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It’s Valentine’s Day! So I have a few errands to run, a dinner to cook and a mission to make myself look presentable for when my breadwinning wife comes home from work. So a comic book review for today and I’ll return to some larger text for tomorrow’s review.

As it happens, this comic features my favourite supervillain – Harley Quinn. Poor Harley is quite demented, but also quite sweet in a strange kind of way. She does see herself as the Joker’s companion/number one fan, so a touch of madness is to be expected. I mention my interest in Harley, because when I first visited Stephanie, I saw that she had painted her own portrait of the former Arkham Asylum staff member (FYI, Harley is the one on the right lighting a bomb with a cigar). I took this to be a good omen, an indication of our suitability for one another as a couple.

I was not wrong.

Arkham Asylum: Madness is unusual in that it is set in one of the most famous landmarks in the Batman mythology, but does not feature the character at all. In fact he is barely even alluded to by the book’s cast. Instead, the story focuses on the ordinary staff at the Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane, in particular a young nurse named Sabine, and their fraught interractions with the dangerous psychopaths locked up behind its walls.

Sabine works the day shift at Arkham despite its reputation, so that she can afford to pay off her family’s debts. The one thing that allows her to get through the day is the thought of returning home to her son Ozzie. She has few friends working with her, with an elderly janitor named Eddy and a fellow nurse Randy, managing to make her smile now and then, despite the oppressive atmosphere of Arkham itself.

As the day progresses tension continues to build, a tension that the inmates are far more receptive to. Small things like a hallway clock marking the time left for lunch slowing down, or Dr. Hurd’s unusual health issues, are ominous hints of some threat approaching.

The Joker, Arkham’s most feared patient, acts as a barometer for the rising anxieties within the building. The staff are terrified of him and he, in turn, enjoys nothing more than to increase their fear of what he may be capable of. His latest scheme is to follow to the letter a suggestion by one of the attending doctors to take on a hobby, like collectibles. Joker seems to have become obsessed with an innocuous collection of comedic props, but the true nature of the items is far less innocent.

Then disaster strikes for Sabine as she is ordered to stay on for the nightshift. Prevented from spending the evening with Ozzie, she falls into a depression, seemingly reflected by the asylum itself. The clock in the hallway begins to bleed, Joker springs his trap on Dr. Hurd and then in the ensuing choas the inmates make an escape attempt. The attendants and guards are the only thing between the psychopaths and freedom.

This book is a genuine treat for fans of Sam Kieth. I first discovered his art style through the MTV adaptation of his comic The Maxx, before tracking down his excellent miniseries Zero Girl. I love his punk/painterly aesthetic, the contorted bodies and smooth faces. Sabine is for all intents and purposes a traditional Kieth heroine, innocent in appearance, but possessing a hidden inner-strength, in this case the intensity of her love for her son. This book also features fantastic redesigns of Harley Quinn and a less-than-dapper Harvey Dent.

Arkham Asylum: Madness completes an unofficial triptych of stories set in this Lovecraftian Bedlam. The first, by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean, was a fantastic artistic showcase for the latter, with Batman’s righteous heroism eroded by the condensed madness of the asylum. The second, by Dan Slott and Ryan Sook, marginalised Batman in favour of a new inmate, the White Shark. Kieth disposes of the caped crusader entirely, creating a terrifying vacuum.

It is unfair for the likes of Sabine to be trapped in this hell with criminal psychopaths. The book shows how her spirit is crushed over the span of an exhausting twenty-four hours. The Batman series has always been party to a certain sadism and Kieth demonstrates the cost of the popularity of these villains on such ordinary people as Sabine.

Chilling and gripping, with wonderfully kinetic art.

A year ago I reviewed Alasdair Gray‘s Lanark on my former blog. Instead of insisting on the post-modern content of that novel, or for that manner the religious themes, with references to Gnosticism and the inherent conservatism of the church as an institution – I compared the book to a comic by Grant Morrison named Animal Man.

Perhaps some might find that offensive? Personally the medium of a story has no categorical importance – it’s the content that interests me and I have no problem with raising this piece of popculture up on the same critical pedestal as Lanark.

Of course, and some of you may have realized, there was a small problem in my making the comparison – I had not actually read Animal Man. The page illustrated above was my sole reference. So to amend that little hiccup, I’m reviewing the final collection of Morrison’s run on the title today.

