High Five! Comics

Posts Tagged ‘Grant Morrison

Sorry, guys. It’s time for another history lesson.

So! In 1910, some Irish lady named Bridget Dowling moved to Liverpool and married a German guy named Alois Hitler waaaay before that name meant anything to anybody. In 1914, Alois abandoned his family, faked his death after WWI, and bigamously married some German lady. In 1939 , Bridget and her son, William, moved to the United States where Bridget wrote a manuscript called My Brother-In-Law Adolph about how from November 1912 to April 1913, 23-year-old Adolph Hitler squatted in their Liverpool flat while avoiding the draft, studying astrology, and trimming his moustache.

Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. Hitler lived in England?

No, turns out Bridget was full of shit. During those years, Hitler was actually living in a men’s club in Vienna. Bridget really just wanted to make a quick buck or two. But whatever! Imagine Hitler spending time in England a few years before he bombed the shit out of it! What? You don’t want to?

Well, Grant Morrison did. In 1989, Morrison and Steve Yeowell (Sebastian O, Skrull Kill Krew) teamed up and did a twelve-part black-and-white short story in Scotland’s Cut Magazine called “The New Adventures of Hitler.” It went over about as well as any story with that title could possibly go over. Editors (including Hue and Cry vocalist Pat Kane) threatened to leave the magazine and British tabloid The Sun accused Morrison of being a Nazi. The run in Cut was completed, and in 1990 was colorized and reprinted in the UK’s Crisis #46-49 (owned by Fleetway, who also printed a ton of Morrison’s other stuff in 2000 AD) which reopened the floodgates of criticism.

So, what’s the big deal? While it seems like a lot of the critics were mostly just pissed off that the book wasn’t a giant “fuck you” to Hitler, it in no way put him in a positive light. Basically, it’s the story of a young Adolph Hitler and John Bull (kind of the British Uncle Sam) wandering Liverpool while searching for the Holy Grail, talking crap on King George V, and forming his tyrannical ideology. All the while, Hitler has to deal with a wardrobe full of pop stars (specifically Morrissey and John Lennon) and a trolley car that follows him wherever he goes (yet always stays juuust out of his line of sight). So, yeah, while not being a “fuck you,” it does paint a picture that Hitler is completely off his rocker.

As much as I’d like to say that you should check this out, it’s never actually been reprinted after Crisis. Morrison had mentioned making a self-publishing imprint called Snobbery With Violence to get some of his 2000 AD stuff out there, but he has since put that idea to rest. I’ve also heard rumors that Yeowell claims the original art doesn’t exist anymore. If you can get your hands on it (the issues of Crisis do pop up on eBay.co.uk from time to time), I highly recommend picking them up.

For dubbing our San Diego condo “Hive Five Headquarters,” we sure were quiet during the actual convention. Surely, the other blogs were covering all of the actual news stuff (OMG EYE-STABS) while we were out, you know, having fun and stuff. But we wouldn’t be much of a comic blog if we didn’t talk about San Diego Comic-Con itself, so here’s the day-by-day goings on through the eyes of us High Fivers.

Wednesday, July 21

Not much really goes on at Preview Night, but it’s always nice to get the lay of the land. Early access to the floor and first pick of whatever is for sale is cool and all, but that’s more or less all that happens. The highlight of Preview Night (for me) was definitely getting Bill Willingham to sign my copies of Ironwood #7-10 (pfft, don’t judge me). He was shocked when I pulled them out of their bags, and for a minute I thought the whole exchange was going to be super-awkward, but then he jovially asked for our I.D. cards and starting sharing some insider information with us, like how his former studio mates’ mugs are hidden in the cover art of issue #10.

Maggie’s Preview Night highlight? Shaking Michael Dorn’s hand and mumbling “Thank you,” like a big dumb fangirl.

Aside from that, I managed to pick up Power Man and Iron Fist #50, Flash Volume 1 #289 (first Firestorm back-up, the first thing George Pérez ever did professionally) and DC Comics Presents #17 (Superman and Firestorm team-up, a huge hole in my Ronnie Raymond collection). Hell yes.

