The Week In Ink: May 13, 2009

It’s a pretty well-known fact that comics based on video games are at best a mixed bag, but I’ve got a surprising amount of affection for Udon’s Street Fighter comics.

Mainly because writer Ken Siu-Chong frequently combines my two favorite things:

 

 

Kicks to the face and Mr. Dan Hibiki.

But enough about comics’ greatest martial artist! It’s Thursday night, and that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Hyperbolic Comics Reviews! Here’s what I picked up when I wasn’t learning the secret art of the Saikyō-ryū

 

 

…and here’s what I thought of them!

 


 

Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #1: I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but there was a time when the legendary Jack Kirby was set to do an adaptation of The Prisoner, which as we all know was the greatest television series of all time. He even went so far as to produce pages for a complete 17-page story, and while it was never published, they did make it into the Jack Kirby Collector, which is where I saw them a few months back.

I bring this all up because with Escape, Ivan Brandon and Marco Rudy have taken the idea of “Jack Kirby’s The Prisoner” and run with it, and as you might expect, that’s something that I have absolutely no problem with whatsoever.

Brandon’s Prisoner riffs are completely unabashed, with Nemesis standing in for Patrick McGoohan’s Number Six and the strangeness of the Village replaced by the strangeness of Jack Kirby, with elements like the Global Peace Agents stripped of their context and cast in a far more creepy light. Even the opening sequence, with Nemesis being poisoned and waking up in Electric City, is a dead ringer for how “Arrival” kicks off, and the bizarre surreality of Nemesis waking to be confronted by three smiling Build-A-Friends–of OMAC fame, naturally–is a perfect blending of the show and the source comics. Heck, there’s even a gentleman who looks like Number 6, down to the white piping on his jacket.

In short, it combines three things that I absolutely love, with all the strangeness and inherent excitement that you’d expect from those elements, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

 

ISB BEST OF THE WEEK

 

 

Jack Staff #20: Saints be praised! With Paul Grist busy doing the art on the Torchwood comics, I honestly didn’t think we were going to get an issue of Jack Staff anytime soon, but here we are, with a new installment only six months after the last one. And while I’d normally chide a comic for lateness at this point, let’s be honest: Two issues of Jack Staff a year are more than we deserve.

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again: Jack Staff is my favorite comic, and while this issue isn’t Grist’s best work, it’s still an incredible book that reminds me of why I love Grist so much. Not only does he cram this thing full with 29 pages of story, but he does it with enough skill to not only deliver six interweaving plotlines, but he makes them all work so darn well that it makes other writers just seem like amateurs.

I know, I know: Throw in a line about his innovative art style and page layouts, and it’s the same complimentary gushing I write about every issue, but hey, a new issue of Jack Staff is a rare and wondrous occasion enough that it’s time we start celebrating it with traditions. So really, if you’ve never read it, grab the first trade and discover the unbridled radness that is Paul Grist for yourself. You won’t regret it.

 

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1: I’ve been looking forward to this one since it was solicited, and while it’s a great, fun idea in theory I gotta say, I was slightly let down in practice. If I may be allowed to put on The Nerd Hat for a moment, I’ll confess that Redwing’s characterization threw me off a little. Not just because he didn’t mention his 11 Stanley Cup wins, but because if there’s one animal in the entire Marvel Universe that shouldn’t be espousing the superiority of one group of animals over another, it oughtta be the bird that hangs out with Captain America a lot. You’d think he’d–

Oh God. Has it come to this? Am I actually debating the character flaws of a talking bird? Nerd hat or no, it might be time to just move on, and any problems I might have with this title are more than balanced out by the fact that it’s got Colleen Coover drawing the Thunder Frog. Give it a shot!

 

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade #6: In a week without Jack Staff, this would’ve easily rocketed to the top of my slightly arbitrary ranking system to be the best of the week, as it is hands down one of the best kids’ comics I’ve ever read.