Animal Man is a minor superhero named Buddy Baker, who has been operating for just under a year. He has a wife, Ellen, and two children, Maxine and Cliff. An accident involving an alien spaceship has granted him the ability to borrow traits from animals, hence his superhero moniker. Unlike most other superhumans, Buddy’s heroics are more politically sensitive, such as environmental activism, agitating against animal testing and fighting against Apartheid in South Africa.

However, Buddy’s family has been under surveillance from a mysterious figure, seemingly able to appear at will. Unable to protect his wife and children from the ‘weirdness’, in his life, the everyman superhero has also recently undergone unusual experiences, hinting at some outside force manipulating his life for the purpose of entertainment.

Then tragedy strikes. Ellen and the children are assassinated.  The killer, no supervillain but an ordinary gunman , was hired by a group of businessmen affected by Animal Man’s actions. Buddy hunts them down and avenges his family, but is left broken by the experience. Desperate to save his family, he travels back through time – but finds himself sucked into a conflict with a number of other heroes who have been erased from the timeline. He is just a character in a comic book, and it is the writer who is responsible for all his suffering.

“Who are you? Who did you say you were?”

“Me? I’m the evil mastermind behind the scenes. I’m the wicked puppeteer who pulls the strings and makes you dance. I’m your writer.”

The final encounter between Animal Man and ‘Grant Morrison’, is thankfully not just an example of po-mo nonsense. The culmination of year’s worth of dangling plot-threads, it allows the writer to wrap up the storyline with a flourish, while also addressing the central concern of the book. As a comic that did not shy away from political themes, Animal Man was principally about the defence of the helpless – lab animals, slaughtered dolpins, South Africans suffering oppression.

In a neat inversion, Morrison proposes that the superhumans of DC Comics are themselves helpless victims – of us and our changing tastes in entertainment. The creations that were enjoyed by readers in their childhood have become tarnished, grim and violent vigilantes. Their suffering is the stuff of modern entertainment. Their moral values are irrelevent. The Morrison that Animal Man encounters is unapologetic about this. He is after all only one writer among many, who vented his frustrations with the world through the medium of this comic book, but in the end he is as powerless to change the world as Buddy is.

Confronted with this seemingly uncaring demiurge, we really begin to sympathize with Buddy’s plight and care about the lives of these characters – who are only, lest we forget, commercial products. At one point one of these ‘erased’, creations exclaims: I don’t care what I am. I don’t care if I’m just a minor character in a bad story…I’m not going to let this happen. You hear me? I’ve still got my dignity!

There is even a page where Morrison conjures up some random foes for Buddy to fight in the background, while he addresses the reader and says his thanks to the editors and artistic team that worked on the book. He apologises for the preachy tone of the book – while at the same time making one final attempt to sway the audience to the themes addressed in Animal Man. For this cynical Morrison is just as much a fictional creation as Buddy, whose defeatism is rejected on the very last page.

Emotionally personal and intimate. A classic.

[Edit @ 23/02/11 I was very sad to learn this morning of the death of Dwayne McDuffie. An immensely creative and inspirational figure within both the comic and general entertainment industries, his prolific output contained positive messages for his audience that eschewed cynicism. Often noted for his critical assessments of the comic industry in particular, as mentioned below, made for very entertaining and inspirational writing. I never had the opportunity to meet McDuffie at any conventions, but saw him frequently online, trading stories with fans on message boards and dispensing his insights on the importance of good storytelling. He will be much missed. My sincere condolences to both his family and loved ones.]

Milestone was a semi-independent comic book company back in the 90’s that offered a more interesting spin on superheroes than most. Its characters were drawn from a broader racial mix than offered by books from the mainstream comic companies. DC Comics helped publish the books, produced by African American writers and talent. The company has since been merged with the DC comic book line, which I feel is unfortunate, as Milestone had a distinctive voice all of its own. Most of the stories are set in a city called Dakota, rife with crime and corruption. Hardware was the first book to be published by the line, written by co-founder Dwayne McDuffie.

The book opens with young Curtis Metcalf relating a story from his childhood. He once owned a parakeet that would often escape its cage and then slam itself into a closed window. It could never understand that it was trapped by a bigger, invisible cage of glass. Then McDuffie brings us to the present day. Metcalf has become a techno-savvy superhero named Hardware, who fights not for any single ideal of justice, but revenge. He feels compelled to avenge himself on the man who trapped him in a glass cage all of his own. That man is his employer, mentor and surrogate father – Edwin Alva.

