Showing posts with label Authors/Artists: J. H. Williams III. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Authors/Artists: J. H. Williams III. Show all posts

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Books: Batman: The Black Glove

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Batman: The Black Glove
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by J. H. Williams III and Tony Daniel
2012




Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
http://www.library.islington.gov.uk/TalisPrism/


You see - the thing with libraries is - they're not always so great at having the copies of the books that you'd expect. Case in point: Batman: The Black Glove.

The second part in Grant Morrison's sprawling Batman epic the Black Glove is the point where - yes! - finally some decent artists start to step on board (namely Mr J. H. Williams III) and things stop feeling like a trawl and start to become - well - a bit more of a pleasure. There's a classic whodunnit murder mystery (stab! stab! stab!), lots of people dressed up in colourful costumes squabbling amongst themselves (fight! fight! fight!) and things exploding (BOOM!): but in a way that feels less like a kid scribbling down his homework the night before it's due and more like everything's in control: which I guess is ironic seeing how it's the beginning of where the Batman starts to lose his grip...

Islington used to have a normal copy of The Black Glove but (and this is something that always makes me sad) - library books don't always stay in libraries forever and sometimes people can borrow books from libraries and never return them and then - well - then there's a gap in the collection. Seeing how there's probably about (I dunno) a million books in stock across all the ten libraries in the borough that means that sometimes that gap stays there forever or (if we're lucky) the management will notice and order a replacement copy or someone will request the book [1]. Which is how we've ended up with Batman: The Black Glove - the Deluxe Edition!

The Deluxe Edition? I just thought that this meant that maybe there was going to be somekind of extravagantly written introduction from Grant Morrison or something: or maybe some wise words from J.H. Williams about just how he manages to make his artwork look so lovely and tasty. But actually: the main thing about this edition of the book is that it's actually The Black Glove and Batman and Son (which is the first part of Grant Morrison's Batman epic) collected in the same book (I don't know why they didn't just say this in the title? It's like if you had Alien and Aliens on the same DVD but just called the DVD "Aliens"). I mean - the good thing about this is that you can get a big fat hit of Grant Morrison Batman in one package without having to worry about getting both books at the same time (and Batman and Son is kinda disappointing if you just read it by itself anyway - so I'd say it's much better to read it in this format where you're pulled straight along into The Black Glove without even realising when the join is [2]) but the bad thing is that - well - it kinda messes up the tidy compartmentalisation of this blog and so instead of just starting by writing about what The Black Glove is about - I feel like I need to write down this big disclaimer so that any unexpecting library user who happens to come across The Black Glove knows what they hold in their hands (and who knows: maybe in the future - Islington will get a copy of non-Deluxe copy of The Black Glove that will this make all of this here superfluous? We can but live in hope).

But the book - let's ignore all that stuff and just talk about the book: - well the Black Glove is very much a game book of two halves: the first half (that's the bit with J. H. Williams III doing pretty much everything - including the covers) you could almost package as it's own thing: it's Batman and Robin doing their own thing  and hanging around with the International Club of Heroes and getting up to the usual superhero mischief [3]: and although it does get violent and nasty at points - the whole thing is constructed with such a light touch that you could easily image Adam West's face hidden behind the cowl (like maybe it could be a sequel to the 1966 Batman film or something? [4]). The second half is more business as usual and carries on with the "Who is the Third Man?" stuff that started on the pages of Batman and Son: this stuff isn't so appealing seeing how it no longer has J. H. Williams III behind the wheel and so it's a little like coming off the motorway and adjusting to going under 30mph again - but the trade-off comes from the fact that more of the puzzle pieces start to fall into place and the grand shape of Grant Morrison's plan starts to become - well - slightly more evident.

The only problem that I found with this second half is that - altho it's builds up to a pretty cool philosophical climax that runs the argument for the existence of God (only in reserve) - the continuity Easter eggs switch from being amusing to becoming actively annoying...