Thursday, July 22

All the other blogs are putting in their two cents about this, so we might as well follow suit. Yes, Westboro Baptist Church protested Comic-Con and it’s “worship of false idols.” While High Five! unilaterally agreed with Warren Ellis’ plan of “ignore, ignore, ignore,” some attendees opted to counter-protest. Whatever, go for it. My biggest problem was that while most of the signs mocked religious intolerance (I did laugh at “the Cylons destroyed the 12 Colonies for your sins” and Maggie loved the “Kill All Humans!” sign wielded by a Bender),  some of the signs in the counter-protest (namely “Fuck God”) were just as offensive as Westboro’s signs, more or less giving Phelps and crew exactly what they wanted. Oops.

Inside the convention center, we got Hava all badged up and headed straight for the “BOOM! Irredeemable/Incorruptible” panel. Highlights included the potential for character-specific one-shot tie-ins and listening to Waid and Peter Krause discuss their writing process. Oh, and the Irreedemable perfumes by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (friends of Hava’s, plug plug plug).

Later we hit up the “Mondo Marvel” and “DC Comics 75th Anniversary” panels. Holy shit, I could listen to Dennis O’Neil (Green Lantern/Green Arrow!) and Jerry Robinson (creator of Alfred, Robin, and the freakin’ Joker!) talk all day. Fun Fact: According to Jerry Robinson, Batman’s sidekick was NOT named after the bird, but after Robinson’s own childhood nickname.

Maggie and Hava tried to hit up the “Geek Girls Exist” panel but the place was well over capacity and half-full of dudes. Bummer! Still, rather than pout, the girls gave up getting in and held their own Geek Girls panel at a bar on Fifth Street, because this is San Diego Comic-Con, and you can always find something awesome to do when your original plan falls apart. Big congratulations to the Geek Girls’ Network for hosting a massively successful panel!

Later on, Maggie went over to w00tstock and met Wil Wheaton and Aaron Douglas and Matt Fraction while Hava, Jon, and I went to the BOOM! Studios’ Fifth Anniversary Drink-Up and spent upwards of an hour and a half chatting up Peter Krause. Hell of a way to end a night.

Friday, July 23

Friday was Room 6DCE day. After sitting through the “Marvel Video Games” panel (and, I’ll admit, “Marvel vs. Capcom 3” looks pretty rad), the barrage of DC panels began.

First up was “Spotlight on Grant Morrison” and, my god, that was entertaining. Between his bajillion impressions, he announced the release of an Absolute We3 and revealed that Seaguy: Eternal will be coming sooner rather than later.

Next up was the “Batman: The Return” panel. The stage was packed, with Grant Morrison, Bryan Q. Miller, Gail Simone, Paul Dini, Paul Cornell, Judd Winick, Scott Snyder, Frazer Irving, David Finch, Dustin Nguyen, and Mike Marts (I probably forgot somebody). Biggest news was that Morrison will be replaced by Peter Tomasi on Batman and Robin while Morrison starts a new Batman team-up book called Batman Inc. Paul Cornell will also write Knight and Squire (which we’re all pretty psyched for) and a Batman Beyond ongoing was hinted at. Also, the whole panel kept joking about how Dick Grayson is about to get “a bullet in the brain” meaning that I’m pretty sure Jon and I were right (at least about something).

Next was the “Superman: Man of Tomorrow” panel with J. Michael Straczynski, Jeff Lemire, Sterling Gates, Shane Davis, and Paul Cornell. Straczynski discussed his upcoming run on the “Grounded” storyline in Superman (nothing we didn’t already know) and the Superman: Earth One graphic novel he’s writing, with art by Shane Davis. Cornell revealed that Neil Gaiman’s Death will be a major character in Action Comics #894. The biggest news (to us, at least) was that the Phantom Stranger would be a major character in an upcoming Superboy book by Jeff Lemire. YES.

The last panel of the day was “DC Nation.” Dan DiDio, Straczynski, Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, and Jim Lee (flanked by fans in costumes, including a Darkseid who stayed frighteningly in-character) revealed a few future projects, but nothing too crazy. Mostly that Geoff Johns will write a book starring Bart Allen and the other speedsters called Flash: Speed Force, that he’s writing a Dex-Starr Valentine’s Day special, and that he has an upcoming secret project with Grant Morrison.

On the way out, after nearly six hours parked in 6DCE, we ran into fellow blogger Kelson from Speed Force. Who’d have thought people from the internet have, like, faces and stuff!

Maggie and Hava headed over to the Geek Girls Tweet-Up while Jon and I went to Tweet House Party on the U.S.S. Midway and watched William Shatner, Brent Spiner, and LeVar Burton promote a website they knew nothing about and then run away to a VIP area. At least we got to be serenaded by Alice Cooper’s son’s band (Oh God. No).

