Thursday, November 29, 2012

Comics deep and wide

Books: JLA: Welcome to the Working Week and Black Orchid

Authors: Patton Oswalt, Neil Gaiman

Illustrators: Patrick Gleason and Christian Alamy; Dave McKean

Published: 2003 and 1991 (both DC)

Can this be considered fanficition when Patton Oswalt is already a published writer? Or if the only slash bit of this fiction is in daydream form? I don’t care. This is fun. It’s about a freelance writer who puts together his own zine about superheroes. One day his town is attacked by aliens and shortly thereafter air-vacced into this space bubble so the Justice League can get rid of the aliens and then zap people back down into oblivious safety.

But the Patton stand-in secretly stays on board to get an exclusive on how the JLA spends the week. His answer: all over the frickin’ place saving the world nonstop. It’s pretty much like he thinks it will be, aka awesome, only so much more intense than he thought that he gets sloppy and gets caught. Wonder Woman uses her Lasso of Truth on him (reference the above daydreaming), and Batman is a controlling jerk but gets things done, and in the end we learn from a winking aside that he was meant to see all that as sort of a reminder that everything was going to be okay.

So! Good fun, bright art that was a little confusing to follow, but a better than a lot of the everyday-schlub-gets-in-on-the-action storylines out there.

Now we descend into the earth and follow roots of radical botany to find the Black Orchid blossoming into a flower-woman crime fighter who gets lit on fire by Lex Luther’s henchmen and revenged by her daughter blossoms who escape their greenhouse to lure the henchmen into the Amazon rain forest. Neil Gaiman goes into Arkham, guys! With David McKean! It’s that dark, murky artwork streaked with bright violet and facial details and smeared blood setting off tough words about finding identity and natural justice. It’s gorgeous and disturbing and a very grave counterpoint to the JLA’s whacky highjinks.

Good contrasting pair that show completely different points on the comics spectrum. I would put them both on my bookshelf but neither one is mine.

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