SPECIAL “LOVE UND ROMANCE” EDITION

As you’ve probably noticed, it’s Valentines Day, and since we’ve already established that FEELINGS ABOUT COMICS ARE THE ONLY TRUE FEELINGS, I thought that it might be a good time to get a bit soppy about some of the comics I’ve read recently…

It’s been hard to think loving thoughts about comics in the past week or so (because: WA2CHMEN, Gary Friedrich), but I’m a trooper, and I’ve got my good buddy Mister Attack (aka The Boy Fae the Heed, aka The Beast o’the Bar-G) to keep me company, so here it goes!

Winter Solider #1, by Ed Brubker, Butch Guice and Bettie Breitweiser

Fatale #2, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

It’s a bit awkward to read these two comics back-to-back, and to find yourself preferring the one that’s built on the soiled dreams of Jack Kirby, but it’s also hard to pretend that clean hands make for good art when you’re not a teenage boy.  The first two issues of Brubaker and Phillips’ latest collaboration have proceeded exactly as expected – this is the sort of work (solid, well-crafted, “ugly things in the darkness/worse things in store”) that makes it easy to under-appreciate one of corporate comics’ best partnerships.

It’s perfect pulp, in other words, but at their best these guys can suggest a whole city’s worth of stories in one panel…

…and there’s been nothing in the first couple of issues of Fatale that’s hinted at that sort of imaginative depth. Winter Soldier #1 meanwhile, is absolutely full of potent images. Despite having a truly ugly, gurning cover – despite looking like a superhero book, basically – it’s a sneakily great wee comic, all slick superspy action and unexpected quietness. This panel has caught the attention of a few other commentators

…and rightly so.  Butch Guice’s art here has a softness too it (and not just in the sense that it contains – ugh! – kissing) that couldn’t stand out more in context if it radiated ethical integrity (ooh, burn – take that, comics!). If I was looking to get all thematic on your ass I’d point you in the direction of Clive Barker’s comment that comics aren’t good at making room for love, but I’m not feeling particularly clever today, so instead I’ll  just note that while most individual images will yield lots of strange, abstract patterns if you crop them artfully enough, this image gives itself more readily to this treatment than most:

Look, I don’t want to make too much of a prat of myself this early in the post, but there’s something beautiful about the way that the boundaries between the two characters in this panel seem to have been gently and willingly collapsed, isn’t there?

Yeah… there definitely is. Click here to watch me search for love in all the wrong places, like a character in a story with a blunt moral!

<em>Cameron Stewart before the commencement of the "breaking process"<

Cameron Stewart before the commencement of the "breaking process"

Fact file: Cameron Stewart is the artist behind Jason Aaron’s Eisner Award nominated The Other Side; Grant Morrison’s Seaguy, and The Manhattan Guardian; he produced memorable work while collaborating with Ed Brubaker on his Catwoman run; and in 2008 joined forces with his friend Ray Fawkes to produce Apocalipstix for Oni Press.

Stewart also writes and draws the webcomic Sin Titulo.

Cameron has recently returned to Seaguy for the second volume, Slaves of Mickey Eye

We captured Cameron Stewart after many hours spent stalking him through the streets of Montréal, Canada. We then set about beating him with bamboo canes through the thin webbing of the net in which he was held. Cameron withstood the breaking process for 5 days, but ultimately, through clenched teeth, agreed to answer 13 exquisitely crafted questions. He swore he’d die before answering any more.

A braver man I have never met.

Read bitter words spat through blood after the jump

VS

Synchronicity. Whilst finishing up Vol 2 of Fraction and Brubaker’s extremely enjoyable but flawed Iron Fist, I was reminded of John Carpenter’s wonderful (and prescient) love letter to the Shaw Brothers martial arts movies of the 60′s and 70′s, Big Trouble in Little China. Lo and behold I got home late last night, turned on the TV and there it was in all it’s ridiculous glory (Hail Jack Burton, greatest and most misunderstood action hero of all time!). Something about that film’s giddy and gleeful mish-mashing of East and West pulp genres has seeped it’s way into the current incarnation of Iron Fist. Or maybe it’s always been there. Western culture has long evidenced a love affair with Martial Arts and ‘Eastern Mysticism’ (in the form of green smoke, immortal warriors, and exotic sounding fighting styles rather than any, y’know, actual Eastern mythology). Post-Enter The Dragon the 1970′s went Kung-Fu crazy, and whilst the obsession may have dimmed slightly (or at least been transferred towards fighty computer games) you can guarantee that school yards still resound with the clamour of ill-conceived ‘Special Moves’ and misjudged spin-kicks.

More after the jump…