Archive for Sandman

Wednesday Comics #4

Posted in Comics, DC, Wednesday Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 7th August, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Risky and rewarding.

Risky and rewarding.

Four weeks of Wednesday Comics and it’s panning out as expected: the strong stories are still performing strongly and the others, well – not so strongly.

John Arcudi’s Superman – while beautifully painted by Lee Bermejo – is still, quite frankly, a whiny bitch; Neil Gaiman’s Metamorpho an absolute head-scratcher; Eddie Berganza’s Teen Titans just screams ordinary; while Ben Caldwell’s Wonder Woman remains a cramped, unfocused mess (I didn’t even know something could be those three things at once until I read it).

It’s interesting to see who really thrives in this weekly one-page format and who doesn’t – I’m honestly surprised at how unimpressed I’ve been with Neil Gaiman’s Metamorpho, and yet at the same time I wonder just how much brilliance I’d expect from one page of Sandman.  But this isn’t a 22-page comic, nor is it a graphic novel, and I think the writers and artists that understand that are the ones that deliver.  The Kuberts’ Sgt. Rock is dragging its heels like nothing else (so far he’s managed to get himself tortured), and Kurt Busiek’s Green Lantern isn’t much better (so far, Hal Jordan flew into a bar, flew out of a bar, and had a flashback – ZOMG!).  Just get to the good bits already! You can’t pace this like a 22-page comic, exploding it out page by page in a weekly format – you’ve only got twelve weeks to tell your story, and one page to impress me.  Given his experience with the weekly format, you’d think Busiek of all people would have it down.

The ones that do have it down are Gibbons (Kamandi), Pope (Strange Adventures), and Kerschl (The Flash/Iris West).  Come to think of it, all three of them feature villainous, super-intelligent, talking apes.  Kamandi is an open, sprawling adventure in a dystopian future.  Gibbons, an adept artist himself, lets Ryan Sook tell the story visually while he narrates.  Both Kamandi and Strange Adventures are throwbacks to the EC “Weird Science-Fantasy” comics of the fifties, and both are positively dripping with atmosphere.  I suspect the hand-written captions may have also helped in this regard.  Kerschl took the most interesting route of all the writers, telling parallel stories of The Flash and his lover Iris West, and you know what?  I think he’s stumbled across the magic formula for one-page-per-week storytelling.  I love the contrast of romance and superheroics from week to week, and the way these stories interweave and feed off of each other.  Barry Allen must race against time and himself(!) to save Central City and his love-life!  I love it!

Honestly, it’s worth reading Wednesday Comics just to follow those three, but there are plenty of other strong efforts to justify your purchase.  Dave Bullock has managed to pick up the pace and find his voice in a much more focused Deadman, while the Most Improved award must go to Walter Simonson with The Demon and Catwoman, which makes a whole lot more sense now in its own weird little way.  Catwoman has become a cat-woman, and the Demon is waxing poetic as he should be, as they duke it out in the highlands.  Brian Azzarello’s Batman is shaping up to be an intriguing murder mystery, while Dan DiDio’s Metal Men is again surprisingly funny.  Jimmy Palmiotti’s Supergirl is okay, if only a little trivial on the back of Pope’s Strange Adventures (Supergirl’s basically trying to round up two super-powered pets who have run away from home).  While it’s disappointing that Hawkman‘s story is no longer narrated by birds as it was in the first issue, it has taken a science fiction twist for the better, I believe.

And that about wraps it for the fourth week of Wednesday Comics.  I have issue 5 in front of me now, but I suspect I’ll have nothing new to say about it.  This is the most interesting experiment in the comic book format that you’re ever likely to be part of, so get into it.

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Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born Hardcover

Posted in Comics, Dark Tower, film, Marvel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 24th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Welcome to Stephen King's living, breathing world.

Welcome to Stephen King's living, breathing world.

Creative Director: Stephen King
Script: Peter David
Plot: Robin Furth
Artist: Jae Lee
Inker/Colorist: Richard Isanove
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Associate Editor: Nicole Boose
Editor: John Barber
Senior Editor: Ralph Macchio

Stephen King is no stranger to comic books.  I can confirm, for one thing, that he has at least read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series.  Whether or not he read the whole thing, I can’t say for certain, but he definitely knew his stuff when writing the foreword to “Worlds’ End”.  What came through in King’s foreword was not only his deep respect for Neil Gaiman as an author, but also for the comic book medium itself.  It should, then, come as no surprise that King enlisted the services of two notable comic book artists to illustrate his long-running series and “magnum opus” The Dark Tower, Dave McKean and Bernie Wrightson.  Then I read King’s afterword to The Dark Tower, and discovered that he’s also read and loved Watchmen, Preacher, and V for Vendetta.  All of this bodes well for a Stephen King graphic novel.

The Dark Tower, as a comic book adaptation of a Stephen King novel, is a difficult book to review.  If it’s well-written (and it is), who gets the credit for it?  Stephen King, who wrote the original novels?  Peter David who wrote the scripts?  Or Robin Furth, who plotted the thing?  Well, if I had read the original novels, I’d be able to tell you!  But I haven’t, so I’m just going to have to thank King for the source material, Peter David for his speechcraft, and Robin Furth for his encyclopaedic knowledge of Mid-World (apparently he knows more about the world of Dark Tower than Stephen King himself!).  I’ve also been informed that The Gunslinger Born is a prequel after some fashion, beginning the story in chronological order for the first time, and so in many ways, this is new ground for the series.

Mid-World – the world of Dark Tower – is an interesting milieu of cultures.  The gunslingers are Old West, but their dialect is known as the High Speech.  The consistency in language really contributed to this feeling of a living, breathing world.  There are wizards and mystical orbs of power, but they still need oil supplies to refuel their World War I tanks.  The unusual placement of familiar objects is all at once surreal and fantastical, but with echoes of reality.  It feels as though Mid-World has always existed, and is simply being revealed to us bit by bit, rather than being built from the ground up.

The Gunslinger Born follows a pretty simple mythic structure.  A boy named Roland Deschain undergoes a rite of passage to become a man, then leaves his family and sets out on a perilous journey with his mates (or his ka-tet).  The gunslingers are an Arthurian Order, Roland falls in love with the damsel in distress, and all the while a dark lord is preparing his army.

The presentation of this comic is probably the most cinematic I have seen, so I have little doubt that this will work brilliantly as a feature film under J.J. Abrams’ care and attention.  The characters are beautifully drawn by artist Jae Lee – again, playing on that grounded surrealism – while Richard Isanove’s colours are moody and atmospheric.  My only qualm with the art, and indeed, the entire book is that the backgrounds are a little too samey from panel to panel.  One the one hand, it maintains this consistency of place and atmosphere, but still, it’s a little minimalistic given the stunning foreground detail, and it did wear me down eventually seeing only one background colour per page.  I know it’s cinematic, and I know it’s fantasy, but it’d be nice to have a hand-drawn background every once in a while.  Still, the book is gorgeous.

As someone who’s never made it through a Stephen King novel, I can honestly say this was an enjoyable read with an enticing world and interesting characters.  The Dark Tower is a great touching point for anyone who’s new to the medium and wants to read a story without the baggage of continuity.  It’s also a great place to start for Stephen King fans who want to gain an appreciation of graphic storytelling, to see what it can do with their favourite story.