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.
…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!
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:
“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.”
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.