When was the last time you cracked open a comic book, friends?
When was the last time you couldn’t wait for the ink and color to breathe new life on the printed page?
When was the last time you legitimately cheered for the good guys?
I know what you’re thinking: comic books come and go these days. Certainly, the industry has taken its licks. In fact, one might say that it’s been on its heels for quite some time. We could probably all argue the who, what, where, when, and why. Personally, I tend to think that the conversion from a hardcopy product to digital has publishers reeling more than just a little bit, trying to catch up with consumers exploring brave new worlds; but, again, that’s probably an argument for another time and another day. Right now, I’d rather point out that readers who’re graphically-inclined have a reason to celebrate: with a month like January proved to be for Dark Horse Comics, I think it’s time we take a moment and reflect on three new titles and their supporting inspirations.
Star Wars #1
Already in its third printing (and not a month old!), Star Wars #1 – a new ongoing series by the reliably sensational Brian Wood – takes readers back to the days of the Original Trilogy (i.e. the good one) when Luke was more than a bit impetuous, Han was mostly in it for the cash, and Leia was still trying to figure out what to do with her hair.
In fact, this all-new story launches only a matter of days after the events from A New Hope with Luke, Leia, and Wedge scouting locations for a rebel base now that the jig is up at Yavin 4. Meanwhile, Hand and Chewie are still trying to get used to the whole “we’re now with the good guys” decision that changed their lives. And Vader? Well, seeing how he was personally unable to keep the Alliance from a thermal exhaust port two meters wide, he’s in for the ‘performance chat’ of his life when the Emperor dials his digits from the Imperial speed-dial.
In all seriousness, this is good stuff. There are enough references to events from the original film that I’m encouraged to believe that writer Wood and Dark Horse have something special in store for their growing audience willing to head back to that galaxy far, far away. Plus, who wouldn’t rejoice for the days of Star Wars when the universe was teetering on the edge of total oppression from the galactic Empire? It’s a match made in comic book heaven.
The Black Beetle In “No Way Out”
I’ve already slobbered over this one in my Amazon.com review. Knowing Unreality readers like I think I know Unreality’s readers, I’d be a fool if I didn’t share with you my enthusiastic two-thumbs-up assessment of Francesco Francavillas’s latest triumph, The Black Beetle.
This is a welcome throwback to the days of pulp stories. I’m talking original gangsters (not rap stars). I’m talking masked heroes. I’m talking big cars, nightclubs, and mob bosses. The Beetle himself is decked out in stark black, and he’s outfitted himself with an arsenal of weapons that look like something out of a Flash Gordon picture but with sensibilities even James Bond would appreciate. You miss ‘The Shadow’? You love the world of ‘Batman: The Animated Series’? You know who ‘The Spider’ was before he was recently updated for a new generation? That’s what I’m talking about. Great old-fashioned themes of good versus evil, it’s all swinging from a grappling hook.
Bullets are real. People die. Plus, it ends with a cliffhanger, just begging you to come back next month. Thank goodness that the Black Beetle is on the job!
To top it off, Francavilla’s artwork is a delight – part experimental, part gothic scribbles – just the way the best pulp stories are best brought to life. Dark colors and plenty of black. Good guys wear black. Don’t you forget it.
The Answer! #1
To the uninitiated, it might be easy to write-off The Answer as just another tough-guy in a suit; but to a learned comics scholar like myself (four decades of reading, people), it’s a welcome throwback to a time when muscle meant as much as the mind.
Mike Norton and Dennis Hopeless launch an all-new superhero title that’s a bit of a mystery – nobody knows just who The Answer is – but before his day is over the damsel-in-distress – comely librarian Devin Mackenzie – will come face-to-face with the vigilante. He spirits her away from a squad of heavily-armored soldiers who showed up hoping to fill her full of lead …
… or did they?
Granted, it’s early, but so much of The Answer feels like a welcome return to the days when superheroes didn’t go all Christopher Nolan all 24/7 on readers. I like a champion who can throw a punch as well as a well-earned quip – think of the best action movies of the 80’s – and that’s what’s delivered in this first issue. It’s the kind of read that, surprisingly, earns a spot of my shelf and maybe – just maybe – a spot in my heart.
Who knows? It may not be in it for the long haul, but I still had plenty of fun losing myself in these pages.