Friday, April 18, 2014
MAN OF A THOUSAND PARTS
I’ve been a fan of Mr. Jigsaw since I first saw him in Scary Tales #38 [Charlton; May 1983]. I liked the character so much that I sent a copy of that issue to Don Thompson at Comics Buyer's Guide because I knew he’d love it, too, and because I hope that, between him and me, we could spread the word about this truly special hero. Jiggy has never achieved the recognition and success he deserves, nor have my pals Gary and Ron received the fame and fortune they deserve. Still, against all odds, Mr. Jigsaw continues to manage at least one new issue every year and continues to be one of the most enjoyable of indie comic- book series.
Mr. Jigsaw #11 [Redbud Studio; $2.99] came out last year, but had to be reprinted due to some pages printing out of order. “The Life of Pie” kicks off with our hero getting a pie in the face. By the time the 28-page story has reached its conclusion, Fortier and Kato have delivered one of the wildest time-travel adventures ever seen in comics.
In Mr. Jigsaw #12 [Redbud Studio; $2.99], Jiggy and his friends are on the shakedown cruise of a sea research vehicle. “The Pirates of Perchance” (23 pages) has action and daring-do on the high seas and nods to Gilligan’s Island. A letters page follows the story.
Mr. Jigsaw is a white-hat super-hero. He’s not really the result of nostalgic yearnings because very few white-hate super-heroes of the past were this clever and playful. Charlie is a good guy who makes friends with other good people. They may not be the most realistic bunch of characters, but they’re fun to hang out with every now and then. I wish the “now and then” was more like “monthly,” but, alas, that’s not in the cards at present.
Would I want all super-hero comic books to be like Mr. Jigsaw? Of course not...save that I also wish all super-hero comics were as much a product of love as this one. Having said that, yeah, there should be room for a few more white-hat super-heroes even in these days of Hollywood-driven comic books.
Mr. Jigsaw isn’t available through Diamond Comic Distribution, but you can order issues directly from Redbud Studios. While you’re at the site, be sure to check out their other titles as well.
Add Batgirl to the growing list of DC’s “New 52" super-hero titles that make me throw up a little in my mouth as I read them. Barbara Gordon is a hero. Commissioner James Gordon, her father, is a hero. They put themselves on the line time and time again to protect the people of Gotham City, even though anyone in their right mind would have left that mad metropolis decades ago.
Batgirl inspires nausea in me for a couple of reasons. One would be the blight that reaches across all the seventeen hundred Batman titles DC publishes. For all Batman and his posse do, for all the seventeen million pages devoted to their efforts, Gotham City never gets better. It’s a hell hole, pure and simple.
Getting more specific to Batgirl, which I am, admittedly, at least a year behind the most recent issue, I’m lurching and vomiting my way through a storyline in which Batgirl’s brother is a monster who turned his mother and his sister over to the Joker, a monster who is responsible for the maiming of his mother and a monster who is trying to use the mother to lure Batgirl into a trap. His mother. His sister. If I were Commissioner Gordon, I’d be thinking that I brought this sick puppy into the world and maybe it’s time I took him out of it.
Every time I read one of these DC comic books in which the heroes and innocent people are brutalized by monstrous villains who always live to brutalize another day, I am forced to conclude that those who create these comics must hate these characters. They’ve turned the DC Universe into a universe of sequels to Saw. They pander to their worst impulses and those of their readers. They ignore the basic optimism of the super-hero genre.
The DC Universe needs an enema.
Always striving to be original, DC Comics killed off another Robin. Damian Wayne, son of Batman and Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, was killed by Heretic, an aged clone of himself. Apparently, Mom liked the clone best. You’ll forgive me if I remain disgusted by the DC habit of killing children to sell comic books.
Batman #18 [May 2013; $3.99] features “Resolve” by Scott Synder and James Tynion IV with art by pencilers Andy Kubert and Alex Maleev. Regular readers of this bloggy thing of mine know that I have never been enamored of Synder’s Batman. Indeed, it boggled my mind that so many readers actually found merit in the ponderous and tiresome “Court of Owls” storyline. I bring up that piece of schlock so that you may better understand the enormity of my next statement.
“Resolve” was one heck of a story. We got a grieving Batman going off the rails in a believable if self-destructive fashion. We got a supporting character who truly understood what Batman must stand for. It has an actual satisfying ending and not one of those cliche last-page appearances of the next loathsome villain doing something brutal and further draining the last vestiges of happiness from the city of Gotham. Despite this being a story about a father mourning his murdered child, it was a hopeful ending.
I’m amazed and delighted by Batman #18. More like this one please. It may not be too late to redeem the DC Universe.
I’ll be back on Monday with more stuff.
© 2014 Tony Isabella