Friday, December 7, 2012

Creator-Owned Heroes #7

Written by Darwyn Cooke, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Steve Niles, Jeffrey Burandt, Seth Kushner, Chris Miskiewicz, and Dean Haspiel
Art by Darwyn Cooke, Jerry Lando, Scott Morse, Dean Haspiel, and Seth Kushner

With the news breaking this week that Creator-Owned Heroes, the comics anthology/self-publishing 'zine being produced by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Steve Niles, and a group of other people being canceled next month despite the ninth issue already being solicited, it's hard not to read this new (now penultimate) issue without a tinge of sadness.

I've been a little critical of this title in the past, finding its non-comics content amateurish, self-serving, and ultimately uninteresting, but I have been supportive of the goal of the book - to champion creator-owned work.

The saddest part of the cancellation is that the folks involved in this book have really begun to fine-tune what this book does.  They've added more creators (most notably Darwyn Cooke), and have given over more of the book's space to comics pages.  Also, instead of interviewing people like Jimmy Palmiotti's personal trainer, or cosplayers, they've focused the editorial content on creating creator-owned comics, offering advice to those starting out, and interviewing independent legends like Evan Dorkin.  Still, I buy this for the comics, so let's talk about those.

Darwyn Cooke's 'The Deadly Book' is a terrific tale, about a book that kills anyone who reads it, and thief who tries to steal it from his collector grandfather.  The story combines Borgesian conceits with the type of crime comic that Cooke does so well, and it tells a complete story in a short number of pages.  It's great.

Palmiotti, Gray, and Jerry Lando's 'Killswitch' story continues in fine form, as we learn a lot more about the title character and his upbringing, just as the collected mass of the world's assassin community come gunning for him.  I like Palmiotti and Gray on these types of stories best.

I don't always care for Steve Niles's writing, but when you pair him with artist Scott Morse, I'm going to be there for it.  Their new story, 'Meatbag' is about a private investigator who finds his contracted help ripped to ribbons (although his clothes are perfectly intact) on what was supposed to be a routine cheating wife case.  Morse paints this book in full-page panels that are gorgeous.

This issue also has a couple of shorter pieces.  'Blood and Brains', written by newcomer Jeffrey Burandt and pencilled by Dean Haspiel, shows us what happens when two fan-favourite horror concepts collides.  'The Complex' is a fumetti-style story about a video jockey who uses holograms and drugs to seduce women; I think it's a preview of a longer piece, but there is no explanation provided.

It is sad that as the quality of this book increases, it's publication is set to finish.  I believe there is a place for a book like this, and hope that something else will come along.

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