Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Weekly Dose: Brubaker Leaves Me Wanting More Daredevil, While Kirkman Writes The Best Peter & MJ In Invincible

It was a slow week at the comic shop for me, with only one regular pull, two impulse buys, and my continued flirtation with becoming a regular Spidey reader.

Invincible, which is put out by Image Comics, is an impressive success story for writer/creator Robert Kirkman. Along with Kirkman's The Walking Dead--also an Image title--Invincible managed to catch on with mainstream readers despite newcomer talent, original characters, and neither Marvel nor DC's ad dollars or industry pull promoting it. Kirkman's writing in the book is enthusiastic and the story just grows and grows and build and builds, hitting every cornerstone of the superhero genre with a cast that is well balanced between Kirkman's clever inventions and familiar homages to classic characters and concepts from Marvel and DC. Kirkman has done so well for himself on these two titles that he's declared an informal, non-violent war on mainstream creators working for the man at the Big Two publishers--insisting that all work-for-hire creators would be better served leaving the giants and following his lead in making creator-owned comics. (Personally, I think there is a place for both creator- and corporate-owned books, so there.)

From the first issue (this week we got #65), I said that Kirkman writes like a wish-fulfilling fanboy. I even used that as a criticism of the book for a while, before the first big twist of the series pulled me in and made me realize that Kirkman was more than just a fanboy hack. He was a fanboy writing the superhero comic he knew the rest of us fanboys wanted and maybe even needed. Invincible went from little-hero book-that could to sprawling epic. The character Invincible is a blend of the quirk and angst of Spider-Man and the power fantasy that is Superman, and the supporting cast covers every other possibility in between and beyond. And the art, by Ryan Ottley, has a satisfying mix of mayhem and emotion--the perfect blend of emoting and exploding faces. And Kirkman and Ottley have even managed to capture something that has been missing from comics for a while, and was taking in a frustrating way--a spot-on in all the ways that count recreation of the Peter Parker/Mary Jane Watson relationship from Spider-Man, through young super-powered lovebirds Invincible and Atom Eve.

Speaking of Peter and MJ, Amazing Spider-Man #603 continues to creep toward their inevitable reunion, but the current storyline with the Chameleon stealing Peter's identity hinges on one huge flaw in logic that really tainted this issue. In order to steal an identity, the Chameleon does exhaustive research into that person's life, and gives away that his research into Parker's involved reading through journals and diaries. I work one job and don't fight crime at night, and I have a hell of a time trying to squeeze in writing this blog or anything else...but I'm supposed to believe that, on top of his various day jobs, solo crime fighting, teaming up with the fugitive New Avengers, and juggling relationships with multiple women, Peter Parker has time to keep a diary? And more than that, I'm supposed to believe that the Chameleon couldn't pick up from that or any other research that the guy is Spider-Man?! Disbelief suspended, but still.

Also, because some villainous traps are too effective for a writer's own good, Spidey is now apparently immune to acid. I'll wait to see the explanation on that leap in #604. Hopefully, it's good enough to keep me interested in #605.

And finally, something I did come back for was Daredevil #500, the final issue by writer Ed Brubaker, who I've mentioned is insanely brilliant on Captain America, but has been just okay on DD. I actually stopped following DD after his first two story arcs, because they were just not all that engaging to me. But Marvel turned his departure from the series into a bit of an event, and the issue is fantastic. Brubaker wraps up a multi-part storyline that could lead to "a bold new direction" for Matt Murdock in future issues, and supplemental items in the book include a pin-up gallery, a reprint of Frank Miller's Daredevil #191 (in which DD plays Russian Roulette with a banged up Bullseye), and a tight little stand-alone story written by Ann Nocenti and illustrated by David Aja. I love the way Aja's art looks--his characters cartoony but alive on the page.

I won't discuss the Rick Remender Punisher I bought on a whim, because, frankly (pun!) it wasn't very good. But that's all for the week. Sorry, DC...I'll get you next time.

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