10 May 2006

Secret War

So maybe you're a comics nerd like me, and you've seen Secret War there on the shelf at your local comics shop, and thought to yourself, “Gee, yet another crappy overblown faux-serious superhero comic with painted art. Marvels was truly lovely, but that doesn't mean that painted art is always a good idea, even when you have Alex ‘the Norman Rockwell of superheroes’ Ross doing it. But, wait: Brian Michael Bendis!”

Because Bendis is a magnificent writer, I have succumbed to temptation, and bought this thing, and read it, but I don't know whether I can recommend it.

The story is silly; I just didn't care. The art is amazingly awful, except for the covers and every place Captain America shows up. Gabriele Dell'Otto really knows how to do the Captain. But there are a couple of panels where he's very obviously using Tom Cruise as reference art for Peter Parker, and I hope I don't have to explain to you how wrong that is.

But. Bendis.

Brian Michael Bendis is, as Erik Red points out, the Aaron Sorkin of superhero comics. His dialogue is unbelievably amazing. If you haven't seen his series Powers yet, I recommend it to anyone, even if they don't dig superheroes. Even if they don't dig comics. It's a police proceedural about two cops working the superhero beat: one part noir, two parts post-Bochco cop show, one part superhero comic, with a splash of screwball comedy.

So there's some of that in Secret War, heavy on the fan service. Consider this bit of dialogue, where our heroes have been getting pounded by a raft of villains, and Nick Fury's been working the phone trying to get help.

Ugh, if I had half a brain I would just sneak on out of here and go home to my wife.

Oh yeah, but there's that whole “power and responsibility” thing.


Oh, what now?

Voice, off panel
Hey! Guess what time it is?

Whoo, thank God!

(This is the end of the page, so you get a moment of anticipation before you get to see who's talking. As if you didn't know.)

The Thing
I'll give you hint! It begins with a C and has a lobbering in it!

Human Torch
Lobbering? Dude.

It's one in the frickin' morning. Whaddaya want from me? I was in my pajamas, eating a burrito, and alluva sudden I gotta get my little blue Fantastic Four pants on and come down to--

Not to take the wind out of your sails, Ben, but these guys aren't reacting well to quips and wisecracks!

Yours, maybe.

Oh, like yours are so much better than mine.

Mine have character. Yours are all nasal.

Not quite Bendis at his very best, but fun. And the bits of Nick Fury's files are priceless. But check out Powers first.

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