Like all of the best kids’ comics, this issue’s biggest strength lies in the fact that it stays fun and lighthearted without ever talking down to to the young readers at which it’s directed. Instead, Landry Walker and Eric Jones reveal that they’ve been crafting a surprisingly complex story over the past six months, tying it together with a Mxyzptlk that has more in common with Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow than Superman the Animated Series and a climactic battle that would be on a huge scale in an issue of Justice League, let alone a book aimed at kids! Heck, there’s even a Lex Luthor moment in here that’s one of the best pieces of characterization the company’s had all year.

It all adds up to something that’s not just DC’s best kids’ book, but one of DC’s best books period, and the best Supergirl story in at least twenty years. The fact that this is the last issue makes it more than a little bittersweet, but like almost everyone else who’s read it, I’m holding out hope that it returns soon. I think all six issues are still available from DC, so if you haven’t already, check it out at your local shop. The payoff alone is well worth it.

 

Unwritten #1: I’ll be honest with you, folks: I’d be recommending this book even if I hadn’t read it, because it’s thirty-two pages of story by Mike Carey–writer of what might just be my favorite run on Hellblazer–at a cover price of one dollar. Even sight unseen, that’s a deal that’s hard to pass up.

But as it turns out, Unwritten #1 is even better than I thought it would be. The basic hook of the plot–a guy whose father wrote a series of Harry Potter-esque novels, casting a fictionalized version of his son in the lead role before vanishing under mysterious and as-yet-unexplained circumstances–manages to hit the same notes as the books it’s referencing, using them as a jumping off point rather than lapsing into parody.

Best of all, despite the fact that Tommy Taylor is shown as a burnout making his living off of convention apperances, Carey doesn’t fall into the trap of making him difficult to like. For all of his frustrations, he’s still nice to his fans, and that bit of characterization does a lot to make him a character that we care about. It’s very good stuff, sharply written and very well-drawn courtesy of Peter Gross.

And again: It’s thirty-two pages for a dollar, and as good a book as this is, there’s no reason to not jump on.

 

GI Joe: The Best Worst of Cobra Commander: I’ve been pretty pleased with IDW’s efforts with GI Joe ever since they got the license, especially the way that they’ve been getting Larry Hama’s historic Marvel run back in print, but I gotta say: This thing’s a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, I love Cobra Commander–a fact that I’m pretty sure the record will support–and it’s not that these issues are bad, but they’re far from the best of Double-C.

It might just be that there’s a discrepancy between what I was expecting and what I got, although I can’t imagine that anyone who’s actually read the run would deny that a “Best Of Cobra Commander” trade ought to feature GI Joe #100, which not only opens with Cobra Commander kicking a puppy, but continues to show him taking over a town by pure charisma and a speech about the evils of taxation. It’s one of the best issues of the run, and it’s got everything you love to hate about the guy. And yet, it’s not here. Admittedly, there is a “1” on the spine, which implies a second Cobra Commander collection that would have issues from later in the run, but I’d rather they just get around to producing it in the Classic trades.

Beyond my personal preferences though, there’s another glaring flaw with this thing: The reproduction quality takes a turn for the crap about halfway through. All of the issues that have been reprinted already in the Clssic GI Joe line are nice and crisp, but the last couple of stories just look like poor scans slapped on the page. And even weirder, the jump in quality happens during an issue, which makes it even more noticeable. If I wanted to read crappy, deteriorated versions of those stories, I could easily just pick up the issues for cheaper than the trade.

I’m already down for the rest of the “Best Of” line of trades, but after this one, I’m not really looking forward to them, as it’s starting to look like we’ll get a Best of Snake-Eyes without the Snake-Eyes Trilogy or a Best of Destro that is somehow not the most awesome book ever printed. If you’re in the mood to read some good issues of GI Joe, this one’ll fit the bill, but to be honest, you’d be better off grabbing Classic GI Joe trades than this one.

 

I Kill Giants: Long-time readers might recall that I’ve been very vocal about my difficulties with writer Joe Kelly in the past, having long since written off the work he’s done for the major companies for what I feel is a pretty good reason. Recently, however, I’ve had a lot of people telling me that his creator-owned stuff is actually really good, and while I checked out Bad Dog and enjoyed it well enough, the real buzz surrounded I Kill Giants, with recommendations coming from more than a couple of ISB readers and writer and boy genius Benito Cereno. So I ordered the trade, and while I’ve been looking forward to reading it, it was more out of wanting to satisfy my curiosity than anything else.

