Friday, July 01, 2005

This Comic Is Good - Solo

I have enjoyed Solo since it began, and I was considering doing a bit like this on the title after Howard Chaykin's, but then I figured I would wait for Darwyn Cooke's Solo, and I felt really smart for waiting, as Cooke's Solo was probably the best one yet.

In case you do not know what Solo is, it is a title from DC that stars a single artist. This artist basically can do whatever they want, using any DC character that they like.

They can write their own stories, or they can work with a writer.

The first Solo was Tim Sale. It was a bit lackluster. There was a nice story written by Darwyn Cooke, but bascially, it did not seem like Sale really embraced the concept, using it instead as just a collection of short stories.

Richard Corben and Paul Pope followed with similar approachs. They both wrote their Solos, and both did a good job, but neither of them seemed to get out of the comic as much as they can.

Do not get me wrong, Corben's stories were good and his art was strong.

Pope, meanwhile, was EXCELLENT.

The stories were good, and the art was a-may-zing.

However, once again, it was a collection of stories. Stuff you'd see in the back of Detective Comics or Gotham Knights (back when Gotham Knights had backups).

Stuff you'd be really impressed by if you saw it in the back of a comic or in an anthology (especially Pope's work, as he did some really, really nice work in his Solo), but still, essentially a collection of stories.

Howard Chaykin was the first to go beyond this with his Solo.

In his, Chaykin had an overarching idea behind his stories, and wrote them accordingly.

His Solo was a love letter to the stories of his youth (Take note, creators who say you are writing a love letter - THIS is how you write an actual love letter).

In doing so, this issue became the first Solo that also served a purpose to HELP the creator.

To wit, by forcing himself to adhere to a set pattern, Chaykin expunges some of the excess mannerisms and tics that he has shown on recent projects. By holding himself to a stricter standard, he ends up with much more enjoyable stories, yet the stories remain purely and unmistakably Chaykin efforts.

None of these stories could have been done by anyone by Chaykin, and even Chaykin himself recently did not seem to be able to achieve the level of storytelling before this issue of Solo.

So I was really surprised and extremely impressed.

Suffice to say, I really enjoyed Solo #4.

However, none of the Solos could have prepared me for Darwyn Cooke's complete and utter embrace of the concept of "X amount of pages for ANYthing I want to do."

The first three creators took "anything I want to do" as "some short stories."

Chaykin took "anything I want to do" as "a group of short stories under an overarching theme."

Cooke took "anything I want to do" as "filling every single page with an explosion of comic book love."

I will even admit that I did not love all the stories. Some could have been a bit sharper, I thought.

However, I cannot fathom anyone matching the sheer energy level put forth by Cooke in this comic book.

It is like seeing a child with a pad of paper. That kid is going to use up every last inch of that pad with stuff.

Cooke does the same.

And his love for the medium shines through on every page.

I enjoyed Solo #1-3 (especially Pope's strong efforts in issue #3).

I really liked Solo #4.

I loved Solo #5.

Almost as much as Cooke loves comic books.

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Blogger Christopher Burton said...

I haven't read any of the previous issues, but I pre-ordered the Cooke issue. I should be getting it with my monthly comics shipment next week.

7/01/2005 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

I'm going to have to go back to the shop and pick up this Cooke issue. I've been passing on the series (also looked at Pope's) because it seems too damn expensive. But if it's *that* good...

7/01/2005 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Well, Bill, to be fair, I also loved New Frontier, which was even MORE expensive.

So if that wasn't your bag, then this probably wouldn't be either.

7/01/2005 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

Exactly. I didn't read New Frontier because it was also too damn expensive. But I do greatly enjoy Cooke's art and he's hailed as a genius, so I think I'll just plop down the fiver, you know?

7/01/2005 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger Chad said...

This was okay. I've liked Cooke's art better elsewhere. The story about how he started painting was pretty cool. And I liked the bit about the wife. But I could have done without the Batman story. I'm really kinda tired of Batman.

it was good. I wasn't unhappy I bought it.

7/03/2005 07:06:00 PM  

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