Oh, All-Star Batman… Why you gotta hurt me so good?
That’s right, folks: A mere three hundred and sixty-four days since I reviewed the last issue, Frank Miller and Jim Lee have finally gotten it together long enough to produce another installment of their mind-bending All-Star Batman, and a kick to the face like that can only mean that it’s time once again for another round of the Internet’s Most Senses-Shattering Comics Reviews!
Here’s a list of what I bought yesterday (which astoundingly includes a few titles that were shipping a mere month after their last issue)…
…and here’s what I thought about ’em!
All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #5: And now, the ISB Proudly Presents a selection of actual dialogue from All-Star Batman #5:
Wonder Woman: You bastard! You bastard. I hate your guts. I hate your guts. You make me sick. You make me sick.
Its called being paid by the word, folks.
Anyway, at this point, I think at this point, we can all pretty much agree that ASBAR is just awful, but the debate rages on as to whether or not it’s actually awful on purpose, and I honestly don’t know which side I’m on. I mean, this is a book where the first piece of dialogue is Wonder Woman saying “Out of my way, sperm bank,” and it just gets funnier from there. Seriously, every single page of this thing is a riot, from the scene where Miller just goes ahead and re-does a scene from Sin City with Dwight and Gail re-cast as Superman and Wonder Woman to the page where Batman responds to a thug asking “What?” by punching him so hard that a nearby woman immediately falls in love with him. See? It’s amazing.
And yet the whole thing’s played so straight by Miller and Jim Lee that it’s impossible to tell if it’s genius or madness, and the only thing I really know for sure is that it’s absolutely freakin’ hilarious. Intentional or not, it’s a hoot, and while I hate to support a “monthly” comic that only bothers to come out once a year, it’s worth $2.99 just to get a line like Superman’s stirring: “Damn you, Diana! Damn you and your Amazon arrogance!” Delightful!
Batman #665: Prophetic dreams, maniac cops and an impending battle with The Devil Himself next month aside, if there’s anything that belongs in the Black Casebook, it’s a story where Batman and Superman go back to 1776 and try to have each other convicted of witchcraft so that they can beat an evil karate genie. Just sayin’.
Catwoman #67: Over at his highly entertaining blog, writer Will Pfeifer referred to this issue of Catwoman as a humdinger that never lets up, and brother, he ain’t lyin’. I’ve mentioned before that this book has been pretty much flawless over the past year, but with the last few issues, it’s been all-out action with beautiful artwork by David Lopez, and it’s just an absolute joy to read. I mean really: It might just be me, but seeing a pair of Russian super-villains whose real names are Boris and Natasha is just something that never gets old, and when said super-villains are also being shot, blown up and kicked out of windows while Holly drops another uppercut on Blitzkrieg, it all adds up to one of the most solidly entertaining comics on the market today.
Conan #40: I think it’s been pretty well established here on the ISB that my love for Conan and his adventures is second to none, but believe me: I have never seen things go from life-threatening to slapstick quite as fast as they do in this issue, and it is fantastic. Tim Truman’s been doing a great job with the series ever since he took over, but with this one, it’s like he decided halfway through to replace his script with a series of phenomenally violent Looney Tunes gags–complete with Thoth Amon falling, Wile E. Coyote-esque, off a cliff and showing up none the worse for wear on the next page, already hatching a new scheme–and while that could easily go wrong, it’s great here, right down to the Prince and Wazir reacting to it at the end. I’m not sure if I want every issue to be like this, with the evil wizards of Stygia trying to brain Conan with Acme-brand anvils, but…
…Aw, who am I kidding? That’d be awesome.
Countdown #50: So last week, I said that a story about Jimmy Olsen going up against the Joker was “pretty much foolproof,” and if there’s one thing I should know from reviewing comics for the past couple of years, it’s that saying that sort of thing will almost invariably result in the storyline in question failing miserably. So there you have it, folks: Countdown #50 sucks, and it’s all my fault. I apologize.
Well, maybe not all my fault. I mean, I’m not the one who thought that Jimmy Olsen knowing Jason Todd and Dick Grayson’s (and therefore Batman’s) secret identities was a good idea, nor did I suggest that Jim Calafiore completely forget how to draw during the Mary Marvel sequences, and I certainly didn’t tell anyone to just redo a couple of pages from Justice League of America. And now that I think of it, I didn’t sit down and write a script where Jimmy Olsen–a journalist–isn’t able to figure out that Duela Dent isn’t really the Joker’s daughter, or that included a darn near incomprehensible scene with the Rogues, so maybe I’m not to blame after all. One thing doesn’t change, though: It is not very good.
I’m doing my best to hold out for the first month just to see the full rotation of writers for this thing, but with two full issues of absolutely nothing worth reading, I can’t see myself sticking it out for the full year, even if I do still want that t-shirt.
Satan’s Sodomy Baby: You know, what can you really say about Satan’s Sodomy Baby that isn’t summed up right there in the title of the book?
How about this: It might well be the single funniest thing that Eric Powell has produced in his entire career, and as the cover suggests, it is astonishingly offensive. Of course, coming from a creator that responded to winning an Eisner Award by including a scene that saw “a simpleton playing in his own filth” in The Goon, it should come as no surprise that the story just gets funnier and funnier as Powell pushes the envelope in a story of the Devil’s back-door lovin’, the grim consequences that result, and the Goon’s quest to put that sucker right back where it goes.
It’s the kind of book that you imagine Powell could barely draw from laughing at the punchline on every single page, and I don’t blame him. I’ve read the thing cover to cover three times already today, and there are still panels that I burst out laughing when I see. It’s fantastic, and if you missed ordering it from your shop–what with it only being solicited in the pages of Previews Adult–I’d advise you to do whatever you can to get a copy. It’s awesome, and that’s as much as I can possibly say without spoiling the jokes.
The Ultimates 2 #13: You know, nothing says “Suck it, All-Star Batman” quite like an eight-page gatefold of super-heroes fighting an army of trolls on the White House lawn. Yes, it’s the last bone-shattering installment of The Ultimates from Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, and despite the fact that those guys missed the perfect opportunity for the return of Ultimate Volstagg, it pretty much confirms my theory that today’s Mark Millar is at his best when there is no possible chance of people acting out of character in his stories. This is, of course, aided by the fact that everyone pretty much acts the same in this book, but the point stands: When it comes to big, stupid fights where things get blown up and nothing really has to make sense, there really aren’t a lot of people who do it bigger, stupider or better than those guys. It’s nothing but fun, from a story that allows Thor to kill Loki four or five times before it sticks to a scene where Scarlet Witch makes a date with an Ultron robot, and even though it never freakin’ comes out, I’m sad to see it go. Not sad enough to, y’know, jump on the Jeph Loeb run or anything, but still.
X-Men First Class Special #1: Between Official Handbook pages for the original X-Men, the shocking return of Bernard the Poet, and a class trip to Monster Island, it can finally be said: Truly, this one has it all. Of course, the real gems of this issue–which sees Jeff Parker writing yet another solid, highly entertaining kid-friendly comic with a team that I don’t particularly care for otherwise–are the three short gag strips that Parker does with Colleen Coover. She’s one of my favorite artists, and seeing her drawing a story where Jean Grey throws cars around with her mind so that she can harness the power of cuteness for good, instead of evil is almost everything that I want to see from a comic about the original X-Men. It’s great stuff, and with First Class set to return as an ongoing series next month, there’s a heck of a lot to look forward to.
The Plain Janes: As long-time readers of the ISB will probably already know, I’ve been as excited about DC’s Minx line as is humanly possible for someone who falls squarely into the diametric opposite of the target audience can be ever since it was first announced. Long-time readers will probably also be familiar with my love of Degrassi, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, and pretty ponies, so this probably wasn’t too shocking, but that’s beside the point: With the release of The Plain Janes, Minx has officially launched, and after reading through it today, I’m still pretty darn excited about the whole thing.
The story, as you might expect from the title, revolves around a girl named Jane who moves to a small town from her big-city home in the wake of an undefined terrorist attack, leaving behind her old friends, her old personality, and a comatose artist whose sketchbook inspires her to join up with three girls at her new school–Jane, Jayne, and Polly-Jane–to form an “art girl gang” called PLAIN that secretly creates art in the new town. It’s a plot that borders on farcical in a lot of places with how unabashedly goofy it gets, but it’s engaging and might well be the definition of “charming.” Probably owing a lot to the fact that she’s a novelist, Castellucci relies a lot on Main Jane’s first-person narration, and does a pretty fantastic job of giving a her an immediately likeable voice that drives the story, and Jim Rugg’s art is great, even with a distinct lack of ninjas, which he used to great artistic effect in the awesome Street Angel. It reads quick, but it’s a lot of fun while it lasts, and with it being the title I was least excited about, it bodes well for the rest of the line.
Showcase Presents the Flash v.1: ATTENTION, CITIZENS:
That is all.
And that’s the week. Yeah yeah, I know, I only reviewed half of the titles on my list, but hey: Chronicling the devastating adventures of the Bat-Witch takes it out of a guy. Besides, if you have any questions, comments, or just want to talk about what a great hardcover Mouse Guard turned into or debate the merits of Giant Girl’s new costume, feel free to leave a comment or shoot an email to the address at the right.
As for me, I’ll be trying to figure out why wind resistance didn’t just snap Barry’s neck the first time he got up to sixty. I mean really.