The Week In Ink: March 11, 2009

It’s that time again!

 

 

Yes, it’s Thursday night, and while that usually means a celebration with the Internet’s Most Holly Jolly Comics Reviews, I come to you tonight with a heavy heart. For you see, tonight, it was finally determined that I did not meet notability guidelines, and the ISB’s Wikipedia entry was removed. Or maybe it was because it opened like this:

Chris Sims is an American writer and humorist who is awesome at video games and is probably the raddest thing since MegaForce.

Oh, [Citation Needed]! Why must you vex me so?

Ah well, I’ll just have to console myself over my re-relegation to z-list Comics Internet Fame with all the good stuff that’s out there. Like, say, Ed Brubaker’s awesome Angel of Death!

For those of you who aren’t aware of it, Angel of Death is a web series written by Brubaker and starring Zoe Bell, whom you may remember from Death Proof, and it’s very much along the same lines as Brubaker’s crime comics. And if you’ve ever read any of those, you probably already have the sneaking–and absolutely correct–suspicion that it’s going to be awesome.

It was done up as a web series with a new eight-minute chapter released every weekday over the past two weeks, with the last episode dropping today, so now’s the perfect time to sit back and watch it from the start, and you really ought to, as it’s loads of fun. Bell makes an extremely appealing character–especially in the funnier bits of the first and second episodes–and the fight scenes are well-done and brutal. Plus, there are cameos by Lucy Lawless and that hero to children everywhere, Ted Raimi, which makes it well worth the price of admission. Which is, you know, free. So get on that.

And in the meantime, I’ll get started on these reviews! Here’s what I got this week…

 

 

…and here’s what I thought about it!

 


 

Batman Confidential #27: I love this comic book.

Seriously, as much as I enjoyed the first issue of the King Tut arc, this one darn near blows it away, and it’s exactly the kind of Batman comic I’d like to see more of. It’s accessible, fairly straightforward without feeling like it’s been dumbed down, and more than anything else, it reminds me of the Puckett/Parobeck Batman Adventures from the mid-90s. And coming from me, that’s pretty high praise, but this is the sort of comic that I feel like I could give to a kid and really wow him with how fun Batman can be.

Of course, there is a scene where a murderer chases down a woman in Sexy Lingerie™ for seven pages, but c’mon, kids love that stuff. I mean, my first comic had a coke-addled South American smacking around his girlfriend and getting booted off a balcony by Jason Todd. I read that when I was six, and I turned out okay, if you’re willing to overlook the whole college-dropout-who-works-in-a-comic-book-store-thing.

Which brings me another thing about this book: It is absolutely gorgeous. This isn’t really news, as it’s still being drawn by the legendary Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez–whose work I will praise for as long as he wants to draw comic books–being inked like Kevin Nowlan, a combination that’s just incredible. It’s deceptively simple, too, but the more you look at it, the more you notice just how detailed it really is, especially the facial expressions. I’m partial to Batman’s raised eyebrow in the panel I used for this week’s shopping list above–the perfect compliment to a great piece of dialogue from DeFilippis and Weir–but check out Miss Carson’s face in this panel:

 

 

It’s perfect.

And it all adds up to something that’s just plain good comics. Well-written, beautifully drawn, and flat-out fun, it’s the sort of thing that needs to be on the stands, and DC oughtta keep this team around to do them.

 

ISB BEST OF THE WEEK

 

 

Captain Britain and MI13 #11: A friend of mine called me the other day and we got to talking about how if you went back in time to ten, even five years ago and told us that the best comics on the stands would be books like Hercules
, Nova, and Ghost Rider, let alone that we’d live long enough to see the X-Men fighting Godzilla an atomic mutant super-lizard, we would not have believed a word of it.

And yet, here we are, in a world where Captain Britain (which actually stars Pete Wisdom) is the single most exciting book coming out.

