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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Horny Astronaut, Batman as Scrooge, and a Total Mess

Posted by on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 10:11 AM

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It's always a tricky proposition when sci-fi authors decide to create their own language, even if that language is just a modified English. The first issue of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso's followup to 100 Bullets, Spaceman, is packed full of a made-up future language. Here's a couple of word balloons from the protagonist, Orson, after someone tells him he's got very little money: "Kno, I kno. Why I'm goin out beyond the rise tonite...couple junkers been fishin there, bringin in significant hauls. New currents, draggin out the good shit." It reads like a combination of a creole dialect and text messaging. But the fact that this is a comic book helps a great deal with the dialogue. We can see Orson's face as he yearns, plans, and strives for something more. Orson was genetically modified to travel to Mars, but something went wrong, and now he's a down-and-out bum with a cheap apartment, a crush on a video sex worker, and a plan to cheat his way out of the slums.

This is an excellent first issue—it introduces Orson and his world to us, sets up a conflict, and teases at what's to come. (The fact that it only costs a dollar helps, too.) Risso's always been an excellent draftsman, but he's doing his best work ever on Spaceman. Things look familiar, but remixed somehow. The future is made up of rundown shacks, disposable technology, and rampant body modification. This could be the best thing DC is publishing right now.

What is it about Batman that makes cartoonists want to write Christmas stories about him? I'm willing to bet Superman hasn't starred in half the Christmas stories that Batman has.

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Batman: Noel is the newest book from artist Lee Bermejo, who illustrated the Brian Azzarello-written Joker graphic novel from a couple years back. As a first major solo outing as a writer, Bermejo's put together a pretty good Batman story. He makes Batman out to be a paranoid, driven maniac, and he subjects him to a Christmas Carol-style evening, with visits from Christmas Past (Catwoman) Christmas Present (Superman) and Christmas Future (The Joker). The best compliment I can give the writing is this: You don't really note Azzarello's absence at all. I'm not entirely convinced the world needs another Christmas Carol interpretation—between Scrooge McDuck and Scrooged, I think we're pretty well set, thank you very much—but this is a solid one that doesn't embarrass itself. If this were a $6 floppy comic book, I'd endorse it without reservations, but as a $22.99 hardcover, even though Bermejo's artwork is displayed at a larger size and with beautiful coloring, it's for Batman purists only.

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The Flashpoint hardcover is a tough sell. Flashpoint, geeks know, was the DC Comics-wide crossover that eventually paved the way for the New 52 promotion, which restarted every DC Comic over from the beginning. Which means that this book, as far as continuity is concerned, doesn't exist, which is one of those comic book conundrums that begs for a stiff drink and some aspirin. So the only reason to buy Flashpoint would be if the story was any good. It's not.

Writer Geoff Johns bounces the superheroes around like they're action figures in a boy's back yard, giving time to all the characters he wants to highlight, but the plot is lacking: The twists don't make sense, the time travel science doesn't make sense, and the story's primary goal is to make the story irrelevant. It succeeds, I guess. I've never given much of a damn for Andy Kubert's artwork. He's one of those comic book artists who appears to have only learned how to draw superhero comic books by reading superhero comic books. It's all muscles and grimacing and some really supercool energy effects, but every single page is really quite ugly as an aesthetic work. Maybe the next time DC tries one of these mammoth all-encompassing crossovers, they should let Brian Azzarello take a whack at it. That guy can write anything.

 

Comments (3) RSS

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There was a Spaceman short story by Azzarello and Risso (and the great Patricia Mulvilhill coloring, a very under-rated aspect of 100 Bullets and other great comics is the contribution of colorists) in Strange Adventures #1.

www.ebay.com/itm/DC-VERTIGO-STRANGE-ADVE…
Posted by Chicago Fan on November 23, 2011 at 6:22 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 2
@1 used tho be one on Greenwood, but try NE45th half a block W of University
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on November 23, 2011 at 6:15 PM · Report this
Zebes 1
Spaceman sounds interesting. I Would Like To Know More.

Can anybody recommend a comic book store somewhere in north Seattle?
Posted by Zebes http://www.badrap.org/rescue/index.html on November 23, 2011 at 12:02 PM · Report this

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