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The Watchtower - A thread for all comics


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Just picked up Part 3 of X-men: Age Of Apocalypse.

This is only a four parter right? I'm not sure how much padding out and retreading I can take.

Quite like it still though. Anybody else read this?

No, it got pretty much panned by fans of the original AoA and critics in general IIRC. And it's six issues.

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So, are you all reading Criminal then? You better be, or I'm going to come round to your house and expose myself to your mum.

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips deserve better than this! I hold you all responsible for letting their first comic partnership, Sleeper, die (which is one of the best Superhero comics ever) so don't let it happen here.

Please?

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So, are you all reading Criminal then? You better be, or I'm going to come round to your house and expose myself to your mum.

Well, I am (it's often worth it just for the movie-essays at the back) but if you want to expose yourself to my Mum feel free. She doesn't get out much these days.

...

Anyhow I thought Sleeper was meant to be a limited series from the start and they only did season two because of popular demand...

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I think they were lucky to even get a 2nd series in the end. The sales figures for it were consistently terrible throughout the books run. Such a shame, but what a series.

EDIT: Looking back, threatening to expose myself to peoples mums isn't the best way to promote a well written and structured comic book, but we all make mistakes. I still want people to start reading Criminal though- its only got a handful of issues available so far (which should make it easy to track down) and it's already started with a very interesting storyline filled with some really compelling characters. Check it out.

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my copy of D'Airain Adventure #1 appeared in the post this morning and I'm quite impressed. The quality is miles above the extra quid it costs, big thick paper, no adverts, cover flaps with extra art, NO ADVERTS!. The setup is similar to the beano (or what I imagine 2000AD is like, since I've never read it), lots of different ongoing stories that seem to be vaguely related (a skeletor-looking circus stuntman out for revenge, Zombies Vs Robots! and others) interspaced by art teasing some others. The art itself is also great (especially the robots). It's been billed as the future of comics, but it's more like an alterna-verse of comics where they are actually treated as Art.

I only hope it doesn't go down the usual road of crap sales, long delays and cancellation :)

edit: Those cheerful superhero comics I mentioned earlier on are well worth picking up, BTW, especially Jeff Smith's Shazam series.

Questions: Is Runaways good? I've enjoyed everything else I've read by Vaughan and I like the concept, but I'm not at all keen on what i've seen of the art.

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Questions: Is Runaways good?

Runaways was fantastic. I'm so disappointed Joss Whedon is taking over writing duties as of the next issue because Vaughan knocked it right out of the park and it just won't be the same without him. The digests are reasonably priced if you're interested but the Absolute Editions might even help you appreciate Alphona's wonderful art... :)

Start from the beginning though; the concept really hangs on the first arc.

...

Was it just me or was this week pretty barren? Picked up Pfeiffer's fill in issue on Wonder Woman and Punisher War Journal... am I missing anything?

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Wow! I think this is the same one I had as a kid. Really liked it. Don't know what it'd be like now though. But my memories of it are great.

That looks like a laugh. I never saw that one back in the day, but my friend had an excellent photo-novelisation of Alien on glossy A4 paper. I'm not sure who published it, but it was our favourite thing for an entire summer - the entire film laid out in stills so we could pore over the various mythical scenes (we had no chance of actually seeing the film). The book literally fell apart as a result of our repeated maulings.

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Anyhow I thought Sleeper was meant to be a limited series from the start and they only did season two because of popular demand...

As far as I am aware, it was originally due to be an ongoing, found a small fanbase and critical acclaim and then relaunched with a 'Season 2' (and kicking off the trend of a number of books calling their next arcs/relaunches 'seasons') in a bid to get more interest. I read the first season and really enjoyed it (and then tuned out for 2).

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As far as I am aware, it was originally due to be an ongoing, found a small fanbase and critical acclaim and then relaunched with a 'Season 2' (and kicking off the trend of a number of books calling their next arcs/relaunches 'seasons') in a bid to get more interest. I read the first season and really enjoyed it (and then tuned out for 2).

You should really pick up the season 2 trades though. Probably better than the first 12 issues imo, and I loved those.

And I second the Runaways recommendation. Well worth a look. And it is a hell of shame Joss Whedon is taking over writing duties on it- so far every comic of his which I've read has been awful.

EDIT: Just looked at that LOEG information that Jammy posted. It sounds amazing as always, but especially some of the things Moore is talking about putting in The Black Dossier- a story written by Sal Paradise and a section that needs 3D glasses in the same book? It doesn't get much better than that. Wait, it does- porn too.

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So I finally got (and read) the latest Grant Morrison Batman issue.

This issue really kind of annoyed me in one respect: its more novella than comic book, and goddamnit when I buy a comic I want read a comic, which means some kind of (hopefully) clever hybrid form of lots of art + story.

Story wise it was pretty good...

It tried to address a number of really nice things about the Joker, including:

i. His sidekicks. Like really - who are the morons who would sign up to work with The Boss?

ii. Elaboration of what makes the Joker tick. I loved the idea that he reinvents his personality like an artist or popstar for each age or season.

So it was pretty good, still not a patch on Moore's ultimate Joker vs Batman showdown: The Killing Joke. All these years and still standing strong - and to think I was underwhelmed the first time I read it. The next best showdown has to be the one in Dark Knights Return.

Still maybe the next Morrison Batman issue will be something truly amazing.

Tune in next time Bat-fans... same bat-time, same bat-channel...

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Oh I also picked up some issue of X-men, almost solely for the Chris Bachello artwork. Sure its watered down and tepid compared to the insane levels of detail of his work on Steampunk and even Generation X, but its still pretty cool. The story, naturally, totally sucked.

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That sounds ace. I LOVE the idea of a 1950s beat-League.

Sadly, the more I read about Black Dossier, the less convinced I am that I'll ever see it - at least in its full glory. But if it does appear it'll be just about the best thing ever. I gave the Leagues and From Hell to my other half this week when she asked for books to use for a lecture she's doing on 'information skills for creativity'. From Hell particularly, as it has a massive reference section detailing the research that went into it. Black Dossier would have been a perfect addition because of the copyright issues that have affected it. I threw a pile of James Ellroy and Wm. Burroughs at her too, so I fully expect some lucky souls to have the lecture of their lives in a few weeks.

Kenshi: If you haven't already read Arkham Asylum, you should get yourself a copy. From what you were saying the issue you read sounds like an extension (or abridgement) of that. I reread The Killing Joke a couple of months ago, but it mostly seemed unpleasant to me - I think it's the point where DC's 'mature' stuff boiled over. Idiots like Mike Grell contributed most of the work, but it took a writer of Moore's calibre to deliver the coup de grâce. It's a perversion of genuine talent rather than just another shit comic with a warning label slapped on it. And I liked it at the time, so clearly we've passed each other somewhere along the way...

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Kenshi: If you haven't already read Arkham Asylum, you should get yourself a copy. From what you were saying the issue you read sounds like an extension (or abridgement) of that. I reread The Killing Joke a couple of months ago, but it mostly seemed unpleasant to me - I think it's the point where DC's 'mature' stuff boiled over. Idiots like Mike Grell contributed most of the work, but it took a writer of Moore's calibre to deliver the coup de grâce. It's a perversion of genuine talent rather than just another shit comic with a warning label slapped on it. And I liked it at the time, so clearly we've passed each other somewhere along the way...

I read Arkham Asylum ages ago and thought it was massively overrated. The Killing Joke should be unpleasant - its about a character who is meant to be one sick and twisted puppy. Thats the problem with the Joker imo - the comics try and make out he is meant to be so terrible, but few writers can seem to be able to portray him as a terrible and sinister threat you'd take seriously. Moore did it with The Killing Joke and Morrison has done it in the recent issue of Batman. Psychological horror is so much more effective than a speech bubble announcing the number of bodies the killer has left behind.

But Arkham Asylum? No. No. No. No Way Pedro.

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I read Arkham Asylum ages ago and thought it was massively overrated. The Killing Joke should be unpleasant - its about a character who is meant to be one sick and twisted puppy. Thats the problem with the Joker imo - the comics try and make out he is meant to be so terrible, but few writers can seem to be able to portray him as a terrible and sinister threat you'd take seriously. Moore did it with The Killing Joke and Morrison has done it in the recent issue of Batman. Psychological horror is so much more effective than a speech bubble announcing the number of bodies the killer has left behind.

But Arkham Asylum? No. No. No. No Way Pedro.

Arkham Asylum is gloriously pretentious, there's no denying that - but it doesn't deny it itself. Killing Joke kind of encapsulates for me the problem with 'mature' 80s superhero stuff - it's by no means the worst of the bunch because it's by Moore, but the fact that it's by Moore also makes it worse. It's a dead-end, and it lays the idiocy of the 'mature readers' tag bare. I don't want the Joker crippling long-standing characters and then sexually abusing them. The Joker's excesses in Dark Knight work because Dark Knight itself is so overblown - half the time the Joker behaves like his 50s self, just like Batman - but the 'realistic' tone of Killing Joke only amplifies its failures, for me.

I hadn't thought about it for years until I recently reread it, but then it left me cold. Stylistically, too - the Watchmen-like panel transitions are practically parody in places. I think it's generally a reminder of a time in comics that was half inspirational and half lamentable, and the echoes of both halves are still ringing loudly today. Sadly it seems Killing Joke reminds me more of the lamentable half...

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...very wrong words...

Man, I totally disagree with just about everything you said. But hey, one man's meat is another man's poison. All that stuff you hate about the surreal mish-mash of realistic and fantasy/kitsch elements are what make the Killing Joke so damned good in my eyes. Yeah its weird, as well it should be - all Batman stuff is this weird fantasy/reality hybrid and the Killing Joke amps it up and celebrates it all.

