As many of you have obviously heard Disney announced its acquisition of Marvel Comics this morning. It’s a huge move; possibly the biggest comics story in years! The ramifications of a deal like this could be long-reaching, from licensing to films, and beyond. In fact, Marvel has already churned out their solicitations for upcoming comics. Revamped: Disney style! I don’t know how fanboys will react to this stuff, but I for one think it’s absolutely– ABSOLUTELY!– a step in the right direction.
Here’s a meme started over at Fantastic Fangirls. The gist is to take something you’ve had an opportunity to try in the past which for whatever reason you have resisted. My contribution: Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ “superhero deconstruction” piece Kingdom Come.
Photorealism is a tricky animal. It’s an all-risk/no-reward scenario: at it’s best the art comes off a little more expressive than a piece of wood, but if it’s awful it comes off as inane and self-important. Such is my problem with Alex Ross. I mean the man can put together a cover and I don’t think you can take that away from him. Could I handle an entire story devoted to this kind of artwork? That might be a stretch.
So it was with great reluctance that I took on this story for the Fangirls’ challenge. I’m already backed up, what with the stack of Phillip Roth, Howard Zinn, and Kurt Von– ok so I was really just concerned this would cut into my Daisy of Love time (big fan of Fox, can’t stand Chi-Chi.) But I bit the bullet, borrowed it from a friend, cracked it open, and… I dunno. I like Mark Waid?
Alex Ross just shouldn’t do interior art, I don’t care what people say. Did you ever take a photo of someone and put it into that Comic Life program? You know how it looks when you take a photo of a person, and put an animated speech balloon next to it? Pretty dumb, right? That’s what this feels like. I was constantly taken out of the story by Ross’ artwork and as such never really cared enough about what was going on. Maybe that’s a compliment, saying Ross is so realistic that the contrast was too jarring. Fine. The man knows how to draw figures and paint them. But shouldn’t we stop calling him a comics artist? Shouldn’t comic art alone have a narrative? To put it another way: to me Ross’ art just doesn’t tell a story, plain and simple. A bunch of superhero paintings does not a comic book make, which is especially upsetting because this is the type of project Mark Waid really eats up. The story alone hits the right beats, and there’s a lot of great ideas presented. Plot-wise this is as close as you’re ever going to get to Alan Moore’s Twilight of the Superheroes idea, and although there are a lot of similarities Waid went out and made it his own. Using the Spectre and Norman McKay as omniscient narrators throughout the story was a nice touch, giving the whole thing a Dickensian “Christmas Carol” feel. But although Waid does an admirable job it does not take away from the fact that it feels like you’re observing a painting in a gallery rather than reading a comic. Mix in the fact that only thirteen years later it already feels terribly dated and I’d say we have one of the most overrated stories in comics history.