The Week In Ink: March 25, 2009

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?

 

ISB BEST OF THE WEEK

 

 

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.

Yeah.

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!

63 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: March 25, 2009

  1. Ok, so I’m an idiot who has always meant to check out Usagi, but never got around to it. Would this issue be a decent jumping on point, or should I wait until the start of a new arc? And does the fact that I’m only familiar with Stan Sakai’s lettering work for Groo have any impact at all on me enjoying this title? Or does it just show that I like to ask questions? Does it?

  2. I forgot to mention that this week I voted Incredible Hercules my favorite Hercules comic, and my favorite comic starring Hercules. That’s two awards, people.

  3. What the… How did I miss that both Captain America and Jack of Fables came out this week? Completely failed to buy either of those.

    In other news, I’m surprised you didn’t mention Spider-Man’s Christian Bale impression. I think that’s the first time that Spidey’s wisecracking actually made me laugh. Seriously, I LOLed, as the kids say.

  4. I understand foreshortening in concept, but there is something terribly, terribly wrong with that panel from SF2T.

  5. I would very much like you to review Bomb Queen.

    That Balent dude? He’s so cool he’s ABSOLUTE ZERO.

  6. I have to agree with NBarnes, although I’m not familiar with foreshortening. I can’t really even tell what end of Cammy I’m looking at there.

  7. Oh, man, Bomb Queen. Explosions and breasts would make a nice concept for a live action movie, but man… that comic was actually recommended to me. It took me two pages to become a little offended that someone thought I’d like it.

  8. Man, I empathize with you about the car. I just had mine die on me a couple weeks back and had to replace it…

    “I would very much like you to review Bomb Queen.
    @kincsem1874: Why do you hate Sims to wish that? Next you’ll be saying he should review all the issues of The Ant. Between Tarot and Anita Blake I’m pretty sure alcohol can only blunt so much…

  9. Oh and the Reptil one-shot, was that not the cutest and sweetest thing ever in a Marvel book not drawn by Colleen Coover?

    *note to self: Harrass Marvel about Coover drawing a book about those two written by her husband.*

  10. Really? You like Batman a lot? Surely you jest, dude.

    That being said, I also like Batman a lot. http://www.batmanaday.wordpress.com I’m aware that that stuff isn’t as ridiculous as it could be, but once I figure out how to draw robot alien dinosaurs, I’ll make sure Batman eats a popsicle with one of them.

    Just because, you know, I can. And because I’m sure you’d be all about that.

  11. Why is Cher appearing in drag in the pages of Tarot?

    I blame the Posehn-Oswalt Effect.

  12. Bomb Queen lost any chance to ever interest me when the writer told me that it wasn’t enough for me to buy it, he “demanded” (and yes, he used that exact word) that I recommend it to everyone I knew, because the reason comics were failing was because fans didn’t do enough to promote their hobby.

    Ever since, it’s been kind of hard to disengage the comic from the memory of someone insisting that I do his marketing for him for free. :)

  13. I’m picturing Balent at various wicca conventions throughout the years, talking up this thing called the “Project Fanboy Awards,” and nobody there reads comics other than his, and he’s all “y’know, if you feel like you want to vote for me …” and then late at night after he’s done drawing boobies for the day he’s furiously designing the “Project Fanboy Awards” using Photoshop.

    That *is* the explanation, right?

  14. “Two time winner of the Nobel Prize for Awesome Chris Sims died this evening at his home on his private Caribbean island following a marathon forty-one hour session with his harem of Street Fighter look alikes. Spokesperson for the family Chun Li is quoted as saying, ‘His only regret was reading that one issue of Bomb Queen fifty years ago.’”

    @jazzbo, you’re in luck since I’ve been working my way through Usagi for the past year after hearing about it forever. I’m up to volume 18 as of this week, though I stalled for a long while because one of the books was a real pain to get (there seems to be a new printing, or at least all of the people who had it out of stock now have new copies and used copies are no longer going for more than fifty dollars).

    You really should start at the beginning with Usagi. Sakai sets up a lot of major concepts in short, stand alone tales which he eventually begins drawing together into bigger and bigger arcs. I can’t tell you about it’s current status (I’m six or seven books back from the current series) but if the trend continued then you’ll want to read the older material first.

    Fortunately for you Fantagraphics has an omnibus of all of its Usagi Yojimbo material coming. That’s the first seven volumes of the trade paperbacks; roughly a thousand pages. That’s due in June and would be the best bet for anyone interested in the series.

  15. Nick, I’d bet on it. Looking at the site for the awards they’re voted on as a web poll and 2008 was the first time they were handed out. I’d guess we’re either looking at ballot stuffing or one of those cases where a community has around a website has inflated a particular title well beyond it’s actual quality or popularity.

