The Week In Ink: May 6, 2009

When you do this for as long as I have, you start to get a sense of your audience and their expectations, and that’s why I know for a fact that most of you are expecting me to lead off tonight’s post with Captain America kicking a gorilla dressed as a Nazi in the face, as seen in Agents of Atlas #4.

Well…

 

 

…sometimes I’ve got to defy expectations.

Besides, the top panel border on that other one was all diagonal, which makes it harder to crop properly. But enough about my occasional use of the lasso tool in PhotoShop! It’s Thursday night, and that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Properly Formatted Comics Reviews!

Here’s what I picked up this week…

 

 

And here’s what I thought about them!

 


 

ISB BEST OF THE WEEK

 

 

Atomic Robo: The Shadow From Beyond Time #1: Okay, let’s get this out of the way right now: I love Atomic Robo.

Ever since the characer’s debut in 2007, Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener have been knocking it out of the park every time with what is unquestionably one of the funniest and best comics on the stands. It’s great stuff that rivals even Paul Grist’s work for sheer comic book fun, and this issue’s the best of ‘em all.

That’s no mean feat, considering how good this year’s Free Comic Book Day story was, but for pure entertainment, this one’s a winner. Admittedly, I’m more of a sucker than most for comics about historical figures having adventurers–hence my undying love of both Tales From The Bully Pulpit and Five Fists Of Science–and this one hits that spot perfectly, and even if Clevinger’s heading to the old standard plot hook of the Tunguska blast, I’ve got confidence that he’ll be able to pull it off with his usual skill. Heck, he was killing me within the first couple of pages when I realized he was doing a story starring HP Lovecraft, even before he said the guy’s name.

Not that this was any great feat of detective work or anything. I mean, you see a tall thin guy running around the ’20s gibbering about elder things and the mongrel races, you pretty much assume it’s Lovecraft.

As an interesting sidenote, “Charles Fort,” the other historical figure who costars with Howie Love and Robo, was a pseudonym once employed by the Punisher during the Mike Baron run, as it fit Baron’s established pattern of using last names that were synonymous with “Castle.” What? It’s interesting to me.

Anyway, the point is that this thing looks like the start of another fantastic romp courtesy of Clevinger and Wegener–whose work is also in Killer of Demons and the Human Torch special this week and who can do more with two eyelids than most artists can pull off with entire facial expressions–and if you’re not already reading it, then honestly, you need to be.

 

Final Crisis Aftermath: Run #1: With this, DC starts up its round of “Final Crisis Aftermath” titles, and while this one had the premise that I was least interested in–the Human Flame on the lam after recording the Martian Manhunter’s death–I like Matt Sturges and Freddie Williams II both enough to check out anything they’re working on together. And the result is pretty entertaining: Sturges wastes no time at all in making sure that we know that the Human Flame is an irredeemable bastard who deserves whatever’s coming to him (pages 2 and 3 are a shot of him just socking his kindly nurse right in the jaw), and it just builds on that theme from there. It’s one horrible act after another, but it’s clearly shown that he succeeds based on luck and viciousness, with the odds strongly on his eventual and brutal comeuppance.

In the meantime, Sturges gets the beats down to something that’s actually pretty funny, and Willams is great even when he’s just drawing giant fat guys, so what’s not to love?

 

GI Joe Movie Prequel: The Baroness: And now, the ISB presents the exclusive inside story of how this issue came to be:

[Ring ring]

“Hello?”

“Yeah, hi, Chuck? It’s Dick Jones at IDW. So hey listen, we just remembered that we have to do a prequel book for the Baroness and we need it in… about eight minutes.”

“That’s a pretty tight deadline… I mean, I could probably just do a find-and-replace on one of these old Catwoman scripts I’ve got laying around, but she steals a treasure map and uses her whip in it a lot, so I’m not sure if it’ll work.”

“Hang on a sec, Chuck. Hey Bob, can she use a whip? Yes? She can use a whip, Chuck, that’s fine.”

