At this point there’s very little to say about this series beyond the familiar refrain that it continues to provide a great example of the minimum standard of quality a superhero title needs to have in order to survive in this market. Waid and artist Chris Samnee (with guest artist Michael Allred in this volume) continue to keep that level of quality up here. So if you’ve been buying this title in trade paperback form like I have, there’s no reason to stop reading it now. In fact, this volume even throws in a little extra creepiness to keep things interesting here.
This stands as one of the most gloriously stupid things I’ve ever read in my life! If you consider that a recommendation, then your next step should be clear. However, if you don’t then whatever I say next won’t likely change your mind in the slightest. So let me say that this series begins with a superhero team fighting legendary bare-knuckle brawling champ John L. Sullivan and his team of bears, during which their leader, Star Fighter, gets his head pulverized into a gooey bag of mushy skull bits. As he is immortal, his is the head that would not die. JUST LIKE THE TITLE! IT IS SYMBOLIC FORESHADOWING IN THE GREATEST OF LITERARY TRADITIONS!!!!1!
From here, we see Starrior deal with his hideously deformed head, his wife’s affair with the equally deformed Texas Tom, Tigers Eating Cheeseburgers, Zombie Sullivan, ghost cows, extended references to the sitcom “Family Matters,” Super Sullivan, and so many more pop culture references that creator Ryan Browne had to list them all at the back of the book! Does it make any sense? Depends on how you define the term. If you can’t stand stories that are nothing but a string of references to other things, or play out like the fever dream of an eight-year-old boy who flushed his Ritalin prescription down the toilet, then you’re going to want to start developing psychic pyrokinetic powers to set fire to all of the available copies of this book. Otherwise, you’ll view the “vol. 1” in the book’s title as the promise for future greatness rather than a threat! Maybe then we’ll find out just why God has it in for those astronauts.
This may be a stand-alone graphic novel, but it’s an indispensable read for anyone who has been following the series so far. Two stories are being told in this volume: One involves Winston Taylor relating the genesis of the first “Tommy Taylor” novel through his journals. The other is the actual story of the book itself. Now, whenever there’s a “great work” at the heart of any story the worst thing the author can do is to actually show it to the reader. Better to let your audience assume the importance of it than to break that suspension of disbelief than show it and have them come to the realization that it’s not all that great. That being said, writer Mike Carey actually pulls off the very difficult trick of realizing the fictional “Tommy Taylor’s” first adventure in a way that makes its success in the story quite plausible.
Greg Rucka has been away from the creator-owned game for too long. While I’ve enjoyed his superhero work on titles like “Detective Comics,” “52,” “Wolverine,” and “The Punisher” (except for that last volume) it’s his work apart from that genre that has been the most memorable. If you’ve never read either volume of “Whiteout” or any his excellent British Intelligence series “Queen & Country,” then you should look into fixing that in the near future. “Lazarus” represents his return to such work, in a different genre but with the same strong female characters and attention to detail. This first volume is an entertaining read even if it doesn’t really show us anything we haven’t seen before.
While the pairing of writer Scott Snyder and artist Jock made “Batman: The Black Mirror” something that was certainly worth a look, the collection’s other artist was an unknown quality. I liked Jock well enough that the thought of having an unknown named Francesco Francavilla handle the in-between chapters didn’t sound all that appealing. My assumption here turned out to be verrrrry wrong and discovering Francavilla’s stylish and moody artwork wound up being one of the main pleasures I got from the book. The artist has since gone on to do various other projects for DC and Marvel, and now we get to see his chops as a writer in the pulp pastiche “The Black Beetle.” Though they can be charitably described as “lacking,” Francavilla gives us his most stunning art yet in this collection.
More good news for the company: “The Walking Dead” #115, the tenth anniversary issue that kicks off the “All Out War” arc and comes with 15 interlocking covers, is the best selling issue of the year (so far, at least) with around 350K orders. New titles “Velvet,” by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting and “Pretty Deadly” by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios are also off to good starts as they both had print runs in the neighborhood of 57K and have sold out of both. I want to be very optimistic about all this news, but part of me looks at how variant-happy “The Walking Dead” has become over the past year and wonders about what has become of the steady growth that has given the series such momentum almost from day one. Also, “Velvet” and “Pretty Deadly” were both made fully returnable by the publisher. As those numbers only count what comics shops ordered and not what people actually bought, there may be significant returns if those first issues wind up sitting on the shelf. We’ll get a good idea if that happens in the coming months’ sales charts show a steep decline from here.
(I’m planning on picking up both new titles once their collections arrive, so…)
After years of lawsuits, speculation, confusion, anticipation, and that one time when Todd McFarlane kinda sorta put him into the “Spawn” story in the Image 10th Anniversary Hardcover: “Miracleman” is returning to comics. At this point, the story of how Marvel’s legal team got all of the rights to the title and characters may make for a story just as compelling as the one they’re bringing back into print. It’s doubtful that we’ll ever know the full story as there’s so much bad blood and conflicting accounts about the title’s history already. That’s even before we get into all of the NDAs certain people likely had to sign in the process of Marvel securing the rights. One person whose story we won’t be getting: the “original writer’s,” Alan Moore.
For reasons as of yet unknown, he’s not credited in these reprints. Though the knee-jerk response would be to blame Marvel, it’s actually unlikely that that the company wouldn’t want to credit him here. After all, that would give them an “Alan Moore” book to sell in bookstores. More likely is the fact that the man himself probably asked for it as part of a handover of whatever rights he had as the man has, somewhat justifiably, become vehemently against being associated with the works that he doesn’t have a full ownership stake in. While I can understand his stance of not taking any money from these projects, insisting that your name be taken off of this one after EVERYONE knows you wrote it (or can easily find that information out if they don’t) strikes me as being faintly ridiculous.