My experience with the writing of Mark Millar has been, shall we say, mixed. I read his Marvel event Civil War in trade and was swept up in the widescreen, action-packed morality tale. Not content to wait for future collections to see what happened next, I returned to the weekly comic buying habit for the first time in a decade. Soon after that I read his mini-series Marvel 1985, which remains my favorite of his work. Operating on both a smaller and larger scale than Civil War, 1985 is suffused an emotional warmth which, I would soon discover, is often absent from Millar’s writing.
Fantastic Four was one of the first titles I started buying post-Civil War, so the announcement that Millar was taking over the series excited me; the issues themselves disappointed. I read Old Man Logan and the first volume of Kick-Ass, thinking that both started strong with intriguing concepts only to ultimately collapse into gratuitous violence.
At this point I began to wonder if series like 1985 had been a fluke. I stopped pulling new titles by him.Then last year I started hearing loud buzz for Starlight, its fans proclaiming that it is not typical Mark Millar. I was curious. Recently I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the series trade, and was quite pleased to discover that its proponents were correct: Starlight is the best thing that Millar has written in years. Continue reading The Poignancy of Starlight→
I freaking love comics. So many comics. Too many to put in one single list. We all like different things. Some of us like big two comics. Other’s may prefer large publisher creator owned work while other’s dig the small press. I like all of that. I’ll cover my favorites from the different corners of comic book publishing over the month of December.
For this week I’ll be covering DC and Marvel Mainline Superhero Comics
Yes these are the big guys. I try to not write about DC and Marvel comics TOO much because I think it’s hard to give a take on these books that hasn’t been said ad naseum. Do you really need me to explain why Scott Snyder’s Batman is great again? I mean I already did once anyway and I’m about to one more time so there you go. That’s because whatever your feeling are about these comics they are ubiquitous and necessary. The sales and popularity of DC and Marvel props up the infrastructure of the entire industry so as much as I may prefer comics from Image, Darkhorse, Vertigo, First Second or Koyama those companies don’t exist without the big two. And that’s because people are passionate about the comics from these companies regardless of how they feel the quality of the current work. People love their DC or Marvel or both or they have complete disdain for one or both but it’s that passion for these companies that fuels comics as a business. As for me I still read a lot of stuff from them in spite of my passion for the indie and small publishers. In composing this list I tried to trim it down to what I thought was the best of the best from the publishers. I get annoyed with events, crossovers, Scott Lobdell and West Wing fan fiction so all that relegated Animal Man, X-Men, Swamp Thing, Indestructible Hulk, Avengers Assemble, Wolverine and the X-Men, Action Comics, Daredevil: End of Days and Uncanny X-Men to honorable mentions status. ‘Nuff respect due for Captain America, Wolverine, Batman: The Dark Knight, Marvel Knights Spiderman/X-Men, Amazing X-Men and Superman Unchained which are all very good but just not good enough and Wonderwoman, Deadpool, Fearless Defenders, Journey Into Mystery, The Flash, Ultimate Spiderman and Aquaman which I’m sure are as amazing that you all say they are but life’s too short no what I’m saying?
What started out as an interesting examination into an older man’s adventurous life has turned into an epic tale of good versus evil. The empire versus the resistance. Millar is doing some brilliant work of advancing the plot while at the same time developing the characters. There is absolutely no doubting the heroism of Duke McQueen and there is no doubting the menacing nature of The Kingfisher. In the short amount of time we have spent with these characters I have already fallen in love with most of them. I love Duke’s story. A man who adventured to a far away planet, saved that planet from their evil rule and returned back to earth just to be met by cynicism and disbelief. It must be hard after 40 years of being mocked to pick the sword up again and become that person you know you once were. I would follow Duke into any battle and have full faith in him.
This issue had a fantastic prison escape sequence. We are shown just where the resistance is hiding and why they cannot be found. The resistance knows of a secret portal to another world. It allows them to travel back and forth while The Kingfisher has no idea where they are. My favourite part was the explanation of why the portal existed. The Queen was having an affair with King Antaeus of the Wood Giants (the logistics of it are left out for the curious minds to ponder) so she created a secret portal to their land. The resistance have been hiding there ever since the attack.
This issue is very fun and full of adventure. I am starting to get a star wars vibe from it, which I had not experienced until this issue. Of course this issue ends on a cliff hanger as we are shown that there is a trader amongst the resistance. So you better buckle up because this story is about to get even more interesting.
This series is quickly climbing up my charts with every fantastic issue. Issue #3 of Starlight spotlights two very important aspects of the story. The first is the introduction of Lord Kingfisher, the leader who has taken over the planet Tantalus. His opening scene is both arrogant and menacing. He is one of those villains that has charisma so you end up loving and hating the guy. He delivers one of the best lines in the comic while talking to a member of the resistance and torturing him with a pair of telekinesis gloves he just purchased.
“I paid for this with a year’s supply of your planet’s most precious minerals. Think about that as you die. Because that’s what I’m spending your money on, loyal soldier…useless toys.”
Then we shift over to Duke McQueen who has arrived in Tantalus. He seems very worried and reserved; personally I am getting a little worried for him at this point. I am not sure how this old man is going to be able to do anything to save this planet. I understand he saved them once but he is so old now, he looks like he will barely be able to climb the castle stairs. Duke sees a statue of himself which was erected after he saved Tantalus so many years ago. I don’t know if this fueled Duke and lit a fire within him but just a few panels later the police are beating on a helpless victim and Duke takes matters into his own hands. I was thinking, “Oh no Duke, what are you doing? Get out of there.” But before I could even think of how badly I’m going to feel when he gets the shit beat out of him he turns it on and absolutely annihilates the first four cops and then does the same to the next four cops to show up. This is the first we get to see of Duke kicking ass and I definitely do not have any worries anymore. The guy may be 60 years old but he is a rock star!
This issue took the story to the next level introducing a menacing villain and then putting Duke’s toughness and skills on full display. I am really enjoying this series. Millar and Parlov are doing some excellent work with this one!
“Star light, star bright,The first star I see tonight;I wish I may, I wish I might,Have the wish I wish tonight”
Duke McQueen, a hero to a nation, and a fool to another. Unfortunately for Duke he chose to live the fool. A man who freed a planet from it’s evil rule but unfortunately a joke to all on earth. A man who just lost the only reason he chose earth, his wife. A man broken. A man lost. A man without. Enter 12 year old, purple haired alien boy Krish. Krish has come to earth to bring Duke back to Tantalus, the planet Duke once saved from an evil ruler. The problem now is that without that evil ruler the planet Tantalus is defenseless against attacks. The planet has been invaded and enslaved. Krish has come to earth to bring back the one hero that all of Tantalus knows can save them. The only problem is that hero is no longer 22 years old, in fact he is now 62 years old. This issue contains some superb back and forth dialogue between Duke and Krish. I really enjoy the fun play between the 62 year old man and the 12 year old boy. I think these types of interactions are underrated and undervalued in both media and our daily lives. The issue will show a man struggling with himself over what he can and cannot do. You will see that same man light up with the memories of a brighter day. I am really looking forward to where this series has to go. I don’t know how this old man is going to save Tantalus but I am surely going to read on to find out!
This is a very restrained Millar for the time being. Millar is showing that not only can he write fucked up characters but he can also tap into the lonely sole of a man who not only lives in the past but who has also lost his only hope in future. A fantastic installment in the story of Duke McQueen becoming the hero he once was.