Metcalf’s technological genius earned Alva’s millions in patents and yet when he asked for a bigger role in the corporation he was told in no uncertain terms what his status really was:

“You are not respected, Curtis, you are merely useful. This was an interesting experience, Curtis. Rather like having one’s dog suddenly announce that he’s displeased with his living arrangements. You may go now.”

Alva is involved in multiple criminal conspiracies, laundering drug money and bribing law enforcement. As Hardware, Curtis has been targeting his illegal operations, eliminating any opposition he encounters.

Utterly consumed by his mission, Hardware begins to lose touch with his humanity, becoming as cold and calculating as the high-powered weaponry he uses. McDuffie introduces love interest Barraki who is very unimpressed with his campaign of terror against Alva. Her role in the book is to challenge the tendency of modern comics to indulge its audience’s vicarious enjoyment of violence.

“Let me see if I got this right…You built a secret underground lab and outfitted yourself for a high-tech war [...] You’ve destroyed millions of dollars in property [..] You’ve killed people. Ended their lives without any visible remorse [...] And you did all this because your boss wouldn’t give you a raise?”

It’s a great moment, one of many strewn throughout the issues collected in this volume that illustrates the critical sensibility of McDuffie’s writing. Issue eight focuses on a nightmarish vision where Hardware’s is interrogated by a doppelganger of himself that echoes Barraki’s critique. He is confronted by the phantoms of the men he has killed; witnesses his own development as a child (all the while wearing a cute toddler version of his armour); attends a lecture by Barraki on his resemblance to the mythical trope of the Trickster figure; and is interviewed by ‘Opra’ on his lovelife, a sequence which features my favourite quote in the book –

“Well, that just about does it for today. Be with us next time for a special show, live from the Houston Astrodome, where our audience will be made up entirely of white people who think that Curt has a chip on his shoulder.”

I laughed out loud after reading that. There is a fantastic metatextual undercurrent to the book. After all, the very first issue is titled ‘Angry Black Man’. In one issue McDuffie introduces a bloodthirsty vigilante named Death Wish. However, while his origin does involve rape and murder, McDuffie has Death Wish eschew the ‘Rape as Backstory’ trope by having him himself be a victim of an assault. His subsequent psychotic behaviour is therefore defined as a traumatic reaction and not the typical ‘vigilante empowerment’, so prevalent in the 90s.

Denys Cowan’s art works well with the material, although there are regrettable flashes of Rob Liefeld’s popular, at the time, style of oversized muscles and scratched lines over faces. Still the overall impression left by this collection is of a new, hungry series eager to make an impression. I am desperate to track down later issues.

DC Comics please reprint Hardware and/or put him front and centre in your books! An excellent collection for a very innovative superhero character.

Reviewing this book presents an interesting problem. Generally when I write I refer to my knowledge of the author, or the material to ensure readers are familiar with what I am about to discuss. However, here I am writing about Wonder Woman, a superhero of sixty-nine years standing. Yet the character published in the comics today is nothing like that originally created by William Marston in 1941. There have been several reinventions of the character, with her personality and background having undergone drastic changes. In fact at the time of writing, J. Michael Straczynski has ushered in yet another revamp. Of course for any non-comic readers, this must all seem impenetrable. Most remember Wonder Woman as the character played by Lynda Carter on television.

Who is Wonder Woman?

What I admire about Gail Simone’s approach to this question is that she touches lightly on all the differing and conflicting iterations of the character’s history, endorsing each interpretation, while at the same time strongly asserting what Wonder Woman is not. As this collection concludes her run on the book, the final two stories of her run reassert the author’s view of the Amazonian princess. She is a warrior, but never a murderer, taking life only when she has no other choice. She is proud, but not prideful and feels slightly isolated by how others regard her. She calls the women she meets ‘sister’, due to a sense of affection and fellow feeling. She is a feminist icon, but more than that she is an inspiration to everyone.

In effect Simone and Marston are here at least on the same page. Wonder Woman as a character is equally as great, if not greater, than Superman.

Contagion collects the final two stories, A Murder of Crows illustrated by Aaron Lopresti and Wrath of the Silver Serpent with Australian artist Nicola Scott as well as Fernando Dagnino.

