Wednesday 10 March 2010

Parker Spelling Bee

Just came across a nice sequence in The Outfit where Parker's writing a letter – not something he does very often – and has to phone the operator to check how to spell 'grievance'. Which was quite sweet.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Ding Dong Dang, It's Dat Dere List

Crikey, looks like a decent clutch of comics out this week – at least ones that might be of interest to me, anyway. And it's my blog, after all. I care not a jot what anyone else might think. So ner. Let's take a liddle ol' look, shall we?

Batman And Robin #10

Criminal The Sinners #5

Ex Machina #48

Unwritten #11

Those are all definites. Grant Morrison's Batman & Robin kicked up a gear when Cameron Stewart came on as artist on issue #7, and this latest issue begins a new storyline which will culminate in the return of Bruce Wayne (who, if you didn't know, is dead, or at least believed to be dead, although in fact merely lost in time; an easy mistake to make). Criminal is the final part of Tracy Lawless' second storyline, and it's been as fine a slice of tough crime storytelling as you're likely to find this side of Richard Stark, and with lovely lurid colours too. Ex Machina is racing towards its final fiftieth issue, with a fair few revelations along the way, and Unwritten is still holding my interest. Just about.

I'll give these a look too:

Mystic Hands Of Dr Strange #1
Justice League The Rise And Fall Special #1

Twelve Spearhead #1

Doctor Strange continues to hold a strange appeal, despite the fact that I've never read that many Doctor Strange comics, and indeed have abandoned one or two Doctor Strange miniseries after their first issues. I think it's residual memories of being into The Defenders when I was a kid in the '70s/'80s. I think lots of kids were into The Defenders back then, despite the comics not being that great. I suspect that's simply because it was better distributed in the UK than other comics. We knew no better.

The big question on Justice League The Rise and Fall Special is, why do I keep getting suckered into buying rubbish Justice League comics when I know they'll be rubbish? It's either a masochistic personality defect, or a continuing disbelief that James Robinson has completely lost it as a writer (he has, clearly), or a lingering fondness for Grant Morrison's JLA and a dwindling hope that the Justice League can ever be that good again. In fact it's all of these things, and I need to take myself out the back and give myself a good kicking until I see sense.

Twelve Spearhead is a fill-in issue for the MIA J. Michael Straczynski/Chris Weston The Twelve maxiseries, which was supposed to be twelve issues long but stopped at #8 a few years ago and hasn't been seen since. I really liked The Twelve, and Spearhead is drawn and written by Weston, so I think I'll give it a go.

So that's five, possibly six, maybe seven if I'm really weak, comics this week. Hell's teeth. It's almost like the bad old days again.

(Parker Progress Report) The Man with the Getaway Face

This is the second of Richard Stark/Donald Westlake's Parker novels, and I polished it off at the weekend (although the edition I was reading was actually a Coronet paperback from 1972, which bears the alternative title The Steel Hit). It's a great book, but what really struck me about it was Westlake's deadly dry prose – much more so than with Point Blank/The Hunter. The methodical planning of the heist and subsequent double-cross(es) and the occasional bursts of violence are laid out in such a matter-of-fact, unfussy manner that it's almost like reading a police transcript of events.

That's not to say it isn't gripping; it is. It's just that Westlake doesn't feel the need to over-elaborate. At one point a bar is described as an oblong, and that's almost as much detail as you get. And of course you don't really need much more than that. The characters are briefly sketched, but they still manage to come alive. Parker himself is utterly focused on the job in hand to the exclusion of everything else, so that when a wrinkle arises in the shape of a character from elsewhere in his life, he simply locks them away until the job is done.

After all the planning and build-up, the heist itself takes only a few pages, and the double-cross even less. That's all they need, however, and are all the more effective for it, particularly one killing, which basically takes place while our heads are turned. Brutal, perfunctory, perfect. And once again there's a nice twist at the end, a final, stinging slap in the face after all Parker's efforts.

Next up it's The Outfit, which apparently is where the series really gets going.