This post is bang on time.

*Good link for today - a brief commentary on the differences between the original Malaysian version of Lat’s (utterly lovely) Kampung Boy and First Second’s new edition from last year, including an interesting content edit. Have a look.

*I have already read two entire comic books today! And boy was there a big surprise waiting for me in one of those Civil War tie-ins:

Stan Lee wrote a story in Fantastic Four #543, illustrated by Nick Dragotta and Mike Allred!

Awesome! X-Statix art teams 4ever! I was just going to buy the damn thing for Paul Pope, but this was real added value. I’m amazed I didn’t get it spoiled for me. Was it even supposed to be a surprise?


The Authority #2

I can’t decide if the funniest thing about this issue is that it’s so late that writer Grant Morrison has a character crack a “Whose side are you on?” joke, or that Civil War was so late that the joke’s still halfway relevant.

(yes, yes - I know there’s time after the art is done to tweak the dialogue around)

Clearly the third funniest thing, though, is this month’s installment of The Storm Front, the Wildstorm editorial page, which has inexplicably been reduced to only half a page, containing nothing but the issue’s legal indicia, a list of this month’s releases, a few cover images, and Jim Lee’s grinning face. Apparently he’s been rendered mute - I like to imagine merely being in proximity to the rest of this incarnation of The Authority causes lateness to creep in, but at this point if anyone’s developed an immunity it’s Lee.

We may not be getting the rest of this story anytime soon, but those still popping in will probably be glad for this issue’s confirmation -- spelled out as blatantly as possible, on pages two and three no less -- that Morrison has indeed conceived this storyline as an expansion on his ‘the world of the reader has no superheroes’ theme (as glimpsed recently in Seven Soldiers). Along the way, he and artist Gene Ha completely drop last issue’s (now quite obviously) intentional lack of visual focus and narrative energy, the title’s regular cast seeming to liven up all the world and its pages with their very presence.

I’m actually of two minds about this - since there isn’t any resounding visual or dialogue-based differentiation between the ‘real’ world and the Authority (you know, now that the superheroes are actually on-page), I can’t help but feel the book is sort of just plugging itself back into the Let’s Change the World mandate of the original through a particularly cute means of reasserting the status quo, while the prior issue seemed to hold more formal promise. On the other hand, the prior issue also wasn’t all that successful an evocation of the mundane world anyway, save for on the redoubtable Ha’s part, so maybe it’s best the notion be left as a prologue. Pure BS. Before Superheroes, I mean.

Anyway, in terms of pure storytelling, this issue is much better than last, being the ‘real’ beginning. Granted, the effect would have been a little stronger had this issue come out a little faster, as would the story’s cliffhanger had seemed a bit more cutely reminiscent of the opening pages of Garth Ennis’ current vision of The Midnighter (which, in an added mark of this book’s tardiness, saw its whole opening storyline end today) rather than just puzzlingly familiar. The visuals are very nice, slyly emphasizing the superhero characters’ magnificence through both grand splashes and some excellent forced perspective, though there’s an odd problem with the blacks that caused two of the pages in my copy to come out sort of wacky.

Plenty of cutesy jokes as well, although I laughed at the sight gag of NYC’s Forbidden Planet having shelf upon shelf of comics blandly marked “Graphic Novels,” save for the Wildstorm section, of course, which is loudly emblazoned with the official WS logo. And there’s some fun character business and a few really need ideas - I really do enjoy the notion of our reality being particularly shit among universes save for its uncanny ability to soak in all the neat stories from surrounding universes, the very act of storytelling itself cast as the absolute finest thing about our particular brand of humankind. That’s rather sweet.

It’ll be a long while before we see how things develop, though, so best to take what good there is as we can.