Monday, April 2, 2012

Series Review (so far): Spaceman #1 - #5

This week marks the beginning of the Major League Baseball season. Which along with starting a rumor about the coming of summer here in the Northeast, reminds me of a great apocryphal story (great word that, apocryphal) about that handmaiden of sports, statistics. Story goes like this: during the off-season successful slugger goes to see management about a new contract. Said slugger says he batted .315 this past season (roughly three hits for every ten at bats, well above the league average). The general manager smiles and says, ‘yeah, slugger, but you only got a hit three times out of ten. What about the other seven times you went to the plate?' Baseball, of course, is the only profession you can fail at seven out of ten times and still be considered for the 'Hall of Fame.' Statistics can be counted on, but the devil is always in the details, the context. Blogger's stat tracker tells me that the post for my review of Spaceman #4 has been viewed one-hundred-and-seventy-six times since I posted it on March 3rd. I would tag that a moderate success and yes (you glass-house-living-throwers-of-rocks) I have set Blogger so that it does not track my own page views.
  My writing about Spaceman #4 is what got me the gig at Comics Bulletin, so, at least, somebody liked it, right? I guess all that matters is that I think I have something to contribute to the critical conversation about Spaceman. I'll admit that I can understand how this is a tricky series to navigate either because of its pidgin futurespeak, or its monkey-man-meets-noir-dystopia-sci-fi, or, even, the audience's own 'anxiety of influence' because this is Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso's follow-up series to 100 Bullets. As I often ask: So what?
  After I wrote my series review of The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, I emailed it to a few bloggers I’ve gotten to know (I believe) fairly well.  Their feedback was very helpful. The one theme that emerged from their feedback was, 'I'm not reading this series, so, why should I care about it?'  A 'so what?' in so many words. As much as I love Azzarello's gloss on language and celebrity culture, it's all academic wankery if the characters are underdeveloped and the plot is hackneyed and overcooked. Writing is a solitary pursuit, but editing and proofreading often turns into a team sport. To Martin, Owen, Justin and Seth here is (I hope) proof that I listened.  Thanks to Jason and Danny at Comics Bulletin for making this process easy and worthwhile. Instead of braining you, constant reader, with the beginning of the piece let me hit you upside with the end:

  ''Azzarello makes it easy to get stuck in Spaceman's semantic stew of words and the meaninglessness of meaning. Geeking out on words only gets one so far -- and if one wants more, they have schools for that sort of thing. What makes this story work is spaceman, is Orson. There is a ''knight-in-shining-armor'' quality to Orson that should not be given short shrift. The reader roots for Orson and wants to see him bring Tara home safe, but it's a question of can he rather than will he. A man of some means, a certain survivor, Orson is also out of place, out of his world and out of his depth. When Orson first brings Tara to his place, he says, ''I promd to keep you safe … but … we don know what that means jus now. Home might not be safe.'' Like many a traveler, many a spaceman, Orson wants to go home, but what is home to a space man? Spaceman has flown half of its arc, all that remains is a return. Azzarello and Risso will determine how safe of a journey it will be and if their spaceman can ever find his way home.''  

The rest, or as Robert Shaw says, '… for the head, the tail the whole damn thing,' go here:


  1. I read the Spaceman preview in the Strange Adventures, and didn't enjoy it at all, so I'm passing on this one!

  2. Martin,

    You're always good for a great comment. I think 'Spaceman' is going to read really well in a trade paperback format. If you're in a (dark) mood and up for a noir or some gritty sci-fi I really recommend this series. Never say never. Thanks, my friend!