A Murder of Crows opens with what I assume is a homage to one of my favourite B-Movies Q The Winged Serpent, directed by Larry Cohen. An Aztec god is feeding in the subway tunnels of Washington DC. After forcing the deity to relieve himself of a train full of passengers, he confesses to Wonder Woman that he was compelled to attack the commuters, not usually having any taste for humans. Then the villains of the piece are revealed. Sinister boys dressed in mocked up school uniforms who are mentally influencing the citizens of Washington to give into feelings of rage and hatred.

The violence soon escalates, with people of different creeds fighting openly in the streets. Power Girl (Superman’s cousin from another reality…comics are confusing) arrives to investigate, only to also fall under the sway of the malevolent children. In time honoured fashion, the two comic book heroes fight one another, with Wonder Woman surprised to find herself punched as far as Canada!

Simone has a lot of fun with the brotherhood of the crows, who resemble the Children of the Damned and enjoy commenting sarcastically about the chaos they are causing. One even mentions that he will be going online later to blog his views on the events of the evening. The ‘versus battle’ between Power Girl and Wonder Woman gives Simone the opportunity to introduce alternating narration from both characters describing their impressions of one another. It makes for strong character beats and demonstrates an understanding of what makes the two women tick.

Wrath of the Silver Serpent is a more epic story, with an invading army of aliens who live by a corrupted Amazonian code besieging Washington DC. Wonder Woman discovers a disturbing connection between herself and the marauding aliens, heavily armed female warriors who decimate planets, converting everything on the surface into food to feed themselves. They choose only one hundred women from each world they visit to become members of their ‘citizenry’ and then move on. Wonder Woman proposes to their fanatical leader Astarte a public trial by combat between herself and their greatest warrior in order to spare the Earth.

This story has everything from widescreen action spectacles to the thematic subtext of what makes an Amazon ‘peace loving warrior’. It also features one of the few male gay superheroes in the DC, a reincarnated Achilles, who rides a flying elephant. There are also talking albino gorillas. It’s that kind of book.

In my opinion this is the definitive take on Wonder Woman. I recommend the whole run.

Rawrr catty.

I am becoming a swift fan of Jeff Parker’s writing. Last year I read The Age of the Sentry by him, a miniseries from Marvel Comics about a Superman knock-off. Previous writers had been unable to do much with the character, lumbering the Man of Not-Steel with mental health issues to distinguish him from DC’s ‘Boy Scout’. Parker ignored most of this and spun the Sentry into a series of parodic adventures, even including Truman Capote in the proceedings. Here was a superhero comic brimming with ideas and a deft farcical touch.

Which brings us to Mysterius The Unfathomable. Even had I not known of Parker’s work, I would have had to snap this book off the shelves due to the cover alone. Tom Fowler’s art places an almost undue emphasis on bulging stomachs and shapeless bodies. The hero, Mysterius, even has a drink enflamed proboscis, to hint at his sleazy nature. The actual texture of the graphic novel in my hands feels worn and engrained. There are coffee mug stains over the title and an impression of curling pages on each corner. This is Parker returning us to the era of the pulp magazine, featuring the strange adventures of the paranormal, but with a modern twist.

The story begins with a panicked auctioneer meeting with a representative of Mysterius, who calls herself Delfi. This of course is not her real name – as we soon learn, names have power in the world of magick. Their prospective client, a Mister Ormond, has a rather unusual problem that he hopes the famous magician can help him with. His skin has broken out in a series of highly visible tattoos. Each tattoo represents the name of a prostitute he has slept with.

Mysterius is intrigued and agrees to take the case. This also provides him with an opportunity to give Delfi more instruction into the ways of magic. She is not his first assistant. In fact he has worked with countless young women bearing her name since the turn of the century. Mysterius is quite old and powerful, although his abilities prove to be rather erratic at the best of times. Delfi was originally a reporter who encountered her future partner while covering a séance at a playboy celebrity’s house. Unfortunately the proceedings quickly went out of control – is it not always the ways with séances? – and the young woman found herself introduced to a strange world.

In following up on the Ormond case, however, the pair quickly come up against larger problems than they had been anticipating. For one there is the little matter of the disastrous séance yet to clear up. What’s more Mysterius suspects Ormond’s strange affliction is due to a witch, whom he has slighted in some way. It turns out the witch belongs to a coven that worships an old and familiar evil.

