Ellis's Spider Jerusalem is a journalist, based on Hunter S Thompson. At the start he is living in seclusion in a cabin in the mountains, but contractual difficulties drive him back to the city for the first time in five years. Shit happens, and he writes about it.
This volume comprises the first three issues of the comic, and it’s pretty good so far. Interesting characterisation, great artwork; I’m keen to see where it goes.
I came upon these when I was digging out some old comics for my son. These are not for eleven-year-olds, but I realised I hadn't read them in years, and I thought I'd see how they had aged (plus, I remembered next to nothing about the story).
The story is not bad, but not that great. In a post-collapse America, corruption and gang violence are rife, and the government (perhaps all the governments of the world) have left Earth, and are still ruling (or trying to) from Mars. On Earth the law - and to some extent, the peace - is kept by the Plexus Rangers. Or rather, as you eventually realise, the PlexUS Rangers, since there are also PlexUSSR Rangers. The Plex is the overall world government. Or something.
Reuben Flagg was a video star (ie TV or movie: there’s a lot about ‘video’ here, but it’s pretty much all broadcast stuff) on Mars. He played the eponymous ‘Mark Thrust, Sexus Ranger’. But new technology has made actors unnecessary, and he has volunteered as a Plexus Ranger and been sent to Earth, to Chicago.
He is the one (relatively) good man in a corrupt environment, and with the help of a clumsy android, a talking cat, and various women in their underwear, he tries to keep things under control.
Oh yes, the underwear thing: Chaykin is unable, it seems to draw women wearing anything other than basques, stockings and suspenders. No matter what they’re doing, pretty much. There’s nothing like wearing your fetishes on your sleeve, I suppose. Or, you know, lower down.
Hmmm, once again I try a Warren Ellis, and find that it's not as good as I expected, or hoped. 'Good', that is, in the sense of 'exciting, dramatic, interesting'. I didn't dislike it, and the story was OK; but it never really caught fire, you know?
Still, it was his debut, so maybe the thing is to try some of his later work (I should also add that, at the time of publishing, if not the time of reading or writing, I am regularly reading and enjoying FreakAngels).
I should probably mention the artwork, not least since I met the artist at Eastercon. It’s similar, actually, in that, while it’s perfectly fine, I kind of hoped it would be better. I couldn’t say that there’s anything wrong with it: you can always tell what’s going on, for example. I think maybe it’s that the style is a bit too cartoonish for the material.
The eponymous Lazarus is four hundred years old, and as far as he knows, immortal and indestructible, by virtue of some large percentage of his body having been replaced with smart plastics. He’s the only one in this condition, though, and he’s not happy about it. The main driver of the plot is his desire to die; or at least, we are led to understand that this will be the main driver. In fact it’s not, and each episode within the overall work has its own antagonism.
There’s a lot of extreme violence and brutality, some interesting ideas, but it’s sadly unmemorable.
Another old Moore from the 2000 AD days. I've read it before, as three separate volumes, but I totally didn't remember anything about Book 3, in which Halo joins the army. Well, the Space Marines, or whatever you want to call them.
It’s a great story about an ordinary young woman in a very un-ordinary world. Much better than the last one, and very much more than a curiosity: highly recommended.
The last of my three recent graphic borrowings from the library, and the one I expected to like most. But it's a bit lightweight for Gaiman's work, and for my taste.
It’s based on work that Gaiman did with Alice Cooper for a concept album that the latter released in 1994. I didn’t know that people still made concept albums, but there you go.
Also there is one theme in particular that Gaiman was to revisit in American Gods; namely that of the town where children disappear periodically. In American Gods the periodic disappearance (and murder, let’s face it) of the child acts a kind of spell, which protects a town from the encroachment of the rest of the world and the forces of modernity and ‘development’. In this work, there’s no suggestion that the children’s absorption into the ‘Theater of the Real’ brings advantage to anyone other than the the semi-mythical ‘Showman’. Gaiman was perhaps using this work to develop some of the ideas that he would return to later.
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but as I say, the work as a whole seems shallow and perhaps incomplete, compared to, say, The Sandman.
More graphical stuff from the library. Quadrophenia with hover-bikes and -scooters. It’s beautifully drawn, and well-enough told, but really, why?
There is literally no other technological change. Oh, there might be differences in the materials of the clothes, of the contents of the pills: but the look is pure 1965 – or 1965-as-remade-in-1979. I really don’t see what the point of this was.
The local library is proving a great source of graphic fiction at the moment. Another early-early Moore, one of which I had heard, but had definitely not read.
It is Moore’s interpretation of a theme that was then very common, the alien lost on Earth. It wears its debt to ET quite openly: one of the characters even referring to the film for inspiration in how to deal with the alien.
That said, it’s entirely possible that Moore developed it without prior knowledge of the film: it wasn’t a new idea when ET used it.
Skizz is a gentle, heartwarming tale of respect between intelligent beings, regardless of difference. A human girl meets the “other”, and finds he is not so “other” at all.
And it has a genuinely nasty and scary baddie, and reconciliation between generations. Highly recommended.
I found this in the local library. I thought I hadn’t read it, but I remember reading the ‘Something something, oranges something’ episode (AKA ‘DR and Quinch go to Hollywood’) back when I was at university in the 80s. I expect they were reprinted by one of the American companies (possibly coloured in?) and I got some of them.
This is early-early Alan Moore, and of course is nowhere near the quality of his later-early work such as V for Vendetta or Watchmen, or his more recent work like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but it’s quite fun.
As a parent of young kids, though, I now see it as surprisingly violent. Not that I’d censor it, or anything: just that it’s something I’m more aware of. Or aware of in a different way. Back when I was a student I’d probably have celebrated the violence for its wild- and cartoon-ness.
Indeed, I discovered that the book used — presumably coined — the term ‘napalm dispenser’, which I borrowed for a round-robin work that I was involved in back in my university days, and which had hilarious, and nearly calamitous results. I should probably write a blog post about that one day. It involved cucumbers.