A few new releases that caught my eye and made their way to the top of my admittedly formidable reading stack:
STAR WARS: LANDO by Charles Soule and Alex Maleev wouldn’t have been my first pick for a breakaway hit from Marvel’s new line of STAR WARS comics, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t a great little STAR WARS tale, and perfectly attuned to one of the more interesting and overlooked characters in the SW universe. Set in the days before Lando Calrissian took over as administrator of Cloud City, the book catches up with Lando and his buddy Lobot as freewheeling thieves and conmen who swiftly find themselves in way over their heads, stealing a pleasure ship from the last person in the galaxy you want to steal anything from. Soule in particular captures everything you’d need to see in a Lando story, his charm, his cowardice, his tendency to make bad decisions, and his dependability when the chips are down. All this and a surprisingly tragic Lobot story, which I never would have expected in a million years. Great stuff; I’m ready for the next Lando series.
More of a mixed bag was WONDER WOMAN: EARTH ONE, by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette, a stand-alone graphic novel retelling (yet again) the tale of Princess Diana’s introduction to Man’s World. It’s by no means a bad book; Morrison does a good job of keeping the basics of William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter’s Wonder Woman origin, updating it to a modern sensibility while retaining (and in some places even furthering) all of its weird gender-politics and feminist-submission elements. In fact, that may be the problem: it’s just too familiar. Morrison doesn’t bring much of his own particular brand of madness to the table, and there have been so many retellings of WW’s arrival over the years, this one just seems to blend in with all the rest (with the head-scratching exception of Morrison’s decision to retain the 1940s version of WW sidekick Etta Candy, an overweight sorority girl with a tendency to yell “Woo Woo!” for no particular reason). And still, don’t get me wrong; the art by Paquette is beautiful and the story is well told. Maybe I just expected more from Morrison. It’s a great package and well worth the twenty-two bucks.
Worth every penny is THE BATMAN ADVENTURES, VOLUME 4, the latest in DC’s series of collections of the 1990s comics set in the world of the critically acclaimed BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. Featuring the work of folks like Paul Dini, Bruce Timm Kelley Puckett, Ty Templeton and Mike Parobeck, these are state-of-the-art done-in-one Batman tales written and drawn by creators at the top of their game. Bonus: included here is the BATMAN ADVENTURES HOLIDAY SPECIAL, which wound up being adapted for television as the episode “Holiday Knights,” with the exception of the Mr. Freeze story “White Christmas,” sad and wistful and exquisitely drawn by Glen Murakami.
And finally we have Volume 17 of MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, which by now is reprinting the formative Spidey comics of my youth , the run by writer Len Wein and artist Ross Andru, whose version of Spidey is still the one I see in my mind’s eye when I think of the character. This particular volume features Doc Ock, Nova, the Punisher, Rocket Racer, and more Green Goblin than you can shake a stick at. Even better, this one picks up just at the point where I stopped buying Spidey for a while as a kid (I used to vacillate between Marvel and DC moods as a young whippersnapper), so this is practically a whole book’s worth of fresh material by my favorite Spidey creative team. You can’t beat that.