The cold’s still lingering in the form of a nagging cough, but I’ve been feeling a lot better ever since I saw this:
Yes, friends, such is the power of Lobster Johnson putting a boot to a rampaging Nazi gorilla. So awesome it can even heal the sick. Or maybe it was the NyQuil, but either way, it’s Thursday night and neither disease nor shipping delays can stop the Internet’s Most Unrelenting Comics Reviews!
Here’s what got me out of my deathbed this week…
…but was it worth it? The answers start now!
The All-New Atom #15: You know, I’m not overstating things when I say that I’d be all about a four-issue solo mini-series for Ryan Choi’s sidekick, the Amazing Interdimensional Floating Head. That thing–which in this issue wears a cape made out of a shower curtain and saves Ivy Town from rampaging Kaiju through the judicious application of pheromones–is just pure Gail Simone comedy gold.
Of course, that’s only part of the appeal here in an issue that delivers a solid eighteen pages of fun. The other four, of course, are the remnants of the Countdown tie-in that lead the issue, but, well, it’s got Kyle Rayner in a halfway decent costume for the first time this century, and the rest of the issue’s so undeniably enjoyable that it more than makes up for an incomprehensible appearance by the doe-eyed Mrs. Terry Long. It’s great stuff, and at this point, I’m really starting to wonder if I was actually losing my mind a few months ago when my interest in the title fell so low. It’s a theory that seems to be backed up by the fact that it’s taken me fifteen issues to realize that Ryan Choi’s running crew includes Professor Phineas Potter, the frequent supporting cast member/Macguffin of the Silver Age Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen books, and considering that he’s the one who provided the “time bomb” that sent Jimmy Olsen back in time to become a Nazi soldier, you’d think I woulda caught that earlier.
Amazons Attack #6: Thanks to a shipping error from Diamond, my store didn’t get its copies of Amazons Attack #6 until today, which means I’ve had the entire last week to bask in the warm glow of the completely reasonable “fan” reaction over on Will Pfeifer’s blog before actually getting to read the issue in question, and much to the surprise of absolutely nobody, it’s really not that bad.
Of course, before I’m mistaken for someone just playing Devil’s Advocate–because really, we all know I’d never do that–I’ll be the first to admit that “Amazons Attack” as a whole was a pretty terrible idea right from the get-go, but with this series at least, Pfeifer took the lemons of a bad plot and while he didn’t quite get lemonade out of it, he definitely managed to sweeten it up a little. Yes, it’s goofy as all hell and there are vast sections that don’t make a lot of sense–with my favorite, of course, being Batman’s “Bees. My God.”–but in my reading at least, it’s all done with a sort of self-awareness that obviously tries to make the most of its inherent goofiness by throwing in over-the-top scenery-chewing characters and scenes where women throw airplanes at each other.
It is, therefore, like a comic book version of Road House.
As for Pete Woods’ art, well, that’s pretty much the only thing that everyone can agree was great about this series, and that pretty much sums it up. So yeah, this isn’t going to go down in history as Pfeifer’s best work–especially not when he’s writing one of DC’s best titles at the same time–but it’s not the worst thing ever printed. Heck, it’s not even the worst thing this week.
Black Canary Wedding Planner: I’ll be honest with you, folks: I really could not care less about Black Canary and Green Arrow getting hitched. It’s not that I don’t like the characters; I do (or at least, I used to), but, well, it’s pretty hard for me to get excited about the marriage of two characters who had sex in a dumpster after one of them cheated on the other. Yeesh.
“Then why,” you may be asking yourself, “did you get the Wedding Planner issue, with plans to buy the Wedding Special later this month?” That’s easy enough to answer, though: one need only look to Canadian writer/Degrassi afficionado J. Torres. I’ve enjoyed that guy’s work an awful lot over the past couple of years–heck, I even liked the letter he wrote to Fury of Firestorm back in the day–and the promise of a lighthearted RomCom with him on the script was just enough to get me to pick it up.
In practice, however, it doesn’t quite work out as well as I would’ve liked. It might just be the sudden, almost jarring scene transitions, or the way that Torres goes for the quick gag at almost every opportunity, but it just seems a little off in a lot of places, with genuine punchlines often mixed in with scenes of super-heroines in their underwear sporting some bizarre facial expressions. It’s got a few good parts, like Roy Harper’s post-it on the cover of a lingerie catalog, but it falls flat as much as it hits. Also–and this really has nothing to do with the issue itself–I’m reasonably certain that “Takeshi’s Castle” was the original Japanese name for Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, and I couldn’t shake the image of Black Canary trying to tie the knot while dodging a giant foam Samurai.
Then again, if that’s what actually happens, this might be the best super-hero wedding ever.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #6: Considering that they didn’t seem to want any of the previous Buffy comics–or, for that matter, Astonishing X-Men, Runaways and Fray–I’m curious to see how this story arc does with the people who were swinging by the comic book store just to grab Joss Whedon’s Buffy story now that he’s not actually scripting it. Of course, Dark Horse went ahead and made sure to include a blurb assuring us that this was “Joss Whedon’s Season Eight” on the cover and a gentle reminder in the letter column that he’s still “executive producing” the comic, but still, the public is a fickle mistress.
For me though, it’s pretty much a no-brainer: I like the show, I like Faith as a character, and I like the heck out of Brian K. Vaughan, who–and I’m not sure if you guys know this–isn’t exactly a slouch when it comes to writing about misguided teenage runaways. The result is pretty much what I expected: A solid story that kicks off with one of the signature pseudo-brainy pop-culture references that makes Vaughan such a good fit for Buffy and follows Faith as she’s sent to take out an evil aristocratic slayer named–no joke–Lady Savidge who keeps her pimp hand strong even whilst reviving the sport of Commoner Hunting, which she no doubt picked up from The Invisibles.
