What Wednesday #12: Comic Edition
Today I read the best comic ever, watch a reboot of the funniest comic ever, and listen to the best comic song…ever.
What Wednesday is where I talk about what I’m watching, reading, playing, etc, because for some reason I think you’ll find that interesting. If you have recommendations, I’d love to hear them :)
What I’m Reading: The Sandman
Superman: too boring. Batman: too limited. X-men: too convoluted. The Avengers: too terrible. Sandman: too amazing.
Imagine every children’s story, every fable, every legend you’ve ever heard (and many you haven’t) crammed into one place, overlapping and running into each other. That’s The Sandman in a nutshell.
It’s also the greatest graphic novel of all time.
I’m a little biased because I love fables and fantastical tales (maybe explains why I was a religion minor), but I’m not the only one who thinks so. You’ll often find it on Top 5 lists of the greatest comics ever, right next to The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen (my number 3 and 2, respectively).
It stars Dream, lord of (duh) dreams. He’s one of the Endless, a family of supreme deities that have been around since the world began, along with his sisters Death, Delirium, Desire, and Despair, and his brothers Destiny and Destruction. It sounds weird and cheesy, but they’re presented with such care and detail that you start believing they actually exist. And the subject matter is incredibly mature and thoughtful.
The art design is a little dated in parts, but the storytelling is timeless, as are many of the stories themselves. Neil Gaiman, an acclaimed author outside of graphic novels, weaves in an incredibly dense amount of references to classical works of literature and fables. I constantly found myself stopping to Google stories I’ve never heard of before, like the idea of multiple Eve’s.
I realize plenty of people find it pretentious: Gaiman goes out of his way to name drop as many obscure references as possible. And I also realize it gets a little too much credit just for being a “literary” comic book: like mentioning Milton a few times automatically makes it a Serious Book.
But I love it. I can’t get enough of the biblical references, fable histories, and elaborate storytelling techniques. And now that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has dropped out of directing the movie, it would make the perfect HBO show. Just saying…
If you’ve ever thought comics were just for kids, do yourself a favor and give The Sandman a try.
What I’m Watching: The Tick (Amazon)
The Tick is basically the opposite of the self-serious Sandman. A ridiculous “superhero” that pokes fun at comic book cliches (just look at that massive chin), The Tick has been around before Deadpool was even an R-rated glimmer in Marvel’s eye. I loved the original Fox cartoon in ’94 (though plenty of the jokes flew over my 10 year old head), and loved the ‘01 live action series even more (played pitch perfectly by Puddy from Seinfeld). Amazon has now put out the pilot of a new reboot and…it’s just OK.
Surprisingly, the Tick’s creator, Ben Edlund, decided to go in a darker direction. The Nolanisation (i.e. make everything dark and “realistic”) of comic book movies has become super annoying (Man of Steel was particularly awful), but it’s actually not a terrible thing for The Tick. The juxtaposition of serious (PTSD, murdered superheroes) and ridiculous (Tick’s hilariously hammy monologues) actually kinda works. The comic book industry desperately needs to lighten up, so I’ll definitely watch it when the full season is out.
I don’t think I’ll ever like it as much as the wonderfully campy Fox series, though. Peter Serafinowicz makes a pretty good Tick, but Patrick Walburn is the perfect Tick, period.
What I’m Hearing: Batman Animated Series Theme Song
If this song doesn’t bring back some incredible memories, I’m sad you had such a terrible childhood. Batman: The Animated Series, also on Amazon Prime, is probably the pinnacle of animated comic book series (X-men, very close second), with great voice acting, mature themes, and iconic noir/art deco animation (the producers deemed it Dark Deco). But man, oh man, that theme song. Still gives me goosebumps. My brother got me an incredible record of it last Christmas, and it’s easily my favorite in my vinyl collection. Just look at this beautiful thing and you’ll see why: