Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Comic Book Wednesday: Now that song's going to be stuck in my head all night...

In order to change things up today, I thought I'd try to make myself a grilled cheese sandwich for supper. I burnt it horribly. Apparently, I can't handle grilled cheese. Will I eventually reach an age where it'll feel like I'm old enough for society to allow me to live on my own? Or will I enter my fifties wondering what the hell a Windsor knot is?
The good news is, you can never burn a grilled cheese sandwich so badly that ketchup can't fix it.

On to the reviews...
No Heroes 2. By Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp. This came out last week, as I was kindly reminded, but better late then never. I notice that the cover proclaims this is not a comic book, but "A Serialized Graphic Novel." Clever marketing move, or pretentious quibbling? Anyway, this issue has less action than the first one, but considering Ellis' strength is clever dialogue and big ideas, the change is more or less an improvement. Basically, Carrick Masterson takes Joshua to the Frontline base, and asks him whether he really wants to be a hero or not. Some more of the Frontline history is fleshed out, and there is a pervading sense throughout the comic (sorry, serialized graphic novel) that something is going to go very bad, very soon. I'm still impressed with Ryp's style and framing; major scenes, including a bloody two-page fold, are rendered more potent just because they jump out of the boxes and squares. Now that a few more of the pieces are falling into place, I think I enjoyed this issue more than the previous. I want to see where this goes next.

Teen Titans: A Kid's Game. By Geoff Johns, Mike McKone, and Tom Grummett. For something different, today's long section is a largely forgotten selection from 2003. The Teen Titans are one of the DC properties that seem to be in a constant state of rebooting. The idea is simple enough: take all the teenage equivalents of heroes, put them on a team. Hijinx ensue. My own familiarity with the Teen Titans extends mainly to being a fan of the cartoon show, and its pseudo-anime style. To give you a taste, here's a link to the theme song. You're welcome.
So I'm not really used to the darker tone presented here. My main problem with the book is that it's not particularly accessible to outside readers. Yes, there is a character glossary in the back--although since there's no table of contents, you wouldn't find it until after you finish reading, so I'm not sure how useful it is--but the general context of the series is tiptoed around a little more than it's explained. Two previous superhero teams, Young Justice and the Titans, had just disbanded after Donna Troy, the original Wonder Girl, was killed by a renegade Superman robot. (You know, the robots Superman used to keep around to convince people that he wasn't Clark Kent. In retrospect, he really should have done a better job decommissioning them. Hindsight.) Teen Titans is an attempt by the older Titans--Beast Boy, Starfire, and Cyborg--to create a support group for the younger super heroes: Robin, the new Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and Superboy. This volume has the heroes band together to fight Deathstroke, who is possessed by his son, Jericho. Again, there's an accessibility issue. While new readers won't left entirely in the dark, to understand the history these characters have with the Titans, you've got to be an old school fan.
Still, aside from the continuity issue, Johns' writing is good, and is characterization is great. Most of the focus is on the younger titans, but everyone gets a moment in the spotlight. It's worth reading for the spot-on Robin alone. If you've got a soft-spot for teenage superheroes, or you're familiar with the Titan's history, or you're just a skeevy perv who likes Starfire's costume (or lack thereof:
Give the volume a try.

Or just listen to the theme song again.

When there's evil on the attack
You can rest knowing they got your back
'Cuz when the world needs heroes on patrooooooooool, Teen Titans GO!

Later Days.

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