Whoo. What to say? So I’m still working my way (slowly) through a big giant list of 90’s books that I’m considering a bit of a crash-course syllabus. I originally started reading comics in the late 80’s and early 90’s so a lot of this stuff is either revisiting stuff I was a fan of back then, or finally getting to read the stuff I wanted to at the time. As a kid it was harder to keep up with series, so I’d just get to read random issues whenever I had the chance.
I remember The Infinity Gauntlet stuff from back then. It felt like it was this huge deal – Thanos getting all crazy powerful. My friends and I used to play that TSR Marvel role playing game back in the day and would fight over who could be Thanos. I’m pretty sure we just made up our own rules now that I think about it.
Anyway I think I maybe overhyped this book in my mind. I was so excited to read it but ultimately it felt like a slog to get through. And as much as I can appreciate the comics of this era, this one really feels like it falls into that “Too Much” category of comics from the time that I just can’t get past. Too many characters trying to do too much stuff and with too much dialogue… it all just gets so messy and hard to follow. Hard to read, even! There’s just so much stuff on each page that it feels beyond cluttered.
I also hate the writing style… I’m not quite sure how to describe it but it’s like you have a narrator that’s trying to oh so poetically describe everything that’s going on. I’m a much bigger fan of show, don’t tell. But more importantly I’m a bigger fan of Keep It Simple Stupid. I don’t feel like it does a story any service to write it as if it were a Shakespearean sonnet. I really prefer writing that feels natural and less verbose. ‘Say what you mean’ and whatever other cliches you think I should use here.
Having said all this – I want to disclaim that I didn’t hate Infinity Gauntlet. There were some great PARTS. I liked the whole thing about Thanos suffering because now matter his power; no matter what he did, he could just not gain the affections of Lady Death. The motivation there feels almost human. Unrequited love led to a gigantic war. But mostly I felt like I could have read the first and last issues and been totally fine reading this story in Cliff’s Notes mode.
I also think Adam Warlock is kind of lame, though. And I’m now in no rush to read The Infinity War.
Continuing my list of 90’s books, here’s The New Fantastic Four: Monsters Unleashed from 1991. Ironic that this book showed up in the mail for me the same week as the new Monsters Unleashed started at Marvel.
This one was actually quite good. A Skrull named DeLila comes to Earth and makes it look like the Fantastic Four are dead. She takes the form of Sue and recruits Spider-Man, The Hulk, Wolverine and Ghost Rider to find the FF’s killer. Of course she’s got ulterior motives.
This books spans three issues and in it we get to see more of the Skrull, the Mole Man and some mighty big monsters. Adams’ artwork is really great. And the writing is… mostly good. Some of the jokey writing falls a bit flat. But the story works out well.
I liked this one quite a bit. I didn’t read it as a kid, but it’s one that I would have loved back then I’m sure.
Alright don’t laugh, but I’ve compiled a list of about twenty-five comics from the 90’s that I want to read. It’s sort of a crash-course syllabus in 90’s comics, if you will. I go into this knowing full well that many folks consider the 90’s to be a terrible time for comics (namely, Marvel comics) but I’m not doing this for torture. Nope. It’s because the 90’s are when I was most actively into comic books. But I was a kid. I couldn’t keep up with full series. I’d just read what I could get my hands on. Now I’ve got a chance to go back and read all the stuff that I wished I had back then. Oh, and I’m trying to do this chronologically – at least loosely by year.
I begin with Spider-Man: Torment. The only thing I remember about this series was awesome Todd McFarlane covers. The book itself is full of also awesome McFarlane artwork. But the story… eh.
The short version is that some voodoo witch lady has taken control of The Lizard. And he goes nuts and basically tortures Spidey for five issues. My main problem is the storytelling – or lack there of. There’s barely any dialogue. It’s also just basically being narrated. And a lot of it is just fractured thoughts and single words. Many of which are repeated way too much: “Pain.” “Poison.” “Doom.” Ugh, enough!
Meanwhile Mary Jane is out for a night on the town. She worries about Peter – what he’s doing, if he’s okay, if he’ll be home soon. But really nothing happens with her. She’s just there… because MJ has to be there?
And in the end The Lizard does fall, but that voodoo witch lady? I don’t know. She takes off. And that’s it. We should conclude what? This to me feels like a classic case of a great artist with some great art to show off, but not much story to hold it all together. Oh well.
I found myself caught up on all my new comics this week, so I went to my shelves to pull out something from the backlog. I was in sort of a Jessica Jones mood, so I settled on Volume 1 of The Pulse.
Man, I really enjoyed this one. This series finds Jessica Jones in her post-superhero role and pregnant with Luke Cage’s baby. Because they need health insurance she takes a job working at The Daily Bugle. Basically, she’s a superhero specialist on the payroll. It’s a neat setup. And these first five issues tell a really cool story involving The Green Goblin killing employees of Oscorp, and how Jessica Jones and Ben Urich go on to break this story with the help of Spider-Man.
It was awesome seeing all of these characters together but in a more grounded setting a la the newspaper. The artwork was great and Bendis’ storytelling was brisk and exciting. I really had a blast reading this one. I’ll be on the lookout for more collected volumes of The Pulse for sure.