Saturday, March 26, 2005


Put Transmet and Ultimate Spider-Man in a blender with a little bit of acid... and you get something like this.

The Manhattan Guardian is a tabloid of the sort that only really exists in Europe but would probably do all right in New York -- over-the-top reportage that has a salacious relationship with the truth -- but with a twist in that the reporters are intentionally part of the news. On the suggestion of his father-in-law, out-of-work Jake Jordan becomes the "living masthead" for the paper after a job interview involving golems, assault rifles, and a Max Headroom-esque boss and then ends up battling subway pirates (the "ay, matey", pegleg kind) as one of his first assignments.

No, Morrison's not staying within the lines in this coloring book. Pretty much the only thing that's within a parsec of pedestrian here is Jake's backstory, which is the Good Cop Rattled By Bad Choice, But Supported By Loving (If a Little Impatient) Family topoi, and the fact that that family gets in trouble. Everything else here is gleefully outrageous, although thankfully stopping short of giddiness. The 'updating' of the rest of the Guardian iconography fits within the theme of the story -- the costume, the Newsboy Legion reinvented as the Newsboy Army, etc. -- and the departure from the Guardian being a Cadmus Project creation takes away the slightly sinister overtone, which wouldn't have worked here.

The Shining Knight mini started out with a tangible relation to the Seven Soldiers Zero issue in that it also saw our protagonist fighting the Sheeda invaders, but none of that makes any appearance here. So feel free to pick this up if you haven't touched the others yet.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be politically correct and not notice that pretty much the only white folks shown are the first subway pirates' dead victims, the Aryan Nation "attackers" at the Manhattan Guardian, and, at the end, the only pirates who get defeated. There are no hispanics or asians anywhere, which is sort of impossible considering the actual NYC demographic, and the whole city feels a bit... AU in a way that has nothing to do with the actual story, which is jarring considering the lengths Morrison went to to name-drop real places. Like this was shot in Vancouver by a Scottish director only pretending to be on location in New York.

Speaking of... since you knew this was coming: NYC nitpicks. Really too many to count and all of the frustrating variety because Morrison so obviously tried to use real places. In general, if you don't know what you're talking about, either solve the ignorance problem (a quick peek at the NYC Subway Map would have worked wonders here) or stop using actual locations to avoid looking lazy as well as careless -- a station is described/shown as being on one line and the train pulling in is from another line, for instance, and if you're going to use actual street corners, know what's there. (I'd have gone with shifting the entire story to Brooklyn; that way nobody looks ridiculous getting a car ride to a supermarket for a single shopping bag's worth of groceries. And I would buy pirates at the Atlantic Avenue station.)


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