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Times Past and a Snyder Saturday

There are many reasons why I was a huge fan of Starman in the 90s but today I will focus on just two. One is that James Robinson took the villainous Shade and made him into a character of great nuance and endless fascination. The other is the use of a storytelling device called "Times Past," in which Robinson would devote occasional issues to tales of the history of various Starmen or Opal City. These issues were derived from the journals of the Shade himself. Currently, Robinson has returned to the character a 12 issue series titled The Shade and #4 takes a break from the main story to bring us yet another "Times Past." It's set in 1944 and features a threat from the Nazis, the heroics of Vigilante, plus a new adventurer named Madam Fatal that you have to see to believe. It's a fun story. What makes the issue great is the art team of Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone. This is cartooning at its highest form. We get quiet moments, action set-pieces, darkness, and so much more. This jumps off the page and you just can't get enough. Comics doesn't get much better than this.

I decided to make today a Scott Snyder Saturday, where I would catch up on a few comics he wrote that I've picked up over the last few weeks...

First up was Batman. This week saw the release of #5 (DC recently relaunched all of its titles with new #1 issues), which continues the story of Batman facing off against the Court of Owls. As it opens, we discover he's been missing for 8 days and his allies are getting worried. Where is he? He's trapped in a labyrinth and being stalked by The Talon, the enforcer of the Court of Owls. He is being mentally broken down and it is scary to watch. His inner turmoil is reflected in his physical appearance - one of the eye slits on his suit has been torn away and it gives him a crazed look. Even the physical structure of comic itself reflects the events within - you eventually rotate the book a full 180 degrees before crashing back to "normal" with a powerful image. Greg Capullo is doing amazing work on this title, as is Snyder. I can't wait to read the next issue.

Next and last on the Snyder docket were two issues (#4 and #5) of Swamp Thing. While the basic story has been the same for several issues now, the execution is happening at a strong level. Alec Holland is trying to resist the Parliament of Trees and stave off once again becoming Swamp Thing. Abby Arcane is trying to stop her brother from dooming the world with the Rot. The two are drawn to each other but that might not be a good thing. While I don't love this series yet, I do like it a lot, especially when Yanick Paquette is on art chores, as he is in #5. Wow, his line work is just gorgeous.

Snyder has definitely become a writer who you should pay serious attention to. I think it's time I picked up his American Vampire and keep paying attention.


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