I mean: if you were going to name one of the main features of Morrison's run it would be all the hundreds of references he makes to all the other Batman books out there [5]. At first - it's kinda fun seeing how many you can spot (and I was no expert by any means - but I think that I may have spotted a few here and there [6]) but as the story goes in - it kinda becomes more problematic (at least for this reader - who's somewhere in the no man's land between the type of person that has the time, patience and inclination to read everything that everyone's has written about it so far - and the complete novice that just picks up the book because they thought that the cover looked kinda pretty (and they liked that Batman film that one time) - I mean - I have a rough idea of how it all fits together but I know that I'm probably missing some of the smaller print or whatever...). See - obviously - we all know (well - we all should know) that Grant Morrison isn't one for making your reading experience simple. In fact - if there's a way for him to twist your expectations in some unique and crazy way - well: he's probably going to take it: the least of which is that he's not much for putting his stories in chronological order - so when you're reading a book he's written (and especially this whole Batsaga (of which The Black Glove is only the second book)) you know that you're not getting all the necessary narrative information up front: and - ok - I'm cool with that and it's fine if you want to leave some important stuff until we get further in - well - I'm an adult and I can deal with that - that's cool.

But what makes things more difficult is when you start mixing those things up with references to other stories    (or to be specific - past Batman continuity stuff) because then what happens is that one (which is yeah basically me) starts getting pretty confused as to whether people are talking about things which will be explained later on or things which you should know about already (yeah?). So - Simon Hurt, the police Batman experiments, the Batman isolation chamber experiments, the stuff in Nanda Parbat, Commissioner Gordon as a patrol man etc etc - are those things that you're supposed to know about or what? I mean - you can piece together enough so that you have a bare understanding of what's going on - but the experience feels sorta shallow: like you're eating a meal but you're all experiencing half the flavours... (indeed: as strange as this may sound - it kinda reminded me of the feeling of reading Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book: and that unpleasant sensation that there's stuff that's flying over the top of your head - and if you want to grasp it: you need to check wikipedia or whatever... And it's no fun reading a comic with one hand while you're searching the net with the other - and even less fun when the stuff you're looking up in the hope of trying to work out is going on - ends up spoiling the story that you haven't even got to yet... It's kinda like Lost - where the ideal audience is the people who are watching it when it comes out so that they're able to read everything on the net and swap their favourite theories or whatever: while anyone who comes to the show late (or now that's over) completed - basically can't double-check anything online just in case it ends up spoilering them).

But apart from that: yeah - well - it's Batman. Being his usual badass self. And setting things up for Batman: R.I.P. - which (if I were you) I would have standing by for when you finish The Black Glove (there's not a cliffhanger so much - more a: well ok then - what's next?).

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[1] And if there's a book that you would like to order for us then simply fill out this library reservation form (just check on amazon first to see if it's still in print).

[2] If you want to know tho: "Batman in Bethlehem" is the last story in Batman and Son and "The Island of Mister Mayhew" is the first story in The Black Glove. Or (to put it another way - and piling on as much hyperbole as possible) the point where the art goes from the crude to the sublime.

[3] Oh - and I know that I'm probably the only one who even cares about this - but it turns out that Damien Wayne's signature "Tt" - was actually first used here by Wingman. (Exciting!)

[4] Which - yeah - I guess is an impression that's strengthened (or comes about? I dunno) by the fact that International Club of Heroes were first featured in Batman all the way back in 1955 (of course - back then they were known as the Batmen of All Nations - which I guess doesn't have quite the same ring to it...)

[5] So much so in fact that there's a whole blog that's completely devoted to spotting all the allusions it makes to other works: Grant Morrison's Batman: Annotations And Remarks (subtitled: "I Came All The Way From Space B At The Fivefold Expansion Of Zrfff To Prepare These Annotations And Remarks.")

[6] There's a line in Batman and Son where Batman says: ""I've beaten up Superman" that made me wonder if that was a tip of the hat to Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (which - is still set in the future - right?). I couldn't find any mention of it on the Grant Morrison's Batman: Annotations And Remarks page - which should make you realise just how massively dense and thick with references these Batbooks are.

