Monday, February 18, 2013

Meaningful Superhero Comics

Over on his facebook page, David Gallaher asked this question which resulted in quite a number of interesting responses:

What mainstream _superhero_ comic in the last 25 years was really meaningful to you? We're talking stuff published AFTER 1988. Why?

After some thinking, I finally arrived at James Robinson's And Tony Harris' Starman

Robinson found a way to really give Jack Knight's character a unique voice in what was becoming a very generic superhero universe. Jack's dilimenas were less about how would he defeat the villain of the day, but rather how would he resolve long standing family issues. If that sounds boring, it's because that is only a small facet of the incredible story that Robinson wove in Starman. Other elements were great homages to Golden Age heroes, dramatic action with reinvented villains and somber interludes with Jack's dead brother. This is one of those titles that deserves the praise people have been piling on it over the decades.

My backup choice is a bit of an oddball. It's Garth Ennis and John McCrea's Hitman

I'm certain that many readers will look askance at such at choice as this book probably is most widely known for its grand guignol style and farcical portrayal of the rest of the DC universe, but you read the series, Ennis takes his time in revealing the rather poignant story of Hitman Tommy Monaghan. In some ways, it feels like the grim old Irish Ballads that are sung in the bar Tommy calls home.

I asked another longtime comics fan this question and he came up with two entirely different answers. His first choice was Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman.

I must admit that I've only seen the movie of this series and have never read the comics. (I think I read the first issue, but due to either the irregular publishing schedule or my own apathy, I gave up on the series.) However, just googling covers for this article was enough to make me want to go and read everything from beginnging again. (I think I have a better handle of what Morrison was trying to do here now too.)

The second choice picked was another that I left after a few issues. Alan Moore's and Chris Spouse's Tom Strong.

I remember enjoying the issues I read, but never enough to follow it devotedly (albeit, that's a problem I have with a lot of series.)

As I was thinking of my answers for Gallaher's question, I found myself remembering the FIRST superhero comic I found meaningful. Jim Starlin's Warlock.

Starlin's run on Warlock opened my eyes to what was possible in superhero comic stories. Pathos, satire and allegory - all in one exquisitely drawn space opera. Because of the level of storytelling going on here, this is one of those few Bronze Age classics that holds up well even in this day and age.

I'm going to end today's post with a question:

What Superhero comics have you found meaningful?
- Jim


JP Cote said...

Since 1988? That's a tough one. Morrison's All-Star Superman is definintely one. His take on Superman is one of the best and closest to what Superman is really meant to mean and be about. The best Superman stuff possibly ever. And that really burns because I despise his Batman run. Speaking of which, I'd have to put The Long Halloween and Dark Victory on my list. Tim Sales' style just did something with Bruce Wayne that made him child-like and vulnerable versus his Batman. The scenes where Bruce is under the effects of the drug and running from Crime Alley is so great. The same said for A Superman For All Seasons from the same dynamic duo. Again, excellent story combined with Sales interpretation of Superman and Luthor was fantastic.

MattComix said...

If we're sticking to since 1988 that's still hard to nail down so I'm just gonna shoot in the dark with Kurt Busiek's Superman: Secret Identity. Far as I am concerned that's the "real" modern version of Superboy Prime.

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