Wednesday, January 7, 2009

1 Bourbon, 1 Scotch, 1 Book, Day 3

Greatest Hits #1-4
Writer: David Tischman
Artist: Glenn Fabry

I remember when I read Tolkien's forward for the second edition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and he wrote about how he hated the way critics tried to fit the events of his book with the events of World War Two. He said his experiences with war had in some ways inspired the War of the Ring, but anyone trying to make it into a blow-by-blow allegory was going to end up disappointed. And so, I'm really trying not to be a critic here and make this whole review about "The Beatles were a group from 1962 to 1970-- it doesn't make any sense for the Mates to start in 1966 and split up in 1973! Arrrgghh!" That would be really dumb. The writer's stated idea was to write a team of superheroes that, in their world, represented the cultural zeitgeist in the way that the Beatles did in ours. So that was me trying to get that out of my system.

I'm going to hold off on saying that this is a damn good book, but it's definitely a damn interesting one. Some of the stuff from Mark Millar's run on The Authority touched on the idea of superheroes acting like rock stars in their off-hours, but Tischman runs with it and rather smartly frames it as two young filmmakers' efforts to make a documentary about the world-famous Mates. The flashbacks and the present-day scenes are woven together well, although I wish he wouldn't be so ham-fisted with the hints that Nick (the main character)'s father isn't Archie Sugg, the Mates' hetero-Lois Lane, but instead Crusader, the team's Union-Jacked-up Paul McCartney/Superman hybrid. I got it already, dude.
So there's Crusader, with his bowl-cut, porn-'stache and red and blue spandex; there's Solicitor, the non-powered, business-suited crimefighter who totally doesn't resemble John Lennon, not one bit; Vizier is, unsurprisingly on several levels, George Harrison with magic Celtic powers; and Zipper aka Ringo, a drug-addicted super-speedster. Poor Ringo-- I don't think he was all that notorious for drug use, but the writer had to cram that '60s stereotype in there somewhere...

So far (it's a six-issue miniseries so we've got two months left) I'm loving Glenn Fabry's covers, and his interior art gets the job done with no complaints from me, to be fair. But if Vertigo had really hyped this book more, if the story had a little more meat to it, I'd love it if each issue had a different artist-- say, one of the Kubert brothers at the beginning, then that nouveau-Kirby artist from G0dland for the "middle years" Mates, maybe even Dave Gibbons for the later stuff... but perhaps I'm over-thinking it.
I feel like I'm back in school, critiquing a scene that a classmate wrote or acted in-- namely, I wanted more out of this story. This idea. I feel like the cross-pollinating of superheroes and the Beatles (not to mention any other '60s pop culture phenomenon-- oh shit-- the Stones meet the X-Men-- ohhhhh shhhiiiiiiit!) could cover a hell of a lot more ground. I'd love to stretch this out into a three-year series as opposed to a six-month one. But everything about history these days has to be condensed down to a one-hour True Hollywood Story... so it goes. I can complain about the writing no more than I can complain about the art-- it doesn't blow me away, but it holds its own against any other Vertigo book I've picked up on a whim. It's definitely worth a shot if you've ever spent half a day watching a VH1 countdown without realizing where the time went.
I'm going to go to bed now and try NOT think up an X-Men story that syncs up with Revolver as you read it.
Rating: Three Tom Collins. I want more, but a follow-up miniseries would probably just make me even sadder than the opportunities this story missed.
Albums: Beck- Modern Guilt and The Beatles- Revolver

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