Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Thunder Hides What the Lightning Sees


Thunderbolt Jaxon, written by Dave Gibbons, illustrated by John Higgins (2006): DC's Wildstorm imprint assayed a number of books in the mid-to-late oughts based on British comics characters of the 1940's, 50's and 60's. This was the so-called 'Albion' universe, which at its inception had some input from Alan Moore (Watchmen). And here we have two other Watchmen creators -- artist Dave Gibbons and colourist John Higgins -- on another Albion book, albeit as writer and artist, respectively. The history of the Thunderbolt Jaxon character is weird enough to warrant the inclusion of a link to it:

http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2009/03/origins-of-thunderbolt-jaxon.html

Wild, hunh? British comic books always seemed to have way loopier publication histories, especially when they dealt with super-heroes, who never gained the sort of strangehold on the comics mainstream that they did in the U.S.. The Albion miniseries of a few years back offered a cornucopia of bizarre British characters. One can see at least some of the occasional, carnivalesque wackiness of British comics writers that inlclude Alan Moore and Grant Morrison being inspired by the peculiar British world of super-heroes, science-heroes and giant crime-fighting eyeballs.

While Wildstorm's Albion miniseries brought a number of the old British characters into the modern world mostly unchanged, Jaxon instead attempts a complete reboot. It's an interesting though perhaps overly familiar at points story (kids find magical artifacts, magical artifacts turn one kid into an adult 'superhero' [in this case, the Norse god Thor]). Higgins's art looks great, and Gibbons keeps things zipping along.

The whole thing feels a bit decompressed (five issues for an origin that only truly gives us 'Thunderbolt Jaxon' at the very end?), and as sales were apparently not enough to justify an on-going series or another miniseries, we're pretty much left in the end with the end of the beginning of Thunderbolt Jaxon. Oh, well. The name itself is still great. Recommended.

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