I first told you about the remarkably strange Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer back in February, and told you then that I owed Bizarro Wuxtry a purchase of another Ben Katchor book. Actually, I've bought two now, but this was the first one I finished. It's a collection of another eighty-odd Julius Knipl strips and a new 24-page story, and it's absolutely wonderful, more tales of the city, if the city is sort of like New York and its businesses include Macedonian Coffee Shops and its museums are devoted to the minutiae of unimportant people. It's absolutely captivating, and while it might take you ten or twelve pages to figure out the strip's beat, I'm sure you'll be truly sucked in. Highly recommended.
Ben Katchor was interviewed last month by the New Jersey Jewish News. Click the image below to read!
And then there's this.
To understand my disappointment, I must explain that as a middle schooler in the early 80s who'd only recently discovered Marvel Comics, I kept reading references and footnotes in their stories to certain "classic" epics of the past, yarns like "The Kree-Skrull War," "The Avengers-Defenders War" and "The Celestial Madonna Saga." Since Marvel had no reprint program of note back then, and since I really couldn't afford the back issues, these all went unread until Marvel's Essentials line got around to them.
In short order, these supposedly classic tales were instantly revealed as damp squibs, but I don't know that any comic has had its reputation so unjustly inflated as the unbelievably stupid Celestial Madonna storyline, which weaves in and out of ten of the 27 issues reprinted here, and might just be the most tedious thing I've ever read. It's some grandiose plot involving the arch-villains Kang, Rama-Tut and Immortus, all of whom are different incarnations of the same person, and it involves no fewer than four flashbacks of ungodly length. I mean, the whole book is a disappointment - it's almost painful, watching Steve Englehart insist that the reader care about characters as flat and unlikeable as Mantis, the Swordsman and Libra - but I found myself flipping past giant chunks of this thing. I simply do not care what the mysterious, secret connection between the Vision and the original android Human Torch is, partially because Englehart never gives the readers any reason to. Do we get proper red leather jacketed Wonder Man getting drunk with the Beast in volume 7 at least? Not recommended.
Mention of Bizarro Wuxtry reminds me: I provide links to Amazon or some other source in these reviews for your convenience, but I strongly encourage everyone to support their local businesses and comic shops. There's a whole pile of comic reviews in this blog that you can read by clicking the "what i just read" tag below which you can try out, and while I love the 40% off coupons at Borders as much as anybody, you'll be doing your neighborhood right by visiting somebody local and picking up some good reading. Credo!
(Originally posted April 14, 2008 at hipsterdad's LJ.)