I didn’t think it possible that the second series could top the first; glad to see I was wrong. A new uniform, the return of a few old favourites (Stick and Wilson Fisk) and a pretty bloody intro to some new ones (The Punisher and Elektra). The fighting sequences were some of the best I’ve seen on television, the plot lines were carefully crafted for intracacy without being too overwhelming, and the acting was top-notch.
I gave up reading comics about six years ago. I didn’t grow out of them (who grows out of reading comic books?); I just ran out of space to store them all. I’ve got an attic full of old comics (lots of them still in their cellophane) and the bathroom ceiling was starting to creak under the weight. So what could I do?
Well, obviously, get the attic reinforced. But that was just a temporary measure. I couldn’t keep buying these things forever. So around about the same time I started writing seriously, I decided to give up on comics, depriving myself of the oldest form of story-telling in existence.
So, moving forward a few years, and I have the same problem. Lots of books and not enough room to store them all. This time though, there was a solution: the Kindle. Now I could read and keep as many books as I wanted, without taking up an inch of shelf space1. I later moved on to an iPad (a better reading experience for me).
A few weeks ago, I found a couple of apps that would let me buy comics, download them and then read them on any iGadget connected to my account.
‘Sounds fair enough,’ I thought. ‘I’ll try one or two and see how I get on.’
Three weeks and two hundred quid later, I’m having the time of my life! Comics have changed a lot in six years. For a start, they’re not comics anymore apparently; they’re graphic novels: a master stroke in marketing which means that old geeks can tell folk they’re still neck deep in serious literature.
‘What’re you reading at the moment?’
‘The Killing Joke.’
‘Ah, sticking with the classics I see.’
Spider-man is now a multi-millionaire (that won’t last; he’s Marvel’s fall guy), Iron Man looks a lot like Robert Downey Jr (I wonder why), Nick Fury, who used to be white, is now is the spitting image of Samuel L. Jackson (again, I wonder why).
Best of all: the Silver Surfer has discovered slapstick comedy and has a travelling companion (a bit like Doctor Who, but a lot less creepy).
The sentinel of the spaceways now has to contend with soaring the galaxy with someone who has to eat, sleep, and make planetfall for toilet breaks. The surfboard needs a washroom, my friend…
1Actually, I still buy real books: The Odyssey (read it!); American Gods (read it!) and a couple of Booker Prize winners (never finished ’em). I keep them on a shelf near the door so folk can see how clever I am when they walk in.
Netflix and Marvel’s Jessica Jones shows how these things should be done. Yes, it’s another superhero series, but this one is every bit as good as Daredevil, and what makes it good is what’s been left out:
No one seems to have any super powers; well, nothing earth-shattering anyway. You won’t find anyone here who can knock down a building by breathing on it. Jessica gets by on modicum of super-strength, and seems to be powered by vodka and very little else. She’s a private detective by day, and like all good gumshoes, she drinks to forget.
There are no city-levelling fight scenes.
No hi-tech armour, no mystical hammers and no indestructible shields.
No Scarlett Johanssen, but I’ll get over it.
What it does have is an easy slow-burning plot and a rather seedy feel that comes across as a sort of film noir shot in a slum. The script is deadpan, not overdone, with a hint of dark humour. They’re not trying to send a message or save the world; none of the heroes and villains here give a hoot about anything or anyone. It’s surprisingly heavy on the sex scenes, and the director hasn’t pulled any punches in any of the fight sequences – and there aren’t that many of those.
I didn’t make it through the first episode of Supergirl; I’ve watched four episodes of Jessica Jones, back to back, and when I’m done here I’m going back for more. Great stuff.