Young Animals, Aquaman, and writing about comics: books

Some entries from Gerard Way’s Young Animals imprint:

MOTHER PANIC: A Work in Progress by Jody Houser, Tommy Lee Edwards and Shawn Crystal is light-years removed from Houser’s upbeat Faith; Violet Paige is a celebutante (the genesis of this book was way wondering what a Bruce Wayne ID conceived in today’s world would look like) with a tragic, violent past, recently returned to Gotham City to get revenge on the organization that trained and remade her as an assassin. There’s a lot of interesting elements, but there’s way too much flashbacking (this felt a lot like Arrow in its use of them), and the flashbacks don’t really cohere (a problem when these are the events motivating the action).

Apparently I never reviewed DOOM PATROL: Brick by Brick by Way and Nick Derrington, the first revival of the great Silver Age team to incorporate Grant Morrison’s bizarre 1980s take on the team rather than just recycle the original version. Split personality metahuman Crazy Jane meets the therapist from Hell. EMT tech Casey learns she has a secret origin. Robotman and Negative Man get the band back together. If disorganized at times, it’s also wildly imaginative, reminiscent of Way’s Umbrella Academy. The follow-up volume, Nada (by Way and several artists) is more hit-and-miss, with some great cosmic concepts but some of the dialogue feels too much like a Morrison imitation. However I did like the return of Morrison’s Mr. Nobody as a deranged nihilist, leading not the Brotherhood of Dada but the Brotherhood of Nada!

Getting back to the main DC Universe, we have AQUAMAN: Underworld by Dan Abnett and Phillippe Briones, the penultimate volume in Abnett’s initial arc for the sea king (I already read the follow-up). Supposedly dead, Aquaman lurks in the shadows of Atlantis, helping the downtrodden against tyrant Corum Rath; can the mutant Dolphin convince him to lead a revolution? This was quite good.

In the Golden Age years before MLJ Comics hit gold with Archie Andrews and became Archie Comics, it had a stable of B to D list superheroes, most famously the Shield (the first star-spangled superhero) and the Black Hood. The Fly led off a modest superhero revival in the Silver Age, which eventually turned ultra-campy and attempted to revive pretty much every hero they’d ever used (as in Paul Reinman’s cover above). It tanked, but they’ve been revived again and again in the decades since. THE MLJ COMPANION by Rik Offenberger, Paul Castiglia and John B. Cooke does an impressive job looking at the originals, the various revivals and why they kept failing. DC, for example, tried turning them into the !mpact kid-friendly line in hopes of getting them out of comics stores and into drug stores; the new marketing director hated the idea and refused to cooperate. Another revival plan, Spectrum, fell apart when Archie blinked at doing a horror-tinged line (the Fly’s powers come with a fatal curse so a new person would have to replace the old Fly every issue).

Even though I’m not a fan (except for the recent, unsuccessful New Crusaders revival) the very fact they’ve been revived so often makes them intriguing enough I picked this up (from Roy Thomas’ Twomorrow line of comic-book histories) and I was fascinated. If you have any interest in the characters at all, this is definitely worth getting. Otherwise, I imagine not.

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.



Filed under Comics, Reading

3 responses to “Young Animals, Aquaman, and writing about comics: books

  1. Pingback: Milk, Amazons, videogames and more: books and graphic novels | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: British comics, American comics and a book about comics: this week’s reading. | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  3. Pingback: SF, England and graphic novels: this week’s reading | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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