I dabble in comics from time to time, and, over the last year or two have been led by the (late) great comicsalliance. I bought the first collection of Mark Waid’s Daredevil a while ago on their recommendation. That worked out very well indeed, and so I decided to follow their advice again — in a big way. I am now the proud owner of the first collections of: Glory, Prophet, The Massive, Saga, and Hawkeye.
Hawkeye is (of course) from Marvel. I guess they wanted to pump some juice into the character since he’s a (relatively) major part of their flagship Avenger film series. So they hired Matt Fraction who has written many very good comics (including the jaw-droppingly amazing Casanova). He has as poppy and fresh a take on the character as you could want, with fab “indie” style art. It actually reminded me quite a lot of Waid’s Daredevil. Tremendous fun (I particularly like the sight of a nude Clint Barton diving across a room, cock and balls front and centre…but censored by a floating 1970s Hawkeye head.).
The Massive is from Dark Horse and the pen of Brian Wood. Wood is a very good writer who takes great pains to deal with serious issues in intelligent and sensitive ways, with characters who are well thought out and who have proper relationships (I’ve also read Demo and some of DMZ). The Massive is set in the not too distant future on a ship sailing the seven seas after a sequence of catastrophes have ruined the world and society in all sorts of ways. Its environmentalist crew have various adventures (finding food, fighting off pirates, etc.) as they search for their missing sister ship. It was very good in the way that Wood’s work is invariably good, but I found it a bit worthy. I don’t necessarily need fun from my comics, but I would have liked a little more here…
Saga is published by Image (who are on top form at the moment — they also publish Glory and Prophet) and is written by Brian K. Vaughan (most famous for Y: The Last Man, which I read a lot, but not all, of) and arted by Fiona Staples. It’s super space opera, and tells the story of a couple from two warring alien factions (a technology-using winged race, and a magic-using horned race) who get together, have a baby, then try to escape being persecuted by both sides of the war. It’s got some very cool, clever, and witty stuff in there (I really like the bad ass bounty hunters; the robot aristocracy who randomly project images from their id on the screen of their computer monitor heads; and the Lying Cat — a gigantic Siamese who knows when you’re lying). I also liked how comfortable it is with sex (hint – there’s a lot of it). Ultimately, though, I found it a bit shallow. It’s not as clever as it thinks it is, the characters motivations are a bit meh, and the dialogue is inappropriately snappy at various points — most strikingly, the entirely unconvincing birth scene. Speaking of which, for a woman whom we see in the midst of, then immediately post, giving birth, Alana is depressingly heroin chic.
Glory, written by Joe Keatinge, is about a gigantic berserker warrior woman, daughter of a demon and a god, who seems to be destined to destroy the world. She and her allies have many highly-visceral fights (srsly — gore everywhere) when a bunch of demons come to earth. It’s very pretty (art is by Wet Moon‘s Ross Campbell), there’s some good angsty conflict (to go along with the arm-ripping-off and heading-slicing-open sort), and all the protagonists are women. Solid stuff.
My favourite of the bunch is Brandon Graham’s Prophet. This is super high concept sci-fi, that takes inspiration from all sorts of places – Dune, Nausicaa, 2001, Akira and many more. That’s some lineage. The story is somewhat opaque, but it gradually becomes apparent how universe-spanningly epic it is. The amount of trippy ingenuity that went into the world-building is mind-bending (Chthulu Elephants!), and nearly every page had something that made me say “Amazing…”. Sorry for all of this gratuitous gushing, but I’ve just finished it and I really can’t help it!