Archive for the ‘Alan Moore’ Category

Happy happy joy joy

December 24, 2009

So I’m reading through my new copy of NBM’s Happy Hooligan collection, when I come across the remarkable strip from 22 November 1902. According to the title, it features “Happy Hooligan’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, Joyful Hooligan” who “lands on Plymouth Rock”.

Joyful looks awfully like Happy (right down to the tin-can on the head) except in slightly more pilgrim-y gear. And, more to the point, he acts just like Happy and gets unjust comeuppance just like him, too. So he tries to do a good deed, it goes awry, and the last panel shows his punishment by the law.

Which, frankly, blew my mind (not easily blown). For here in 1903 we see the inklings of that superhero trope beloved by Alan Moore among many lesser lights, viz. the past/future/other-dimensional counterpart of the hero who is identical to the hero in all but setting. Is this the first appearance of the trope in comics? Surely you’d be hard-pressed to find an earlier example.

EXCLUSIVE! ANNOTATIONS FOR LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN CENTURY: 1910

May 14, 2009

Page 1, Panel 1

The bed in which Carnacki sleeps will eventually be thrown away, and then scavenged by Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum.

Page 1, Panel 1

Through a strange course of events, the bedspread under which Carnacki sleeps will later be used by the murderous Moosbrugger.

Page 1, Panel 1

The pillow on which Carnacki sleeps once belonged to Leonard Bilsiter.

Page 1, Panel 1

The oxygen molecule in the bottom left of the panel was once inhaled by Alphonse van Worden

etc. etc., for 80 fun-filled pages!

Spleenage

November 27, 2007

Oh God.

Oh, God, I’m not even halfway through The Black Dossier and I don’t know if I’m going to make it if somebody finds this note please tell my family I love them oh God I don’t want to die I don’t want to

***

Even before I got the book, I knew I was in trouble when I read the second paragraph of Jog’s review:

“If you’re the type that finds Moore’s various approximations of period writing styles to be cloying, whether via adorned prose, or his scripts for the fake old comics that tend to dot his sequential works – please, do not read this book. You may well take your own life, and I’d hate to have your blood on my hands, True Believer.”

Alas, I am exactly that type.

Still, I’d made it through most of Moore’s extended self-indulgences before. I even made it through Promethea. Mostly. (I just skipped any sentence with the word “kabbala” or “quark”). Besides, I enjoy his faux old-timey comics scripts, as in Supreme; it’s his prose that drives me up the wall. So I could make it through The Black Dossier, right?

Right?

Yeah, maybe not.

Later in his review, Jog compares the text sequences that form the bulk of The Black Dossier to the bits in Cerebus where Dave Sim would dump page after overwritten page on the long-suffering reader. That’s a fair comparison, but you know what they both remind me of? Well, you know when you’re playing a video game, and you make it to the end of a level (or whatever)…and the big “reward” is that you get to stop playing the game for thirty seconds, or five minutes, or whatever, and watch a shitty cutscene with bad scripting and worse acting?

That’s exactly what it’s like reading The Black Dossier. Come on, can’t I just press “escape” and skip back to playing the game already? The reason I bought this video game is–amazingly–that I wanted to play a video game, not watch a shitty movie. If I wanted to watch a shitty movie, I would have hired Mulholland Drive.

And that’s what it’s like reading the text sequences: come on, man, get back to the comics. Oh man, can’t I just skip ahead–nah, I’d better read all this shit now or I’ll have to read it later. That’s not a good way to feel about what you’re reading: that it’s a burden.

Look, I’m no droog who only wants to read words if they’re in speech bubbles. I write and read dry academic prose for a living. I’ve made it through the books that break weaker readers, and I can throw down with the best of them when it comes to the literary canon. Life of Johnson? A la recherche…? Moby-Dick? War and Peace? The Faerie Queene? The Man Without Qualities? Motherfucker, I’ve done all those, and Finnegan’s motherfucking Wake.

I’ve even read A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

And let me say, Alan Moore, you are no John Kennedy Toole.

We get it already. You’re well-read. Congratulations, but that’s no longer as impressive as it was in the nineteenth century now that any dickhead with a modem can access most of the same information.

The worst thing about The Black Dossier is that the same self-congratulatory spirit clogging the prose seeps into the comics sections too. Hey, you know what would be really fun? A five page sequence in which some fat guy clumsily name-drops various fictional characters just to give Jess Nevins something to do. A sampling of the sparkling bons mots that fall from fat-boy’s lips:

Francis Alexander Waverly. He runs some spy-ring for the United Nations these days.

