Monday, 20 January 2014

Atoll Comics Round 10

Or changes to my top-ten

Due to poverty and an urge to buy better comics, I have decided to be super-selective about which superhero comics I read. Harnessing the Awesome Power of Maths, I have determined that I can afford to read 10 ongoing titles. So I get to read 10, and only 10, titles published by either Marvel or DC as well as one trade paperback a week of my choosing.

A complication of this is that I am forced to drop an on-going title if I want to try reading a new on-going title, an act of very tough love. Being financially responsible is the worst.

I will be adding Black Widow and dropping The Movement.

Why Black Widow: I feel like Black Widow is one of the most under-utilized characters in the Marvel roster: she is a femme fatale super spy that exists in a universe with all kinds of weird and interesting spy-stuff in a epoch when real life espionage is growing ever more prominent. Add in a solid movie presence and its a no-brainer that there should be a Black Widow comic. And I want a good, ongoing Black Widow comic so badly. Black Widow by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto has the potential to be this. The first issue was pretty solid, with some fun spy action rendered with Phil Noto's excellent character acting and cinematic style. It also has an encouraging premise: that Black Widow is taking freelance jobs to fund her various penance projects. My one reservation is that it portrays a pretty mortal, chatty Widow.... which flies in contrast a bit with my idea of the hyper-efficient, quietly ruthless Black Widow that lives in my imagination. But, I'd like to see where the creative team will take things and give Black Widow a chance to win me over. If nothing else, it's a very well made comic.

Why not The Movement: The Movement suffers from too much movement, and not enough of The Movement. Let me explain: I feel like The Movement is trying to do waaaay too much too quickly in a way that is robbing the series of a lot of its potential impact. In just seven issues we have been thrown into a new, corrupt location where a never-before-seen protest/rebel movement with a diverse core group of misfit superhumans are fighting the authorities, some rich dude, a serial killer, and an anti-Movement superteam. There has also been a traitor from within, the addition of a new team member, and an internal ideological struggle within The Movement. In seven issues. While too much decompression is boring and urgency is usually good for comics, I feel like The Movement is failing to explore key series concepts, rushing through characterization, and triggering plot moments before they have had a chance to develop significance. Like, I still don't entirely understand why the setting of the The Movement is bad enough to justify kidnapping cops or how The Movement works. The traitor from within plot was wrapped up before we knew who all the characters even were. Or characters are dropping significant character points in narration boxes that don't organically fit their situations. (I also think the story would be better served by a different artist with a more realistic style and a greater ability to tie setting to story, since I feel like this story begs to feel more grounded and real.) And it kills me that I feel like this: I love the series premise, and I love the way Team Movement are interested in representing groups of people who are typically ignored by comics. I really want to like this comic, but the execution isn't there if I am only going to read ten comics.

Don't get me wrong, this is still a pretty good comic. It just isn't living up to my expectations. However, I could see that if you belong to the aforementioned typically-ignored-by-comics groups how this series might mean the world to you. So I hope it keeps going (and maybe improves a bit) and maybe I can give it another try someday.

(I understand that the comics market is ruthless and DC comics has a policy of dropping under-performing titles pretty quickly, so there is an impetus for creators to rapidly tell their story to try and win an audience and tell their story before the axe might drop. That said, I think The Movement would have been great if it say took a sane (as opposed to Burden) character... say, Misfit, and showed her in the corrupt setting and joining The Movement as an opening arc. Then taking the events of these first issues of The Movement and spreading them out over a few arcs to let the story breath. Maybe there is something to be said about giving creators the security to make longterm plans?)


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