Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
 

Author Topic: Matt 'the other' Wagner  (Read 14151 times)

Bolt-01

  • Global Moderator
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 11976
  • It ain't called ZARJAZ fer nuthin'!
    • View Profile
    • FutureQuake Press
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #60 on: 29 October, 2020, 08:56:06 AM »
Gah! I've not had chance to read the first arc yet - will dig my books out asap!

Colin YNWA

  • Member
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 20176
  • testing testing...
    • View Profile
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #61 on: 10 November, 2020, 09:32:50 PM »
I'm under the impression that the general perspection of Mage - Hero Defined (the second of the trilogy) wasn't well recieved. Certainly judging by the opening issues letters pages it didn't go down well. I find this surprising, though fair to say I have followed the series in the way other fans have. I picked up 'Discovered' relatively recently (maybe 10 or 12 years ago) and then having read it immediately snapped up Defined and devoured that as well. So i've not been a devoted fan waiting years for these.

At the same time given the biographical nature of the series the fact that there is considerable change between the first two series should be no surprise. The author has changed and so should the readers, I'd have thought? Where I adore Discovered I think this is as good. The art even better. Matt Wagner's style has refined, is technically miles ahead. One issue readers letters have is it lost a lot of the longer self reflective dialogue. I think that's a real bonus, not that it bad in anyway in the first story, rather here is shows a shift Kevin Matchstick and by relation Matt Wagner himself as he reflects on a very different time in his life. A time of confidence, friendship, arrogance and striving to achieve and understand, though blind to that need for understanding.

I love the relationship Matchstick has with the other characters. I love when 'Mirth' is kinda revealed at the end Kevin reverts back to the more wordy introspection, all be it briefly underlining their relationship. I love the playfulness of it all. Its fun in that mid life stage way. Its about self and self discover... its about discovering the other in your life. Its about a different character and different story that the first series and all the better for it.

Not that its better in its craft - though in some ways it is - just that it needs to be different and I'm more than happy to embrace that. I'm not going to say I prefer one or another. Rather I marvel and revel in the differences and Matt Wagners confidence, once again, if exposing and playing with them.

Another masterpiece. Can't wait for Denied coming soon.

Colin YNWA

  • Member
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 20176
  • testing testing...
    • View Profile
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #62 on: 15 November, 2020, 05:41:00 PM »
Just started 'Hero Denied' and this is the only one I picked up month to month. I know this one one brilliant (as they all are of course) but the opening issue 0 - with an older maturer Pendragon happily letting a young braggart of a hero make his splash - while quietly helping him and letting him get safely out AND the opening panel of issue 1 as he sings Elvis Costello's '(What's so funny 'bout) Peace Love and understanding?' quickly mark this as being the best yet!

Colin YNWA

  • Member
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 20176
  • testing testing...
    • View Profile
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #63 on: 20 November, 2020, 07:50:31 PM »
And that's that, Mage - Hero Denied is probably my favourite of the lot.

It speaks to be now, while the other two speak to me then and are fantastic as memories of me. It is also the culmination of years of learning craft by the consummate craftsman. The art is just sublime, bold and strong, yet gentle and able to convey tender moments when it needs to. There is absolutely no fuss. And it tells its story with such clarity and pointed emphasis in a way that reveals where there are still lessons to be learnt in the earlier stories.

Each story fits perfectly into the stage of life its reflecting and each is confident in having a similar arc. Across the three its not about using 45 issues to tell a ranging tale it to allow three reflections on the growth of a man. So the structure and form is deceptively simple. I can well imagine if someone read Discovered at the right stage of their life it would be so hard to accept anything after as its equal. Hence I think Defined gets a hard time my some, but I love it. I however have come to Mage late and as such Denied is really my Mage (though I'd read the other two before this came out) as this is the one I've read at the right time.

That said the fact that I've read the other two 'out of context' speaks to the fact they are fine tales in and of themselves.

