Hellboy In Mexico (2010)
Human Target #1 Special Edition
Marvelman Primer #1
Predators: Preserve The Game #1
Hellboy In Mexico (Dark Horse, 2010, $3.50)
A good looking, satisfying one shot story by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben. There are a number of striking images, and a classic John Carpenter/Robert Rodriguez vibe throughout.
Human Target #1 Special Edition (DC, 2010, $1.00)
Human Target #1 Special Edition
This is a really fine example of a type of book I’ve read too many times to truly appreciate. It’s about a hired gun who so thoroughly impersonates the intended target of assassins, he forgets himself. The art by Edvin Biukovic flows so smoothly, you can take in his rich images without your eye slowing its progression across panels, the perfect marriage of detail and functionality in sequential art. Peter Milligan’s script is full of twists, although he’s sometimes too cute/clever for the good of the story. There’s a lot of interesting stuff to take in, by my tolerance for badasses engaged in ultra-violent gunplay just isn’t what it used to be. If I get the chance to read the trade free or at highly reduced price, I expect I would, but I couldn’t commit to more.
Marvelman Classic Primer #1 (Marvel, 2010, $3.99)
On the one hand, you have to give Marvel Comics credit for undermining Todd McFarlane’s contested ownership of Miracleman by buying the rights to the original Marvelman source material. On the other hand, the whole point of Alan Moore’s revolutionary work on the character was to redeem a thoroughly amateurish but modestly successful direct, calculated rip-off of Captain Marvel. It’s quite meta.
Charlton Comics weren’t exactly prestige, but it’s hard to appreciate Watchmen after reading how much of it was taken directly from the work of men like Joe Gill and Steve Ditko, yet Moore entered into a big rights hubbub with DC Comics over his massively derivative characters. Moore also hates Marvel Comics, whom I believe he claims owes him for his Arthurian riff on Captain Britain. Marvel ends up owning Marvelman, who once was renamed Miracleman in the States because of their threats of legal action. Marvel also intervened on behalf of Neil Gaiman, who claims Todd McFarlane owes him money for his riff on Spawn, and used the rights to Miracleman given him by Alan Moore as leverage. Marvelman came into existence because DC Comics sued Fawcett over their arguable plagiarism of Superman in creating Captain Marvel. When part of Fawcett’s settlement called for the discontinuation of Captain Marvel’s publishing, its British licensor simply carbon copied the character as Marvelman. Further, the version of Marvelman Alan Moore revised was likely published without the legitimate rights to the character having been acquired. So Marvel Comics now owns the rights to a shoddy Captain Marvel wannabe, the original Shazam largely unsellable since his initial publishing cessation in the 1950s, and still lacks the rights to the stories of a writer that hates them who likely never had the right to write to begin with.
This brings us to the Marvelman Classic Primer, which is a brochure intended to sell the public on Marvelman being worth a shit, despite no one’s having bothered to reprint these stories in nearly sixty years because of their slight quality and irrelevance. There are no actual reprints in the book, but there are really small samples of stories with lousy lettering, misspelled scripts, and inadequately swiped art. A two page text piece is surprisingly candid about Marvelman’s sordid origins, followed by a page purely intended to plug Marvel Comics’ acquisition and publishing plans. Eight very padded pages consist of soundbites of creator Mick Anglo taking the piss out of himself, including the mention of the copious amounts of alcohol consumed in the production of Marvelman. Twelve pages are devoted to pin-ups and biographical profiles of major characters from the not-Marvel Family.
A five page text piece offers “A Short History of British Comics,” which is something I found highly informative, becomes I’m quite ignorant of the intricacies of non-U.S. comics publishing. A seven page sketch gallery is purely ballast, though. Throughout the book, the finished art from pin-ups and variant covers were used to offset the text, most of which already offered photographs of and commentary from the artists. A section devoted to the actual nuts and bolts construction of the art belabored the effort, which was previously rather grand, since the art is very nice. Another thing the art proves is how badly Marvel wants the reprint rights to the Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman material, as those dark tales are clearly the frame of reference, not the Anglo stuff. Speaking of Anglos, despite being a fan since last century, I had no idea Doug Braithwaite was black.
The book closes with a three page review of Marvel UK’s history (try not to snicker) and a checklist of Marvelman adventures (excluding everything after 1963 that Marvel doesn’t own yet.) Despite my critical tone, the Primer is a worthy purchase, easy on the eye and good for the brain. I may mock its intentions, but if the end result is Alan Moore’s acclaimed deconstruction of pseudo-Captain Marvel finally returning to print, well, yippie-skippy.
Predators: Preserve The Game #1 (Dark Horse, 2010, $3.50)
I just read the first issue of the Dark Horse prequel/adaptation of the feature film Predators, for which this is a sequel, so you don’t get a page in without spoiling the movie. I haven’t seen it myself, but between the previous comic and having seen Predator, I had no problem picking right up. This book follows two survivors of the flick on an alien world, one struggling against their nature in order to work with the other against the predators. David Lapham’s story is a reasonable post-script, but the adequate art by Allan Jefferson places drag on the package. All in all, it’s okay, but nothing more.
Monday, August 16, 2010
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