Rusty's World

Rusty’s Comic Reading List 2015 | November 29, 2015

Grant Morrison may have been bad for comics.

This is quite a statement. Grant Morrison is a very talented writer and has done some really great things.

But, still…

Let me give you some context. Back in the 80s there was a turning point in the comic business. That turning point was the two-headed beast of The Dark Knight and Watchmen.

Watchmen was an absolutely brilliant piece of writing that took the super-hero milieu and turned it on its head.

Dark Knight was a solid, though fairly overrated, look into a dark future of super-heroes.

Both set a new standard for comics. A standard that was abused and warped and it lead to the absolute low point of the industry – the 90s.

The need for everything to be ‘dark and gritty’ mixed with the early image idea that artists were more important than writers did it really.

So, were Watchmen and Dark Knight bad for the industry? No, not really. The positive outweighed the negative but the negative was still there.

It is in that vein that I think Grant Morrison may have done the same.

Basically, Morrison is a very talented writer who has tossed out a lot of the basic ideas of STORYTELLING in sequential art. His scenes can be very choppy and he focused more on ACTION scenes (and I don’t just mean physical action – I mean scenes where the next big plot point happens) and less on CHARACTER scenes.

This is not something I like. The strength of monthly comics to me has been character development. People complain about ‘quiet’ comics, but I find those are usually the best ones.  The ‘Personal Files’ issues of Ostrander’s Suicide Squad. Bendis’ ‘Avengers sitting around eating’ scenes. The new Ultimates go to the beach. That sort of thing.

The side dishes that make the main course taste better. Morrison ignores the side dishes… but Morrison pulls it off.

Most of his imitators do not.

That brings me to Jonathan Hickman.

Hickman is a popular writer and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. His Fantastic Four (where he rose to fame) was an absolute mess. Yet it was a lot better than his extended run on the Avengers, which was pretty much unreadable. There was a WHOLE LOT of stuff going on in his Avengers run, all of which was building to… something… and it was all of earth-shaking importance… yet never seemed to matter. The characters were cardboard cut-outs and jumping from world-destroying something to world-destroying something with no character beats in between led to a comic that had no soul. It made it hard to care about anything that was happening in the comic.

While my abandoning of monthly comics was due to outside reasons, Jonathan Hickman’s run on the Avengers made it an easier choice than it would have been in previous eras. I always got the Avengers and it was no longer a book I looked forward to reading. I usually couldn’t even remember what was going on. I just didn’t care enough. (Combine that with the Howard Chaykin mess that had already got me to stop buying EVERY Avengers book, and there you go.)

I can’t recall reading anything by Hickman that I liked.

That brings me, finally, to East of West. It was on a list of great comics of 2014, or something, and as I was going down the list and looking for a TPB to buy down at Comet Comics, I picked it up without noticing that it was Hickman.

I wouldn’t have bought it if I HAD noticed.

I am glad I did. This is a very solid book that deals with a weird, sci-fi(ish) world where the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are trying to destroy the planet. Or most of them are, anyway. Then there is Death.

There are elements of the book that I am not a HUGE fan of (extended scenes of ‘3 people can kill thousands’ or whatever aren’t my bag), and the book still has the choppy element, but unlike in the Avengers, it feels like these choppy parts fit together and have some sort of point.

Characterization is still a weakness, bit the overall arc is working.

I enjoyed it.


Rusty’s Comic Reading List – 2015

East of West Book One (Hickman / Dragotta / Martin)
The Auteur Book One: President’s Day (Spears / Callahan / Anderson)
Transformers vs G.I. Joe Volume 1 (Scioli / Barber)
Here (McGuire)
How To Be Happy (Davis)
The Late Child and Other Animals (Cook / Romberger)
Fables 150 (Willingham / Buckingham / Leialoha)
Over Easy (Mimi Pond)
Velvet Vol. 1 – Before the Living End (Brubaker / Epting / Breitweiser)
Batgirl Vol. 1 – Batgirl of Burnside (Stewart / Fletcher / Tarr)
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Roz Chast)
Flash Gordon: The Man From Earth (Jeff Parker / Evan Shaner / Jordie Bellaire)
Seconds (Bryan Lee O’Malley)
The Wake (Scott Snyder / Sean Murphy)
The Fade Out, Act One (Ed Brubaker / Sean Phillips)
MIND MGMT Vol. 1 – The Manager (Matt Kindt)
Thor, God of Thunder Vol. 1 – The God Butcher (Aaron / Ribic)
Astro City Vol. 2 – Confession (Busiek / Anderson / Blyberg / Sinclair / Ross)
Astro City Vol. 1 – Life in the Big City (Busiek / Anderson / Ross)
Green Lantern – No Fear (Geoff Johns / Various Artists)
Stray Bullets Vol. 1 – Innocence of Nihilism (David Lapham)
Chew Vol. 1 – Taster’s Choice (John Layman / Rob Guillory)
The Walking Dead Vol. 6 – This Sorrowful Life (Kirkman / Adlard / Rathburn)
The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1 – The Faust Act (Gillen / McKelvie / Wilson / Cowles)
Lumberjanes Vol.1 – Beware the Kitten Holy (Stevenson / Ellis / Watters / Allen)
Southern Bastards Vol. 1 – Here Was A Man (Aaron / Latour)
Batman: The Court of Owls Vol. 1 (Snyder / Capullo / Glapion)
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 5 – Public Scrutiny (Bendis / Bagley)
Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection Vol. 2 (Bendis / Bagley)
Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection Vol. 1 (Bendis / Bagley)
X-Men: Ghosts (Claremont / Romita Jr. / Leonardi / Brigman / Windsor-Smith / Adams)
Power Pack Classic Vol. 2
X-Men: From the Ashes (Claremont / Smith / Wiacek / Simonson / Romita Jr.)
Transmetropolitan Vol. 3 – Year of the Bastard
Transmetropolitan Vol. 2 – Lust For Life
Transmetropolitan Vol. 1 – Back on the Street
Gotham Central Vol. 1 – In The Line Of Duty
The Walking Dead Vol. 5 – The Best Defense
The Walking Dead Vol. 4 – The Heart’s Desire
The Walking Dead Vol. 3 – Safety Behind Bars
The Walking Dead Vol. 2 – Miles Behind Us
The Walking Dead Vol. 1 – Days Gone Bye
Fables Vol. 4 – March of the Wooden Soldiers
Fables Vol. 3 – Storybook Love
Fables Vol. 2 – Animal Farm
Fables Vol. 1 – Legends in Exile
Hulk Visionaries – Peter David Vol. 2
Hulk Visionaries – Peter David Vol. 1
Justice League International Vol. 3 – Giffen / DeMatteis / Maguire


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