Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Shazam! - The Monster Society of Evil and The Losers vol. 5

Here's how this works: I finish reading something, and I tell you about it, and I try not to bore you to death.

I've done a little bashing of the corporate superhero comics in this journal lately, and frankly, they've had it coming, because neither Marvel nor DC have published a superhero title one-tenth as entertaining as this in years. Not one advance word about The Monster Society of Evil caused a single skeptical eyebrow with me. I chose to wait for the collected edition, which was promptly snatched by the Hipster Son. When I finally got a chance to read it, it proved itself worth the wait in spades, an upbeat, age-friendly title that requires no backstory or understanding and explodes with charm and love for the medium's potential on every page, told by someone who really knows how to tell a story well.

Put another way, when the Hipster Son saw that it was finally on my computer desk last night awaiting shelving, he shouted "You read it?! What'd you think?! WASN'T IT AWESOME?!" For a title about a sixty year-old property to still inspire that much enthusiasm from today's kids, you know it's something special. Highly recommended, especially if you have younguns.

Younguns are not the target audience for this globetrotting tale of espionage, stolen nukes and triple-crossing conspiracies. Told across three years of monthly issues, collected in five thin paperbacks, this really was a stunning, impossible-to-drop series. The Losers was a beneficiary of DC's policy of letting new talent - in this case Andy Diggle and artist Jock - run riot on a trademarked name, just to keep that trademark active. The original Losers was an old war comic; this one is about a special ops team which, as Mission: Impossible might say, was "disavowed." While working their way back to find the agency mole who betrayed them, they stumble on a really big series of ugly secrets, and it looks like the Losers might have to die twice...

The only thing I don't like about The Losers, which routinely made my end-of-year "top three" lists while it was being published by Vertigo, is that these five little no frills 6- and 7-issue collections are just too thin. Maybe if that supposed film version ever gets launched, they'll redo these as three books full of supplemental material and sketchbooks. Volume 5 isn't recommended without having read the others first, and while $10-15 each isn't bad, you don't get enough of a "satisfying chunk" to make them worth it at retail price. Shop around and plan to be impressed.

(Originally posted February 06, 2008 at hipsterdad's LJ.)

No comments: