Monday, 13 April 2009

Easter Java

Well, while I didn't get any Easter treats, I've still enjoyed the long weekend off. Managed to ink another page, pencil two more and thumbnailed and drew the panel borders today for a third...but I figured I should enjoy some of this time off as welt as just being productive, so I kicked back and caught up with some time in front of the TV and reading.

Was a bit annoyed to have missed the Johnny Depp Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and was too tired to make it through more than half an hour of Persepolis, which I was enjoying (and also annoyingly, the Host is on Film Four tonight at 11.10pm ish, way too late for me to watch if I'm up at 6.45!) but I did catch Tales of Earthsea, a dull entry from Studio Ghibli. Even the animation mostly looked like it was done in the 80s. Better was the new Wonder Woman animated feature. DC's animated DVD projects have been far more successful than Marvel's shonky output and as I loved the New Frontier so much and eagerly await Green Lantern: First Flight, I wasn't expecting too much of the Wonder Woman feature, especially as the character's never really had an outstanding tale to adapt. However, I was pleasantly surprised: they managed to polish up the origin tale pretty well with excellent visual design and animation, decent acting and some great special features.

I also read the first Largo Winch album today (a Belgian series that has inspired a live action movie and TV show), and found myself poring over the background art. So much attention is paid to the locales in a lot of Euro fare that it adds so much to the ambiance. After reading an article on Tom Yeates in Rough Stuff #11, I also sampled three graphic novels he drew for the scholastic publisher Lerner. These cost just over £3 each on Amazon and I'm glad I didn't pay more for them as they're fairly lightweight (obviously aimed at primary school readers) and take no time to read. I quite enjoyed Odysseus and Perseus, less so King Arthur, but I don't know if I'm interested enough to hang on to them forever.

While I initially I passed over the first issue, I picked up the first Rasl collection while looking for something different (my last few months advance comics orders have averaged about six items, so I'm struggling to find interesting stuff worth shelling out for!) and actually really enjoyed it. Totally different to Bone, but very cinematic and quite intriguing: I'll be looking forward to the next collection. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's work first on Superman and the Legion and now Superman: Brainiac makes me look forward to the eventual collected edition of their new Superman origin (Birthright never sat right with me, despite a nice moment with Jor-El and Lara t the book's climax). A tiny element of S: Brainiac also ended up in the Legion episode of Smallville, nice blending there.

In fact, it was Johns' work on both the aforementioned Superman and the Legion and Smallville Legion episode, as well as my anticipating the collected edition of his Legion Of 3 Worlds series, that has renewed my interest in the Legion again. After picking up two editions collecting the first two thirds of Steve Lightle's run on the books, I spent a while online comparing prices and have ordered a bunch of back issues. While I'm looking forward to the first Giffen run (which is the definitive Legion to me), I'm also looking forward to rereading the much-maligned Five Years later run.

This was an unusually brave direction and while alienating to a lot of Legion readers because it completely trashed the bright and optimistic future the Legion always lived in, Giffen's bold ideas led to some interesting stories. Set after the Legion has disbanded and interplanetary relations are tense following a harsh war, Giffen stripped the Legionnaires of their codenames, costumes (and powers in some cases) in order to focus on the characters themselves as the far-flung team slowly reform to face off an invasion of Earth.

Using a 9-panel grid to cram in more story and create a sense of claustrophobia, Legionnaires returned, died and were mutilated/transformed into unrecognisable versions of themselves, creating a stir among the readership. In a series where two long-standing Legionnaires embarked on a non-sensationalistic lesbian relationship (as did a long-standing reformed villain), a supporting character was revealed as a transsexual, the original 1950/60s era Legion mysteriously returned to become regular characters alongside their adult counterparts, the Earth itself was destroyed and the team were forced to assume new identities and go on the run, literally anything could happen.

Things went a little off towards the end of the (coincidentally) five-year run as Zero Hour neared to reboot the whole continuity (DC editorial control meant that Superboy had already been eliminated from the team's history with an Infinite Crisis-preceding continuity punch from Mon-El), but there was at least nice art from Start Immonen. Still, the franchise may not have been the powerhouse it was in the mid-80s when only The New Teen Titans exceeded it in sales at DC, but it still inspired three other ongoing titles (Legionnaires, Valor and L.E.G.I.O.N.) and the Timber Wolf mini-series. I'll be interested in what's in store for the Legion when they return to Adventure Comics, as long as it's not the threeboot version...


Tone said...

I regretted watching Earthsea as well, stiff, plodding and slightly baffling, not to mention nowt like the book I vaguely remember from school. Was all hand animated yes, hence the dodgy retro look, like an extended episode of Mysterious Cities Of Gold.

Could've sworn Jason was shouting "have you been reading Razzler?" in the pub, so was disappointed to find he meant the latest Jeff Smith thing, and not some porno. Well I presume so. Went off Smithy big time halfway thru Bone,although I've almost gotten round to reading those Rose issues you gave me yonks ago.

Giffen's LOSH, so good you bought it twice ;)

Mark said...

Yeah Earthsea did'nt sit well with me either, i thought it was ok but a bit dull. You could tell Hayao Miyazaki was'nt directing it, it was his son instead.