One of my favorites back again this week, a long lost friend returns, and a bonus retrospective! Because it’s my column and I can do that.
It caught my attention this morning when Jamie McKelvie, the very talented artist on Young Avengers, tweeted to the effect that reviewers really don’t know if an idea originated with the writer or artist, and ought to credit both. I’m definitely guilty of that, and will endeavor to correct that going forward. It’s true that comics are a very collaborative medium, especially with people (like Gillen and McKelvie) that work together frequently. Speaking of that creative team….
Young Avengers #4
One thing I appreciate from a creative team is creativity. There’s a two page spread early on where Noh-Varr rescues the captured Young Avengers from the mystical shapeshifting threat we left them in last issue that’s absolutely brilliant. I’m not going to even try to describe this one, but if you want to see something nifty, read this issue. It’s nifty! You don’t really have to read the first three to follow along, but they’re all fantastic, so why not?
The whole series is just so full of life. It’s hip, in the way that’s good and so many young folk through themselves upon the rocks of tragedy trying to find. For instance, the title of the issue, ‘Deus Ex Machine Gun’. It’s just cool. In lesser hands this attempt for being insanely stylish would be painful, but it completely works, time and again.
I adore every character in this title. I sincerely hope it finds its audience, because this is the most Now title with the Marvel Now tag on it. This is the indy band that you hear that makes you wish everyone had heard of them, not because you were a fan first, but because that sound needs to be shared and remembered. This is the cool look that you aren’t sure you can pull off, but it’s too perfect not to try. This is that hole in the wall restaurant that makes the best lunch in town for just $6, and somehow doesn’t have a line out the door.
A Distant Soil #39
Colleen Doran has been doing comic book art for some time, most famous for her work on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Throughout all of it, she’s been publishing this little indie gem. It’s very much a serial work, and this is (despite a six year gap) not a jumping on point at all.
The highlight of this series has always been Doran’s exquisite artwork. This issue in particular has a dreamlike quality, as Liana (our psychically powerful heroine) spends the issue inside her own head, being mentally manipulated by the Hierarchy. Meanwhile the revolutionaries are in full swing, and scoring a major victory.
It’s more than a little startling to be thrown back into the middle of things after a gap like this, and I suspect it’s going to read a lot more smoothly in collected edition where future readers haven’t had to break their momentum like this. But I found by the end, I was remembering characters pretty well, and am very glad that it’s back. It’s epic space opera, and just fun stuff that the comic world needs more of.
Bone – Full Color One Volume Edition
Bone is far from new, but I picked up the entire series in a beautiful bound and colored volume last year and have been working through it bit by bit. What I’ve linked in the image to the right is actually issue #1, which is FREE at Comixology, so there’s really little excuse not to try this hallmark of the indy comic scene.
Bone is a fantasy tale starring three strange little creatures called Bones – the heroic and earnest Fone Bone, the entrepreneurial and ethically challenged Phoncible (Phony) Bone, and the cheerful and witless Smiley Bone. Cast out of Boneville due to Phony’s schemes gone awry, they find themselves in a strange valley, where they encounter dragons, stupid stupid rat creatures, the charming girl Thorn and her grandmother, a peaceful village, and hints of dark tidings.
Early on, the series has a light tone, with lots of humor and hints that there’s more going on. But in my mind, things really get going once we get past the sillier aspects, and the things that are hinted at going on start actually going on. This is an extremely strong fantasy story that treads new ground. Jeff Smith’s art is clean and wonderful, in full service to the storytelling. Often when a black and white story is recolored later, it leaves something to be desired, but in this case, Smith only enhances his worldbuilding with bright, lush work that suits the material perfectly.
This is suitable for younger readers who can deal with things like character death – basically Harry Potter level of darkness, in the end. And there’s a reason that older comic readers speak of Bone in glowing tones. It’s a big, wonderful story, and a true achievement that’s completely worth adding to your collection and devouring.
I’ll probably continue to occasionally mix in classic comics, especially ones that are either essentials or underexposed. Bone qualifies for both. I’m really glad I picked it up!