The Dig List: 4/1/08

Still no April Fool's content. Sorry, internet. But here are some brief reactions to comics I've read recently, and my thoughts on any given topic are generally pretty foolish, so there's that, maybe?

Exit Wounds - "Son comes to grip with death of his father, and in the process finally comes to know more about both the old man and himself" is pretty well-worn territory, but Rutu Modan throws a few wrinkles into the story to keep it interesting. For one thing, it takes place in Israel, and the cause of dad's death might be a suicide bombing. That "might" is another wrinkle - the father is a serial abandoner, and this situation might have just provided the perfect cover to leave his latest girlfriend, an awkward but friendly woman just finished with her mandatory Israeli army hitch. We never get a lot of background info spelled out for us on the page, but we still learn a lot about the characters and their lives by watching them as they go about their business, so kudoes to Modan for letting the art do a lot of the heavy lifting and not derailing everything with a lot of needless exposition. It might work a little better if the characters didn't resemble the figures on airline emergency instruction cards, but still, the overall result is an interesting story populated with characters you come to know and like, so I call that one a win.

Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back - The second mini-series merging Marvel's old "What If?" concept with the original Star Wars trilogy, this asks what would happen if Luke had died following the wampa attack on Hoth. As it turns out, the answer is that Lando Calrissian gets a new desk. Seriously. Oh, and the fate of the galaxy sidesteps itself completely into Leia's hands, but you probably already assumed that. And, in classic "What If?" fashion, a whole lot more people die than did the first time around. It's nothing particularly memorable, but it's entertaining in a "I think I did this same sort of scenario with my Star Wars figures when I was a kid" way, and I think that's perfectly okay every now and then. Plus, in a Force-fueled illusory sequence, we get to see a very Ralph McQuarrie-esque Vader, and that's always a good thing. This is nothing you need to own, but it's worth a quick read if you're a fan.

Essex County: Ghost Stories - Despite the near-universal praise for Jeff Lemire's first Essex County book, "Tales from the Farm," I never really warmed up to it. Somehow, it just never grabbed me. There wasn't any marked change in storytelling approach or anything with this volume, but for whatever reason, this one worked better for me. Though there's nothing supernatural going on here, it is very much the story of a man living with ghosts, those of his life,
his career, and his family. And as he loses his hearing, his interest in daily life, and perhaps his mind, he retreats into these ghost stories more and more. It's a very affecting piece of work, and I can imagine this being a great movie, something along the lines of The Straight Story, maybe. I still don't know if I liked this as much as the rest of the bloggyverse seemed to, but I'm definitely glad I read it.

All Star Superman #10 - The problem with a book like All Star Superman is that the second it comes out, everyone with a blog talks about every conceivable aspect of it as soon as possible, so it's hard to not be exposed to all sorts of spoilery bits if your own copy isn't coming until the end of the month in your DCBS box. The strength of All Star Superman is that even if you know most (or even all) of the bits before you read it, the real art is in seeing the way that it all comes together, and all the foreknowledge in the world can't rob that feeling from you. After a kinda-sorta 3 issue slump with the Bizarro two-parter and the issue with the new Kryptonians, this one is back firing on all cylinders, showing us a day in the life of Superman... a day that could very well be his last, in fact, and he's trying to make it count more than ever. While Alan Moore's Superman stories (some of them in Supreme drag) wonderfully celebrate the myth, history, and grandeur of Superman, Morrison is equally successful with reversing the view and giving us the man of Superman - who he is, what makes him tick, what is truly important to him. This might be the best issue yet - and I liked that Jimmy Olsen story a lot, troops - and for the first time in forever, I'm wondering how Superman's going to fight his way out of this one, or even if he can. It's like being 31 going on 9. Faaaaantastic!

Yotsuba&! Vol. 3 - This time out, Yotsuba learns about souvenirs, flowers, zoos, and fireworks the only way she can - loudly, and with a lot of enthusiasm. I don't know what I can say about this that others haven't said about various volumes of the series in the past, but while it may seem too cute to be healthy on the surface, every page I've read so far is pretty much pure joy in printed form. If this can't make you smile even a little bit, then you're probably not someone I'd enjoy knowing. It's as simple as that.

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