Monthly Archives: September 2011

The TW Review – Moon Knight #4 – And Marc Spector goes on a date …

So I’m an issue behind? Big deal. Real life caught up with me, and the internet hit the way side. Oh well. I’m back (at least for this post), and I want to communicate my thoughts and feelings on this issue of the Brian Bendis/Alex Maleev Moon Knight series.

Marc Spector goes on a date with Maya Lopez this issue. They experience the conventional first date awkwardness. Spector attempts to sound like smooth talking Philip Marlowe. There’s some real talk after the failed smooth talk. Spector and Lopez engage in post-date action (interpret action however you wish).

The end.

This issue read fairly fast. I’m not stating such to mark the comic with a negative criticism. I, in fact, sometimes enjoy Bendis’ quick, “decompressed” issues that so many people seem to criticize. Granted, those light issues are the only narrative installment for an entire month, but I can live with quick bursts every so often. Not every single issue needs the seemingly demanded 200 word balloons or heavy plot. Every instance of a narrative, if we are to understand narrative as a living, breathing organism, is not long and padded. At some point the story, like life, slows down and meanders without dialogue or revelations and just skips along, leaving moments how they are.

I’m probably depicting this comic as some sort of avant garde, subtle display when it’s not. Remember, it’s a Bendis Marvel Comic. It’s a good comic, but in no ways artistically dramatic.

I’m just romanticizing quick, light comic book issues because that’s what I do, and even though it’s light, Moon Knight #4 still pulls off an interesting, complete thought.

Reading this issue, I recall the DVD extras of the Daredevil film. I think back to watching the “Men Without Fear” documentary, you know, the one where every worthwhile Daredevil creator – minus Steve Gerber – is interviewed, and I remember how Frank Miller commented on super hero sex and his portrayal of such through Matt Murdock and Elektra.

Miller used the classic Daredevil love story to express costume intimacy via the comic book fights we are all accustomed to. Hell’s Kitchen stood in for DD and Elektra’s bed room, and kicks and bounds marked each and every sexual move. Miller put super hero sex on the page but disguised it in a way that was culturally acceptable (not like this shit that happened last week). This same idea leaks its way into Moon Knight #4 via the end of the issue. Alex Maleev takes the circumstance of the book, the main sequence being the date between Spector and Lopez, and turns a climactic fight sequence into a post-date hook up, playing off of the cliche super hero team-up. His display of the battle feels like an intimate moment between Maya and Marc. It’s the first team-up, and both characters are partners in this rage against evil.

This single fight feels like an extension of what is to come. Marc Spector and Maya Lopez. Two nobodies on the west coast, alone, facing a great threat to the Marvel U.

But the depiction of super hero relationships is  not as smooth and sexy as Miller’s because Bendis keeps in mind Marc Spector’s flaw of character – he’s not the real deal.

Like any classic Brian Michael Bendis comic book scene, Spector and Maya Lopez have a conversation. Around this conversation, Bendis deploys something you’d easily see in a high school set teen movie: gossip. Avengers and Marc Spector’s head-friendlies appear, and Bendis has them act as a social panel to characterize our love birds as nobodies. It’s the super hero version of a 90s teen movie where the cool kids discuss the awkward “romances” of the dorks. I love it.

Because Marc Spector is the dork of the super hero community. As I’ve discussed before, Spector plays hero; he’s not actually a hero. Bendis uses that flaw to bring the character down to a amusing level by making him the loser of the Marvel U, and he now has a nice “girlfriend” in tow.

Then there’s the scene itself.

Like any situation, you cannot entirely trust hearsay in order to judge a person. We may understand Maya and Marc as nobodies before the scene, but Bendis sort of brings us back to believing in these characters via the date. It’s a very humanizing scene that starts off awkward yet evolves to cute. Spector flirts with his lady friend in a style I find familiar, and then carries on into a simulated, smooth talking act as he tries to find answers to the case he’s working. Once the mystery man thing fails, Spector stops himself and the real characters come out.

I love the dialogue Bendis plants here.

Marc: ” Let’s just cut the sass down and have a real conversation.”

“Wouldn’t that be nice, if two people who do what we do had a real conversation?”

Only two word balloons but they sum up so much of Bendis’ Marvel career.

But it’s also just a nice scene for the simple fact that it gets right what a date between two people should be. One half act, or presentation to attract, another half heart-to-heart. Bendis boils down the halves of an entire date to two pages. Decompression what?

What I’m trying to say is … I love how this issue cures Marc Spector of his loneliness. Granted, dude’s fictional. I shouldn’t give a single shit whether he’s lonely or not. But there’s something nice about the way Bendis has paired the character with somebody on his level. Marlene, Spector’s previous leading lady, was fine and interesting in her own right, but Maya makes a lot of sense to me. She’s underdeveloped, similar to Moon Knight, and she’s typecast. People know her as the deaf Avenger. Same with Marc Spector. He’s “crazy Moon Knight.” The character’s been subject to his own identity flaw in recent years – both in fictional awareness and in online comics culture.