Then there are the demonic Doctor Seuss books. I always knew that damn Cat in the Hat was evil!

Mysterius The Unfathomable is a delightful story. The main character is an absolute louse, his distended stomach a testament to his wasted long life and poor habits. He is also cowardly, at one point suggesting that they distract a demonic creature from another dimension by letting it eat a baby, so that he and Delfi can make their escape. In certain respects his relationship with his assistant is similar to that of The Doctor to his many ‘companions’. I am thinking in particular of the madcap Tom Baker incarnation. He will do the right thing – eventually – but usually only after a series of puckish stunts. Mysterius is the anti-Thomas Carnacki, whose only rule is to always get paid (although as a matter of principle, he refuses to exchange money for anything).

This is more than a parody of the pulp magazine era, it is a rueful love letter to madcap adventures and paranormal absurdity. Lovecraft-esque, but with a sense of fun and whimsy that eluded the grim New Englander. If you were to say the word ‘squamous’, to Mysterius, he would probably snort with laughter. There’s even a dig at Lovecraft and the pulp era’s more racialist tendencies, with Delfi’s ethnicity raising the main character’s eyebrows briefly.

Tom Fowler matches the manic proceedings with a grotesque bestiary of humans, only to let loose with the Seussian demon dimension. He captures the sleazy vibe of Mysterius’ world perfectly.

Gleefully recommended.

I am very happy to be writing this review – one that has been six years in the offing. Jodorowsky’s Metabarons saga, published by Les Humanoïdes Associés (English language site), is a triumph of mind-bending science fiction. Juan Gimenez’s incredibly detailed galactic vistas and grotesque villains adds just the right amount of grandeur to an epic tale of one family’s history, descended from the sole survivor of the Castaka tribe. The story of how this comic book came to be written is almost as fascinating as the tale itself, one that began long before the character known as The Metabaron first appeared in a previous Jodorowsky book, called L’Incal.

Several years ago DC Comics, in partnership with Les Humanoïdes, began publishing English language editions of the many French titles. This was how I first discovered the work of Alejandro Jodorowsky, who is also an artist and film director (his Tarot-inspired Western El Topo .famously earned him the patronage of John Lennon). Unfortunately the bean counters at DC decided the translated reprints were not profitable enough and discontinued the line. Only now has Humanoids resurfaced as a English language publisher, with the final volume of The Metabarons series – Aghora & The Last Metabaron – released last month. Over the years I became so desperate I made trips to Brussels to pick up original copies of the various Jodoverse titles (including the Incal and Technopriests). Now thanks to the rejuvenated Humanoids imprint I can share the entire run with my English speaking friends. For more information on Jodorowsky’s career, have a gander at Tom Lennon’s excellent overview of his work.

The Metabaron is a title given to the sole survivor of the Castaka tribe, who were wiped out due to a planetary invasion by the Imperial Army. The title is handed down from father to son, following strict rituals designed to prove the worthiness of the child to becoming a Metabaron. Firstly the child is mutilated in some fashion by their parent. Then after years of training, the two duel, with the surviving victor winning the honour of becoming the Metabaron. This is to ensure that the Castaka family will forever be known as the most dangerous and ruthless warriors in the galaxy, called upon by the Galactic Empire itself in times of need (and at great cost to its citizens).

The two dominant themes of the series are body fetishism, particularly with regard to cybernetics and prosthetic limbs and a satirical undercurrent of Freudian theories of sexuality. Almost every Jodorowsky work makes reference to the granddaddy of psychoanalysis’ theory of the Oedipus complex. Seeing as each volume of The Metabarons series contains an inversion of the trope – the son must kill the father – each Metabaron is bound by competing impulses, be the greatest warrior in the galaxy, while also raising and training their nemesis.

This is also the story of two robots, Tonto and Lothar, who serve the nameless last Metabaron. Throughout the series Tonto has served as narrator to the increasingly excitable Lothar. He also insists on abusing and humiliating his faithful audience, until events take a startling turn in the last book. Without giving anything away, Jodorowsky has not merely introduced a novel framing device to poke fun at the ever-present C-3P0 and R2D2 from the Star Wars series. The question of who and what Tonto and Lothar are becomes the central mystery of the entire saga.

