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Friday, July 05, 2019

Comic Cuts - 5 July 2019

A bit of a change of pace this week. I've put aside scanning magazines in order to do some designing, namely a book that has been written by (in part) and written about (in the other part) my Uncle John and his racing exploits. He rode in the TT and around Europe and got to kiss Anita Harris. That's all you need to know about him.

What am I saying? What you need to know about him is in this book that will be coming out in the not too distant future and which you'll be able to buy copies of from various places. There's lots of gossip about motorbikes and racing various circuits and some of the characters who were involved. Start saving your pennies now.

My part of the operation has been to get the pictures near to the text they relate to, so it has been a fun job as the autobiographical sections of the book has revealed a lot of things about my maternal family that I never knew. It inspired me to borrow old family albums from my mum, and I've started a scanning a preserving programme of old photos. I also set up a private family group so we could share family photos, which means I'm now chatting far more regularly to family and friends I don't often see, being stuck out in the wilds of north Essex with no car. I'd recommend it.

I'll post details of the book when it's closer to completion.

I'm taking a look at Jessica Jones below the pic. Tread cautiously beyond this point and be aware that there are a couple of revelations that might be considered spoilers.

So farewell, then, Jessica Jones. I remember reading Brian Michael Bendis's Alias twenty-or-so years ago, at the time thinking he was probably the best writer of crime comics working in the USA and that Alias was as hardboiled a storyline you would see in the mainstream of a superhero obsessed industry. Thankfully that changed, albeit only to a degree. While Bendis has stuck primarily to superhero fare, Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips have done some superb harboiled yarns in Criminal (Marvel), Fatale and The Fade Out (both Image).

Having happy memories of Alias, I was pleased with the announcement that its hero, Jessica Jones, was to star in her own series. It took some people by surprise, but I thought it made a kind of sense. She was low key, by which I mean you wouldn't be expecting her to be going head to head with Galactus or Kronos; like Daredevil, she protected her corner of New York from low lifes; and she knew Luke Cage, who was also to be part of this new corner of the Marvel/Netflix universe.

The first two series did no disappoint. David Tennant's Kilgrave gave the first season the edge, while season two introduced Jessica's super-powered mom, Alisa, and revealed her backstory. It also ended with Jessica's foster sister, Trish, committing murder and finding that she, too, has powers.

The third season picks up these various threads and runs with them, creating a complex portrait of Trish, a former child actress and celebrity, who has jealously sought superpowers because she thinks Jessica is wasting hers. Now, with some cat-like powers and after extensive physical training, she becomes a vigilante hero, dealing out her brand of justice where she sees the system failing. She uses files stolen from lawyer Jeri Hogarth to choose her victims.

As the series unfolds, Jessica is  hooks up with an empath, Erik Gelden, who involves her in seeking out a potential killer amongst the men Gelden has blackmailed. The focus in on a high-functioning psychopath named Salinger, and Jessica involves Trish, who is already showing signs that she cannot control herself when  it comes to using her new strength and powers. Trish, already angry that the police release Salinger due to lack of evidence, finally loses it when Salinger kills someone close to her.

In this third season, Jessica Jones is more of a dressed-down Philip Marlowe than she has ever been. The noir-style private investigator has always owed a debt to Raymond Chandler's hero, but never more so than here. They share a love of whiskey and bourbon, have no long-term relationships, and will fight for the underdog even when it doesn't pay. They struggle with the ambiguous notion of "justice" and know that sticking to the letter of the law doesn't always serve it. While they appear morally ambivalent, they are actually very moral and sometimes have to make hard decisions if they are to do the right thing.

There's no happy ending for Jessica Jones, but it is a satisfying ending to the series. The Marvel/Netflix universe has now ended after thirteen series (three Daredevil, three Jessica Jones, two each of Luke Cage, The Punisher, Iron Fist and one team-up in The Defenders). They weren't all perfect, but most came darned close and the first and third series of Daredevil will long remain two of my favourites.

Just out of interest, I thought I'd check in with Rotton Tomatoes to see how the various series scored with critics, so here's a chart of which series scored the highest marks:

99%  Daredevil season 1
97%  Daredevil season 3
94%  Jessica Jones season 1
94%  Luke Cage season 1
84%  Luke Cage season 2
82%  Jessica Jones season 2
80%  Daredevil season 2
78%  The Defenders season 1
73%  Jessica Jones season 3
67%  The Punisher season 1
59%  The Punisher season 2
58%  Iron Fist season 2
20%  Iron Fist season 1

I'm a little disappointed for the lack of love for The Punisher, which I think deserves a second chance and should be at least around the same level as The Defenders. JJ season 3 was surprisingly low, too. Perhaps everyone was a bit down in the dumps knowing it was the last series and wanted it to be a bit more action-packed, with a few more fights in corridors to liven things up. C'est la vie. Where would we be if we all agreed all the time.

Also drawn to a close is Gotham, one of the most consistently excellent comics-based shows on TV (for comparison with the Marvel shows on Netflix, the five seasons score between 74 and 85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). With all due respect to Ben McKenzie, who was centre stage in the show playing the stoic Jim Gordon, the villains often stole the show, especially Robin Lord Taylor as The Penguin. The cast throughout was brilliant, and plaudits are due to David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova, who played the young Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle brilliantly. A Catwoman spin-off wouldn't come amiss. 

However, the actual spinoff is Pennyworth, about a more youthful Alfred the butler forming a security company in 1960s London, where he works alongside an also more youthful Thomas Wayne. I'm fearful that, due to TV's love of foreshadowing in prequels, this super-tough SAS soldier is going to be laying a table while someone comments "You'd make a good butler, Alfred."

I picked the poster above as an illustration because there's a mistake... one of the characters on show died in the last episode of season 4 and doesn't appear in the new season. I won't spoil your fun by saying who...

Next week I'll be putting more stuff up on Ebay – I still have a lot of old film mags to get rid of, but I'm thinking of putting up some old comics, too. I have quite a few old Vertigo titles where I've bought the monthly and later picked up the collected edition but kept both... this seems like a good time to empty a few more boxes, although it may take a while to get sorted as a lot of the graphic novels are also hidden away in boxes!

Hark at me and my first world problems.

1 comment:

  1. Given that you enjoy good American crime comics, have you tried Stray Bullets by David Lapham? It's great. The first trade paperback, Innocence of Nihilism, is a great place to start.

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