Though he’s far better known for his more inventive work on such titles as Promethea, Batwoman and Sandman Overture, it was from his work as the regular artist on the short-lived but beloved series Chase in the late 1990s that I became a fan of the art of J.H. Williams III. While the prices being asked for pages from the aforementioned titles are out of reach for me, Williams’ work from Chase is more affordable, and I decided to pick up a couple of boards from a dealer through an online transaction recently.
Iron: Or the War After original graphic novel
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: S.M. Vidaurri
Editor: Rebecca Taylor
Publisher: Boom! Studios/Archaia imprint
Price: $19.99 US
I’ve found that over the many years I’ve been reviewing comics, one of the benefits has been the opportunity to sample storytelling that might not have otherwise come to my attention. As of late, whenever I experience something surprising, unconventional and decidedly different from the usual fare offered in mainstream comics, the source is often a graphic novel published by Boom! Studios. Iron: Or the War After is another such instance. Taking a page from such cartoonists as Art (Maus) Spiegelman, creator S.M. Vidaurri uses anthropomorphic animal characters to bring a poignant and touching story of socio-political and cultural relevance to life. This graphic novel is challenging; Vidaurri doesn’t provide all of the pieces of the puzzle at first, making the ultimate images that appear by the end of the book something of a mystery at first. But it’s an engaging journey, as the melancholy mood that permeates the book envelops the reader.
Man and Superman 100-Page Super-Spectacular #1
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist/Cover artist: Claudio Castellini
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Editors: Brian Cunningham, Peter Tomasi & Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $9.99 US
This is another one of those instances for which I’m thankful that I have a savvy comics retailer from whom I buy my comics, because he brought this book to my attention. I hadn’t heard about it at all, when I looked at it on the shop shelf last week, I hesitated at dropping 10 bucks on it. But the manager at the shop said writer Marv Wolfman had proclaimed it to be his best Superman story, and that the collection of the previously unpublished four-part story was already sold out at the distributor level. So I decided to take a chance on it, despite the fact that I already have far too many comics and graphic novels – both read and unread – cluttering my house.
I’m pleased I did. Wolfman – who had a solid run on Adventures of Superman in the late 1980s – wasn’t exaggerating when he dubbed this his best Super-story, and that’s because it’s not a tale about the Man of Steel. It’s about Clark Kent, and it’s powerfully resonant and relatable. The only aspects of the writing that kept this from being perhaps Wolfman’s greatest oeuvre was the thinness of the conspiracy plot and the depiction of journalism. But those weaknesses were minor as compared to the strength of the characterization and universal tone of the rest of the book.
Comics inker Mark McKenna brought a particular eBay listing to the attention of his Facebook friends and followers this week. The item was billed as “John Romita Jr. original art,” and it appeared to be a Daredevil drawing, the sort of quickie head sketch one might get from an artist at a convention.