Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hailing The Cabbie

In June, Fantagraphics Books will be issuing a new printing of The Cabbie, by Marti Riera. I've owned the 1987 Catalan printing of this fascinating, perverse delight for some time now, and it is truly one of Eurocomics' hidden treasures.

Originally serialized in 1979, The Cabbie tells a pitch-dark tale of a solitary man, secure in his moral superiority in a depraved world of sinners, who nonetheless is growing impatient waiting for his inheritance. When he finds out where the money is stored, things get much more complicated. He also gets swept up in a feud with a vengeful family of petty criminals, and Noir ensues.

Obviously, the best part is that throughout this bullet-riddled yarn, Riera employs a pitch-perfect recreation of Chester Gould's Dick Tracy to tell the story. I've read many a Tracy story, and Riera mimics the artwork, style, and pacing of Gould brilliantly.

More than an homage, this was Marti's critique of Gould's worldview, as presented in Tracy. There are no heroes in this book, and no true villains either. Just a lot of desperate, greedy people fighting over money. I'm not smart enough to have figured this out on my own. Art Spiegelman contributes an outstanding Introduction to this volume that explains Reira's background, influences, and naturally, the generational and cultural differences that made The Cabbie an ironic rebuttal to Dick Tracy's somewhat simplistic morality plays.

The Cabbie is full of violence and nudity and troubling things. It probably won't be at your shop unless you ask for it. It can be ordered on page #282 of the June 2011 Previews, if you're so inclined.


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Making Mine Marvel

So if DC is losing me, what about Marvel? Well,lately, I'm buying as many Marvels as I ever have, so I guess I'm still in the Merry Marvel Marching Society.

Which isn’t to say that Marvel is doing anything different than DC. Both companies have essentially the same publishing goals and strategies, both milk their top selling characters for all they’re worth, and both crank out event after event. I suppose I’m just more predisposed toward the Marvel Universe characters. For example, Fear Itself only seems more appealing to me than Flashpoint because I’ve been reading Captain America on and off for  years, whereas I’ve largely ignored the Flash, aside from most of the Wally West years. Fear Itself also appeals because rather than mucking with the timestream and changing the Marvel Universe FOREVER, by making baffling changes to its history, it simply promises slack-jawed brutes pounding the crap out of everyone in sight with giant magic hammers; a much more appealing proposition.

As far as the regular titles go, Amazing Spider-Man has become a solid favorite in the last few years. Say what you will about One More Day, (and I have weighed in), the book hasn’t been this good in years. I love the direction Big Time has taken Spidey in, and I enjoy seeing him evolve into a different kind of hero who has to struggle with a new kind of responsibility.
Spider-Man also recently became the newest member of Marvel’s FF; not the Fantastic Four, but either the First Family or the Future Foundation, depending on which grouping of the greatly expanded team we're talking about. Spider-Man, Nathanial Richards, and an eccentric Uncle join the First Family, while Spidey will also be doing time with the Future Foundation and Reed's young prodigies. I've been enjoying Jonathan Hickman's run, but FF casts a whole new light on the same old family.

And then there are the Avengers. Brian Bendis’ take on the Avengers has been a huge success for Marvel, but its wearing a bit thin for me. The main Avengers title is pretty good, and has a strong lineup, but I still can’t wrap my head around Wolverine as an Avenger, let alone an Avenger twice over. New Avengers should have been better, but started out weak with a story designed to complete Bendis’ ongoing quest to destroy Doctor Strange. So far, Avengers Academy is my favorite of the current Avengers lot, featuring actual Avengers –in costume- doing Avengery things.

I continue to be completely indifferent to the X-Men.

I’m also getting and enjoying Thunderbolts, Mighty Thor, Hulk, Captain America, and probably a few others that I’m forgetting. I will definitely be getting Mark Waid’s Daredevil, a title that has been way too dour for me for years now. Suffice to say that while Marvel is far from perfect, they seem to be hitting more than missing with yours truly at the moment.