Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

The work of Alan Moore Part 1 FUNSIZE reviews

The fact that I love the work of Alan Moore is no secret. I talk about the guy constantly; I bought his massive tome of a novel; hell, I even ran a Top 5 list of the author’s comic work over at Bounding into Comics. However, that list didn’t really reflect my own opinion since it was polled by the other writers on the site.So I feel like this blog would be the best place to really tackle Mr. Moore’s body of work.

Let’s get to it (you know how this works: things’ll be graded on an A+ – F scale). But before we do, keep in mind that there are a few things out there by Moore I haven’t read, so if something isn’t on this list, it’s because I haven’t gotten up in its guts yet, or I’ve already touched on it on this blog before…

One last note: I am not going to grade these in any sort of order, chronologically, quantifyingly, or otherwise. Don’t look for a method to the madness; just go with it, bruh.

 

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Future Shocks (1980 – 1983)

Alan Moore spent most of his fledgling years cranking out stories for 2000 AD, particularly for one of the magazine’s flagship strips, Tharg’s Future Shocks, which are fun, short little sci-fi tales with twist endings. Honestly, they were very hit or miss, but the raw talent Moore possessed was undeniable in those little nuggets. Unfortunately, for every great (dare I say fucking brilliant) short story Moore ran, there were two or three ho-hum entries.

Final Grade: C-

 

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From Hell (1986 – 1996)

It rules. Read it. This is arguably Moore’s best work. That is all.

Final Grade: A+

 

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Spawn # 8, 32, & 37, Spawn: Blood Feud, Violator, Violator vs Badrock (1993 – 1997ish)

Image Comics was weird as shit in the ’90s. The company was producing some of the best artwork of the decade, but didn’t have a stable of great writers (sorry Jim Lee, but, no*) to elevate the material. Luckily Todd McFarlane and co. decided to hire some writers work a shit, and suddenly guys like Grant Morrison, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, and Moore were writing Wild C.A.T.S., The Maxx (which, in my opinion, never needed a writer to step in; that book was fucking great), and,of course Spawn (a comic that all four of the aforementioned writers took a stab at). Moore was the biggest contributor to the Image line up, writing for all these books and more. Ultimately his contribution to Spawn was very scatter-shot (as it was with all the Image titles he worked on). His Violator titles were pretty fun and issue #8 of Spawn actually introduced me to the work of Alan Moore and is a story that might be the best thing to ever come out of ’90s era Image…but the rest of it? Not so much. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having a huge nostalgic soft spot for these comics, but in the end, you could tell Moore enjoyed playing with someone else’s toys, but his heart wasn’t completely in it.

Finale Grade: C+ (except Spawn #8. That gets an A)

*Yes, I know Jim Lee didn’t write the scripts for the early WildC.A.T.S. comics, but they were his creation and he was credited with “story by.” Now, fuck off, nerd. 

 

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Neonomicon (2010 – 2011)

Look, I’m a sucker for Lovecraftian horror…like a big sucker for it. If I ask you what a work of fiction is like, and you say the words “Lovecraftian” or “Cthulhu-esque,” the chance of me consuming said piece of fiction significantly increases (by the way, the work of David Foster Wallace is not Lovecraftian and my English major brother is a lying asshole). Now when  you tell me that there’s an Alan Moore comic that is directly tapping into H.P. Lovecraft’s world but is eschewing and/or satirizing all the horribly racist and sexist overtones, I’m gonna read that goddamn comic. Maybe I went into Neonomicon with inflated hopes, but it didn’t hit me with the level of elation I was hoping for. It’s not bad. Hell, it’s actually a pretty easy read (if you can stomach some pretty grotesque shit which may or may not include some non-consensual fish-monster-man on girl action), but it was certainly not on par with Moore’s usually caliber. The only think that really made this even remotely worthwhile is the tight dialogue and pretty interesting characters.  I guess I should probably grade this on a curve.

Final Grade: B- (but like a 71/100 as a weighted score)

 

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Marvelman/Miracleman (1982 – 1984)

The issues Moore scripted for this series did two things: 1. it set an amazing tone for what would follow (and is still in the works) by succeeding writer Neil Gaiman, and 2. it basically acts as a dry-run for Moore’s quintessential superhero deconstruction comic, Watchmen. I feel that this is arguably one of Moore’s most important works and really displays his prowess as a writer, running the gamut of what comics can offer. From action-packed super brawls to trippy sci-fi conspiracies to introspective poetry about the sorrows of humanity, Miracleman kinda does it all. This series is rarely discussed among comic fans, but it is often imitated (just go watch Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel; it basically shares the same plot beats as Moore’s initial arc). With all that being said, there are a few drawbacks to the book: some of the pop culture references are dated, and the third act drags a bit. But ultimately this is good, good shit, you guys. Go read it.

Final score: B+

 

Okay, so that about does it for now. I’ll be back with more Moore (see what I did there?) reviews soon. In the meantime, what do you guys think. Talk shit below. Am I right about From Hell? Pfffft…of course, I am.

