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A Dynamic Duo On the Dynamic Duo

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It happened under the radar, but Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely have become a creative team to reckon with. This week, they take on Batman and Robin.

We give a lot of reverence to the legendary creative teams here at Guiding Lines. As well we should because comic books are a collaborative medium where a group of people come together to create something special. But when a great writer gets together with a great artist and they click on all cylinders, it’s just magical.

You might not think of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely as a legendary team just yet, or at all. But they are. You can see that from their body of work.

What might diminish the greatness of the Morrison/Quitely team is the fact that Grant Morrison has had a very successful career away from the artist. He has become a comic book legend from his work on Animal Man, JLA, and The Invisibles. All, for the most part, he worked on without Quitely.

However, their collaborations were truly something special. Their partnership started in 1996 with the legendary Flex Metallo miniseries, the weirdly wonderful series known more for the lawsuits it spawned than the quality of the book itself.

The next big team up between the two was the JLA: Earth 2 hardcover. This was a post-Crisis on Infinite Earths revamp of the Crime Syndicate, the evil opposite of the Justice League from an Alternate Earth. Morrison was in the midst of his popular run on the main JLA title, and the many fans anticipated his take on the classic Silver Age characters in the Crime Syndicate. The result is that Quitely’s art gained more exposure in the comic fandom and Morrison found an artist that could match up with his sensibilities.

The team moved over to Marvel for their next project together. They worked on a controversial deconstruction of the X-Mythos with their brief run on X-Men, which was renamed New X-Men during the length of their stay on the title.

Morrison destroyed Genosha within his first few months on the title. He introduced Emma Frost to the team, revealed that Charles Xavier had a twin sister he tried to kill in the womb, and made Magneto a drug addict. Along the way he managed to kill off Jean Grey (again), give Emma and the Beast secondary mutations, and introduce a whole new class of students.

Quitely shook things up by changing the look of the team, replacing the spandex costumes with more realistic leather jackets and such. He also made Beast look, well, more bestial, giving him a lion-like appearance. It was here that Quitely ran into problems with lateness, having many issues handed over to fill-in artists during this run.

The run was of high quality but some of the changes they made were controversial and quickly undone by Marvel.

Their next collaboration was their highest profile yet. They were picked to helm the second offering from DC’s, continuity-free “All-Star” line. All-Star Superman allowed Morrison to write a hero he was always dying to write. And, given the opportunity to work with whichever artist he could choose, Morrison picked Quitely.

In my opinion, All-Star Superman stands as one of the best portrayals of the Man of Steel ever. The creators paid loving tribute to the stories of the Silver Age all the while capturing the mystique and aura of what made Superman such a legendary character.

Now, the pair turns its eyes to another pair of DC icons—Batman and Robin. But these aren’t your parent’s Caped Crusaders, or even the ones Morrison has been working with for the last year or so. This Batman appears to be Dick Grayson, formerly Robin and more recently Nightwing, taking over the mantle from a presumably deceased Bruce Wayne. The new Robin might be Damian, the illegitimate son of Bruce that Morrison introduced during his run on the main title.

This is a controversial and uncertain replacement on DC’s part. But as risky as this venture might be, the execution of it is in good hands. With Morrison and Quitely at the helm, you are sure that the story will be executed with drama and imagination.

Also out this week:


Ultimate Spider-Man #133


It is the end of an era of sorts. It’s only fitting that the title that brought the current reign of the Ultimate universe into existence would be the last one published. Yes, this is the last issue of Ultimate Spider-Man.

The end has been a long time in coming (and if you believe Stuart Immonen, unnecessarily long). This issue was originally solicited for April. I’m sure Marvel had a reason for the delay, but it’s not nice to keep fans in suspense.

And don’t mourn the passing of the title completely. The character presumably will be back in August in the brand new Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1. So this isn’t good-bye, merely “see you later”.

Brian Michael Bendis (W), Stuart Immonen (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Final Issue.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales of the Vampires

Imagine you have a friend. This friend of yours has fallen in with a bad element. He’s doing things that really aren’t healthy. And now, he is about to reach the point of no return. What do you do?

Okay, now what if your friend was named Jacob. And what if the friends he has been hanging out with are vampires. He’s been offering himself as a source of food. Now, a new bloodsucking fiend has entered the picture and offered Jacob a permanent escape for his everyday world. What do you do now?

If you’re Jacob’s friend Alexia, you do whatever you can to stop them.

Becky Cloonan (W), Vasilis Lolos (A), Dark Horse Comics, $2.99. One-Shot.

Captain Blood: Odyssey #1

Slave Labor is mining the past for this latest release, taking a real life character who has had a colorful history. Captain Blood was one of the most daring pirates of the 17th Century. He was even so bold as to try to steal the crown jewels from the Tower of London. But unlike many other pirates of the time, he was able to live out his life and die of natural causes.

His story has been made into many TV shows and movies over the years, the most famous of which might be the 1935 Errol Flynn swashbuckler Captain Blood. That film was an adaptation of the 1922 novel by Rafael Sabatini. This miniseries is also adapted from that same novel. And Slave Labor is promising this series will be a faithful adaptation of that work.

Matthew Shepherd (W), Michael Shoyket (A), Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics, $3.50. Five-Issue Miniseries.

Chew #1

Detectives have different ways of getting information. Columbo used to wear down his suspects with questions. Sherlock Holmes used his keen powers of observation to make deductions based on the evidence at hand. Agatha Christie’s detectives liked to lock all the suspects in a room to draw out her killers.

Tony Chu has a method that is all his own. To get information about the murders he’s investigating, he must eat the corpse of the victim. Gross, yes, but effective. He’s risen  through the ranks at his precinct. But now the government has its sights set on him. And they want him to use his talents for them, and they are not taking no for an answer.
 
John Layman (W), Rob Guillory (A), Image Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Werewolves on the Moon: Versus Vampires #1

We all know that werewolves only come out during a full moon. But what if it could be a full moon all the time? Like, technically, if you are on the surface of the moon itself, it would be full all the time, right? That is what Ted, Jeff and Stan think. They are a trio of werewolves and they are relocating to the moon to start their kingdom.

But the thought of werewolves starting a colony on such a strategic rock doesn’t sit well with all people. For one, Moon Patrol captain Maggie Pilgrim has an issue with it, since the moon is her jurisdiction and all. Another group up in arms are the vampires. They are already on the moon—the dark side of course—and really aren’t happy Ted, Jeff and Stan are there. When all three get together, it’s going to be war.
 
Dave Land (W), Matt and Shawn Fillbach (A), Dark Horse Comics, $3.50. Three-Issue Miniseries.

Rotten #1

You don’t often hear Rutherford B. Hayes’ name mentioned at the same time you say “zombie horror,” but that is all going to change this week.

No, the 19th President of the United States is not the one being turned into a brain eating ghoul (but wouldn’t that make an interesting story? I call dibs on that!), but he is the one sending a secret agent named William Wade out west to investigate zombie outbreaks on the western frontier. What he finds is worse than anyone could ever have imagined.

This is a unique spin on the uber-popular zombie trend in comics today. And with creators like Ed Brubaker and Mark Waid giving their seal of approval, how can you resist picking this up?
 
Mark Rahner & Robert Horton (W), Dan Dougherty (A), Moonstone Comics, $5.99. Ongoing Series.

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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