“Done!”

End Scene

 

Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye #2: I absolutely love this thing, but to be honest, I have no idea where to even begin writing a review of it. This, I’m sure, is going to be a sticking point with the people who consider Seaguy to be the height of Grant Morrison’s excesses as a writer. The people who don’t love Seaguy tend to think of it as just being weird for the sake of weirdness, but it’s no more weird for its own sake than The New Gods; weird stuff is just more interesting by its very definition.

But that’s not an argument I’m all that interested in having, so I’ll just stick with saying that this

 

 

…might just be the finest comic book panel produced this year.

 

Archie & Friends #113: I mentioned my displeasure with this issue below, and by popular demand from the comments section, here’s my full review:

This is one of the most disappointing Archie comics I’ve ever read.

When you get right down to it, that’s saying something, as I don’t generally go into the Archie books–which pride themselves on offering pretty much the same thing over and over again for the past sixty-odd years–with what you’d call “high hopes.” Still, I do enjoy them, but this one is just frustrating.

For starters, it’s not just the same story that we’ve seen a dozen times, it’s that same story done very, very poorly. I haven’t made a secret of my affection for Josie and the Pussycats–especially the highly underrated movie version–and honestly, one would think that an all-girl rock band that had adventures with their hunky roadie, shifty manager and his witchity sister would be a no-brainer, but no, here we are again with yet another story about JATP having a “battle of the bands” with the Archies. But this time, it’s not even an actual rock-off: they’re playing Guitar Hero, of which–in typical, out-of-touch Archie fashion–the creative team seems to have only the vaguest, theoretical understanding.

There are worse plots you could go with, I suppose, but any entertainment to be had is pretty much quashed by a shoddy execution. Josie, Melody and Val (along with Alan M., Alexander and Alexandra) don’t even have the limited characterization that you’d expect from an Archie book, and are instead reduced more or less to set dressing. Yes, that’s right: They are one-dimensional even when compared to the Archies. Even worse, the slight character they do have is off, as the story is padded out with some petty vindictiveness between the two groups that just feels off and, worse, unfunny.

To be fair, there are two good bits in the script, namely a scene where both bands dress emo-style to hilarious effect, and a guitar solo from Josie that’s an extended riff on Marty McFly’s in Back to the Future. But again, is that really what the kids are into these days? Movies from 24 years ago? Really? I mean, sure, I thought it was funny, but is the target audience here really 26 year-olds who complain about things on the Internet?

Also in the plus column, Bill Galvan and “Affable” Al Milgrom do a great job on the art, especially a full-page splash of Josie and the Pussycats winning the contest that could double as a pin-up.

But unfortunately, that doesn’t save a story that’s just not very good. And it’s doubly frustrating because there’s so much potential there that looked like it was going somewhere as little as a few years ago when Tania Del Rio (of Sabrina fame) did a relaunch in the pages of Archie & Friends that apparently never went anywhere. Of course, that was in an age of Archie experimentation that also included Andrew Pepoy’s fun Katy Keene and the heydey of Del Rio’s Sabrina. But it vanished after a few issues, and that age of experimentation seems to have ended and been replaced once again with the same old stories and the increasingly horrible “New Look” offerings that are just getting embarrassing.

I’m all for more Josie, but if this is all we’re going to get out of them, I’d rather Archie just put them back on the shelf.

 

Classic GI Joe v.3: No real review here, as a) these comics are 25 years old and b) I think I’ve made my opinions on these comics quite clear by this point.

However, it is worth noting that this volume contains GI Joe #21, the legendary “Silent” issue that’s commonly regarded by people who only read GI Joe to be one of the best comic books ever produced. So, you know. You might want to get that one.

 


 

Annnnnnd that’s the week! As always, any questions or concerns–like if you want to hear about how this week’s Archie & Friends was one of the most disappointing comics I’ve ever read–can be left in the comments section below, but if you’re curious about something from this week’s all-new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I’d suggest you check out the always indispensable Jess Nevins for annotations, but yes: That is Stardust the GD Super-Wizard in the text piece.

