Noble Causes, Vol. 1: In Sickness and In Health (2002)

May 23rd, 2008 by

This is a grim take on the superhero universe. After hearing Florence say she loved this series, and others agree (re: our last podcast #006), I was excited to read this and put it at the top of my stack. After having read it, I’m honestly not sure what I thought.

Oh, it was good, no doubt about that! Just opening to random pages, every story was gripping and totally engaging. Things happen in Noble Causes that definitely wouldn’t be seen between the covers of a regular comic book. I mean, heroes get beat up, often by other heroes (if you can even really call them that, we really only have their reputations to go on), there is lots of sex, including infidelity, murder, betrayal. Interestingly, the one big piece of connective tissue throughout the entire trade (It’s a ton of little stories with different plots.) is the Icarus plot.

The natural comparison is to Astro City, but this is way darker, and, oddly enough, feels a bit less realistic as a result to me. (Perhaps that is my own sunny outlook on life influencing my opinion.) Anyway, if you haven’t read this, I’d recommend it. I’ll definitely be seeking out more of it in the future. On the other hand, if you haven’t yet read Astro City, it’s better.

For those who aren’t familiar, Noble Causes is about the Noble family. They are your average superhero family, very wealthy, extremely powerful. But they are also totally fucked up and dysfunctional. Icarus is the robot built by the family’s genius father. The robot is sentient, and very jealous of all the children. I’ll just leave it at that.

I also read (before this first TPB, actually) Noble Causes: Extended Family (Vol. 2). It too is full of unconnected short stories, this time without so much as an imagined connective tissue. (At least, I didn’t notice one.) Didn’t matter though, since these stories were also totally engaging, and without my even knowing any of the character backstories! But all of these stories felt like backstories to me. Actually much of the first TPB also felt that way. I think it’s part of the style they’re written in… there are lots of flashbacks and jumping around in continuity is the norm.

I really only mentioned Extended Family because it was a bit darker and more extreme than the first TPB, and actually may have influenced the tone at which I read the first Comic. So it all ended up feeling really dark to me. Good, but very, very dark.

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