The Books I Think You Should Buy:
DC Comics Presents: Legion of Super-Heroes: Legion of the Damned #1
by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Olivier Coipel; DC, $7.99
When the four issues that make up this inexpensive pseudo-trade came out, I was getting pretty bored with the Legion of Super-Heroes. The comics weren’t horrible, but there was nothing special about them at all, and I was wishing that DC had never rebooted the series (I still wish that). Then, suddenly, Abnett and Lanning came aboard, with newcomer artist Olivier Coipel (this was in 2000), and changed the game completely.
There had been a group of Legionnaires stuck back in time with the contemporary DC crowd. They returned in these comics to a world unlike the one they had left – an alien race called The Blight had taken over the Earth, and things were looking bleak (and also very dirty – a first in this future world). Abnett and Lanning have always been the go-to people to revitalize a cosmic or science fiction comic (look at their recent amazing work on Guardians of the Galaxy), and I can remember being vividly excited about this run. Coipel’s art was a breath of fresh air after the more manga-ish stylings of Jeffry Moy on Legionnairs and Scott Kolins’s work on the parent title. There was a sense in this arc that things could change for the Legion – a feeling that hadn’t been felt since Giffen had left the title.
This four-part story led towards the Legion Lost mini-series, which was also very enjoyable, and which is apparently being reprinted soon. If you’re looking for a good gritty story, you can’t go wrong with this.
SHIELD Architects of Forever
by Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver; Marvel, $24.99
Jonathan Hickman is not like other modern day comics writers. He comes from a design background, and when he takes on a title, he thinks in terms of massive stories that don’t always feel like massive stories (check out the work he’s been doing with the Fantastic Four). He also comes at superheroics with a fresh perspective.
Someone at Marvel decided it would be okay to give him permission to work with the backstory of the collective Marvel Universe, and he has given us SHIELD. The premise of this book is that a secret society has been protecting Earth from alien threats since the time of the Pharaohs. An ancient Egyptian king fought off the Brood. Galileo fought Galactus. And so on.
This secret society lives beneath Rome, and actively recruits historical figures (Leonardo DaVinci and Isaac Newton are principal characters) and the forebears of modern superheroes (Tony Stark and Reed Richards’s dads show up). The story involves intrigue in the society, the machinations of a man called the Machine, the birth of a Celestial child, and some time travel. It’s mostly linear in its telling, and each issue has contained a surprise or two.
Hickman plays everything close to the vest, so the reader is not really able to predict where the book is going, but can just get swept up in the majesty of the whole thing. Dustin Weaver’s artwork is perfect for this book – he straddles the line between realism and good comic book superhero art, and has created some amazing designs. This hardcover collects the first volume of this comic (which is being relaunched in June with a new #1), and is essential reading.
Bullet to the Head
by Matz and Colin Wilson; Dynamite, $19.99
I read the comics that make up this trade paperback in January. Here’s what I had to say at the time:
I’ve become a pretty big fan of French comics writer Matz, from his work on The Killer, and now Cyclops, both usually published by Archaia Studios. Artist Colin Wilson is one of those terrific artists, who for some reason, tends to stay on the fringe of things, getting titles like Point Blank (with Ed Brubaker, and very good), and the odd issue of Star Wars Legacy, when he deserves much more recognition.
So, going in to this six-part series, my expectations were high. On the surface, this comic has a lot in common with The Killer – it’s about hitmen and cops who have gotten all wrapped up in a big political power play. There are a lot of differences though. Where Matz’s Killer is a quiet philosopher, his hitmen in this series are bullshit artists who spout endless streams of dialogue that places them somewhere between Bendis and Tarantino.
The series is a bloody and fun little tale, with some great twists and wonderful scenes, but to be honest, it’s hard to follow. Some of the blame for that actually has to go to Wilson, who has many of the characters looking a lot alike, but many of the scenes are so ambiguously scripted and laid out that I sometimes had a hard time following exactly what was happening. To add to that, there were some definite issues with the translation from French (or perhaps Matz wrote it in English, and that’s where the problems lie). At times, the dialogue was grammatically stilted or incorrect, and at other times, incorrect names were used.
Still, this is a good comic. I enjoyed the reckless abandon of the cop who is out to avenge his partner, and the assassin who is looking to do the same thing. This is a buddy cop movie, although the partnerships and alliances shift as characters get knocked off left and right. If you like Pulp Fiction, you’ll probably like this.
So, what would you buy this week Were Money No Object?
Tags: DC, dc comics presents, Marvel, S.H.I.E.L.D.