I read comics. So should you.

Posts Tagged ‘Moon Knight’

The Stack-5/31/17

In art, new books, rants, reviews on June 1, 2017 at 1:04 pm

stack9

This week in comics: Saga returns, with some of its darkest humor yet, Jeff Lemire ends his remarkable run on Moon Knight, and I come clean regarding my feelings about Rob Liefeld and his body of work. But first, before it gets too late, I’d like to congratulate this year’s Eisner Award nominees (The full list can be found here):

eisner_header

Fifth Wednesdays are unusual little beasties. They tend to be filled with annuals, books that don’t have a hard monthly release date, and other outcasts that don’t get much love normally. This time around there was a fair amount of storyline endings and changing of creative teams, which lent a bittersweet feel to things. Change is in the air. Let’s get into it.

Saga #43 (Fiona Staples, Brian K. Vaughan, Fonografiks-Image): The crew on this book wastes no time whatsoever; From the opening splash page you’ll be alternately laughing and gasping. It’s a truly admirable thing they shoot for: to address big issues like women’s reproductive freedom and health, and perception of the transgender community, but to do so with a lighter overall tone, presenting it with dark, inappropriate humor. This special jumping-on point story was only twenty-five cents, so there’s very little risk involved in discovering if this fan favorite phenom is your sort of jam. Believe me, you’ll know pretty much right away, not unlike with the very first issue.

Moon Knight #14 (Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, Jordie Bellaire, VC’s Cory Petit-Marvel): Time for the final showdown, between Marc Spector/Steven Grant/Jake Lockley and Khonshu/human madness. It’s a satisfying, cathartic conclusion, balancing acceptance and peace with a remaining sense of ambiguity. Take note, comics creators: this run has been a master class on craft, blending theme and content with pacing, panel usage, color, and general art style. These fourteen issues, along with titles like The Vision, are some of the best that Marvel has offered up in recent memory, and show that it’s coming from the fringes of the company, from talent unfettered by event continuity and business-as-usual guidelines.

Motor Girl #6 (Terry Moore-Abstract Studio): There’s not really another comic out there right now like this one. Terry Moore always has that symbiosis of big ideas and down-to-earth drama in his work, and his latest is no exception. There’s a wild backdrop of alien abduction and experimentation here, while in the foreground the heart of the book is the struggle of a woman deeply wounded in combat overseas, carving out a life beyond the armed forces, guided by an imaginary gorilla. It vacillates in tone from silly to disturbing, similar to something like Twin Peaks. This issue reveals to us how Sam got hurt, and it’s profoundly heartbreaking.

Doctor Strange #21 (Dennis Hopeless, Niko Henrichon, VC’s Cory Petit-Marvel): Here we have a comic with not one, but TWO aspects that bring me outside of my comfort zone. First, it’s an event tie-in, getting us caught up with what is happening now that Strange and many other New York-based heroes are trapped in a Darkforce bubble created by the higher ups at Hydra, from back in the zero issue of Secret Empire. Second, we have a new creative team guiding the ship in writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Niko Henrichon. The verdict? It’s really good. Hopeless covers a lot of ground here, and does it with all of the aplomb he showed making his recent run on Spider-Woman so good, and Henrichron brings his full crayon box of demonic texture and color to the party. It’s good to see that this will remain a quality flagship title going forward.

So recently, a friend of mine shared a post that announced Rob Liefeld as Wizard World Philadelphia’s first ever Hall of Legends ceremony guest. He did this knowing that it would get some sort of angry, eye-rolley reaction from me. And it did. But let’s rewind a bit and explain, just in case you haven’t already chosen a side in this ongoing debate.

Twenty-five years ago, Rob Liefeld, along with some other hotshot superhero comic artists of the era, left Marvel and founded their own company, Image Comics, soon finding themselves awash in cash and notoriety in our small corner of the world. As their chosen name implied, this solidified the importance of the art over other aspects in a comic book’s creation, a notion that prevailed until after the industry pulled itself from the wreckage of the collector’s boom, and focus shifted to writers.

So WHO exactly IS Rob Liefeld? Well, chances are you’ve seen his work here or there. He rose to fame drawing many of Marvel’s mutant characters, creating a bunch of his own that have endured to this day, and then taking that formula over to his own publishing company with books like Youngblood and Supreme. He’s the guy who created Deadpool, a character now fully out there in the world thanks in no small part to the recent Ryan Reynolds movie, though there’s a whole argument behind just how original this character really is, and if Liefeld deserves any real credit for it, since other writers crafted the mercenary’s personality more into what is known and loved today.

