The power of positive thinkingPosted: February 28, 2007
Okay. I was going to rant and scream (as much as one can scream on the internet) about how Civil War: Front Line was one of the absolute worst comics I have ever read… but decided against it. In fact I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf. At least for awhile.
Negativity has been a hallmark of my comics reviewing here. It brings in the readers. But I’m tired of it. There are tons and tons of utterly horrible (but sadly usually popular) comics yet there are still plenty of comics that are great. And that’s why I love comics for those great books that shine above the horde of shit that lines the shelves. It’s been occurring to me that I’ve been spending too much time reviewing and focusing on books that are horrid… and it’s just been depressing me and making me hate the industry and the hobby.
So… no more. At least for a little while.
I’m declaring the month of March (I know March doesn’t start until next month but bare with me) to be Positive Things To Say About Comics Month (the most inelegant title of all time). This means for the next 30 days (or so) I’ll only review comics that I ENJOY and tell you WHY I enjoy them. Think this be a great change of pace for both me and you, gentle readers.
And I picked a great week to kick this off.
The best book of the week is easily DOCTOR STRANGE: THE OATH (#5 of 5). Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin show everybody how a ‘revival’ of a neglected-often-abused character should work. The script is irreverent but still respectful to the character and the source material. Vaughan adds a few new touches to Doctor Strange (Doc knows martial arts?) and some new twists on his status quo (Night Nurse as Doc’s partner/lover!?) but leaves the fundamentals of the character unchanged. Martin’s art is amazing; expressive, detailed, and capable of expressing the otherworldly and human elements of Vaughan’s script and Doctor Strange, more generally, perfectly. This is exactly how a revamp or revival should work, Vaughan and Martin took the toys out of the cupboard, had a great time with them, but still managed to put them away without breaking them for the other kids.
SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE (#15) comes a close second for best book of the week. I absolutely love books like this, where the superhero/fantasy elements are just the background for the character interaction. This book is never about Spidey beating the crap out of the Looter or the Vulture but instead nearly completely about how Peter’s double life effects him and his relationship with Mary-Jane. I am, of course, a sucker for well-written soap-opera/melodrama (see my near-endless love of Gilmore Girls) and McKeever’s work on this title is easily one of the best examples of that vein in comics today. What’s nice about this book is how no one, except for the super-villains, are portrayed in too unlikable a light. It’s easy to create drama by casting some characters as villains but McKeever goes for a better route, making each character’s choice understandable and relatable (if still melodramatic) instead of just bitchy or obviously a play by the writer to create more drama. McKeever does a great job of balancing and constantly shifting his character plots so that everything is so allows on the move as characters move from relationship to relationship (MJ loves Spidey! No MJ loves Peter! No MJ loves Harry! No MJ loves Spidey… etc.) without seeming silly and rehashed.
This month’s RUNAWAYS (#24) marks the end of Brian K. Vaughan’s tenure on the title, which is a fucking shame. Yet Vaughan goes out in style. He wraps up a lot of dangling plots but leaves plenty of great stuff for Whedon to riff off. Plus my favorite Runaway, the ever earnest Victor, gets some great moments this issue. I’m glad Vaughan was able to go off on top and expect great things from Joss Whedon’s run on the title.
In this month’s DAREDEVIL (#94) Ed Brubaker manages to make Mia (DD’s latest love) into a much more compelling and understandable character. I felt during Bendis’ excellent tenure on this title that Mia was too much of a default, stock love interest for Matt. She was quite under developed. Now Brubaker, while certainly not breaking a new ground in characterization, manages to make Mia’s actions much more compelling and understandable. Her dependency on Matt and Matt’s obvious dickishness much more palpable and painful. On the art side, Lee Weeks does a great job in aping Michael Lark’s style allowing this issue to fit perfectly in with the last.
KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC (#14) is a comic book that seems to be written for me. And people like me. That is, people who are unabashedly in love with the KotOR video game. With great stuff like the most excellent cameo (Carth!) in this issue and the ongoing question of “How will this fit in with the game’s continuity?”, this is the Star Wars book I look forward to each month. This book is tone perfect, fun yet troubling at the same time. As you can see I eat this sort of Star Wars book up unrepentantly… so you mileage may vary.
Well, that’s it for this week and very refreshing. More positive reviews next week!