From Top to Bottom #15: Comic Book Comforts

by Matt

Welcome to the 15th edition of the weekly "From Top to Bottom" column! Every week I will look at something within the comics industry and give you my opinion on what I think is the best and what I think ranks amongst the bottom-feeders.

Last week, I geeked out with more X-Men stuff by looking at the Top and Bottom of X-Men miniseries. I had a hoot pulling out some old X-Men miniseries and re-reading them and finding a few that I absolutely loved and could read anytime. Now you have heard of comfort foods, foods that make you feel happy and safe and bring back pleasant memories. Well, I have some comic books that do the same thing. They make me happy every time I read them and I can read them anytime, they are my Comic Book Comforts. Which is why I named the column the way I did. There are a lot of comics that qualify for this, but I am only going to look at miniseries. After looking at my Top 3 Comforts, I will then take a look at some miniseries that I have that leaves me scratching my head and wondering why.

This wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. While I did have a ton of choices, I immediately knew which ones were my absolute favorites the moment that I found them. I am sure that some will disagree with my picks, and that is fine, but you have to remember that I am picking out the books that act as a comfort food. These books go hand-in-hand with Mountain Dew: Livewire and Cadbury Creme Eggs for me. These are the guilty pleasures that I would want with me on a desert island (with LiveWire and Creme Eggs). Here are my Top 3 Comic Book Comforts.

3) Robocop versus Terminator
Like I have said before, I am a sucker for crossovers and I just couldn't pass up two of my favorite movie characters crossing over. Add to that a superb creative dream team of Frank Miller and Walt Simonson (that alone should convince you to pick this series up) and this project just screamed fun. And it certainly was fun! It had a lot of twists and turns and was very tongue-in-cheek at times and totally surpassed what I expected. I loved that the Terminator's mission was to save Robocop because the creation of Robocop led directly to the formation of SkyNet. And the last page was totally Walt Simonson.

2) JLA: The Nail
Written and drawn by Alan Davis. In this DC universe, Martha and Jonathan Kent never discover the spaceship that the baby Superman crashed to Earth in due to a nail that caused a flat tire on thier truck. So we get to see what the world would be like without Superman. Lots of appearences from almost everyone from the DC Universe and one of the more haunting Batman/Joker confrontations. The followup Another Nail was very entertaining but not as memorable and great as this first series.

1) The Human Target
I saw the cover to #1 in the Previews and it made me try out this series and I was so glad I did. This series was a wild ride that I was not prepared for it. Peter Milligan and the late Edvin Biukovic brought back Christopher Chance, the Human Target and took him to the 'Vertigo' universe for more suitable and mature stories could be told. The basic premise is Christopher Chance becomes an actual Human Target by disguising himself as someone marked for death, then he draws out the assassin and he tries to put a stop to them. But it goes much deeper than that, the Human Target didn't just look like the person he was protecting, he BECAME that person and at times couldn't separate who was who. This miniseries just keeps you guessing. Peter Milligan is at the top of his game with sharp writing and dialogue and the art by Biukovic just leaps off the page. This led to an original graphic novel (The Final Cut) and to a monthly series that sadly lasted only 21 issues.

And now for the Bottom 3, the miniseries that I had real high hopes for when they first came out but were major disappointments. And for some strange reason they remain in my collection only because I think they will suddenly get good. They remind me of one of my favorite movie reviews. It was for the new Highlander 2 Special Edition DVD and the reviewer said (and I am paraphrasing) "No matter how much you dress it up and spray perfume on it, poop will always remain poop." No matter how good I think these books will be, it will never change.

3) Extinction Event
Brett Booth's art was the biggest draw (pun totally intended) for this series but the idea behind it actually sounded a little cool. A Texas earthquake unearths evidence that man is not the most intelligent species on Earth. A team of specialists is dispatched to investigate and they find out that it was dinosaurs who were the most intelligent species on Earth, and some of them are still living. Now Brett Booth can draw the heck out of a dinosaur so I was intrigued. And I was left disappointed. I don't think this was meant to be a comedy.

2) Northstar
Ugh. This mini series was terrible. The art was muddled and drawn in the "Image" style and completely ignored the events in Alpha Flight #106 which featured the outing of Northstar. Alpha Flight was canceled with #130 and they announced a new Northstar mini-series that if it became popular would become an ongoing series. I was hoping that the series would examine Northstar's lifestyle a bit more but we got nothing more than a pointless story with pointless villains and "kewl" characters like Kane and Weapon P.R.I.M.E. You know what would make this series worse? If I really cared for Northstar. Which brings us to my #1 Bottom pick and I character I adore.

1) Excalibur
I love Captain Britain. A few years after the original Excalibur series was canceled, a new four-issue limited series titled Excalibur came out. And I was excited for this new Excalibur book because it would feature Cap more than the X-charcters that ruined the book in the last years. Remember Britannic? Ugh. It featured Captain Britain and Meggan and guest-starred Psylocke (whom for some reason paraded around in a bra) and the Black Knight (whom I thought would be a natural fit for Excalibur). The series dealt with Brian becoming King of Otherworld, the idea behind the series seemed natural but the series was extremely boring and the costume changes for Captain Britain were horrible. What was up with the flaming Union Jack on his face?

Now there were a lot of other miniseries that I really enjoyed. Daredevil: Man Without Fear, Earth X, Batman: The Long Halloween just to name a few. But for these books I have to be in the mood to read them again. I can't just grab those books off the shelf. What are your "Comic Book Comforts"?

1 comment:

Brandon said...

I thought The Nail was pretty good. It's strange, but I find the DCU much more interesting when viewed through the Elseworld lens. That's probably why I like All-Star Batman too because it's pretty out there. The regular DC comics just seem stale and restrictive, whereas the Elseworld books place those cool characters in unfamiliar settings. I would say most of my DC trades are Elseworld products.