I really dont understand what you see in the panel transitions that make it seem a parody. Nor do I see the story as a dead-end. You dont want things to happen to long-standing characters - a recipe for tedium in my opinion.

Where you see failure, I see a total triumph. Where you see horror and lament about the destruction of long-standing characters, I see the devices for dramatic conflict and character development. As for the 'mature readers' thing, well come on - its a Batman comic. There is nothing mature about Batman whatsoever. But I think that mature readers tag thing was just a fall out from the whole comic book code, and the popular notion of comics just being for young children.

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Man, I totally disagree with just about everything you said. But hey, one man's meat is another man's poison. All that stuff you hate about the surreal mish-mash of realistic and fantasy/kitsch elements are what make the Killing Joke so damned good in my eyes. Yeah its weird, as well it should be - all Batman stuff is this weird fantasy/reality hybrid and the Killing Joke amps it up and celebrates it all.

I've misrepresented myself there. I don't think there IS a mix of the surreal and the realistic in Killing Joke - I think it's out-and-out grim realism. I think Dark Knight achieves that mix very well, and Arkham goes for the other end of the spectrum, which is perhaps where my interests lie.

I really dont understand what you see in the panel transitions that make it seem a parody. Nor do I see the story as a dead-end. You dont want things to happen to long-standing characters - a recipe for tedium in my opinion.

I was thinking specifically of the seafood legs / Batgirl's legs transition. I seem to recall Moore saying in an interview that the problem was Killing Joke was written long before it was published, and by the time it came out those transitions were well-established via Watchmen and a few other works, so they felt like something of a Moore cliché.

I most certainly don't want 'things to happen' to long-standing characters - especially things like crippling and death - though, you've got me there. All this shit about Captain America dying has its roots in the grim 80s and A Death in the Family, which might well be the worst thing to happen to mainstream comics EVER. I know there are earlier instances of character deaths - Gwen Stacy, for example - but it seems to me that characters are dying on a regular basis now and I think that's a symptom of how awful most comics have become. I don't know if the fault for that lies with the creators or the audience, but most of the comics I see on the shelves these days remind me of latter-day Sonic the Hedgehog games, and I prefer the originals in both cases.

As for the 'mature readers' thing, well come on - its a Batman comic. There is nothing mature about Batman whatsoever. But I think that mature readers tag thing was just a fall out from the whole comic book code, and the popular notion of comics just being for young children.

Sadly it merely seems to have elevated mainstream comics into a medium for arrested adolescents, and not progressed any further than that. There are exceptions, of course. I'm also still bitter about the promise of the 80s' and early 90s' mainstream 'revolution' not being realised. This may all be a result of old age, no doubt about it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm looking forward to the imminent release of Buddy Does Jersey , the second and final collection of Hate. Particularly interesting (to me) because when these were orginally published writer/artist Peter Bagge switched from a dirty black and white style to Archie-style flat blocks of bright colours. The change was quite controversial at the time (well, it seemed that way to me - the only comic-reading friends I had at the time were into stuff like The Punisher and X-Men so I never had anyone to chat with about the more independent side of comics) and this collection is reverting to black and white.

I frikkin' loved Hate and while I understand what Bagge was saying with the colours I always held the coloured versions in the kind of esteem as I did the colourised version of Night of the Living Dead. Imagine if Chester Brown had done Yummy Fur like Todd McFarlane. Not nice.

If you don't already then be sure to check out The Daily Cross Hatch.

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Daily Cross Hatch is a great blog. I thought it was DCH that led me to an amazing page of Harvey Kurtzman art the other day, but it appears not. It had a comic of him covering the shooting of a James Cagney film in Ireland that was stunning - Google suggests this was on the Comics Journal message board, but it ain't there no more. Luckily I had the presence of mind to capture it in Firefox Scrapbook at the time, so I'll find out the URL later and post it in here. I'm pretty sure it wasn't on the Journal boards, someone probably just ripped them off.

I just received a copy of the Smithsonian Book of Newspaper Comics - a bit tatty, but it was considerably cheaper than it usually is. Some amazing reprints in there of stuff like Gasoline Alley, which was way ahead of its time when it was on form. It's a big favourite of Chris Ware's - there's a Drawn & Quarterly book with a lot of GA reprints that I think were chosen by Ware - he certainly drew some new GA-inspired endpapers and such.

The EC Archives reprints are ongoing - I think I mentioned them earlier in the thread. There are four releases out now, and the latest one is the first Two-Fisted Tales volume, wonderful stuff - Kurtzman's stories in particular, which were always my favourites. His drawing style applied to his war stories makes for a unique combination, and to describe those war stories as ahead of the curve is a serious understatement. At £20-odd each those books are must-haves, gloriously presented and so re-readable. They're the kind of releases I used to dream about roughly twenty years ago, when getting hold of EC material was a rich man's game. The comic book reprints of the mid 90s were great at the time, but now we have the real deal. I just wish I could be reading them at age nine - I suppose the closest I can get is to go and stand outside the school gates with them at hometime.

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