Another quiet week, but it has given me a chance to attack my ever-growing ‘to-read pile’…
THE PRIVATE EYE
Okay, not quite a trade, but who cares. Brain K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin, a near perfect combination of two of the industry’s finest, have teamed up for The Private Eye, a comic distributed via their website. Most importantly the creators allow you to name your price, so there is no reason not to read this, if you want you can get it for free.
I’ve been buying the issues individually since the launch, paying in the hope that this experiment will be successful and they’ll do it again. Apart from reading the first issue, I have waited to read the book in its entirety. it was worth the wait.
Rather eerily predicting events like the iCloud leak and reminding us of Wikileaks and Snowden, The Private Eye is set 40 years after the cloud ‘burst’ revealing all our information and secrets to the world. Now there is no internet, we get our information from books in libraries and every adult in America has at least one secret identity (costumes and masks are a must). The police have been replaced with the press and our hero, P.I. is an illegal private investigator, or paparazzo.
Story-wise, we have a classic Chandler-esque story featuring mysterious women, murder, and corruption that goes all the way to the top. Vaughan, like always, gives us complex, interesting characters straight off the bat that we can root for, especially with Grampa, who remembers a time with wi-fi and smart phones and P.I.’s ‘assistant’ Mel, who drives P.I. round the future LA as he refuses to get a license to protect his privacy. Even Vaughan’s villains are more interesting than the norm, with an understandable master plan and henchmen who are more than simple one-note thugs. All the characters are believable and, as such, several important points in the story are the result of accidents, mistakes, and luck – plans can go to hell in a second, no matter how rich or well-organized you are and this is one of the great things about the series.
Vaughan is joined by artist Marcos Martin, who gives us a bright, well-coloured future full of fantastic character designs as pretty much every character has at least one costume. For me, Martin’s art (like other favourite, Chris Samnee) has a fun, retro 60’s vibe, taking the best of the period but in no way feeling old-fashioned. As a result we have fun, cool art which is fast-paced and tense during the always great action whilst also being perfect at catching characters during the slower, dramatic moments. Characters and the world always look great – it’s a pretty unique world, all the more so for avoiding the typical Blade Runner dystopian future.
Both artist and writer are top of their game, delivering some of their best work. Hopefully a new series from the team will be with us soon.
This one has been around for a while, but with the Daredevil TV series forthcoming I thought now was the time to finally read it. We cover a lot of the same ground as Frank Miller’s Man Without Fear, but with several noticeable changes; there’s no Stick or Elektra here, with the focus on the relationships between Matt, Foggy, and Karen Paige. Story-wise… we don’t have much of a story. The basic premise is the exact same as Loeb and Sale’s earlier series, Spider-Man Blue. (Yellow, I believe came first, but I read them out of order).
Both series’ find our hero thinking back to their first loves, women who have died as a result of their costumed escapades. Spider-Man Blue had a story running through it, were as Daredevil Yellow often just feels like a series of unrelated events. The Fantastic Four and various supporting characters seem to turn up because Loeb thinks they should and then they just vanish again. (It also feels a little off seeing a character like Purpleman played a little more for laughs as recent writers, especially Bendis, have potrayed him as a far more sinister rapist and killer. The fact that he clearly plans to rape Karen, isn’t touched on.)
Story flaws aside, Sale delivers some off his best work, and in a career full of great work, that’s saying something. The colouring and the setting, like The Long Halloween, set in some idealized post-war style New York, with appropriate modern trappings, looks amazing and really helps establish the mood. Looking at the book, I feel you could take pretty much any panel here and frame it. It’s just a shame that Loeb’s story does not do Sale’s art justice. Flawed, but beautiful looking, this may not be the best Daredevil story (and it’s rather different from other interpretations of Daredevil’s origins) but it is still worth a look.