His father named him Kim after the famous spy who worked in Afghanistan.

Spider-Man can bench press 40 tons.

Oh no, wait, that last sentence is from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

Bravo, Mr Moore. You’ve proved that you can write as well as Peter Sanderson and Mark Gruenwald.

And don’t get me started on Moore’s treatment of other people’s fictional characters here. In interviews Moore now decries the way so many unimaginative writers followed his lead after Watchmen by turning fun, light-hearted escapist fare into depressing deconstructions. Fair enough, he’s entitled to change his mind about the validity of that sort of aesthetic move. And he has famously railed against the treatment of his creations in stupidized Hollywood films; again, fair enough. The films do suck.

It almost makes you wonder whether it really is aesthetically valid to grittify the characters of popular fiction set in a broader continuity, and whether there may be some moral value in respecting creators’ wishes.

So what do we get in The Black Dossier? A rapist James Bond and sad, old, fat Billy Bunter. Excellent! Oh, and Ulysses, it turns out, was “a shifty little swine”. Making Moore just as reactionary as Dante, who placed the hero of the greatest epic poem in the eighth circle of Hell because, like, he lied and stuff. Yes, that’s the point. That’s why they call him Odysseus of many wiles.

***

I could go on, but why bother? Beside, I’ve still got another 7,000 of Moore’s thrilling pages to slog through. I’ll just add one more thing: it would be a drastic exaggeration to call The Black Dossier underwhelming.

Truth is, it’s not even whelming.

***

If I don’t post for a while, it’ll be because Jog was right. I’ll have killed myself.

I would just die if they had a Peel/Fuschia team-up

November 13, 2007

Currently, all the “cool” kids are speculating over who’s a skrull, or who’s going to beat down on whom in Contest of Champio Arena. But, here at LY&HF, we are dying to find out which iconic characters from 20C British fiction made it into the new League of Extraordinary Gentleman (released today in the US; boo sucks to the rest of the world).

We know Orlando’s in, and Bond, and bits of 1984. Tolkienia are presumably out, since they’re in a different world, or a ye olde version of ours. The book seems to be set in 1958, so that probably rules out references to too many later creations (like Miracleman or 2000AD). Who else will make it? Let the fannish speculation begin!

My guesses/wishlist:

Anyone from Gormenghast–most likely Titus, given the third book in the series.

There’s got to be a Narnia shout-out, at least to the wardrobe.

Bulldog Drummond/Nayland Smith

Modesty Blaise (or is she too late?)

Poirot/Marple/Father Brown

Harry Lime

T. E. Lawrence (not exactly fictional, but the film is)

The Man in the White Suit/characters from The Ladykillers or Kind Hearts and Coronets

Members of the Famous Five/Secret Seven

Probably at least an oblique reference to the Lost Girls

The Drones club or, more likely, a certain “spineless invertebrate” and his personal gentleman (hi, Bully!)

And, man, it better have a cameo by John Steed and a young Emma Peel. If it doesn’t, I’m coming for you, Moore and O’Neill. That’s all I’m saying.

Who else?

“Content”, the easy way

October 11, 2007

Watched Lilya 4-ever last night. It was not as wrist-slittingly depressing as I’d hoped. Certainly not a patch on such curl-into-the-foetal-position classics as Requiem for a Dream or Dancer in the Dark. Miserabilist rating: emo.

And now, the funny books.

Top 10 comic book characters who are thinly veiled disses/caricatures of real cartoonists:

10. Zor

Alan Moore as a megalomaniac with all the wrong ideas about how to cast Magic Missile and other useful spells.

9. Chafe

Seth as, well, Seth. Probably the most hateful entry on the list; definitely the funniest.

8. The Chris-Ware stand-in who appears in the Rusty Brown story in Acme Novelty Library, you know, the failed art teacher

More proof that Chris Ware is his own harshest critic.

7. Funky Flashman

Stan Lee as fast-talking huckster with a bad hairpiece.

6. The Writer

When John Ostrander killed him in Suicide Squad. Cute gag.

5. Morlan the Mystic

Alan Moore again, with rather more affection this time. Keep casting those spells, Alan, and eventually you’ll get enough experience to reach level 17!