Thehe result? As much as I’m loath to say it, you guys were right: It’s good. No, scratch that. It’s very good. So good that I’m having a really hard time figuring out how it was written by the same guy who scripted the abysmal Justice League Elite.

It’s compelling, legitimately heartwarming, and beautifully drawn by JM Ken Nimura, whose art is absolutely wonderful at conveying the emotions that are central to the story. I love the small touches–like the way words are scratched out of the balloons when Barbara refuses to hear them, and I love the blending of fantasy and reality that’s the cornerstone of the story. There are one or two bits that I thought were a little too cloying, and Barbara in no way sounds like any ten year-old should (even a super-genius who has developed a stirring cynicism by the fifth grade), but those are two minor complaints in what is otherwise an excellent read.

And yes, I’ll admit it, I got a little choked up at the end. But as anyone who has seen me read Walt Simonson’s Surtur Saga can attest, I always do that when I read a story about someone hitting a giant with a hammer. Either way, check this one out. With as rare as it is that I admit to the possibility of being slightly hasty in an initial judgment, you know it’s got to be good.

 

Legion of Super-Heroes: Enemy Manifest HC: Okay, DC, look. I bought this. See? I bought it. Even though I bought this story as single issues, and it’s not exactly what I would refer to as Jim Shooter’s best work. I bought it.

And I bought the Life and Death of Ferro Lad hardcover, even though I already have those stories in both Archives and Showcases.

I even bought that 50th Anniversary book you guys put out, even though I already own all of those stories, too. I bought them all.

Now can we please get the Goddamn Great Darkness Saga back in print?

 


 

Annnnnd that’s the week! As always, any questions or concerns about something I read this week–such as how awesome Captain Britain was, or the fun of Mark Waid’s new detective series–can be left in the comments section below.

Oh, and also? Some trades of the Abnett/Lanning run wouldn’t be bad either. Just sayin’.

45 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: May 13, 2009

  1. The Great Darkness Saga is out of print?!?

    Are they mad?

    Fething Ferro Lad has a TPB but the Great Darkness Saga is out print?

    The Great Darkness Saga has the 3 things that we want in a Legion story, greatness, darkness and sagas, and they let it go OOP?

    Madness.

  2. Thoughts…

    1. Is there an explanation on how Nemesis got into Escape? Because last I checked, he was still kickin’ it with Wonder Woman in her title. With the other three Final Crisis Aftermath titles, they have characters that played a vital part in the miniseries.

    2. Glad you liked IKG. I think it’s the title that heralded Joe Kelly’s return to prominence.

    3. No comments on Secret Six? Even with just half the cast present, it still rocked, and Ragdoll as a replacement Robin is too creepy and funny for words.

    4. I think the next Doctor Who special — which comes out next week — is drawn by Grist. I didn’t know about his Torchwood work, though . . . is that in the official magazine?

  3. I thought for sure there would have been a post about the fantastic Fing Fang Four Return

    Gorgilla, in a time Travel adventure done in the style of Curious George, and thats only one of the 4 stories not a reprint in the book

  4. Last week I took a trip to the local used bookstore and found a copy of the first Jack Staff trade hanging out on the comic shelf. Having read several times here about how awesome it is, I decided it would be worth a ten spot to check it out.

    By the time The Druid showed up, I was hooked. Thanks for the recommendation.

  5. I actually had to look it up, but “Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot” was published in 1989. So your comment on this being the best Supergirl in at least twenty years is fighting words, unless that issue came out at Christmas 1988 with an early cover date.

    Not that I’ve even read the issue you reviewed today yet, but “Should Auld Acquaintance…” would make my top 100 comics of all time list. And I’m reacting way too strongly to what is likely a semi-random number you picked for how many years it’s been since a Supergirl story that’s that good.

  6. Glad to see you liked I Kill Giants. Your reviews have turned me on to enough books it’s nice to be able to return the favor for once (along with the others who reccommended it of course).

