Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Kids Are Alright

It's been the better part of a month since I posted anything. I am actually pretty pissed at myself for letting it go so long but a lot of not-so-great stuff has been going on and my comic reading has definitely been laid by the wayside for other important life matters. That does not mean that I have nothing to write about though. Actually, it's quite the opposite. I literally have piles of books ready to be blogged about, so I might as well get to it.

Ever since Robin made his first appearance in the pages of Detective Comics, teenage do-gooders and sidekicks have been an major part in superhero comics. As a dug through my boxes, I found that I had a lot of books featuring super young'ins so I grabbed a bunch to see if I could find any gems. First up is Young Justice Secret Files #1. Now to start things off, I have to say that for anyone who is like me and had a hiatus from comics during the 90's and the early 00's, DC's Secret Files books are great primers for the DC Universe and give you a lot of info on specific characters. (Of course, the older the issue though, the older the info will be, so keep that in mind. Young Justice Secret Files is from 1999.) As with all of the Secret Files books that I have read, there is some type of framing story throughout the book that links all of the character dossiers. This time around, the main story (by D. Curtis Johnson and Ale Garza) follows the Young Justice team as they try to break out super powered kids being held by the government and find that this government agency has files on their team as well. As with most humorous sidekick stories, teenage impetuousness takes over, the plan goes out the window, and the team saves the day by the skin of their teeth. All in all, it was a good story and the art was passable. The only reason I would disparage the art is that there were a lot of panels with closeups on faces that just did not look right to me. The action panels were really good, but the faces just didn't look right. Lastly, there were some funny Easter Eggs on the dossier page for the character Secret. Stuck in the cells in the background are Artie Maddicks from the X-Men books and an Ithorian and dianoga from Star Wars. Yes, I am that nerdy that I found those.

Next up is a postmodern take on superhero youths in Casual Heroes #1, written and pencilled by Kevin McCarthy. Right from the start of the book, you are thrown into a reality where superheroes are superstars and superdivas fighting for notoriety and cash. The main character, Saturn Red, is adored, but when a monster rampages through the city, nearly kills one of his teammates, and calls him out specifically, he just goes to the bar to pick up another nameless girl to take home for the night. Looking at the book from my standpoint in 2009, Casual Heroes is anything but casual with its message. You are beaten over the head with "fame is the worst thing in the world once you have it" and "superheroes would be jerks if they were real." I knew I was in for a heavy handed ride when the first text box was a Sartre quote. I don't want you to think that the book was horrible. The indy art style was interesting and made the book worth reading, but I don't think that I will be looking real hard for the rest of the series.

Finally we reach the good stuff. Truthfully, this book could be one of the best finds I have made in the quarter boxes: Generation X Underground Special #1. Written and drawn by Jim Mahfood, one of my favorite creator, the Generation X Underground Special is quintessential 90's pop culture. Let me explain. Now when I think of Marvel's Generation X team, I think of basically a second incarnation of the New Mutants, students at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. I don't automatically think of them as part of the actual Generation X. Mahfood's Underground Special makes sure I remember that fact. Generation X was as much a team name as a statement of identity, and I totally forgot that until I read this. Of course the book is hilarious and beautifully drawn as I have come to expect from Mahfood. If you are an X fan or just someone of that generation, go out and find Generation X Underground Special #1.

Quickly, I want to just shoot through the two other books, one recent issue and one old one, that I grabbed out of the long box with the ones I talked about. First was a lucky find for 25 cents since it is a very new issue, New Warriors #14 by Kevin Grevioux and Koi Turnbull. (The issue must not have sold well since the book is in good condition.) Just wanted to note this book since most of the previously mentioned Generation X team are in this book and few have aged a day actually. Still, what I have read of the series is good and worth checking out. The series ended so you should be able to find the whole series in trade soon. The other issue is New Teen Titans #29 by Wolfram and Perez. I have read the major arcs in the Wolfram/Perez run like The Judas Contract but I honestly never knew that the series was so "soap opera-ish." It was like superpowered 90210 with Speedy trying to get on Starfire and Kid Flash's unrequited love of Raven. I was not ready for the pile of schmaltz that was New Teen Titans #29.

NOTE: After researching it, it looks as though Casual Heroes never had a second issue even though it was advertised in issue #1.

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