4. Billy Friday

Alan Moore one more time, in this case parodying himself and everyone else who belonged to either the “British invasion” or the grim’n’gritty progeny he helped vomit up onto the comics wasteland in the late eighties/early nineties.

3. Alec

The ultimate autobiographical proxy.

2. Viktor Reid/Viktor Davis

Dave Sim as misogynist boor.

1. Dave Sim

Dave Sim as misogynist, lunatic boor.

That said, Dave Sim is still one of the most talented cartoonists of his generation, and Cerebus one of the best comic books of the past thirty years. Hate the playa, not the game, yo.

If Watchmen were one of the Beatles, which one would it be?

February 20, 2007

Kevin Church to super-hero fans: When I slap you, you’ll take it and like it.

Right-thinking types should agree with most of what he says, but what really struck my eye was this description of Watchmen:

“Superhero comics have their very own Finnegans Wake and The Crying of Lot 49 rolled into one, beautiful piece of work”

Finnegans Wake? Uh, yeah, except that Watchmen is actually, you know, readable. If we’re going to compare Watchmen to literature, surely the comparison should be that other Joyce book, Ulysses.

But this is a moot point, since everyone knows that Watchmen is the Citizen Kane of comics. Come on, Church, didn’t you get the memo? Comics nerds aren’t going to get your highfaultin book-learning, but we sure like them moving pictures.

Now, if Watchmen is the Citizen Kane of comics, then Citizen Kane must be the Watchmen of cinema. Which explains why there were all those grim and gritty copycat films in the 40s and 50s about media magnates and sleds called “Rosebud”…

…hmmm. Maybe Watchmen is just the Watchmen of comics.

BTW, it would definitely be Ringo.

Compare and Contrast: Top 10, old and new

February 13, 2007

In comics circles, Alan Moore is as well known for his distinctive physical appearance as for the books he has written. Even before he decided to become a 10th level magic-user, Moore was cultivating the look of a wizard. By now, his flowing beard is so majestic it makes Gandalf the Grey look like a 13 year-old who forgot to shave for a couple of days.

But if Moore’s beard is big, his feet are simply enormous. They must be; just look what happens when other writers try to fill his shoes. For instance, the joyless spectacle of all those super-hero books that ape the superficial realism of Watchmen, Marvelman and The Killing Joke. Or the lousy film adaptations of V for Vendetta, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

So the creators of Top 10: Beyond the farthest precinct, a 5-issue series collected in this volume, had a tough act to follow.

The original Top 10 series (1999-2001) was Moore’s attempt at writing a super-hero team book, modelled on tv cop shows like NYPD Blue. Literally modelled–the characters were all cops, and the plot a sort of police procedural. And formally modelled–the expansive cast was a true ensemble, with every character given their moment in the spotlight, via concurrently running plots and subplots.

Oh, and the cops all had super-powers. And so did the criminals. And so did everyone else in Neopolis, where the book took place.

The result was one of the most fun books Moore has written. Insanely detailed art from Gene Ha and Zander Cannon only added to the book’s unpretentious, cartoony joy. Ha thoroughly sold the reality of Neopolis, while cramming every panel with visual puns and easter eggs. If it was tough to follow Moore’s scripts, it was just as hard for anyone to follow Ha’s and Cannon’s art.

So the question is: how do the new creators compare? The answer is disappointing, but unsurprising. Their efforts don’t live up to the original, but they’re an entertaining enough diversion in their own right.

First, the script. Science fiction author Di Filippo does a respectable job without blowing anyone’s mind. He doesn’t have the luxury of the original twelve issues, and he already has an established cast and setting. So Beyond the farthest precinct is a dense read, re-introducing the original cast and setting, while wedging in a few new characters and neighbourhoods.

The plot is basically driven by one main story, involving a terrible apparition that appears over the city, and the police investigation that results. It’s never quite explained why people would freak out over one measly apparition–given that everyone in the city has super-powers–so the investigation never really feels that urgent. Part of the problem is that the apparition itself is badly designed, a cyborg skeleton with a hoodie and visor, more lame than menacing. But that might well be the point. For, around this macguffin, Di Filippo builds a story of official over-reaction and political subversion, with fairly obvious implications for the contemporary USA.

