckery.

Now Reading: Mind MGMT

Mind MGMT, put simply, is Matt Kindt’s tale of a secret organization of people with bizarre mental powers. The main plot is about a group of former members fighting against the Mind MGMT organization, which was formerly a beneficial one, but is now corrupt and evil, but the book also gets into the long history of the organization and its many weird members. As usual with Kindt, the powers these characters have are a lot more varied and unique than the usual telepathy/telekinesis/etc-type abilities you expect when you hear the term “mental powers”. Sure, there’s a little of that too, but mostly there’s a bunch of unconventional powers involving controlling and affecting minds through various mediums like books, music, and art.

This world and its characters are made even more dense by the unusual placement of pieces of side stories around the gutters of the pages and by Kindt’s dreamlike water colored art, which tends to contain a lot of double-imagery and other odd visual subtexts.

My only complaint is the same one I usually have about these kind of self-contained independent comics: the ending feels a bit sudden and condensed compared to all the slow build-up preceding it, a common problem with these kind of niche titles. Still definitely a worthwhile read though.

Now Reading: Rachel Rising

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This is a surprisingly dark story from Terry Moore. Seems like every damn person in the town this takes place in is some kind of secret serial killer/abuser/rapist/necrophile/etc. As it turns out later in the story, there is a reason for that, but you’ll have to read it to find that out. This is a typically entertaining Terry Moore story, full of great black and white art and a thoroughly compelling story and cast of characters. The only downside is the same issue Echo had: this story was clearly meant to go on much longer than it did. There’s about 39 issues worth of build up and then everything (almost) is suddenly resolved in a single, final issue and it’s all over before you can even blink. It’s still a worthwhile read, but it sure would be nice to have a more natural conclusion to a Terry Moore story again. Maybe someday…

Now Reading: Black Panther (the Priest run)

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So…Christopher Priest’s Black Panther run. Probably the only time anyone has really given a shit about Black Panther up until recently, at least in my lifetime. This run brought Black Panther up from being a near-forgotten C-list character, to basically being Marvel’s Batman, at least until the next creative teams came around and flushed that all down the toilet.

There’s plenty of action, and comedy, and some impressively complex political and sociological intrigue (maybe a little too complex for the typical mainstream reader in its final days…). This is basically THE Black Panther series to read, of all of them, and I would say the best example of the potential of Christopher Priest’s writing as well.

Things get a little weird in the last book, with the focus suddenly shifting to the “new Black Panther” and the formation of The Crew, a team of oddball Priest characters that would never be heard from again afterwards (as far as I remember), but even that part was still an above average read. Highly recommended to anyone interested in Black Panther or even just Marvel in general.

Now Reading: Marvel Cosmic (1973-2016) Part 1

I suppose it’s debatable what falls under a blanket term like “Marvel Cosmic”. There are many series like Avengers that deal with some pretty cosmic events at times, but when I say it, I just mean the (mostly) strictly cosmic characters and events, most of which are from the same small handful of people and originate from the work of Jim Starlin (and usually involving Thanos somehow…).

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Continue reading “Now Reading: Marvel Cosmic (1973-2016) Part 1”