Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Listed in "500 Essential Graphic Novels" as: Science Fiction (Best of the Rest)
Contains: WE3 #1-3
Year: 2004-05
Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Frank Quitely (Artist)
        Jamie Grant (Colorist & Digital Inker)

Here we go, guys...  The first entry.

First, let me clarify some things and a bit more of the mechanics of how I'm going to move through this "500 Essential Graphic Novels" book.  It's quite simple: Basically, in no particular order. 

The only small bit of order that I am going to follow requires only a bit of explanation.  The book is broken up into ten chapters, each featuring a genre of story.  Each of those chapters has a "Top Ten" section, higlighting the best 10 book in that genre, and a "Best of the Rest" section, listing the remaining featured graphic novels of that section in alphabetical order.

What I'm going to do (at least for starters) is read four (4) "Best of the Rest" books, just hopping around the book in random order, and then a "Top Ten" pick, also in random order.

Make sense?  Now, then...  WE3.

With the first official review of the blog, I wanted to start off with as much as I could with a "something for everyone" kind of book.  Also, Grant Morrison is my favorite author and Frank Quitely is a stellar artist, as well.

We open on what is apparently some sort of upscale mansion/compound. Some big, bad lug is running on a treadmill. There are shady looking characters sitting around everywhere. Drugs, booze and guns are abound.  But if we look closely in the holes in the wall or the heating grates, we see tiny glowing red eyes.

This book focuses on what is referred to early on in the work as "The War of Tomorrow". Treadmill lug and his bad guy friends are apparently those who deserve warring upon because something... some robot-like, crazy, high-tech, mech things are encased in the shadows.  In the next sequence, they bring the hurt to all these guys. Hard.

After carrying out their mission, these extremely efficient, startlingly lethal things (whatever they are, we still can't see them yet) with their crazy robot parts and metal armadillo-like tails are called back to a covert tractor trailer.  The trailer belongs to the U.S. military and these killing machines turn out to be the cutest little dog, cat, and bunny rabbit you've ever seen.

These little guys have been engineered and drastically technologically enhanced for the aforementioned "War of Tomorrow".  A war with no human soldiers, but with what some view to be more expendable animals as the fighting force.

WE3, our three little animal buddies, have done a bang-up job of razing the bad guy compound, but they were just prototypes and will be decommissioned.  The remainder of the book is the story of these three tiny animals' instinct to survive, their valiant effort to fight for that instinct, and the tale of what happens when they do.

At this point you might be thinking, "I thought you said you wanted a book for everyone? This is crazy, sci-fi, futuristic, war crap! Household pets as U.S. soldiers? Come the fudge on!"

This book is anything but that.

I challenge you to make it through even the first chapter without feeling an intense bond with these three little critters.  Morrison has woven genius here, keeping with something that his long-time fans will enjoy (with all the science-y, smart, repeat read-worthy stuff) and also giving us three of the most easy-to-love characters I may have ever seen.

Artist Frank Quitely even bonds the reader to the story right away with the original covers to this fantastic series by making us feel right at home.  You've all seen a flyer for a lost dog haven't you?

That above image is genius.  Giving us something we've all seen to make us feel more at home in this fantastic work.

And while we're on the subject of Quitely's art: this book has art and images like I've never seen.  Look below.  Have you ever seen someone getting shot to shreds look so beautiful?

Or you longtime readers of comics (or readers of sequential art at all): Have you ever seen a panel sequence like the one across the top of this two-page spread?

This was a work where writer and artist worked perfectly together.  It's obvious that Morrison and his script were in the director's chair, but Quitely and Grant execute to perfection in making this thing an experience, not just a "comic book" or a work of sequential art. Morrison tells a story using somewhat less-than-usual dialogue. The first thirteen pages of the story contained no words at all, but evoked enough emotion, aesthetics, and awe to where the reader didn't need anything else.

I chose this one for my first entry because I'd read it before, Morrison is my favorite author, and I love the work. I wanted to give you something that shows that (while I love some superhero stories) comics are more than just musclebound guys in tights.  Comics can be absolute magic.

If this stellar work doesn't show that to you, I don't know what will.

Mr. Kannenberg's rating: 4 out of 5
My rating: 5 out of 5
1 down, 499 to go

Tuesday, August 30, 2011



For over 20 years, I've been reading comic books.

From "X-Tinction Agenda" to the recent "Flashpoint", I've along for the ride in some form, at some capacity, since a good friend showed me his collection in the summer of 1990 and I went to the supermarket (when you could still buy comic books almost ANYWHERE) and picked up Uncanny X-Men #261.

My brother is as crazy about movies as I am about comic books.  Perchance you've happened upon his blog at . I have multiple times.

In looking at what he's done over there and talking with him about it, I often came back to the same thought.  "Man, bro. It's awesome that you're making your way through the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die' book. IF ONLY THERE WERE SOMETHING SIMILAR FOR COMIC BOOKS OR GRAPHIC NOVELS! GAAAAAH!"

Okay...  So maybe I didn't scream, "GAAAAAH!", but what I did do within the last couple of weeks, when researching to start doing a blog on comics such as his masterful blog on film, was discover that there IS a book similar to the one which he is working out of.  It's called "500 Essential Graphic Novels: The Ultimate Guide". It should arrive here at the house by mail tomorrow and I'll start giving you guys my two cents on all of the books contained inside and deemed "essential" by Mr. Gene Kannenberg, Jr.

Assuming I get through all of those, I'm still not going to stop.  I want to continually review comics and graphic novels on here as long as it's fun and as long as I keep learning stuff about the medium, which could potentially, with the plethora of sequential art out there, go on for years and years, as long as I keep the steam.

So, anyway...  Those little ramblings above should give you my motivations and reasons for beginning such an undertaking.  I want to thank my brother Andrew for, after he found out that I had an idea and all the resources necessary to begin this thing, would not let up on showing interest and giving motivation for me to do this.  I want to thank the creators out there, from legends and idols like Morrison, Ellis, Moore, and Gaiman to the guy drawing crude stick figures on a piece of graph paper and everyone in between for making the art that still makes my heart beat like the thirteen year old picking up Uncanny #261 all those years ago.

I've chosen the name "Best Comics Quest!" because while a myriad of you will hopefully visit often, comment, call me an idiot, praise, or belittle me, this will also be my personal quest to becoming more well versed in the medium.  I've read for all those years but, admittedly, my strengths lie in the knowledge of superhero comics and certain creators.  I want to change all that and become knowledgeable about the WHOLE MEDIUM of sequential art, graphic novels, trade paperbacks, comic books... whatever you wanna call 'em.

I hope you'll join me.

I'll be back soon, folks, and we'll get underway.