38 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: May 6, 2009

  1. Is this your first experience with DWM, Chris? It sucks that there’s about a month between the UK and US release dates, but it’s a good read, and I get drawn to the art accompanying the Time Team and DVD review columns.

    Any thoughts on Astro City? Amateur undercover ops at a training ground for a terrorist organization’s gotta do something for you. And the itty-bitty legible articles are still standard.

    Here’s my take on 1910. And at the risk that you might kill the messenger, here are Jess’s annotations.

  2. I want to hear about how this week’s Archie and Friends was one of the most disappointing comics you’ve ever read. Was it the conclusion to The Archies vs. Josie and the Pussycats story? Because I totally meant to read that one (Not that the first half was all that thrilling, but still…Archie vs. Josie!)

  3. I am shocked, shocked that are a regular reader of Conan and picked up Kull #6 today but apparently aren’t reading the new Warlord series!

    Didn’t anyone tell you that it’s a big, brawny, hairy, glistening, two-fisted, manly series?!

  4. So is the new Atomic Robo series new reader friendly? I haven’t read it before, and unfortunately both comic shops I went to on FCBD were out of that comic. But it sounds pretty cool. Just want to know if I should start from the beginning, or if I can jump on now just fine.

  5. If you want to read the FCBD books, Clevinger has them on his site as webcomics.

    I don’t know about The Shadow Beyond Time (yet!), but the other two stories were pretty well self-contained. Plus, all the stories take place well after the 1920s, focused as they are on robots punching Nazis, so I’d be surprised if this volume didn’t follow suit.

  6. See, Run! was the only Final Crisis Aftermath series that I thought looked interesting at all.

    And I was not disappointed.

  7. Chris, you have to be one of the few guys writing weekly comic reviews that actually seem to enjoy their comics. You’re doing a great service. Keep up the great work.

  8. “weird stuff is just more interesting by its very definition.”

    Then Tarot must be the most interesting book bing published.

  9. I was going to ask why you aren’t buying the new Warlord series but “Starman” beat me to it.
    That series seems right up your alley.

  10. I am absolutely shocked there are no comments on the Fin Fang Four. Googam pretty much tricks Angelina Jolie into adopting him for crying out loud, what more do you want?!

  11. If you are new to Robo, definitely go read the two fcbd offerings that are posted on the site mentioned previously(not necessary to enjoy the current series, but they are free and awesome), but yes, This is a perfect jumping on point. That really is a nice thing about the mini format and the excellent writing on these books. Also, no two are even close to being the same so far. This issue has less action, and more straight up classic back and forth funny.

  12. I see David already linked back to Clevinger’s site. Which was good, because I managed to read the Atomic Robo FCBD story there and DAMN was that funny. I really need to get those first two volumes of the series. And for those visiting his site with a couple days to kill, his long running “8-Bit Theater” manages to be one of the few sprite based comics that not only isn’t crap, but is really, really funny…

  13. Oddly, someone on TV said “punch myself in the face” just when I saw the picture.
    Very creepy.

  14. Sims, I have to call you out, here. The last issue of Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade came out this week, and it’s not even acknowledged? Best comic all year, even if it’s the last we’ll see of Cosmic Supergirl. (You don’t know how it pains me to write that last sentence.)

  15. True Fact: G.I. Joe #21 started me on comics and G.I. Joe simultaneously.

    Some tens of thousands of dollars later, I think they might have snookered me.

  16. That G.I.Joe comic while awesome, was made from start to finish in one week, and it does look like a rush job

  17. Man, that silent issue came out at exactly the right time in my childhood – the apex of my GI Joe and comic book obsessions – and I loved it more than the girlfriend I fantasized about one day having. I must’ve read that thing 100 times.