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Links: Sean T Collins Review of Batman #664-669, 672-675.

Preceded by: Batman: Batman and Son.

Followed by: Batman: R.I.P., Final Crisis, Batman: Batman and Robin, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, Batman: Time and the BatmanBatman: Batman Incorporated.

Further reading: Batman: The Black CasebookBatman: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious EarthFinal CrisisBatman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?Batman: The Dark Knight ReturnsDC Universe: The Stories of Alan MooreBatwoman: ElegySuperman: All Star Superman.

Profiles: Grant MorrisonJ. H. Williams III.

All comments welcome.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Authors/Artists: J. H. Williams III

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J. H. Williams III
18 December 1965
Roswell, New Mexico










James "Jim" H. Williams III is - in my humble opinion - one of the best artists working in comics. Hell - actually - scratch that - make that one of the best artists ever. Starting way in 1993 on a comic called Blood Syndicate (never heard of it) he has since gone to work with some of the best writers in the business (Alan Moore (=Promethea), Grant Morrison (=Seven Soliders of Victory and Batman: The Black Glove) and Warren Ellis (=Desolation Jones). That's like a comic book hat-trick!). Mixing up the beautifully fully painted Alex Ross look with crazy experimentalism and an uncanny ability to perfectly mimic a whole bunch of different styles (used to great effect in Promethea  and the first and last issues of Seven Soldiers of Victory) this guy is crazysupergood. He also writes! Batman: Snow (which is pretty good) and an issue of Hellboy: Weird Tales (which I haven't read). Random facts: he was born in Roswell (!) and his great-uncle was country music legend Hank Williams. So - basically: If you've never read one of his books then you've never lived. Dude's got talent spilling out his fingertips and if I could - I would eat his brain and steal his knowledge. What more do you need to know?  

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Links: Slush Factory Interview, Popimage Interview, Comic Book Resources Interview.

Selected works: PrometheaBatman: Snow, Seven Soldiers of Victory, Desolation Jones, Batman: The Black GloveBatwoman: Elegy

All comments welcome.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Books: Batman: Snow

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Batman: Snow
Written by Dan Curtis Johnson and J. H. Williams III
Art by Seth Fisher

2007




Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
http://www.library.islington.gov.uk/TalisPrism/


Reading through the stuff out there - it feels a little like all the different possible combinations of Batman stories have already been told. I mean - unless it's Grant Morrison of course (probably one of the few people out there able to push and pull the Dark Knight into strange new shapes). But - everyone else prefers to follow the same old established template: there's somekind of crime with new supervillian/old established favourite up to somekind of mischief - Batman does some detecting - big fight at the the end - roll credits.

The thing that makes Batman: Snow so nice is the way that it goes off the beaten path and finds a new type of Batman story to tell: and does it with a Batman that's less Tim Burtony dark and brooding and sticking to the shadows and more Adam West: slightly goofy looking and with lots of exuberant sound effects.

I'm going to admit that part of the reason I picked this up was because it had J. H. Williams III's name on the cover: and if you've ever seen his artwork in Promethea, Desolation Jones or Batwoman then you'll know why I'd be hungry for more. Thing is (and it took me a few pages to figure this out) is that here he's actually doing the writing and not the artwork: not that I minded too much - Seth Fisher (who did the trippy and delighful Green Lantern: Willworld) does a beautiful job with lots of bouncy intricate artwork that has lots of spaces for your eyes to get lost in.  

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Links: Are You A Serious Comic Book Reader Article: Snow Days: Batman versus Mr. Freeze in Batman: SnowSupervillain Article on Seth Fisher.

Further reading: Green Lantern: Willworld, Batman: The Black Glove, Batman: Year One, Planetary: Crossing Worlds.

Profiles: J. H. Williams III.