In any case, he acquits himself pretty well with the script, given how unwieldy such a large cast is. There’s a fair amount of entertainment, suspense and comedy for the reader. The only other real mis-step in the script comes in the denouement, which relies too heavily on two dei ex machina from the first series. First one character shows up for some info-dump, and then another old character is revealed as the face behind the apparition. The choice of characters will seem gratuitous to fans of the original, and probably puzzle new readers.

As for the art, Jerry Ordway is a natural for this sort of eyeball soup, with its cast of thousands and throwaway gags. Ordway cut his teeth on densely-populated team books like All-Star Squadron and that paragon of Where’s Wally cross-overs, Crisis on Infinite Earths. So Ordway can handle the demands of the art in a book like this.

At the same time, he gives the book his own distinctive visual stamp. Ordway’s line is thicker than Ha’s, especially when he’s inking himself as he does here. And, as usual, Ordway lays on the hatching to give depth and definition to his figures. In consequence, his characters are heavier and more solid than Ha’s. By contrast, his backgrounds are much less finished, and his figures generally less finely detailed. The art looks at once more real and less real than in the original series.

Finally, the easter eggs are still a main attraction. Among them: Funky Flashman selling real estate agent. The Question and Spider Jerusalem as political activists. Granny Goodness running Danvers Orphanage, looking after wards like Sluggo and Nancy and Sugar and Spice. Freddy Lombard and Tintin sharing a drink at the “Clean Line Cafe”, while three generations of DC’s Manhunters bicker nearby. Maggie and Hopey fixing squad cars in the precinct garage. And so on and so on and so on. The eagle-eyed Jess Nevins has an exhaustive list here. Ifyou got the references in this paragraph, you’ll probably enjoy the book for the allusions, gags and visual pans alone.

Recommended: For fans of the original who want more of the same, only less so. If you haven’t read the original, I’d recommend starting there first.

IYL: Ensemble police procedurals like NYPD Blue or The Wire, or ensemble books like Legion of Super-heroes

The skinny: Top 10: Beyond the farthest precinct, Paul Di Filippo, Jerry Ordway, Wendy Broome, Jeromy Cox, Johnny Rench with Randy Mayor, and Todd Klein. Wildstorm/DC, 2006. $14.99, 128 pages.

Antinomies of pure reason in the Bullpen Bulletins

February 13, 2007

Review later tonight. In the meantime, it’s wonkarama time:

You can guess from my email address, on the right, that I’m a big fan of the idea of parallax…well, all right, maybe Professor Marc Singer can guess that, at least, and the rest of you are scratching your head. In any case, I was stunned–stunned I tell you–to read this essay by Roger Whitson over at ImageTexT, which explores William Blake and Alan Moore through the lens of parallax.

What caught my eye, however, wasn’t Whitson’s discussion of parallax (which, BTW, has nothing to do with this guy, more’s the pity). It was his discussion of Immanuel Kant’s transcendental unity of apperception.

Now, everybody knows that the Kantian categorical imperative was a big influence on Moore’s use of the nine-panel grid, although there is some scholarly debate about whether this influence comes directly from Kant or is mediated through post-Kantian idealists like Schelling and Fichte.*

But it does my heart glad to see broader discussion of Kantian themes in funnybooks. The critical revolution starts here! My contribution to this revolution is an upcoming series of posts, based on my dissertation, called “Face front, true believers: antinomies of pure reason in the Bullpen Bulletins.”

Part one explores the construct of the synthetic a priori, as expressed in Stan Lee’s use of the word “excelsior!”.

Part two postulates that Lee’s depiction of the Marvel Bullpen was intended as a representation of the unrepresentable noumenal realm (=x), the Ding-an-sich that lay behind the phenomenal realm of four-coloured superheroics.

Part three argues that the Mighty Marvel Method is an alternative solution to the paralogisms of pure reason, in many ways preferable to Kant’s transcendental idealism.

So tune in next time, for a discussion of the synthetic unity of the apperception of the manifold in the Galactus saga. Until then, make mine Immanuel!

* To see the influence of the categorical imperative, consider what it would be to will a page without nine-panels. Such a will would contradict itself, and so pure reason legislates itself to will only nine-panel pages.

PS: Yeah, I’m kidding. Come back later for more reviews.

PPS: No slam really meant on Whitson. I’m in no position to ridicule other critics for pretension!

Sympathy for the devil: the inessential ant-man

February 12, 2007

Murder. Lying. Sexual assault. Liking the art of Alex Ross.