Saturday, July 24

By this point, we were exhausted, and we still needed to get a ton of shopping done. The only panel we attended on Saturday was “Avatar Press and Max Brooks” where they talked endlessly about Crossed and Lady Death before casually mentioning that Warren Ellis is working on a second volume to Ignition City and that Supergod #4 is fiiiiinally ready to ship next Wednesday. While there wasn’t much news on the Ellis at Avatar front, listening to Max Brooks riff for 45 minutes was a hoot. He even touched on inter-fandom animosity, saying, “Everyone gets to have something, even teenage girls who are afraid of penises. Suck my blood, but don’t touch my tits!”

The rest of the day was dedicated to buying books and gathering sketches (we’ll share those in a separate post) and autographs. Jon managed to track down a sweet copy of October 1976’s Captain Britain #1 (complete with mask) and Maggie got June 1967’s Strange Adventures #201 (featuring an old Animal Man story that’s screaming for the Silver Age Recap treatment).

The most awesome thing of all, however, was talking extensively with Frazer Irving (who drew a three-second Batman for Maggie even though he wasn’t supposed to) and getting a bunch of books signed by Grant Morrison. Oh, and this.

We win at everything.

Sunday, July 25

I guess Hall H had nothing going on because the Exhibit Hall was fucking packed. Everybody walking past the immense line to get signatures and sketches from Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Francis Manapul asked what the deal was and then walked away, unimpressed by some of the best artists in the business.

Maggie gathered 3 out of 4 signatures for her copy of 52 #1 last weekend, with a bit of Con luck on Sunday. We were talking with Greg Rucka at the Oni Booth about some of his upcoming books, including the next issue of Stumptown and a new Queen & Country novel.  As Rucka signed some comics for Maggie, up walked Geoff Johns. Rucka signed 52, then turned around and handed it to Johns for her. The two writers shared an “Aw! Remember the good old days!?” moment, and Maggie did a fist pump because in case you didn’t know, now that Johns is running half the DCU, his signing lines are enormous.

The only panel we attended on Sunday was the “DC Town Hall Meeting.” Dan DiDio and Jim Lee really, really wanted to know what we thought of digital comics. (Answer: We like them, but don’t you dare fuck with our weekly books.) Also, Maggie may have terrfied poor Mr. DiDio. He brought it on himself though, when he asked (albeit jokingly) if she didn’t mean to be at a Harry Potter panel instead.  Sorry, DiDio. You mess with the bull, you get the horns.

We’ve got more San Diego news in store, including some reviews and the High Five! Sketchbook, San Diego edition. Stay tuned!

When I was a young’un, I’d wake up early every Saturday morning to watch the crap out of some Batman Beyond. For whatever reason, a Batman in the future kind of seemed like one of the most awesome things ever (even if the show was pretty much just made up words, Seth Green, and day-glo everything). This is why following Dan DiDio’s 2007 announcement, I eagerly awaited the new Adam Beechen Batman Beyond limited series and some sweet Earth-12 action. I didn’t know what I was getting into.

It all started with Paul Levitz’s Superman/Batman Annual #4, in which Terry teams up with Superman to stop a decrepit Lex Luthor who has been lacing street drugs with Kryptonite.  The issue references the shit out of an episode of Batman Beyond called “The Call” (Superman talks about being possessed by Starro and the death of Lois Lane).  I’d assume it takes place in either the DC Animated Universe or on Earth-12. In other words, this issue may or may not be canon.

This was followed by Grant Morrison’s phenomenal Batman #700. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do before reading the rest of this paragraph. In the future, when Damian Wayne is Batman, he saves an infant Terry McGinnis from 2-Face-2. The next page (under the heading “and tomorrow”) features a shot of Terry in the Batman Beyond costume beating the crap out of a bunch of Jokerz. Essentially, Batman #700 finally plugged Terry into the main continuity of the DCU.

Now we come upon Batman Beyond #1 (of a six issue mini-series). Let’s get the review portion out of the way real fast; Beechen is comfortable writing for a DCAU character (he wrote for both Warner Brothers’ The Batman and Carton Network’s Teen Titans) and DC made an excellent choice picking him for this project. Ryan Benjamin’s art parallels that of the original series well, but I’ve yet to decide if that’s really a good thing or a bad thing. Either way, pick it up. Totally worth the $2.99 cover price.

