Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Holy Land and the Messiah

Spurred on by a 25% off gift certifcate that was burning a hole in my pocket, I recently picked up the hardbound 15th Anniversary Edition of Joe Sacco's Palestine. Now, Fantagraphics has been putting out some sexy hardcover books recently, including Beasts, and this new edition of Palestine is no exception.

But, while the book might look pretty in your hands, it's the contents of it that really make it worth buying. Back in 1991, Joe Sacco travelled to Isreal to meet with and record the experiences of Palestinians living under Isreali occupation. And, instead of producing a traditional travelogue, he decided to tell his story in comic book form. The results are both unique and powerful.

While Sacco has a distinct agenda with this novel and the subject matter is painful to read at times, his ability to portray not just the shortcomings of both the Palestinians and Isrealis, but also his own shortcomings helps keep the narrative from becoming too heavy handed. Instead we get a compelling and harrowing depiction of -as Edward Said says in the introduction- "histories losers, banished to the fringes where they seem so despondently to loiter..."

15 years have past since Palestine was initially published, and the conflict there has continued to both evolve and refuse to resolve itself. But the book still seems timely not just in its depiction of the the Palestinian conflict, but also as a statement of what happens when people allow militancy and idealogy to drive them to commit cruelty on their fellow man.

And speaking of "militancy" and "ideology", over on the other side of the comic book universe...

Back before we left on our trip, I posted an entry about the Marvel Comic's event called Civil War. Now, Civil War has come and gone. And, while I initially found it exciting, it ended up overstaying its welcome and bit, and I was glad to finally read its somewhat anti-climatic resolution upon my return from the trip.

But, that hasn't kept me from getting all sorts of excited about the current X-title crossover event: The Messiah Complex!

Unlike Civil War, which was a Marvel-wide event, Messiah Complex is limited to four titles in the X-universe. The storyline is simple enough:

In the after math of M-Day, over 90% of the world mutant population has been depowered, and there have been no new mutant births. But, when the first birth since M-Day occurs, it becomes a race between the X-men, the evil Marauders and the mutant-hating human group the Purifiers to see who can get the baby first.

Right now the storyline is about half over, and I've been enjoying every chapter of it. Several factors have made it especially successful, including how tightly the four titles have been working together, and the fact that a different title comes out each week - effectively making this a weekly event.

But, what makes the event really fun it that its a complete X-geek-athon. They are throwing in pretty much everything and the kitchen sink: The X-men. The new X-men. X-Factor. The Marauders. The Purifers. The Acolytes. Lady Deathstrike. The Reavers. Sentinels. Cable. We've had throw-downs galore. New characters introduced. Several large plot twists. A new team formed. And the promise of more to come.

So, yeah, I'm geeking out. But, after several underwelming crossover events in the Marvel Universe, its nice to have something that reminds me how good a comic event can be. Here's hoping the second half is as good as the first.

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