Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

In Defense of Word Balloons

So Mary's feeling a little let down by the world of comics lately. Fair enough.

I agree with her in regards to The Walking Dead's little foray into exploitation - the response to which Kirkman handled about as well as a freshman in an intro Soc class trying to argue his way out of Census data that shows that, in 2007, men still outearn women by a significant amount for no good reason. And yes, She-Hulk has been treading narrative water of late. But as the alpha geek in our house, it falls to me to rebut as regards my sweetie's take on the state of the sequential art coming into our house these days. To wit: the following titles that are, or have recently been, kicking all kinds of comic fanny.

First off, Elk's Run was awesome, but that's a tale for a future post.

And yes, Y the Last Man is winding down but Ex Machina is really picking up the pace in recent issues, and I'm waiting for the next issue of both series the way that New Englanders used to queue up at the docks for the next Dickens installment.

Those caveats aside, here's what we at TBIFY have been reading and digging the heck out of lately.

David Petersen's Mouse Guard. The initial run of this series followed a trio of mice who patrol the borders of the mouse territories in the distant past, fending off snakes, crabs, and political insurgents. The first six issues are coming out in a collected volume this month, and there's a new run starting soon. The art is excellent, the concept and story are engaging, and I really can't say enough about this little series that could.
If you liked Watership Down, this book is for you.

Next up we have one for the social theory/philosophy geeks only, but one that both of us have enjoyed greatly: Action Philosophers. Like the "For Beginners" series, but funnier and more inventive, this one is for people who understand why "Plato Smash!" may be the funniest summing-up of Mr. "Myth of the Cave" that ever there was. And the issue where Jacques Derrida appears as the Deconstructionator (the last panels dissolve into photos of the artist and writer, as Jacques vows "I am always already back") is another favorite of ours, along with "You're a Good Man, John Stuart Mill." If you like very abstract reasoning, but wish that Das Capital came with more pictures of Karl chucking grenades at bankers, this book is for you.

Finally, DC/Vertigo's DMZ has upped the ante for politically astute comics, without sacrificing story for ideology. The series, set in the near future where Manhattan Island has become a demilitarized zone following a militia-led revolt against the Feds, follows a journalism student who inadvertently becomes an embedded journalist in the next US Civil War. As the series progresses, the scales fall from our hero's eyes and readers are treated - if that's the word - to a thoughtfully written "What if...?" story that imagines what it'd be like if we did to ourselves what we're currently doing elsewhere. If you liked Pride of Baghdad, 1984, or Brave New World, this book is for you.

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