Welcome to the all-new Comicscape! Each week we'll be taking a look at a few of the week's new books in hopes of informing your comic shop purchases, or at the very least giving you 4-color thrills and chills. Enjoy!
The Private Eye #1 (by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente) There's a whole separate article to be written about The Private Eye's release. Much like the Radiohead album In Rainbows a few years back, Brian K. Vaughan and co. have decided to release the book with a pay-what-you-want structure. With the digital age in full swing, and printing not being a necessity, they have completely bypassed the publishers to bring the book directly to you. This is big news, and it would and should cause much debate, however, today I'm going to just talk about the book itself. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments below.
With Saga and now The Private Eye, Brian K. Vaughan has shown us that his view of Science Fiction and possible futures are not your run of the mill fare. He paints a picture that's much more Philip K. Dick than Gears of War. The Private Eye opens on a post-internet world. At some point down the line internet technology failed us, the "cloud" burst as they say in the book. This doesn't throw the world into chaos, in fact, the world of TPE looks almost utopian in some ways. Sleek architecture, clean streets and cops who communicate with Dick Tracy radio watches. After the world got burned by its internet life, Identity has become the name of the game. People walk around with holographic disguises called "Nyms", and going out in public with a head that looks like a fish or a tiger is perfectly acceptable. Nobody really knows who anybody is anymore, and that's where Patrick Immelmann comes in.
Patrick, which isn't his real name, is a private eye. He's got an illegally modified lens on his camera to get the impossible shots, and a "Dreamcoat" that provides urban camouflage. He rents a room at the Chateau Marmont littered with books by Henry Miller, and posters for films like The Maltese Falcon hanging on the walls. In the right circles he's known as the best at what he does, which leads a young, tiger-headed woman to his door in need of help. Clearly she values privacy, but that's the catch- she hires Patrick to dig up anything he can find on her. Of course, things go south and get very intriguing, but I'll leave that for you to discover. Much like Blade Runner, we're in a future world with noir undertones, and what's hidden is the shadows is always the most interesting.
This is a fantastic book in every conceivable way. The nature of its release might make some think this is a flight of fancy, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The Private Eye is a labor of love, a rich world filled with ideas and secrets that the creators just can't wait to spring upon us. This future is odd enough to challenge us, but Vaughan grounds it in reality so we can still identify with it. Among Patrick's books is Obama's The Audacity of Hope, and when he goes to visit his Grandfather, the old man has tattoos covering his arms, like many geriatrics filling up retirement homes likely will in 40-50 years. It's those little touches that keep us tethered and engaged. Marcos Martin has been a top artist since forever, but here he really gets to spread his wings. His style hails from the likes of Jack Kirby and David Mazzucchelli, and is, in a word- gorgeous. All of these things add up to a world I can't wait to keep visiting. If you have any bias towards the digital comic experience, now would be the time to drop it, or else you may be missing something really special.
The DC Comics exodus:
We have yet to discuss any news in this new Comicscape format, but the events of the past few days definitely deserve some ink. Two writers have walked off their titles at DC, both before their issues have even hit shelves. Andy Diggle was set to take over Action Comics in April (after Grant Morrison extended his run by an extra issue), but announced on Tuesday he was leaving the book over creative differences. And just yesterday, Joshua Hail Failkov exited his stints on Red Lanterns and Green Lantern Corps before the ink was dry on his contract. He also has cited creative differences. This has been a growing problem at DC since the New 52 switch over, and the rumblings of editorial mandates killing creativity keep getting louder. Things were heating up enough that DC hosted a creator's retreat a few weeks ago to try and handle the issue, if the recent news is any evidence, it doesn't appear to have worked. It's no secret the New 52 isn't exactly in the shape DC hoped it would be in at this point, but is alienating some of the top talent in the business really the best idea? I'd love to know what you Maniacs think.
Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him onTwitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.