Thursday, May 15, 2008

 

Two Thoughts

I'm crazy busy this week, working on a new Celestial Empire novella (it's called "Mirror of Fiery Brightness," for those of you keeping score, and is a Cold War espionage thriller). But having been mostly quiet already this week, I thought I'd leave you with two thoughts.

(Oh, and in case anyone might have seen weather reports of tornado-level storms in central Texas, the good news is that the storm passed at least a mile or two north of us. But that didn't mean that we didn't spend a half-hour or so downstairs in the bathroom, the most secure room in the house, waiting for it to blow over. Allison watched the weather reports on her laptop while Georgia--who was delighted to be up past her bedtime and having a little adventure--and I read a big stack of library books.)

First thought.

You must buy Captain Britain and MI13.



Why? Well, not just because it's scripted by Paul Cornell, who in addition to being one of the most genuinely pleasant people I've ever met, is also one hell of a writer. And not just because the art by Leonard Kirk completely rocks the house.

No, it's because this book contains, for the first time that I can ever recall, the Black Knight absolutely kicking ass.



The Black Knight is one of those characters in search of a story--a good hook, decent look, and workable backstory that somehow has never gelled in the right way. In this issue, Paul and Leonard completely nail the character in a few brief panels, and immediately make me want to read a long-running ongoing Black Knight series with them in the driver's seat. Which isn't likely to happen, which is why we all need to pick up Captain Britain and MI13, so that it can continue happening.

Second Thought.

Though Lou Anders will hate it on sight, I love the idea of Most Excellent Superbat.



This glimpse of the awesomeness that our future holds is from the Final Crisis Sketch Book, which also came out this week, and which gives a peak into the preproduction work behind Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones's forthcoming DC Comics crossover series, Final Crisis. I'm looking forward to this book like I haven't looked forward to any big superhero linewide crossover since DC One Million, and for exactly the same reasons. (In the interest of fairness, I've read some criticism of the Japanese characters online, but while I think the critics raise some excellent points, this still hits enough of my buttons that I'm ready to give Morrison and Jones the benefit of the doubt.)

I love the way that the areas of negative space on Superman's shield get reduced to abstractions, and taken out of context become design elements in their own right. (And I'm reminded of the way that the shield evolved into the insignia of the future Superman in DC One Million, as well, becoming abstract in another direction.)

Those are my two thoughts, and now I'm done. Back to "Mirror of Fiery Brightness."

Comments:
Thanks very much, Chris. I'm having a wonderful time writing Cap. And Leonard's doing the most incredible job. Cheers.
 
I'm definitely going to have to try out Captain Britain now.
 
I also recommend Paul's Wisdom miniseries, which featured a lot of these same characters. There's a terrific interview with him about the new book on Comic Book Resources, if anyone is curious to hear more about it before deciding.
 
I'm not totally up to speed on Paul Cornell's work, but I've been looking forwatrd to this for a while, and I wasn't disappointed. It's a very strong start for the series, an Cornell's take on the Black Knight is very cool. I'm reminded of the Michael Moorcock story where Elric gets thrown into the future of the Dancers At the End Of Time. The Dancers' attitude toward Elric is basically, "Oh, lighten up." And I'm a Moorcock fan, so that's a compliment.
 
I've always wondered whether the Black Knight's "ebony blade" was directly influenced by Elric's Stormbringer at the outset. I've assumed so, but I think the character's first appearances (or at least the first appearances of Marvel's original Black Knight) were pretty much concurrent with the first publications of Elric, so it might have been a coincidence. Later writers making the ebony blade an evil influence on the character, though, is an obvious Elric riff.

But definitely, I love the character's attitude towards his evil blade. This following exchange with the British Muslim doctor, Faiza, sums it up in a handful of word balloons:

Faiza: "Do you really hold off the ebony blade evilfying you by being all flippant?"

Black Knight: "It's... a character I play now. It seems to help. It doesn't give the sword anything to latch on to.

Black Knight: "Either that, or it's a mid-life crisis."
 
Do not presume to understand my feelings here.
 
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