Summer Reading: The Time for Trades (Part 1)

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There’s no better time of year to curl up with a graphic novel or trade paperback than in the summer. No school, laxer work schedules perhaps. What’s better than reading comics out in the sun (jerking off outside, try it)? So far, I’ve read many a trade since coming back from college, and I haven’t read a bad one yet. Here’s part 1 of 2 in my trade rundown, this segment featuring the talented writers Brian K. Vaughan and J. Michael Straczynski.

 

 

 

Silver Surfer: Requiem (2007). Written by J. Michael Straczynski (Amazing Spider-Man) and painted by Essad Ribic (Loki). I first discovered this series in a Barnes and Noble and I was tempted to open it up and read it right then and there. I’ve always been a fan of Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer. He’s a noble spirit and one of the greater heroes in comics, even though he doesn’t always get his due (because he’s been relegated to the Defenders, and never been an Avenger). I was down on JMS going into reading this trade, because the last thing I had read that he had done was One More Day, a storyline that single-handedly castrated Spider-Man and MJ and one of the worst ideas for a storyline ever. That said, Requiem made me forget that enormous debacle (and his ongoing work on Thor is also stellar, to be fair). The premise is simple, yet heartbreaking. In an elseworlds future, Norrin Radd is sick, and losing the power cosmic that Galactus had given him all those years ago when Radd selflessly sacrificed himself to become a herald to Galactus rather than let Galactus consume his homeworld Zenn-La. JMS’ weaves a brilliant final story of the board riding hero, featuring the Fantastic Four and other characters from the Marvel Universe and a journey in space, ending exactly where it should. JMS clearly gets Norrin Radd more clearly than almost any that I’ve seen interprete him. Ironically, in a scene that shows Radd best, JMS’ relies on guest stars Spider-Man and Mary Jane. He’s a noble spirit, one of the greatest men in the universe, and one who has found relative peace in his adopted home of Earth, but also has his heart at Zenn-La with his love Shalla-Bal. These four issues are everything the story should be. And, on purpose, I save perhaps the best thing about this mini series for last: the art. Essad Ribic’s paint job in this series is majestic, beautiful and wonderful in every panel. Silver Surfer is an iconic image in comics, and Ribic wields considerable power with his paintbrush, and the match is divine. Just as divine as Norrin Radd himself.

 

Spiffy Says…FUDO.

 

Pride of Baghdad (2006). Written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Niko Henrichon. This graphic novel boasts a multitude of healthy reviews. On the back cover, blurbs feature comparisons to Watchmen (“It’s that good”) and many a critics praising of its moving story. The story is based on a true story, but obviously with liberties. Brian K. Vaughan, the brilliant writer behind Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Runaways, Mystique, and TV’s LOST, adapted the story straight from the headlines. In 2003, a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during an American bombing raid. Vaughan tells their story here, in a fascinating, interesting and engaging style, paired with gorgeous pencils by breakout stud Niko Henrichon (Barnum!), who draws a mean lion (and gazelle, monkey and horse, to boot). While I wouldn’t put this up there with Watchmen, it’s a rare graphic novel that can be read by anyone, comic book reader or no, and be enjoyed for what it is: a great and deep story, despite being headlined by animals. And plus, it obviously has political elements due to the Iraq setting, and I think the message is perfectly timed to today’s world. The book is a quick read, and can be read in one setting, but I made a point to savor it, reading it in three. It’s a good ride, where you follow Zill, Noor, Safa and Ali navigate the zoo, political alliances, a battlefield and fight their constant hunger. The ending is abrupt and startling, but it’s clearly a perfect end to such a story. I don’t want to ruin it, but this is definitely a graphic novel that everyone should read.

 

Spiffy Says…FUDO

 

Yup! That’s right. Two FUDO’s in one post! Possibly a new record. What can possibly follow THAT up? Well, stay tuned, but be ready for many write-ups, featuring a myriad of red hot comics writer (and Spiffy’s new fave) Ed Brubaker’s works. Yes, I just went from 6 to midnight too (thanks to Forgetting Sarah Marshall for that indelible quote).

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3 Responses to “Summer Reading: The Time for Trades (Part 1)”

  1. davidry214 Says:

    Good post. I’d like to read both of those, though who knows when/if that’ll happen.

    Ribic is a god, second only to Alex Ross in painted comics (and even then, only when Ross is at his best).

  2. gokitalo Says:

    I thought Ribic’s covers for House of M were kind of weak, but his work on Loki was awesome. As for SS: Requiem, I saw one reviewer call it amazing another call it… not so amazing. Two good reviews is more than one, though, so maybe I’ll give it a gander.

    And BKV is BKV, so Pride of Baghdad has been on my radar for a long, long time. Got to finally get it!

  3. spiffyithaca Says:

    I think I liked Silver Surfer better than Pride of Baghdad, even, but I’m sure I’m in the small minority on that one.

    You guys should feel free posting updates on your own summer reading. Trades rock!

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