There is no safe place to hide from the desire parents have for their children to follow in their footsteps. Nor the push to be more successful at it than they were. This goes for the superhero world as well. Today this column takes a look at two comics on opposite ends of the hero spectrum, but both books deal with a son coming to terms with his father’s villainous past: Abyss: Family Issues #2 and the Wanted graphic novel.
This issue of Abyss is the second in a four issue mini series. There is one series before this one, which I may have bought and is buried somewhere in the collection. But for people like me who haven’t read the previous issues (or cant remember if they even bought them), you’re in luck. The front of the comic has a “previously on …” page. Awesome. I’m caught up right away and I don’t feel too lost while reading the issue. Not that I know everything that’s going on, but there is enough context within the issue to guide me.
From the start it is obvious that the creators of this comic (Kevin Rubio and Alfonso Ruiz) love comics. Pollack is this universe’s version of the Question and Rorschach. A universe that is full of heroes, and there are loads of jokes and mentions that explore the world of superheroes. There is a “sci-fiography channel” on this Earth. What a genius idea! If the Marvel 616 or DC Earth 1 existed, the television show line ups would not be equal to our world. While some comics are so worried about dropping pop culture references they ignore the fact that these worlds would have their own references.
The world of Abyss is so familiar and yet their own. While Abyss is on the safe side of the glass having a conversation with a prisoner, Professor X and Magneto are playing chess next to them! There are so many hidden Easter eggs hidden in this comic its like reading a more serious version of Marvel’s What The?! All of this is great, but what does this book create? Abyss’s relationship with his father reads exactly how brightly colored self centered gods would act. The father of Abyss tells his son that his conception was the result of a revenge hookup. Finally, someone realizes that just because these characters are all powerful does not mean that they make intelligent relationship decisions. While the idea of a hero and a villain hooking up is not a new one (its even been explored on GI Joe and C.O.P.S.) the consequences of such relationships were not the domain of Saturday morning cartoons. Abyss is just a child and we’re still being introduced to his larger world, but as the spawn of both sides in the eternal battle he will always be torn between them.
Lastly, this comic makes the most brilliant point on comic book villainy. To quote from the book, “You see Eric. That’s the great thing about being evil. Good is ever vigilant because good never knows when evil will strike. Evil, on the other hand, always knows when its going to strike, so evil can afford to take a couple of days off.” Holy shit that’s a great line! There’s a reason the book is called Amazing Spider-Man and not Amazing Shocker or Spectacular Dr. Octopus. Because while the good guys have to fight every bad guy every time, the villain can pick and choose their battles.
This is an amazing comic that is going to take fans’ minds to places they never conceived. An automatic addition to the pull list of anyone who loves intelligent comics.
On the other side of the coin, is Wanted. To get it out of the way early, yes the Wanted movie should have been called something else as it had nothing to do with this book. While Abyss lives in a world where super heroes are real, and a major point of that world; Wesley lives in what is essentially the real world. Of course, that isn’t the truth and the book becomes a great exploration on the idea of heroes. When Wesley is taken out of the fog that is the real world and shown what lies behind the curtain he must accept or die.
While Abyss’s discovery of powers is dramatic and engrossing, it was a world he already knew existed. Wesley needs to not only come to terms with his family history but also his own powers and the fact that his entire world is a lie. Its a lot to accept all at once. Luckily, he has his own strengths and it just happens to be the natural talent to be the most dangerous man on the planet. While his world is thrown out of order he discovers he can control his aim. While the book is about the metamorphosis of Wesley into the Killer, there is still the same Wesley underneath. While he accepts his lineage, the man under the mask is still a kid trying to impress his father. Maybe the world of super villains is a more natural fit for him, but its still his need to find something he can control. Whether its Wesley controlling his life with eating the same lunch every day or a teenager controlling her parents divorce with her own anorexia or the Killer controlling his life by deciding who lives or dies, its always the fight for control in a chaotic world.
Finally, while Abyss is a fun romp through comics, Wanted takes a big ole dump on it. In a world of only villains, and a villain as the hero, the true villains must be that much more demented. If we’re to root for Wesley while he’s killing raping and other wise hurting the innocent, than the villain has to be the most disgusting individual the reader has ever encountered. Enter Mr Rictus. While even the villains in Abyss have lovable qualities, there is nothing to embrace from the true bad guys in Wanted. Well, unless you want to be raped to death. And then some, because this baddie probably wouldn’t let your own mortality stop him.
These two books are some of the best reads you’ll have. Pick up the Wanted graphic novel and ignore the movie. Add Abyss to your pull list and rub it in other fans faces that you were there before it becomes a hit.