All comments welcome.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Books: Seven Soldiers of Victory

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Seven Soldiers of Victory
Vol 1
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by J.H. Williams III, Simone Bianchi, Cameron Stewart, Ryan Sook and Mick Gray and Frazer Irving
2006


Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
http://www.library.islington.gov.uk/TalisPrism/
Seven Soldiers of Victory
Vol 2
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Simone Bianchi, Cameron Stewart, Ryan Sook and Mick Gray and Frazer Irving

2006


Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
http://www.library.islington.gov.uk/TalisPrism/

Seven Soldiers of Victory
Vol 3
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Pasqual Ferry, Ryan Sook, Frazer Irving, Yanick Paquette, Doug Mahnke, Billy Dallas Patton, Mick Gray, and Michael Bair
2006


Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
http://www.library.islington.gov.uk/TalisPrism/
Seven Soldiers of Victory
Vol 4
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Doug Mahnke, Freddie Williams III, Yanick Paquette and Michael Bair and J.H. Williams III
2007


Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
http://www.library.islington.gov.uk/TalisPrism/


Seven Soldiers of Victory is pure Grant Morrison. It's not a diversion like We3 or Vimanarama or even (arguably) All Star Superman - where his wildest excesses are tempted and quieted down. Nope. It's The Invisibles, Doom Patrol and Final Crisis - where everything is off the leash and his id, ego and superego are given the chance to do whatever the hell they like.

Comprised of two "bookend" issues - Seven Soldiers #0 (which is the start) and Seven Soldiers #1 (which - ho ho ho - is the end) with a middle section of seven mini-series of (4 parts each) which interrelate in the loosest possible ways - this is a series that makes a virtue of the flexible nature of it's form - enabling it to be read (if you so feel the urge) in a multiple orders (and everyone loves a good gimmick right?).

Since taking over the reins of the Islington Comic Forum I've become way more patience with the books I read and way more willing to give them a chance (which obviously has a lot to do with my near-obsessive need to categorize and list them all on this here blog).

Back in the day when it wasn't so important to read things in order to have read them and I gave a higher priority to reading things because - hey, they looked like they might be actually fun to read - I picked up the first volume of Seven Soldiers of Victory. The reason I picked it up was because it had Grant Morrison's name across the bottom in big letters - and I mostly I liked Grant Morrison (The Filth - very much yes. The Invisibles/Arkham Asylum - hmmm. kinda) even if there was a lot of stuff that seemed all way too weird and crazy for it's own good (Doom Patrol in particular - which I made the mistake of trying to read from it's midpoint). I didn't know anything about Seven Soldiers - but what the hell right? So I gave it a shot.

My one abiding impression of that first read was that the whole thing seemed kinda - silly. Two words in fact: silly and messy. As someone that loved the stream-lined laser-like focus of The Filth and hated the over-blown cluster-muck of the last volume of The Invisibles (I like stories goddamn it - and even after reading it for the third time all the way through - it still doesn't really feel like I have any idea of what exactly happened - but maybe that's the point - etc). I didn't really want to take the chance of getting involved with something that would not only ultimately prove disappointing  but also: wouldn't make much sense (back then it seemed to me that Grant Morrison really liked doing zany things just for the sake of it - nowadays I'd say that I only think that's half true) and - yeah with the strange blue people and the tube pirates and something to do with giant alien spiders? - two thirds of the way in through the first book I figured that I would give the whole thing a miss. Plus: the fact that it was based around a bunch of goofy looking minor-league DC superheroes was another black mark against it. I mean: I only really liked a few Batman stories and that was about it - and had never really been taken in by the whole superhero universe thing which all seemed too day-glo and mindlessly complicated (because that's what happens when you keep telling the same stories with the same characters for years and years on end). And also: the bits that I did read kinda gave me a bit of a migraine anyhow: it all just seemed somehow rushed and kinda - cheap. So: with it seeming like it wasn't going to be worth the strain - and I figuring I was always going to be more an Alan Moore type of guy anyway I asked myself: was this really something that was going to be worth taking the time to get into and read all the way to the end?

I decided no.

