Mel’s Muses: Library Comic Picks 21st Dec 2010

We geeks here in little sunny Singapore are truly blessed with one hell of a terrific public library. Our National Library Board stocks an incredible selection of graphic novels such as DC and Marvel hardcovers and trade paperbacks as well as English Manga. That’s not all, the folks at the Library has also graciously opened their panel rooms to comic-related events like the recent one with Marvel talents Matt Fraction and Leinil Francis Yu. Look out for the next one today, 21st December, with Marvel artist Harvey Tolibao.

There’s more, from now till the end of January 2011, the Library is doubling your loan quota to up to 12 or 32 items. Now that’s a lot of comic books to lug back home. Check out the latest haul sitting on my coffee table right now. *Whew*

These are titles that were added to the shelves recently and besides the ones featuring main attractions like Superman or Spider-man, there are some hidden gems here with less famous heroes worth checking out.

Metal Men. Written and drawn by Duncan Rouleau who happens to be one of the brains behind the cartoon series BEN 10, this is one zany reboot of an old DC Comics’ team from the 1960s. Based on ideas by Grant Morrison (yup, you know it’s going to be a wild ride with him onboard), it’s a retelling of the origin of the Metal Men and like all reboots today, their origin story is a little more complex now. We got alternate timelines, time travels and familiar DC characters showing up, lots of DC robots to be precise. The non-linear storytelling may be a little confusing at first but don’t let that stop you from picking this title up. You definitely got a cool story here and it’s certainly a fun ride especially with Rouleau’s slightly cartoonish art style.

Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without A Face. This is the sequel to the first Spider- Man Noir mini-series, set in an alternate universe where Peter Parker becomes Spidey during the 1930s in New York. The first book was pretty good although I thought it could have been better and more in line with the setting if it was illustrated in black-and-white instead.

Anyway, writer David Hine is back again and he has lined up a not-so-familiar Dr. Otto Octavious as the main villain this time. If you have not read the first book, remember now, this is not a wise-cracking Peter Parker, you got yourself a machine-gun blazing, pistol-whipping Depression-era web-slinger here. He’s more like pulp hero The Shadow and Batman rolled into one, which makes this hardcover a very refreshing and entertaining read.

World’s Finest. Not to be confused with the many other World’s Finest titles sitting on the library shelves. This one is simply entitled World’s Finest and that’s not the only thing that’s different. You won’t see lead x=characters Superman or Batman in here, well, at least not the ones you were expecting. The role of
Superman is picked up by Mon-El while Dick Grayson is now the Caped Crusader.

It’s a collection of team-ups between the Superman and Batman families, written by Sterling Gates (Supergirl) and art by Julian Lopez, Ramon Bachs, Jamal Igle and Phil Noto. The stories all lead to one explosive showdown with villains Toyman and Mr. Freeze. The different characters are all handled nicely with
Bruce’s bratty son Robin stealing the show with his snide comments and all-round badassness. It’s a big classic team-up tale that’s also a nice solid read, lots of colorful characters and interesting twists.

But for me, the best part of the trade is the Toyman’s origin ‘The Terrible Toyman’ that’s tucked away after the main story. Written by the one and only Geoff Johns, he explains why there are so many different Toymen running around in the DC Universe, yah, trust me there were a bunch of them. It’s a pretty warped tale as we take a peek into the dark and twisted mind of one of Superman’s oldest enemies. Good stuff.

Penance: Relentless. When Marvel’s big summer event Civil War storyline first hit the shelves, this must have slipped under the radar. Well, it came out shortly after that but I think it’s one of those decent titles that got lost in the whole Civil War aftermath.

Writer Paul Jenkins (Civil War: Front Line) and one of my favorite artists Paul Gulacy (Legends of the Dark Knight) put together this tale of former hero Robbie Baldwin aka Speedball. Robbie was partly responsible for the disaster that sparked off Civil War and since then, has been tortured by visions of the incident.
Now calling himself Penance, Robbie is part of bad guy Norman Osborn’s team of government-sanctioned villains, the Thunderbolts.

I think the best way to call this story is that it’s ‘absorbing’, Jenkins’ storytelling reels the reader in as we explore what makes Penance tick. Is he really insane or just putting on an act? When he makes his escape from the Thunderbolts, you want to know what his plan is. Will he finally get redemption? Will Osborn get
him back dead or alive? Remember now, he’s not a Marvel flagship character so anything can happen to him!


Melvin Yong has worked way too long in the media and advertising industry. He now spends his time with his family, writing short horror stories and playing lots of board games.

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