Thursday, 26 May 2016

RIP Darwyn Cooke

I know this comes a little late, but thought I'd share some thoughts on Darwyn Cooke's passing nearly two weeks ago. I didn't know much of his work, but what I did know was DC: The New Frontier, which I picked up a few years ago, on a whim, during a period of my life in which I wasn't really reading comics.

I'd known about it for a while, as I'd heard people mention it in the same breath as The Golden Age, another of my favorite comics stories, so when I got the opportunity to check it out, I was blown away. For a start, the art was gorgeous - Cooke's style was classic and clean, and therefore well-suited to the setting spanning from the 1940s to the 1960s.

And in terms of story, it had everything. It sat kind of within and beside canon, which gave Cooke a lot of room to play with all of the characters that he used - most heartbreakingly in the case of "John Henry", who we later see as an inspiration for John Henry Irons, the kid who grew up to become Steel. But my favorite part of the story was the way it placed each of DC's Silver Age characters in chronological order, so that Barry Allen in his story becomes the new Flash three years before Hal Jordan becomes the new Green Lantern.

For me, The New Frontier works as the middle book in a trilogy of The Golden Age and Kingdom Come, as all three deal with epochal changes affecting every character in the DC Universe. It's not as dark as those two other stories, but too much darkness wouldn't have fit with those characters and that setting - and yet I can think of no higher compliment than to rank a story among them.

More recently, I was pleased to see his name featured among the artists who worked on Batman: The Animated Series. I didn't know who Cooke was in the 1990s, when I was watching the show, and I didn't know about the connection when I read The New Frontier, but it feels right, given Bruce Timm's devotion to classic Batman adventures.

Darwyn Cooke will be sorely missed - and I look forward both to rereading The New Frontier, as well as checking out his work on books like Solo and Catwoman.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Congratulations to Leicester City, the 2015-16 Premier League Champions



I've already talked about what this would mean, if it were to happen, but that was then, when it was only possible, and this is now, when it's actually happened. Claudio Ranieri really has won a title, Jamie Vardy has worked his way up from non-league to owning a champion's medal, and a deeply unfancied team has gone on to win the Premier League and upset the natural order of top-flight English football.

Of course, I don't want to get too swept away here. Chelsea and Manchester City are going to invest heavily after their respective train-wrecks, and Leicester themselves are going to have to deal with yet another competition to sap their focus - the Champions League.

If Manchester City and Chelsea have screwed the pooch this season, the likes of Juventus, Barcelona and Bayern Munich haven't had similar stumbles. Or rather, they have, in that Juve had a shitty start to their season (but then embarked on a ridiculous unbeaten streak to win Serie A) and Barcelona won't be able to confirm their champion status until the final day. But you take my point.

Still, I also don't want to be too gloomy. It will be interesting to see how Leicester gets on against the very best of Europe, having earned their right to be there. If they can keep the core of their team together (and why shouldn't they? Riyad Mahrez or Jamie Vardy or N'Golo Kanté don't need to move anywhere else to find Champions League football), they can at least have a good go at it. If Barcelona or Real Madrid beat them, they'll still have made it to the party.

The other question will be how Leicester get on in the Premier League next season. There'll be a lot of teams gunning for them, and they'll be desperate to strengthen. It'll just be harder for Leicester to repeat this year's achievement - but on the other hand, it'd be boring if they did (and I say this as a Juve fan who's hoping that the rest of Serie A can mount a challenge to my team).

Whatever happens next season, the importance of Leicester winning this season is incalculable: they've shown how other teams can do it. And now that the TV deal funds are trickling down to the mid-level clubs, it will be easier for other teams to do it.