Since that point I've read a lot more books become (ever so slightly) more open-minded and - most importantly - in the course of doing things for this blog - become submerged in the beguiling online world of comics analysis/criticism/whatever you wanna call it. And if there's one thing I learned quick from reading all the wise words, thoughts and full-formed, half-formed and un-formed opinions out there - it's this: the good folks of the internet/people who love comics lots - love Grant Morrison. And: seeing how the world wide web (especially compared to now at least) wasn't really an on-going viable concern when The Invisibles was coming out - people made up for it big-time when Seven Soldiers came out. Or to put it another way: there is a whole universe of insights and theories kicking around out there (see below) - one which I kept bumping my head against. But it was strange to know that what I took as a frivolous Grant Morrison superhero tale had managed to generate so much heat. And then: at the last meeting of the Islington Comic Forum - it came up in passing in conversation (if there's one author who people love...) and the way it was mentioned seemed positive - and damnit - what the hell right? - and if I'm doing this blog and getting everything down there - then I may as well give it another shot.

And so.

At first it seemed like my feelings from last time had been correct. The first issue (Seven Soldiers #0) has art by (one of my favourites) J.H. Williams III - but everything is all so chaotic and feels so rushed that it didn't really feel like I could settle in and actually enjoy reading it. There were too many question marks and "What's going on?" and "Who are these people?" for it be pleasurable. It was more like a dream of a comic than an actual comic itself - with hints and references to things taking place elsewhere... And then - again it felt the same - with the silly blue people (and the oh-so obvious twist), the silly magic girl and the silly Guardian guy with his B-list adventures... And I was tempted to give up again - but I thought that I would try my best and stick through it. And then. Well.

I'm not sure what the exact moment was when everything just seemed to click - but I think it was about midway through of the second book - when I started to realise the shape of the whole thing and felt the patterns and the jigsaw starting to fall into place that my heart started to enjoy itself and I just let the whole thing overwhelm me - the cliffhangers started to hurt ("oh no!") I started to really like the characters and the dialogue just popped in such a lovely way with such a deft kinda touch ("Whoever heard of a mad horse?") that it made me swoon all over.

And then: when the climax finally swings into place with Seven Soldiers #1 - yeah. It's chaotic and noisy and a million things all happened at once - and I know I didn't get all the fidgety little crossword answers: but it still managed to feel satisfying (yeah - I know: I'm as shocked as you are).

Given the chance to speak to my past self who wanted to know if it was going to be worth the effort to get into it I'd say this: Yes. Ok. This is a silly book. And yeah: it's a bunch of B-list/C-list superheroes. But - damn it - read it all through anyway and don't give up because - it won't disintegrate into multi-coloured noise like The Invisibles: rather everything will pay off (somehow or another) and it's all rather - against all odds - rewarding on some deep down level that I haven't quite made sense of yet. And I'm very sure that it's going to be real good fun to re-read. And - it's very nice to know what all those people on the internet have been gabbering about.

So - yeah - try it.

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Links: Jog The Blog Reviews, I am NOT The Beastmaster Reviews, Comic Book Resources Reviews: The M0vie Blog Review, Multiversity Comics Review, Andrew Hickey Articles, Comics Should Be Good: Unnecessary Guide To Seven Soldiers, 4th Letter Article: I Call My Brother “Son” ’cause He Shine Like One, Sean T Collins Review.

Further reading: SeaguyPrometheaThe Invisibles, Final Crisis, Doom Patrol, The Filth, Flex Mentallo.

Profiles: Grant Morrison, J. H. Williams III.

All comments welcome.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Books: Batwoman: Elegy

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Batwoman: Elegy
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by J. H. Williams III

2010




Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
http://www.library.islington.gov.uk/TalisPrism/


If only all superhero books were this cool.

With artwork by the delectable J. H. Williams III who ups the ante of any book he happens to work on (seriously - just check out this random selection of his stuff and tell me that you're not curious/excited to check him out) if every comic was well managed and constructed as this - then everybody would be reading them (woo! Panels shaped like bats! and red bolts! I love it!). Written under the watchful eye of Greg Rucka (who's got previous form with the Gotham underground with his fantastic Gotham Central series and knows his hard-boiled heroines inside and out - as exemplified in his fantastic Queen & Country spy thriller series).

