Monday, November 16, 2009

Two Phils and a dose of DC diplomacy

I really liked Philip Tan’s artwork in the last issue of Batman and Robin and I don’t even need to be ironic about it.

It’s the rushed, messy quality of it all. It certainly looks like Tan has been under some deadline pressure, but that just gives his work all a raw, energetic vibe. Jim Lee can be a fantastic artist, but his style of excessive cross-hatching has had a lamentable impact on individual styles over the past decade. Stripped of the time to do that, Tan just slaps the art and produces some surprising results.

There are bits in here that look like an off-day Paul Pope panel, (and while that sounds bad, I really do mean it as a huge compliment.) The action all gets murky and crazy, and that works with the story just fine.

I didn’t like Philip Tan when this started, but I do now. He was the odd one out in a stellar line-up of artists, but he was perfectly fine.

* * *

Biggest disappointment of the year: discovering that Red Herring wasn’t going to have full artwork from Philip Bond.

Red Herring is one of those tiny imprint Wildstorm comics that nobody really cares about. I think it sells about 5000 copies in the US direct market. While it has the thoroughly capable David Tischman on script, it’s a fairly inert low-grade conspiracy thriller that sometimes works, but usually doesn’t. It also has some terrible names for characters.

But I still ordered it because it had Philip Bond on art duties and I get everything he does. I find Bond’s art so massively appealing. It’s something about those squat, weighty bodies and pixie faces. From Endless Summer to Time Flies to Vimanarama. I even have an illogical fondness for shitty little mini-comics where the artist is blatantly swiping Bond’s style. (And when it comes to shitty little mini-comics, Bond imitators are only outnumbered by Jim Mahfood lovers, although some manage to combine the two quite well.)

So the first two issues of Red Herring had some full-on Bond art and it was wonderful, even if it seemed a little restrained. And then the third and fourth issues are out and Bond is reduced to a “storytelling” credit, with David Hahn on full art duties.

And Hahn is okay and the layouts all have that Bond storytelling skill, but it’s just not the same. The covers are still good, and the title of the third issue is my favourite individual comic title of the year, but I signed on for Bond. Not the imitation.

* * *

The political situation in the DC Universe must be pretty bloody messy, but I can’t help reading a short bit of diplomacy seen in a recent DC comic over and over and over again, and it’s so bloody funny because it sums up the complex global political landscape of that world so well.

It’s chapter nine of the Tangent: Superman’s Reign 12-issue series – written by Dan Jurgens and drawn by Carlos Magno – and the fascist black Superman from the Tangent Universe has gathered all the world leaders together to lay out his plans.

And this is how the rulers of the world, people of diplomacy, respond:

“No! Never!”

“You kidnapped us! We will never follow you!”

“Release us! Return us to our people!”

“You will pay for this!”

“We shall never cooperate with you! My security force will have your head for your actions!”

“As will mine!”

“You are a dead man!”

“Who are you to be so audacious?”

“There isn’t a person here who will follow you!”

“Egypt will never be yours!”

“Even if you have the means, you have no right!”

“Earth’s protectors will stop you!”

“No one elected you to do these things!”

“You weren’t given the right to rule – to tell us what to do!”

“You won’t get away with this!”

“You’re no Superman!”

“The real Superman will find you! And when he does you’ll be done for!”

Somebody got money for writing this dialogue. All said while waving fists in the air. After the bad guy hovers away, everyone just stands around looking stupid, as if they just realized that there are better ways to argue points of liberty and freedom than throw lame threats around.

I don’t know why, but that cracks me up every time.

1 comment:

Nik said...

The online hate for Tan amuses me; he has the bad luck of following Quitely but he's hardly the Bat-antichrist of Art as some mavens have ranted.