Crazy, I know, but this is a book where Dracula has returned–from the moon–to declare war on the UK, and while that started with Big D shooting vampires out of cannons at England from space, it actually keeps getting better. Paul Cornell’s writing is just incredibly sharp, from Pete Wisdom’s badass moment to Dracula’s seething, bitter hatred of Blade, to… well, to pretty much everything. Heck, the only thing it doesn’t have is Union Jack, and considering that that guy’s entire deal is that he fights vampires with a knife, I’m holding out some hope that he’ll make an appearance (NOTE: Actually, he does! I just didn’t realize it. See the comments section).

As for Leonard Kirk, well, if you’re a regular reader of my reviews, you might’ve noticed that I often have a harder time talking about artists than writers. But seriously, just grab a copy of Agents of Atlas–or even the first trade of CB&MI13–and try to tell me that dude can’t draw the hell out of a comic book.

Even if you haven’t read a single issue of the story, pick this one up and give it a look. Like the best writers, Cornell’s able to give you a part of a larger story that’s intriguing enough on its own to make you want to read the rest, and it is well worth it.

 

Ghost Rider #33: Earlier, I mentioned that Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider was one of Marvel’s best titles, but the sharp-eyed and/or obsessive among you might’ve noticed that I haven’t been picking it up weekly. See, the plan was to get the trades since I missed out on the first few issues, but when I heard that the last issue centered around two guys with flaming skulls for heads deciding the fate of the Earth by racing around the world on motorcycles that were also on fire, I decided that waiting was for suckers, I need to be reading this now.

And what an issue to jump on with. This one has everything. So much that I don’t even really want to talk about it because I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s just so awesome that I have to. So for those of you who haven’t read this issue, go out and do so immediately, and in the meantime I’ll meet you down there where I’m writing poetry about GI Joe. Those of you who have read it (or who just don’t care about spoilers, fair warning), stick around.

 

 

 

Okay, everybody gone? Right: So this issue not only features nuns with nunchuks–NUNS WITH NUNCHUKS–but also shows a bunch of different Spirits of Vengeance through the ages, and while that involves a future Ghost Rider patterned after Megadeth’s mascot, Rattlehead, that is not the best part. No, that would have to be either the Ghost Rider based on Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed from Smokey and the Bandit or the one based on Lone Wolf McQuade–not Chuck Norris, but a Ghost Rider version of Lone Wolf McQuade specifically, complete with headband, wolf and truck and if you are anything like me, YOU ARE NOW FREAKING OUT. If you hadn’t read the issue, you would think I was making this stuff up, but no: It’s like Jason Aaron and Tony Moore looked into my head and said “We will give you something that you never knew you wanted, but will wonder how you ever lived without.” Hell-Driver and the Devil Rig. Goddamn that is awesome.

 

 

 

Okay, spoiler-filled gushing over, and for those of you who cheated, yes: that is what happens in this issue. Go forth and purchase immediately.

 

GI Joe #3: And now, a Joeku:

Finally! A fight!
Only took three damn issues.
But where’s Commander?


 

Special Forces #4: Special Forces is brilliant. Amazingly, mind-blowingly brilliant.

If you haven’t read it, the best thing I can compare it to is RoboCop, and while that might sound weird, bear with me for a second and I’ll try to explain: At its heart, RoboCop is a commentary on crass commercialism, corporate control and the dehumanizing effect of technology, but for all its layers and biting satire, it’s still a movie about a half-man, half-machine, all-cop who fights guys who say things like “You think you’re smart! Think you can outsmart a bullet?” and eventually kills enough people that everything works out okay in typical action movie fashion. In short, it’s the rare gem that’s equally good at being a satire and the exact thing it’s satirizing, and succeeds for that exact reason.

