What if Superman was one of us? Just a slob like one of us? Just a stranger baling hay, trying to till his own farm? That’s part of the appeal of Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come, the subject of our latest superheroic Four-Color Flashback–Ross’ painted artwork brings DC’s pantheon to vivid life. Of course, Superman isn’t one of us. He makes this clear when, after a decade in exile, he descends upon Metropolis to mete out cold hard justice to a new, irresponsible generation of heroes and villains. Kingdom Come was intended as a statement on the Xtreme anti-heroes of the ‘90s, and as its human protagonist Norman McKay witnesses the fantastic devastation around him, the book explores issues of faith and fascism. Paul and Arlo discuss how Ross and Waid’s tale holds up more than 20 years later, how it reconciles the heroes’ godlike power with fragile human will, why it may be Ross’ best work, and its nigh definitive portrait of DC’s Trinity. Plus, Arlo finishes his Disney marathon while catching Pokémon, and we tease a future discussion of Spider-Man PS4.
Next: we switch religions from DC to Marvel as our pal Chance Mazzia joins us to talk Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again.
Welcome to Last Month’s Comics, in which I discuss, uh, last month’s comics. I get my comics in bi-monthly shipments from Discount Comic Book Service, and as such, I can be a little behind. So here we are. This feature started last month.
So, September 2011, what kind of havoc did you wreak? Let’s find out…
BEST RETURN TO FORM
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9 #1 Writer: Joss Whedon Art: Georges Jeanty (pencils), Dexter Vines (inks), Michelle Madsen (colors) Publisher: Dark Horse
To say that I was pleased upon finishing the first issue of the new “season” of Buffy is an understatement. Season 8 started off very well, with Buffy leading an army of 500 Slayers and trying to unmask the mysterious foe Twilight. And to tell the truth, it was great for much of its run, with an occasional stumble (vampires being outed to the public wasn’t handled with much finesse). But the last story arc, with the reveal of Angel as Twilight, cosmic sex, and general batshit insanity, was so damaging that even someone who considers Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be the greatest piece of entertainment ever given us by man had come to the conclusion that it might be for the best if Ms. Summers was finally laid to rest. The final issue of Season 8, though, was a dramatic 180 from the pace and structure of the last few issues leading up to it, and the Season 9 premiere continues in that vein. With Giles gone and magic vanquished, Buffy is depressed and adrift, working as a waitress and getting blackout drunk. It’s all done with Whedon’s razor-sharp wit and keen sense of twenty-something angst. The final “shock twist” is so humdrum and everyday it’s hilarious. In many ways, the metaphorical “party” is over for our Scoobies; now what? I can’t wait to find out.
Welcome to week 3 of 5 in our analysis of Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s run on Uncanny X-Men. Weeks 1 and 2 can be found here and here.
From #122, “Cry for the Children!,” to #128, “The Action of the Tiger!,” almost every X-Man experiences considerable developments. Since I spilled a boatload of digital ink in the first two columns by going through each issue chronologically, I figured I’d take a different tack this week. I’ll discuss each X-Man individually, then offer some overall thoughts after the fact.
Super, written and directed by the cult-equipped James Gunn, reminds me of two recent movies. The first, and most obvious, is Kick-Ass. Like that film, and the comic book upon which it was based, Super takes the last decade of our nation’s obsession with anything and everything involving people in brightly colored underpants fighting crime to its logical conclusion: a real, non-superpowered individual puts on brightly colored underpants and fights crime. Also like Kick-Ass, the movie is shockingly violent in the way it dissects our fascination with superheroes. Which brings me to Hobo with a Shotgun, the other film Super reminds me of. Hobo with a Shotgun is a grim, joyless piece of work masquerading as nerd comedy, in which a vigilante mercilessly exterminates scores of criminals who rape, rob, and murder scores of innocents. Super sort of falls into the weird, misshapen chasm between the two.