‘In the Hand of Dante’ is complex and yet simple at the same time. Half of the book is written from the point of view of the author dealing with his own mortality, vanity and his criminal past as he becomes involved in a scam to steal the only copy of ‘The Divine Comedy’ by Dante and sell it to the highest bidder. Set in New York, Nick meets up with an old friend, the rather sinister and perverted Louie, a man with no remorse or pity, a man who lives by his own strict moral code.
At the same time the book charts the life of Dante as he puts together his masterwork, rallies against the gods, falls in love with the wrong woman and attempts to understand the meaning of life and how it all fits into his verse.
The book is absorbing, never easy and only annoying when Tosches slips into Latin but refuses to give a translation.
‘Global Frequency’ Volumes 1 and 2 are quick fire comics, the premise is a civilian run agency with 1001 operatives around the world all available on the global frequency run by the mysterious a Miranda Zero and kept in line by the human computer mind of Aleph. As always with Ellis it’s fast paced, but lacks content. Each episode in the volumes is one complete story with some much better than others. I’m surprised this hasn’t been turned into a TV show as the format and story board is already available.
‘The Originals’ is a take on the Mods and Rockers of the 1960s, their rivalry, their friendships, and their running battles. Gibbons sets the story in an alternative future but I don’t understand why. It’s so obviously of its time the science fiction element adds nothing. As it is the story is predictable and the presentation just a little flat to really have held my interest.
Will Eisner is the king of comics, having had a long and illustrious career starting back in the 1930’s, bringing us ‘The Spirit’ (about to be shown in the cinema) and then changing in the 1970s by bringing out thought provoking work which changed how comic books were viewed. ‘To the Heart of the Storm’ is one of those works. Beautifully told, it is a simple evocation of a world almost gone, a young man reflecting on his Jewish childhood in New York and the lead up to the Second World War. It’s charming, sophisticated, well written and illustrated, giving an insight into the poverty of the depression and the wanton racism that existed in the country from those immigrants who would have to return to the old country to take part in a vicious war.
Read the first two copies of Cages by Dave Mckean. This is a book I’ve wanted for a long time (Madame Vin if you’re reading this, please add it to my list). I saw a copy in New York once but didn’t buy as it was too bulky to get home (drat!). Now I’m having trouble finding a copy. It looks great and piqued my interest. I’m looking forward to reading the rest.
Plenty to read over Christmas so I’ll report back soon.
Read this week:
To the Heart of the Storm by Will Eisener
The Originals by Dave Gibbons
Global Frequency Volumes 1 and 2 by Warren Ellis and others
In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches