Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Reading Comics 206 "The War of Kings and Seeleys"

Tom King and Tim Seeley established their mainstream cred together in the pages of Grayson, and it seems they're still creating some of my favorite comics, several years later.

I've talked a lot about King already.  I became hopelessly devoted to him thanks to Omega Men, and have been reading his comics as faithfully as I can ever since.  In Batman #27, the latest issue I've read from the run, an interlude in the "War of Jokes and Riddles" arc, he finally gets around to explaining Kite Man.  Kite Man has been making appearances throughout the run, and he's always saying his name, "Kite Man!"  Now, Kite Man is hardly an iconic Batman villain.  That King has been using him at all has probably been the most notable thing Kite Man has ever done.  This issue gives him a tragic backstory and origin.  Some readers have found it needlessly dark.  King has kept Batman a bestseller, and with that has found plenty of readers who find his work incomprehensible.  I think this issue, which is the first of two, is absolutely brilliant, full of time jumps of the kind that first made King notable (Grayson: Futures End) for me.

The issue also includes a preview for King's Mister Miracle, which promises to be the DC version of his breakthrough Vision at Marvel, the run that introduced other readers to his talent.  I can't wait to read more of it, although it seems somewhat likely that I'll either be playing catchup (as I did with Omega Men) or wait to read the trade collection.  I'm still nowhere near a point where I can read comics regularly again, no matter how fascinating some projects are.

I finally played catchup with King's Sheriff of Babylon, his previous project with Mister Miracle artist Mitch Gerads.  If I ever managed to copy my Goodreads reviews to this blog, you'd know how much I loved that.

Seeley, I kind of thought was just trading on King's greatness, there to help him transition into writing comics regularly.  But the more I've read his solo work (have yet to catch an issue of Revival, alas), the more I realize I was wrong.  Nightwing #25 is brilliant, in a different way than King is brilliant, but it's the latest example of how much I love Seeley's Nightwing.  It's becoming my all-time favorite Nightwing.  This issue wraps up a Blockbuster arc.  Blockbuster was the dominant villain of the first Nightwing ongoing series, the DC Kingpin to Dick Grayson's Daredevil (as the analogy always seemed to be).  This of course means that Dick has been running around Bludhaven again.  Seeley has made Bludhaven more real in one issue than Chuck Dixon and Devin K. Grayson (as awesome as they were for a combined hundred+ issues) ever did.  He's envisioned a reason Bludhaven exists, other than to create a Gotham for Nightwing, and a working framework with its own internal logic.  His Blockbuster combines the version who previously battled Nightwing with the original conception of the character, before he got smart via Underworld Unleashed

The result is that both King and Seeley are innovating superhero mob comics.  I have no idea if they talk about these things with each other, if it's a coincidence, if there's competition, what have you.  Even if King is getting all the attention, Seeley deserves just as much, from a character perspective, literally synthesizing all of Nightwing's recent history to create a cohesive whole.  He's no longer jumping from concept to concept in an effort to find something that works, but rather drawing from what's worked and finding ways to help it keep working.  He's not only continued his and King's Grayson material, but Grant Morrison's Batman saga, and of course the Bludhaven era.  And this is going to make Seeley the new touchstone on the character. 

Like I said, he's giving King a run for his money.  They're both doing definitive work.

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