Tuesday, 2 February 2016

America's Best Comics

Alan Moore etc. America's Best Comics (2004)
This is a collected edition of three variety pack style one-shots which didn't quite fit anywhere else, so I'm guessing - all written by Alan Moore, apart from a few bits and pieces from Steve Moore and Rick Veitch. The Many Worlds of Tesla Strong is quite nice, and there's a short but amusing Top 10 story, and the Jack B. Quick pages warrant a chuckle; but otherwise the best way to describe this seems to be Alan Moore just pissing about. The man has of course earned the right to piss about over the years, but the lack of focus inherent in a collection as varied as this means you tend to notice the weak links all the more; or at least I did.

Fine though The Many Worlds of Tesla Strong certainly is, I still don't really get Tom Strong. Moore hates modern superheroes and has said as much on a number of occasions, and so Tom Strong is a comic aimed fairly squarely - so far as I can see - at twelve-year old boys and maybe some girls, just as it should be, just as it was when Alan were a lad and everything was better than it is now; except those twelve-year old boys and maybe some girls don't really exist any more, and the endlessly tittersome pastiches of pulp tropes of the twenties must surely be at least a little confusing to anyone under thirty who isn't actively engaged in obsessing over the history of comics, the pulps, and so on. So maybe this is recommended reading age of twelve material written for persons in their fifties or summink, like adults going to school dinner themed discos and dancing to Tears For Fears. I don't know. It's well done and thankfully lacking the arch quality you usually get with this kind of thing, but something just doesn't sit right. Maybe it's the incongruous whiff of adult sexuality informing some of the admittedly beautiful art.

Speaking of which there's also a Cobweb strip. The Cobweb is a retro-styled superheroine who wears see-through clothing and thus defeats crims and perps who presumably fall over their own tongues when they realise they can see her TITTIES and also her FLANGE. Tee hee. The Cobweb was co-created by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie, it says in the credits, presumably just in case anyone plans on nicking such a fucking brilliant idea. I've never particularly warmed to Melinda Gebbie's work, I'm afraid, finding it borderline twee; and I'm not crazy about Dame Darcy's art either. It all feels a bit community youth project to me, but then I'm clearly an outrageous sexist who experiences daily spasms of hatred at the thought of women expressing themselves, or indeed having jobs or engaging in any activity outside of either the bedroom or kitchen. Although I wouldn't regard myself as an unreasonable man, and women certainly shouldn't be chained to the cooker as some might suggest. The chains should be of sufficient length as to allow them to serve meals to their menfolk, should the menfolk be watching sports in the lounge.

Maybe if Tom Strong occasionally whipped out his pecker and used it to beat lawbreakers into submission, maybe that would even it out a little.

Most of what we have here may well be superior to the competition, and the art is mostly wonderful, but it's all a bit confused taken as a whole - too straight-arsed to be underground, and yet a little too cranky to be mainstream, and The First First American could almost have been a sketch on Crackerjack and is as such a complete waste of Sergio Aragones.

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