SPANDEXLESS READS 11/12/12 / by Anthony Rosen

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Greetings Spandexians! We've been under siege by the weather recently, so unfortunately getting back to our regular schedule has been a bit beyond our means. Thankfully, with the extra downtime we've been able to enjoy some great reads. I've been digging some stories that tackle the tumultuously mundane, David has been trekking through some fantastical childhood callbacks, Patrick continued with his horror comic catch-up, and Phil's been extolling the virtues of one of the web's nicest looking comics  . Anthony Rosen // Gettin' bummed

I picked up some issues of Optic Nerve a few month ago, but packed 'em away in a shoe box by accident almost as soon as I got back home that day. During an obsessive compulsive, I'm-bored-so-I'll-just-reorganize-my-entire-collection evening, I happily stumbled upon them again. Of the issues I re-discovered, my favorite was easily #12, who's first story is a mostly lighthearted look at one man's obsession with his art, a new medium he's invented called “hortisculpture”. Combining his love for plants with a sudden urge to 'do something with is life', Harold obsesses over his mundane art as those around him stare on in bewilderment at his work. Adrian Tomine is a fine writer with a skilled hand and a talent for telling short stories. If you dig down to earth, slice-of-life style storytelling (think less depressing Daniel Clowes), I recommend you check it out.

David Anderson // Gettin' nostalgiac

Picked up some comics recently, and I can't believe I forgot to mention the gift I got a family member at NYCC: a signed copy of The Last Unicorn by Pete Beagle. My sisters would watch the video all the time and so I know it pretty well. The art is freakin' amazing, and while they had to shorten some scenes for brevity it still is a pitch perfect adaptation of the original video. The style is far from the 70's anime style of the film and comes in much more vibrant colors as well. I always thought Schmendrick was an idiot, but a cool idiot. He still is, and Pete Beagle is a pretty cool guy to talk to. Also, holy crap Jeff Bridges was Prince Lir in the film? Need to do some re-watchin' soon.

Now I just need someone to make a Transformers crossover called The Last Unicron.

I also picked up some kind of weird/crazy book called Atomika about Russian polytheism, so look forward to a review of that soon.

Patrick Smith // Gettin' gruesome

This week I'm continuing with the horror comic catch-up I mentioned a few weeks ago with the fourth omnibus of Tim Seeley's Hack/Slash, which collects the relatively recent re-launch at Image from a year or so back. I got into the series when I bought the first two omnibuses on a lark during a sale at my comic shop where I got them for ten bucks a pop, and if it weren't for that sale I probably never would have given this series a second thought. Since then I've mostly kept up with the series through the omnibuses and although I cant say it's become one of my absolute favorites, I've come to appreciate it for its great hook: a slasher movie's final girl teaming up with a friendly Jason Voorhees knockoff to become a serial killer team that takes out other serial killers. It has the ability to combine over the top sex and violence while maintaining a surprisingly solid emotional core, but with that being said I thought this volume was a bit lacking for reasons I cant quite put my finger on. It might be because the majority of the art, done by Daniel Leister, looks a little too plastic for my taste, and Hack/Slash is a series that's always at its best when its art is a little grungy and syncs up with the slasher movie roots. Here it's just a little too perfect, and it just doesn't carry the visual style that the series has had up to this point. Plus, it also had an extended crossover with the comic Bomb Queen, which I've always kind of hated, so that was never going to thrill me one way or the other.

All that being said, the book is still a lot of fun (well, "fun" if you think slasher movies and dick jokes are fun, which I do) and Seeley is still building on his master plot: "slashers" being the pawns of a shadowy apocalypse cult, which has always been a great element. Although this volume may not have worked for me as well as the previous volumes have, it's not going to stop me from reading the next volume when its released.

Phil Skurski // Gettin blue-eyed

Every Thursday I get a little gift in the form of JL8. Written and Drawn by Yale Stewart, JL8 (formerly Little League before some legal issues forced a name change) is a weekly strip about characters from DC’s Justice League if they were 8 years old. It’s like Muppet Babies or the reverse of that awful Rugrats pre-teen spin off. You've got lil’ Wonder Woman, lil’ Powergirl, lil’ Superman, lil’ Batman, lil’ Flash, lil’ Green Lantern, and my personal favorite, lil’ Martian Manhunter. It’s very much a slice of life style strip, showing the characters doing little kid things with the same kind of sweet poignancy perfected in strips like Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes. “The child is the philosopher of man”, to paraphrase Wordsworth. Stewart’s art style is charming and adorable (I do not throw that word around easily), and the humor is pitch perfect. Stewart has a subtle kind of wit that permeates everything he writes, and I haven’t run across a joke in his work that’s fallen flat yet. He manages to encapsulate everything about these well-know and much loved characters and parse it down to their purest form—everything from J’onn’s love of Choco’s to the frustrating dichotomy of Powergirl as pillar of feminism and pillar of oversexualized comics. Naturally, you can assume that a knowledge of DC canon goes a long way with a lot of the humor (For instance, in an attempt to look more like “big kids” a few of the boys have a sleep over to design new costumes that look conspicuously like the New 52 designs) but plenty of it is good old fashioned “little kids don’t understand things”, with a few particularly sweet moments thrown in for good measure—like the strip where Clark is sitting with Pa Kent watching The Andy Griffith Show, saying that he wants to grow up to be like Andy Griffith, published the week of the TV legend’s death. JL8 honestly brightens my day whenever I read a strip, it’s perfect for any age group and I recommend pushing it on as many people as possible.