BENT WOOKEE COMIX (..we have issues..)

BENT WOOKEE COMIX (..we have issues..)
Parking available at The West End Beer Mart right next door!


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

This is it. Uncanny X-Men #207. It's the one that hooked me years ago. A badly beaten Wolverine makes his way to the Hellfire Club to stop Rachel Summers from killing the Black Queen. Apparently the X-Man, Logan, was pretty messed up in some major fight, then on top of that had to deal with some cat named "The Beyonder". I had no idea what they were talking about....nor why there would be a character named...."the Beyonder", this being my first real introduction to the Marvel Universe. But none the less, Rachel is mere seconds away from doing just what she set out to do when he arrives (Wolverine...not The Beyonder). Wolverine has dragged himself off what is basically his deathbed and all the way into The Hellfire Club itself to stop her from doing something she'll regret. He reminds Rachel that the X-men don't kill, and she reminds him of his own hypocrisy. They argue. A shouting match ensues. And it all leads up to one final panel of the omnious...."snikt".

What a cliff hanger! And now I have to wait an entire month to find out what happens?!?!

But this was it. Claremont and John Romita Jr. delivered the work that found it's way into my veins and is pretty much directly related to there being a Bent Wookee Comix funny book shop today.

Of course later on I sought out a series called The Crow after reading about it in Comics Scene magazine. This dark independant creation not only had me transfixed with the story itself but with the history that inspired its creation. James O'barr managed to pour all his heart ache into his work, and this is when I was showed that comics did not have to be defined by it's super hero genre. It was about telling a story. And this particular one about loss was even more eerily solidified with Brandon Lee's tragic death filming the movie adaptation. It was angst ridden and full of pain and rage, something I hadn't been introduced to by buying off of my local conveniance store spinner rack.

And I have to admit some years passed that I became fairly disinterested in comics. I'd pick up random issues here and there, but it wasn't until Preacher #12 that I was officially sucked back in. Now mind you, at the time I hadn't been reading any of the Preacher series. I was in college and just happened to stumble upon this issue. This is the last part of Until the End of the World story where Jesse has a viscous battle with his warped uncle Jody. I had to find out more! And when I did it turned into one of my all time favorite stories.

I was hooked....again! I think It wasn't a matter of not liking comics at the time, it was just a matter of finding the right stories. And since then, series like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, The Wretch, plenty of Wolverine and Uncanny X-men storylines have found a special place in my little black heart.

So here's the post that asks, not of best and worst, but of most notable for you personally. Of course Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns were amazing reads, who wouldn't put them on the top ten? But what issues stand out as little push pins on your time-line? What hit that residual chord with you that feeds your need for comics?

1 comment:

Vinson said...

Longshot #2.

Actually the entire series is incredible and since it is coming out as a trade paperback next month, you should consider picking it up. I never got into comics as a kid even though I liked to draw and loved to write. My friend kept trying to initiate me into collecting them like he did. But I saw the stories as a little too simplistic. Kind of on par with Glen A. Larson produced TV shows. I did grab a couple of issues here and there: Amazing Spider-Man #256-257, Uncanny X-Men #196 and an issue of The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones and one of Star Wars. I liked Spider-Man and I really liked the X-Men, Especially J.R.JR's art. But still, I saw comics as actually a step down from Mad Magazine. At least Mad was talking to me like I was an adult and the art in the movie parodies tried to actually capture the likenesses of the actors. My friend kept trying to talk me into drawing and writing a comic with him but I couldn't get past the goofy outfits and powers. I'm really not thrilled with powers.

Anyway, we rode our bikes down to Comic Haven one day and I see Longshot #1. It has a cool cover with a guy on the front who doesn't look like the typical super-hero I was used to. I flipped through it and I was really taken by the art. I wasn't sold on it though, for two reasons. One, I only had enough money to get the comics I'd come down for. And two, I think I was in shock at how cool it looked. Cut to two weeks later. I go back down to Comic Haven with the intention of picking up Longshot #1. Only, when I get there, Longshot #1 is sold out. But they have the second Issue out. And the second issue is even cooler than the first. It has this cover with the same guy and a girl flying around with jet packs. Longshot looks really cool in his black leather, Mad Max-style suit. He's got a bandolier of knives across his chest and a big knife at his right thigh, slung low like Han Solo's holster. And he has his head back and his eye is on fire. Most important of all, he’s not wearing spandex. And the girl is beautiful and hot. She looks like a Valcarie. She's got leggings that go up to mid-thigh and she's wearing this armor that looks like a French-cut bathing suit. She’s flying forward so I get a nice look at her cleavage. And she has long black hair (I‘ve always leaned toward the brunettes).

