Thursday, October 29, 2009

9 Days of Reviewing #10: I can't count

Liberty Comics #2

Sometimes a little kid comes to our door and tells us he is doing a walkathon and will I sponsor him, mister? Even though there is a good chance it’s some kind of scam, I’ll still chuck them a couple of bucks half the time, just for the effort they’ve put into their plea. Sometimes I just tell them to go away.

Other times, a kid comes to the door and wants to know if I’ll buy some candy. I’ll never say no to that. Charity is all well and good, giving smugness levels a welcome boost, but give me something for my money and I’ll support you every time. I’m just that selfish.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has done some wonderful work over the years in the name of artistic freedom, but I never gave them any money. I wish I had, but I’m on the other side of the world and don’t know how. It’s a lame excuse and I’m sticking to it.

But if I give you money and you give me a comic with some fantastic creators involved, I’m all over it. Liberty Comics comes in at about 13 bucks in local money and I have no idea how much of that actually ends up back in the defense fund’s pocket, but they’re welcome to it. Maybe they can buy a packet of chocolate biscuits for the next board meeting with the cash.

The fact that the two issues of Liberty Comics – both this year’s release and last year’s inaugural issue – are packed with all sorts of interesting comics is a nice surprise. This year’s effort wasn’t entirely successful, but you get that with any anthology. I haven’t loved every single story in a new issue of 2000ad for decades, but I keep getting it. Short, snappy stories always make me happy when they’re done right.

Surprisingly, creators like making stories about their right to make stories, and that has produced some witty and thoughtful pieces about free speeh. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of terribly heavy handed stories that overflow with self-importance, and that has certainly happened with Liberty Comics #2.

Some of them get painfully earnest, especially Brian Wood’s return to Channel Zero, which is so right-on it’s almost unreadable. Aaron and Moritat’s opening story looks lovely and is humourous enough, even if it’s ultimate lesson is little more than Nobody Likes A Dick.)

The issue closes out with Jim Lee illustrating one of Gaiman’s death-obsessed poems, and it’s nice enough. Gaiman’s poetry has always been a little too precious, and that’s definitely certainly the case here, but it’s built on a nice little conceit that’s amusing enough. And Lee’s art is that step away from his usual style that he whips out on occasion. He might not be able to resist some of his artistic tricks, but at least he’s trying something a little different.

There are also new pop-comics, including Allred, Johnson and Rich’s Mr. Gum adventure, and the lovely exploding heads courtesy of Fawkes and Stewart’s Apocalypstix. Both tales are slight while still hammering home the Free Speech angle, but sweet enough to overcome any offense.

Other than that, the Choker preview had some typically interesting Ben Templesmith art, (even if there really wasn’t that much else interesting about it), I have absolutely no idea what was going on in the Immonen’s segment, but still felt oddly satisfied by it, and some sordid superheroics from Paul Pope are always welcome, even if it’s a little weird to see him use his own original characters again after recently doing similar things with familiar faces in Strange Tales and Wednesday Comics.

Chynna Clugston’s one-pager is cute, charming and self-aware, but I might just be saying that because I hat the same people she does. There is a real unexpected gem in the first Painkiller Jane story I’ve ever enjoyed, adding a nice twist to the usual argument. All you need is love.

It also helps that Jimmy Palmiotti is developing into an interesting writer. I’d given up on his comics after some terrible tie-ins to the latest DC mega-saga and his recent columns in the back of the Back to Brooklyn comic he did with Garth Ennis recently didn’t do him any favours. But he produced the best thing in this comic, is consistently hitting some good notes on Jonah Hex and wrote the best Supergirl comic I’ve ever read in Wednesday Comics. Nice one, Jimmy!

Liberty Comics is not quite as fulfilling as last year’s offering, with more stories that miss their target than the first issue, but it’s another laudable effort, and still tastier than that school candy I can’t stop buying.

No comments: