Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Love Fights by Andi Watson

Andi Watson had a phenomenal run of comics stories about a decade ago -- the stars aligned for both his work and the commercial environment, I guess -- with a string of great books (with actual stories that begin and end) from Breakfast After Noon to Little Star, from Slow News Day to Dumped. The longest story from that period is Love Fights, which was reprinted in two volumes.

It's probably no coincidence that Love Fights is the one of those books that has superheroes in it. I think Watson planned all of these stories out before drawing them, so it's not a case of popularity driving more issues, but it could be a case of expected popularity driving a contract up front for more issues. Whatever the reason, Love Fights was first twelve issues and then two books, and those books can still be found, if you're motivated.

And I was motivated, so I found them again and read them again.

This is one of those more-or-less realistic worlds with superheroes in, and Watson, as he often does, focuses on the media landscape around something more than the thing itself. So Jack is the penciller of the regular comic book about actual real-world superhero The Flamer, while Nora is a very junior but very ambitious staffer on the vaguely exploitative superhero-news magazine Expose who has a lead on a story about that very same hero. They meet cute -- on a subway train delayed by a superhero fight involving The Flamer, as it happens -- and bump into each other a few times over the next day or so until Jack finally summons enough courage to ask Nora out.

Meanwhile -- there always has to be a subplot in a superhero story -- Jack's cat Guthrie has had a secret origin of his own, becoming the talking, flying super-cat Future Feline. And that story Nora is chasing -- that The Flamer has a love child with some random woman -- is heating up, causing friction between the devoted-to-the-Flamer Jack and the devoted-to-getting-a-byline Nora.

All of this is closely related, of course. Their love story, such as it is -- they're somewhere between broken up and just stopped dating after a few fizzles for most of the story -- takes place against the backdrop of a fiendish plot against The Flamer, as of course it must. That does tend to make the Jack-and-Nora story almost a sidebar in its own story, so this isn't my favorite Watson book of this era -- he's so good with people and their relationships that I want to see him do more of that, and less superhero-intrigue.

But I am not most people, and Love Fights is probably the Watson book best suited for getting most comics-readers interested in his excellent work. So, if you like stories about superheroes, and think you might like reading about a penciller and a journalist finding each other against a backdrop of capes and fights, you should definitely pick this book up.

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