There is a fascinating documentary called La constellation Jodorowsky where the mercurial creator discusses his failed attempt to adapt Frank Herbert’s Dune for the silver screen (I love his description of it as a ‘wonderful failure’). There is more information on the unrealized cinema adaptation here. I find myself agreeing with Jodorowsky that his work on the film should not be considered a failure, as it gave us two great things. Firstly as a member of Jodorowsky’s Paris-based crew of creative types, it lead to Dan O’Bannon’s script for Alien. Furthermore another colleague of O’Bannon’s on Dune was H.R. Giger, the man who would design the Freudian nightmare that was the titular xenomorph. Secondly, Jodorowsky himself left the production with a universe of unrealized ideas, which in collaboration with Moebius led to L’Incal and later the Metabarons series. So hardly a failure all things considered.

I would urge all science fiction fans to hunt this series down. Packed with mad ideas and incredible visuals, it is a classic.

I remember the advertisements for Zero Hour, a major crossover between titles for DC’s superhero comic book line. The series gimmick was eye-catching – each issue was numbered in reverse order from #4 to #0. Also the hype was contagious for 14-year old Emmet – ‘Everything will change’, the promotions declared. Wow, I gotta check this out I thought. I never did read it in the end though. Now I suspect that was a blessing in disguise.

First off, I do not recommend this collection to casual readers. Comic book annotation sites were invented for books just like this. The cover shows well-known DC characters Superman and Batman leading a charge of superheroes. However, they barely feature in the storyline itself.

The ‘plot’, is concerned with a character named Waverider, a time traveller from the future, warning the heroes of 1994 that the villain Monarch is somehow interfering with time itself. Unfortunately for everyone, Waverider’s intervention only increases the threat. Now empowered with the ability to travel through time, Monarch seems to be somehow responsible for an entropic force eroding the universe’s future and past. Renaming himself Extant, the villain takes on the combined force of the Justice Society of America, World War II era superheroes who were transported into the present day (just….just run with me on this).

Using his control over time itself Extant kills and disables the team, leaving the surviving heroes the difficult task of trying to stop the forces of entropy in both the future and the past. As the chronal wave advances  through time billions of lives are erased. Protected by Waverider’s powers, a small number of heroes remain to face Extant. Only for the shocking reveal that the real force at work is former Green Lantern Hal Jordan, now calling himself Parallax. Having been driven mad the one-time hero has decided to restart creation itself, according to his own designs.

Alright……to steal Linkara’s catchphrase, this comic sucks! The plot is incomprehensible; characters appear and disappear in a confusion of cameos; and without an encyclopaedic knowledge of who’s who readers will quickly become rudderless in a sea of continuity fixing. Here’s where another history lesson is need. Zero Hour is actually a sequel to a previous crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The irony is that ‘Crisis’, was an editorially mandated effort to make the DC Universe less confusing, by eliminating a series of ‘alternate earths’, that resulted due to the sliding timescale caused by characters were first emerged in the forties still being published in the present day. So the older adventures of Batman, for example, occurred on a different earth from the present-day stories that contemporary readers were following. Zero Hour was an attempt to resolve further problems that had emerged due to Crisis, including the continuity snarl of the Hawkman character, eliminating the Justice Society for the crime of being too old I guess and to the annoyance of an oh-so-annoying-nerd-cult named H.E.A.T. making Hal Jordan a bona fide super villain. Also the Flash died again. Flashes always die during a DC Crisis event for some reason. In Zero Hour the death of the Flash is delivered in such a perfunctory manner that it is hard to care.

In a sense this was a thankless task for Jurgens and Ordway to attempt. I get the impression the miniseries was intended to launch a new era of the DC comic line, with several new characters briefly appearing during the storyline. Most failed, with the notable exception of James Robinson’s Starman series. Furthermore, most of the deaths featured in Zero Hour have since been reversed. Hell the villains Extant and Parallax have both returned from beyond the grave redeemed as heroes.

I would advise anyone reading this to avoid Zero Hero if possible. Maybe play a couple of games of Little Big Planet instead, as I saw several kids do in my local library when I wandered back from the lonely comic section. Comic commentators wonder why kids today are refusing to read the ninth art and spending their parents’ money on games instead. Titles like this, with the convoluted continuity issues recently condemned by Darwyn Cooke (he says it much better than I ever could..), are among the primary causes for this evacuation of the medium.

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