League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009. Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. Top Shelf. 80 pages. $9.99.
all you know of LOEG is that dreadful film, you’re missing one of the
richest and most-entertaining series in comics, which also serves as a
powerful commentary on decadence, the necessity of a diverse culture and
its relevance to life. This final chapter in the third volume of
stories continues Moore’s heady blend of occult, politics and adventure,
culminating with the coming of the antichrist and the subsequent
arrival of … well, that would be telling.
As usual, there’s an all-star
assemblage of borrowed characters, though few are specifically named.
The identity of the antichrist drew a bit of contrived controversy when
this book first appeared in the UK, but the presence of this corrupted
persona is well within the traditions of literary satire. Century 2009
is a mostly satisfying conclusion to this volume, nicely setting up
Moore’s next tale — a visit with Captain Nemo set in an earlier time,
due in 2013.
Get Jiro. Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose and Langdon Foss. Vertigo. 160 pages. $24.99.
author and TV personality Bourdain’s manic parable posits an epicurean
dystopia with bloodthirsty chefs and food to die for. The violent fable
deftly skewers feckless foodie pretensions, especially in California,
and Foss’ well-done art imparts a delicious and tasty sizzle.
Batman: Earth One. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. DC Comics. 128 pages. $22.99.
no one yearned for yet another retelling of the beginnings of Batman,
Johns and Frank deliver a startlingly fresh take that incorporates many
elements of the first origin of the Dark Knight while adding some smart
and engaging emotional beats. Frank is one of DC Chief Creative Officer
Johns’ go-to guys, and he once again rises to the occasion with powerful
and effective pencils, ably delineated by Jon Sibal.
Jerusalem: Chronicles From The Holy City. Guy DeLisle. Drawn & Quarterly. 320 pages. $24.95.
eloquent and sensitive cartoonist attempts to explicate the conundrum
that is Jerusalem, the Holy City of three religions. If you’re
unfamiliar with the complicated and conflicted landscape, DeLisle brings
the divergence down to ground level. The Canadian’s art is simple and
effective, and he doesn’t preach or proselytize as much as gamely
attempt to explore and find meaning in the mundane and ordinary aspects
of life in this far-from-ordinary setting.
The Lovely Horrible Stuff. Eddie Campbell. Top Shelf. 96 pages. $14.95.
The From Hell
artist and Alec auteur’s painfully honest and often hilarious look at
money, relationships, life and art delves deep into his family history
and world explorations. Campbell is quite a character, and his
experiences and insights on how we deal with high and low finance make
for a funny, rewarding and frankly educational experience.
Gone To Amerikay. Derek McCulloch and Colleen Doran. Vertigo. 144 pages. $24.99.
storyteller McCulloch’s wise and poignant tale of Irish immigrants
coming to America, weaving three different time periods in parallel, is
soulfully illustrated by veteran artist Doran. It’s a heartfelt and
genuine story of human emotions and drama; nothing post-modern, snarky
or ironic here, just believable behavior depicted with lyrical dialog
and rich imagery. You’ll want to re-read it as soon as you finish to
savor and reflect upon the transcendent intelligence and artistic vision
responsible for this masterpiece. Highly recommended.
Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde: The Happy Prince. P. Craig Russell. NBM. 32 pages. $16.99.
beloved allegory is beautifully and smartly adapted by master craftsman
Russell. The story, timeless and relevant, centers on a statue of a
chastened prince who aches for his poor subjects and aids some of them
with the help of a friendly, anthropomorphic swallow. The tale of the
lifeless boy and the faithful avian is conveyed sweetly and with great
heart. Special mention to Lovern and Jesse Kindzierski for their
intelligent and sympathetic coloring.
Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland. Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnant. Top Shelf. 128 pages. $21.99.
In this, one of the American Splendor creator’s
final projects, the reader experiences an intimate portrait of the late
Pekar’s life and work. Considering the autobiographical focus of almost
all of his stories, it’s pretty amazing, but the casual revelations
about himself and his beloved city are bracing and revelatory. More than
a coda, it’s a wonderful conclusion to one of the medium’s great bodies
of work. Remnant’s art is fresh and familiar, and one of the best of a
long series of collaborations between Pekar and other expert and
simpatico illustrators. Harvey lives!