Friday, August 15, 2014

Bryant Has Issues #49

Tonight, we'll be covering a bunch of comics that I'd intended to cover in #48.  However, that post was overstuffed, so I decided to split it in two.  And now you've got an origin story for how #49 came to be.  Aren't you glad?
  
We begin with two feet firmly planted in Alan Moore-ville, and since this month brings us a brand-new comic from the Master himself, what better place to begin than that?
  
  
  
  
Specifically, Moore's new story for this month is a ten-page short titled "Grandeur & Monstrosity," which appears in the above-pictured anthology book God Is Dead: The Book of Acts -- Alpha.
  
I'm not familiar with God Is Dead, but evidently its conceit is that it takes place in a world where all the gods humans have ever worshiped have come back, and are all walking the Earth at once.  Sounds pretty rad, but the reviews I've seen indicate that that is perhaps not the case.  Granted, I have not researched the matter fully.  I've not read the series, and I've got no particular plans to do so; time constraints and all that jazz.
  
Alan Moore came close to changing my mind about that, but just when I was on the verge of doing so I reminded myself that he's not writing the series.  All he did was write this hilarious and oddly touching ten-pager, and while I'd definitely read a comic like that every month, I see no evidence that God Is Dead actually IS such a comic.
 
So, alas, this is probably the only exposure I'm likely to get.
  
The art for Moore's story is by Facundo Percio (colors by Hernan Cabrera), whom you might remember as being the guy responsible for the genius art in Fashion Beast.
  
It's pretty great here, too, and here's a representative page:
  
  
  
  
From this, those of you in the know should be able to suss out the fact that this story includes Alan Moore as a character.  Specifically, a character cajoled into delivering a lecture about his own God of choice, the Roman snake god Glycon, who has evidently not come back alongside all the other deities, which makes him (and, therefore, Moore, who is his one and only worshiper) a subject of intense curiosity. 
  
By the way, that's a real-world fact, kids; Moore actually worships Glycon.  
  
All I will say about "Grandeur & Monstrosity" is that it involves Moore standing on stage working a Glycon puppet, delivering a lecture in front of, among others, God (i.e., the Christian deity), Jesus, and Satan.  In typical Moore fashion, it is all played for comedy, but somehow manages to be just as serious as it is comedic.  There is a great deal of metafictive commentary, and I'm not about to ruin any of the jokes.
  
If you're a Moore fan, then this comic is well worth your time.  Whether it's worth the slightly exorbitant $5.99 cover price is a matter between you and your own deity.
  
  
  
  
Speaking of deities, God, do I hate that cover for Miracleman #8.  I'm not even entirely sure why; I just do.
  
Luckily, the rest of the issue is superb.  No surprise; this reprint series is tackling one of the titles that made Alan Moore into Alan Moore.  It was one of the seminal superhero comics of the eighties.  So "superb" is kind of a given.
  
Granted, there are probably plenty of folks today who might not be familiar with ole Miracleman.  If that descriptor fits you, then you assuredly do not want to pick issue #8 as your leaping-on point.
  
I'm always at a bit of a loss as to what, exactly, I should say about these reprints.  My inclination is to go frame-by-frame and explain to you what I see in each of them, and what meaning the whole has for me.  But I've learned from experience that while pursuing that course is both rewarding and productive, it is also incredibly time-consuming.
  
So, failing that, I just say whatever I feel like saying at the time when the saying is getting done.  Tonight, I've got nothing to say in particular.  So, instead, I present to you a seven-page sequence from the comic.  It is bloody awesome:
  
  

You don't want to see that look in a superhuman's eyes.  Bad news, and not long in arriving.


I love how the eyes are mixed up into almost forming a composite face in the midst of all that grue.  Man, that is nasty stuff.




  
  
Not that we need to, but do you suppose our current culture of superhero-cinema will ever be able to include a scene of one dude flying at super-speed through another dude and splitting him apart like he's a cracker?  At one point in time, I'd have said that the answer is a resounding "no," but these days I'm not so sure.
  
This begs a question: since Marvel is apparently now the owner of Miracleman, does that mean that Disney and Marvel Studios own the film rights to Marvelman/Miracleman?  Lord, what a notion that is.  
  