Was shocked to find out (obviously not as knowledgeable with my comics as I thought I was): that far from being a fresh-minted character created by Rucka and Williams III - Katherine "Kathy" Webb Kane first appeared way way back in 1956 (!!!) as a (BAT-FACT) love interest for The Dark Knight to disprove "allegations of homosexuality" - which just makes this book all the more even better.

It's been a while since I've read any Bat book that's managed to feel this fresh, vibrant and stimulating - I don't think there's anyone that I wouldn't recommend checking this book out. It's very very good.

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Links: Savage Critic Article: A Review of Batwoman in Detective Comics Focusing Mostly on the Art, Savage Critic Article: A Review of Batwoman in Detective Comics Focusing Mostly on the Writing, Wired Review, PopMatters Review, Schizopolitan Review, The M0vie Blog Review.

Further reading: Batman: The Black Glove, Gotham Central, Desolation Jones, Promethea, Queen & Country.

Profiles: J. H. Williams III.

All comments welcome.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Books: Desolation Jones

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Desolation Jones
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by J.H. Williams III

2006




Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
http://www.library.islington.gov.uk/TalisPrism/


Spy stories all (pretty much) run on the idea that being a secret agent is the coolest job in the world. I read somewhere once that (statistically speaking) everyone on the planet has seen at least one James Bond film: but then with that 24 hour party lifestyle - (exotic locations, glamorous gadgets and thrilling escapades and all the rest of it): who are you to resist?

But what happens when the party finally starts to die down: and the guy that spent his life living on an excess of excess starts to frazzle apart and burn out - what happens when you're drinking not to have a good time but because you have to? ...

That guy with the grey skin stinking of leftover alcohol and cigarettes? That's Desolation Jones: the human personification of sticky floor the day after the party - with The Door's "When The Music's Over" playing on a loop in the room next door [1] (or if you prefer: The Weeknd), shiny no-longer white t-shirt sticking to your wheezy chest and a suspect stain's slowly creeping all over your body: this is what happens when a spy gets broke.

Combine this guy with a story structure built out of jet black Noir and leave to burn in the Los Angeles sunshine: and you've got a pretty good idea of what to expect from this comic. Noir is the perfect form for a guy like Desolation ("Desolation" - what a great word): one of the unspoken rules for noir stories is that whatever the luckless protagonist/detective is leading the way has to be past his best - and Desolation is nothing if not past his best: as are all the other poor walking wounded he meets along the way. Combine with a search for a priceless missing x (in this case: the holy grail of dirty movies), a total lack of trustworthy characters, dirty secrets hiding inside other dirty secrets and a past full of more pain than is human comprehensible we're off: and everyone is doomed.

From talking to other people (you know who you are): this is the Warren Ellis story for people that normally can't stand Warren Ellis. One of the big parts of that has got to be the lovingly rendered and detailed by J.H Williams III - who you really should know from his gob-smacking jaw-dropping mouth-watering work on Alan Moore's Promethea - (what do you mean you haven't read it?) who here makes despair and squalor look succulent and semi-magnificent and who's panel work is constructed less like something that's just doggingly going through and more like he's playing music (am loving the boxes falling across the action capturing each moment in it's own space - and the ghostly shadows cutting the wrong way (right to left) across the page). There's also this very cool slow-mo bullet-time thing going on - where reality snaps into red, black and white and everything gets all bendy. Too many comics rely on the same basic colours and styles throughout - but not this one: every chance it gets (mainly through Jones' druggy freakouts) the palette and perspectives start to shift and the tone bounces around all the minor notes mixing it up with a washed out - and it's all the better for it. Another reason why this it's good is that mostly (supermodernism speech aside) it avoids dropping in big ideas and instead focuses on the human cost of a good time all the time with one standout scene nestled in the middle that brings home how messed up things can get - in a nicely understated way (which makes a change to Warren Ellis' other stuff - which normally goes for the money shot).

Gotta say too: that this would be the perfect book to read in tandem with another Warren Ellis book called "Fell" - which is the night-time twin to Desolation's day-time horrors. So yeah.

