Reads of the week 12/09/09
Soon me and my fellow CBR writers will be submitting our lists for the best comic books of the year. Both of the titles I feature this week will be part of my list. They were great issues of two of the best books being published
“Invincible Iron Man” #21
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Tony Stark AKA Iron Man isn’t one of my favorite Marvel Comics’ characters but he’s certainly one of their most fascinating. He’s a brilliant but fallible man. He struggles to use his intellect to make his world a better place and he often doesn’t make the best decisions.
In Fraction’s recently completed epic 12 part “World’s Most Wanted” he had Tony Stark go on a journey to try and atone for some of those mistakes. He atoned by going on the run to protects the secrets of the world’s superheroes from a powerful mad man. Tony succeeded in protecting those secrets, but it cost him his mind.
You didn’t think that was it though, did you? He’s Tony Stark! Of course he has a back-up plan! In this issue, part two of “Stark Disassembled” Tony’s friends gather to try and implement that plan and get Tony Stark back on his feet.
The elements of Tony’s plan are wild and crazy and that’s part of the fun of the issue. Another is the gathering of heroes that assemble to try and bring Tony back. Tony Stark hasn’t been popular with many other superheros as of late, so it was good to see them put their feelings aside to try and revive Stark. The scene where Pepper Potts greets Captain America and James Rhodes is especially fun
Fraction also uses Pepper Potts to create a particularly poignant scene where Potts gets her complicated feelings out about what happened to Tony Stark and how it’s unfair that people are willing to sacrifice everything to bring Tony back, while her husband is still dead.
Salvador Larroca’s pencils are particularly stellar in this issue. He expertly captures all the emotions everybody is going through. He also manage to give Captain America an amazing entrance, one that captures the hopeful quality of the character
“The Unwritten” #8
Artist: Peter Gross
I’ll just come right out and say it, “The Unwritten” is the best book of 2009. I love Mike Carey’s writing and I was especially fond of “Lucifer”, his previous Vertigo collaboration with Peter Gross, and as good as that was it seems like a warm up for what they’re doing here with “The Unwritten”
“The Unwritten” is a story about stories. It tells the tale of Tom Taylor a young man who shares a moniker with the star of a top selling Harry Potter style series of kids books written by his father, Wilson Taylor. Wilson disappeared and Tom began making a living off his name. That all came crashing down when revelations about Tom’s past (It seems like he lacks one) started to come to light. He then became a target of a mysterious conspiracy out to control the world’s storytellers. The conspiracy framed him for murder and now Tom is trapped in a jail on the Paris-Spain border. Hope is not lost though. It appears that Wilson Taylor may have been grooming his son as a weapon to use against the conspiracy and that grooming may have given Tom the power to bring fictional characters to life.
“The Unwritten” #8 continues the story of Tom Taylor’s imprisonment but you see things through different eyes: those of the Prison Warden, his wife, and his two kids–who are both huge fans of the Tommy Taylor series of books. The issue powerfully examines what stories mean for children. The Warden’s kids are almost pathalogical in their devotion to Tommy, but it doesn’t come off as creepy or scary. It’s a little unsettling but to Carey and Gross’s credits you understand these kids and you sympathize with them. That fact makes the book’s cliffhanger particularly powerful and shocking.
People who aren’t used to Gross’s style may dismiss it as too cartoony, but once you read one of his book’s those thoughts disappear. He captures the emotions, mood and tone of every scene perfectly. The pages literally come alive and flow while you read his work. And like Stuart Immonen, Gross can change and adapt his style to suit almost any story perfectly.
So if you aren’t reading “The Unwritten” do yourself a favor and start! It’s a fun and fascinating series that gets better with every issue. The first collected edition comes out in January.