  
  
  
That ought to read "PARENTAL ADVISORY FOR STRONG LANGUAGE & CONTENT & FOR TASTEFULLY-DRAWN-YET-UNDENIABLY-GRAPHIC DEPICTIONS OF A BABY EXITING A MOTHER'S VAGINA."
  
There were concerns in some quarters when Marvel began these reprints that they might somehow censor or mishandle this specific issue, which involves the birth of Liza and Miracleman/Mike's daughter.  Well, we can all -- and by "all" I mean the 317 people in the world who were actually concerned (of whom I was one) -- rest easy knowing that Marvel has done nothing whatsoever to blunt the force of this chapter of Alan Moore's Miracleman saga.
  
Good stuff.  You can bank on Disney never putting that scene onto film properly, bless their hearts.

One more Moore title to (briefly) consider:


 
Couldn't resist scanning the rear cover, as well.  I tried to find a complete and intact scan online of that wraparound cover, but had no luck.  I must also apologize for the scanner shadows.  Alas, I'm a rank amateur in the field of scanning shit properly.  Sorry 'bout that!

That's the hardback of the collected edition of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume Three: Century, which was released recently.

Fans were somewhat divided on the subject of Century.  Probably not as divided as they were on the subject of Black Dossier, granted; regardless, Century was not necessarily a slam-dunk for a lot of people.

Compared to the first two volumes of the series, I suppose that is an understandable reaction.  Those (especially the second) are some of the best graphic novels of the past quarter-century.  Measuring up each time has got to be a high bar to clear, and if Moore and O'Neill don't manage to clear it with Century, then please understand: you can fall WELL short of that goal and still be a glorious piece of work.

Which Century is, in my opinion.

It's worth much more consideration from us than that, but that shall have to suffice for now, as we move on to:


Juan Ortiz is doing the covers.  If you're not familiar with his Star Trek art of recent years, you ought to familiarize yourself with it.  If you're a Trekkie, that is; otherwise, you might be less enthused.

Paul Shipper's subscriber variant cover is lovely, too.  Nice to see Yeoman Rand there; the last time I rewatched the series, it was all too apparent that she was intended to be a major character.  But, as it sometimes does, life got in the way or art, and Rand is now a footnote for most fans.


This, friends, is the first issue of IDW's five-issue adaptation of The City on the Edge of Forever.  You know, the one with Joan Collins?  Kirk goes back in time and falls in love with her and then has to let her die in order to preserve the future?  Great episode.

You know who thinks it's a lousy episode?  Harlan Ellison, the credited screenwriter.  His teleplay was heavily rewritten by series creator Gene Roddenberry, and Ellison has been butthurt about it for nearly fifty years.  So much so that he once published a book that included the original screenplay, plus what felt like -- and may actually have been -- about two hundred pages of anti-Roddenberry invective.  Nobody does invective like Harlan Ellison, so it was pretty entertaining stuff.

Ellison's original screenplay had harder edges, and included various things -- such as drug use -- that rubed Roddenberry and NBC the wrong way.  That's mainly what I remember about it.

In any case, IDW has decided it would be a good idea to give Ellison's original story the comic-book treatment, and yours truly has decided it would be a good idea to buy it.  We'll see if I still feel that way four issues from now...

One thing's for sure: the art won't be making my mind up for me.  It comes courtesy of J.K. Woodword, whose work we previously discussed back when IDW was doing that Trek/Doctor Who crossover.  Some of his work there was great, but he didn't draw the entire series, and the artists they replaced him with were pretty bad.

I'll let you be the judge with his work on City.  I love some panels, I hate some panels, and some panels leave me indifferent.  But you're about to get a heapin' helpin' of a sample, in the form of the first eleven pages:












 

There's more, of course, but to see that, you'll have to buy the issue.  Which, if you are a Trekkie, is worth checking out if only as a historical oddity.

Also out:


Love it.

Love it slightly less, but still love it.


This second issue is really quite good, including some cool close-quarters combat scenes, some philosophizin', and some more philosophizin'.  The art by Woodward is very clean and confident; it's probably the best work I've seen from him so far, and I hope he's able to maintain the same level of quality for the remaining three issues.  If so, then this little experiment is going to turn out to be one of the better Trek comics ever published.

