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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 9 comics last week: Aquaman Rebirth #1, Wonder Woman Rebirth #1, Flash Rebirth #1, Action Comic #957, Detective Comics #934, Star Trek #58, Star Trek: Manifest Destiny #4, Poe Dameron #3 and Darth Vader #21.
The best comic I read last week was Star Trek #58.
In the midst of some very loud and very loudly publicized events from DC Comics and Marvel Comics, Star Trek #58 – the conclusion of a four issue arc called “Legacy of Spock” – stands in stark and surprisingly welcome contrast. Celebrating the memory of Leonard Nimoy, this Mike Johnson written Tony Shasteen illustrated story line is so well constructed that, when I completed this issue, I immediately went back four issues and read the entire arc again.
Shasteen’s art is simply tremendous. He does an excellent job capturing the likenesses of all the Star Trek actors but his focus, clearly, is on Leonard Nimoy’s Spock. Illustrating the character throughout the stages of his life, Shasteen draws an immediately recognizable Spock and one that conveys the appropriate levels of emotion in the course of the story. Shasteen’s rather obvious reliance on photo reference is not a distraction because, though he is drawing his Spock literally and figuratively from stills most Star Trek fans know very well, he populates the rest of his panels with equally well illustrated and recognizable characters. Sneaking Dame Judi Dench in as T’Pah is a particularly inspired idea. He has been a reliable and easy to read penciller for this book.
Johnson has put together some very memorable arcs on this book, but “Legacy of Spock” is far-and-away my favorite. He writes a story that is intended to pay reverence to Nimoy and the character he personified and “Legacy of Spock” does just that. Without being overly dramatic or maudlin, Johnson relates a chapter of the last Spock story, taking us forward in time to a point in history after the character has died. In doing so, he is able to show readers the impact the character has on his culture after his death. Early in the arc, Johnson makes the very smart decision to put Spock on the outside looking in, making him once again an isolated loner. It is from this perspective that Nimoy created the character, it was from this perspective that we got many terrific Spock stories and it is with this perspective that Johnson writes this brilliant arc.
Star Trek has been a quiet title in a very good way. The denouement of this arc involves an appearance by the Enterprise, but no phasers. That’s perfect for this book and perfect for Star Trek.