Sunday, May 31, 2015

31 Days of Comics: Day 30 – A Truly Smart Comic

ROB'S NOTE: May has become the go-to month of the Comic’s Industry (even though National Superhero Day is late April, but whatever… Congress… pshaw).  It is when Marvel drops their big movie of the year.  May also sees the annual Free Comic Book Day celebration take place on the first Saturday of the Month, so I hope you all got to check that out.  May also has 31 days of the month so what better way to celebrate the wonderful world of sequential art with the 31 Days of Comics?

Seth Hahne, who runs the blog GoodOkBad, has put together the 31 Days of Comics challenge.  A daily challenge in which you are given a category and you have to fill it with a comic that you think fits it the best.  You’re all on the internet, I shouldn’t have to explain it to you.  For the rest of the month I will be taking this challenge.  It is my hope it encourages others to make and share their own lists either in the comments here or on their own websites.  The sharing not only might turn comic fans on to works they have yet to sample but maybe catch the eye of a few non-comic fans and highlight the diversity of the form. 

Our prompt for Day 30 “A truly smart comic.”

Super Spy

By Matt Kindt

The word genius is thrown around way too much in this day and age.  It’s like “epic” in that regard.  Add bacon to a meal? “You’re a genius.”  Find a way to schedule a four day weekend during your college years? “Genius!”  Watch a stand-up comic who doesn’t suck? “That guy is a comedic genius!”  It’s tired and over-played.  And by using the word genius to describe things that really only are “pretty clever” we devalue the word.

So believe me when I say that Matt Kindt is a goddamn genius.

I legitimately could have put any one of Kindt’s solo works on this list.  His original graphic novel Red Handed has one of the most brilliant plot twists and themes I’ve ever seen.  His monthly series Mind Mgmt from Dark Horse is not only has one of the most tightly plotted stories in years it consistently does things with the comic book form that I have never seen before.  In fact I probably didn’t pick Mind Mgmt because I’m afraid I’d miss an example of his brilliance and not only undersell its genius but also make myself look like an idiot.

But by no means is Super Spy any less brilliant than any of those mentioned above. 

Kindt uses two techniques that are often tried by other creators in various media: that of non-linear storytelling and various stories that seem unrelated coming together to form a full narrative.  What makes Kindt’s work distinct is they aren’t tricks intended to make his work seem more sophisticated, but rather they elevate the work and even come about organically. 

When I picked up Super Spy I didn’t know much about it other than I really like Kindt’s work on Mind Mgmt.  I appreciated his take on a “super-powered” espionage group in that book and wanted to see how he handled more “real-world” spy craft (in my mind all this meant was super powers).  To my surprise Kindt really did focus on the reality of the spy game.  There was no James Bondian excess in Super Spy.  As I started the book I thought I was reading a very well researched and well done graphic novel collecting short stories about unconnected spies during World War II.

I said earlier that his brilliance was in the organic aspect of how he uses his technique.  As the stories become connected together you realize that it is not because of authorial technique but by the very nature of espionage that the main characters don’t interact.  A spy often works disconnected from others.  It increases the paranoia and intrigue of the book to realize that many of these characters are not only on their own, but the success of their mission can be put in jeopardy if any single one of them makes a mistake.

Kindt’s artwork and coloring choices (linked to specific time periods and/or locations) are amazing.  The story and characters are great.  I’d explain more about Kindt’s brilliance but to do so would be to step all over the plot and this is something that needs to be read to appreciate.

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