Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Classic Comics ABCs: S and T!

S! And T! Near the end of the alphabet we be! (Can you tell I've been reading Dr. Seuss lately?)


S is for Star Wars #58

Oh, this is a pivotal moment in the alphabetical meander through the ol' comics collection. This tattered and battered 1982 issue of Marvel Comics Star Wars is my first time. The comic, that is, that started off my multi-decade, my oh-my-god I don't want to think about how much money I've spent comics obsession. Sure, I'd read comics before, but casually like any kid, not as a "fanboy." But this one tipped me over the edge. It was a fun comic, during Marvel's rather underrated series following up on the movies, and at this point the great team of artist Walt Simonson and stories David Micheline were on board. The issue itself -- well, nothing "epic," I guess, but it had a cool story about C-3PO and R2-D2 floating in outer space waiting to be rescued. That dazzling Simonson image on the cover -- scarlet sky, boiling sun, vaguely haunting image of robots floating in the void -- it kindled something primal in the ol' mammal brain and I had to pick up every issue of "Star Wars" I could, and soon, many, many other comics as well. All thanks to this issue. I've gotten rid of many of my "floppy" single issue comics over the years, trading them in for paperbacks of the material when I can, but this one issue I'll never get rid of.


T is for Transmetropolitan #8

Cynical, hard-boiled journalist tearing up the streets? Why, it's my life story. ...Nah, I've never really been that kind of journo, but that doesn't keep me from admiring the hell out of Spider Jerusalem, the bald, sneering take-no-prisoners Hunter Thompson meets Mad Max scribe of Warren Ellis' futuristic classic. Ellis is perhaps my favorite comics sci-fi writer, because he makes the future seem so damn plausible and scary. "Transmetropolitan" was bitter, brutal, thoughtful and mercenary, and it was one of my favorite comics of the 1990s-2000s. Ellis' vision of the future, wired-to-the-gills and corrupt as hell, is one of the great settings, and in this issue, Ellis compares then and "now." The political conspiracies and journalism rampages of other issues are set aside for one tale of Mary, a woman who dies in the 20th century, has her head frozen and then is revived in Jerusalem's twisted future 200 years later. This story, written as a Spider column, tells of us Mary's life and the horrible shock she gets from the future, which is meaner and more baffling than anyone could imagine. What would it really be like to visit the future? Maybe we don't want to know. This is a heartbreaking little gem of a story, and one of Warren Ellis's best creations.

(*Previously in this series: A: Amazing Spider-Man, B: Batman, C: Cerebus, D: Doom Patrol, E: Eightball, F: Flaming Carrot, G: Give Me Liberty, H: Hate, I: Incredible Hulk, J: JLA, K: Kingdom Come, L: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, M: Miracleman, N: Naughty Bits, O: The One, P: Peter Parker, Q: The Question, R: The Rocketeer.)

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