Couple of interesting books:
It’s worth noting that both are from Magnetic Press, a relative new company. The hardbacks they’ve done and for Warship Jolly Roger are very nice, high quality, oversized eitions.
An east-west manga tale that starts off as a weird future SF mystery. it becomes something quite other as it goes on and ends. The east-west combination extends to the art, which though manga to a degree also has a Gimenez influence and feel at times.
A graphic adaptation of a Chinese series built around tomb-raiding, this sees an intriguing fusion of art styles, with it switching between digital imagery and more traditional art. A lot is packed in here - character histories, various agendas and mystic concepts, but it it manages to pull it off.
I got lucky on both, having got each for £12.50 when the RRP is £27 and online discounted price £17-20 depending on where you look.
Judge Dredd: Dark Justice
Well Joe, it’s been a while and you’re still the same hard bastard you ever were, this time head butting Judge Death no less! Yep, that’s one great sequence in this story, with the corn chipper being the top one. That’s simply awesome - both in the art and the economy of the story-telling.
I enjoyed this. A bunch of rich bastards decide to leg it away from the now broken, post-Day of Chaos Mega City One only to have the Dark Judges stowaway and crash their utopia.
I can well understand Wagner’s reluctance to return to the Dark Judges, after all, what is left to say about those bastards? On the other hand, their frequent defeats have undermined the sense of sheer menace they once possessed and that’s what got Wagner back in. He decided to try to restore that lacking sense of menace and, with Staples’ glorious painted art, really succeeds.
It’s also quite surprising that this oversized hardback is still set at RRP £14.99, it could have easily gone higher. As it is, I got a great big hardback for just under a tenner.
Kill Or Be Killed: Volume 3
This book really shouldn’t work. As a narrator and lead character, Dylan really is a piece of crap. A lying piece of crap too maybe. But this is also why the book works - Brubaker’s story gets the balance just right, Dylan’s a piece of crap but he’s interesting one and he’s put up against far worse. At the same time there’s all these so very clever pages from Phillips - varied, innovative and every single page is perfectly constructed for telling that single piece of the story. It’s a masterclass in collaboration from a pair of creators at the top of their game.
I’ve been hot and cold on Tom King - Sheriff of Babylon was a bit too cold a tale for my liking, while his Batman varies - it can be great, but it can also not be. Thus I haven’t embraced him with the rapturous applause showered on him by others.
But this? Oh yes, this lives up to its reputation and then some. It also shows up what Marvel lost when DC poached King.
A tragedy in 12 chapters, it is a superb exploration of and meditation on human nature, normalcy, responsibility and society. King aims high and, on this story, consistently nails it. He does so in a way he hasn’t yet elsewhere. In the process he also skewers much of American society - the suburbs, high school and so on.
Yet, from the off, it is made abundantly clear that Vision’s experiment never really has a chance because people will not give it one. In this story, time and again, it is humans who are the aggressor, who refuse to expand their outlook, who refuse to change - up to the point of preferring violence instead. It is notable that, across the course of the story, it is Vision’s family that arguably demonstrate more responsibility while the humans pass the buck and seek to evade it.
Then there are the questions that linger long after the story has concluded - should the Avengers, quick to judge Vision for striking back against those that hurt him, not done better to foster a world that would be more welcoming? In this respect Vision has much in common with the X-Men, for it appears to be quite fine for people to loathe them both, while other forms of hatred are fought. The one thing that Vision never considers, so conditioned has he become, is whether his goal of ‘normalcy’ was ever achievable. Indeed, what is the nature of ‘normalcy’ ?
Walta’s art is also excellent and is all the better for being so restrained.
The extras included are absolutely superb.
Which brings me to the one great tragedy of this book - Marvel have not been as smart as they should have been and I doubt they will be in how they keep it in print. I don’t expect them to. The great shame is that the paper is too thin, it doesn’t show the quality of the work off the best it can and it would have been so very easy to do so. A minor upgrade would have made for a far better book. At the same time, this is a work that, by reputation alone - and its quality - command enduring interest - if Marvel were smart enough to keep it in print. Again, I doubt that they will. Marvel’s track record here is not good. They have the material to really sell trades, they just don’t care about the market.
Still, despite that, this is a superb book that deserves to be read no matter what. It really demonstrates what can be done both with Marvel’s characters and comics as a medium.