Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Who is The Griffin, and why V For Vendetta is better than Watchmen!

I don't think I unveiled anything yesterday that would have opened anyone's eyes to an unknown series.  Today will be largely more of the same, as the authors of these series are widely recognized and lauded for their works on a regular basis.  Still, I think I may have one or two things in here that don't show up on everyone else's standard reading list.  Let's find out.

The Authority - Issues #1 - #12
The entire first year of the original Authority arc was magnificent, although if you pressed me to narrow it down I would probably identify the very first story arc as my favorite.  What Ellis and Hitch do on this is paint us a picture of a pragmatic team of the highest powers who set out to make the world a better place, and nations and governments be damned. As you can imagine, not everyone sees their actions as 'right', but then there are always people who are wrong.  How else could I possibly have as many arguments as I do? The Authority draws a line in the sand and simply says 'no more.' They don't negotiate, and they don't capitulate, and they really, really don't bargain with terrorists. It wasn't the first time we have seen an authoritarian super human solution, but this might be the best we've ever seen it.  Plus, Superman and Batman archetypes that are homosexual, just to make sure that Ellis rocks the boat.  Genius.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Issues #1 - 4
I know.  Not a surprise to anyone, and everyone has already read it. Frank Miller's mid-eighties classic that broke new ground in viewing Batman as a soldier in a war that would never end. The grim, gritty vision of the future was magnificent from the very start, and may be the greatest Batman story ever told. Miller's artwork seems to fit right into the image he is painting of a world that is on the verge of war, and the city that represents the world's fight in a microcosm. Not good enough?  How about Miller's ground breaking revelation that Superman and Batman didn't like each other? No.  That's not fair.  Superman tries his best to like everyone.  It is Bruce who doesn't like Clark, and resents his wasting his power. Their confrontation is only one of the pinnacle confrontations that tale place in this series.  A must read.

Sandman - Issues #21 - 28
A Season of Mists. For many people there are bigger or more impressive stories written by Neil Gaiman regarding the Vertigo character that really put that imprint on the map.  Neil's work was awe inspiring throughout the run, and Sandman is a series that could have been measured as a whole, in much the same way that I chose to measure Starman and Platenary. For me though, this tale about Lucifer's choice to abdicate the throne of hell was part of a young spiritual awakening that changed the way I considered many things.  I read this book when I was in my late teens, and I was dazzled by the very idea that Lucifer might not want to be The Prince of Darkness. Handing the keys to Morpheus, he has his revenge on the Lord of Dream (see earlier stories) when he puts in his care the decision of who will now rule Hell.  Brilliant from start to finish, it is a thought provoking and engaging story.

Watchmen - Issues #1 - 12
Is there anything left to be said about Alan Moore's epic masterpiece?  With the awards and attention that have been heaped upon this work, I think it has all probably been said better than I can hope to say it.  For me this story might as well have been the foundation of Kingdom Come.  A world that once had heroes who very much reminded me of the Justice Society of America (in that they truly seemed to possess the mystery man ideal of the wartime) wakes up to find itself without heroes and on the verge of nuclear annihilation. What unfolds is in equal parts madness and hope. This was an easy pick, and I think everyone expects that it will make the final list.  We'll see.
V For Vendetta - Issue #1 - 10
It became a major motion picture like Watchmen, but it didn't capture the same spirit and essence that the books did.  Too many people have passed this over in pursuit of Moore's other classics (like Watchmen & From Hell) and I think they have all missed his greatest work.  For me, the absence of a super-hero culture makes this fascist future for Britain all the more frightening and makes it strike all that more closely to home. Freedoms have been given up in pursuit of safety and security, and the result has become a very Orwellian destiny for England. The movie did this tale no justice, and I saw no reason in it why its people should rebel. The book leaves no such confusion, which is why I absolutely love this series.
Griffin - #1 - 6
Scratching your head yet?  Who the hell is The Griffin, and how on earth does this series manage to land on a list with such well known and impressive authors? Let me steal from the graphic novel description over at the Slave Labour Graphics site ( "The Griffin tells the tale of Matt Williams, a teenager who leaves his family and planet behind to become a warrior for a mysterious alien race in exchange for super-powers. After a 20-year absence, what happens when he tries to go home again? Family issues are the least of his problems when the aliens come after him and he must defend his planet against his former masters." I own the prestige format books published by DC and they are beautiful. I like a lot of things about this book, including its ability to keep me entertained with great concepts, humor and political ideology. It isn't as deep as Moore's work, or as powerful as Ellis' but it is a lot of fun, and that has to count for something!

Alright, tomorrow we'll take a break from the consideration for the top ten while we talk about some of the newest issues I've gotten and what I liked or didn't like about them.  Unless something else comes to mind, and then I'll just write whatever the hell I want.

Because I can.


Randy Meredith said...

I was one of the people who never LOVED The Dark Knight Returns. It's a good story, but Bruce has become so unlikable that I didn't enjoy it.

Now Batman Year One? There's THE GREAT Batman story.

Never read The Griffin. I'll have to seek it out.

Unknown said...

I love lists...

Also, I love THE AUTHORITY. It's probably, aside from the group in PLANETARY, my fav hero group of all time. The characters were just so awesome and layered, and they weren't perfect or in the usual vein of super heroes. And Jenny Sparks kicked all forms of ass...just saying.

I stopped following the comic after the Millar era, but I still go back and reread those issues. Also, I liked the SECRET HISTORY series too.

As for V FOR VENDETTA and WATCHMEN, what could I say that hasn't been said? I like Moore's writing, but sometimes I have to step away from it for a bit. Of the two, I prefer V, though of all his works, I love THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN.

THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and SANDMAN are two series I've always seen mentioned, heard talked about, but have never read myself. I know - I suck. I'm a huge Neil Gaiman fan, though I discovered him as an author of novels first (AMERICAN GODS and NEVERWHERE are fantastic). Eventually, I'll pick up both of these and see what the buzz is about for myself.

It's times like this, when certain classics are mentioned I haven't read, I feel out of the loop. It's like being somewhat part of a group, but still on the outer