Sunday, May 20, 2007

Houston, we have a problem

So this is a picture of the book shelf dedicated to holding my graphic novels. When I first moved up here, there was still plenty of room left on the shelf. Understand, that isn't all the graphic novels I own. I have two 75 litre containers in storage that contains the rest. Not to mention 20-odd long boxes filled with single issues.

Yes, I have a problem. This has been previous acknowledged.

Anyway, I’m running out of space on this shelf. I still have other books shelves I can expand onto, but this is being met with a frown from the lovely wife. While she tolerates the habit, she’s quite concerned about it getting out of hand. Especially since she’s wondering about the deal we stuck when moving here.

The deal was pretty simple. I didn’t buy singles of coming books because they quickly eat up too much room. However, I was allowed to buy graphic novels. In fact, as many as I would reasonably like, as long as I didn’t buy singles. The logic being graphic novels can fit on book shelves while singles tend to expand outwards in messy piles. This has been a deal I’ve been gleefully taking advantage of, as you might figure out looking at the shelf.

What’s worse is that now that I’m making decent money for the first time in my life, it’s not that I’m just buying graphic novels, I’m buying pretty, expensive hard cover graphic novels. If you look closely at the picture you will see “Absolute” (DC’s premiere hard cover line) versions of Sandman, The Authority, Planetary and New Frontier. I have a bunch of Marvel “Premiere” hard covers. And I’ve recently discovered the beauty that is Marvel’s “Omnibus” line, which takes 30 or so issues of a classic run and put them into one over-sized hard cover.

I currently have Grant Morrison’s run on X-Men in that format and I’m drooling over the Stan Lee Fantastic Four volumes and the Frank Miller Daredevil volume.

If all of this sounds not only space consuming, but bank account damaging, you would be right. I did a count on how it would cost to buy all the books on the Chapters wish list that are available now. This doesn’t mean all the ones I have book marked that will come out during the summer. It’s a...sizeable, chunk of change. One that even I’m balking at. I mean, I can afford it pretty easily, but it’s still one of those things that makes you think twice.

Funnily enough, even with all of these graphic novels, I rarely write reviews about them. I don’t know why. It’s just one of those things that I’ve always found hard to review. TV, movies, theatre and even music aren’t that hard for me. Books are more of a challenge. Same thing with art. I guess that combination makes it more understandable why I find comics hard to review.

Still, I think I might try. One graphic novel a week, on Sundays. If people find it useful or hate it, let me know. (Oh, and if Marvel or DC or any comic book publish would like to start sending me graphic novel review copies, I will love you forever).

This week’s pick is All-Star Superman. Because I ragged on how terrible All-Star Batman and Robin was, it seems only fair that I take a look at the other All-Star title. And one of the reasons why the Batman title is so terrible is that it suffers so poorly when compared to this one.

The story is by Grant Morrison and the art is by Frank Quietly. Morrison is one of the mad geniuses of comic books. He got his North American start back in the late 80s doing groundbreaking titles like Animal Man (where the lead character discovers his maker, which was Morrison, and the two of them walk around Glasgow talking about art and the nature of existence) and Doom Patrol (which featured a character whit multiple personalities and each personality had a super power. Oh, and there was a painting that ate Paris). Morrison is one of those people you hate if you’re a writer because he has so many good ideas bursting at the seams. He breathes and something clever comes out with the CO2. It’s maddening.

But it works here. One of the taglines for Superman has always been that he’s “The Man of Tomorrow”. And yet, too many of the monthly comic book stories feature Superman battling the villain of the month. There’s rarely a sense of the future in the series.

But this is what the series is. Mad ideas throw out all over the place with Superman right in the middle of them. A scientist’s quest to get a teaspoon of the sun (yes, I know, it’s been done before, but it works in this case) and how Superman fits into it. About the best version of Lois Lane we’ve seen in awhile, including what happens when she gets Superman’s powers for a day. Black Kryptonite from a super-dense “under” universe. The Unknown Superman of 850,000 A.D. He even manages to make Jimmy Olson fun.

And above all it’s tremendous entertaining. You don’t need to have read a Superman comic in the past 20 years to pick up the series and be sucked into it. If you thought last year’s Superman Returns was a tad too dry and serious and filled with its own self-important mythology, then this is the book for you.

Morrison loves Superman, but he also realizes that Superman should be fun. Which is precisely what this is.

I haven’t said much about the art. Quietly is widely respected in the comic book world, but is slow. Still, the art is beautiful. It’s filled with bright colours and Queitly has worked with Morrison long enough to have no problem capturing Morrison’s occasional off-the-wall idea. He also draws fantastic Superman/Clark Kent. Superman is majestic, power and imposing. His Clark Kent is, well, a schlep. He’s a clutz that is continually knocking things over. He doesn’t make eye contact and is stooped over. His suits are baggy and ill-fitting. He stutters. You really could miss the fact they are the same person. Give Quietly credit for managing to draw the character in a way that makes it believable that people could fail to make the connection. Oh, and can still slip in the iconic image or two, like the one on the cover.

It’s a fun, fun book. It collects the first six issues of what I understand will likely be a 12 issue series. It’s out in hard cover right now and at a reasonable price with Chapters (less than $15) and I recommend it highly.


Anonymous said...

You should get some taller bookcases. The floor to ceiling type.

pat the wench said...

This is in relation to an earlier post, but I thought you would find this art interesting:

Jason said...

Ah Craig you can tell Cathy it could always be worse. I get singles and action figures. I have a china cabinet full of the DC Directs and Marvel Legends. Again we don't have china with us so I won out.

Good review, that book is on my order list. I'm curious to try his "Seven Soldiers" books. I've always like Morrison and he reads much better with a collect run then a monthly. New Frontier is beautiful I rarely open mine. The Absolute Halloween is waiting for me, I won't see it until July, it kills me.

towniebastard said...

Anon, we have three of the five shelf bookcases and two of them are solidly full. We have book issues.

Pat, the link isn't working.

Jason, sadly the argument "It could always be worse" has long since failed to have any impact on her. And I'm currently debating between the Absolute Long Halloween and the Daredevil Omnibus. No idea which one to go for yet.

And I'd like to get Seven Soldiers, but honestly, I have about 30 books to get ahead of it right now.

Anonymous said...

My cat just pooped.

Craig, want to blog about it?

Inexplicably drawn back in...again.

pat the wench said...

It's on the Telegram website, and it's all about why crappy shows are renewed and good ones fail. I'm sure you can find it.