Isaac’s Book of the Month
Superman/Batman Annual #2
Written by Joe Kelly
Art by Scott Kolins
My history with Joe Kelly begins with his run on my beloved Superboy, where I found a creator interested in word-jokes and cleverness, but a little lacking in clear whys and hows.
This annual depicts an early story in the career of Superman and Batman where they fight a man who forces people to come face-to-face with what they see themselves as. It’s a little abstract as far as powers go, but that’s the kind of thing I expect from Joe Kelly (you do remember that first paragraph I wrote, right? It’s really short, just look up if you need a reminder). The villain is really secondary here, the reason he’s around at all is to introduce the scenario of a Superman living without powers — having to confront in himself what makes him inherently valuable. When Superman decides he won’t give up doing good, he starts training with Batman. You know it, I know it — training montages are awesome. This one is no exception. And yes, Batman is a harsh taskmaster.
During a run Superman calls out to Batman and Robin to stop and wait for him, Batman replies: “Okay. You can quit here, Clark. I’ll have Queen send the Arrow Car for you. Get you some hot cocoa.” I have to agree with Robin when he says that that was cold.
Superman gains an appreciation for the world and the work that Batman operates in — a world of terror, self sacrifice, and eternal dedication. Batman gains an appreciation for why the world needs Superman — as a symbol of hope, truth, justice, and the American way, inspiring people to do their best.
Scott Kolins’ art is always great, Countdown looks way better since his contribution has been more frequent — his stuff just runs the gamut of action, power, emotion, and detail. There’s a panel when Bruce Wayne has been made to look at what he thinks of himself and the crazed despair portrayed is really well done. It’s a risk doing that kind of thing, but you’ve got to tear your hero down to build him back up and overcome obstacles, and the struggle for Superman and Batman is portrayed really well; neither of them have it easy this issue.
The good guys win, they’re brought together by shared adversity and experience, and they’ve got Robin along for the ride. It’s a great issue.
Miles’ Book of the Month
Young Liars #1
By David Lapham
It’s amazing how perfect this cover is. All the elements of this cover play into the book. The logo with a guitar and a gun, a wind up for a punch with a quip, a Clash t-shirt, and a strong indication of how fast the plot is going to move.
There really isn’t a page or panel wasted in this comic — there isn’t room to. Lapham feels the need to introduce his six eclectic main characters, brief back stories, a bit of action, a bit of social commentary, lots of violence, lots of sex, lots of music, and a little bit of lying.
Lapham’s art is really solid. He’s great at character design and his style appeals to me. What’s most impressive is that he’s draws music really well. Most of this issue takes place in a loud club and you really feel it. The panels are crowded with people, there are frequent cuts to the bands screaming lyrics — all of it leads to you feeling like you’re in a grimy bar with the strangest punks in the universe.
I’ve never read Lapham’s self-published comic, Stray Bullets, but if it’s anything like this I know why it has a cult following. The world he’s creating is interesting and grotesque, it reminds me a little bit of Preacher in a good way. As first issues go, this one can be held up as an example of how to write first issues: bring in some interesting and unique characters, have them play off each other, introduce a couple mysteries that you’ll solve down the road, and start your series at a thousand miles an hour.
Owen’s Book of the Month
Captain America #36
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Butch Guice and Mike Perkins
Marvel Comics, 2008
It’s always a good sign when a book I’m buying in trades becomes so irresistable that I end up buying the monthlies too. It happened with Y: The Last Man, and now Fables and I are in an eternal struggle over whether I’ll be buying the monthlies, the trades, or both; and now Young Liars is an early candidate for me buying both formats (see Miles’ glowing and accurate review above for more on Young Liars). Now Captain America has joined this illustrious club.
Add me to the list of people who can’t believe that Captain America is one of their favourite books. The Canadian patriot in me is shocked, SHOCKED at this notion. I always thought that this book would be some sort of flag-waving, shlocky, über-patriotic, rah-rah American drivel. Then I actually tried reading it. Needless to say I’m now kind of embarassed at past-Owen’s completely inaccurate judgements of a book he had never read. I immediately bought up both of the “Winter Soldier” trades and devoured them. Soon after (the next day if I remember correctly) I was back at the store buying the “Red Menace” trades. That’s when I heard that issue #25 was a big one. I knew that if I waited the big plot twist would be ruined, so that’s when I switched to single issues.
Oh, it was a big one all right. No way was I waiting for the trades after this issue, I had to know what would happen as soon as possible. Which brings me to this issue. Bucky continues to be one of the most interesting characters in comics as he adjusts to a new lifestyle and Sharon makes a jaw-dropping discovery. This book has one of the greatest supporting casts in comics, as well as one of the best rogue galleries (obviously no-one can touch Batman’s, but this one does pretty darn well…hm…that could be another great Top 10 MONDOcomics event…).
I love everything about this book, and now I will love it in single issues and in trades.