Recently, I’ve been making use of my local library to help me get into comics a bit more. I had read a few things, most notably Watchmen which remains the best thing I’ve read so far. But over the last few weeks I’ve read Batman: Hush, the 2000AD series Leviathan, the Judge Dredd collection The Hunting Party, and the Rogue Trooper collection Fort Neuro. At the moment I’m also reading Batman: The Long Halloween, which I can’t say I’m impressed by so far… it ‘s very disjointed and vague in its storytelling, I’m not hugely fond of the art and its pretty lacking in action for my tastes.
I enjoyed the Dredd and Trooper stuff to a large extent, but it often felt pretty workmanlike. The stories in each prog are so short, that the attempt to make each one stand up alone but also be part of the larger story results in a pretty piecemeal overall result. That’s one of the reasons I think Watchmen is as brilliant as it is… it’s incredibly, deliberately cohesive, it never rambles or coasts along and it’s incredibly purposeful, without being rushed. In my limited comics reading, I just haven’t come across anything like that.
Now Leviathan, though, I was really impressed by. It’s set on a vast titular ship, trapped in an endless, otherworldly sea. The idea of the ship’s thousands of passengers having to survive by growing crops on the deck, and I also like the story’s class themes, with the rich being in charge on the lavish upper decks while the poor languish in vicious slums below. The story involves a jaded detective being tasked with catching a murderer who has torn the flesh from his victims, but quickly becomes a very ambitious metaphysical conflict taking place in an alternate plane of existence. I say quickly… and that’s the problem. The ideas at work are fantastic, the whole affair is lovably British, creepy and retro, but the thing rattles by at an alarming rate. There are a few excellent little one shots included in the book which give a hugely valuable extra insight into the story’s universe, but nevertheless the whole affair seems agonisingly short. I’d thoroughly recommend it though, it’s a real step above the normal fun but sometimes ordinary 2000AD fare.
Anyone got anything they’d recommend to me? I prefer the more thoughtful independent stuff to the daft 50-heroes-per-page Marvel/DC stuff…