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[1] Not that I'm a Doors fan or anything: but that song's sweats kinda the same kinda of loose, sleazy energy as the book - and Jim "Mojo Rising" Morrison fat mystic hippy routine is the kinda headache inducing character you could imagine hiding in the background in one of the many (beautiful oh so beautiful) panels.

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Further reading: The Filth, Promethea, Queen and Country, Fell, Sleeper, Sin City, Red, FreakAngels, Batwoman: Elegy, Goldfish.

Profiles: Warren EllisJ. H. Williams III.

All comments welcome

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Books: Promethea

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Promethea
Book One
Written by Alan Moore
Art by J. H. Williams III and Mick Gray

2001



Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
http://www.library.islington.gov.uk/TalisPrism/

Promethea
Book Two
Written by Alan Moore
Art by J. H. Williams III and Mick Gray

2003



Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
http://www.library.islington.gov.uk/TalisPrism/

Promethea
Book Three
Written by Alan Moore
Art by J. H. Williams III and Mick Gray

2003



Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
http://www.library.islington.gov.uk/TalisPrism/

Promethea
Book Four
Written by Alan Moore
Art by J. H. Williams III and Mick Gray

2005



Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
http://www.library.islington.gov.uk/TalisPrism/

Promethea
Book Five
Written by Alan Moore
Art by J. H. Williams III and Mick Gray

2006



Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
http://www.library.islington.gov.uk/TalisPrism/

Alan Moore is best known for Watchmen. That makes sense. It's the comic that catapulted into the world of superstardom (or as much superstardom as a writer of a comic book could ever have) and the one that first showed the world that blah blah blah "comics weren't just for kids anymore." Plus - you know it's got superheroes in: and everyone loves superheroes - they're the spoonful of sugar that helps all the ever-so-clever-cleverness go down (and I wonder what the ratio is between the people who love the Slaughterhouse-Five-style perception of time gymnastics in Chapter 4 with Dr Manhattan on Mars and those that love Rorschach because - dude - he is such a badass).

I'd say tho that maybe - in a hundred years or so - when people look back at Alan Moore the comic series that most people will associate with him: in that it's the series where he cuts back the most and just lets loose the most completely is Promethea.

Ironically - in a way that undercuts the my superhero comment above - when it starts off it wears the face of being just another superhero thing - Wonder Woman retold with a "wonderful world of the imagination" twist: Sophie Bangs is just a normal college student from New York 1999 until one day... etc etc etc. But if you're willing and able to press through and on past those first few volumes then - well - you're going to be for a few surprises - up to and including a complete anatomical breakdown on the nature of the universe, magic and human experience told with some of the most experimental and messed-up and drop-deap beautiful comic panels ever created (hyperbole much?). Or - as Alan Moore himself has put it: It's a "magical rant seemingly disguised as a superheroine comic (see here)."

And I defy anyone to name an artist that can do more and reach further into seeming every single type of art-style than the almost shaman-like J. H. Williams III (one of my comic heroes).

Going back to the Watchmen ratio: for those that just liked the way that Rorschach beat up all those people and etc: this isn't going to be the comic for you. But - for those that say "bring it on" to a masterclass in all the infinite possibilities hiding within the confines of the comics page (and who would have thought that the careful application of words and pictures would be able to do so much?): then you need to read this book because it will make your life richer, fuller and better in ways that you can't yet understand. Because if you thought that other Alan Moore books were good - then - well... this is the place where he takes it to a whole other level.

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Links: Jog The Blog Article, Promethea article on Full. Body. Transplant., Interview with J.H. Williams III on Phantasmaphile, PopMatters Review, Comics Cube Article.

Further reading: HabibiNeonomiconDesolation Jones, The Filth, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Seven Soliders of Victory, Joe The Barbarian, Logicomix, Swamp Thing, Tom Strong, The Unwritten, Batwoman: ElegyAnimal Man.

Profiles: Alan Moore, J. H. Williams III.

All comments welcome.