I just finished reading Black Hole by Charles Burns. It took over ten years (1995 – 2005) for the 12 issues to come out but as of last October it has been collected into one book.
For those who don’t know, Black Hole takes place in Seattle in the 70s, and tells the story of “The Bug” (venereal disease / mutation causing plague / something) that is sweeping through a high school there.
This is one of the most affecting comics I’ve read in a while. The intertwining stories of the kids who’ve got The Bug, the kids who don’t, and the kids who are going to get it frame the story which also dredges up all the horrible high school crap you’ve tried to forget. It’s not just “body horror” along the lines of Junji Ito, where I feel like he’s just trying to see how far he can go (although there is some of that), but a true Horror comic in the sense that both the mutated kids and what happens to them is horrifying.
If you’re looking for something as depressing as Jimmy Corrigan and as disturbing as Videodrome, you’ve found it. This is NOT a thumbs down. I can’t exactly say I “enjoyed” reading it, but it was compelling, and Burns’ stark black and white art is great as always. Definitely recommended – as long as you’re prepared to keep thinking about it long after you’ve finished reading it.
Another comic party I’ve come late to, I’m currently devouring back issues of Supreme Power.
Written by JMS of Babylon 5 fame, it’s a retelling of the Squadron Supreme story. It’s a Marvel Max title so it is for mature readers, and in the first few pages you know we’re not in the Silver Age anymore: Hyperion’s ship crashes to Earth and is discovered by a kindly couple… who are immediately eliminated by government agents in a black helicopter.
I was never a huge Squadron Supreme fan, but you don’t really need to know anything about them to follow the story, same way you didn’t need to know anything about the Charlton heroes to enjoy Watchmen. There’s probably stuff going over my head but I’m not aware of it.
I think JMS can be a great writer, and it makes me think about how awesome Babylon 5 could have been if it had been done in comic form, which would’ve freed it from the constraits of actors’ schedules, threat of network cancellation and so on.
I’m a bit late to the party since the book has been running for a couple years, but my favorite comic currently is The Goon.
The main character (known only as The Goon) is sort of a depression-era(maybe) Hellboy. He spends a lot of time beating up monsters and works as an enforcer for Labrazio, the mob boss who runs the town (or does he?) which is being overrun by zombies.
The stories are all pretty straightforward, but nothing wrong with that! The Goon and his psychotic sidekick Frankie are interesting characters, as are the Zombie Priest villain and the rest of the supporting characters in the neighborhood The Goon protects.
What really sold me on this book, though, is the art. Creator Eric Powell has definitely learned a lot from the greats, and panel swipes homages are found throughout. A bit of Mignola, a little bit Wally Wood, a dash of early Corben, and a whole lot of Frazetta make the stories come alive. The oil-painted covers are fantastic.
If you like monsters, zombies, or great art, pick up one of the trades on your next trip to the comic shop! The first couple are outstanding, but the quality drops slightly as the series goes on. My recommendation is to start with #0, Rough Stuff.