Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Comic Book Wednesday: The Other Pilgrim's Way

I was really debating whether to keep this "theme" post going or not. On the one hand, there's the argument that there's about as much exploration of self in a comic book review as there is in this semicolon; on the other hand, the last entry was popular enough to constitute about 90% of the traffic to my blog in the last week. And since doing whatever it takes to pander to my own incipient narcissism IS an exploration of self, I guess that means it stays, for now.
Marvel Zombie 3: #1. I think the cover is a good indicator of whether someone would be interested in this or not.
If you can name the movie this cover is paying homage to AND the two Marvel characters on the cover and still feel enthusiastic for the project, then you should not only buy this comic, you probably already have. Plot: Zombie Deadpool spearheads an invasion into the Marvel Universe Proper. He is repelled, and a counterforce, consisting of Machine Man and Jocasta, are sent to put an end to the zombie menace. There's also the Nexus of All Realities and a Man-Thing appearance, if that's what floats your boat. There's some cute ideas and action scenes present in this comic, but it's not a great jump-on point if you haven't read the previous Zombie series and maybe not worth getting into if you're not fond of the post-Ellis Machine Man. The art is gritty, which works well for the swamp zombie scenes, but less well for the ultra-high-tech ARMOR base. Bottom line: if you like Zombies and some of the more obscure Marvel characters, read on. Otherwise, it's probably not worth it.
The Scott Pilgrim series. This, on the other hand, is entirely worth it. The Scott Pilgrim series, written and drawn by Canadian born Bryan Lee O'Malley. And I want it to be clear from the start I've only read the first three volumes (Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, and Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness), so nobody say anything about Volume 4, 'kay? Anyway, the main plot of the series is that in order to go out with literally the girl of his dreams (they met when she traveled through them as part of an interdimensional shortcut for her courier job) Ramona Flowers, he must defeat in battle all seven members of her League of Evil Ex-Boyfriends. And if that sounds surreal, it really, really is. The best thing about O'Malley's story is how perfectly he blends these surreal elements (like the Vegan Police in volume 3, or the drawn-out Street-Fighteresque knife fight in volume 2 between Ramona and Scott's ex-girlfriend) with Scott's huge supporting cast of down-to-earth and entirely likeable friends and family.
And it's good they're likeable, because Scott? He's kind of a dick.
He mooches off his friends, he leads on said ex-girlfriend (who's all of sixteen when the series starts, to his 22), and he's entirely unemployed except for his three member band. Hopefully, he'll go through some bildungromans as the series go on, but for now... kind of a dick. It's a testement to O'Malley that the series is so good and fun when the lead isn't really that likeable.
The art, as you can see below, is the sort of wide-eyed non-realistic type that often leads O'Malley to be classified for manga. Normally, I hate this style, but here... it totally works.
My attachment to this series stems basically from two things: my geeky love for the sheer random inventedness and my admiration for O'Malley's ability to create complete, three-dimensional characters with a handful of lines and snippets of dialogue.
But Person, you say, I'm still not convinced. What makes you think I will like this book? What does it have to offer me? Well, Volume 1's got advice on how to break up with a girl (don't do what Scott do), in volume 2, all the characters stop what they're doing to give a detailed recipe of a vegan pot pie that I'm sure will be of interest, and in volume 3....
*UPDATE: yeah, this picture ain't coming without a scanner. So... look for that tomorrow, 'cause it'll be... super cool. I'm sure.

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