Friday, March 20, 2009
I think that, apart from the most recent Top Ten mini (and that Cobweb story printed in a Drawn and Quarterly anthology or something), this is the last thing in the ABC universe that I hadn't read. It took me a long time to finish (I bought volume 1 yeeeeaarrss ago), partially because of a combination of "do I want to read a guide to magic written by Alan Moore?" and "do I have the time to spend to properly read a guide to magic written by Alan Moore?"
Of course I shouldn't have worried, considering it is written by Alan Moore (who wrote other well known comics such as Wildcats/Spawn*), and drawn by JH Williams, who seems to be capable of transforming even the most mind bending of scripts into into coherent comic pages. Despite that, what I'd love to see printed (or put online!) would be some of Moore's scripts for this series. We get a brief glance in the final trade, but it's not very much. Moore's scripts are known to be so dense you could probably fill up another five volumes just with them, so I doubt we'll ever see them all in print, but it would be fantastic to compare what Moore described with what Williams actually drew.
Onto the comic! Now, even if the book had been called "Alan Moore explains his personal beliefs about magic" it would have been worth reading if only to discover part of what makes Alan Moore think. And while a lot of it is that, admitedly desguised as Sophie Bangs/Promethea finds out where her powers come from, and done so skillfully that someone other than me is going to have written a much better critique of it, there's more to it that just that.
(I find it somewhat ironic that I'm saying "Hey wait! there's more to this comic than just an explanation about magic! There's also superheroes!" In a parallel universe, every comic is like that.)
The backstories for the various Promeatheas through the ages, stretching through comic books, the pulps, and even futher is a theme that was much being explored in comics at the end of the 20th century (and created some really good comics too!). Here it's something I really enjoyed. The Little Margie in Misty Magic Land comics that was spun off from this, and done in the style of Little Nemo are fantastic. I need to read more Little Nemo.
(A random note I can't think of to put anywhere into this very poorly written review: What was with editing the swearing? You show naked girls all the time but characters can't swear? I do not understand.)
And while presumubly the superhero story that's woven through the explanation of magic given by Moore is one that was created to give the comic a wider audience and allow it to sell well enough to reach it's conclusion (Alan Moore Explains Magic #1 will probably sell fairly well, issue 32 not so much), it's also really good. Promeathea starts doing the general "new superhero" stuff, and later goes through a bunch of the other superhero tropes. Meanwhile, supporting science hero team the 5 (later 4) Swell Guys, are running around New York having a multitude of adventures off panel that we only know about through vague mentions. I kind of wish Moore would right a straightup superhero comic featuring those guys, but after breaking his ties with DC and more or less retiring from comics, it seems unlikely.
*Not worth reading.
In other JH Williams III comics, I read his arc of Batman the other day, and was disapointed. Now yes, I'd been disapointed by Morrison's run on Batman twice already, but this was supposed to be the good arc. And while teh story was cool, and the art very nice, it read really choppy. And I guess that's just the style Morrison has been going for lately. He's trying to supercompress everything, but that means he's not showing everything on the page. I found myself not enjoying it that much as "why/how did that just happen?" situations kept arising.
To my great surprise I may have enjoyed the next arc with art by Tony Daniels better. Cops trained to be messed up Batmans! Suddenly that opening arc makes more sense!
I also read the first issue of Neil Gaiman's Whatever Happened to Batman comic, and yeah, Andy Kubert totally can't draw the different styles well enough to make this work. That was supposed to be B:TAS Joker? If you say so internet...