Let's bat a couple out before I have to run off to the store... IN THE SHADOW OF NO TOWERS: You have to understand, I really don't want to give this a bad review. It feels tacky. It feels like being accusatory to a widow, or something. Everyone who actually lived through 9/11 (as opposed to people like me who watched it on TV), well, they get a certain amount of a Free Pass, y'know? And, fer christ's sake, this is Spiegelman -- he won a Pulitzer, man!
But, here's the thing --this book is really only 10 pages long.
Sure, each page of comics is 2 pages in the book, and there's all that lovely historical comic strip material in the back so the page count is actually larger, but there's only 10 pages of Spiegelman, and it's $19.95
Yes, sir, it has great reproduction (I was pretty transfixed by the pages with art's cigarette smoke wrapping the balloons), and, man alive, art's craft has gotten nothing but better -- these are wonderfully constructed pages, filled with poignancy and passion and grief and outrage. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is Excellent comics.
However, 10 pages for $20? Um, ouch.
I'm not taking a copy of this home, and I think that's the most telling "review" I can give.
PERSEPOLIS 2: While on the other hand, I think this may be something I buy a dozen copies of and give out for Christmas and birthdays to my mostly-not-comics-reading family.
This was astonishingly good, probably one of the most gripping pieces of auto-bio comics I've ever read, and, perhaps more importantly, taught me more about Iran and Iranian culture in the hour I spent with the book than I've learn from the media or education my entire life.
I'd quibble a little with the choice to kinda brush off the "And then I became a drug dealer" section (4 pages to "and then I stopped" and not one of them is anecdotal or relevatory to that, er, "plot point"), but that's probably just me being an asshole about it. Otherwise, there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that this was the best piece of comics I've read so far in 2004.
I absolutely can not recommend this enough -- if you want clear and clever insight, wit and wisdom, passion and change, and wonderful human storytelling, this is the book for you. I can tell you, without reading another comic this week, this is absolutely the Pick of the Week (and probably the year), and I urge you to get your LCS to get a copy for you. I'm not sure that I've ever seen a more heroic man in a comic than Marjane's Father.
Hey, and it's $17.95 for 187 story pages, too! So you get value as well.
(Also, while the background of it can help, it reads pretty well alone without having to buy the first volume, just so you know. The first volume was also terrific, but this one was superb)
And, after those two, I'd feel REALLY FUCKING DUMB if I started writing about CAPTAIN AMERICA or JLA or some breezy superhero book, so more later....