As I indicated last month, I’m changing the format of these entries to focus on a few select comics, rather than going through the full list of everything I bought/read in the month.
The best comic I got in my tfaw box this month is David Hahn’s All Nighter #1 (Image). This book is anchored by the strong introduction to the main character, Kit Bradley, and Hahn’s distinctive art.
Kit is formally introduced on the first story page of this issue with a “voiceover” that addresses the audience. When done well, as it is here, this is an effective device because the reader gets to learn about a character from seeing the world from that person’s perspective. What’s important here is that the narration is clearly partial, revealing a lot about the character but only so much about other people and events. And here the voiceover fosters a quick attachment to Kit, and I’m interested to see where Hahn takes her as a narrator, how reliable or unreliable she turns out to be.
Hahn’s art is defined by clean, strong lines and a modern sensibility, but the characters are varied and expressive. A lot of effort is devoted to fashion, to clothes, accessories and hairstyles, which creates a lively feel to the settings and to Kit’s world. The simplicity and high contrast of the black and white works well with the Hahn’s line work and also shows off his attention to detail since he cannot rely on color to distinguish between characters and scenes.
I also got conclusions to two Marvel minis this month: Silver Surfer #5 (writer: Greg Pak, pencils: Harvey Tolibao, inks: Sandu Florea, & colors: Wil Quintana) and Annihilators #4 (writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, pencils: Tan Eng Huat, with art by Timothy Green II on the Rocket Raccoon backup).
I think that Pak does a good job of giving the Surfer a second origin, built in the same kind of sacrifice that defined him in the first place. The Surfer has always been a tragic figure and this mini-series mines that aspect of his character well, particularly in giving him a romantic partner who is more of an active agent than Shalla-Bal. The use of the (new) Fantastic Four is a nice touch of meta-narrative continuity.
In Annihilators, Abnett & Lanning solve the problem of having a team of heroes with god-like powers by writing a story that depends on planning and problem solving. I like Eng Huat’s consistent use of wide and long views to show the scale of the battles fought here. The Rocket Raccoon and Groot backup is as fun and hilarious as the main story is weighty and serious. Timothy Green manages to draw Rocket to be heroic and goofy in equal measure. Both this book and the Surfer mini are good examples of why I like to read on the margins of the Marvel U: you tend to get more self-contained stories that are tightly focused on a specific cast of characters.
I won’t be writing about any trades this month*, partly because my life has been taken over by house selling and buying and partly because the book I picked up at the beginning of July is the massive The Finder Library Volume 1 (Dark Horse), which collects Carla Speed McNeil’s webcomic of the same name.
*So, I found time today to do some reading, including Ximo Abadia’s Clonk (Kettledrummer Books), which is a strange and beautiful book about love, death, and friendship. The main character looks like a guy in a black bunny suit, or maybe he is some kind of human rabbit – his appearance is never addressed, it just is – who begins the story with an attempted suicide before the book flashes back to what happened to lead up to that moment. The narrative is simultaneously epic and very personal and intimate. There are lovely sequences of people doing everyday things, especially with the main character and his best friend, but there are also panels of war and the introduction of a giant fish. Abadia shows more than he tells, and the book rewards rewinds to recontexualize certain panels. Figures and backgrounds are simple, and sometimes even “rough” looking, but every page is full of life and feeling.