He is a highly contentious and divisive figure in the comic book community, and it really all comes to down to this: His artistic methodology, endlessly dissected and copied, is the single best example we have for style over fundamentals. Rob loves what he loves. A child of the 80’s, he adores the action films of that period, and action in general. He loves giant, menacing weapons, cheesy one-liners, and big, bulging dudes. This informs his approach to genre comic book making. It’s action all the time, fights and gore and empty shells pouring onto smoky ruins. He has no time for subtlety. Everything is, like the namesake of his own studio, EXTREME. This is rendered on the page as a series of sharp, kinetic hatch lines and impractical (and sometimes downright impossible) poses, the details of the characters always taking precedence over the any detail in the background. It looks like this:

Liefeldcaptainamerica

And this:

liefeldcover

As you can see, very little time is spent on the basics: anatomy, composition, line weight and shadow, storytelling, etc. Here’s where fans and critics break off into two camps. You either prize what he achieves through glossy embellishment and excitement, or you see it as hollow and ignorant, nothing more than a popcorn movie on a piece of Bristol board. Both sides have their points, and we’re all certainly free to make up our own minds and enjoy what we please. It’s really about a perception of high art versus low art, and personal aesthetics.

And that brings it back to what I think about this guy, and the fact that he is being honored at a comic book convention (really more of a pop culture convention these days) nearby. I’m sure you can figure out where I land on this if you’ve been reading my blog. And look, I try very hard not to make it personal. I’ve seen Rob around, and I’ve heard his interviews. He’s a very pleasant, positive, and grateful fellow by most accounts. So I just focus on his work. I DO NOT like it. I’m a substance guy. I’m more of the nerdy, scholarly type of fan, and I’m big on always working towards improvement. Rob’s work is kind of stuck in amber, a frozen moment in time that is uniquely his. An embodiment of all of the stuff he treasures, and he’s not alone in his sensibilities. It’s just not for me. I love to see a variety of styles in the medium, but not at the expense of craft and form and content. You CAN do both. I’d wish him all the best, but he’s rich and has a legion of loyal fans, so he needs my well-wishing about as much as Cable needs a place to keep his car keys (got in the obligatory pouch joke-ZING!).

So that’s that. Thanks for reading, and for reading comics. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at the links below, and feel free to comment and share. Be sure to support your local shops, be good, and I’ll see you in seven.

 

The Stack-1/4/17

In new books on January 4, 2017 at 9:14 pm

stack01

To be perfectly honest, this week was… a tad underwhelming. Not bad. Just underwhelming. But even so, the comics that did come out were full of big time revelations, and unexpected introspection. Twenty-Serpentine is definitely zagging (For more on that unnecessary and obscure reference, go listen to the McElroy brothers do their podcast thing at My Brother, My Brother and Me). Here are some quick thoughts about the first stack of the year:

The Unworthy Thor #3 (Jason Aaron, Kim Jacinto, Olivier Coipel, Matthew Wilson, VC’s Joe Sabino-Marvel): The Odinson continues his journey toward redemption, or at least toward another hammer that he can hit things with. Beta Ray Bill is by his side, as is my new favorite character, the Hel-hound sometimes known as Thori (He is SO good at murdering, you guys), but The Collector and some of Thanos’s minions are in the way. For now. I realize there’s a whole legion of angry fanboys (and maybe fangirls, though I somehow doubt it) out there who are furious about Thor’s fall, and that Jane Foster has taken up the mantle in his place, but I just can’t wrap my head around it. Do you folks REALLY not want anything interesting or challenging to happen to your favorite characters? Why do you even read these things then? Oh. Wait. You’re just misogynists. Right. Got it.

Unfollow #15 (Rob Williams, Mike Dowling, Quinton Winter, Clem Robins-DC/Vertigo): The issue where Rubinstein finally gets what he deserves. We learn more about Akira’s big plan, and that Larry Ferrell has even more plans. I like a nice big quandary to chew on, and in this issue it is presented in the form of the following question: Is a message of peace, that gives hope to people, any less powerful or meaningful if it is a sham perpetrated by an egomaniac?

Faith #7 (Jody Houser, Joe Eisma, Andrew Dalhouse, Marguerite Sauvage, Dave Sharpe-Valiant): This issue was simply about Faith being haunted by visions of the people in her life that have died. There’s a great conversation about why some people enjoy horror stories, while others cannot understand the appeal, too. It’s a rare glimpse of a superhero experiencing survivor’s guilt, and slogging through that kind of rest that is laced with anxiety. It’s a little whiff of zeitgeist.

Moon Knight #10 (Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, Jordie Bellaire, VC’s Cory Petit-Marvel): This run has been so incredibly great across the board, and I’ve gushed about it at length, but dammit I’m going to gush some more. The artwork is a granular, hallucinatory treat, the story of Marc’s struggle with mental illness feels so true and not at all gimmicky, and those panel and page layouts… just awe-inspiring.

Shade the Changing Girl #4 (Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Saida Temofonte-DC/Vertigo): Shade deals with being human, and in particular a human going through the chaos of being a teenager, with all of the cruelty that it entails. She experiments with making amends, even if it cannot last. Take it from a Shade expert: This book blazes its own poetic trail through madness, and for someone tired of pandering fan service that’s tremendously refreshing.

What was in YOUR stack this week? What’s been making your jaw drop and your imagination dance? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll see you in a few days for a piece on my quest to become good at creating my own comic books. Now go read some floppies, and be sure to get them from your local shop, you pirating heathens.