Thursday, July 20, 2006

SOLO #5 DC Comics, 2006

I am having issues.
Normally I post scans to Dave’s Long Box using software that I like to call The Thing That Puts My Pictures On The Internet. On occasion, The Thing That Puts My Pictures On The Internet does not put my pictures on the Internet, and that can be frustrating. I mean, the main – no, the only – job that The Thing That Puts My Pictures On The Internet has is putting things on the Internet, so if it’s not doing that, then WTF? Fortunately, when The Thing That Puts My Pictures On The Internet is busted, I have a back-up method of posting scans that I like to call The Other Thing That Puts My Pictures On The Internet. Sometimes that doesn’t work, too, and then I just don’t post at all and I sulk instead. Because really, fuck you Thing That Puts My Pictures On The Internet and fuck you too Other Thing That Puts My Pictures On The Internet!

Thanks, I had to get that out of my system.

Let’s talk about Solo, the bi-monthly anthology series from DC Comics that showcases the talents of one selected artist, who produces all-new material using pretty much any character in the vast DC Universe. The DC editors made really interesting choices for the series, with issues done by Mike Allred, Sergio Aragones, and Howard Chaykin, among others. Apparently, any character or technique is fair game for Solo creators. Why, you could do a series of three-paneled haiku interpretations starring Solomon Grundy, all in soft pastels if you wanted to.

Grundy, hungry now
Squirrel in a tree, so close
But Grundy’s too slow

This particular issue, Solo #5 is the Darwyn Cooke issue, which means Pow! It’s gonna knock you on yer keister with it’s radness!

Cooke is the writer/artist of the Eisner-winning New Frontier and a swingin’ run on the Catwoman series. He also may be a time traveler from the year 1958, I’m not entirely sure. Cooke certainly has an affinity for the go-go 50’s and hep early 60’s, and it shows in his vibrant work and his use of characters like private eye Slam Bradley and The Question.

Solo #5 has a Slam Bradley framing device that sets up the stories and bits in the comic. Slam is killing time in a bar downtown, waiting for a certain dame to come through the door, regaling the bartender with different tales.

The book is packed full of goodness. There are pin-ups, short gags, a noir story of betrayal, a luminous remembrance of Cooke’s own childhood discovery of art, and a brilliant “cover” of a classic Batman story. There’s even a variety page full of short strips, jokes, and puzzles, such as the Amazo Maze here:

Cooke’s art has a distinctive, recognizable style, yet he has a broad enough range that he can change the art to match the subject matter or mood at hand. Cooke’s work is suffused with a childlike sense of joy and wonder – and I mean that in a good way. His coloring is pretty, too.

Solo #5 – further proof that Darwyn Cooke is The Cat’s Ass.


McGone said...

And from what I understand D-goddamned-C went and canceled SOLO. I loved this issue - pure enterainment.

Also, have to give a shout out to the Mike Allred issue. A Doom Patrol/Tenn Titans Swingin' Dance Party? Hell yes!

Anonymous said...

Mcgone is right--Allred's was probably the best aside from Cooke's. The golden age Mr. Terrific at the very end of the party was priceless, and I maintain that the Batman story was one of the best ever. I haven't read Sergio Aragones' issue yet due to lack of funds, but I've heard it's spectacular as well.

Winterteeth said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa. You lost me with all that technical mumbo-jumbo at the beginning, Dave. Not all of us speak computerese.

Anonymous said...

If it's issue #5 why is the title of the post SOLO #6?

This madness has to stop!

Bully said...

The Argonés issue (#11) is sheer fun from beginning to end. Find out how he killed Marty Feldman! There is going to have to be some heck of a blockbuster brain-shatterer coming out in the last half of 2006 if they want to capture the throne of "Most Fun Comic of 2006" away from Solo #11.

And yes. Cancelled. I shrug in the face of such endless bite-your-own-nose-off-ish-ness on the part of DC.

Rob Schamberger said...

Yeah, this was inarguably the best issue of an overall amazing series. It was obvious how much fun Cooke was having with this issue as he was making it.

joncormier said...

Yes this series will be fondly remembered, but I'm glad to have the little bit I do than to have never seen it at all.

I'd say Cooke is the "Dog's bollocks."

Anonymous said...

What's even worse about the cancellation is that they had an entire George Pratt issue in the can that won't be published!!!

Anonymous said...

bully: I agree the Argonés issue was a pile of entertaining. I picked this up out of curiousity and loved it! Now hearing that the other random issues of SOLO had great content too, I'm sad it is being cancelled right when I discovered it!

Bill Reed said...

The Cooke issue is why I love and will miss Solo. I'm still pissed I never bought the Paul Pope issue. Rrr. Damn me.

But, yes, Allred and Aragones were goodness. I can't wait for the McCarthy one next month.

Evan Waters said...

I understand completely why SOLO didn't sell that well. It's an anthology, which is one strike against it. The US public- not just comic buyers- seems to reject these in every form except the occasional premium cable horror series. The talent changes each month. And it's two bucks more than the average DC book.

A great concept, and some great stories, but it was doomed from the beginning.

This was a great one, though. I loved those cute pencil renderings of Zatanna and Black Canary.

Bully said...

Solo walked away this weekend in San Diego as a multiple 2006 Eisner Award winner:

Best Anthology
Best Short Story: “Teenage Sidekick,” by Paul Pope, in Solo #3
Best Single Issue (or One-Shot): Solo #5, by Darwyn Cooke

Doubt this'll change DC's mind (Kyle Baker's bounced away with Best Writer/Artist—Humor, in part for his fantabulous but also-cancelled Plastic Man). Evan's smack-dab on the money: even if critically acclaimed, the thing didn't sell at the level DC wanted, apparently. We don't have any more Arrested Development for the same reason.

Brian Cronin said...

Man, why do people not like comics that rule?

I think that if you could boil Solo down into concentrated form, it would get you the best high you ever had.

NiolK said...

Darwin Cooke does indeed kick ass however the beauty of his art pales in comparison to that gorgeous fuckin Grundyku. Very zen. You should right a DC's Little Book of Grundy Zen. I'd buy it.

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