Yes, it’s another rockin’ Thursday night, and that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Onomatopoetic Comics Reviews! But before we get to those, a quick announcement from the always-aggressive Action Age Hypaganda Machine!
Yesterday, Monster Plus #1–which kicks off the story of a vampire zombie werewolf Frankenstein witch doctor from Mars and his battle against the evil Science President Mark Darke in the year 2666–went live at the Action Age, and if you haven’t read it already, you oughtta.
M-Plus was created and written by Chad Bowers, who most of you already know as the co-founder of the Action Age and my writing partner on projects like The Hard Ones, and the solo writer of Impossible! and Danger Ace, and honestly, he’s cranked our signature brand of madness up to eleven for this one–and considering his last book opened with a guy fighting Zombie King Kong, that’s saying something. He’s joined for this one by artist Nathan Kroll with Andrew Kjelstrup on colors and a special pin-up by Matthew Allen Smith, and they’ve made twelve pages of excitement that’s pure fun. Give it a read!
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, here’s what I picked up this week…
…and here’s what I thought about ’em!
Agents of Atlas #6: All right folks, let’s kick this thing off with an old-fashioned ISB Lightning Round: All the jokes I can type about this issue in one minute! Annnnnnd GO!
Well, this one’s certainly going to make a certain segment of my readership pretty happy.
What is he, the Avenging Son of Michael Bluth?
Hang on, are they from Atlantis or Atlanta?
Hey, why swim upstream when you can float down the hall?
I guess you could call this one “fincest.”
Okay so Namor and Namora walk into a talent agent’s office and they tell him they’ve got a great act they want to show him. And the talent agent goes “What kind of act?” and Namor says “A family act,” and starts–whoops, that’s my time! Seriously though, great comic.
Amazing Spider-Man #596: Last week, I mentioned that after a decent issue of Spider-Man and the actually-quite-good I Kill Giants, I felt like Joe Kelly might be getting back on my good side after years of being persona non grata after his abysmal tour of duty at DC. Well, this issue took care of that little misconception.
Unsurprisingly, it is Not Very Good, and it reads less like an issue of Spider-Man than a perilous balancing act between how interested I am in what’s actually going on in the story and how absolutely godawful Joe Kelly can make the words on the page. As I read it, it didn’t strike me as being all that terrible, but the more I thought about it afterwards–and the more I talked it over with Rachelle, whose vehemence toward this issue was stronger than any emotion I’ve felt since 2005–the more I realized just how bad it was.
Really, I guess it mostly comes down to the dialogue: I’m willing to accept Norman Osborn referring to the
Sinister Six Masters of Evil Thunderbolts “Dark Avengers” as “retarded children” because he’s supposed to be, you know, evil and crazy, but J. Jonah Jameson’s father talking like a rejected Judd Apatow script is pushing it, and Spider-Man saying that the sonic device he’s using on Venom feels “a lot like diarrhea pumping through your veins” is [PUN WARNING] just shitty. Much like his painfully unfunny blowjob jokes in the unbeleivably wretched Hammerhead story, Kelly’s attempts at writing a clever, funny Spider-Man just come off as a twelve year-old trying to figure out what swear-words are behind the gym.
Another case in point: Bullseye kills a rat by flicking a booger at him. Seriously, that happened. And not on Fanfiction.net or something, this is a comic that a writer was actually paid for. Bullseye picks his nose, pulls out a piece of snot that’s got actual speed lines radiating from it, and then uses it to kill a rat for what I assume was meant to be comedic effect. It’s not even gross-out funny, it’s just stupid, and the only good thing about it is that it’s a welcome break from the scene where Venom tries to tentacle-rape a hooker.
Man. This thing sucks.
To be fair, Paulo Siqueira does a fine job with the art, but when you consider what he’s been given to draw, it doesn’t really help matters. It’s a terrible issue, and the longer I sit here looking at it, the madder I get at myself for falling for it again.
Batman and Robin #1: So, did anybody not see this one coming?
And I did. As much of an eye-roller as the whole BOLD NEW DIRECTION of repackaging “Prodigal” as a “major event” is, Morrison and Quitely are certainly a team that’s capable of pulling it off. And they do, in a far more interesting manner than I expected. There actually is some nice interplay between the characters to set the new tone–my favorite bit of which being when, in typical fashion, Morrison makes Battle for the Cowl irrelevant in four panels–and I’m genuinely interested in the idea of a more lighthearted Batman and a grim, super-serious Robin. Of course, there’s a part of me that thinks it’s a shame that we get the guys that did All-Star Superman for a story that, given a long enough timeline, is going to be relegated to the sidelines as a story that took place before “the Real Batman” came back. But that’s the sort of extremely fannish thinking that I do my best to avoid instead of just enjoying the story.
And in spite of its context–or maybe even because of it–this book is enjoyable. Morrison’s in his usual good form with a straight-up story that even the die-hards are going to have a hard time hanging their time-worn “too weird” complaints on, to the point where I’m wondering if Morrison went out of his way to tell the simplest story he could to make jumping on as easy as possible. It’s pure pop fun in places, with the Flying Batmobile that we all saw months ago, “para-capes,” and yes, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, but it gives way to some genuinely shudder-worthy stuff with Mr. Pyg and his creepy, creepy doll-people. Quitely too does a good job, although I get the feeling that he was rushed. Not because the art suffers from a lack of quality–or the fact that it actually came out on time, rimshot–but because his distinctive layouts are almost completely absent. The only stereotypically Quitely page in the whole book–aside from the integrated sound effects, which I loved–is the shot of Wayne Tower with the cutaway beneath. And again, I can’t help but think that it might not be a rush at all, but a concerted effort to make things as simple as possible to appeal to a wider audience.