    Not that anything like that could happen on any other comics blogs. ;-)

  16. Consider me shouted and outed. I just knew replacing your transmission fluid with ranch dressing would be the right move. Thanks for noticing.

  17. Is adding “Project” supposed to make “Fanboy” sound cool or legit? Or like a reality TV competition?

  18. “Anyway, let me repeat the relevant part here: Tarot won three awards, and not a single one of them was for Most Haunted Vagina.”

    So you’re saying it should have won four?

  19. @jazzbo: I like to tell people that I got into Usagi Yojimbo by reading volume 18 (out of 19 at the time), which was so completely awesome that I went back and found the previous 17 volumes (plus Space Usagi). About the only volume that’s not a good jumping on point is Grasscutter II (vol. 14 or so), only because it is a sequel to vol. 1 (9 or 10?). If you start from the beginning of an arc, I think the same would apply to the single-issue comics, too.

    Plus, omnibus of the Fantagraphics Usagi volumes? Where you see this? If it’s full comic-book size vs. the smaller size of the regular volumes, I’d totally double-dip for that.

  20. I thought the Posehn Oswalt Team-Up started in Daredevil a while back… no? I know I saw them somewhere before, I think it was the arc before Lady Bullseye.

  21. Edward: It’s listed on Amazon as “Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition”. Dimensions are given as 9 by 7, though.

  22. Maria Bamford as Typhoid Mary? That’s not even a stretch.

    And I gotta say, reading your own obituary is the raddest experience you will ever have. Take my word for it.

  23. Wow, thanks for the news about the Usagi omnibus. I can finally catch up in one fell swoop.

  24. A Joel Gertner reference? The quintessential stud muffin, Sexual intellectual and a God damn handsome man Joel Gertner? Joel “hotter than Tobasco and loads easier to swallow Gertner? THAT Joel Gertner? Good call, Chris.

  25. When I saw the cover to the latest Tarot, I had to say something to everyone standing near me in the comic book store, which led to various people claiming what they thought was ridiculous about the book. I think that they all missed the most obvious answer: its own existence is the most ridiculous part of it.

    Maybe you had to be there.

  26. Chris… I know you do not lie, but I actually had to go look up these Project Fanboy awards myself. Just to confirm that yes, Tarot won.

    oh god

  27. I think the people who voted for Tarot mistakenly believed they were voting for Best Tittie.

  28. “I thought the Posehn Oswalt Team-Up started in Daredevil a while back… no? I know I saw them somewhere before, I think it was the arc before Lady Bullseye.”

    They’ve appeared quite a few times since they started IIRC. Also, one talks like a Bendis character and one talks like a Frank Miller character :)

  29. “So you’re saying it should have won four?”

    David, if ever there was an award that Tarot worked for and earned, it would have to be “Most Haunted Vagina.”

    Unless Madonna was also in the running.

  30. Okay, the Tarot thing has to be a joke.

    Everyone thought it would be hilarious to vote for Tarot and things just got a little out of hand.

    There is absolutely no other explanation in the world that I will accept.

  31. Oh God, it gets worse. I went to the Project Fanboy website, possibly out of subconscious suicidal tendencies, and what was at the top of the page? The “Why I Read Tarot” Video Contest.

    I have not clicked the “play” button on that page, and am profoundly terrified of what the file in question might contain.

  32. So, who did win for “Most Haunted Vagina”?

    And, that last picture of “the coolest motherfucker on Planet Earth”? I’m positive that’s a woman with fake facial hair. Or a pre-op tranny. You decide!

  33. Oh GAWD, Chris, the cat sentence was not even the worst of the bunch. Tarot, especially the earlier issues, often has the indy problem of proper grammar and spelling. True story: One time I actually emailed the Balants and offered myself as a volunteer editor. I didn’t even expect a response, but Holly did do so and was incredibly gracious. It turned out that a) Holly was dyslexic and b) they do have an editor but he was missing stuff, but she would bring it up with Jim.

    Another thing: If there’s anything Tarot has going for it, its that the artwork and color is top-notch, but Jesus, there’s always something off-putting in the artwork when I know the Balants are putting in real people or their friends. Not only is there that uncanny divide thing going on, but after seeing the “regular” anatomical structure of the Tarot characters, suddenly looking at somewhat normal people freaks me the hell out.

  34. It turned out that a) Holly was dyslexic and b) they do have an editor but he was missing stuff, but she would bring it up with Jim.

    … Well now I feel like a dick. Moreso than usual I mean.

  35. Too bad about your adventures in the swamps, Chris.

    Did Man-Thing show up to give you a tow after you called the auto club? If so, that must have been an interesting ride into town.