 

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Miracleman by Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age REVIEW

Okay. Since this is the first review on this blog I want to get a few things out in the open about me as comic reader:

  1. I am not fan of buying single issues. It’s an expensive habit (addiction) that I have all but abandoned many years ago. However, the shelves of my book case are suffering from the number of trade paper backs that inhabit them. I make no apologies for this.
  2. I am not a superhero guy and I haven’t been since I was ten years old. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good story about an established character. If there is a bunch of backstory I need to consume prior to reading an arc about Batman or Supes or The X-Men, etc. that has piqued my interest, I’ll take a dive into related trades or read up on stuff on a wiki. But superhero books are not my go-to. I’m a fan of crime, sci-fi, fantasy, and alternative (whatever the hell that means) comics, and I have been since I first read Sin City in the pages of Dark Horse Comics Presents back in middle school (ah, the good ol’ days, back when Frank Miller was considered only a chauvinist and  not a xenophobic, racist, chauvinist).
  3. I seek comics out based on who wrote them. I love comic art, and I appreciate well construction sequential work, but this is not what attracts me to the medium.
  4. I am not going to post “spoilers” unless the review warrants them. If there is a potential spoiler (and I’m not talking about something that is omnipresent in pop culture like Vader being Luke’s old man) I’ll warn you. I want you to read the comics I write about here, even if I think they suck.
  5. I am not a comic scholar. If I get some stuff wrong or cross the streams of comic continuity, feel free to let me. Just don’t be a dick about it. The same goes for typos. I often have a few drinks when I write so I’m sure there will be some sentence snafus.
  6. I love Alan Moore, and I will not apologize for this either.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into it:

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**

Back in the early 80s, Alan Moore tackled the all-but-dead property of Miracleman and wrote his first super hero deconstruction story. This was before Watchmen. Before Top 10. Before Alan Moore was ALAN-FUCKING-MOORE.

Moore cranked out 16 issues (three volumes) published under the now defunct Eclipse Comics, and I’m here to tell you, they were damn good. I suggest you scoop up the recently released reprints from Marvel (even if Mr. Moore had his name removed from their pages). It’s a seminal work, and the impact of his run can still be felt in comics (and Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, which borrows heavily from Miracleman) to this day. In a way, Miracleman was a dry run for Watchmen.

Moore’s meta-revisionist take on the character was bold and exciting even if some issues suffered from tail-chasing meditations on what it means to be a superhero/god in the modern world. But after Moore’s departure, Neil Gaiman took up the reigns and guided the book in a very different direction.

It’s difficult to really consider this book the 4th volume in the Miracleman saga since the titular character is barely in in it. The Golden Age mainly deals with the world left behind after the events of Moore’s run. And honestly, it’s to the series’ benefit.

Gaiman’s run picks up a few years after Miracleman’s battle with his adversary, Johnny Bates (AKA Kid Miracleman) in London, which left the city demolished and thousands dead. Instead of following the exploits of our hero, Gaiman and Buckingham peak into the day-to-day existence of several characters living in or around London after the fallout. These stories are told with a wonderful lyrical quality and are punctuated with ever-changing visuals thanks to Buckingham’s incredibly versatile artwork.

Gaiman and Buckingham’s collaboration is amazingly fluid and organic. This seems to be a personal book. All the introspective tangents Moore traveled never felt humanized since they were essentially from the point of view of a god. What Gaiman does so earnestly and with such elegance grants the reader some of those same viewpoints from the human perspective, making the unfathomable idea of living among superheros grounded in reality.

Gaiman essentially took a meta-narrative and turned it into a story about faith, loss, love, and hope. That’s no small feat.

Now, I won’t say that I enjoyed this book more than the previous ones. Honestly, their respective tones are so different, they almost feel disconnected (I say, almost). Gaiman wanders the world Moore created with a childlike wonderment that few writers are brave enough to embrace so willingly. There’s something beautiful about that. Where Moore propagated deconstruction, Gaiman tried to build something wondrous and ethereal. There’s amazing heart to this book.

Gaiman and Buckingham are far from finished. When they took over as the creative team on the series, they had planned three six-issue story arcs. Unfortunately, Eclipse went out of business two issues into their second volume, The Silver Age. Luckily, Marvel is releasing the “lost issues” of Miracleman and is giving Gaiman and Buckingham the green light to finish what they originally started nearly twenty years ago.

But enough praise…

Now what I’m about to write is really based on my own personal bias (what review isn’t?). But you know how I mentioned I seek out comics based on who wrote them? Yeah, well Neil Gaiman was not always one of those writers and he still doesn’t have me nosediving for books the day of release.

My relationship with Gaiman’s work has been up and down: I never got into Sandman (yes, I know, I suck); I thought American Gods was basically a bunch of great ideas jammed into a lackluster novel; and I was left underwhelmed by his Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? Batman story. That being said, when Gaiman is firing on all cylinders (like he is in The Golden Age), it’s impossible to deny his brilliance.

I am extremely interested in seeing how it will play out. Both Mr. Gaiman and Mr. Buckingham have evolved as artists over the last 20 years and I can’t wait to see how their respective growths will influence how they move forward.

I highly recommend reading The Golden Age along with the books that came before it. The transition from Moore’s work to that of Gaiman’s is surprisingly digestible and quite rewarding.

Final Grade: B+

**Image from previewsworld.com

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New Direction

Like Stain’d so famously put it, “It’s been awhile.” (thank you, Scott Aukerman for the joke that keeps on giving).

I feel like this blog has been dormant for far too long so I’m going to use it for something I love to do but don’t do often enough: talk about comic books.

That’s right. Comics. Graphic novels. Funny books. That thing you read on your iPad because you hate paper or you’re running out of room for long boxes. You know the things.

I’m going to start this off this week (in the next post) with a review of Neil Gaiman’s Miracleman The Golden Age TBP. And yes, I will talk about Alan Moore in that post. And yes, I’ll get into why I don’t really like super heroes. And yes, I’ll discuss my strenuous relationship with Mr. Gaiman’s work. And yes, I will assign it some sort of letter score because the Internet seems to crave that sort of thing.

So after a bit of a face lift and a some push on the Twitter, I think this’ll be something that sticks…

Or not. Who knows?

 

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