I'm a bit behind things at the moment, but I'm keeping a sort of eye on DC's Convergence crossover. My main thoughts can be summarised thus: Brainiac again? It seems that every time I've bothered to pick up a Superman or big DC event comic over the last five years it's had Brainiac in it. Or Darkseid. But mostly Brainiac, and not in a 'ha ha I'm lurking in the shadows manipulating things but the last son of Krypton has yet to feel my full might' kind of way but more in a 'ho-hum, it's Wednesday, guess I will try and shrink Metropolis and put it in a bottle just like I do every week' kind of a way. I know that DC, as a publishing entity, only exists now to tell the one Superman, Batman and Flash stories that Geoff Johns liked when he was seven but this is ridiculous. Also, the first issue of this 'event' made no sense. Also also, DC is getting so desperate that 'bunch of people hiring a man with a van to move offices' is now considered a thing worth building an event around. Seriously? What is it that the DC office holds that requires shutting down the line for two months because it cannot be used while in transit? Does Jim Lee read every published copy of each title just to make sure that Philadelphia don't inexplicably get copies of the good version of Aquaman? Also also also, my God, DC seems to have remembered that continuity is a thing. Admittedly I think early 90s Marvel was the worst for this but it does seem from what I've read that all comics have the setup correct and print the same villain's speech. Also to the power four, while it might be a mistake to show us the pre-Flashpoint DC universe again, you know reminding us of when there were good comics it is refreshing to see that the biggest dicks so far are the Flashpoint characters. Yeah, when the choices are between oblivion and yet another ruined Earth which, if I remember correctly, Aquaman and Wonder Woman pretty much destroyed, I can see why you'd try to save it, "you're not going to destroy our planet, that's our job!"
So, Zenith Phases One and Two. Little that 2000 A.D., Fleetway, Rebellion or whichever copyright holder du jour puts out has ever much interested me, not least because I'm not prepared to buy the years worth of comics in order to get the fifteen pages of story to work out if I like something. The general rule seemed to be that in the 80s and 90s writers would get all their bad stories published in 2000 A.D. so that when they went to America they can start writing decent stuff. Zenith was what persuaded the American comics to let Grant Morrison write 'Animal Man', 'Doom Patrol', 'The Invisibles' and some others. Unavoidably dated now, Zenith was Morrison taking a stab at the 'superhero as popstar' idea in six pages every week. Zenith is shallow but disinterested rather than actively stupid but luckily always has lots of people standing around to explain the part of the plot he's reached before getting killed off. With a keen eye on his demographic Morrison ignores things like 'characterisation' or 'depth' in favour of setting up fights and then having fights. In the first volume Zenith fights a super Nazi and soils himself in front of an eldritch abomination. Volume 2 has him learn about what happened to his parents, punch a robot and persuade Richard Branson not to destroy the world. It's not actively bad it's just young Morrison so, whilst it's not controversy seeking like 'The New Adventures of Hitler', it stymied by the 2000 A.D. format in a way that Alan Moore managed to avoid when doing 'V For Vendetta' in a similar format at Warrior. Steve Yeowell's pencils and inks often make great use of the page to stage flatly written scenes in exciting ways and his fight scenes always carry a great kinetic energy. It just leaves me wondering, if copyright fights hadn't made this unobtainable for years, would anyone really care?
Hip-Hop Family Tree volume 2 by Ed Piskor. I generally liked volume 1 but felt lost in a sea of unfamiliar names and places, hip-hop not really being one of my things, volume 2 I felt was an improvement both from a mix of knowing more of the characters and also being able to cover a small time period in more depth. Now it's more about people such as Afrika Bambaataa, Run DMC, even the proto-Beastie Boys weaving in and out of the narrative. I have a collaboration that Piskor did with Harvey Pekar on The Beats on my big pile o' books that I'm looking forward to reading if it takes the same approach as this.
Finally, something of an oddity, The Cigar That Fell in Love With a Pipe by David Camus and Nick Abadzis, guest starring Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. To celebrate his latest film success a young Orson Welles receives a box of the most exquisite Cuban cigars, and while he enjoys them we are filled in on the back story of Conchita Marquez, the finest cigar roller in all of Cuba. Hers is a sad story of exploitation and premature death yet somehow something of her spirit lives on in the cigars, while a novelty pipe that Welles happens to own was carved by a sailor that Marquez once met and fell in love with and is similarly haunted. Can Welles reunite the lovers or will his strained marriage to Rita Hayworth ruin them all? Very much the kind of book that makes people look up 'charming' in a thesaurus. It's a modern fairytale to be enjoyed on that level, with expressive artwork that clearly illustrates the tale and a lovely finale in a series of double page spreads
I'm a bit rusty at this, trying to ease myself back in to writing... again.
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