Sunday, 13 May 2018

Comics! New Comics! Action, Captain America and The Prisoner!


If there's one thing I don't do much of these days it's write posts on this 'ere blog. And if there's another thing I don't do much of these days it's buy new comics. What if I combined these two things I don't do much of these days into one thing? And put that thing here on t'internet for your perusal? Let's try it...

Yesterday I visited my ( sort of ) local comic shop, Proud Lion in Cheltenham  -  with my usual impeccable timing, only a week after Free Comic Book Day. I was after one comic in particular ( which I'll come to later ) but I managed to pick up another couple which looked interesting.

First up is Action Comics #1000, a landmark issue for the Man of Steel in his 80th anniversary year. There are a few variant covers out there, including a strangely sub-par one from Jim Steranko, but the only copy left in the shop sported the regular edition cover by Jim Lee. And I think it's a pretty fine illustration of the Last Son of Krypton, back in his iconic costume, red trunks and all. Unfortunately the contents are rather a mixed bag. There are nine separate short stories ( although "stories" is stretching the point ) which all pay homage in one way or another to the career of Earth's mightiest mortal. Even though there are some creators represented here with excellent track records with this character ( Dan Jurgens, Marv Wolfman, Curt Swan ) most of these short vignettes fall flat, being stuffed with often trite moralising, and mostly going nowhere very interesting. But there are lots of pretty pictures...


A far more satisfying landmark issue comes courtesy of Mark Waid, Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson as the Star-Spangled Avenger reaches his 700th issue. ( I'm trusting Marvel and DC to have accurately worked out all this numbering, considering both characters have had various "first issues" and reboots over the years. ) As well as being an anniversary issue this is also the concluding part of a continuing storyline where Captain America has been catapulted into a near-future, Dystopian America ( yes, even more Dystopian than the one that exists in 2018 ) where he is trying to protect the crumbling Republic from various enemies both from within and without. Waid is at his dependable best, crafting a fast-moving adventure which tests Cap to his limits, mentally and physically, while Samnee proves yet again that he's one of the foremost stylists in the business with his wonderfully retro-yet-fresh artwork:
There's also a strange 10-page back up story which Waid has cobbled together from various Bronze Age Cap comics and added his own dialogue. It doesn't really hang together but it's nice to see the Jack Kirby / Frank Giacoia artwork. All in all, Captain America #700 works far better as an anniversary comic than Action #1000 because the main story is so engrossing and the tribute to the character grows organically from that...


And, saving the best for last, we have the brand new Titan Comics adaptation of The Prisoner by Pete Milligan and Colin ( friend of TGW-S ) Lorimer. ( Yep, this is the comic that prompted my journey to Proud Lion ) This modern-day updating of the 1960s spy-fi mind-bender sees an M15 agent on the run from his own side after a disastrous mission in the Middle East. Inevitably his luck runs out and, in an echo of the very first Prisoner episode, he is gassed in his London ( not so ) safe house, only to awaken in the mysterious Village.
Pete Milligan is an idiosyncratic writer, a creator of many surreal and intriguing comic book worlds who is the perfect author to chronicle the story of the new Number Six. And Colin Lorimer is a wonderful choice of artist  -  there's an enjoyable tension between his gritty, contemporary style and the psychedelic / Pop Art leanings of the original show which seem to bleed into the modern setting. It will be interesting to see how many of the McGoohan / Markstein creations will appear in this 21st-century nightmare...
This is The Prisoner retooled for the Information Age where the Village seems to be an autonomous state, obtaining information from its "guests" by "mental fracking" ( ouch! ) while also carrying out bizarre crimes in the outside world. The surface has barely been scratched in this first story and I'm looking forward to uncovering more of this world where no-one dares trust anyone else.
Be seeing you...

4 comments:

Kid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cerebus660 said...

Kid? Kid? Where's your comment gone? I finally get round to replying and it's disappeared...

Kid said...

My comments usually hang around for a few days, Cer, but decide to come home when they're left on their own. Sensitive little critters, aren't they?

cerebus660 said...

Aw, bless 'em! Tell your comments that they're welcome here any time if they behave themselves :-)

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