Without J.H. Williams on art I find the book to be a lot less interesting. No offense to Amy Reeder et al who can draw a very competent superhero book (and I really like this cover, quiet and ambiguous yet iconic), but Williams’ art layered a whole other supertext over the book. Supertext, get it? GET IT? His art made it about identities and masquerades and not just fighting things and improbable family difficulties. There’s still a subtext about creating and participating in stories working its way through there and that is enough to boost this above the average super-book and keep me engaged. Basically I demand that my super-books are either insanely energetic and over-the-top, or entirely about people talking with as little fighting as possible, or layered with hidden meaning.
FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #6
Coincidentally with the announcement/furor of Watchmen: You Want Watchmen? We’ll Give You All The Damn Watchmen You Could Ever Want Lemire shows up with a degraded Dr. Manhattan. I’m sure that wasn’t planned, though maybe this is like that part in Call of Cthulhu where the rising of R’lyeh sends out psychic terror waves that register in the minds of psychically sensitive artists.
I didn’t realize this four-parter was going to have basically a different writer every issue. That seems like a weird way to tell a story. No complaints so far though!
UNCANNY X-FORCE #21 and SECRET AVENGERS #22
Remender is really getting to carve himself off a nice little chunk of the Marvel universe and do weird stuff to it, and that kind of thing usually results in developing some really interesting ideas which subsequent writers will either totally ignore or completely screw up. I still wish X-Force had better art, because this whole comic seems to take place in a series of backgroundless voids. It’s fantasy, damn it, and I want to see some fantastic landscapes!
DEMON KNIGHTS #6, LOBSTER JOHNSON: THE BURNING HAND #2, THE PUNISHER #8
These are all good comics, I just don’t have anything interesting to say about them. Other than maybe imploring you to read Demon Knights so we can be damn sure it doesn’t get cancelled. It’s fun and unique and focuses on new and underused characters instead of just Batman or something, and that means it is inevitably marked for death. The world would be a poorer place if we couldn’t watch Medieval Wonder Woman smack down a Triceratops.
Here’s how you do horror: keep it nice and quiet, let the weirdness trickle in slowly, don’t let them see the teeth until it’s too late. One of the hallmarks of Lovecraft was, basically, powerlessness in the face of incomprehensible cosmic forces. Curiously enough that’s also a hallmark of noir – the bad guys are untouchable because they have the power, the entire system is corrupt, all of it arrayed against the protagonist. But Lovecraft says it’s not just here on Earth, it’s the whole universe, there are mysteries you’re better off not trying to solve because you’ll see the true uncaring structure of it all and get pulled into a world of darkness and madness. Too many Lovecraft homages only see the tentacles, they miss the real point. Not Fatale though.
ACTION COMICS #6
Classic Morrison superhero stuff, setting up a whole world in a single issue. Let’s talk about the art in that backup though: it’s very much unlike the usual uninspired superhero stuff. It’s bright, clean, confident, and above all different. Why can’t they put out a full book with art like this?