One of these things is not like the other. And no, it’s not liking Alex Ross.

The Catholic church used to distinguish between venial and mortal sins.* Venial sins were moral misdemeanours, their punishment a stretch in purgatory. Sure, you might be stuck in that spiritual juvie for a couple of millennia, but eventually you’d get out. By contrast, mortal sins were felonies, and they sent you straight to hell, with no parole. The only way to appeal the sentence was through ritual confession and absolution.

The contrast between minor and major misdeeds has proved lasting in Western fiction. But fiction is much more liberal than the church in what it counts as a minor misdeed. There are plenty of sympathetic fictional murderers: Raskolnikov, Meursault, Hannibal Lecter. Even Superman himself, the supposed acme of comicbook morality, whacked a couple of guys back in the 80s, at the tail-end of John Byrne’s tenure on the character. The world loves a fictional rogue, too, stretching back through medieval anti-hero, Reynard the fox, to the original con-man, Odysseus “of many wiles”. As for liking Alex Ross, well, I’ve never seen a sympathetic portrayal in fiction, but it’s not out of the question.

I guess.

Now think of all the sympathetic rapists, wife-beaters and pederasts in fiction.

Take your time. I’ll be here when you’re done.

If you’re like me, you can probably think of a handful, at most. Obvious among these is Lolita, but that’s the exception that proves the rule. Nabokov’s extraordinary accomplishment in that book is precisely in seducing the reader to feel for Humbert Humbert. It’s a hard ask, much, much harder than if Humbert had merely murdered one or two people. Or two hundred, for that matter.

Even that arch-sympathizer of the comics page, Alan Moore, baulks at forgiving sexual assault. Moore’s quasi-universalism comes out clearly in the conclusions to Promethea and Tom Strong, where all sinners are ultimately saved at Judgement Day. From Hell manages to humanize Jack the Ripper, in a peculiar sort of way.** Moore is clearly a forgiving chap. So what does he do in Top Ten when he wants to write an irredeemable villain? What heinous crime does he attribute to them? Why, sexual assault, of course. Similarly, in Lost Girls, the only act that Moore will not tolerate is non-consensual sex.

Western fiction, then, has retained the distinction between acts forgivable and unforgivable. Some crimes are beyond the pale; the stain they leave on the sinner’s soul cannot be washed away. And, with few exceptions (notable for their very rarity), the modern ne plus ultra of unforgivable sins is sexual assault.

Now, super-hero comics love a redemption story. Marvel comics especially; it seems like half the heroes in series like The Avengers and X-Men are reformed super-villains. This is not surprising; with all the tricks of the super-hero genre, writers can easily explain away past crimes. I was mind-controlled; it was a clone; I was suffering from a metabolic imbalance unique to my hybrid status; it was an alien impostor; it was the real Xorn; etc etc. etc. In short: I didn’t do it.

But in all these cases, the crimes are forgivable ones. You extinguished dozens of civilisations when you destroyed their planets? No problem. You went to war on human beings every other week? It’s already forgotten.

Sexual assault? I don’t think so.

Trust me, we’re not seeing Dr Light reimagined as a loveable rogue any time soon.

And so, in a roundabout way, to The Essential Ant-Man. This volume reprints the earliest adventures of super-hero Hank Pym, aka Ant-Man, aka Giant-Man, aka Goliath, aka Yellowjacket. Some fun facts about Hank Pym:

(1) He has two superpowers at this point in his career: he can shrink to the size of an ant (and later he can grow to a giant, as well). He can also control ants through his “cybernetic helmet”.

(2) He has a long career in Marvel comics. First appearing in 1962, he was a founding member of the Avengers. His solo adventures ran in Tales to Astonish for three years, after which he was an on-again, off-again member of the Avengers for four decades.

(3) His adventures in Tales to Astonish soon introduced a female sidekick, the Wasp who, like Pym in his Ant-Man guise, could shrink. They later married, in the pages of The Avengers.

(4) He beat his wife.

Yeah, let’s repeat that last fun fact. Dude beat his wife. That shit, as the kids say, is uncool.

Marvel recently started publishing a series called The Irredeemable Ant-Man, featuring a new character in the Ant-Man role. The title is a fake-out; if they’d really wanted someone irredeemable, they would have used the original, Hank Pym. Domestic abuse is too much like sexual assault to be forgiven in fiction. It would require some extraordinary absolution, by a writer of Nabokov’s caliber. The folk who’ve written Hank Pym over the years? Not exactly Nabokovs. Pym was partly rehabilitated after the Wasp divorced him, and later contemplated suicide over his regret. But the rehabilitation never really stuck. He’s always had an unsavoury air about him ever since.

