Mar 08

A Layperson’s Guide To Four-Colour Fun

FT10 comments • 415 views

What with one thing and another I’ve rather fallen behind in my comic reading, so I took the opportunity recently to catch up on a bunch of Marvel and DC stuff, reading a year or so’s worth at a time. Here’s what I thought – naturally with plenty of spoilers as this post is designed to give people who don’t read comics an idea of what they are missing.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: So the deal with Captain America is that Captain America was shot dead, by his hypnotised spy girlfriend who it now turns out is pregnant with his child. Meanwhile Captain America’s ex-sidekick Bucky has come back from the dead with a robot arm and has now become the new Captain America, but with a gun. The pregnant girlfriend has been captured and has now discovered what looks like dead Captain America’s body in some kind of evil bubbling science tank. Obviously Captain America deserves its reputation as one of Marvel’s grittier and more realistic comics. This has been an awesome story though read all in one sitting it feels a bit padded out: a lot of it is groundwork for getting you to like Bucky, which has worked pretty well. I do suspect though that we’re being set up for a fall: this is a “three act” story called The Death Of Captain America, and I feel said death is likeliest to happen in the last part not the first. Bonus fact! The Sub-Prime crisis was in fact a plot of the Red Skull’s!

BOOSTER GOLD: Booster Gold is an enormously cosy DC comic about a dude time-travelling through DC comics history stopping other dudes – like his Dad – changing history, and also trying to change history himself so that his best friend, the Blue Beetle, will be brought back to life. It is very popular with the fans, who also all want the Blue Beetle to come back to life, and rattles along entertainingly though it helps if you’ve read a billion DC comics. Now I actually come to sit down and write about this comic I realise there are not many grounds on which I can defend it but it’s still a very warm and comfy read even if you can see the twists coming a parsec off. Bonus fact! DON’T CHANGE HISTORY TO BRING YR BEST FRIEND BACK TO LIFE D00D you will find yourself fighting a grillion killer robots (and frankly he’ll come back to life eventually anyway, just wait it out). 

BATMAN: Batman is currently being written by Grant Morrison, a writer I think is awesome. He’s been writing Batman for about 18 months and there’s obviously been some kind of master plan behind his stuff but nobody could work out what, so he ended up giving an interview explaining it, at which point I and lots of other people went “OMG this sounds RoXoR”. Anyway the point of his new storyline is that all the mad old Batman stories of the 50s and 60s, where Batman went to alium worlds or turned purple or adopted a space kitten, did actually happen in Batman’s crazy head while he was undergoing a US army isolation tank experiment. Meanwhile in another experiment someone trained three other Batmen who have all gone mad themselves. One of them just captured Actual Batman who escaped with the help of a fake arm he just happened to have on him. “I’ve rehearsed this situation a thousand times”, he thought to himself. THE BIG LOONY. The next story is called “Batman RIP” which should be good. Bonus fact! England has its own Batman who is called The Knight, and who has a gurl Robin called The Squire!

AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE: This is a series about a superhero training camp, which started off pretty well with lots of intrigue and skullduggery and likeable trainees, but seems to have lost its way a bit as the writer stuffs in as many stupid obscure 80s Marvel characters as possible. Also the latest story is a clone-on-the-rampage yarn and who isn’t bored of those? The comic did have an EMO KID superhero called Trauma but I think he may have got torn limb from limb by the clone on the rampage (sadface).  Bonus fact! Somebody you’d never heard of before unless you had read a kiloton of old comics is in fact…A SKRULL bent on invasion.

THE ORDER: Another new Marvel superhero series, about people who have become superheroes because they won a celebrity reality TV show – this one has already been cancelled which is a shame because it was good: glib but very readable stories of superheroes who are fallible to the point of incompetence. My favourite thing about it was a superhero very obviously based on BRITNEY even though cool punky writer Matt Fraction’s cod-psychology grasp of what makes a child star ‘tick’ was kind of clunking at first.  Bonus fact! Matt Fraction seems to think that an internet sex tape would ruin someone’s career!

ACTION COMICS: Action Comics stars Superman, and the Big News about it is that it was going to be co-written by the guy who directed the Superman fillums, starting with a six-part story about Superman adopting a space baby. This duly came out except part six never did, and after a huge wait the comic just embarrassedly carried on without it. I think the space baby’s still alive though. The debacle wasn’t the writer’s fault – just a very slow artist – but it turned the comic into a bit of a lame duck. There was then a three-part Bizarro story, unfortunately. Bizarro is a crap old character whose gimmick of always doing the opposite of what normal people do gets really irritating over one part let alone three. Oh wait, sorry, BIZARRO AM GREAT CHARACTER WHOSE ONE-OFF DIALOGUE AM REALLY FRESH IN INFINITY EPISODES. Or something. Then there’s been a dystopian future story with the Legion of Super-Heroes which has been entertaining in a fustily nostalgic sort of way. Bonus fact! Superman’s adopted space baby is called Chris.

If you, o intended layperson, have enjoyed this tour of the wild world of comics then HOLLER FOR MORE and more will probably come, sometime.


  1. 1
    Al Ewing on 28 Mar 2008 #

    MORE PLEASE. Fascinating to see everything I’m reading (apart from Action Comics or perhaps SUCTION Comics do you see they suck) distilled through the layman’s lens.

  2. 2
    Tom on 28 Mar 2008 #

    I thought point out that – w/the exception of Action Comics – these were very much the “top of pile” reads i.e. I was expecting to like them (and mostly did). So any forthcoming episode 2 would feature much worse nonsense.

  3. 3

    “feature much worse nonsense” <--- WANT obbv

  4. 4
    Andy M on 28 Mar 2008 #

    I think I like reading about the plots of comics more than I like reading most comics.

  5. 5
    Kat but logged out innit on 29 Mar 2008 #

    This is great! More please.

    I am happy to do a similar summary of series 2 of Ghost Whisperer (which am currently watching on dvd due to lack of LivingTV?) *tumbleweed*

  6. 6
    jel on 30 Mar 2008 #

    I liked both the Initiative and the Order (though not sure about the gothy bad babes group). Brubaker Captain America did my head in, so gave up. Read new-nu New Warriors too, it’s about all those young mutants who lost their powers and now have a new mystery backer who may or may not be Night Thrasher back from the dead. It’s a bit One Tree Hill.

    I recommend the Warren Ellis run on Thunderbolts, it’s much better than all that confusing Fabian Nietzche stuff. A bunch of bad guys are now collecting up the unregistered heroes, and they are led by Norman Osborn, everything is topsy turvy! Planet Hulk was good in a throw away sorta way, World War Hulk was disappointing coulda been way more epic.

    I am currently reading “Earth X”.

  7. 7
    jel on 30 Mar 2008 #

    I assume Ghost Whisperer series 2 goes something like this:

    nice outfit – dead people – don’t know they are dead – change of outfit – soul searching – change of outfit – nice cleavage – oh it’s all okay – change of outfit – cup of cocoa.

  8. 8
    A banker, presently on 30 Mar 2008 #

    Please sir, do you have the Captian America issue numbers in which the Red Skull so manipulates the financial markets? The securitisation industry needs to know!

  9. 9
    Andrew Farrell on 30 Mar 2008 #

    One of them just captured Actual Batman who escaped with the help of a fake arm he just happened to have on him.

    This is in fairness just slightly bad art for “has wriggled out his gloves, like the world’s most limber 50-year-old”.

  10. 10
    CarsmileSteve on 31 Mar 2008 #

    i always read BIZZARO quotes in a Comic Book Guy voice…

Add your comment

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


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page