Blue Monday #1 (of 5)
By Chynna Clugston
Oni Press, 2009
Blue Monday is like a cross between Archie and HBO. And I don’t know what to think about it.
Stylistically, Blue Monday is drawn as a Shōjo manga (which means manga drawn with young women in mind. Yes, I did have to look up Shōjo because I don’t know a lot about manga. I do, however, know that there are useful words for different styles — something we could really use in North America besides “edgy” or “cartoony”) but the narrative and the characters are stereotypically American. It focuses on a group of Californian teens (probably about 15) that seem to be frozen in the late 90s: getting a new Walkman is a big deal to one of them and one of them says “no duh” and another has a mushroom cut.
My biggest hangup about the book is that it’s adult in language but immature in story. Like, the kids swear, look at pornography, talk about areola widths, yeast infections, and watch a lot of animals have sex. But how they feel and act about their relationships is childish — so much so that I was more annoyed than anything else.
However, having said all that, I realize that that is exceptionally realistic for teenagers. So, maybe Blue Monday is totally brilliant. However, I’m not sure who I’d hand it to as a recommendation. For adults, the painful naivety of the characters would be too infuriating; but I wouldn’t necessarily hand it to teenagers because the book dates itself with its references, nor do I want to validate their potty-mouth lifestyle.
So, I remain conflicted about this book.
Except for the songs that will introduce sections: those I hate. Occasionally, Clugston will introduce a scene with a song to — I guess — set the mood. I find this incredibly pretentious. Something about it just seems so forced. Maybe it’s just that I don’t think kids listen to Paul Mauriat and his Orchestra, Devo, and Adam and the Ants (among a couple others) anymore.
But then again, they are her characters, so I guess I should shut up.
Wolverine and Power Pack #3
Written by Marc Sumerak
Art by Scott Koblish
Marvel Comics, 2009
Do you know why I was so excited to review Wolverine and Power Pack #3? The cover has the four Power Pack kids dressed like street urchins straight out of Oliver Twist harassing a finely dressed Wolverine in top hat and monocle. Yup. Monocle. Case closed. Go buy this book.
Turns out there was cool stuff in between the covers of this book too — in fact while reading it I kept stopping every couple of panels to read out loud to my brother some new piece of dialogue that I couldn’t just read silently.
Though it’ll take all my efforts, I won’t subject you to that. Taken out of context, the exclamations of four juvenile superheroes (plus one Franklin Richards) take on any number of hilarious characterizations when you let them — for example, I can’t help but assign the voice of Ralph Wiggum to Franklin Richards when he covertly tells his friend Jack Power, “Uh-oh. Stranger danger!”
The actual story is this: Franklin and Jack, having already destroyed the rest of the super science stuff hanging around Reed Richards lab with their horsing around, decide to use the last functioning technology — the time platform!
Ah, yes, I almost forgot, the issue is titled “Frank and Jack’s Excellent Adventure” so it’s already earned huge points in my eyes for referencing Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Travelling to the past (because even these kids know that the future is a “dark and dangerous” place), Frank and Jack quickly realize that if they wanted to find some fun that caters to kids with attention deficit disorder then perhaps 19th century New York wasn’t the best idea. Putting their best foot forward the two decide they can still play hero in this time when they come upon a trio of young punks threatening young James Howlett. The mean kids get scared off, but oh they’ll be back, and with a sinister adult looking to make some sweet ransom money off of rich Canadian tourists.
You may have figured out that Frank, Jack, and James (this is Wolverine when he was a kid, just in case you didn’t know that part. Yes, I know you wanted a monocle-wearing Wolverine, but really, why can’t you just be happy with the cool cover containing that accessory, accompanied by the interior time-travel story??) get kidnapped, and then get sort of saved by the remaining Power Pack members who have travelled back with H.E.R.B.I.E. to bring those irresponsible kids back to the future. I say sort of saved because Jack and Frank were well on their way to rescuing themselves — we wouldn’t want to think there was any real element of danger to their adventure, would we?
It’s a simple, fun comic adventure that I enjoyed. I don’t really know all the other Power Pack members’ names and abilities but it doesn’t really matter for the story that was told.
You know how kids always talk like they “get” more than they really do, and they manage to be more and less sophisticated at the same time because of it? Well, that kind of thing is here in spades and it adds a real world modern touch to these kids. Does a six-year-old really “know people” for solving problems? Depends on if you count big sisters or not.