So to Denied its a wonderful examination of being a parent, an adult with all the responsiblity and fears that brings with it. All the vulnerabilities that have always been there, but are exposed by age. All the dependancies that you deny (and this is dealt with so well in Defined) in eary life that you accept as you get older. But also how these maturing realisations take something else from you. Diminish you in some old ways, to allow you to grow in others. Its all brilliantly wrapped in here in an exciting compelling retelling of the first story, of fighting monster, trying to save loved one.

The end should crumble under the weight of the cliche its dressed in, but in the context of the themes of family and love it works so much better than it does in so many other tales.

Mage is an absolute success of a series. An incredible achievement to not tell a continuous tale but to tell the life of a man. I can't recommend these stories enough.

Colin YNWA

  • Member
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 20176
  • testing testing...
    • View Profile
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #64 on: 21 November, 2020, 10:08:36 PM »
Meant to also mention next up I've reading Grendel. Over the next four or five months I'll be working my way through the Hunter Rose Omnibus (Dark Horse) the Comico series - which I'm particularly looking forward to as from memory this is the pinacle of the 'series' and one of the best, must developmental comics I've read and then the 4th Dark Horse Omnibus which cover the later works.

Very much looking forward to this. Even if I seem to think the first omnibus gets a little hardwork at time as Hunter Rose has been a bit strip mined beyond its value. We'll see.

Colin YNWA

  • Member
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 20176
  • testing testing...
    • View Profile
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #65 on: 12 December, 2020, 09:32:14 PM »
I love Mage, but its no Grendel. I know others disagree, but for me Grendel is the very best of Matt Wagner and that therefore is the very best of comics.

I've started a re-read of Grendel that will be completed over the next few months. The read for me starts with 'Matt Wagner's Grendel Omnibus Volume 1: Hunter Rose'. Now for me Hunter Rose is the least interesting aspect of Grendel. Which isn't to say these stories aren't exceptional, they are. Just Hunter Rose is the least interesting thing in them. He's to clear cut, too neat, too defined. This is possibly exaggerated in this volume with almost 600 pages examining him and his life in explicit detail. There's a summary of this life in the 'Devil by the Deed' across 40 pages. The next 380ish pages we have a LOAD of short stories, with different artists, examining his world and life, already contain and defined in those opening 40. Finally a 170ish page single story 'about' 2 missing weeks in his life with art by Wagner himself. This is the absolute highlight of the volume.

Read like this, stories that have been told over almost 30 years, it doesn't work... or shouldn't. I don't think Hunter Rose warrants this detail. His story doesn't justify this explicit examination. The 170 pages at the end are probably 70% of what you need. Though fair to say if you'd read these tales as they came out (I didn't) I suspect this wouldn't feel the same at all. Read in a single volume though...

...and yet this is still some of the best comics out there - and I'll return to that - and that is due entirely to Matt Wagner. His utterly relentless invention. His desire to test the medium and the forms it can take to tell the story mean it works entirely. The fact that while the subject might be stretched, the shapes Matt Wagner makes it take inspire devotion and interest in that subject, consistently. This one is all about enjoying the craft. And this is all about a master of that craft.

The fact remains however this is far from the best Grendel. Its some of the best comics, but the 40 issues of the Comico series I'll be embarking on soon are the best comics. They have all this craft all this brilliance BUT none of the stretched story. It takes the concept of Grendel. The dark ideas Hunter Rose inspires and explodes them into an opus that more successfully contains that creative genius...

... but that's to come.

For now I'll just revel in the fact that Matt Wagner beating a tale and character into the ground through over examination is still some of the best comics out there!

Jim_Campbell

  • 2000AD Creator
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 14070
  • Letterer to the Stars! (and PJ)
    • View Profile
    • deviantArt Gallery
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #66 on: 13 December, 2020, 09:40:46 AM »
Its some of the best comics, but the 40 issues of the Comico series I'll be embarking on soon are the best comics.

Absolutely one of the best comics on the stands at the time. I'll confess I haven't revisited it in many years, so I'm curious to hear your thoughts.
Stupidly Busy Letterer: Samples. | Blog
Less-Awesome-Artist: Scribbles.