And Special Forces works the same way. At its heart, it’s a book about the horrors of war, and brother, it is scathing in its commentary. Kyle Baker is about as subtle as a sledgehammer with what he’s doing, but it’s absolutely masterful, from the way the book was solicited as the wacky misadventures of a team that, for the most part, all died horribly in the first issue to the literal list of perks the mercenaries of Greywater International get to the jaw-dropping balls-of-steel epigraph on the last page. It’s intense. And yet, it’s staged as an action story that builds on its own ridiculous with truly expert manipulation. Baker gives us the Michael Bay version of the war in Iraq for just long enough that we get swept up in it, and then reminds us that no, this shit is actually going on. There are scenes in this series that twist from laugh-out-loud funny to the outright tragedy you can only get from something that really happened, and it can be an uncomfortable read at times–which, given its nature, is not a bad thing. It’s just astonishing, and man, it’s a story that took some guts to pull off.

And I think that duality makes it difficult for people to get a handle on, a fact that Baker himself highlights by printing two letters in this issue, one of which accuses him of being anti-American propaganda and another, from comics creator Trina Robbins, that expresses her shock that the comic’s not anti-war.

It’s no secret that Baker is easily one of my all-time favorite creators, and while it might just be that I’m still basking in the afterglow of another finished series and as much as I shy away from using terms like “important,” I honestly think this one’s going to go down as one of the most important works of his career. There’s a paperback coming out this summer, so if you missed out, tell your shop you want one.

 


 

And that’s the week! As always, any questions on something I read this week, such as a discussion of Mark Andrew Smith’s Coville-esque New Brighton Archaeological Society, can be left in the comments section below.

And hey, don’t forget to click the banner in the sidebar to head over to Zuda and check out Scourge of Atlantis, by my good pals Jim and Pierre. And if you like it, give it a vote!

29 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: March 11, 2009

  1. Not following Battle for the Cowl? I actually had never read a post-Silver Age Batman comic until I picked those up and I’m enjoying them.

    Though that could be why I’m enjoying them, who knows.

  2. Fables felt a bit off kilter to me as well, and it took me a while to figure out why. But we’ve never been shown that famous fables can come back from the dead. They can be replaced (like the 3 Little Pigs), or they can simply not die when their wounds should be fatal (like Snow White). Neither of those are what the fables are expecting with Boy Blue, and as such the story didn’t have the impact I think it was meant to.

  3. Union Jack IS actually in Cap Britain this week – hes the Joe Chapman guy who starts shouting about Spitfire’s disappearance as the intelligence meeting starts. They could have done a better job of identifying him though.

    Thats one of the things I loved about this issue that you didnt seem to pick up on – all the little references to old British Marvel continuity. Motormouth (from 90s comic “Motormouth and Killpower”) appears in the hospital, and at the intel meeting youve got Clive Reston and Black Jack Tarr from Master of Kung Fu, the aforementioned Union Jack and references to Lance Hunter, Agent of S.T.R.I.K.E. from the 1970s Captain Britain Weekly.

    Also Dracula as a super-villain rules and Cornell’s racist take on him is cool. I wish they were using his “Gene Colan pencil moustache from Tomb of Dracula” look (like on next issues cover!) rather than the “Uncanny X-Men-goatee” look though.

  4. How can you not say more about the Sandman Mystery Theater trade! Sell it, Sims! SELL. IT.

    -love, Steve Seagle.

  5. WAIT – KILLPOWER APPEARS IN THE CAPTAIN BRITAIN COMIC?

    Oh hell yes. I’m happy about that, even if it is just one picture. I stopped buying the comic as I missed an issue, so decided to get it in trades instead. I want it now, thougggggh. Also, I demand an appearance by Colonel Liger and his gun, Clementine. Oh, ludicrous Marvel UK childhood memories…

    Also: Ghost Rider was AMAZING this week. It’s the only comic I’m buying just now, and it is making me happy. It’s basically just doing the whole “Iron Fists through the ages” thing, but when that features Smokey and the Bandit, I am overjoyed, quite frankly.

  6. Killpower doesn’t appear though he (“Julian”)is mentioned.Hes apparently been abducted by Drac, so he should appear in later issues. Motormouth briefly appears.

