Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ford's Focus - June 8th 2009 to June 14th 2009

Written by: Ford Thomas


*Moon Knight: Midnight Sun HC (library)

*Apparat Vol. 1 TP (library)

*Batman: Secrets TP (library)

*El Diablo TP (library)

*Action Comics #878

*Batman #687

*Flash: Rebirth #3(of 6)

*Green Lantern Corps #37

*JSA vs. Kobra: Engines of Faith #1(of 6)

*Red Robin #1
*Spirit #29

*Fables #85

*Proof #20

*Absolution #0

*Madame Xanadu #11

*Overlook #3(of 3)

*Glister #3


*Ms Tree #1,5,7,10,16,19,22, 24, 25, 29

*(some of) My Inner Bimbo TP

*Breach #5, 9, 10, 11

*Ms Tree Quarterly #6, 7, 9

*Johnny Hiro TP

*20th Century Boys Vol.1 TP

*B.P.R.D. Vol. 2: The Soul Of Venice And Other Stories TP

*Blackhawk Annual 1989 #1

*The Phony Pages #1(of 2)

*Ace-Face: The Mod With The Metal Arms SC

*Everything ‘bought’

Lately I have become a little too self aware of what my weekly trips to the comic shop mean to me. Which is both good and bad. Good because I realise why sometimes I find myself not enjoying the new weeks books, bad because I realise sometimes the most satisfy thing about purchasing my latest stack is crossing the titles off one of many unconscious check lists which are constantly running through my head, be it a shopping list, comic list, etc.

This understanding means I should get smart or bring that awareness to the comics I’m buying and reading instead of just myself. This isn’t me saying I don’t enjoying comics anymore because I do more than ever. Just this week I’ve read some of the best, enjoyable and down right fun comics I’ve ever read. I am rarely satisfied but I guess that makes me your typical whiny comic fan. But there is lots of satisfaction in my reading adventures, almost nothing beats reading a Paul Grist comic whether it’s Jack Staff or Kane or anything else his done. Or the first time I ever read Tom Beland’s True Story Swear To God and then reading every other issue. Or catching up on old favourites like Andi Watson, Jim Mahfood, Sam Keith, James Kochalka or any of my other favourite creators.

Johnny Hiro is pure escapist fun. If things went wrong in my life and job and insane adventure ensued as it does for Johnny Hiro…. most likely life would be more stressful but I would like to think it would be like my reading experience of Johnny Hiro, fun. The world Fred Chao creates is the world we live in but to balance out when reality gets too much there are dinosaurs, surly sushi chefs and samurai businessmen or it’s the other way round. Sure the unusual creates more problems for Johnny but it serves as a remedy to the reader’s daily ails. Filled with philosophy taken from 90s rap/hip hop and celebrity cameos which should be cringe worthy but are instead charming.

“Your reading all the right stuff, something must just be wrong with you” it wasn’t quite that but that’s a paraphrase of what a nine year old said to me about my response to the manga I had been reading, most of which had been recommended by her and her sisters. It could have been that a lot of what I had been reading was ‘shojo manga’ and had something to do with the fact that I’m not a teenage girl but I did enjoy some of it such as Satomi Ikezawa’s Othello. Not long after I started to ‘educate’ myself in all types of manga by borrowing stacks of it from the library and reading it too quickly. One highlight for me was Naoki Urasawa’s Monster. It was one of few occasions where print media had instilled fear, tension or suspense in me. With Monster I had found the first volume satisfying and didn’t feel the need to read more but I did because the library had the following six volumes all of which were enjoyable. If not for the story becoming involved and convoluted, but they’re two things that make the superhero genre so good. Needless to say Naoki Urasawa was on my radar. I’d seen an ad for 20th Century Boys in Previews and made a mental note of it but didn’t follow it up, few months later Vince B of the 11 o’clock comics podcast was praising it and that was the extra push I needed.

A seemingly mundane tale that switches between childhood friends hanging out and 20+ years later to where they are now. That as a premise is pleasant but not that interesting, 20th Century Boys is far from that. The late 60s and 70s scenes perfectly capture the fun of youth and silliness of being a bored kid, something I don’t think anyone should lose the feeling of. The past plants the seeds of the mystery that begins in 1997 where most of the friends still know each other, some are getting married, others run shops and one commits suicide. Slowly a mystery presents itself that revolves around the gang’s emblem from their childhood, which is now being used as symbol for a ‘cult’. Very rarely upon finishing a new book do I want to go out straight away and get a following volume but 20th Century Boys did exactly that.

Madame Xanadu #11 was something I had looked at at the comic shop on Wednesday because of Michael Wm. Kaluta’s incredible cover and even better interiors and thought I if I’m still thinking about it tomorrow I’ll pick it up. Thankfully I was still thinking about it and the splash page of Madame Xanadu sitting in a chair holding a crystal ball in her shop front. This was my first time checking in since issue 1 and it won me over completely. Great art, intriguing story and a panel with Wesley Dodds Sandman running away with his face conveniently out of panel, what more could I ask for? Nothing because this is a reunion of sorts on two fronts, Kaluta and Madame Xanadu, and Matt Wagner and Wesley Dodds (!). The second one has me the most excited as Wagner was the co-writer of perhaps my favourite series of all time Sandman Mystery Theatre. I might be biased but this is comic booking done right. Or at least for me.

Also read Ace-Face.

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