Colin YNWA

  • Member
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 20176
  • testing testing...
    • View Profile
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #67 on: 10 January, 2021, 10:16:18 AM »
Well I've just finished the first twelve issues of the Comico Grendel series, which is the Christine Spar arc. The journalist 'Granddaughter' of Hunter Rose whose son disappears and hence she becomes the next 'avatar' for Grendel. I have to say it remains my favourite piece of Matt Wagner's writing to date, yes I think I prefer it to Mage AND the Hunter Rose stories. We'll see how it holds up as I reread the rest of the Grendel Comico series as I know it stays seriously good.

The Christine Spar arc is in many way 'safer' and more traditonally written than some of the other Grendel arcs, but I think that's why I love it so much. It has a fairly familar revenge story structure, though it does rather pervert that. The magic comes from the way it uses that to craft damned interesting ideas, character development and tucks multiple themes under that classic structure. It gives so much on re-read.

I also enjoy the way it develops the concept of Grendel so subtly. the idea that its a legacy, a curse, the devil inhabiting humankind is beautifully played. The first seven issues is the well crafted revenge story. Christine going after the killer of her child. The truth though begins to reveal the fact that this is 'Grendel' the monster within, simply opening up Spar and preparing her for her ultimate goal to come up against Argent, 'Grendel's nemesis. As Christine falls further and further into the grips of anger, revenge and malice we see that her horrors will not have boundaries and that is finally played out in issue 9. An almost silent episode where Spar haunts and 'tortures' a cop that has been harassing her and her friends. Its a wonderful examination of what she has become without even a word uttered.

The end of the story is entirely wonderful as well, as the conflicit between her and Argent ramps into a glorious and brutal final climatic conflict.

I've focused very much on the brilliance of the writing as the art is quite something else. Its brash and so 80s - we've never seen clothes SOOOOO BBBIIIIIGGGG. Its absolutely hyper-realised and has dated terribly. Its so stylised as to be ugly at times... and yet... Unlike I would expect from how little I like its cosmetic style I don't find it distracts me from the tale being told. In fact as demonstrated again in the glorious issue 9 its twisted ugly styling perfectly enhance the story at times. Here (in issue 9) crafted the ugly, distorted world that the hunted cop inhabits and flees through. At the same time emphasizing the twisted distorted soul Christine Spar has become and how she views the world. In this issue its perfect... even though I kinda hate it!

So yeah this story arc isn't as obivously innovative as I recall some of the later tales being. Its not as innovative as some of the Hunter Rose stuff. Yet interestingly in not seeming to be so and playing its innovations closer to its chest its actually as innovative as anything Matt Wagner has done.

I'm super excited to see if anything can top this arc. I'm not sure it does, but then that's no bad thing as the benchmark is so SO high here. This story will be in my top ten comic stories ever on any day.

Just brilliant.

sintec

  • Member
  • Prog Stacking Droid
  • ***
  • Posts: 927
    • View Profile
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #68 on: 10 January, 2021, 12:44:34 PM »
Having read your reviews of Grendel I now really want to get my hands on copies of these they sound awesome. Looks like the omnibuses are quite pricey these days though :( Will keep my eyes on ebay and see if I can snap up some copies 2nd hand.

Got some of Mage in the recent Image Humble Bundle so that's joined the digital to-read backlog.

Colin YNWA

  • Member
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 20176
  • testing testing...
    • View Profile
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #69 on: 10 January, 2021, 02:33:10 PM »
I normally feel worried when folks say they might pick up stuff based on my blathering BUT with Grendel a lot less so. Its entirely possible someone else won't like it but it won't be for lack of quality. For me this comic is a fine example of the dangers of lionising Watchmen quite so much. Grendel from Comico is a prime (no pun intended) example of a comic that is better*(person opinion - shoot me), more innovative and a better tribute to the comics medium. There are others. But Watchmen became The Beatles. More than just loved, but the very definition of what a comic should be for so many that its brilliance became a self forfilling profercy and other just as brilliant (or better) comics kinda got over looked.

Depending on how you like your comics the Omnibus are available at a decent price digitally and if you eBay you can get a complete set of the Comico run for a reasonable prices - though I imagine with patience you can get them at a great price.

