Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Joe Kubert Presents!

Joe Kubert was one of those remarkable artists who did not diminish as he grew older. His skills only seem to grow and develop, his mastery of his craft becoming ever more refined. That's a treasure. He seemed consequently somewhat immortal, impervious to the rigors of time. It was not the case, as like all mortals he at last succumbed to that which we all must.  But we still have his artwork, and as it turns out, some new stuff to boot. Joe Kubert Presents was already in development when Joe passed away, and the first issue features a heartfelt editorial by Mr.Kubert about his craft, his career, his colleagues, and the project.

The project is six issues of original material by Kubert in addition to new work by Brian Buniak on new Angel and Ape stories and most significantly to me new work by the great Sam Glanzman as he tells yet more stories of the U.S.S. Stevens, a mighty warship of W.W.II. As much as I like Kubert, my disdain for following new series (even limited ones) kept me off this for a few weeks, but finally the allure of new Glanzman artwork drew me in. I fear while the Kubert stuff will likely be collected later, the back ups might not be. So it's perhaps necessary to follow this stuff now.

It's beautiful. Kubert's lead story starring Hawkman and Hawkgirl is something of a secret origin story set before the duo come to Earth. I don't know enough about current continuity to know how this information fits in, but I don't care. The story was elegantly told and held me throughout. Kubert also does a short tale featuring a tough street urchin named "Spit". This story will apparently unfold as the series continues.

The story of Angel and Ape is fun and Buniak is a capable artist. I love his work on Thunder Bunny from many years ago. Alas there's nothing special here, but just good solid storytelling, and perhaps that is special.

Glanzman though shines. His stories of sailors from the U.S.S. Stevens are compelling human dramas, told with a matter-of-fact quality which keeps them from becoming maudlin. So many modern war stories descend into mopey goo or brittle irony, that's nice to read one which treats its subjects with fundamental and straightforward respect. Glanzman's U.S.S. Stevens stories need to be collected, they are a vast  treasure of American comics.

There are more Joe Kubert Presents comics upcoming. Here along with the artwork for the first issue unblemished by logos is the cover art for the first five issues. Work of this power makes me miss Joe Kubert even more.

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