The Week In Ink: February 25, 2009

Hey Chun-Li! What was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596?



Ah, Chun-Li. Pretty, smart, and almost entirely facekick-oriented. Is it any wonder that I was so smitten in my younger days?

Ah well, there’s no time for love on the ISB! It’s Thursday Night, and that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Ferociously Honest comics Reviews! Here’s what I picked up this week…



…and while it’s tempting, I promise I’ll get to something other than the Archie books this time.



Blue Beetle #36: Man, it sure seems like we’re getting a lot of end-of-an-era books these days, doesn’t it? Ah well, this time the Fickle Finger of Cancellation points to Blue Beetle, and the world of comics is a bit crappier for the loss.

I’m just going to come right out and say it: Despite something of a rough start, Blue Beetle was DC’s best teen super-hero book since Waid’s Impulse. It’s been consistently clever and exciting, and while Matt Sturges’s run never quite hit the heights of John Rogers’, it never really got the chance too, either, and that’s the real shame of it. A great, likable hero with a fun supporting cast that–as a couple episodes of the Brave and the Bold will attest–has an immediate hook for younger readers, but apparently the readers just aren’t there.

And yet, Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose has been published for nine years. What a world.

Anyway, as for this one, a friend of mine says that if you want to know what a comic is all about, just pick up the last issue, and if that holds true, then Blue Beetle is a book about crazy outer-space action with a hero who comes off as genuine, clever, and funny. And as it turns out, that’s a pretty accurate summary. So if you’ve been dodging it, well, there’s no time like the present to catch up what you’ve been missing. I just wish there was more of it to get caught up.


Conan the Cimmerian #8: At last, our long national nightmare is over: Finally, we have gotten an issue of Conan the Cimmerian that does not include a story about Conan’s grandfather tromping around the Hyborian Age. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I necessarily mind reading about Connacht–and the stories, by Tim Truman and Richard Corben, weren’t bad at all–but, well, the cover says Conan, and by Crom, that’s who I want to read about.

And that’s what we’ve got with this issue, as Truman and Tomas Giorello give us all what we paid to see, which is Conan eating an apple and straight up chopping off dudes heads. Plus, as an added bonus, there’s a beautiful pin-up by classic Conan artist and ISB favorite, wherein Conan and a wench are riding the World’s Fattest Horse. Do you dare miss it?


Golly! #4: One of the hazards of getting as many comics as I do and pulling my own subscription down at the shop on Wednesday morning is that I occasionally just skip right over grabbing stuff that I actually want to get. Such is the case with Golly!, which dropped last week and which I completely forgot about until Friend of the ISB Benito Cereno reminded me. And I’m glad he did, because I would’ve hated myself if I missed out on the series so far.

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up, Golly! is the story of a carny who gets picked by an angel to fight the forces of Hell on Earth. Yes, I know: That again? But under Phil Hester–who, in addition to being a great artist and a darn nice fellow, is a fine writer–and artist Brook Turner, it’s a heck of a fun read. And in this issue, when a sex vampire shows up at the fair with a pair of trailer park goths to do his bidding… well, that’s pretty much all you need to know to make an informed decision about whether you should be buying this thing.

(The answer is yes.)





Incredible Hercules #126: This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, as I’ve been in the tank for Incredible Herc ever since it started up, and everything I’ve said about the series thus far goes for this issue too. Beautiful art, big action, emotional moments balanced out with lighthearted humor, and a blending of mythology with the Marvel Universe that really does make it the spiritual successor to Simonson Thor, all that jazz. But really, that’s old news.

What’s worth mentioning, however, is how Pak and Van Lente manage to work all of that into every issue of the run. It’s easily one of Marvel’s best titles, and when you’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder alongside books like Brubaker’s Brubaker’s Daredevil, Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider and Jeff Parker’s All-The-Stuff-That-Jeff-Parker-Writes, that’s saying something.

Even better, this issue’s a great jumping on point–especially now that everything leading up to it‘s been collected with this week’s release of Love & War in hardcover. Heck, the only thing I don’t like about it is that it’s got five pages of “Saga” nonsense, which, honestly, does anyone like that stuff? Really, considering that Marvel’s dropping it into most everything they publish these days, I’d like to know if there’s anyone who takes the time to read through it and thinks they’re coming away with something they couldn’t have gotten from, you know, an actual story that recapped those events.

I mean really: Scanned panels and commentary? Who the hell wants to read that?

…wait a second…


Savage Dragon #145: Yeah yeah, I know: I’m a sucker for hype. But, since I did get the endorsement issue last year, I figured I might as well pick this one up as the bookend.

