World Comic Book Review

24th February 2024

Batman: a Study of Homages

An homage is defined as a special honour or act of respect delivered publicly. In the genre of super hero comic books, the character which is most frequently referenced by other publishers is Batman, a character property owned by DC Comics.

Mainstream superhero comics books since around the turn of the century have seemed like the ourobouros, the snake of mythology which consumes its own tail. Sometimes this has been dubbed “post-modern”, a reference to the school of fine art that questions the form through its limitations. A detached reader with an historical overview of trends in the genre might believe that the industry has instead been engaging for the past decade in a very contemporary concept, ecological recycling: no concept of value is allowed to go to landfill, and instead is put to a new use.

Part of the allure of reinvesting in a well-established concept must be the belief that the concept taps into the zeitgeist, and will have instant appeal to a pre-primed readership. Sometimes it allows a writer to creatively indulge in a character property which is owned by someone else, and to which the writer has no permission to use. Sometimes it is sheer laziness, and sometimes it is parody. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

This essay is a survey of those homages.

Read more

Guardians of the Galaxy & The X-Men – Black Vortex Omega

In this comic, Starlord Proposed to Kitty Pryde and she accepted.

I wanted that out of the way first. It is the big money shot of the comic. Marvel seems to think that it is kind of a big deal, and I hope to god you don’t mind it being spoiled if you agree with them.

With that out of the way, all but the first 5 pages of the Guardians of the Galaxy & The X-Men: Black Vortex Omega reads like an epilogue instead of the last part of a crossover story arc. If you’re one of the unlucky few that picked this up thinking that it is a standalone or the first in the series, the issue is going to feel thin.

The full story spans 13 chapters that starts with The Black Vortex Alpha and crosses over to key issues of All New X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, Legendary Starlord, and a few others (Nova, Cyclops, Captain Marvel, and Guardians Team Up.)

Read more

The Smasher of Thousands

“The Dying & The Dead” 1
Image Comics, January 2015
Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Review by DG Stewart, 6 January 2015

This comic, written by Jonathan Hickman, features about a third of the way into the first issue an assembled cult of ostensible villains, shouting the words “Bah al sharur!” at their leader. According to Wikipedia, “”Sharur”, which means “smasher of thousands” is the weapon and mythic symbol of the god Ninurta. Sumerian mythic sources describe it as an enchanted talking mace. It has been suggested as a possible precursor for similar objects in other mythology such as Arthurian lore.”

Read more

Sidekick Lost

Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier Volume 1 – The Man on the Wall
Marvel Comics, October 2014
Writer: Alec Kot

Marvel Comics, an American publisher of predominantly superhero themed comic books, is almost certainly lost on what to do with its character The Winter Soldier. A legacy child sidekick character written to have died in World War Two, and thereby providing a tragic backdrop to Captain America’s fight against evil, the character was revived and then served as a substitute Captain America in 2013. Once the original Captain America returned from the dead and resumed his name and costume, what to do with the Winter Soldier? This problem was especially pronounced by the success of the movie “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” released in April 2014. Interested and new readers might like the character and want to buy a title featuring its adventures.

When the star of the show returns, the understudy quietly leaves the stage. The challenge is to do this with finesse, to repurpose the character in a way which preserves its fundamental integrity. Marvel Comics decided, oddly, to place the character in space, serving as an intergalactic assassin and agent provocateur. It makes no sense having regards to the character’s history and does not work.

Read more