  7. Some trades of the Abnett/Lanning run wouldn’t be bad either.

    I’m sorry, Chris, but according to DC they are not the One True Legion ™. So no dice.

  8. Eric, at that point comics were still dated several months forward as an indicator to newsstands when they should be pulped. So that would put it as a Christmas ’88 book.

  9. Sims, I’ve got to ask. Do comics shop clerks in your area make doctor money? Or maybe you get some kind of crazy 70 or 80% discount? Or does Prism pay crazy word rates? Because otherwise I always wonder how in the world you can AFFORD the pull list you put up every week. My own list doesn’t quite match yours in length and I rarely get more than one or two trades a month. And I’m still dropping 30-50 bucks a week. How DO you do it man?

  10. Bit disappointed to hear about the repro quality in the Cobra Commander trade, but the same has beset much of their Transformers reprints too.

    I want an Abnett/Lanning Legion trade or three. It was good solid stuff especially the opening Legion of the Damned stuff with Olivier Copiel on the art.

  11. So what is all this about a new Mark Waid detective series? I’ve not heard anything about it, what is it called?

    Also: Bring Back Potter’s Field!

  12. But what were your thoughts on G.I.Joe: Cobra#3, Chris? Is it good? I only read the first issue of this series but want to get #2&3 soon…

  13. I think it’s been said before, but GI Joe Cobra is way better than any GI Joe comic has any business being. And I LOVE the GI Joe Classic trades!

  14. Let me add some love for Secret Six. Bane and Catman bitching at each other like an old married couple over who’s less qualified to be Batman? Ragdoll in a Robin outfit? The whole running “everything sounds pervy when Ragdoll says it” gag? Just really solid comic book story telling from one cover to the next.

    You should do a Secret Six post, you know? You really should.

    Doug M.

  15. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually recommend checking out Wolverine 73, on the strength of the Jason Aaron story. If anyone could make good story fodder out of Wolverine appearing on a million teams every week, it’s Aaron. Plus, it’s got Wolverine and Deadpool teaming up to fight a warehouse full of MODOKs. (In one throwaway panel, but still.)

  16. I heard a rumor that Dallas #6 was fucking amazing, too.

    And what about Unknown? I need a new non-superhero series to follow. I’m reading Northlanders but really, nothing has filled the space left by Y:TLM yet.

  17. @Eric: Likewise, I haven’t seen the Supergirl comic you’re discussing, but to beat the Cosmic finale is not going to be easy. Match? Maybe. Beat? Not likely.

    @Sims: At the risk of my lifeforce–told ya so, even if my praise was a bit higher than yours. You do read more comics than I do, in my defense.

    To add to Jason’s report, I believe the next Who one-shot is the one written by The Forgotten scribe Tony Lee, so the odds of it being fantastic improves greatly.

  18. Any “Best of Destro” that doesn’t have him blowing up the roller coaster car above Scarface’s secret Coney Island hideout with wrist rockets is no son of mine.

  19. Yes, the Great Darkness Saga should be in print. But an even larger oversight has occurred: In that “Best of the Legion” trade, where are any of the Cockrum stories that gave the Legion their modern look and their second life? I loves me some groovy pre-mutant Dave Cockrum art, and other than in one Legion Archive, it ain’t available! Kids, you don’t know what you are missing!

  20. Is there an explanation on how Nemesis got into Escape?

    Same as in The Prisoner: He’s poisoned and wakes up there.

    I thought for sure there would have been a post about the fantastic Fing Fang Four Return

    Haven’t read it yet, but there’s one waiting for me at work.

    I actually had to look it up, but “Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot” was published in 1989. So your comment on this being the best Supergirl in at least twenty years is fighting words

    That’s what I was trying to dance around by saying “the last 20 years,” as I THINK it was Christmas ’88. If not, just amend it to “the last 19 years.”

    Sims, I’ve got to ask. Do comics shop clerks in your area make doctor money? Or maybe you get some kind of crazy 70 or 80% discount?

    Comic shop managers, thank you. And yes, it’s mostly due to a hefty employee discount and the fact that I don’t buy or go to movies too often. Outside of TV and the Internet (and Netflix), comics are my primary source of entertainment. Hence, you know, this blog you are reading right now.

