I do wonder about that when I find myself generally dissatisfied with the latest crop of comics TPBs. On the other hand, it’s not as if I’m grumbling about how much better everything was Back Then—lord knows I’ve read plenty of mediocre comics in any era (though the nature of the mediocrity varies). And I still like some new ones — such as CAPTAIN MARVEL: Down.
The work of Kelly Sue DeConnick, Christopher Sebela and Dexter Soy (cover by Jamie McKelvie, all rights with current holder), this has Carol teaming up with Monica Rambeau, who had the Captain Marvel name in the 1980s, then discovering a brain lesion makes it fatal for her to fly (which for the born-to-fly Danvers is a fate worse than death). And wouldn’t you know, her old winged enemy Deathbird just happens to show up? Very good, except for the ending reveal—it turns out the person behind this is strictly a C-lister.
BLESSED THISTLE by Steve Morris proves indie books can disappoint me as much as super-hero comics. This has two plotlines, one about a sociopathic little girl which feels like a remake of The Bad Seed (which goes back to the 1940s) and one about her troubled brother seeking solace with a priest, who turns out to have his own agenda (the kind of Life Is Meaningless and Brutal twist that never works for me). More cliched than clever.
THE RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN by Jim McCann and Janet K. Lee is the story of a magical land where time has stopped, machines engage in useless work and children never grow up until a rain of bowler-hatted men falls out of the sky. This is the kind of fairy-tale-with-meaning that really shouldn’t work, but I think the creators pulled it off, primarily with the charming art. Very reminiscent of some of James Thurber’s fantasy work at times.
While biographical graphic novels aren’t that unusual, Annie Goetzinger’s THE GIRL IN DIOR doesn’t work for me as a look at Christian Dior’s brief but memorable career in fashion (he died 10 years after his first show) because it’s so insanely detailed about the shows (“Will Marly wear gloves? Which ones? Or not? Embellished with strings of pearls or rhinestone jewelry?”) that it’s hard to imagine even a fashionista caring. Was this some kind of Dior promotion?
TEEN TITANS; On the Clock by Sean McKeever and multiple artists is the kind of book that makes me wonder if I have, in fact, just read too many comics (although of course that’s crazy). This just feels like same-old same-old in the frustrated relationships, the sturm and angst, and the new team of Terror Titans. On the other hand, I think a lot of this really is pretty mediocre—and I really hate that pre-New 52 they brought the Dark Side Club from Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory into mainstream continuity (it works okay as an alt.version of the New Gods, but not as the real one), let alone just using it for gladiatorial combat between super-heroes. And as I’ve mentioned before, Ravager just isn’t as interesting as the writers from this era seem to think (she fills the badass slot on the team, and that’s a crappy slot).
CONCRETE PARK: You Send Me by Tony Puryear feels like a stock story of inner-city crime, gangstas and thugs, even if it is technically set in a dystopian near future and at least partly on another planet. This one may be a matter of personal taste—crime comics rarely do it for me—rather than quality per se.