Saturday, May 25, 2013

Childhood Memories: G.I. Joe #23-24

Spurred by Larry Hama's posts on facebook, I decided to dive into the longboxes and pull out the first comics I bought for myself and re-read them. These are the ones that lured me into the habit.  One that continues to this day, nearly 30 years later.  G.I. Joe # 23-24.

Often, when I go back to re-read an old comic or read, for the first time, a classic comic, it struggles to hold up.  Too wordy.  Too juvenile.  Lacking in how the words and pictures mix on the page.  Bad dialogue.  Too much exposition.  Waaah, waaah, waaah. 

It's difficult for older comics to stand up to the scrutiny of a seasoned reader post-Watchmen/Dark Knight/Blankets/Authority/Invisibles/etc. etc. etc.  I cannot read a Chris Claremont comic. Can't.  I can't read a Roy Thomas comic.  Cannot do it.  For all they've done for the medium, their comics (specifically the dialogue) are horrid.

Which brings me to the comics at hand.  Ones written at a time when exposition, a villain more deadly than Galactus and Mephisto combined, was running rampant through the Marvel universe - allegedly due to dictates from then-EIC, Jim Shooter.  And yet, Larry Hama manages to create comics that are new reader friendly without dumping exposition on them in a manner that feels forced or sounds stilted.  Certainly, there are instances of this, but in these two books those are few and far between.  Hama thinks about where to place the exposition, about how to contextualize within a scenario that almost demands such dialogue.  And when he writes that dialogue it does not sound silly or ridiculous.  It sounds natural, which keeps me reading and keeps me enjoying the book.  It's a skill that was rare when he was working on these books in 1984, and one that is even rarer today, as the medium and the way stories are told has evolved. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find how much I enjoyed these books thirty years removed from their initial publication, and I look forward to continuing my re-read of these classic comics.

Yo Joe!


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