Anyway, with the events of Batman #700, it is safe to assume that Batman Beyond is also taking place on New Earth rather than Earth-12. This book starts off assuming that you watched the show and already know who Terry is. Taking place after the Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker movie (but before that Justice League Unlimited episode where Terry finds out Bruce is his dad), this book follows Terry trailing a killer who’s been offing characters from Bruce’s past.

This does raise a lot of questions though. Morrison’s Batman #666 (released in July 2007) revealed that, at some point, Damian will witness the death of a Batman and avenge his death by taking up the mantle. In 2007, we naturally thought Batman meant Bruce Wayne. Fast forward to 2010 and we now know that Dick (not Bruce) has been Damian’s mentor. And Batman Beyond proves that Bruce is still alive in 2039 following Damian’s tenure as Batman. Holy shit. In one fell swoop Grant Morrison killed Dick Grayson and proved that Bruce Wayne will never be Batman again.

Consider the title of Morrison’s The Return of Bruce Wayne. In retrospect, this sort of implies that it is not Batman returning from the past, merely the man. And with Morrison having already touched upon the distant future of the Batman legacy in JLA: One Million (the Batman of which also cameos in Batman #700), it is safe to assume he knows where he’s going with it. The legacy appears safe in Morrison’s hands but, sorry fanboys, it looks like Bruce’s days behind the cowl are over.

-Rob and Jonny

PS: Anybody who says Grant Morrison is hard to follow can suck it.

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“Thanks to things like ‘Buffy’ and ‘The Matrix’ the entire mainstream is pumped and primed to consume superhero stories.”

-Grant Morrison, 2001

There were two versions of X-Men in the 90s. An awesome cartoon that instilled a love of Wolverine and Gambit to the boys and girls of America, and all of the pointless crap that was written in the actual comic books. 1990s X-books were riddled with plots too convoluted to follow, art too ridiculous to swallow, and a general atmosphere of despair. At some point the editorial staff at Marvel must have said, “Our most relevant title is too fun, exciting, and smart with its balance of action and politics. Let’s make the X-Men an exhausting and boring look at dystopia as our heroes stare endlessly down the barrel of their own inevitable destruction.” Meeting adjourned, a decade of horrible comics begun, everybody shake hands and go home. If you were an angst-y 12 year old boy that might have seemed cool for 30 seconds, but after 10 years the X-Men had lost any relevance.

Then in 1999 Marvel got something right: they licensed the X-Men to 20th Century Fox and started a renaissance of good comic movies. While you and I bought tickets and pop-corn, Grant Morrison used keen insight to evaluate exactly what made the movie so good. In 2001 he wrote a letter to Marvel posing the question: What if we made the X-Men fun to read again? Thank God Joe Quesada agreed. The ensuing 40 issues were the perfect kick off to the 2000s by reintroducing everything that had made the X-Men so great in the late 70s and early 80s. Pulling opulence from subtlety, Frank Quitely eschewed the extravagance of 90s art by making characters look like real people again and condensed his edginess to a set of totally bad-ass costumes. Grant countered this by giving his characters witty dialog that centered on character relations endowed with humanity rather than tragedy endowed with crap.

Remarkably – and with some risk – Morrison showed no real ingenuity in his plot. E is for Extinction possessed every basic plot point of any X-title to date. We see a madman character bent on destroying the mutants with an army of sentinels. Morrison was treading on ground so over played it could have easily destroyed his work before it began. And yet, the point was just that: continuity was irrelevant. This was not a revamp of the X-Men Universe. This was a revamp of how we told the stories, not what stories we told. In his own words Morrison said, “We have to stop talking to the shrinking fan audience and re-engage the attention of the mainstream. Longtime fans will read the book and @$%! about it NO MATTER WHAT. We don’t need to attract them, we need to make the book accessible to the real world audience.” Somehow the creator of The Invisibles got it. Superhero comics are supposed to be fun, and any interest needs to come from characters, not continuity. Starting in 2001, New X-Men was the perfect title to kick off a new decade, and set the tone for much of the superhero titles that followed.