    So what is all this about a new Mark Waid detective series?

    Unknown is Waid’s new series from Boom, and while I didn’t review it (I was getting sleepy by the time I hit the U-titles), I quite enjoyed the first issue. No surprise, as Waid could write entertaining comics in his sleep at this point.

    I never thought I’d say this, but I actually recommend checking out Wolverine 73, on the strength of the Jason Aaron story.

    Thought about it, but I didn’t particularly care about reading the Daniel Way story, and I’m not all that into paying for a comic I only want half of. I’ll check it out, though.

    I heard a rumor that Dallas #6 was fucking amazing, too.

    Indeed. I was going to review it, but then I realized that that would pretty much be the sum total of my review, along with the thought that while it doesn’t seem to have the same zing as the first series, I think it might be because after the first one, nobody’s really surprised at how awesome Gerard Way is at writing comics anymore.

    What about the WONDERFULNESS that was Deadpool Suicide Kings?

    Didn’t read it.

    Just another vote for this month’s Secret Six.

    Okay, but… what exactly is the election that you’re voting in?

  21. Secret Six had Catman unleashing a kick to the face, so I was certain it was going to be the pic and/or pick of the week.

    But I totally get why Street Fighter, um, won.

  22. Nothing about Captain Britain and MI13? Especially with the way it ended, I’m guessing there’s some major mindfuckery afoot.

  23. Glad to hear that’s the story you were aiming for in your twenty years comment, Chris. I’ll make sure to check out the Supergirl in the 8th grade issue by way of fair comparison, now.

  24. Okay, but… what exactly is the election that you’re voting in?

    Well, there was some talk about the office of Mayor of Action Age on Wednesday’s post.

  25. If DC listens to you about reprinting trades, goad them into getting Hitman back in print, too!

  26. “Outside of TV and the Internet (and Netflix), comics are my primary source of entertainment.”

    Something I’ve always wondered- Where do you keep all these comics? Do you have some mansion with separate libraries devoted to DC and Marvel? You must have some serious fire insurance.

  27. If DC listens to you about reprinting trades, goad them into getting Hitman back in print, too!

    Hitman v.1: Rage in Arkham will be on shelves in July.

    Something I’ve always wondered- Where do you keep all these comics?

    Twenty drawer boxes for single issues, three bookcases of trades, and the overflow is stacked up everywhere. Which is probably why I can’t find my Herbie Archives v.1, my GI Joe Classic v.2, or my 40 Years of Amazing Spider-Man DVD.

  28. Hitman v.1: Rage in Arkham will be on shelves in July.

    My thumbs are now stuck in Fonzie-style approval mode. I expect them to remain this way until July.
    You just made my day, dude.

  29. Hopefully you can goad them in to finishing the Hitman run now that it’s back in print (says the guy that doesn’t even own all of the original trades, but still).

    Oh, and G.I. Joe: Cobra is the combination of Sleeper and the Joes that I always wanted but never thought to ask for, so thanks for bringing that to my attention. I’d been able to avoid buying ’80s toy nostalgia comics since snagging “Silent Interlude” off of ebay, but you wore down my defenses on this one, and I’m enjoying it a lot.

  30. I’m hoping that Rage in Arkham will lead to the rest of Hitman being brought out in trade, as well. And Flex Mentallo as well, while I’m making wishes.

  31. “I’m hoping that Rage in Arkham will lead to the rest of Hitman being brought out in trade, as well. And Flex Mentallo as well, while I’m making wishes.”

    I’m planning on putting Absolute Flex spine to spine with some affordable new printings of Miracleman. Of course, I also plan to take my jet pack to the shop to pick them up.

  32. Nick Fury is one awesoem dude.

    also Cap Brit almost made my head explode from how good it was.

  33. first half of wolverine was possibly the most awesome wolverine story ever.

    why did Marvel have to put it with a Way story?

  34. Well, I’m 3 issues away from completing my run of Legion Lost, so if the past is any indication, the collection of that will be announced .053 seconds after I finally get those last issues I need.