Time for another round of comic books. I'd like to say that these are the newest, most up-to-date, most fashionable comics out there, but I can't. What you see below is what I could get a hold of, and not necessarily my first choice(s).
1. "Black Science" 1-7 by Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera (2013-2014)
A group of "anarchist scientists" hop between parallel dimensions. Reminded me a lot of the Fantastic Four, and their many adventures in the Negative Zone. A strong family dynamic at the center of the narrative, though more dysfunctional than anything seen in the FF (outside perhaps the Ultimates). Surprisingly good, though the writer is much better with dialogue and plotting than with exposition.
2. "Captain Atom" 1-13 by T.J. Krul and Freddie Williams II (2012)
The New 52 version of Steve Ditko's most famous (non-Marvel) creation. This one is something of a mix between Captain Atom and Firestorm, which makes sense because those two heroes were always a bit too similar.
In the post-Dr. Manhattan era, Nathaniel Adam is blessed/cursed with godlike powers following a scientific experiment that's never explained to anyone's satisfaction. By the end of the run he fights his future self, with the whole world (possibly) hanging in the balance.
I really liked the art, and it gets satisfyingly trippy near the end. The New 52 failed for many reasons, but 2012's Captain Atom wasn't one of them.
3. "Daytripper" 1-10 by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba (2010)
An extended meditation on what life means in the presence of death. A sometime author, sometime obituary writer in Brazil dies at several different points in his life. If the last issue doesn't have you teary-eyed, you probably need to rethink your priorities.
4. "DC One Million" 1-4 by Grant Morrison and Val Semeiks (1998)
Like most comic book readers, I have a love-hate relationship with Grant Morrison. I'll read things like the first half of Final Crisis, or All-Star Superman, and think that he's AWESOME, and that he should be even more famous, and that I should immediately track down all the other comics he's written that I haven't gotten around to yet.
But then I'll read things like the second half of Final Crisis, or Aztec: the Ultimate Man, and think that he's TERRIBLE, and that he's ridiculously overrated, and that I should avoid him in the future (at all costs).
Happily for me, DC One Million was one of the ones where he got it right, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. Sure, the time travel scenario poses some issues with regard to causality, but who cares about causality when you've got so many interesting ideas flying around?
I could provide a synopsis of the story, but it would just give you (and me) a headache. Instead, I suggest getting your head together as best you can, clearing out an afternoon, and finding a quiet place to read (and think about) DC One Million.
5. "The Earth X Trilogy" by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross (1999)
This has to be the most seriously overwrought of all the seriously overwrought comics ever.
It starts from an interesting premise: The Celestials are using the Earth to incubate one of their offspring, and all of the superhumans inhabiting the globe act as "antibodies" which protect the incubating Celestial.
But aside from that one cool idea it's really hard to care about any of the characters in Earth X, and the series is so rife with plot holes - and lame attempts to close these plot holes later on - that I really struggled to get through it.
To be fair, it's not nearly as bad as the latter parts of the Ultimatum event, but it brings to mind a lot of other, better comic book series using similar plot devices; comics like Kingdom Come, or the still earlier Marvels.
6. "Ghost World" by Daniel Clowes (1997)
This comic book reminded me of why I sometimes hate people in Seattle - the hipsterishness, the use of irony as a defense mechanism, the disdain for sincerity, or for anyone who genuinely attempts to improve themselves - it's all there.
The two girls who feature in this comic book are, in a word, horrible, but it's a familiar kind of horrible, and not something I enjoy remembering about the city where I grew up.
And yet there are these moments where reality intrudes upon their little, self-obsessed worlds, and it is these moments that make this comic book truly great. The girl with a facial tumor. The lonely guy with a beard. The astrologer hurt by the unkind phone message. It's hard to see these people, but at the same time it's hard to look away.
I'd never heard of this comic book before two weeks ago, and of course I was unaware that it was later adapted into a movie, but having read the comic book, I'll probably see the movie soon.