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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.
Comics I Read Last Week:
The Best Comic I Read Last Week Was Superman #17
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Kevin Maguire
If ever an issue was building to something big, shouting “hey, something gigantic is coming and this is a little breather before it hits!”, it’s Superman #17. It is a bit of a sadness that in today’s world, major story lines are often revealed long before they play out, but writer Brian Michael Bendis is smart enough to embrace this reality and use it to his advantage here. Crafting an issue where nothing really happens, but so much ground is covered, Bendis weaves together plot lines and characters whose payoff is surely issues away but whose interplay is tight and compelling.
And, if you’re going to have an issue that is really all talk, perhaps it’s a good idea to lasso one of the best artists in the business to assist. Any book that features interiors by Kevin Maguire is worth a look and Superman #17 is no exception. I believe Maguire’s towering abilities as a comic book artist are often overlooked because of a very understandable focus on his unique ability to render expression, but it’s that very ability that is so on display here. Maguire, as much as any other artist working today, illustrates that as much can be conveyed by a silent panel as one filled with words. Perhaps more. This pairing of writer and artist seems to bring out the best in Bendis, who can sometimes be justifiably critiqued for overwriting stories.
Not here. In Superman #17 we see a writer and artist whose comfort with the characters with whom they are working and with each other makes for a tremendous example of sequential art. What a terrific read!