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Comic Book Club: A Review of Bone
Last year I took a class called History of Superheroes with a one Ben Saunders (you don’t know him, so stop pretending you do). It was a class offered at the University of Oregon to us English majors, so I jumped at the opportunity to not read actual literature in lieu of something I genuinely cared about. But before the class I made one very important decision about the class: I wanted to be “That Guy.” You know who “That Guy” is. He’s the kid in class that raises his hand to every question and always has something to say about every topic, usually to mention something else that he knows but no one else does. Everyone hates “That Guy” because he’s annoying. I have always wanted to be “That Guy” in some class and I thought this was my chance to do it, so I spent the summer before my fall term reading over a hundred graphic novels to prepare. It was my Odyssey of sorts, and after all that you know what happened? I still wasn’t anywhere close to the level of “That Guyness” that half a dozen people in the course were at.
However, it wasn’t all that bad. I got myself devoted to the reading of graphic novels and the understanding of as much as possible for someone with a passion for comics but a lack of actual knowledge of the subject. I can now safely say that I’m well-versed enough to rank above the average reader of comics, but probably not anywhere near the ridiculous group of people that remind me of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons a bit too much. I told you all this so that I could tell you to go read Bone, a series by Jeff Smith. Yes, it all relates somehow.
On To The Book
I’m a big fan of comics that are both written and drawn by the same guy, and if the comic is good, hey, that’s awesome. Jeff Smith created his series all by himself, and for that you should be amazed because the series is nine volumes long, plus two bonus volumes that aren’t required for the plot but add good supplementary material. I’m ashamed to say that I had seen Bone in the library a ton of times but refused to read it because I thought it “Looked too kiddy.” Yes, the irony is not lost on me, the guy who defended the GameCube to the angriest of Halo fanboys. I checked out the first volume and added it to my stack o’ graphic novels, thinking I’ll get to it eventually. And after reading some great stuff (like Hellboy), and some terrible stuff (like Crisis on Infinite Earths), I got to Bone and felt like such an idiot for not starting there in the first place.
The plot around Bone is better left for you to read yourself. There are some characters that come from a place called “Boneville” and they look somewhat like bone people, I guess. The three Boneville characters have been banished from their home for some reason or another and somehow wander into a distant land where adventure hits them like student loan payments...
Comic Book Club: Ex Machina
It’s been a good long while since I’ve mentioned comic books, hasn’t it? I keep making this mistake and I apologize. The biggest problem is, the best comic books and graphic novels I read tend to be, well, less than child friendly. But, in the interest of giving honest recommendations, I have one of my favorite comic series for the Comic Book Club. Hang on ‘cause I’m gonna recommend Ex Machina today.
Not All Heroes Need Be Great
A little bit of trivia about me will reveal that Brian K. Vaughan is one of my favorite comic writers at the moment. Of the things he’s written, Ex Machina tends to be my favorite, beating out what may be his more popular series, Y: The Last Man. My reasoning behind the love is Vaughan’s dialogue. I’m huge on dialogue, so when a writer does it well, by which I mean characters exchange what seems like natural and interesting conversations without feeling too wordy, then I’m happy. And Tony Harris’ artwork only helps translate Vaughan’s script to the page, making him a great artist to check out.
The central story of Ex Machina follows Mitchell Hundred as mayor of New York City. The story is told in constant flashbacks to before he was mayor and while he is currently mayor. What makes him special is that he was briefly a super hero called the Great Machine and can talk to machines of all sorts after getting caught in some freak explosion. Hundred’s origins are interesting without seeming stupid, and as a character he’s vastly deeper than the usual hero you encounter. Hundred tries to be a hero and fails miserably since, well, super heroes don’t really exist. Instead he runs for mayor and wins because in this history, the Great Machine stops the second plane from hitting the towers. I wish I could find that panel and post the image, but just trust me, it’s pretty sweet. Definitely one of the most powerful images I’ve seen in a comic book.
So because of this huge popularity boost, Hundred becomes the new mayor and so most of the plot arcs contain both something supernatural as well as him just dealing with mayoral business. Surprisingly, the political situations are vastly more interesting to me and I have no idea why. Probably because Mayor Hundred acts like we’d all hope we would as a mayor: Snarky, intelligent, and rational. Totally unbelievable, but fun to read.
I will say that the real downside to this, as with most of Vaughan’s writing, is the characters tend to be written a bit too clever. What do I mean by that? I mean that one character will make some extremely obscure reference to something that few other people would really appreciate, yet whoever he’s talking to will perfectly understand the reference. That’s like me assuming that everyone would get the joke if I told them to go to HFIL....
Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour: A Comic Book Club Review
Not too long ago, Monday actually , I wrote up a little thing about the newest Scott Pilgrim book and my inability to find a copy when I wanted it: Now. Guess what? I found a copy and read it, so I can give a real review for the conclusion to Scott’s precious little saga. Is it worth reading? Here’s what I think.
The first thing to keep in mind with Book 6 (or Volume 6, I don’t really know what best to call it) is that it’ll mean pretty much nothing if you haven’t been reading the series. There are five books to read first (obviously, but you’re all smart people), so jumping in at the conclusion is going to leave you confused and, above all, completely unable to enjoy the ending, whatever it may be.
The whole positive to the series is that while it is six books long, the books aren’t very expensive. I got my copy of Book 6 for $12, and that was only because I was impatient and needed it right this very second. Amazon has copies of each book for much cheaper , meaning you can probably get all six books for under $60, a reasonable price.
I’ve already talked about the series before, so you know what I think there , but what about now? Thankfully, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour is packed with the same sort of random, almost unexplainable panels that will make you smile and possibly laugh out loud. Seriously, I don’t know what the term is to describe them. Meta? Maybe? I’m going with that. It’s as if Scott’s narrating his life upon rewatching it and throwing in the best descriptions possible.
I will say this about the ending though: I’m still a little confused. A lot of strange tying of loose ends takes place, and it can be somewhat jarring to read through. Things happen that seem to just happen because they happen, and a few times I regretted not already owning the previous five volumes so I could look back and understand what...