One more dip into the 23rd century before we leave:


  

The second -- third, if you count the 2013 annual -- in John Byrne's series of photonovel comics hit shelves recently, and I snapped it up right quick.

This one isn't quite as good as the first two, but it's still pretty decent.  Unlike those previous issues, this one is not a sequel to an existing episode; it is, instead, an original story.  Which means that Byrne had to be a bit more creative in terms of how to generate his imagery.  I assume that he must have built some limited sets, cast some "actors," and then used a large amount of digital trickery.

The results are mixed, but it's well worth doing for me to share a couple of examples:



One the one hand, the guy in the top panel looks quite photoshopped.  On the other hand, that set in the fifth panel looks fabulous, and everyone looks natural within it.  Is that a set fro an existing episode?  Some sort of combination of multiple sets?  A John Byrne creation?  Whatever it is, it works for me.

That one dude still looks iffy, but not so much that I can't get over it.



The story here involves the Enterprise receiving a signal from the galactic core, and going to check it out.  They sure do get there fast.  Takes the fuckin' Voyager decades to travel from one side of the galaxy to the other; takes this crew about ten minutes to get to the center.

To be fair, though, that's in keeping with original-series canon, so joke's on you, Voyager fans.

Say, didja see Yeoman Rand on the cover there?  She gets her own backup story.  Sad to say, it's lousy, but I applaud the effort on Byrne's part.

*****

And that's all the comics that we've got to cover.  If I'm not mistaken, the next time we meet for this purpose, we'll be looking primarily at the first issue of Marvel's The Drawing of the Three series.

Fun!

5 comments:

  1. Just a quick comment for now, but Byrne's forum has a whole lot of fun info on the hows and whys of how he went about doing this stuff. I thought I could find a quick link to share but alas the pertinent thread is like 40+ pages and every page I clicked wasn't what I was looking for. Sorry about that. (Linktease? Is that a word?)

    Not for the first or last time, I wonder what a Miracleman HBO series might look like... a boy can dream. (While I'm dreaming, I'll imagine it with the Ozzy Osbourne song of the same name.)

    You said it with LXG: Century. Hard to top the perfection of what came before in the series, but each and every installment is still wonderful.

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    1. Oh, man; an HBO "Miracleman" could be great. I'd love to see them do a decently-budgeted superhero series of any sort, really, but "Miracleman" would be fabulous.

      No worries about the linktease (which you may as well try and claim as a word of your own coinage). I may try to find that on my own, though; I'd like to read it.

      By the way, fellow readers, join me in congratulating Dr. McMolo (I'm promoting him) on becoming a father for the second time. Huzzah! And good look finding sleepin' hours!

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    2. Thanks for both the well wishes AND the promotion. Baby #2 (Lauren Margaret) and mama are coming home from the hospital today.

      My hair may have done the Ash / Evil Dead 2 terror/trauma white streak business from the 4 day Baby #1 meltdown, but besides that, all is well.

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    3. I ended up signing up for that Trek subscription service and the 2nd (and 3rd) of the hardbounds arrived yesterday, and it was this City on the Edge of Forever teleplay. So I'm finding my way over here to drop some comments.

      "I love some panels, I hate some panels, and some panels leave me indifferent." I had the same problem throughout. The edition I have has an afterword and a foreward from Ellison, who is typically effusive and over the top with his praise, as well as a sort of commentary track by Woodward. I was 50/50 on it all, but some of his choices re: the planet of Forever and the Guardians and some of his compositions were cool.

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    4. I'm intrigued by that Ellison version, not merely these comics but also the teleplay itself. But my feeling is that his version is not just inferior to the produced version, but woefully inferior. It's simply not "Star Trek." Ellison would likely take that as a badge of honor, but I don't know how different that is from being hired to mow a guy's lawn and then painting his house and getting mad when the guy mows his own lawn and then paints his house back to the original color. Yeah, sure, your artistic vision has been slighted.

      So what? You didn't do the job you were hired to do, chuckles.

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