‘Black Panther’ By Ta-Nehisi Coates

In truth, it’s not fair to say this is by Ta-Nehisi Coates, since so much more than the writing goes into a comic book: the colorist, the penciller, the inker, etc. But we should be honest: we are reading this because his name is attached.

I haven’t been reading much in the way of comics lately, but ever since I heard that The Atlantic essayist was going to be writing for the Black Panther, I wanted to read it. And when I saw some comics in my local library, I figured I put volume one on hold.

Now here we are.

Leaving aside difficulty one: I haven’t read the arcs and stories that came more or less immediately before, so I really don’t understand what’s going on. But you just have to suck it up, honestly. Comics were around before you started reading them. They’ll be around after you’ve stopped. Just dive in and hope for the best.

So far, it doesn’t quite work. But I really want it to. Questions of power. Implied questions regarding a monarchy existing simultaneously in a liberal society. Gender. The inability to act or know what’s right.

But not enough threads come together. The dialogue can be a little over baked and too arch by half. Too talky and not well paced. And outside of the writing, the action sequences rarely popped.

Maybe I should have just gone for one his (non comic) books instead?

Tintin In Tibet

We actually bought this for a child, but she hasn’t been able to pick it up yet.

I read it years ago (though I was never a Tintin devotee, I was a fan) and when we were shopping at a children’s bookstore in Baltimore, it was one of the books I picked up (knowing that I would get a chance to read it before giving it away).

Tintin in Tibet is considered a bit of a turning point in the series, marking when they started becoming something worthy of classic status. And it is fun, exciting and a wonderful read for children.

Read more

Okay, So I’m Reading Comic Books Again

Planet Hulk #1

Technically, I’m reading Planet Hulk: Secret Wars. I don’t really know much about Secret Wars, except that everything has changed – Dr. Doom is god of the world, there is a country of Hulks (or should that be lowercase – ‘hulks’) with, apparently, a red skinned leader who looks as much like Hellboy as he does Red Hulk, as well a paramilitary police force of multi-ethnic, multi-gendered Thors (or thors).

I got it for one reason, and that is that hero is a gladiator version of Captain America who has Devil Dinosaur as his sidekick.

Yes, that’s right: I will read anything with Devil Dinosaur.

Devil is drawn respectfully. He is a fearsome predator; powerful, but always trying to be on the side of good.

Unfortunately, he’s also kind of denatured. He’s not a unique creature with his own history, but just an old, semi-forgotten comic book character brought back from the waning days of the silver age to be the sidekick. Which is sad. And you can see how important Jack Kirby’s kinetic style was to Devil’s action sequences, because those long, progressive panels are absent, leaving Devil just a big, pet monster, albeit as fierce one.

Also, Captain America with long, blonde hair and a battle axe to go with his shield, while a cool idea (Captain America as the world’s greatest gladiator, using his super soldier serum strength and reflexes and tactical nous [and twenty foot tall man-eating dinosaur] to defeat all comers!), in practice, it looks like Captain America doing some kind of He-Man cosplay.

Growing Up On Anime

As a teenager, we spoke a lot about anime (which, in those ancient days, we sometimes also called ‘japanimation’) and also (though less) about it’s printed sibling, manga (though we usually just called them graphic novels; at that time, we usually just used the term ‘manga’ to refer to either the anime or graphic novels with nudity). I can’t speak for my friends, but I’m pretty sure that, I, at least, pretended to know and have read and seen more than I actually had. But that’s normal for a teenager, I think.

But certainly, seeing Akira on the big screen at the Tampa Theatre was an awe inspiring couple of hours for me and was probably most responsible for my love (though the foundation had been laid by badly edited and dubbed shows on Saturday morning, cobbled together from various animes, given English language names like Star Blazers and G-Force).

I’m forty now and I still watch this stuff. And I get excited when my favorite ones get name checked (this one here points out some similarities between my favorite anime, Outlaw Star, and the glory that is Firefly).

While my better half was gone for several weeks, I watched a particularly embarrassing series aimed at teenagers (though I still maintain the right to make fun of grown ups who read Twilight and/or watch the movies because there is no good god viable excuse for that if you are over 18). I also read the manga (which came first) on my Nook and now it’s done and there probably won’t be anymore (thought there are whole internet sites devoted to desperately praying that there will be a third series of either the manga or the anime) and I’m unaccountably sad.

When you finish a series that has touched for some reason and you know that there won’t be anymore and, possibly even worse, you can’t go back and read it again for the first time, it’s like having your heartbroken in early adolescence because your pain is almost worse for being insensate, because you lack the age and experience to arrange in your brain into something meaningful and more fully comprehensible. I tried to go back to the beginning and even read the first volume again, but Tom Wolfe was right, wasn’t he, because I couldn’t really do it. My mind was too full of the sadness of the fact of the ending (the ending itself was sad, but not unbearably so; it was more sadness that it had ended at all) to be able begin again.

Devil Dinosaur

1790937-marvel_monsters___devil_dinosaur___00___fcYes, I’ve quit my regular buying of comic books, but I still make a few exceptions. In Toronto, there was a cool little comic book store/coffeehouse called the Black Canary (named after a DC Comics heroine; no superpowers, but just a tough woman).

I thought it might be a good time to look for some heretofore unpossessed (by me) Devil Dinosaur comics. I look first among the Godzilla comics (I know there was a crossover arc) and then the Devil Dinosaur box. Lo and behold, I found (for six Canadian dollars), a comic I had never read before. Super powerful aliens watch a scene from the original comics (when Devil defends Moon Boy’s people from some aggressive proto-humans) and, feeling sorry for the bad guys, give them an edge by beaming the Hulk into their midst. Hulk smashes Devil, but they think maybe they’ve made a mistake, so they give Devil extra strength and things go wrong from their, with two powerful monsters destroying the aliens’ stuff.

In the end, all goes back to the way it was.

Unlike a Devil/Spiderman crossover a few years back, this one didn’t treat Devil very respectfully. It made you realize how awesome Jack Kirby was – how in his original run, he used his artistic style to create very dynamic panels, where the action leaned forwards, towards the next page or panel, propelling things forward.

I Have Given Up Comic Books

For something like two years now, I have been regularly buying several series of comic books from my local comic book store (AquamanBatmanAction ComicsMoon Knight, and Deathstroke).

I think I’m done. I’m not sure I can justify the money. Also, I recently fell behind and that feels… ok. I’m not distraught about not knowing how story arcs will end. I’m okay with things. But I have enjoyed this particular interlude – my return to a portion of my misspent youth – and don’t regret it. And I’m sure I’ll find something else to spend the money on.

What Is Best In Life?




No Matter How Hard You Try, You Can’t Stop Monday