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.
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’.