Sunday, July 31, 2011

Painted to save the day

Book: The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes

Text: Paul Dini

Art: Alex Ross

Publication: 2005 (DC Comics) in collection form

Pages: not numbered

The main thing I took away from this collection is probably the least significant aspect of it: Wonder Woman is hot.

But stay with me; my appreciation stems from the gorgeous artwork that Alex Ross hand-drew and painted for these stories, which originally appeared as separate comic tabloids that tell stories of famous superheroes’ human sides. The oversized paper and the entire omnibus collected in a hefty hardback that put a dent in my stomach sucked me right into their worlds. Everything looked fantastic and dynamic and photorealistic at the same time, idealized yet in a way that seems entirely possible to achieve.

And then I read the words. Blunt, heavy-handed, overly quippy and exposition-tastic. I didn’t like them. Is going from reading a novel to reading a comic just something like going from driving a car to riding a bike—both fine modes of transportation that have to be handled with different aspects of awareness to get to the same place? It kinds of feels that way to me.

In this specific collection, Superman, Batman, and Captain Marvel all seem to be playing out personal PSAs by using their powers in very noble efforts they find doomed from the beginning but still worth pursuing. I got conflicted between thinking why don’t they just use their powers to help in ways they know will have more permanent, practical effects and wanting to give them hugs when they didn’t make as much differences as they wanted to.

I also liked the virus storyline of the Justice League American section, plus the character management that it juggled. Although two maybe-trivial questions: 1. Why is Hawkman’s wife called Hawk Girl? They seem pretty equal in all other aspects. 2. I don’t understand the Green Arrow’s concept. I mean I do—Robin Hood, basically. But why arrows?  

But Wonder Woman was pure awesome. I loved her conflict between knowing she could fix these warring countries and her shock at realizing how she came across as arrogant when she just wanted the best for humanity. And I loved how she actually learned how to deal with that, too, in a way that let her use her powers in ways that showed people her true good intentions.

All she wanted to do was save the world. And be a little taller than Superman. She kind of beasted him both ways in this collection.    

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