If there’s blame to be assigned for my return to this cobwebbed blog, lay it on Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima. I had resigned myself to forgetting Superheroes, etc. I started a new Hulk fan blog called Green Days to satiate my need to run my mouth (so to speak) on comics that wouldn’t bite too deeply into my hectic schedule. Then, after Lone Star Comics threw some credit my way for selling them back issues, I got my hands on the last four volumes of Lone Wolf and Cub and read them all the night they arrived.
I cried. I cried like a big, fat Daigoro with my shoulders on the counter in front of me, and my face buried in my palms. Something happened to me at the end of the series that’s never happened while reading a comic book, a novel, anything.
Hopefully, this won't give too much away: In the final scene, Daigoro listens to his father’s words about life, death, rebirth, and how they relate to the ocean.
And I heard the ocean. I heard it. I didn’t intellectually appreciate the artist’s depiction of the ocean or feel particularly struck by Itto’s metaphor. I just fucking heard it. Not in my head. In my ears (well, I guess they’re part of my head). In stereo. I heard the ocean. I literally heard the waves roll up the shore, lick at Daigoro’s toes, and trickle back. I heard it. To Hell with seashells, I’ve got the final volume of Lone Wolf and Cub.
Then I read the third volume of Runaways. It was okay. Lots of snark. Cool art.
The next day, I thought about my growing collection of trades, hardcovers, OGNs, and anthologies. I thought about how I’d spent close to $300 on Lone Wolf and Cub, how little I regretted losing a dime of that money, how much I looked forward to cracking open the books again, maybe even sharing the stories with my children (they don’t exist yet, of course) once I felt they were old enough for the kind of material inside (Runaways, obviously, would be a safer bet), and finally how much I DID NOT feel the same about my collections of Runaways, Young Avengers, Sabretooth, X-men, Bullseye, WildC.A.T.S., House of M, Young Justice, etc.
It struck me how much I deserved to expect nothing less than stories that were, in some way, extraordinary. Not good. Not okay. Not super-cool or killer. Extraordinary. I felt a simultaneous hunger for stories that could affect me as much as Lone Wolf and Cub, and a complete apathy for series - like those named above - that I’d bought only from a need to gather more ongoing super-soap-operas in which to become engrossed. Not that all, or most, or any of the above-named series were bad, but I didn’t just want "not bad." I felt a strong need for books that genuinely do some of the things art, in any form, is supposed to do: to entertain, to change life, and to maybe even alter the audience’s view of the world. I wanted more of what I felt after reading Watchmen, Moore’s Swamp Thing, WE3, Barefoot Gen, and the Astro City trade that brought me back to comics after a long break.
So I took all the super-soap-opera trades mentioned earlier, and more, and stuck them all on my swap list at Sequential Swap, hoping to barter for some more books that might alter my reality. And then I went out and bought some.
I bought three trades at my local comic shop on Wednesday, and I’ve never had a better comic book buying day. I’ve never bought multiple trades in one day and been so absolutely impressed with all three. I picked up the second book of Bluesman, the first 15-issue collection of Matt Wagner’s Mage (the trade, not the HC, I didn’t become rich since last I updated the blog), and Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan. Again, I read them all that night.
And I wanted so bad to FUCKING TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT IT!!!!!!!!
But I couldn’t. The friends I talk to on a daily basis are limited in their comic book knowledge, and usually their body language reveals their lack of interest when I start going on about Lone Wolf and Cub or Starman. The guy who works the shift before me is occasionally willing to talk to me about new or upcoming superhero movies. That’s about it.
So, expect more reviews. I still feel ill-equipped to review non-superhero stuff like Bluesman and Lone Wolf and Cub, but I’m going to give it my best shot because the prostitutes, drunk fratboys, and bikers choking the bars around my radio station tend to be disinterested in my thoughts on classic manga and Harvey Pekar.