In any case, it works and it works well, because Batman and Robin #1 is everything a Batman comic oughtta be: Action-packed, mysterious, and most of all, fun. And I thought it was great.
Captain Britain and MI-13 Annual #1: By now, the news about the impending cancellation of Captain Britain has made its rounds, and unsurprisingly, I’m of the opinion that it’s a shame as this is without question of the best books coming out right now. Paul Cornell is doing a fantastic job weaving together a cast that’s varied to say the least–what with the fact that it includes both Kitty Pryde’s ex-boyfriend and Blade–and he’s made it work beautifully with stories that are pure awesome.
As for the Annual, I’ll confess that it’s my least favorite of the run so far. I think it just comes down to the fact that–as someone who’s never read Excalibur or any Captain Britain stories beyond the Alan Moore/Alan Davis run–I don’t really have much of an emotional investment in Meggan, and so a lot of this issue’s resonance was lost on me.
Of course, being the worst issue of Captain Britain and MI-13 is sort of like being the worst hundred dollar bill that you find on the sidewalk; it’s still better than most, and the fact that Cornell is riffing on Chris Claremont’s habit of showing the X-Men playing baseball by getting MI-13 together for a game of cricket is a hoot all by itself.
Jersey Gods #5: Take note, collectors! This issue of Jersey Gods features the first letter I’ve ever written to comic that’s been published (I previously wrote to Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, but it didn’t make it through). As for the content of the letter, well, it’s more or less the same stuff I’ve been telling you guys here on the blog ever since the first issue dropped, which mostly comes out in the form of gushing praise for what Brunswick and McDaid are doing here.
And with good reason: In five issues, these guys have given us the perfect combination of the Fourth World and the RomCom, which is a combination that I honestly never would’ve pegged as something that could work. And yet here we are, with romance that’s sweet without being cloying, action that’s raucous and loud, reveling in its nature as a pastiche without overplaying itself, and best of all, they have excellent taste in pull quotes. Plus, it’s got the art of Dan McDaid, who is fast becoming one of my favorite artists in the industry, especially since he did that piece for a little-known independent title called Solomon Stone.
Really though, it’s a great book, and if you haven’t jumped on already, there’s a trade coming up soon that everybody ought to check out.
GI Joe: The Best of Duke: I mentioned in my review of the Cobra Commander trade that IDW was dropping the ball on their “Best Of” reprints, and every one that’s come out has followed the same pattern: The stories look great up until the last issue (or shortly before), then they all go to hell. See for yourself:
From #50, the penultimate issue in the trade:
Crisp lines, clean colors. That’s what the majority of the book looks like. Then in #80, the last issue of the trade, it all goes to hell:
EDIT: It occurs to me that you can’t really tell on the reduced image above so click here to see it larger, and note the visible Benday dots, color bleeding, and the halfassed attempt to recolor the balloons that missed the inside of closed letters. The Magic Wand tool isn’t REALLY magic, folks. Also, “Dr. Mi dbender.” Really?
It’s like they scanned a crappy copy and put it right into the trade after the bare minimum attempt to balance the colors. I don’t know if IDW just doesn’t give a damn or if they’re just coasting on what Marvel re-did themselves for Tales of GI Joe, the Baxter paper reprint book, or if Devils Due cleaned up the art when the first round of trades came out a few years back or what, but it’s a remarkably unprofessional way to offer up a paperback, especially when–like the Cobra Commander one–it happens right in the middle of an issue. I ordered these before the first one came out, but I’m not even bothering with the Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow books, and I’d suggest you do the same ’til they get their act together. If Dark Horse can do completely recolored volumes of Conan for $17.95, there’s no reason IDW coudn’t spend more than thirty seconds in PhotoShop to clean up GI Joe.
Age of the Sentry: Getting back to the subject of comics with my name in them, we have Age of the Sentry, which hits the trifecta by printing a pullquote on the back cover, reprinting the cover on which the pullquote originally appeared, and listing me as an official member of the Merry Marvel Marching Society on the last page. So why all the attention?
Because I love this comic book.
And obviously, I’m not shy about it either. I sang its praises every month while it was coming out, so I won’t go through it all again, but I will say that Jeff Parker, Paul Tobin, Nick Dragotta, Colleen Coover, Michael Cho, Bill Galvan and Ramon Rosanas did something incredible here. It’s not just that it’s a perfect riff on the Silver Age and its high concepts that I love so much–although really, Harrison Oogar, the Caveman of Wall Street and Truman Capote working for the Daily Bugle in the same story is very close to being the best thing ever all by itself–but the way they weave those elements into a story that takes a character that fundamentally does not work and not only fixes him, but does it in a way that fits both his in-story origins and his metatextual ones.
For a comic involving a bear in a tutu, it’s pretty complex stuff. But it’s also the best mini-series of the year, and if you’ve been holding off, then head to your local shop and get your hands on the Apex of the Art Form as soon as possible. It’s worth it.
And that’s the week! As always, any questions or concerns can be left in the comments section below, so feel free to discuss the gorgeous art of Exiles, the high-concept hilarity of Werewolves on the Moon vs. Vampires or the dread and apprehension that always accompanies a new issue of Anita Blake.
One last thing before I go, though: You know that X-Men trade that came out this week? Yeah, well, that’s the one where Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson do a story about the X-Men fighting
Godzilla a giant atomic mutant super-lizard. So, you know, you might want that