Yay Comics!

The other day a friend of mine sent me a couple links to entertainment news stories about a couple different movies in the works.  Apparently there are going to be movie adaptations of Jonah Hex and Y: The Last Man.  And I really don’t care.

For those of you who don’t know, Jonah Hex is the single most kick ass comic book character to never actually appear in a comic book worth reading.  He first appeared back in the late sixties, early seventies and had his own series that lasted into the eighties as I recall.  Every last issue was shit.  So-so stories with occasionally good art.  Back in the nineties Vertigo (DC’s mature readers imprint) tried to reboot the character by making him grim and gritty, and by dropping him into a supernatural/horror setting.  It was a fun read, and the art was good but ultimately not worth spending your money on.

So I’m not expecting much from the movie.  Same goes for Y: The Last Man.  I tried reading the first collection (also published by Vertigo), and it did virtually nothing for me.  I’d read the entire run of Brian (the creator and writer of Y) Vaughn’s Swamp Thing run (the one where Tefe is the main character) and it was alright but if I’d had to pay for it, I’d have dropped it pretty early on.  It was very Wizard Of Oz in that the characters all came together and wound up on a journey/quest.  By the end of the first Y collection, the same exact thing was happening so I just bailed.

Anyway, this got me to thinking of the various Vertigo books that have come out in the last five to ten years and I realized that there’s a pretty even split between quality and shit.  I’ve had this vague impression in the back of my mind that Vertigo just isn’t the same company it used to be, especially compared to where they were in the early nineties, when their talent pool included names like Gaiman, Ennis, Morrison, Milligan, Delano, Ney Rieber, and a handful of others.  I was wrong.  They’re about where they’ve always been:

This is the one that just goes without saying.  If you don’t like this book, something is broken inside of you.  Take Hunter S. Thompson, force-feed him steroids and crack for a year, turn the anger up to eleven, change his name to Spider Jerusalem, and there’s your protagonist.  Now throw him x00 years into the future and pit him against a corrupt American President.  Be amazed as some of the future-tech predicted in this amazing comic by writer Warren Ellis has already come to pass in the real world.  Perhaps the single best comic from the last ten years.

I’ve pretty much despised Bill Willingham for the better part of a decade now but I tried the first Fables trade based on an article I’d read that made it sound intriguing.  The premise is basically that all the characters from the old fairy tales are now living in modern-day New York in some form of exile or hiding.  I don’t really remember much else because it turned out to be amateurish, cliche and boring.  Years earlier, he’d written a mini-series called Proposition Player, which a friend of mine made me read.  It was decent but somehow I’m able to resist buying the trade.

Hellblazer has been around forever and has had several good, great, or flat-out brilliant runs written by various writers.  I still read it but only because I’ve been reading it forever.  It’s still pretty good (usually) but it’s kind of turned into this aged dinosaur of a book, much like DC/Vertigo itself actually – just a well-established institution that we must all respect.  The newer generation of writers seem to sometimes think that Constantine is all about smoking, trench coats and being a bastard, which of course is only the exterior of the character and not actually what he’s all about.  The movie version was such a drastically  watered-down version of the character that it was hard to enjoy and I’m only mentioning it here because once I got past how just wrong the character was, I found myself really enjoying several different aspects of the flick.  Not a ringing endorsement but more than I’d have guessed I’d be able to say about a moving starring Keanu Reeves as one of my favorite characters.

100 Bullets:
100 Bullets is total greatness and I have a hunch that by the time the series has come to an end the story will turn out to have been about half a dozen different things I wasn’t aware of while reading it the first time around.  Killer art, too.

I read the first trade collection twice and I still don’t know what the fuck it’s about.  On the surface is cowboys and foul language.  There’s something going on underneath but, like I said, I have no clue what that is.  And if the first storyline of a book doesn’t establish a clear direction and character motivation, then somebody failed as a storyteller.  Was it the writer?  Was it the artist?  Was it both?  Do I care?  The only question I can answer for sure is that last one.

The Losers:
I really liked The Losers but the art was varied and sometimes weak. Story-wise though, it was a damn good time and it’s one of the very few comics that really needs to be turned into a movie or HBO series.

The Exterminators:
I’ve read the first two volumes of The Exterminators.  Oh my God I love that book.  It’s pretty much the only comic coming out right now that I can’t fucking wait for the next collection to come out.  I can’t even tell you exactly what it’s about and that’s the biggest reason I love it.  I could try telling you it’s about this exterminator dude working for his uncle’s extermination company or that it’s about corporate evil or shadow governments and conspiracies, or old Aztec gods coming back to life or the end of the world or even hot lesbian sex, and that would all be true, but that just doesn’t do it justice.  It just needs to be read.

American Virgin:
I tried the first volume of American Virgin.  Steven Seagle used to be a damn good writer.  Maybe he still is, but I have no fucking clue what he’s thinking with this latest effort.  Let’s take everything we despise about crazy, right-wing fundamentalists – ESPECIALLY their arrogance – and mix it up with some emo-boy and make *that guy* our protagonist. Fucking ridiculous.  I could barely get through the first trade and refuse to read another word of that wretched horse shit.  I’m assuming that the main story arc of the book will entail a spiritual journey of awakening where the fucking douche-bag lead character discovers himself and is exposed to the lies and hypocrisy of his beliefs and upbringing but then realizes that Jesus’ message is still good and pure even if some of the messengers are sometimes a little fucked.  And I’m assuming that the character will transform from the right-wing fundamentalist that he is into something more stereotypically left-wing and “centered” – while retaining his insufferable emo-boy look.  And you can assume (and your assumption will be correct) that I won’t give enough of a rat’s ass to stick around and find out how on or off the mark I am.

DMZ is a fantastic comic by Brian Wood with rock-solid story and art. The basic concept is that America is in the middle of another civil war and New York has been torn to shit as a result.  The area is a sort of no-man’s land/demilitarized zone, hence the title.  The people living there are just fucked – and the government won’t let them out.  They are subject to lack of food, water, and medical care.  Random shelling and gunfire is a daily fact of life.  And various factions and gangs have arisen, in addition to the armed forces on either side of the city.  The story centers around a young broadcasting intern who winds up being the only reporter in the DMZ, and his struggle to tell the world the truth about what goes on in there, as opposed to the bullshit that gets broadcast to the public by the major networks.  Sound at all familiar?

American Splendor:
American Splendor, like Harvey Pekar himself, you either get it or you don’t.  I fucking love it.  Not really a Vertigo book but they did give a run of four issues or so.  Of course they waited until after the American Splendor movie was made and won all sort of critical praise and several awards at various film festivals to do so.  And the book didn’t really feel like an American Splendor book in various parts due mostly to the art.  There’s just something sorta wrong about Harvey Pekar as drawn by Richard Corben.

Testament / Scalped / Army @ Love:
No idea, haven’t read them.  I’m tempted to pick up Scalped and Testament…sorta.  Then again I might just spend the money on the latest volume(s) of The Walking Dead, which is a comic that makes me happy as a pig in shit.  Army @ Love can go screw itself because Rick Veitch is a tool.

Transmet 100 Bullets The Losers
Buy It Buy It Buy It
The Exterminators DMZ American Splendor
Buy It Buy It Buy It