-Jonny

10 (tie).  Walking Dead – Robert Kirkman

I can’t help feeling like this book should probably be #1 on our list. It isn’t (not even in my own personal ranking) because a few others were more popular, had greater impact, etc. But for sheer quality- in both concept and execution- The Walking Dead stood peerless in the 2000s. The book starts from a simple question: “What if every zombie movie you’ve ever seen didn’t actually have to end?” Series creator Robert Kirkman anchors the horror in his characteristically well-drawn characters, each of whom has the opportunity to show complete emotional range and complex, totally natural motivations usually absent from traditionally truncated zombie genre fare. Protagonist Rick Grimes and company endure a hard-fought existence that calls into question the nature of concepts like morality, justice, society and sanity when life becomes a nonstop pursuit of one goal: survival. And that makes anything possible- when the story doesn’t have to work itself to resolution after 90 minutes, all of the rules change. To spoil even one moment of The Walking Dead for a new reader would be criminal, but suffice it to say that nobody is safe, and in a world like this, any/every “normal” person can and will be pushed to things you’d never expect possible. And it is, in all likelihood, the best currently ongoing series in comics.

-Brendan

10 (tie). All-Star Superman – Grant Morrison

I love Superman. I love him as a supporting character. After 80 years as the flagship superhero of comics it feels like everything there was to say about Krypton’s last son has been said. In fact, it was said before a guy like Grant Morrison was even in the biz. Going in to All-Star Superman I felt this way. Then, for 12 marvelous issues I was convinced I needed to know more. Who knew Big Blue had one last arc of good reading in him? I’m sure at some point there will come another author who finds something entertaining to do with Superman, but in the waning years of this last decade it was nice to see creative duo Morrison and Quitely tell me something about Kent I didn’t already know, and wrap it all up so tidily that I felt a sense of closure when it was all said and done.

-Jonny

9. Final Crisis: Revelations – Greg Rucka

Whoa, whoa. Hold on a hot second. A tie-in to an event that’s better than the event itself? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

You’re dumb, and here’s the proof. While Final Crisis was a little, um, disjointed, Revelations was straight up Biblical goodness. Basically, while Darkseid is busy mind-raping everybody with the Anti-Life Equation, newly-appointed Question Renee Montoya is fighting off the Religion of Crime in Gotham (if you ain’t read it, you’re now officially confused). Meanwhile, newly-appointed Spectre (and Renee’s ex-partner since Batman: the Animated Series) Crispus Allen is serving out justice on God’s behalf for those held responsible for the death of the Martian Manhunter. Basically, the book is a team-up between these two: the Huntress, and Radiant, God’s angel of mercy in a battle against many of Darkseid’s Justifiers and Vandal Savage (who is possessed by Cain from the Bible).

-Rob

8. Y: The Last Man – Brian K. Vaughn
Sort of a weird thing happened in the last decade. Since Hollywood’s bankruptcy of original intellectual properties, we’ve seen so many mediocre, utterly forgettable comics adaptations that we’ve forgotten a time when not every book was viewed in terms of its potential to sustain a film or television franchise. Instead, we’ve begun new lives in an alternate universe where your Aunt whose favorite musician is Michael Buble can tell you who Harry Osborne’s dad is, and the more intellectual set might deign to deride a new theatrical release by saying something like “Eh… I think it would have been better as a comic book.” A shining example of the opposite in effect, Vertigo’s Y: The Last Man is one a truly few number of titles that openly begs to be realized in moving pictures small or large. The story of the last living carriers of a Y chromosome on Earth (20-something Yorrick Brown and his monkey, Ampersand) moves along a pace that perfectly balances its dual nature as both an episodic and serial narrative while introducing us to a hugely diverse cast of female (naturally) characters who all have different goals and motivations driving them to live in a new world without men. At times, the book could be almost soapy in how relationships progress and evolve, and I’d be lying if I said I loved the plot’s final resolution, but for 60 issues Y exhibited an undeniable quality that said this is just the kind of great story- and storytelling– that’s fit for today’s enlightened masses. It’s no wonder that series co-creator Brian K. Vaughn wound up plying his trade doing just that as a writer on ABC’s Lost.

-Brendan

7. Astonishing X-Men – Joss Whedon

Poor Piotr. He spends all that time being good while falling for that underage Lolita, Kitty Pryde. Then he dies. And then, suddenly, he comes back to life and she’s of age! They bump legal uglies and everything is coming up Colossus! Until, you know, Ord shows up with a giant space bullet pointed at Earth and Kitty Pryde has to phase into it and ride it into deep space to save all of us. Yup. Joss Whedon has made a career out of cockblocking and then killing off your favorite characters in everything he touches (see: every girl Xander ever got involved with).

