Thursday, April 3, 2008

Comics from April 2

I still have to read stuff but there are two comics I read this week that require special mention.

Infinity Inc 8 - This title is floundering in sales. That is no secret. But this is pure genius. That, I believe, is a secret. Peter Milligan is one of the best writers to have ever written comics books. But he doesn't always write with that brilliance. The atrocious Ras Al Ghul arc was an example where he write two Robin issues. The less I say about them, the better. But at the same time he's writing two brilliant series, that have hardly been noticed. The Programme and Infinity Inc. The former may be the subject of a post I do some other time but right now we are talking about Infinity Inc.

Its been hampered by the fact that most conventional comic book fans don't get it. This is not a superhero comic in any sense of the word. Its very much a Milligan comic exploring many of the stuff that Milligan does explore in his comics. Like the mind. The effects of events happening around you on the mind. How much your personality gets shattered by tragedies. Or for that matter by your inability to express yourself as you truly are, or want to.

There are characters from just about every part of that spectrum in here. Natasha, who lost her powers that defined her, being almost second nature to her. Erik, who isn't sure why he's a man, because he's more in touch with his feminine side. Gerome, a very introverted person, who wishes to project otherwise, and so on. Milligan expertly used the angle setup in 52(Oh, how I miss that title) of Luthor giving them powers and then taking them away, here. He establishes the basic premise, that those powers didn't really go away, and are now mutating into projections of their thought processes. The first few issues got off to a very slow start, and dealt primarily with the psychosis of the antagonist of the first arc. But it seems that most fans, as well as it seems DC Editorial didn't like the art which was very much in keeping with the mood of Milligan's writing. So now we have Pete Woods, who is, in every sense of the word, a superhero artist. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but its very different from what an ideal artist for Milligan would be. Yet, Milligan takes that in his stride and even creates humour out of Woods coming on, and the members getting costumes. The panel where Steel says "Now that you have costumes you need the things that all heroes need" and Nat says "Personal Problems?" is evident of that fact.

There's more humour in this issue than has been in previous issues, which is an added bonus. Milligan seems to be using Steel as a representative for those fans and members of DC Editorial who want it to be a more superhero book, which would make it like any other of the thousands of comic books available. The scene where Steel comes up with costumes, as well as the one where he comes up with their secret identities both have dialogue that seem intentionally stilted, in contrast with the rest of the issue. The issue mostly deals with the Infinity Inc actually become Infinity Inc, their members trying to accept someone they have fought before as enemies, as well as a continuation of the Gerome arc. Nat, Erik have already had stories highlighting them. I hope similar stories are told for the rest of the team, for these characters are more interesting and well constructed than almost any character in comic books today.

In closing, I hope Milligan gets to tell a lot of stories on this book in the future, sales be damned.

Action Comics 863 - Now this is pure superhero comics, unadulterated. Both pure and unadulterated do mean the same thing, but this comic and Johns' writing deserve those adjectives doubly, and hence the repetition.

There's all the elements that make a great Geoff Johns comic in there. Continuing from last issue's cliffhanger the story moves forward on two fronts. The simultaneous beating that Superman gets at the hand of Earth-Man, and the Legion fighting the Justice League. The outcome is obvious yet, Johns manages to make it exciting. Edge of seat stuff. The eventual moment when Superman opens his eyes is choreographed in a beautiful way. The cheesy Superman dialogue "I am for everyone" works, in Johns' script, and so does the Legion splash page. Correction, the splash pages. And as an added bonus Johns manages to touch upon Superman's deep rooted connection with the legion in a touching manner.

Gary Frank's art seems much better than all the previous issues, which were dominated by the oddly looking wide-eyed look. He gets to draw two splash pages with the legion in all its glory and does not disappoint.

And if the actual issue wasn't enough, the teaser images at the end is there to get your heart racing. Johns and Perez on a Legion book is a promising notion. August, though is still a far way off.

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