Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Thanks, One Year Later!

Yes, yes, yes. I know that "One Year Later" is a marketing gimmick. I know its sole purpose is to sell books. I know it's a calculated jumping-on point where new readers can be enticed by the promise of a clean(ish) slate. I know I'm being manipulated.

If the new books are good, though ... I don't care. In fact, I'm happy.

I like trying new books, and though some of the "One Year Later" issues have left me cold, three books came out last week I took the plunge on and really enjoyed. So ... thanks, Dan DiDio. Thanks for dragging me, kicking and screaming, into some cool new books.

This is one kind of "One Year Later" book: keep the existing creative team and concept, but hopefully give it a sales goose. I don't know why I waited so long, and why I needed a marketing push to try Manhunter. I've read enough good words on this title from around the WeboComicsBlogoNet to have dipped my foot in the pool ere now. But even after all that praise, I was unexpectedly surprised by just how good it was. The dialogue skips along with crackle (but without self-consciousness), the ensemble cast is really nicely developed, and I found myself immediately investing in these people. I know Joss Whedon writes comics these days, but this is the book that most captures that Buffy aesthetic for me: witty dialogue by a rich ensemble cast. This is going right on the pull list, and I'll be hunting down the back issues on eBay, I expect.

This is the other kind of "One Year Later" book: new creative team, new direction. It was the new creative team that got me on board with this one. I've enjoyed Karl Kerschl's Superman work, and was interested in Adam Beechen based off his upcoming AiT/PlanetLar book, Dugout. In general, if someone's writing for AiT, they can write. His debut on Robin allowed me to try his work at something less than the AiT trade-only price point. I wasn't disappointed in either creator: Kershl doesn't disappoint, and Beechen crafts a damn good Robin story. There's some detective work, a nice relationship with Batman, and a real sense that Tim Drake is a kid. It's not easy to write someone who's smart beyond their years, and it often comes off as an adult in an uncomfortably small body. Beechen really nails Tim's age, and that's the thing that makes Robin unique. It's a great debut, and I'll be keeping an eye on this series.

This one isn't strictly fair. I'd been hearing praise for the Waid/Kitson Legion for a while now. I took the chance last week to not only pick up the OYL issue, but also to buy the first TPB: Legion of Super-Heroes: Teenage Revolution. While the "One Thousand One Years Later" issue of Legion is a solid bit of storytelling that has a last-page reveal that must be seen to be believed, it's the series as a whole that blew me away. I forgot just how good Mark Waid can be when he's really invested in a series. Lots of interesting characters that contain contradictions and flecks of gray without being "gritty". The beginning of the TPB also has a true F*@% YEAH FILE entry, as the Legion is first revealed. Great stuff, and I am looking forward to filling in the gaps now.


Chawunky said...

So who's that gripping the Manhunter's leg? A cross between Dr. Psycho and Funky Flashman?

Mark Fossen said...

That would be Dr. Psycho.

Though he was on the cover, I was still surprised by his appearance - it's a nice little "zing" moment.