* As ever it is alas necessary to say while I might think there are comics that are better than Watchmen does not mean I don't think Watchmen is brilliant!

sintec

  • Member
  • Prog Stacking Droid
  • ***
  • Posts: 927
    • View Profile
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #70 on: 10 January, 2021, 04:31:28 PM »
Might grab something in digital to test the waters actually - that's an excellent idea. If it's as good as it sounds then I can always hunt down some physical copies later.

Bolt-01

  • Global Moderator
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 11976
  • It ain't called ZARJAZ fer nuthin'!
    • View Profile
    • FutureQuake Press
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #71 on: 10 January, 2021, 06:21:49 PM »
Grendel really is some of the finest comics out there.

I really can't praise it enough, or as well as Colin.

I was lucky enough to pick up the Comico series as it came out and got all the floppies to the end of War Child and the two Batman crossovers.

Colin YNWA

  • Member
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 20176
  • testing testing...
    • View Profile
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #72 on: 24 January, 2021, 04:20:12 PM »
I was lucky enough to pick up the Comico series as it came out and got all the floppies to the end of War Child and the two Batman crossovers.

Man I do wish I'd done this at the time. I picked up one issue - I think at UKCAC one year - at the start of my trying to experiment phase, issue 28 'Meeting Adjourned' - I found it baffling and a little off kilter. There was so much other stuff out there at the time I didn't follow through with it. Shame as I do wonder how this might have affected my comics fandom is I had. As it was Dave Sim and Cerebus got that role (I stopped as it became full on misogynist - at least overtly.

ANYWAY

I've just finished issues 13-23 of the Comico Grendel ongoing, a series of mini stories before the final two big arcs. These comics are why I know Grendel falls into an elite bunch of comics that are defo my favourite run EVERRRRR until I read another one from this list which promptly takes over. The list being the aforementioned Cerebus (up to issue 180ish), Nocenti's Daredevil, GMozz's Animal Man, Zot!, pretty much all 70s Kirby and very possibly Concrete will be added to this when it re-read again soon - I'm such a late 80s kid!*

Anyway why this run of stories does that is I don't like it that much... okay yeah I said that for dramatic effect. I love it, its brilliant - I just don't love these, even the four issues drawn by Wagner himself, as much as the other, longer arcs. The stories are great, even when we return to Hunter Rose, which feels appropriate and necessary and does add something fresh to the already bloated examination. Even if I don't enjoy them as much, I adore the restless, endless invention Matt Wagner uses to craft them. The way the art slips and slides perfectly with each story. The way three issues can cover a few weeks, four issues a few days and then each issue push the story on hundreds of years.

I love the way Wagner plays with the form, the pages, the style to punch the stories out, to craft them in utterly different hues and tones. Yet make them feel entirely connected and singular in vision. I guess its a bit like 2000ad in that respect. Stories so different, art styles so unique, yet there's a energy, a vibe, a freedom that runs through and unifies them.

Yeah these might be my least favourite of these series of comics but they are still some of my favourite comics of all time and thus we know, with 17 issues to go (29 if you count the Dark Horse War Child series as a continuation) that the Comico Grendel series is defo, without doubt by favourite comic series evvveerrrr... well until I read one of those other ones**

* I exclude any 2000ad from this lot as that does kinda completely distort and define the way I love all fiction in any form or medium!

** Oh and I reserve the right to change that list of other favourites series evvverrrr at the drop of a hat.

Link Prime

  • Member
  • Bionic Fingers
  • *****
  • Posts: 5788
    • View Profile
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #73 on: 28 January, 2021, 05:21:39 PM »
Potentially good news; according to an update on my Comic Hub account, issue 5 of Devils Odyssey is due to land April 14th.

Bolt-01

  • Global Moderator
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 11976
  • It ain't called ZARJAZ fer nuthin'!
    • View Profile
    • FutureQuake Press
Re: Matt 'the other' Wagner
« Reply #74 on: 28 January, 2021, 05:54:03 PM »
Woo, and indeed Hoo!