I like that Spector now has an equal, and the series’ cast has a new, solid, unexpected addition. Bendis and Maleev have crafted a solid issue here. It sells the thought that even the losers can find companionship.

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the chemical box – episode 011 – back in the day

A new Chemical Box Podcast, hosted by Joey Aulisio and myself, is available. Here are the details…

in this episode joey and alec bitch about things for 20 minutes or so and then move on to discuss topics such as hellboy, criminal: the last of the innocent #1-2 by ed brubaker and sean phillips, captain america & bucky #620 by ed brubaker with marc andreyko and chris samnee, captain america #1 by ed brubaker and steve mcniven, daredevil #1 by mark waid with paolo rivera and marcos martin, rachel rising #1 by terry moore, and twisted savage dragon funnies edited by michel fiffe with stories from benjamin marra, ulises farinas, and joe keatinge among others.

music by local h

You can listen by clicking here, or you can download the show, in iTunes, here.

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The TW Review – Justice League #1

Edit: I wrote this review for the Friday edition of The Daily Athenaeum, so excuse the short paragraphs and partial breifness in analysis. That’s newspaper writing, people. Anyway, I liked what I wrote here, so I thought I would post it.

Read.

Justice League #1
Writer: Geoff Johns, Artists: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair

“There was a time when the world didn’t know what a super-hero was.”

The comic opens, and page one presents three panels. Panel one depicts a snapshot of a swat team cop. Two provides an overhead view as we focus in on a rooftop. Panel three zooms in on The Dark Knight.

There’s a progression here. We begin our focus on one form of physical fitness and evolve on to another. Evolve being the key word.

Batman on this page signifies something new or the ideal form of human police force, and by way of Jim Lee’s page layout, the old school swat member and Batman are in the midst of face off. He even draws them on opposite sides of the panel to give the illusion of each character staring off.

It’s humanity against super-humanity, and fear is in the air as both conflict over co-existence.

Or maybe it’s more a matter of discovery?

“Justice League #1” stands as the new DC comic book to begin an era and to excite an audience once more. It’s purpose as a product rests on the attraction of a new or lapsed audience, and it’s here to remind a populace of the super-hero concept’s true home.

While the line “the world didn’t know what a super-hero was” may not entirely ring true in our current cultural layout, the thought of the genre’s place and background may be a little perverted.

It’s the era of Hollywood. Iron Man makes more sense in a film than in print. People’s understanding isn’t very clear.

Not that it necessarily needs to be, but people have forgotten the comic book’s role in the super-hero genre. The medium and the genre don’t exactly match up for people anymore. They’re becoming their own things.

And this is perfectly fine. I’d rather people see comics as a medium then simply “super-heroes,” but still, capes are so much of the history. Both elements are forever tied to another.

This comic seems to remind us of that while also recalling the late 1930s as the super-hero genre first took flight. In some ways, “Justice League #1” says “this is the birth of the super-hero,” giving the comic this “Action Comics #1” vibe.

This statement, I feel, could be accurate, as this is the comic book, out of any comic book, that will provide people with a sense of new found discovery. And by that, I mean people discovering comics

The first page, if so interpreted by the audience party, provides a meta textual comment. It’s depicting what this comic book is intended to do: smash our world with the comic book awareness.

It does so in a semi-menacingly fashion, though.

Human beings fear these proto-gods, and the gods don’t even like each other. There’s nothing welcoming about it, but rather it feels like some sort of forced relation.

If desired, you could interpret this as a comment on the overall DC “all-new 52” relaunch.

Johns writes this comic well. Coming from me, this is a big compliment as I haven’t ever been a fan of this guy’s work. His comics hold too many monologues about nostalgia and too much “serious” character work for my taste.

The dude knows how to structure a story, though. I’ll give him that.

With “Justice League” I feel Johns channels a bit of another successful, modern super-hero team book – Brian Michael Bendis’s “New Avengers.”

Bendis’s Avengers work prides itself on indecisive, more-human-than-super-human characters. The Avengers may be the world’s greatest super-team, but in Bendis’s hands these characters must discuss what needs to be done rather than just act.

His version of the team is very human by way of its function. They almost work like politicians.

John’s brings that human concept to his version of the Justice League. While both Batman and Green Lantern still act quickly under fire, jumping from Gotham City to Metropolis in minutes in order to work, the characters’ relations are very flawed.

Green Lantern speaks of himself in the third person, and he cannot help but sound like egotistical jerk as he shows off to Batman. Batman is very untrusting and looks to work by himself rather than with Green Lantern.

Both characters are very godlike in their ability, but their social skills are so human.

Johns’s Justice League channels but also plays opposite to Bendis’s Avengers.

Just by nature of the comic’s character driven focus, I’d say Geoff Johns is totally trying to capture the the tone of Marvel Comics’ successful Avengers franchise.

I’m in favor of this first issue. While most complain of a lacking cast, I feel I read what I expected. Sure, the entire Justice League doesn’t appear, but honestly, in this day and age of decompression, did you really expect a done-in-one snapshot?

There’s enough action, question, and interesting character work to capture a reader’s attention, and Jim Lee back on art details is never a bad thing.

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