Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ben's Indy Odyssey: Super Spy

Earlier this year, lifelong super hero comic enthusiast Ben Morse asked some of his more indy comic-savvy friends to begin recommending him stuff he should read outside of his typical comfort zone. These are the chronicles of his adventures.

Man, there sure is a lot to like about this one, and I can see why it's so fondly regarded.

First and foremost, Matt Kindt's interest in and love for the genre he's working in shines through in the material without question. The guy clearly digs espionage and it's pretty clear putting together a project like this one is a dream come true for him. His passion is evident in how finely he details every story with if not realism then at least the sense that, "Yeah, if somebody were to hypothetically do that, it could certainly work." He seems to have really thought through every one of his stories, and I find his dedication to be admirable and his enjoyment of the work to be infectious.

I'm also impressed by the diversity of material. There are a lot of stories that share common elements, but no two are exactly alike and there are more than a few that are utterly unique. The reinvention of what you're reading every few pages definitely keeps things fresh and allows Kindt to really stretch both his writing and his art.

At the same time, I'll confess that I found what I just listed as a strength to also be a weakness in some ways. This could be a personal thing for me, but whenever you've got a collection of shorter stories, you risk losing my interest as a reader simply because it's easier for me to put the book down and not get back to it for a few days because I'm not so invested in what happens next. This really shouldn't be too much of a concern for any writer, Kindt here in particular, both because I'm a target audience of one and also because even if I didn't feel the need to read Super Spy every night, I knew I was gonna come back to it because even without cliffhangers the material was strong enough to keep me hooked.

Another thing somewhat linked to the previous point that also went both ways for me as far as enjoyment was the way that many (all?) of the stories were linked in some way, but not arranged in order. This is pretty cool, because it's definitely neat to see characters popping up who you vaguely remember from several chapters earlier and then figuring out how the larger narrative fits together. It also pulls off the trick of creating memorable characters in the context of an anthology without breaking your structure ("The Shark," Super Spy, etc.). On the other hand, it did frustrate me a bit to have to keep flipping back to figure out where I remembered certain things from without any real roadmap to help me. Again, this is a personal to me thing, and it's in no way a knock on the book, more on me for being a a lazy reader.

Honestly, the "negatives" I listed here really came out of me analyzing Super Spy from a critical perspective and wanting to write something aside from "this book rocked." They're there to be certain, but they didn't impact me as much as I'm maybe making it seem like they did, and I don't think they'd hinder really anybody from enjoying this book. It's a good read.

No comments: