Review By Courtney Davison
I don’t know if you read comics. I mean, if you don’t, then you should start, and if you do, then good for you. If you don’t read comics, you might just skip over this review. If you do read comics, and you’ve read these, then you might also skip over this review. However, I’d like to urge you, in both cases, not to do that.
If you don’t read comics...well, you don’t read comics YET -- maybe something here will tickle your fancy and you’ll start. If you do read comics, and you know these, then I’d encourage you to read this review because reading about things that you know about is comforting. Look at that: something for everybody.
(A brief note: It should go without saying that I love all three of these books. If you’re looking for a more even-handed review of these books, then maybe check out The Comics Journal. Also, no, these books aren’t new. But haven’t you heard? Old is the new new, dude.)
We3 Created by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely from Vertigo (2004)
I’m a crier, it’s true -- books, movies, even songs, but comic books? Oh hell n-- oh, wait, a trio of weaponized bionic animals who break free from their evil government masters and attempt to make their way to a place they sort of remember called “home”? Excuse me, I’ve got something in my eye...
In the world of comics Grant Morrison and Frank Quiely (New X-Men, All Star Super Man, Batman and Robin) have reputations that precede them. In fact, they are both so established that I’m not sure that I have the comic-nerd qualifications to discuss their careers here, so I’ll refer you to the Grant Morrison, and Frank Quitely Wikipedia pages. What I will say is that Grant Morrison, usually the super hero sort is the author of one of my other favorite stand-alone books: Kill Your Boyfriend, a bad behavior inducing girl power shoot ‘em up that doesn’t last for nearly enough pages. Also, when I brought up Frank Quitely’s work in We3 to my husband he simply shook is head and said, “That guy invented shit in that book, man.”
Knowing even such limited information about Morrison and Quitely should get you imagining the unbelievable stuff that goes on in this book. But, if you’re dying to know more about this book this second (which you should be, because it’s amazing) here goes: it’s like Project X (1987) + Man’s Best Friend (1993) + Homeward Bound (1993) + Lolcats (2007) = Love. Both masters of storytelling via their respective crafts, Quitely and Morrison have used their talents to give world via We3 a beautiful, violent, and thoughtful tale about the intersection of man and nature.
Eightball #23: The Death-Ray by Daniel Clowes from Fantagraphics (2004)
Daniel Clowes is really well known. That’s the only way to start this review. Two of his comics have been turned into movies (Ghostworld, Art School Confidential), the previous issue of Eightball (#22, Icehaven) has been gaining popularity since it’s release as a hardcover book, and recently Clowes did a cover for The New Yorker. He’s a pretty popular guy. Still, prior to reading Eightball #23 I had only read his book David Boring, about a young guy who is obsessed with girls’ asses (it’s about so much, much, much more, however it just made me really aware of my own “square Appalachian” ass, which is why I bring that part up to highlight). I’ve seen Ghostworld (2001) and Art School Confidential (2006), but it’s not the same as having read the comics. I should really get around to reading those...
The Death-Ray has been accused in some other reviews as being slow-paced and boring, but it is my expert opinion that the people who say this aren’t at all interested in a good, hefty story. They want all of the WHAM!, BIFF! and KAPOW! that superhero comics are known for, but don’t want to stick around for all of the ambiguity of interesting character building that comics are capable of.
Andy, the...protagonist...of the story, learns around age 16 that smoking cigarettes imbues him with super strength, and that his father has left him a death-ray. Andy and his morally ambiguous friend Louie decide how, and how not to use these powers. Sure, it sounds a little run of the mill, but it has something that other super hero books don’t have: characters that exist in the real world. I might even go so far as to say that the recently popular Kick-Ass owes a large debt of gratitude to the ass-kickings that Andy and Louie receive, and subsequently dish-out. In the end, don’t we all try to be responsible with the little power we have, but sometimes use it incorrectly, and perhaps tell a story that makes us look like a somewhat better version of ourselves? Eightball #23 tells readers one variant of what happened to Andy and his death-ray.
You Can’t Get There From Here by Jason from Fantagraphics (2004)
Like all of his work Jason’s You Can’t Get There From Here exploits the stillness of the comic book panel, by presenting a near-silent, simple story about anthropomorphic Frankenstein, love, and hate. Having won a number of Eisner awards, Jason’s work is so uncomplicated and gracefully undemanding that it’s almost easy to take for granted, like a wonderful friend who only gives, and never asks.
You Can’t Get There From Here is a classic tale, starring a classic monster, with the classic narrative elements of love, betrayal, loneliness, and jealousy. This type of story is a classic because although it’s old, it never gets old. Ya dig?
Courtney Davison is the Editorial Intern for Paper Darts. She loves getting mail, eating snacks and wants to be remembered as (a) part(y) animal.