Oh, yeah, plus this book gave us Abbie Brand and S.W.O.R.D. (which is kinda cool) and features art by John Cassaday and Simone Bianchi that is just fucking gorgeous. Now, with Warren Ellis at the helm and the announcement of a few more Astonishing titles, I’m curious to see where they take this from here.

-Rob

6. Invincible – Robert Kirkman

I’m not really much of a fan of Image Comics. I’m not sure if it’s just the stigma that comes with the name (and, yes, I’ll admit that Liefeld’s name does subconsciously affect my opinion) but I just can’t get into it. I’m sorry. Get over it.

Now that I have that out of the way, let’s discuss Invincible. The story of a young man who develops superpowers and decides to use it for the good of mankind yadda yadda nothing new. So what sets it apart exactly? Well, for one, our main character (conveniently named Invincible) has some, well, let’s say family issues with his father, fellow super-being Omni-Man. Pair that with his kid brother’s budding powers, dealing with his girlfriend/classmate/former superhero partner, and the government jerking him around, it is actually a very compelling superhero story. Needless to say, it’s a far cry from the other stuff on Image’s line-up. So far.

Why do I say this? Well, Invincible has all ready had a crossover with Savage Dragon, Astounding Wolf-Man, and Brit (which, might I add, was done surprisingly well). With Invincible #60, they’ve decided to throw Spawn, Witchblade, and Pitt (oh, Pitt) into the mix and, well, that’s where I get a bit dodgy. I can’t bring myself to read Image United but here’s hoping that it doesn’t turn a great book like Invincible into just another Image title.

-Rob

20. Kick-Ass – Mark Millar & John Romita Jr.

Any list of the last decade’s top writers would have to include Mark Millar. Famous for his work getting Marvel’s Ultimate Universe off the ground and for horror-satire-mind-f***s like The Unfunnies, Millar had already made his mark by 2008, but it took the creator-owned gem Kick-Ass to cement his name as a true creative juggernaut. Kick-Ass capitalized on that bit in every fan-boy (or fan-girl) that wants to know what it would REALLY feel like to be a hero. Featuring smart dialog, plausible scenarios (mostly) centered around teenage angst, and some of John Romita Jr’s best art to date, readers have been held on the edge of their seats since February 2008 and loved every minute of it. Readers loved it so much in fact, that Millar garnered a Hollywood movie deal for his story before the damned thing was even finished. We at High Five! Comics may sit a little uneasy at the thought of Nick Cage fronting another comic inspired film, but we can’t help but applaud Millar and Romita Jr for the near universal love for this story.

– Maggie

19. Planetary – Warren Ellis

Apparently, to us High Fivers, this was the decade of Warren Ellis. And if there was any book to sum up this decade for Mr. Ellis, it would be Planetary (if not for the fact that it took the whole damn decade for all 27 issues to come out). Basically, it’s about an organization funded by some secret guy called the Fourth Man, doing whatever they can to save the world and record its bizarre history. What I love about Planetary is that most of their adventures involve some sort of literary character (or, if not public domain, and homage to a literary character) in an attempt to, in Warren Ellis’ words, “take everything old and make it new again.” Sherlock Holmes, Godzilla, Doc Savage, and even a character similar to his own Spider Jerusalem pop up to either help or hinder the progress of our heroes.

John Cassaday’s art is compelling; much as his work in Astonishing X-Men, every page is so detailed and beautiful that it’s hard not to get engrossed in every panel. Planetary’s cover art is interesting as well, with each issue done in a different style (with no consistant logo) as a means of fitting in with the subject of the interior story.

Now, I haven’t read (and am slightly wary of) the Planetary/JLA and Planetary/Batman crossover books, so I can’t really attest to whether or not those are awesome (I mean, they’re also penned by Ellis so they gotta be okay at the very least) but, as for the main story, I highly recommend picking it up (and, hey, the last few issues are out in trade form come March).

-Rob

18. Captain America – Ed Brubaker

I don’t want anybody else to ever write for Captain America ever, ever again. I know that seems kinda extreme, but I’m totally fucking serious. Between the constant references to the Golden Age books (so many amazing flashbacks to the days of the Invaders) and the unexpected twists on every other page, Captain America Vol. 5 is one of the most riveting books I’ve ever read. It also ended up being one of the most controversial. In 50 issues, Brubaker managed to bring Bucky Barnes back to life (he’d been confirmed dead since March 1964’s Avengers #4, over 40 years before), kill Steve Rogers (something so extreme that it was front page news here on Earth-Prime), allow Bucky to continue the legacy, and prove that the Red Skull is a fucking dick.