Oddly enough, it’s Georges Jeanty that was the surprise for this issue. I like his work a lot, and I thought he did a bang-up job on the first arc, but this issue falls pretty short of his usual standards. Savidge just looks like Buffy with a different haircut, and there are scenes where Faith just looks… well, way off. It’s not consistently bad–and the scene with Buffy and Xander doesn’t suffer from it at all–but in a lot of ways, that only serves to highlight the parts that are bad. Still, it was nice to see the Doctor show up.
Dark Xena #4: You know, the phrase “Best Comic Book in the History of Mankind” gets thrown around a lot these days, but once in a generation–nay, once in a lifetime–something comes along that truly deserves it. And with dialogue like this…
“Sometimes… a human’s love is even more powerful than a god’s wrath.”
…I think it’s safe to say that Dark Xena is that comic. Bless you, John Layman, for giving hope to a weary world.
Incredible Hulk #110: I mentioned before that for me, one of the most exciting things about World War Hulk has been the return of Greg Pak’s Mastermind Excello, and this issue shows exactly why. Heck, that’s a character with a visual hook that actually manages to make super-intelligence an exciting power to see in action, and the way Greg Pak’s been using him in this story is great, finally giving us a satisfactory reason why the Hulk’s never racked up a single casualty in the years he’s been rampaging across the country and slugging it out with the military.
It’s great, great stuff, and like I’ve said before, World War Hulk is a crossover done right. I love it.
Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus: I know I gave Hellboy Best of the Week last time around, but as much as I don’t want to sit around every week talking about how much I love Mike Mignola (which is a lie, I’d love to do just that), there’s really no getting around the fact that that guy makes some amazing comic books. Besides, the fight with the giant rampaging Nazi gorilla starts on page four, and that’s really all you need to know.
But just for the sake of argument, I’ll elaborate. Unlike the serious approach Mignola’s been taking with BPRD and Hellboy, Lobster Johnson‘s built for pure, unadulterated pulp adventure, and he pulls it off beautifully alongside penciller Jason Armstrong. The pacing alone is magic: Twice over the course of the issue things slow down (and shifts into darker colors, courtesey of the great Dave Stewart), only to explode back into full-color action at the turn of a page. It’s the rare combination of everything about the book working amazingly well all at once, and it makes for a truly fantastic read.
And that’s just in the first half. Once you’re through an opening sequence that hits the ground running and just doesn’t stop, there’s cannibals in the sewers of New York, a crew of Shadow-esque associates, a sinister prophecy from Chinatown, and even more Nazis who get punched in the face and shot. It’s everything Mignola does well, but filtered through the lens of pulp serials rather than obscure European fairy tales, and, well, it’s just fun comics. Give it a read.
Madame Mirage #2: Well, at least now we know why Detective Comics always has fill-in issues.
Metal Men #2: Considering that I’m reviewing a stack of comics at three in the morning on the same day that I bought ’em, I generally consider myself to be pretty good at forming snap judgements about this stuff. With last month’s issue of Metal Men, though, I was at a loss: It’s got a story that jumps around in time more than Pulp Fiction and at least two Doc Magnuses, and I’ll admit that it left me more confused and intrigued than anything else, even if it was definitely good enough to get me to stick around for the next issue.
And brother, I am glad I did. With the first five pages, Duncan Rouleau creates a story that fits right in with the classic Bob Kanigher Silver Age Metal Men that I love so much, complete with a chemical menace and a solution rooted firmly in crazily applied science. All that’s missing is the requisite scene where the Metal Men blow themselves up saving the world, but I’ve got the feeling that’s coming later.
And the rest of the issue just builds from there, with a longer, more coherent flashback to explain how things work, and a story that climaxes with the debut of T.O. Morrow’s Death Metal Men, which may–may–be the best new villain idea in years. It’s tough to say from just two issues, but this book has the potential to be something I’m going to love.
She-Hulk #21: With this issue, She-Hulk bids a fond farewell to writer Dan Slott, who took this book and made it one of the most consistently enjoyable Marvel titles for the past three years. And he goes out with a bang, too: When the solicitation copy promised that this issue would fix every continuity problem in the Marvel Universe, I expected something suitably obscure and goofy, and while that’s exactly what we got, it ended up being a way better solution than I thought it would be. At its heart, it’s a fun bit of work that speaks of a deep love for the Marvel universe and its characters, and that’s pretty much Slott’s run on this book in miniature. It’s great stuff, and while I’m looking forward to seeing him tackle Spider-Man (and continue his work on The Initiative), it’s a shame to see him leave this one.
Supergirl #21: So let’s run down the checklist here: We’ve got a cover where someone’s about to get hit with a car engine, a story where Karate Kid’s riding the rails with a hobo on his way to see Buddy Blank (the real name, as we all know, of the One-Man Army Corps), with a fun script by Tony Bedard and the fantastic art of Renato Guedes.
Man, I bet if I had any idea what the heck was going on in this thing, it’d be awesome.
And that’s the week. As always, if you’ve got any comments or questions about something I read–like why Brian K. Vaughan feels the need to just break our hearts every month as Y – The Last Man comes crashing to an end–feel free to leave ’em in the comments section below.
As for me, I’m going into hibernation until my body finally fends off the Clench. Wish me luck!