3 Books in 3 Days…
Or a close proximity thereof. I promised references to comics and graphic novels, and I aim to fulfill that promise here today.
A week ago – I had the pleasure of scrounging through my local MCL branch – Rockwood’s graphic novel section. It was larger than I thought it would be (back in the day, cb’s and gn’s took up a shelf, if that). The Trade Paperbacks were mostly out of order, so I tried to go for the one-shots and the Graphic Novels were sparse, but pleasantly surprising.
I scooped up two biographical novels, and one Wonder Woman TPB.
#1. The first I read was: Ego and Hubris by Harvey Pekar.
I enjoy the writings and musings of Mr. Pekar – I own a few of his collected volumes – have read more than that – have met an Editor who worked with him – did a report on him in my Graphic Novel as Lit class – own and have watched “American Splendor” the docu-drama-comedy multiple times…but this was probably my least favorite thing Pekar has done. And that has everything to do with the subject.
Michael Malice is a total jerk-off. I hate self-proclaimed “geniuses” who spend their life treating other people like shit. The worst part – is how little accolade or credit he gives to anyone else for shaping the person he is today. Most especially his parents and grandparents get spat upon.
Autobiographies tend to be whiney, parent-bashing things…and this was no better. It was worse actually, because the main character was SO unlikeable. And becayse the character was terrible, I was hoping to get to the end of find some measure of humanity or emotional depth.
No such thing emerged. I love Pekar’s ability to humanize and deepen the most trivial of human interactions. Unfortunately, this dude Michael Malice – seems to be comprised of nary a human bone in his body. Therefore – his ticks and personality quirks were grating, and not ingratiating. He is the kind of person you want to spend your life trying to avoid if at all possible.
I would not suggest this book as a first foray into the Pekar or Graphic Novel world.
#2. The next graphic novel I read was “Fun Home” by Allison Bechdel.
A strange “tragicomic” in the vein of “Persepolis” – written and drawn by a lesbian woman from Pennsylvania. At times, a little whiney and melodramatic. I read this hot off the heels of “Ego and Hubris”…so I think I was feeling less forgiving with people whining about parents. I mean – seriously – at a certain age, I think you need to realize that your parents were people too, not simply vessels there to serve your every need.
The drawing was fairly *meh* – nothing special or specifically stylized – pretty basic Sunday comic strips kinda deal…but the images and facial expressions did perfectly capture the narration, and I enjoyed the bits of actual documents – letters, diary samples, photos – that Bechdel included.
Upon further rumination, I think I can appreciate within the story, a sort of cyclical tightening of examination regarding the relationship of Allison and her father.
Their separate journeys, their separate homosexualities, have a compare/contrast quality that is important. What I don’t think is important – is when autobiographical pieces paint parents in poor light. Which is what 2/3rds of this novel is. Only near the end do we sense Allison endearing any affection towards her father…and then it is mostly self-centered affection, having nothing to do with the man individually, but more to do with his plight as a gay man.
It was definitely worth reading – if you can overlook some of the “woe is me” aspect of the story-line.
#3. My third reading fare for the week, “Wonder Woman: Eyes of the Gorgon” by Greg Rucka.
I’ve been an off and on Wonder Woman reader for years and years. Truth be told – my first ever comic was a “Wonder Woman” comic.
I’m not sure what hasn’t kept my interest over the years…every now and then I’ll pick up an issue, maybe add it to the box…only to cancel it a few issues later.
This particular TPB however – taken as it could be – a one shot-esque storyline about the return of Medusa, her and WW’s fight to the death, and inevitable effects of their fight…was intriguing and satisfying, but still not enough to make me add her series to my monthly box and plunk down money for.
Maybe it’s the constant reminder of what she represents – patriotism and allegiance to an America that my own allegiance to is constantly on shaky ground. You would think- with the consistent references to Greek mythology, I would be more captivated by the literary aspects.
WW would seem to be an awesome package catered to exactly someone like me: strong woman, intelligent, attractive, laden with literary/mythological references, etc.
But I will readily admit, I’m a fair-weather supporter, if at all.
WHERE MINDY STARTS TO GET RANTY…
Maybe it’s the same reason that I never enjoyed Superman, the Justice League, Captain America or The Avengers quite as much as the X-Men…because the X-Men always seemed to be the under-dog, and I’ve always had an intense fascination with the under-dog. Wonder Woman/Superman, Batman, Captain America (uh, when he was still living)…all got love wherever they went. It was a no-brainer they would be about protecting and serving the American Dream.
The X-Men on the other hand – had crap thrown at them – were hated and feared. So their reasoning behind saving the world was always more compelling, and constantly being questioned. Also – they are one-step away from being human, and there is a real purpose for their existence. They aren’t some mystical being or aliens…they’re basically real people.
As a self-described comic reader and all around nerd…you may be surprised to know that I am not a huge fan of space OR aliens. I hate them infecting my comic books. I pretty much feel the same way about magical characters, or those who possess access or abilities to manufacture plot-device-saving technologies.
Aliens/magic are cop-outs. For a long while, X-Men was nice and clean without these elements.
I don’t have any beef neccesarily with Brian Michael Bendis. He seems like a cool guy, a level-headed and understanding writer. I’ve met the guy, and seen him speak. He’s a real person, and he really seems to love comics.
But everything he does is not gold. And I could really use a few CLEAN years without any more major events shaking up the comic universe I am trying desperately to still care about. Most recently, the Messiah Complex fucked up the X-Men, especially X-Factor, which was promising to best the regular X-Books, and Peter David was forced to cut short the awesome arch I felt building in his storyline to cater to this lame-ass event.
Messiah Complex heralded the return of an X-Book probably NO-ONE was clamoring for – the new and improved X-Force. Yegh. Are you serious? Not only does this crap team include WOLVERINE (in ONE of his 8 monthly books – including his own fucking title!) but it stole Wolfsbane from X-Factor, where she was really starting to blossom as a likeable character.
X-Force sucked hard back in the early 90’s because it was populated with “alternative/bad-ass characters” that NO ONE cared about. I have always harbored a dislike for the entire X-Force cast (except possibly Cannonball and Rictor). Cable was/is/and continues to be lame. A lame rip-off of the super-violent Punisher/Spawn characters that were in-vogue back in the day. Mutants with guns!? No Thanks!! I hope Bishop is dead too (never liked that guy).
Almost done ranting here. FINALLY – I heard rumblings that LONGSHOT will be joining as a regular member of the team. Are you kidding me!? This mullet sporting, luck-having douche-bag!? Please say it ain’t so. If anyone from the Exiles deserves to be put in this X-Book, it’s Blink. She’s interesting, more attractive and has a cooler power.
*sigh* So – that’s way more ranting than I intended to do – but you can tell I obviously have some beef I needed to get off my chest about the comic world at large.
Here’s a preview of what’s to come for my beloved Marvel Universe: