18
Aug 08

Comics: A Beginner’s Guide: Recent Superheroes

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 531 views

I covered Grant Morrison a few entries ago, but there are some other terrific talents producing superhero stories these days.

The other writer I follow most faithfully is Mark Millar. Again, I should declare a bias, as many years ago I gave him his start in comics, with Saviour (i.e. I had enough sense to recognise an obvious genuine talent when it showed up in my mailbox). In recent years he’s been one of mainstream US comics’ biggest stars, and deservedly so. His Ultimates series, with Bryan Hitch art, was particularly superb. Marvel’s Ultimate line is a fresh universe, starting from scratch with new versions of their biggest characters; The Ultimates is that world’s equivalent of the Avengers, and they are wonderfully reimagined. His Ultimate X-Men was also excellent. He does a lot, mainly for Marvel, and it’s all at least worth a look. I particularly recommend, from their regular universe, his Wolverine story ‘Enemy of the State’, in which the character, who I’ve always been much less keen on than most, is brainwashed into a deadly assassin; and the current ‘Old Man Logan’ story, set in a future after the supervillains have won, which is exciting me as much as any superhero book in years. There is plenty more – he’s currently writing an astonishing number of comics, and I’m enjoying them all.

I’d also recommend The Authority, a title that started under Warren Ellis, another writer well worth trying, and he was followed by Millar. This is another superteam book, featuring characters who are new takes on a lot of the archetypical superheroes in something like a Justice League. I love the stories in this, Ellis’s and Millar’s, perhaps especially Millar’s inspired casting of a Jack Kirby analogue as a supervillain.

I have some friends, good judges of comics, who hate Brian Michael Bendis, but I’m a big fan. His long Daredevil run was exceptional: revealing his secret identity was a motor for countless gritty stories. His strengths had always been dialogue (he’s one of the best ever at that) and the fringes of the superhero world – cops in that world in Powers, a retired superhero and would-be private eye in Alias, a magazine about superheroes in The Pulse – and characters with low-level powers, like DD, so even his fans had doubts about his abilities on the Avengers titles, but they have been tremendous, and the big Secret Invasion crossover event now happening cements that, though he still sometimes loses momentum with his digressions.

Darwyn Cooke has made his way into comics from the animated Batman and Superman shows. His New Frontier was a wonderful work, reimagining the start of the Silver Age (late ’50s into ’60s) DC superhero revival. It’s beautiful to look at, but also very smartly constructed, introducing the characters in the same order that DC first published them in this period (some were revivals). His Catwoman stories, written by the very fine Ed Brubaker, are also terrific, and he is to produce a series of adaptations of Richard Stark’s great ultrahardboiled Parker crime novels, which could easily be great.

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


Required

Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page