Jun 13, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 109: Klarion #1, December 2014


I should be clear about my stance on the DC New 52 titles: once Dial H and Animal Man were cancelled, I stopped reading the DCU titles. I'm confounded by the aesthetic direction DC has taken over the last few years, and, much as I love the characters dearly, I think DC has entered a particularly creatively, well, dull period. There's occasional glimpses of the DC we knew. Multiversity offered something pretty great. Gene Yang's Superman might be great, but one wonders how much all of these writers at DC are being corralled by editors and chief creative officers, forced into boxes that don't necessarily fit.

Ann Nocenti's got some chops. She's got years in the business under her belt. I've read bits and pieces of her run on Daredevil, and all of her short-lived Kid Eternity series from Vertigo. So when I was at the comic shop yesterday and saw five (consecutive!) issues of Klarion in the dollar bin, I figured I'd take a chance and dip my toes back into the DCU.

I'm glad I did.

I've like Klarion since I was first introduced to him in Seven Soldiers. He's a weird kid with a weird background, which, in my experience of the DCU, usually makes for a really cool story. Think of the aforementioned Dial H and Animal Man. Atypical corners and characters. Klarion is just such a corner too. I've only read the first issue so far, but Trevor McCarthy's art is putting me in mind of the J.H. Williams work on things like Chase and the Tangent: Green Lantern titles. It's dark and labyrinthine and makes you feel that, along with the Witch-Boy, you're being pulled down into a place that's not healthy to be.

Which is why Nocenti's opening of the comic is so perfect: "The Multiverse is awesome. An Infinity of choice...I want to kick up some dust and explore..." The most noble of reasons for an adventure. Klarion's not following a higher calling, or seeking revenge, or any of the usual suspects when it comes to character motivation in superhero comics. He just wants to see what's out there. That said, in service of that quest, I don't think he's particularly concerned with who gets hurt along the way. Including the reader. And it is there that I'd form a bit of a caution: writing a character who is not altruistically motivated is all well and good. But I think a reader has to be able to connect with a focal character on some level, and the most unsuccessful of antiheroes are the ones who don't manage to achieve this. It's okay to hate a character, as long as you still have some investment in what happens to a character.

I've only read this issue, but as I say I have the first five, and according to DC's site, issue #6 is the last one.

I mean, of course it is. The comics the most interesting thing DC have put out in years (in, of course, my own opinion. Others are welcome to love DC as much as they can), so of course it isn't give a proper chance. Though maybe I'm being pessimistic. Maybe it was only ever planned as a 6-issue series.

But probably not. More Adventurers tomorrow, I think. And then maybe more Klarion. See you then.

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