  36. @LurkerWithout I most certainly do not hate Chris Sims and therefore take back my request about Bomb Queen. I’ve never seen the comic myself but you’re correct, the torture of Anita Blake and Tarot should be enough.

    I simply forget sometimes that Chris Sims is a mere mortal.

  37. Chris.
    Dude.
    Brace Yourself.
    Warren G. Pimpington III up there? In what I imagine to be the purple velour pimp-coat and frilly Prince ™ brand shirt.

    I think thats supposed to be you dude. An androgynous you, but you nonetheless.

  38. This is why you’re my favorite blogger; no one else makes Joel Gertner references.

  39. Heheh… it’s the AndrogiGrumpus.

    Any chance you checked out the new Muppet Show comic? I’ll admit I have a soft-spot for the Muppets, but the Crazy Harry cameo on page two made my day. ^_^

  40. Fuck…me…running…

    Dude, if that ain’t you, it is a look you could pull off with remarkable ease.

    Seriously, man. You are a light coat of foundation, a lot of mascara and a wardrobe overhaul away from tearing up Carolina Jim Balent-style!

    That is awesome.

  41. The lettering in Hercules includes bleeping out curse words with little skull-and-crossbones.

    NEXTWAVE LIVES!

  42. “I think the people who voted for Tarot mistakenly believed they were voting for Best Tittie.”

    Seriously, man, we can do better than Tarot for Best Tittie. Frank Cho’s got Jim Balent’s number, and Frank Cho’s got Jim Balent’s ass.

  43. I’ve always pictured Chris (who, for one thing, does have both a chin *and* a neck) as more of a caucasian Luke Cage than that Gothic Nolita in Tarot.

    Kevin Church, on the other hand…

  44. Re: Madame Xanadu #9:

    31 years? Looks like you missed your chance…we got to see her naked 21 years ago in Spectre #9 (drawn by Gray Morrow, no less!).

  45. Erich is the Mr. Skin of comics.
    ……..
    ……..
    ……..is there one already? ‘cus that’d be pretty awesome.
    …Yeah, I know. (sigh) I know.

  46. Sorry Chris, but I just don’t care about DD. In order to read DD you have to like the Frank Miller run, and I didn’t dig Miller’s run. If you don’t like
    Miller’s run you won’t like Smith’s run. You won’t like Bendis run. You won’t like Brubakers run. You won’t like Diggle’s run. I’m waiting for a writer to do something that isn’t inspired by Frank Miller’s run.

  47. I only care about one thing: is that Chimera dude from GI Joe Origins #1 meant to be Cobra Commander?? Please Chris, tell me that (if it was already revealed or explained who that guy was supposed to be)! I’m a huge Cobra fan and I didn’t read #2 yet.

  48. Anthony W, you missed your chance. You should just read Nocenti’s run. You can’t get farther away from Miller than beating up Ultron with a stick and fighting a possessed vacuum cleaner, and you don’t have to wait for it since it happened 20 years ago!

  49. I know I’ve said this before on here, but I will repeat it as many times as necessary. Any of you who are waiting for “a good jumping on” point for Usagi Yojimbo?

    Pretty much any place is good (though I’d recommend just buying a trade rather than a single issue). I randomly bought the 9th trade, Daisho, at my comic store because it was the only one that had at the time.

    Stan Sakai is such a good storyteller that, even if you’ve never read anything before, you can follow along. Yes, you’ll miss out on a few things, and it’s better when you’ve read all of it together, but just jump in.

  50. Maria Bamford as Typhoid Mary? That’s not even a stretch.

    Oh God I would KILL to read that.

  51. Sorry Chris, but I just don’t care about DD. In order to read DD you have to like the Frank Miller run, and I didn’t dig Miller’s run.

    No need to apologize! It’s well within your right to not like good comics.

    I’m waiting for a writer to do something that isn’t inspired by Frank Miller’s run.

    Karl Kessel and Cary Nord, right before it was rebooted for Smith. The last known appearance of Swashbuckling Daredevil.

  52. The award for Best Indy Villain should really have gone to Major Arnold Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

  53. I should have said that your were my favorite blogger because only you can take the horror of Tarot and get a Joel Gertner reference out of it earlier. So I’m saying it now, since people are still commenting on this week’s reviews.

  54. For the record, in the back of the Tarot issue (like all the “gallery of sketches of people I met at a con” issues) there are photos of the people the for-lack-of-a-better-term characters in the issue are based on along with their first names (or at least the names they gave Balent, in some cases obviously stage names or nommes de Wicca). I brought this up to discredit the notion that Rumple-pimp-skin up there is based on Simms, but upon checking the issue in question, the fellow is identified as “Christian.” So, hmm…

    Also, for the record, I hereby declare the oracle in this issue the “Ouja Broad.”