Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Batman: Cacophony


Batman: Cacophony

Writer: Kevin Smith

Artist: Walter Flanagan

 From amazon.com : When the mysterious masked superhero-killer Onomatopoeia arrives in Gotham City, it seems his sights [and sounds] are set against the Caped Crusader. But how does the Joker feature in his nefarious plan? With the bullets flying, the Dark Knight will be forced to make a terrible choice... stop the assassin or save the life of his greatest foe.

Batman Cacophony is a curious graphic novel, a three parter written by Kevin smith (of clerks fame) and illustrated by Walter Flanagan (of the tell ‘em steve dave podcast). In the introduction Smith addresses the nepotism of having one of his closest friends illustrate this comic for which, at the time of it’s release there was a lot of backlash against. Frankly, I can’t see why this is, Flanagan’s art is rather reminiscent of Brain Bolland’s in The Killing Joke especially in the manner it depicts motion and dynamism.  Kevin Smith’s fingerprints are all over this graphic novel, the dialog is laden with pop culture references, the witty vulgarism’s  and snappy conversations.  His love for comic’s is displayed unashamedly ( I especially liked the nod to batmite)
The introduction of a hero hunter Onomatopoeia, a villain who speaks only in sound effects, sounds completely and utterly ridiculous. When reading a review for this bit that really raised my eyebrow but somehow it works. Onomatopoeia pointing a gun at someone’s head and saying “blam” before pulling the trigger actually comes across as chilling, sure it lives and dies on the page but I actually found this character rather menacing and would like to see him continue through the DC universe.

Now to the meat of it, Batman. Batman here is Kevin Smith’s Batman and it’s not easy to get away from that, some of his dialog is completely out of current continuity and his behaviour is the same but frankly given that Batman recently went back in time and became a pirate I can overlook this. This is and Smith’s follow up (Widening Gyre) are self contained as far as I’m concerned.

The joker however here I adore. He’s funny, dark and comes across like a complete psychopath. His dialog has an interesting modern twang to it, I’ve rarely seen done well for the character. There’s some moments though that made me tilt my head though (Joker offering himself sexually to Onomatopoeia was rather bizarre).

Beware Thar Be Spoilers Ahead

This comic would be a wildly amusing bit of fun to kill a bit of time,  that is if it wasn’t for the final book. The graphic novel takes a rather poignant turn in the last act in which batman is unable to let the joker to bleed out after being stabbed and later goes to visit him in the hospital and finds the joker doped up on morphine and mood stabilisers and so is able to have a rational discussion with the joker and attempts to explore their relationship.
The 3rd act makes this book worth reading,  Smith’s writing here is at its best. Pick it up and enjoy it, don’t try to over think it just roll with it and you should be able to enjoy

Overall it’s give this book a 7/10

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Superman: Red Son

Superman: Red Son
Mark Millar

Superman :Red son

Superman Red Son is an Elseworld comic (a non-cannon comic, for the unconfirmed geek) that explores a world in which superman landed mere hours later and so was raised  on a Ukrainian collective farm during the cold war and later becoming Stalin’s right hand man. Told over three books that document the rise of Supes,  this graphic novel goes a long way to explore the cultural effect on the Man of Steel and how the American icon can have the white and blue stripped out of him. Gone is the apple pie and old glory waving over his shoulder, Ka-el is Russia’s ace in the hole during the cold war. Still remains his acts of heroism, a global hero with the ideals of communism initially but absolute power corrupts absolutely. The comic’s art is reminiscent of the early action comics, just flashes of Pete Woods’ forms though darker and obviously tidier. All the characters are in there Louis Lane, Lex Luther, Wonder Woman, Jimmy Olson, Lana Lang, Hal Jordan and a fantastic reimagining of a ruskie Batman, his parents killed by the KGB and all his rage directed at the government and so in turn Superman. The plot is character driven, it truly is worth reading, the corruption of the cape as he struggles with his morals against his belief in the communistic regime (a fantastic microcosm involving the miniature city of Stalingrad, is just inspired).
The only complaints I can make is occasionally the story seems rushed and some characters get overlooked but this is just nitpicking. The overall arch, the three act structure, there’s not enough praise I can heap on this graphic novel, Batman as a beer guzzling freedom fighter, a Luther that acts as a megalomaniacal good guy, it’s just a fun mental experiment put to paper. Definitely grab this one up you’ll not regret it

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac by Jhonen Vasquez


Johnny the Homicidal Maniac is a comedy horror, the series tells the story of a fictional serial killer named Johnny C, as he explores the psychological and possibly supernatural forces which compel him to commit a string of murders


What it was:

This was a particular favourite of mine during my formative years, a dark, blood-soaked black and white bit of indie-comic brain-mess. With choppy, heavily styalized art, a dark sense of humour an ugly, brutal fiend of a main character and no true moral compass at it's heart it captured my attention and acted as a cathartic outlet for my angst ridden bile. I really did hold this graphic novel in a remarkably high reguard and saw it as a  a rather poetic, funny and accurate reflection of my own inner-demons at the time of reading

What it is:

Frankly, looking back over this for the first time in a good long while, it really isn't the deep introspective work I once believed it to be. This powerful, epic tale through heaven and hell, upon retrospect, is nothing more than a really funny, dark little tale with some rather lackluster art at some points but entertaining as sin. It really is a good read but it's not the important text I used to think it was, ignore the cog-psychology and introspective noise and latch onto the lovecraftian elements, the sly digs at pop-culture (and culture in general) and pure manic, dillusional madness and you'll enjoy it.

In the end:

Give it a read, Johnny, squee, happy noodle boy, it's all funny and entertaining but don't exect to be blown away.

Marks: 5/10 

Mission Briefing IV ; a new hope

Greetings, Lee here

 This isn't my first blog but the first one that wasn't designed for self advertisement, self aggrandising and a feeble attempt to seem deep and interesting when in actuality I'm particularly shallow and a dull brown sort of a person, rather like a filthy puddle.

Ultimately the reason I've started this blog is in an attempt to rekindle my love of comic books, in particular graphic novels; going back with a critical eye the ones I used to love and the ones I just never go round to reading and some that I couldn't wrap my tiny child-brain around. Now with my new and improved man-brain,I aim to thrust myself back into the graphic world and amerce myself in the imagery and story-telling I've always loved but allowed to slide off my radar

See you when I see you