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Greatest Hits #1

Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2008
By: Martijn Form

David Tischman
Glenn Fabry
DC Comics/Vertigo
Vertigo dives into the world of superheroes. That’s what Greatest Hits is all about: Superheroes who also happen to be the greatest rock and roll band on earth, with all the requisite press coverage, groupies and round the clock attention that comes with that status.

Nick Mansfield is a writer/director, and a one hit wonder. His comedy "Kiss Me" won honors at the Sundance Festival, but he is having a hard time of even getting a direct-to-video family flick--about a talking dog running for president--green lighted by studio executives.

Nick has a meeting with Ethel Rothstein, who can help him get his career back on track, but he doesn't like the subject of Ethel's pitch. She suggests he make a high profile documentary about The Mates, a group of superheroes that includes Nick's father.
Ethel: "They're the Lennon and McCart…"
Nick: "The Beatles recorded 'Abbey Road.' The Mates fought fires. There's a difference."
Ethel: "They saved the whole universe."
Nick: "Just because it happened doesn't mean it's interesting…especially if it involved my father."
Ethel: "People love super-heroes…"
I must confess that I am on Nick's side in this conversation. Although people love super-hero comics, do we really need more of them? Even if it's a different angle on the genre and even if it's done by Vertigo? We already got a long list of titles that take an alternative look at the super-hero story: The Watchmen, Rising Stars, Supreme Power, Kick-Ass, The Boys, It’s a Bird, among many others. Add the TV show Heroes to that list, and I think we've already got ourselves a full plate.

I don't say this very often about a Vertigo book, but the story's whole setup disappoints me.

The dialogue in Greatest Hits is very mediocre, and considering this is a Vertigo book, this should be one of its strong aspects. What's more, the scenes are all over the place. The story jumps back and forward in time, faster than a speeding bullet (to borrow a superhero phrase). In my mind David Tischman is trying too hard to make this story multi-layered. Not only does it feel forced to me, but the story is like a lot of scattered bricks, and even Glenn Fabry's art fails to be the mortar to collect these bricks into the solid wall.

Some scenes I don't even understand at all. This has probably to do with my lack of brain matter, but still. When Nick has a meeting in the offices of Crusades Ltd., he is wearing full protective military gear. Huh? The scene emphasizes the eating of sweets (is it candy?), but I can’t understand the significance was for the story. Why does Nick have to wait at the reception? Why does Ethel almost have to vomit when she walks out of the office? I don't get it.

That could be the main theme of this review: I don't get it. I have read the issue three times, but the comic just doesn't appeal to me at all. And for a Vertigo lover like me, that really hurts. Maybe when I've read all six issues I will see the light and the brilliance of this series.

For more information about this reviewer, go to www.martijnform.com and to ComicsBulletin's Vertigo Spotlight column.



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