Comic of the Week - Saucer Country
I remember when M. Night Shamalyan’s Signs came out, up until the end, I was thinking the twist was going to be that the aliens were some kind of mass hallucination with the collective unconscious bringing a myth to life. To this day, I think if it had gone that way, it would have been a brilliant movie, exploring the concepts of myth, urban legends and belief and how they influence and are influenced by reality. Unfortunately, Signs completely fell through its plot holes and is the first step in Shamalyan’s descent. But I digress. The point is, Paul Cornell’s Saucer Country #6 indicates that this series, which gets better with each issue, is exactly what I hoped Signs would be, but better.
The series started as a mix between X-Files and West Wing, but with each issue, it’s developed into something much deeper than an A meets B mix of previous concepts. This issue, while in continuity and still moving things forward, works as a kind of stand alone, going over the history of UFOs and the various mythologies that have grown out of it. Rather than one neat, cohesive narrative of where aliens come from, this is a history filled with contradiction and constantly changing details. Everything from the Bible to faeries to Stephen Spielberg comes into play. What’s fascinating to me here is that Cornell points out how the myth influences art and art influences the myth in a give and take that only further conceals the possible reality. So, movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind could be based on a real event, but also influence further stories about aliens. So we’re left with a cosmic chicken and the egg situation. Where this ultimately goes in this series, I can’t wait to find out.
This is heady stuff and while the issue is a bit wordy, I was totally fine with that. There’s a lot of information here, but the cutaways to our characters reacting to this presentation break it up nicely so that it’s not overwhelming and keeps it all in context with the story. Guest artist Jimmy Broxton does a good job giving us snippets of some of the key moments in UFO history. There are several different depictions of aliens and all are handled well, with a certain sense of sketchy surreality that hightens the mystery behind their existence and connections to each other.
It’s a great time for Sci-Fi comics and this is one of the reasons. But I worry that this book isn’t getting enough attention. I have no idea what the sales figures are on it, but I can’t imagine they are very big. I hope those of you reading this will give it a shot and support more books like it.
Comics of the Week - Tears from a Stone
Manga for the Comics Guy: Gantz Vol. 6
Moving right along, this volume opens up with the best pick up line ever.
Straight and to the point. Kei doesn’t play around. But what’s great about this line is that while it would be easy to pass this off as some male fantasy type of thing where you could just proposition girls and it being this objectifying situation, it’s actually quite the opposite. It reveals his vulnerability more than anything. “Let me” he says. Begging. And what does he get for this?
And, the actuall deed is pretty hot, by the way. So, good for Kei. And this whole thing, which could just be a throw away, is actually a good set up for the boldness he shows in the chapter later on when it’s alien killing time.
It’s the Hero’s Journey. Going into the Gantz world is crossing the threshold between worlds. Kei has accepted his role as the Hero. Each time they go through it, there’s bound to be further transformation of the Hero. Interestingly, though, Kato is more concerned with the safety and survival of the group, particularly the new arrivals. Also, the one religious figure to show up was not only proven wrong, but he was killed while praying. So the whole mythological idea is being played with here in interesting ways. This is exactly the type of thing I love.
Speaking of the mythology of the hero, tomorrow is new comics day. Out this week will be Action Comics #899 by Paul Cornell and Pete Woods. This is the last issue featuring Lex Luthor, as Superman returns to Action Comics next month. Featuring Luthor, to me, has been much more interesting than having Superman in the book. The problem being that Superman’s heroic journey was completed the minute he became Superman. This is basically true of all superheroes, but with the more iconic ones, even more so because the comic book companies won’t (and realistically, can’t) change them too much. So the character’s remain the same, for the most part. I’ll expand on this in a future post. But for now, do yourself a favor and go back and read the whole run of Action Comics featuring Lex Luthor, starting with issue 890. It’s actually a lot of fun.