What's Actually Good (In Comics)

What's Actually Good (In Comics)
What's Actually Good (In Comics) #8

Dominic Davies | 10 Apr 2008 21:00
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While reading the book, I found that I was not only excited and worried due to the immediate threats from the villains but also from the lasting effect that these events are having on the hero's psyche. He is beating the bad guys, sure, but the cost has been not only his own soul but the livelihoods of his friends and loved ones. It's a terrible state to be in, but wonderfully compelling reading and characteristic of a Brubaker book. While any good writer can obviously invoke this feeling in the reader, it's Brubaker's methods that set him apart.

Structure-wise, Brubaker's works move with a kind of determined, thoughtful pace, and you get the impression that, while it might seem laborious at first, every panel has a purpose within the story. Instead of being overly jovial or flippant, nothing is wasted. Compare his writing to the rampant childishness of Amazing Spider-man, and Brubaker's style becomes very clear. It's a style that is forged from a background of crime and thriller books, but has been made to work with superhero comics now to great effect.

The dialog, like the rest of the book, is succinct and neither overly dramatic nor simple. Its honest, realistic tone helps to bring the character down to earth, and this in turn helps us to sympathize and connect with him. Again, compare it to the dramatic and fun dialog a writer like Bendis produces, or the punchy, clever words we get from Brian K. Vaughan, and Brubaker stands out as somewhat sober but equally (if not moreso) effective.

In Daredevil, Brubaker is taking the hero down a tragic path, exposing not only his own flaws along the way but articulating them to us in the clearest and most compelling way. More can and needs to be said of this and his other work, but what is clear is that if he continues to bring his mature and realistic style of storytelling to superhero comics, there is plenty to be excited about in the future.

Superhero-wise, Brubaker is currently writing Daredevil, Captain America, Uncanny X-Men and Iron Fist. His creator-owned work, the crime book Criminal, is also outstanding. You should buy them all.

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Here is a fantastic callout on "comics journalists" and their reviews by David Uzumeri from Funnybook Babylon. He points out a horrible trend in comic reviews and writes an entertaining appeal to fellow journalists to curb the clich├ęs and easy jokes and actually create reviews with merit.

Comic books are cool again! Or perhaps just to Hollywood stars and musicians with the bizarre news that rapper Method Man is producing his own comic with Grand Central Publishing. Expect that in the distant future, along with comics from other members of the Wu-Tang Clan. I'm not even joking.

Good to see more news coverage of the gradual acceptance of comic books as a literary form.

"What's Actually Good" top 5 picks for the next two weeks: Amazing Spider-Man No. 556 from Zeb Wells, Incredible Hercules No. 116 from Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, 100 Bullets No. 90 from Brian Azzarello (but for God's sake, don't jump in now; buy the trades and read up), Justice Society of America No. 14 from Geoff Johns and finally Fantastic Four No. 556 from Mark Millar.

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In the next "What's Actually Good":

I uncover the shocking secret behind the unusual number of Brians there are writing within the comics industry. I also review the newest Supergirl and tell you why it's brilliant. Finally, I give my opinion on the current incarnation of my childhood favourite superhero book: Amazing Spider-Man. See you in two weeks!

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