Superman Unread

Jim Lee drew a fold out poster which doubled as an unnecessarily huge page in the first issue of Superman Unchained. This isn’t why I didn’t buy it, just something really garish that stuck out. Like he saw Bryn Hitch’s fold out pages from Ultimates 2 and decided he must one day outdo the guy, and overcompensation leading to something no right-minded person should want to hassle with. That being yet another New 52 Superman comic.

On the other hand, I did read these things:

Earth 2 #13
Art by Yildiray Cinar
Writing by James Robinson
Published by DC

Captain Steel in Earth 2 #13

For this issue, a great way of introducing a new character is shown. First, depict other people describing him and his backstory for five pages (not counting ads), before having another page of said character (in this case, a Filipino-American–who sometimes looks white, sometimes brown–taking the legacy name ‘Captain Steel’) describing himself. Then, several pages after an unrelated fight scene with another character in a different part of the world, fatally wound him off-page so he can make a dramatic declaration in the cliffhanger. This screams “fan-favorite,” right? No? Well, it doesn’t matter, the guy was a minority, he was expected to go. This is DC we’re talking about.

Macabre
Art and Writing by Richard Moore
Published by Antarctic Press

Yet another booby comic from Antarctic. Macabre even has pinups and two (out of three) short stories where a nude woman is used as bait to lure men to their doom. This is all under the umbrella of “horror/comedy,” -but most of the jokes fall flat, since the whole notion of setup is ignored when it comes to their punchlines (the one no-nudity story involves the undead from John Carpenter’s The Fog starting their revenge spree at the wrong town, which arrives like a Seth MacFarlane non sequiter).

Charli in 'Macabre'

Macabre is not Zenescope levels of stupid–no sexing up fairy tales or making Robin Hood into a busty blonde, who spells her name with a ‘y,’ just for sake of doing so–and way more honest about its intentions. Richard Moore’s women all have the same anorexic abdomens and curvy hips, but there’s more humor with his pinups than the stories themselves. The pairing of gothic, menacing imagery with nudes drawing inspiration from Venusian paintings and Playboy expresses the horror genre’s devious, often contradictory relationship with sex and the female form. Through his comely Crypt Keeper stand-in Charli (“Not Vampireena or Ghoulella…”), Moore suggests irritation with the horror anthology format, desiring to get right to business, a business of women parading around nude and slyly winking at the audience. Such resignation is reflected in the anthology’s middle (and best) story “Eyes in the Woods” (a.k.a. “The Ogre Sanction”) where the fairy serving as bait exasperatedly tells her monster-hunting colleague “Last time” as she gets dressed. Not likely, as Moore exploits himself (like he exploits the feminine body) by staying with a formula he’s neither good at nor intrigued by.

The ‘Nam #11
Art by Michael Golden
Writing by Doug Murray
Published by Marvel

From The 'Nam #11

Pretty standard buddies at war stuff going on here. The guys on downtime; the guys fighting Viet Cong; the guys at Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s all done, and done well. Michael Golden draws all the soldiers with goofy, cartoon expressions, which highlights their youth and apolitical leanings. After a child pulls a grenade, Ed (a soldier coming to the end of his tour) remarks “What kind of country is this?! How can they do that kind of thing to their own kids?!” That outrage, so prevalent in war narratives, only brought me back to two previous moments: when another infantryman, Rob, explains why he extended his tour (“I ain’t going back to no college.”), and a church service given by an Army cardinal (“This is a war for ‘civilization'”). Give a kid a gun, a motive, and an enemy, and Ed’s question has an easy answer. Although The ‘Nam largely stayed away from the politics of Vietnam, that core moral issue could not have been far from Doug Murray’s mind (he served in the war, as did editor Larry Hama). Even as the focus drifts towards the grind of military service and the emotional toll it takes (Ed and his squadmates losing mementos twice to VC attacks), even after they catch a break between patrols, that question and its answer hang in the air.

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