And now, a graphical representation of how my week went. I’ll be played by the girl in the mask, and the role of Car Trouble will be played by the always lovely Cammy White:
Yes, my Daewoo finally died this week–owing largely to the fact that it was a Daewoo–completing a journey that began with “Uh, that’s a funny noise” and ended with me on the side of the road in one of South Carolina’s many fine swamps. But, cut to a few days and my first journey into the world of financing later, and I’ve got a new (used) car and everything seems okay.
But hey, it’s Thursday, and that means it’s time for the Internet’s Most Cripplingly Indebted Comics Reviews! Here’s what I got this week…
…and here’s what I thought about ’em!
Batman: The Brave and the Bold #3: Some of you might recall that as much as I love the Brave and the Bold cartoon–and its promise of a forthcoming Batman/OMAC team-up, because I demanded it–the comic left me a little cold. As much as it attempted to capture the style of the show, right down to its animated-series-by-way-of-Dick-Sprang artwork, it was just missing something, and suffered by comparison to the old BATB team-ups that inspired the show. This one, however, had a cover where Batman was being sworn in as the President of the United States, and that’s not the kind of thing I’m capable of passing up.
And I’m glad I didn’t, because as clumsy as the first couple of issues were, this one’s a story right out of the Bob Haney/Jim Aparo playbook, with Batman standing in for the president and, because he’s Batman, doing a totally awesome job. Seriously, it’s got every goofy thing you could want, from hologram projectors to congressional fistfights. Heck, there’s even a scene set in Nova Scotia, and while I’d originally thought that was a fictional location like Gotham City or Thanagar, Rachelle informs that it’s actually quite real.
Who says you can’t learn anything from comics?
Daredevil #117: Okay, so first things first: This issue’s awesome, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark are doing a story about the Kingpin returning to New York (for what has got to be the third or fourth time) that spins out of the newly released Lady Bullseye arc, and like the rest of the run, the stories flow so organically from one to the next that it stands out as one of the few examples of genuine long-form storytelling in a market that’s increasingly built around pre-fab six-issue trades. That’s old news, and seriously, if you need me to tell you that Brubaker and Lark have been doing great things here, then hello and welcome to the wonderful world of comics. I’m Chris Sims, and I like Batman a lot.
The real story in this book comes on page three, where it’s revealed that Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn are actually low-level hoods in the Kingpin’s criminal empire. Sure, you might think it’s just Lark’s way of including a couple of famous fans, but those of us that are In The Know™ recognize this as the first step of laying the groundwork for Marvel’s merger with the Comedians of Comedy. I mean really, now that we’ve seen Posehn and Oswalt as part of the 616 underground, can Zach Galifianakis as Micah Synn be far behind? Folks, it is the role he was born to play.
Of course, that’s just speculation at this point, but sources on the inside have tipped me off to one thing that we know for sure: Maria Bamford as Typhoid Mary.
Think about it, won’t you?
GI Joe: Origins #2: With as much as I loved the first issue of Origins–going so far as to declare it hands-down the best of the three ongoing GI Joe titles, which admittedly isn’t saying all that much–this one was kind of a letdown. It’s not a bad comic, especially the bit with Heavy Duty and the bank robbers, but the sharp storytelling of #1’s been replaced by awkward flashbacks and an exposition about “The Snake-Man” that could’ve gone a lot smoother. Even Mike Hawthorne’s art seems rushed in this one, but if the first one was the top-notch Larry Hama of the Snake-Eyes Trilogy, then this one’s a little closer to the guy who wrote Ninja Force and that run on Batman.
Okay, well, maybe not that bad–nowhere near it, actually–but still, not quite as good as I wanted it to be.
The Incredibles #1: This week, BOOM! Studios launched their kids’ imprint with a couple of licensed properties that, all in all, are some pretty good choices. This one, of course, is based on the incredibly enjoyable Pixar movie from a couple of years back, and while it does lose the voice of beloved author and NPR personality Sarah Vowell in its transition to the printed page, Mark Waid and Marcio Takara do their best to make up for it by throwing in a robot who rides a dinosaur on page one.
And that’s all you really need to know about it: There’s a robo that rides a dinosaur. I mean really, Waid’s been doing well-done super-hero comics for like twenty years, and he’s certainly on stranger to doing a book about a family of super-heroes that includes a strong guy, someone who stretches, and someone who can make invisible force-fields, so the characters are in pretty good hands here. Admittedly, Bob comes off as a little bit more of a blowhard than I recall from the film (though to be fair, it’s been a while since I’ve watched it) and I think he may have tipped his hand early on an upcoming reveal, but, well, there’s not a lot of pride in figuring out one of the twists in a kids’ comic, y’know? Takara’s also a nice surprise, managing to stay on-model without falling into a slavish attempt to recreate the CGI on the printed page. It’s fun stuff, and if you liked the movie–or especially, if you know any kids who did–pick it up and give it a read.
Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #55: So apparently, there is something called the “Project Fanboy Awards,” and Tarot won three of them, which I know because there’s a picture of Holly G.–the Mrs. of the Balent Household–on the inside front cover wearing nothing but said awards.
Anyway, let me repeat the relevant part here: Tarot won three awards, and not a single one of them was for Most Haunted Vagina. Instead, in addition to giving “Best Indy Villain” to a character who hasn’t been a villain in like eight years, the Internet voters behind Project Fanboy awarded Tarot both “Best Title” and “Best Indy Title.” Seriously. That actually happened. And one can only assume that it’s issues like this, wherein Tarot goes to the Witchity County Fair and divines the future by groping a naked woman with ouija board tattoos (with “Yes” and “No” on her breasts, naturally), that have convinced people that this is THE ABSOLUTE BEST THAT COMIC BOOKS HAVE TO OFFER.
Or if not the plot, then certainly the dialogue. Here’s a sample: ‘”I can sense the wisdom and grace from a mother witch as she caresses her secret lover disguised as a cat.” For the grammarians among you, it’s the secret lover that’s disguised as a cat, not the mother witch, although really, at this point does it matter? I think not, as Tarot has been recognized by you, the Internet users, as THE CURRENT PINNACLE OF THE COMIC BOOK ART FORM. SERIOUSLY. THERE WAS A VOTE. AND IT WON.
Me, I don’t make any judgments on the matter, but I will say that this issue’s got one definite mark in its favor, as it’s one of the issues where Jim Balent just draws a bunch of real-life people into the story to fill out the crowds. And that means that at last, he has shown us the coolest motherfucker on Planet Earth:
I swear, I am not even joking: That dude is radder than a BMX backflip. And that’s real.
Usagi Yojimbo #119: It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Usagi, mostly because I’d be saying the same stuff every time it came out. Stan Sakai is one of the true masters of his craft, and he brings a level of talent and dedication to the table that really leaves nothing else to be said. Still, every now and then it’s worth noting just how great that guy is, and in this issue’s a great example, not just for the way Sakai does action and drama, but how he’s able to effortlessly balance humor in there as well. It’s a difficult trick to pull off, but there’s a bit in this one where Usagi and Kiyoko are essentially playing Keep Away with a horde of zombie samurai, and despite the tension that Sakai’s been building over the past two issues, it’s hilarious. It’s a neat little trick that’s deceptively hard to pull off, but it’s one of his trademarks, and it’s one of many things about this book that makes it one of the best titles on the stands.
And that’s the week! As always, any questions or concerns can be left in the comments section below, but before I head out for the night, a special ISB Shout-Out to reader Tim Bishop. He knows why!