The stories in The Essential Ant-Man appeared well before their hero’s little domestic abuse incident. But, in light of what was to happen later, it is hard to read these stories–in particular, as they show Pym’s relationship with the Wasp.

Throughout the Marvel line in the 60s, Stan Lee and his fellow scripters followed one simple rule in writing women characters: pretend we’ve never actually met one in the flesh. 60s Marvel women were, one and all, frail and trivial creatures, with no agency and nothing on their pretty little minds beyond shopping, clothes and romance. The Wasp is no exception, and so her interaction with Pym echoes that between Sue Storm and Reed Richards over in Fantastic Four. That is to say, she’s a flighty nuisance who’s always distracting him from some crucial scientific work. You know, man stuff.

Bitch was asking for a smack-down.

So The Essential Ant-Man is a hard book to enjoy. But let’s suppose we can look past its objectionable qualities–the ones objectionable in themselves, like the depiction of the Wasp, and the ones objectionable by association, like Ant-Man’s future misdeeds. Is there anything left to recommend it?

Sadly, not really. The book starts out promisingly with art by Jack Kirby. This is around 1962-1963, so the art is similar to his other early Marvel efforts on Thor and the Fantastic Four. That means no cosmic crackle, not as much future-tech, and fewer dynamic character poses. On the other hand, his characters are more rounded than his earlier work with Joe Simon and at DC in the 50s, or the spazzed-out baroque expressionism he developed in the later 60s and 70s. Personally, I have a soft spot for his art of this period, but I’ll admit it’s not Kirby at his Kirby-est.

Unfortunately, Kirby doesn’t stick around for long–eleven stories, in all. It’s a shame that he left (except on covers), since the character was a natural for him. Shrinking powers are a perfect excuse for distorted perspectives and extreme close-ups on the eyes, both of which Kirby uses to full effect in his issues here. Aside from one story by Steve Ditko, Kirby’s replacements are a who’s-who of bullpen also-rans: Don Heck, Larry Lieber, Dick Ayers, Carlos Burgos and Bob Powell. Odds are, you haven’t seen so much yeoman work since the Renaissance Fair.

As for the writing, it’s not exactly what you expect from 60s Marvel. Pym isn’t a tortured hero. He doesn’t have a handicap. He’s successful and well-liked by the public. On the other hand, there are enough of the usual tropes: the female characterization already noted, the requisite fight/team-up with other super-heroes, the Communist-baiting, and a gallery of colourful villains. Or the attempts at such a gallery, anyway–the Porcupine and Top are no Doctor Doom. Hell, they’re no Batroc zee Leepair.

Stan Lee scripts a lot of the stories here. But, as with the art, there was evidently a revolving door in front of the typewriter, and so we get scripts from folks like Larry Lieber and H. E. Huntley as well. The stories themselves are pedestrian, their mediocrity all the more apparent without strong art from the likes of Kirby or Ditko to dress them up. Even Lee’s own scripts lack the pseudo-hip fun of his other work at the time. He does lay on the hucksterish true-believer stuff later in the series. But, without a strong cast to pin it on (Pym and the Wasp are the only recurring characters), it’s just word balloons tied to thin air.

Considered by itself, the Essential Ant-Man is one of the least essential entries in Marvel’s cheap reprint series. Considered in the context of the character’s history, it must overcome a large obstacle, in getting us to sympathise with the hero. It doesn’t overcome it.

But at least Ant-Man doesn’t like Alex Ross.

* For all I know, they still do. But, to put it mildly, I’m not up on my catechism.

** Moore succeeds only because he desexualises the crimes, transforming the Ripper into a mad surgical prophet. The book would have had a very different tone had the crimes been more overtly sexually motivated.

Recommended: Kirby fans will enjoy the Kirby art, what there is of it. Hard-core Ditko fans might want it for the one Ditko story, plus a rare occasion of Ditko inking Kirby. Others, stay away.

IYL: Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 1, Essential Thor Vol. 1

The skinny: The Essential Ant-Man, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Don Heck “& Friends”. Marvel 2002. $14.95, 576 pages.