35 Books in 30 Days 8: Batman & The Monster Men by Matt Wagner

Buy this book at Amazon.com.This is the first part of Matt Wagner’s Dark Moon Rising Trilogy, in which he reworks three Golden Age stories into modern Batman continuity. We see Batman fight the menace of Huge Strange, a mad scientist who tries to fix the human genome but ends up creating- what else!- monster men. It’s great pulpy fun and I highly recommend it.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

In this story, Bruce Wayne gets some.

‘Bout time.

There’s been this myth for some time that Bruce Wayne, and his Marvel millionaire counterpart Tony Stark, are international playboys, boozing all night, in and out of bed with all sorts of hotties across the globe. But that’s simply not so. Instead, both men drink ginger ale and have the occasional steady girlfriend. It’s no wonder Batman was a target of Dr. Wertham; he spends more time with Robin than with the opposite sex. Tony Stark’s worse; he wears his alcoholism on his sleeve, and I can’t recall him ever being in a successful relationship.

Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne are not playboys. George Clooney is a playboy. In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, he says, "Here is my theory on debunking photographs in magazines, you know, the paparazzi photographs. I want to spend every single night for three months going out with a different famous actress. You know, Halle Berry one night, Salma Hayek the next, and then walk on the beach holding hands with Leonardo DiCaprio. People would still buy the magazines, they’d still buy the pictures, but they would always go, ‘I don’t know if these guys were putting us on or not."

See, that’s a playboy. If we’re supposed to believe that Bruce and Tony live the life, then we need to see a little bit of it. I’m not talking about scenes where Tony’s slipped into the bottle again; I’m talking about seeing Bruce start the night in Paris dancing with Paris, and ending the night in New York dancing with Lindsey. (I’m sure he has something in his utility belt that would protect him from whatever virulent disease he’d get from either encounter.) Alfred should be cooking breakfast for the gaggle of gals that spent the night (not that the tramps actually eat human food, but you know what I’m saying). Bruce Wayne should be the first story in the Gotham equivalent of Page Six, not moodily brooding about the crime scene in Gotham. I realize this view may not play with Time Warner’s licensing department, but I thought I’d share anyway.

Perhaps Ray should wait
to blog for a while after
reading gossip blogs…

Buy this book at Amazon.com!

Scott Kurtz is a lucky man.

Kurtz, creator of PvP, details the events of the live art show he participated in over the weekend. During an auction afterwards, he won a gorgeous piece by Usagi Yojimbo’s Stan Sakai. Take a look:

Usagi Yojimbo

Congratulations, Scott (you lucky bastard).

Greatest wedding vows ever.

Warning: adult topics discussed.

Still, greatest wedding vows ever.

35 Books in 30 Days 7: Book of Lost Souls 1 by J. Michael Straczynski and Colleen Doran

Buy Book of Lost Souls at Amazon.com!Boy, I’m glad I gave this book a second chance.

The Book of Lost Souls is an ongoing series by JMS (Babylon 5) and Colleen Doran (A Distant Soil, Orbiter). Marvel’s publishing it through their Icon imprint of creator-owned books. The story centers around Jonathan, a young man who commits suicide a long time ago. His soul is recruited by The Two to help steer humanity’s Lost Souls. One of the Two, the Dark Man, tries to push Jonathan towards evil, but Jonathan, as all good protagonists should, resists, despite the consequences.

I first tried to read this book while waiting on a car repair. I got through the first chapter but was completely turned off by the introduction of Mystery, a talking cat who acts as Jonathan’s helper. The panel where we meet him quite frankly made me nauseous.

No, not really. This is the purplest prose I’ve seen this side of gothy MySpace sites and 70’s horror comics. For a cat? And there’s quite a few panels of this sort. I couldn’t read any more, and I put the book down for a few weeks.

I found myself on a bench outside the Toms River Library yesterday, a beautiful sunny September day at Bookfest. I decided to give the book a second chance, and started again at page one.

I was glad I did. This is a rare work, one that actually has something- a lot of somethings- to say. The prose is still a little overblown, but you can see an improvement over time as JMS grows more comfortable with Doran’s art.

Doran’s the star of the show here. Her inkwork’s scratchier than on some of her other projects, but it fits here in the world of shadows. More importantly, when we hit the sixth chapter and Mystery has to take the stage in a starring role, she pulls of a miracle. Her Mystery is a convincing actor with a full range of human emotions while still looking like a cat. Any other artist would have either made Mystery more cartoony or ignored the needs of the script. Not Doran. She uses Mystery’s eyes and ears to pull it off in a way only a cat owner could do. (I’d post the pages, but I’d spoil the story. You’ll just have to trust me on this.)

JMS and Doran are getting ready to put out another 6 issues of this series, and I’ll be looking forward to each issue.

The Book of Lost Souls:
Cats, dreamers, hitmen, all lost;
Found here in this tome.

Buy this book at Amazon.com!

Erik Larsen sums up exactly how I feel about comics

Here’s his column in CBR.

He talks about how he ends up buying and rebuying newer editions of his favorite comics, specifically mentioning Absolute/Omnibus/oversized editions.

He did miss one fun aspect of rebuying, though. Last night, my wife told me that one of her friends had an 11-year old son who was just getting into comics, and did I have any extra books I could give to him?

Of course I did. I made my eyes pop when I hauled out 6 Essential Marvel books and a few other trades. I had recently repurchased the same material but in Omnibus or Masterworks format, and I’d rather give these to an 11-year old kid getting into comics than bother putting them up on eBay. Giving comics to kids is one of the coolest things an adult comics fan can do.