Believe it or not, I’ve never been much of a Savage Dragon reader, despite the fact that it hits all the Big Guy Punching People buttons that I like in an action comic. It’s just something that I never got into, although I did pick up the first Essential–sorry, the first Archive during a slow day at work, and found it to be immensely entertaining. Unlike a lot of the other early Image books, wherein the plots were largely oriented around jumping out of a plane to attack an enemy base, Erik Larsen seemed to be working in the framework of a larger story, with recurring gags and plot threads–like the woman who thought Dragon was her long-lost green-mohawked son–that kept things moving.

Of course, those issues came out fifteen years ago, so it’s a pretty big jump to this week’s. What surprised me, though, was how easy Larsen makes it to get right into the story. It’s a smart move–thanks to the Obama cover, this one’s probably the most widely circulated issue in years, albeit that’s mostly among the non-comics reading public that’s just dropping in to pick up the latest SUPER-HOT R@RE COLLECTIBLE–but he manages to pull off a new reader-friendly issue almost effortlessly, and with a brutal finish that, while telegraphed, lets the reader know exactly what the stakes are.

So who knows? Maybe I’ll grab the next one to see where it goes from here.


Youngblood #8: And on the flipside of this week’s Image Comics Obamapalooza, we have this one, where the main story trundles on enjoyably, while the backup celebrates the historic election of President Barack Obama by having him drawn by Rob Liefeld.

It is exactly what you think it’s like.

And that of course means that it is hilarious. It’s four pages of stet panels that are traced from photographs, and then boom, the president smiles and yep, that’s Rob Liefeld all right. The only way it could be better is if he had a bandolier made of pouches and a gun three times bigger than his arm.



And that’s the week. As always, if you have any questions on something I read or skipped over this week, or if you just want to talk about the master craftsmanship of Stan Sakai, feel free to leave a comment below. Before I’m done, though, two things:

First, for those of you who are actually interested in catching up on Sabrina the Teenage Witch after last week’s review, it’s come to my attention that while there’s only one graphic novel, Archie’s Sabrina Store does offer the back issues in bundles by year, going back to the start of Tania Del Rio’s run. It’s a little expensive to pick them all up at once if you’re going for all 42 issues, but for the most part, they’re cheaper than cover price and there’s no back issue hunting necessary.

And second, I’ve been meaning for a few weeks now to direct your eyes to Registered Weapon, a new webcomic that tells the gripping story of a hard-boiled cop on the edge and his partner, a robot that used to be a cash register, and I kept forgetting. But really, that one sells itself.

29 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: February 25, 2009

  1. They don’t actually have the 2005 issues of Sabrina(62-70) in stock. But after your review I was indeed interested and got the collection of the first 4 issues (Signed & Numbered, no less!) and the 2006 and 2007 sets. I just need to trust you used your power for good, not evil, this time.

  2. I always thought John McCain was more a Rob Liefeld character-looking guy. Squat, tough, inhuman smile, cliched-action-hero dialogue from a 1980s direct-to-video beat-’em-up…

    Although at least Obama’s tall, so Liefeld will have an excuse not to draw his feet.

  3. Man, I’m jealous of you this week. My store short-ordered Blue Beetle and Dynamo5 and won’t even get the new Mouse Guard until next week…

    As for next month’s Savage Dragon, I’m guessing Dragon, really mad about what happened to the alternate universe clones of some of his oldest friends, will track down the people responsible and beat seventeen kinds of crap out of them…

  4. It might just be my imagination… but when I read the words:

    “the backup celebrates the historic election of President Barack Obama by having him drawn by Rob Liefeld”,

    …I thought I heard a million hands slap a million foreheads.

  5. Must . . . fight . . . morbid curiosity . . .

    Must . . . not . . . pick up Youngblood . . .


  6. So is Obama just going around the comic-book world fist-bumping everyone he meets?

    Well, except Iron Man?

  7. Superman family 3! Superman family 3! Chris, I don’t want to steal your thunder by listing story highlights. But PLEASE review the last/2nd to the last story (I forget which one, but it involves Jimmy eating dog food…and that’s the most normal thing that happens to him all issue). Please.

  8. That “Krakow” bit was disproportionately amusing for me; the fact that I live in Poland may have something to do with it. At least Chris Sims has not forgotten about us!

    Gorąco pozdrawiam z deszczowej Polski, or, if your Polish happens to be a little bit rusty, best regards from rainy Poland!

    (Yes, it is difficult to get American comic books here – but not entirely impossible, fortunately!)

  9. “And second, I’ve been meaning for a few weeks now to direct your eyes to Registered Weapon, a new webcomic that tells the gripping story of a hard-boiled cop on the edge and his partner, a robot that used to be a cash register, and I kept forgetting. But really, that one sells itself.”