How fitting is it that Brubaker is also the man now resurrecting Steve Rogers in Captain America: Reborn? Granted, yeah, Steve’s only been dead for a few years so it might seem like a bit of a cop out, but even this is gearing up to be a bit of a tearjerker. I only wish that they would have kept Steve Epting as the cover artist for Reborn. Most of his covers during Volume 5 look a little like movie posters for 1960s exploitation films, a few of which even re-use art from Golden Age covers, and I love those damn things.

-Rob

17. WE3 – Grant Morrison

Take Homeward Bound crossed with Philip K Dick, and you have some idea of what WE3 looks like. WE3 is the name of a futuristic killing machine team that consists of a dog, a cat, and a rabbit in robot-enhanced bodies. They were created by the government to be assassins, and are the cutest killing machines you will ever see.  About to be replaced by a newer, larger and more efficient creation, they make their escape from government tyranny. Grant Morrison is often accused of overwriting- making his stories wordier and more detailed than they need to be. In contrast, WE3 is remarkably sparse relying heavily on frequent counterpart Frank Quitely to move the story. Even the dialogue between the animals, which could come off as hokey and “Mr. Ed”-ish in the hands of a lesser writer, make perfect sense here.  Despite the cuddly looking cyborg-animals, this not meant for kids. WE3 is dark, gritty, bloody and despite the look of its premise, very pro-animal rights. Quitely’s artwork is so expressive, especially with the interactions between the animals, it will jerk a tear or two from even the coldest heart. Morrison and artist Frank Quitely succeed at making dystopia warm and humane.

-Hava

16. House of M – Brian Michael Bendis

Cross-over Events are a giant fan-wank. Sometimes you get one that’s fun to read, and sometimes you get one scrawled in KY gel anticipating the collective fanboy  ejaculation. Good or bad, crossovers exist in the world of continuity and rarely tell us anything interesting about the characters involved. What is remarkable about House of M is that for all the continuity mind-f***ing, at the heart of it is a compelling story by Brian Michael Bendis about a father, his two children, and their love for and disappointment in each other. This gut wrenching story was backed by solid character scripts from a notably limited cast. By limiting his cast Bendis opened up House of M to a humanity that most other Events are sorely missing.

-Jonny

Man, I dunno if it was because of all the hate that people have after Final Crisis or if Vertigo is just sick of him and his Seaguy, but this Wednesday marked the release of Grant Morrison’s new limited series, Joe the Barbarian, to pretty much zero fanfare. This seems a bit weird to me, considering how ape-shit people went over We3, Vimanarama, and his current work on Batman and Robin, but whatever. That’s not what I’m here to talk about. No, what I’m here to talk about is how fucking beautiful this book is.

Our protagonist is Joe, is the unpopular, diabetic son of a slain soldier who lives in a gigantic house in Portland, Maine with his mother and Jack, his pet rat. Notorious for his wild imagination, Joe soon discovers that when his blood sugar level gets dangerously low, he either hallucinates or is whisked away to Playtown, a land where his toys are alive and embroiled in (and apparently losing) a gigantic war with some unseen entity on the horizon. But don’t let it fool you, the Stuff of Legend this ain’t. Also to Grant’s credit, this book is almost entirely devoid of dialogue, with characters cutting right to the chase when needed, relying on the visuals more than anything else.

Speaking of the visuals, they are fucking stunning. I’d never heard of Sean Murphy (Crush, Year One: Batman/Scarecrow) before this and, well, I am impressed. According to Sean, Grant allowed him to pretty much design the settings however he wanted and he did an amazing job. Grant let three and a half pages go without dialogue just to show Joe walk from his front door to his bedroom (chock full of 1970’s and 80’s memorabilia), and Sean made something as simple as that came across absolutely gorgeous. And as for Sean’s character work? I’ll let the following image do the talking (and, yes, that is Robin perched on the shoulder of a Transformer).

Joe the Barbarian is slated to be eight issues, and I am looking forward to where this thing is headed. Now we just have to wait and see if it follows what we High Fivers call the Rule of Morrison™ (two-thirds of normalcy followed by one-third of what-the-fuck-did-I-just-read). You might as well pick it up, since issue one is only a dollar (thanks, Vertigo)!


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