The Dig List - 9/17/08

Short-ish reactions to stuff I've read recently. Let's do this.

The Nightly News - Stylewise, this book is absolutely gorgeous, taking far more of its visual cues from the world of graphic design than traditional comics. Sometimes the design gets in the way of the storytelling rather than enhancing it, but the overall effect works more often than not. Storywise, it reminded me a lot of the second half of Fight Club - terrorist cult declares war on segment of society it hates, in the case the news media, and vents its anger in some pretty brutal ways. Interesting, but nothing new, and I had the cult's hidden leader, The Voice, pegged pretty early on, so that disappointed me a bit. Also, I really disliked Fight Club, so I had that to overcome. Still, there's more good here than not, and it's pretty strong for a debut work. Well-played (mostly), Jonathan Hickman.

Dungeon: Zenith Vol. 1 - Duck Heart - Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim are creators I've come to admire - even if I don't always enjoy everything I read from them - these past couple of years, so I figured I had to give their long-running comedic swords and sorcery epic a shot. And while I'm not enough of a fantasy fan to really love it, there's enough funny in the adventures of Herbert the Timorous Duck and Marvin the vegetarian dragon to make it an enjoyable read. Sfar and Trondheim's story pokes fun at all the usual fantasy tropes (without constantly beating a joke into the ground, a la Groo the Wanderer), but like any really good parody, it's also a decent example of the target genre itself. Wiseass magical talking sword belts, a dungeon run as a for-profit operation, unionized monsters, villains looking for less tacky hideouts... there's a lot of fun to be had here.

The Family Dynamic #1 - Lovenotes to superhero comics of the 70s and 80s usually try too hard to recapture the feel of the era, or else recontextualize everything with darker and/or postmodern twist. J. Torres avoides that with The Family Dynamic, as well as crafting a story that'll be interesting to adults, teens, and younger kids alike without insulting the intelligence of any of them. No easy trick. The situations and characters all seem familiar - the main characters borrow more than a little from the Fantastic Four, and we see analogues for Superman, Batman, Robin, and perhaps even the Joker and Harley Quinn (though villains Tragedy Ann and Tom Foolery seem based on The Dresden Dolls as much as, maybe even more than, Mr. J and Harl!) - but that never bothered me for a second. While sometimes I want innovation, other times I basically want comics-as-comfort-food, and this has that going for it in spades. That artist Tim Levins seems to be channeling his inner Mike Wieringo certainly doesn't hurt in the slightest. Let's all write to DC and see if they'll give us more after this initial 3 issue mini-series finishes up, shall we?

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