    Between the “haunches” line, the “Bite Out of Crime” joke, and the Gloop (or is it Gleep?) cameo on the playground, I have to agree.

  10. Yeah, how ’bout that Stan Sakai? I personally could go for more Usagi Yojimbo reviews, even though I know each review would be “It is Usagi Yojimbo”.

    But, since I only buy it in trades, i have to wait a while. And I don’t enjoy that.

    So, anyone got a favorite UY moment? While it’s been consistently excellent, I have to say my favorite story thus far was the duel at Kitanoji. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the various epic stuff, when everyone’s trying to take down a supernatural killer, or when Lord Hijiki is being a douche. Duel at Kitanoji, though, was just a very simple story about two swordmasters who were going to fight to see who was better.

    I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Anyone who has considered reading Usagi Yojimbo, just jump in anywhere. Stan Sakai is such a good storyteller that I guarantee you’ll be able to follow along without any problem. It’s better if you start from the beginning, but just jump on in.

  11. Archie’s Sabrina Store does offer the back issues in bundles by year, going back to the start of Tania Del Rio’s run.

    See, this is why you’re in charge.

  12. Wow. nothing NOTHING about the Archie family of titles? Please direct me to the reviews for fans of quality comics to read.

  13. See, this is why you’re in charge.

    Believe it or not, the managing editor of Archie emailed me to thank me for the review and let me know that they were available that way. So I guess that’s why he’s in charge.

  14. I’m confused.
    This whole Obama by Liefeld is just another hilarious ISB mashup right?
    Like Lil’ Bruce Wayne, right?
    Please tell me it’s a joke.

  15. “Ah, Chun-Li. Pretty, smart, and almost entirely facekick-oriented. Is it any wonder that I was so smitten in my younger days?”

    Oh yeah, it’s clear that your crush is entirely an artifact of your younger days. Nope, no crush around here.

  16. No G.I. Joe Origins #1 this week? You’re missing out Chris! It’s the best Joe comic I’ve read since it left Marvel…

  17. Ditto re: disappointment re: Blue Beetle getting the axe (particularly within a month of Manhunter).

    That said, I don’t think Matt Sturges kept the book to the level that John Rogers left it at. But it was still way over average in entertainment.

  18. Aw man, comment #3 took the “Liefeld never draws feet” joke HOURS before I even got here.

    Oh well. Maybe next time.

  19. No G.I. Joe Origins #1 this week?

    My store got GI Joe Origins last week, and I picked it up then. But I agree with you, it was loads of fun (which is why I mentioned it in the introduction to, you know, last week’s reviews).

  20. Hey bg,
    Count me in on wanting to see an occasional Usagi Yojimbo review. There are a few special Usagi things coming this year, too, like the new trade, a massive 2-hardcover collection of the first seven Fantagraphics books, and an original, fully-painted graphic novel.

    Favorite Usagi moment? Man, so many great ones to choose from. As just an easy obvious one – mostly because it’s so recent, but it could still really be one of the greatest comic moments of all time – it would be Usagi and Tomoe participating in the tea ceremony. I mean, wow. To fans of the serious, that was seriously powerful stuff, and all extremely understated. I could write essays on that one issue which had few words, a practically non-existent plot, and was, well, all about a simple tea ceremony.

  21. I was actually planning on reviewing Usagi this week with just a reminder that Stan Sakai is one of the few true masters of the form, telling stories that can be as deceptively simple as fairy tales or weaving in complex political intrigue and balancing it out with just cool lines like “I don’t bluff.” But, well, I do these things alphabetically, which means when I get to U, I’m pretty tired.

  22. Believe it or not, the managing editor of Archie emailed me to thank me for the review…

    I meant to say this at the time, but that Sabrina review has to be among your finest work- earnest, heartfelt, thoughtful, entertaining and informative.

    That and it has to be one of the more scholarly pieces of writing on Archie that I’ve ever seen. ^_^

    My favourite Usagi moment is kind of cheating a bit, because it’s not from the comics- rather, I have very fond memories of the Usagi Yojimbo cross-over with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on one of the recent series. Just for the sheer WTF of… holy crap, don’t I *know* these guys from somewhere? that I experienced.

    Re: New Zealand gag: All y’all should know that its nothing but non-stop chicks in leather armour and hobbits all up in this. Ya can’t throw a chakram without hitting a centaur or something, for serious.

  23. I picked up the Wondercon exclusive version of that comic ($10? Sure!) and … was pleasantly surprised as well. Now I HAVE to get the next issue. And I’ve NEVER. EVER. Bought an Image comic. Huh.