  7. That’s just as thrilling, quite frankly. I am easily thrilled. I hope to one day see Death’s Head II making out with Albion from the Knights of Pendragon. Though Death’s Head II doesn’t really have any lips? He does have a sort of grille and (I assume) a tongue, though. And he can transform his arm into a variety of things.

    Perhaps it’s time to get working on some fanfiction?

  8. Kyle Baker is one of the few creators whose work always seems fresh and interesting to me. I discovered him through “King David” and have loved everything of his I’ve seen.

  9. Special Forces is powerful work – people should just start mailing awards to Kyle Baker now (and seriously, that includes you, Pulitzer Prize committee).

  10. When I first read the Captain Britain review, a part of my brain went, “hang on, pretty sure Union Jack’s in that intel meeting”.
    Good to see that valmurph is way ahead of me.

  11. At the risk of being riducled: In the past and future of Ghost Riders, where would Zero Cochrane, aka Ghost Rider 2099, fit into it?

  12. My God. I really am freaking out. “We gonna ride this smokey straight to HELL.” The trucker hat which is an actual trucker hat. The trailer art.

    I would read that series, yes I would. At least until the Smokey Is The Hell-Driver arc.

  13. Iron Fist actually made it a nice trinity of Marvel badassery this week. The captured immortal weapons leaving Morse Code messages for each other in blood & bone is Hard. Core. I was so worried about this book when Brubaction left it, but Duane Swhatizname has done a bang up job.

  14. Just noticed the SMT listing. I didn’t think “The Mist” was so good at the time. It moved slowly, and only got propelled by a few action scenes and Wesley getting ready to perform special services to his girlfriend. Bear in find, I was reading Starman at the time, so I was jaded. I did like the SMT bit in the middle of “Sand And Stars,” though.

  15. “it’s the rare gem that’s equally good at being a satire and the exact thing it’s satirizing, and succeeds for that exact reason.”

    …err…
    well, just to even things out the same director tried the same approach with ‘Starship Troopers’ and it blew up in his face. So that’s good.

  16. While we’re collecting character references in Captain Britain, let’s not overlook that the undercover vampire in the war room scene is the spitting image of Doctor Who.

    I wonder if that was the writer’s idea or the artist’s? It would be funny if it was planted as a surprise for Paul Cornell :)

  17. Just finished reading Special Forces and I’m still wondering what to say about it.

    If read as a simple action story it kicks ass, but you can tell that there’s so much more than that.

    I’d say that Trina Robbins really missed the point here (even though Baker says otherwise): the action stuff with the hot babe were just a smokescreen for what he really wanted to say.

    And the photos of the kids born with deformities because of depleted uranium on issue 3 really freaked me out

  18. Yeah, I’m gonna wait on “Special Forces.” After the way Baker screwed the pooch on “Truth,” he’s got to submit some off the charts work to get my money ever again.

  19. “well, just to even things out the same director tried the same approach with ‘Starship Troopers’ and it blew up in his face. So that’s good.”

    What? Starship troopers is the most entertaining and intelligent scifi film of the 1990’s. Definetely Verhoeven’s best.

  20. The only way Starship Troopers failed is that a very high percentage of viewers didnt realise on the satire, but Robocop has exactly the same problem, so i’d call it an even draw.

  21. “But we’ve never been shown that famous fables can come back from the dead. They can be replaced (like the 3 Little Pigs), or they can simply not die when their wounds should be fatal (like Snow White).”

    Didn’t Totenkinder come back from the dead? It’s true she’s a different class of Fable to Boy Blue, but still. And besides, I thought the point was that it was supposed to be ambiguous whether he would come back. To keep us on tenterhooks.

  22. “The only way Starship Troopers failed is that a very high percentage of viewers didnt realise on the satire”

    Plus all the people in it who couldn’t act. And the terrible dialogue. And the expectations of a movie that at least TRIED to resemble the book. Oh and everyone being from Brazil and yet whiter than me. And did I mention the awful, awful acting?