Love Fights #9
Story and Art by Andi Watson
is nothing new to comics.
were probably referencing themselves before any other pop
medium even caught on to the idea. It’s kinda hard
to avoid when you serialize something for so many decades.
it’s a bit harder to figure out when these non-superhero
superhero comics started gaining strength. I’ve known
people who’ve cited Alan Moore’s Supreme
and Kurt Busiek’s Astro City as heralds for
the subgenre (which always felt a bit strange since they
were so much ABOUT superheroes). Then Bendis came along
with Powers and Alias, again focusing
on worlds strongly affected by the presence of superheroes,
but not starring superheroes.
Andi Watson has decided to take the concept to the next
level with Love Fights, a boy-meets-girl story
set in a city of tomorrow where heroes fly around righting
wrongs and thwarting evil deeds.
This issue continues
Jack and Nora’s quest to prove the innocence of The
Flamer (a hero who, in Hollywood terms, is Superman with
a dash of Human Torch). After researching the decades worth
of villains Flamer’s taken down in his time, Jack
and Nora learned that Dr. Pitt and Professor Pendulum were
the only ones unaccounted for. It looks to be an open and
shut case… if not for the fact that The Flamer doesn’t
remember them. After all, he did only fight them once, and
it was before 1984… then it comes together.
was when the Modal Multiverse Conjunction took place. Of
course, The Flamer doesn’t remember THAT either, since
his Golden Age, Silver Age, and Bronze Age selves were merged
during the conflict, but Jack and Nora try to explain how
the many universes came to be one anyway. They almost make
it through the many different origins of Flamer Girl before
he overloads and simply figures the best solution is to
find Pitt and Pendulum and beat the tar out of them.
returns to her interview with The Fader and gets some clues
as to what’s going on. But what’s going on with
Jack’s super-powered pet cat…?
of you may scoff at the idea of Watson handling a superhero
book (*cough* Namor *cough*). Others might see
it as the perfect marriage of artist and weirdass subgenre.
But I’m guessing most don’t even know who the
hell Andi Watson is.
(Cue indie comic
rant… now) This is why you need to read more indie
comics, my friend. The full effect of Watson’s storytelling
doesn’t really come through without his art, which,
admittedly, is a bit of an acquired taste but so worth it.
process has been evolving throughout the years, moving from
the strange early style of Samurai Jam (that made
everyone think his books were goth) to the cute manga-influenced
style that developed in Skeleton Key before culminating
in Geisha to the somewhat New Yorker-influenced
cartooning of his numerous recent mini-series.
Fights, he’s started yet another evolution. The
clean lines that were once his signature have been replaced
by rough strokes. The simple tones of Breakfast After
Noon have been broken into numerous shades of grey,
and, if it can be imagined, his touch seems even lighter
than before. It’s been said that a flaw with Watson’s
early work was an overabundance of detail. His solution
was to strip the image down to the basics, but, not content
with simply being another minimalist, he’s gone back
to some of the techniques he explored in Skeleton Key
and increased the texture of his art.
see this bothering people who need clean lines in their
comics, but the look of the brushwork is strangely engaging.
His cityscapes look stronger than ever, the lack of sharp
edges allowing the reader’s imagination to fill in
the shadows and highlights. The extra shading also allows
a greater range of emotions to play across his simple character
designs (The Flamer’s tendency to flare when irritated
owes a lot to this). If you liked Craig Thompson’s
brushwork on Blankets, you should probably give
Love Fights a look.
What really grabs
me, however, is the writing. Andi Watson is a natural visual
storyteller, plain and simple. His gigs as a scripter have
never been bad, but something is definitely lost when he
doesn’t have full control of the story. Here, the
characters are so consistent and the threads so interesting
that the book nearly becomes addictive.
As always, his
story is about the relationships between people, but the
setting and events are so fantastic they set your mind racing.
What would you do if your cat ran away and came back with
super powers (and a sassy mouth, to boot)? How should a
guy look for love when all the girls want to date musclebound
heroes? If a hero’s DNA test proves he’s the
father of an illicit lovechild, is it just another fiendish
plot by a nefarious villain, or does he owe some child support?
the first time since Geisha, Watson steps up to
the bizarre and gives it a big bear hug. Not since the “Celestial
Calendar” storyline of Skeleton Key has he
been so willing to dive into the realm of fantasy. The same
giddy feeling runs through Love Fights.
we now have an interesting question before us: what comes
first in the Love Fights universe-- the heroes
or their comics? We know that the comics are made after
the heroes debut, but do they come to control their namesakes’
destinies? Was the Modal Multiverse Conjunction a war of
worlds or just a big marketing ploy? How much can a comic
about comics deconstruct comics before comic fanboys’
Well, it looks
like we’re going to find out.