But that was just the cover. I took it home and I read it I think three times. I'd never read a comic more than once before. Arthur Adam's Art is amazing in this book. In my opinion, Arthur Adam's art in the Longshot limited series is the reason that we have so many great comic book artists today. He drew the characters like they were real, but it wasn't like he was tracing them. A character could go off and change his or her outfit and hair style and come back and you would recognize that person immediately. He's since developed a more iconic style, which is okay because I can still go back to Longshot with all its detail and its crosshatched shading and its coolness. His art in these books stands up to Drew Struzan's best work. And if you know how highly I hold Drew Struzan in the world of art, you know how serious I am about Arthur Adam's work here.

But I wouldn't have read this issue three times in a row just because I liked the art. I'd maybe read it once and then flipped through it a couple of times, admiring it (maybe feeling a little intimidated). Ann Nocenti is my favorite writer of all time. This includes novelists and screenplay writers and anyone else out there who's written anything. The reason she is my favorite is because she wrote this six-issue series. Issue #2 opens with Longshot an his little doglike companion hopping some futuristic-looiking train. It turns out that the train is a prop in a movie and the irate director sends Ricochet Rita out to collect Longshot. The scene is written and drawn like something I would expect from some cool "Raiders of the Lost Ark" type movie, not a comic book. The director seems sleazy from the start and he is quick to hire Longshot to be the stunt-double for his leading man, even though he already has one (who he quickly fires). Rita is the stunt double for the leading lady. She takes Longshot under her wing.

During the course of their practicing with the rocket packs (as seen on the cover), Longshot has a flashback to a battle he fought with other rebels. Here we see that his outfit is actually a uniform the rebels wore while using similar rocket packs to engage in an air battle with the "spineless ones". During the battle, Longshot engages in a dialogue with another rebel named "Jackson" who looks a little like Michael Jackdon did when he made Thriller. Fortunately, Jackson is killed before he can turn white and succumb to his pedophile urges.

Later, Ricochet Rita tries to seduce Longshot back at her motel room, only to discover his skin is like leather. She deduces that he may not be as human as he seems. She leaves and monsters from Longshot’s dimension appear. But before they can attack Longshot, Pup appears and quickly dispenses them. He and Longshot talk as Pup raids Rita's fridge. Pup appears to be cheerful and reassures Longshot that he is his friend. However, some of the things he says and his mannerisms cause Longshot (and the reader) to wonder just what his true intentions are. Longshot presses him but Rita appears and Pup is off.

Finally, the day of the shoot arrives. Longshot and Rita are going to use the rocket packs to mount an assault on what looks like Castle Grayskull. The problem is, Longshot realizes that the only reason for his doing this stunt is for money. See, Longshot's power is luck. But the luck only flows if his motives are pure. Money is not a pure motive and so Longshot doesn't feel right using his talents to become wealthy. Needless to say, Longshot is struck by the lasers guarding the castle (which are real and, the way Ann Nocenti writes it, it actually makes sense). He has a flashback where it is revealed how he got his luck, and the nature of how it works. More lasers hit him and he crashes to the earth, a bloody mess. Rita is horrified and wants to ride with the director to take Longshot to the hospital. The director convinces her to stay. He takes Longshot to a river where, worried of the legal ramifications that will befall him should Longshot die, he dumps the body. Longshot floats to the surface, however. His open eye seems to fall on the director who has a kind of nervous breakdown as he watches Longshot get carried away by the current. And that's only one issue!

I collected the rest of the series and, later, I traded like seven Transformers for the first issue. I bought the first trade that collected all six issues. I have the newer trade which collects the same issues (mentioned above) on order. And I buy every issue I come across, usually at conventions. I have the entire set collected four times. I've never seen Longshot as a character written as well as he's written in this series. But after I bought it and read it again and again (I have easily read it fifty times from beginning to end), I decided to invest more heavily into comics. Longshot got me to give comics another chance. And that's another thing I owe to the series. Because if I had just given up on comics, wrote them off as kind of a lower medium, I wouldn't have discovered other truly professional works: Meltdown, The Dark Knight Returns, The Uncanny X-Men throughout the rest of the eighties, Ultimate Spider-Man, and most recently The Punisher.

So anyway, that's my influential comic. That's the comic that made me want to read and collect other comics. That's the comic that made me want to write and draw comics. If you get a chance, you should give it a try, and not just issue #2.