The past couple weeks I've been pretty stressed out, and I think the Comic Curve's have reflected that. This weekend I devoted toward relaxing. Instead of writing comics, I read some. To be precise I read the first two weeks of the DC reboot, that's 26 number one issues. I had a blast with this, but it would be a wasted opportunity to simply read the books without observing the craft.
Justice League was the first title DC released and has been discussed all over the web. I feel like I understand Johns' goal with the writing, but it's handled a little clumsily. The characters say each other's names a lot in their dialogue. This is important to introduce the characters to new readers, but this was just a bit too much. I expect and even enjoy a bit of over the top speech, but this comes off heavy handed and undermines the readers intelligence. I didn't really have a problem with the decompression (the complaint that not enough happens). We're introduced to over half the team, there are several cool bits of action, and I'm excited to read the next issue. That's enough for me to enjoy a comic.
When I work on the 3rd World scripts I try to have the characters say each other's names intermittently. I've also given several of them nicknames for each other. I think this will add some richness to the characters, but it is important not to confuse readers with too many labels for one person. I feel like 3rd World has been insanely decompressed. I love building a big, rich world; and I hope that I can still attain that with fewer pages.
Batwing was a title I had zero expectations for going in. I've never read anything with the character, I'm only passingly familiar with Judd Winnick writing, never seen Ben Oliver's art, and the concept "Batman of Africa" seemed like it could easily veer into the realm of token apologeticism. So what was it about this book that really made it stand out to me, despite these reservations?
Well for one Oliver's art is great, and unique among the rest of the new comics. I think it was the pacing of the issue that really won me over. A typical super hero trope is to begin with the hero in a precarioius situation and then jump back in time to show how we get there. I get this from silver age stories all the time. Winnick has 6 pages of fight scene to demonstrate Batwing's predicament. This could feel light, but the dialogue (and heroes monologue) clearly establishes the characters of Batwing and Massacre and their motivations. All while fighting. When we do cut to the past, Winnick throws us immediately into another 6 page action scene, this time establishing the hero as a true force to be reckoned with. This is important to do, you want the hero to be challenged but you also need to see why they're a superhero. We get to see both of these in the first two thirds of the book. Winnick effectively established Batwings abilities and limitations in twelve pages of fast paced action. We then get 4 pages of character building, and a breather before the end of the book. The first two establish Batwing's alter ego, and the next two show his relationship with the other Batman books and do some cool world building into some new superheroes Winnick is creating. The last four pages ramp the action back up and build to a classic comic cliffhanger.
I can learn a lot from this issue, and by dissecting comics in general. This book really did surprise me as being awesome, and when I looked back through the book it's easy to see why. 16 out of 20 pages are straight up action scenes, but through clever writing Winnick presented everything you would want or need from a first issue. Or any issue of comics really. It gives you a peek into a huge world that's being created, and that's exciting.
Another book I really enjoyed was Resurrection Man. The writing and art were well done in this issue, but I think that the most enjoyable part of this book is the execution of concept. Mitch is a man that comes back from the dead, each time with a new power. Brilliant concept and the book seems built around defying expectations. I don't want to spoil anything but it's safe to say that I was surprised by the changes the lead went through. I was surprised by the reveal of the antagonist. Even the two page set up of next issues villains had a twist reveal at the end of their scene. I loved the unique blend of super hero tropes and religious mythology. It feels like everyone working on the book is having a blast.
3rd World has a few reveals that I hope have impact, but this series deserves studying to make sure I do it right. I need to make sure I can set up a readers expectations and then subvert them. If Abnett and Lanning can keep this level of twists and turns up then this will be a series well worth studying. 3rd World also ties into various cultures beliefs, but not as overtly as this book. I know that my approach in the fantasy book is subtle, but I might need to beef it up a bit so it doesn't pass by unnoticed.
I'm having fun with this. I'm not going to write down my picking through all the books I read, but I think I will continue with this exercise when I stop typing. I'm trying to make comics, it's silly not to use all these books as learning tools after I've consumed them as entertainment. That's the take away from this week's Curve. Learn from everything. Even your down time.
- Jon O