Monday, November 20, 2006

Comics You Should Be Reading

While the Civil War rages in Marveldom, there are a few other titles that you should do yourself a favor and give a shot.

The first is Fell, written by Warren Ellis with artwork from Ben Templesmith (is the 30 Days of Night movie EVER coming out?). I can't do it justice by describing the work, so go to the link and see the first issue online. I will say that Ellis and Image are doing something admirable - trying to do an interesting comic and sell it for a third less than the going price. It's dark (as you'd expect from Templesmith) and gives you the feeling that Fell's Snowtown is quickly going the way of Samuel Delany's Bellona.

Also in the vein of dark urban drama is DMZ from Vertigo and Brian Wood. The first issue drops you right into a war-torn Manhattan and it takes a few issues for the backstory to develop - essentially with the US military (including the National Guard) fighting a number of wars on a number of continents, the militia movement strikes from Montana without a lot of opposition and moves across the country until northern New Jersey falls to the Free States with the US Army pulled back from foreign adventuring to the other side of the East River with Manhattan in between the standoff. There's a bit of Escape from New York to it but it's a lot less campy than John Carpenter. There's also a hell of a lot of Beirut, Sarajevo, Baghdad and other formerly modern cities where people try to live some kind of life and create some order out of chaos. This is definitely my favorite comic going right now.

I'm intrigued by but a bit less enthusiastic about Testament from Douglas
Rushkoff. It intercuts biblical scenes with a modern retelling, with the elder gods looking on and trying to influence a different outcome. Lots of interesting concepts (as you'd expect from a cyberpunk and lecturer on media theory) but it doesn't work quite as well as it might have. However, it's a real different (and less female-driven) look at some of the themes in Alan Moore's Promethea. Worth a look.

All this is pretty serious stuff, so for some comic relief, there's another Warren Ellis out there that is funny as hell - Nextwave from Marvel. Made up of mostly forgotten Marvel characters like Captain Marvel (the Monica Rambeau version from late 80's Avengers), Boom-Boom from X-Force and Machine Man and a wonderfully over-the-top spoof of Nick Fury named Dirk Anger, it's all about kicking ass. And then exploding stuff. In fact, I'll quote Ellis:
"It’s an absolute distillation of the superhero genre. No plot lines, characters, emotions, nothing whatsoever. It’s people posing in the street for no good reason. It is people getting kicked, and then exploding. It is a pure comic book, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. And afterwards, they will explode."

It sounds like there's only going to be a dozen issues, so go buy it - you'll laugh. And then probably explode.

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