Air #7Man, I love it when this happens…
Sometimes, all it takes to figure out what I should write about is a stack of great books. While I’m working my way through them, an idea or concept just hits me, and makes it incredibly obvious what my next article should say. And that’s exactly what happened last week while wading through a fantastic little group of books, that included the conclusion of the Black Lightning mini, the third issue of Tomasi’s Outsiders run, more Old Man Logan, two fantastic Spidey books, new X-Men from Fraction, and Dark Avengers. But as glorious as nearly every one of those comics were---the most important book I bought this past Wednesday was the lucky seventh installment of Air, from G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker. I’m hoping you can spare some time to talk a little more about it, and just why it’s in your best interests to go out and buy it. Provided you haven’t already done so and like good comics anyway…
The first and most economical reason---because the issue will only cost you a single dollar, and perhaps less than that if your retailer provides a small subscriber discount. Surely with all the chatter about rising prices, plenty of folks would be willing to reward Vertigo’s newest initiative, which I contend will tell us a lot about the modern comics industry. This is hardly scientific of course, but if the market doesn’t see a substantial increase in the amount of these comics ordered, which are being offered as a serious and aggressive outreach measure---then we’re all pretty much screwed. “All” meaning anyone that wants to occasionally read something that isn’t a superhero comic. Really, if we don’t get behind this in a real way, I think it says something very depressing in light of sales thresholds and digital comics breathing down our necks. But we’ll get into that when it becomes absolutely necessary, as the optimist in me believes this will be an undeniable success and shed additional light on projects and creators that truly deserve it. Air meets this distinction on both counts.
The second reason is that Air #7 is an awesome little package that works both as a “jumping-on point,” and a natural (yet surprising) progression for those people already down with the series. It starts with a page of supportive quotes from writing superstars Neil Gaiman, Brian Azzarello, Gail Simone, Jason Aaron, Brian Wood, and several others from assorted websites, newspapers, and magazines. Then there’s a small text piece from writer/creator Wilson wherein she describes a chance meeting with the heroine of her own series, and provides a clever “what has come before” to get the late arrivers up to speed. After that, she pens an incredible story that re-connects lead character Blythe to her potential love interest Zayn in an inspired set-up that is a bit sweet and a bit terrifying.
Without saying too much, just consider what would happen if the person you loved somehow found themselves trapped in your body and experiencing every formative event of your life? Imagine your entire life, from childhood until the very moment you met each other, playing out before their eyes in punishing detail. If they were provided access to every embarrassment, mistake, victory, love, hate, and aspiration that created the person you were before you met them. Your own life flashing before someone else’s eyes in a sense. That’s some scary ____, right? Or is it really? Just thinking about something like that was enormously fascinating to me, and quickly overshadowed the worthy competition in the week’s stack. As frightening the prospect of this would be, think how completely and easily someone would understand you if they could think your thoughts in the most important of moments?
But seriously, that’s just an unstoppable idea right there that Wilson mines for some of the series’ best material to date. Bringing us along to the third reason, which is quite simply this---Air is just a great series with something to say about the nature of fear, the price of secrets, the importance of communication, and the power of mystery. It’s a contemporary fairy tale, and another in a long line of great Vertigo series, one built around a fantastic high concept and packed with great characters. No other comic has Amelia Earhart in its supporting cast, or a flight attendant with a fear of heights that travels to countries that don’t exist.
The coolest thing about all this is that it’s not too late to jump onboard. Everyone has that book, or that TV show, or whatever that they’ve really been meaning to get into, but it just feels like it’s too far gone to jump into now. For me, that’s Battlestar Galactica, but back on point. All that is standing in your way here is really eleven bucks and a couple hours, as the trade collecting the first five issues shipped right alongside this bargain-priced issue for the equally kind price point of 9.99. How else were you going to get six comics for less than twelve dollars? And I’d be willing to bet that after that, you’re going to emerge with another cool comic to support on a regular basis, and what’s better than that? That last one there is the fourth reason.
Fifth and final reason is that writer G. Willow Wilson is going to be one of the biggest names in comics in the next few years. Bold claim to be sure, but you’re talking to the guy that immediately latched onto writers like Brian K. Vaughan, Joe Casey, Gail Simone, Ivan Brandon, and Matt Fraction, and watched as their skills and voices grew over the years with every successive project. It’s just something you can tell…when a writer has a perspective that’s slightly different from everyone else and only needs a little space to develop it. Then once they catch fire, everyone is rushing forward to say, “Oh yeah, we ALWAYS loved you!” Might be cool if that was actually true for once, right? Write it down---G. Willow Wilson is the Next Big Thing.
Cairo says it.
Vixen: Return of the Lion says it.
And more than anything else, Air says it…and it was only a single dollar last week.
Why we still talkin’ about this…?
Thanks for listening, and back soon with the first installment of This is Y.