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Weekly Comic Reviews - 18 Nov 2015

Weekly Comic Reviews - 18 Nov 2015

Ratings out of 5 stars. Most comics can be found at Absolute Comics (Plaza Singapura).


The Arab of the Future

Story/Art: Riad Sattouf

Metropolitan Books

I first read about The Arab of the Future in The New Yorker last month and ordered it immediately. It is touted as the book to read now in France, given the ethnic and religious tension in Europe recently. I had wanted to review the book last week but didn’t get round to do it. What a difference a week make. Over the weekend, the attacks in Paris and Beirut happened. I slept late on Friday night. 4 am to be precise. When I woke at 8 am, the attacks in Paris were over. Four hours made all the difference. And Beirut was attacked one day before Paris. Most media did not pick it up. We need to look at other media to understand what’s going on. The Arab of the Future provides one perspective. And it is the comic to read now.

It details artist Riad Sattouf’s toddler life in the late 1970s when his Arab father brought him and his French mother to Libya and later Syria. Sattouf laced his childhood anecdotes with humour but it was no laughing matter for a small boy to experience the kind of culture shock he went through. His father came across as weak and selfish. The book ends with the family returning to the Syria after a return visit to France – you get a bad feeling and can’t wait for the second volume to be translated and published in English. (it just appeared in France in May this year) Read this together with Persepolis and also Fatherland by Nina Bunjevac, another graphic memoir about a child being brought back to Yugoslavia by her mother to escape from her die-hard Serbian nationalist father in Canada in the 1970s. A parallel story.

(5 stars)

Batman Europa #1

Story: Matteo Casali and Brian Azzarello

Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli and Jim Lee

DC Comics

A Batman comic 11 years in the making. We don’t really know why it’s delayed for so long. It should come out back in 2004-5. Jim Lee had just drawn the Hush story arc in 2002-3 and his winning pencils were employed again for Superman: For Tomorrow story arc in 2004-5. The latter was written by Brian Azzarello. So Batman: Europa was supposed to bring Azzarello and Lee together again to tackle a Batman. Throw in the Joker, throw in the European setting (inspired by an European trip Lee took all those years ago) and a Batman dying of a mysterious virus and you have a hit Batman series. But it’s 11 years too late. Blame it on Grant Morrison and Scott Snyder who have revamped what a Batman story is about. This is of nostalgia value – Batman circa the mid 2000s. Now let’s wait for Frank Miller’s third part of the Dark Knight and also the other much delayed series, Wonder Woman: Earth One by Grant Morrison.

(3 stars)

Star Wars: Vader Down #1

Story: Jason Aaron

Art: Mike Deodato

Marvel Comics

The first Star Wars cross-over. A six-parter that runs through the Star Wars and Darth Vader series. Unlike other Star Wars titles, this one focuses on the action, the dog fights in space and how bad ass Vader can be. Luke is no pushover either as he crashes his X-Wing to bring down Vader’s Tie-Fighter. The art by Mike Deodato is up to scratch to the hardboiled dialogue of Jason Aaron.

The Rebel Alliance had Vader surrounded: ‘Lay down your weapons! You are surrounded!’

Vader: ‘All I am surrounded by is fear. And dead men.’

(4 stars)

Huck #1

Story: Mark Millar

Art: Rafael Albuquerque

Image Comics

Mark Millar no longer writes comics. He writes storyboards that get his comics adapted to movies faster than you can say what the huck. This is his yet-an0ther-revisionist take on the Superman concept. What if the small town Supes grew up in knew he was special? What happens when the rest of the world caught up on this incredible fact? What if Supes is really Huck and is really, really special? Is Millar a genius or is he a manipulator taking us for a ride? Naming the character Huck is deliberate as it references that all-American heck care of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Huck also reminds me of an earlier Millar series, American Jesus – about a young boy discovering he is the second coming and how the rest of the world deals with it. That series has yet to be completed. In the meantime, enjoy this series drawn by the able Rafael Albuquerque (is he going back to American Vampire?) and wait for the movie to hit our screens in a few years’ time.

(4 stars)

Airboy #4

Story: James Robinson

Art: Greg Hinkle

Image Comics

With the end of the year coming, I can safely say this is my favourite series of the year. It’s crazy, it’s confessional and it’s autobiographical? Who cares? This is one of the most innovative or indulgent comic you will ever read, depending on your disposition. You know James Robinson from JSA: The Golden Age, Starman and Leave It To Chance. Here, he writes himself and artist Greg Hinkle into the story. They take drugs, they get blown by trannies in the male toilet, they meet Airboy, they fight Nazis and Hinkle even get to have sex with Airboy’s girlfriend, the Valkyrie. Airboy is still a boy; he is not man enough for a hot-blooded woman. But then again, it all goes back to Robinson’s own insecurities and inadequacies as a writer. He bitched to Hinkle that he is overshadowed by Gaiman, Morrison, Geoff Johns and Scott Snyder. Hinkle told him to s**k it. A treatise on manhood and growing a pair. This was released last week. Essential reading.

(5 stars)

Ms Marvel #1

Story: G. Willow Wilson

Art: Taekshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona

Marvel Comics

When I interviewed Agnes Garbowska at STGCC 2015 earlier this year, she commented that she does not draw a distinction between creating comic content for children or young adults and content for the more mature readers. As long it is a good story, it can be enjoyed by both. Among the mainstream comic companies, BOOM! is spot-on on this with Marvel picking up the idea fast and DC is still not catching the ball at all. Ms Marvel is an example of Marvel knowing the current demographics of comic readers. This new number one picks up where the old series left off. Kamala Khan is in the Avengers now but she is still getting into all kinds of shenanigans with her parents, friends, homework and boyfriend issues. A new corporation is taking over her neighbourhood, gentrifying it with her image. Now she has reclaimed her name and identity back. It’s hard growing up.

(3 stars)

Marvel’s Jessica Jones #1

Story: Brian Michael Bendis

Art: Michael Gaydos

Marvel Comics

Free on Comixology and Marvel Digital Comics Shop, this 12-page preview was released last month as a teaser for the new Jessica Jones TV series on Netflix. (she gets to give a hard time to Turk here, that punk from the Daredevil series) All episodes are streaming on 20 November. So if you do not know who is Jessica Jones and the groundbreaking  Alias series from Marvel Max 10 years ago, this is the place to start. Some has claimed that Alias was Marvel’s first comics for adults. Crime noir stories involving metahumans? Checked. Anal sex with Luke Cage? Checked. 10 years ago, Bendis was a writer who could no wrong. He was writing Daredevil, Secret War, The Pulse, The New Avengers, House of M, Avengers Disassembled and so on. Alias was the centrepiece of that universe with the Marvel Universe he was creating. His stories are all linked, like Chris Claremont’s in the late 1970s. Really cool.

(4 stars)

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