Last week I referenced Jeff Lemire’s afterword to Royal City wherein the prolific creator discusses being inspired by the current Golden Age of Television. I didn’t think of it at the time, probably because comics already has a definitive “Golden Age,” but it’s hard to discount what’s happening in the world of comics lately. The taking-comics-seriously tipping point may have been Spiegelman’s Maus and the British invasion/Vertigo revolution, but it’s been a slow climb to legitimacy since then. No doubt, part of that has been due to the fact that the “less serious” side of comics, the world of superheroes and escapist sci-fi, has taken the entertainment world by storm. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a welcome development, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to live in an era in which my neighborhood theater is pre-selling tickets to a Guardians of the Galaxy blockbuster and Daredevil is a high-budget television show. But this brave new Hollywood has only served to strengthen the unfortunate impression that comic books are synonymous with super-powers.
But I digress. My point is, we could be looking at another Golden Age of Comics, one that has nothing to do with capes & tights, alternate dimensions, or talking animals.
This week, Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins debut Grass Kings #1 from Boom! Studios. If Lemire’s book said Bloodline to me, then this one screams True Detective. The story is set in a trailer park community on the shores of an unnamed lake, a lake that has borne witness, over the centuries, to generations of violence, sacrifice, and upheaval. This is no ordinary community however: “The Grass Kingdom” claims complete autonomy over the rest of the United States, and woe is any rascally kid who risks sneaking in from a neighboring town to spy on those “squatters” on their “stolen land.”
It’s the first issue, so of course it’s mostly set-up, but this is masterful exposition. The characters, including a royal family of brothers, the aforementioned trespasser, and a neighboring sheriff, are instantly intriguing. The plot seeds of a tragic loss, fugitive murderer, and runaway girl are planted just deep enough to promise strong, twisted roots. And the exploration of the line between brave independence and paranoid isolationism is more poignant than ever. Kindt’s writing is perfectly suited to this type of storytelling, as evidenced by offbeat detective dramas like MIND MGMT and Dept. H. Jenkins, of Peter Panzerfaust fame, provides a watercolored world of clues and emotional nuance. I’m hooked. The only bummer about this new comic book Golden Age, is that we have to wait until TPBs are released to binge-watch the whole season.
Marvel NOW! Week 23
One of the last ongoing titles to get the NOW! treatment, Slott & Allred’s outstanding Silver Surfer series, which had been one of our favorites of the All-New All-Different season, drops a gem of an entry-point issue this week. Silver Surfer #9 is another self-contained cosmic mystery a la episodes of the original Star Trek. This time the Surfer and his Terran companion Dawn Greenwood (romantic tension still simmering) encounter a planet full of people who don’t poo. Intrigue! And they almost have their first dance. Sparks! And as much fun as these one-offs are, the story (as any good jumping-on chapter should) sets up a much more exciting storyline. Looks like old pal Eternity might be in a spot of trouble…