  18. G.I. Joe #21 “Silent Interlude” is one of my top 5 favourite comic books of all time. Is anyone collecting the new IDW series, is it worth it?

  19. I believe the verdict is that the main IDW GI Joe book is rather lackluster, but the two accompanying series, Cobra and Origins are both very good.

  20. Oh yeah, speaking of the Robo FCBD book. Would anybody else pay piles of money for a story where Tyrannosaurus Hex meets Dr. Dinosaur? Because I would.

  21. Let me also express my shock that Fin Fang Four was not your favorite of the week Chris.
    Hypnohustler? Gorgilla dressed as Abe Lincoln screaming “Bananas For All!”?
    Thats pure gold!

  22. I want to hear about how this week’s Archie and Friends was one of the most disappointing comics you’ve ever read.

    The post has been updated. Enjoy my baseless venom!

  23. Is this your first experience with DWM, Chris?

    Nope! I’ve been getting it for the past few months, mostly for Dan McDaid’s strips, but I also enjoy the Time Team and Fact of Fiction articles quite a bit.

    Any thoughts on Astro City?

    Aside from the fact that its proper title should be Astro City: The Dark Age: The Story That Wouldn’t End, I think it’s a lot of fun.

    I am shocked, shocked that are a regular reader of Conan and picked up Kull #6 today but apparently aren’t reading the new Warlord series!

    As shocking as it might be, Warlord and his tiny loincloth do nothing for me.

    Chris, you have to be one of the few guys writing weekly comic reviews that actually seem to enjoy their comics.

    It’s worth noting that this comment was left before I went back and reviewed Archie. But thanks anyway! I review the comics I buy, so why would I buy comics I didn’t like?

    Er, except Tarot and Anita Blake, I mean.

    Wait..nothing on this weeks Terror, Inc.?< ?i>

    Not getting it. Terror, Inc. wasn’t very good even when the guy writing it knew what it was supposed to be about, let alone that dire last series.

    Sims, I have to call you out, here.

    Really? You have to “call me out?” There’s a court order that makes you nitpick someone’s blog post? Well in that case, fire away.

    The last issue of Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade came out this week, and it’s not even acknowledged?

    Diamond shorted my store, we didn’t get any. I’ll most likely have it next week, and I’ll most likely mention it then.

  24. It is possible that as awesome as Atomic Robo is, Clevenger missed out by not making a comic about an Atomic Powered Hobo and his adventures riding the rails, stealing pies and getting up to shenanigans…

  25. I’m going to have to make getting the new tLoEG a priority: I cannot concieve of how you could write Stardust into anything and still have it make any sense at all. Fletcher Hanks is just that odd.

  26. “Oh yeah, speaking of the Robo FCBD book. Would anybody else pay piles of money for a story where Tyrannosaurus Hex meets Dr. Dinosaur? Because I would.”

    In the immortal words of Dr. John Zoidberg, “I’ll take eight!”

  27. Especially if it was part of a treasury sized Atomic Robo/Solomon Stone team up. We’d have to come up with a new, more awesome currency to adequately represent the money this would generate. Maybe Abe Lincoln doing a Dragon Punch?

  28. It is essentially “Look at this crazy guy!”

    That’s pretty much a comic book genre, right there. (Deadpool, The Tick, Ambush Bug…)

    Enjoy my baseless venom!

    Trademark that phrase, get it on a T-Shirt, and I’ll buy 7 — one for each day of the week.

  29. Wasn’t so much a court order as federal mandate or something. It’s Cosmic Supergirl after all. :)

    (Ok, I could of worded it better, but where’s the comedy fail in that? Apologies just the same.)

    Diamond has done you a major disservice.

  30. Eh, no big deal. I’ll (hopefully) have it this week, and it’s not like I had any shortage of comics to read without it.

  31. @Chris:

    If your store doesn’t get any copies of the last issue of Cosmic Adventures, email me and I’ll send you one. I have two boxes of them just sitting here. I might as well use them for good rather than evil.