The Week In Ink: July 22, 2009

Finally, I’m writing something for this website.

 

 

Yes, it’s another Thursday night, and while pretty much everyone who cares about this sort of thing is paying attention to the San Diego Shindig this week, I’m here for another round of the Internet’s Most Stealthy Comics Reviews!

Here’s what I picked up this week to lessen the anticipation of waiting for Woman of A.C.T.I.O.N.

 

 


 

Amazing Spider-Man #600: Sharp-eyed ISB readers may have noticed that I’ve been dodging the last few issues of Amazing after the abysmal first couple of chapters of “American Son,” but this is the kind of book that’ll get me back on.

Even at five bucks, it’s one of the best values in comics: 105 pages (64 of which are a complete story by Dan Slott and John Romita Jr.) with no ads, no reprints, contributions from guys like Matt Fraction, Mark Waid, Stan Lee, the always-fantastic Marcos Martin and even–believe it or not–a one-page gag strip by Jeph Loeb that’s actually really guh.

Really guuuuhhh.

Sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve had to say something like this, let me try it again: A one-page strip by Jeph Loeb that’s actually really good.

Man, that felt weird. But the point here is that the bonus material, as good as it is, is still just icing on the cake. Slott and Romita’s story–which is nominally about Aunt May’s wedding but features far less matrimonial action than I’d expected–would’ve made for three really fun regular issues by itself with its interesting take on Doctor Octopus. It’s not nearly the anniversary celebration that I thought it would be either, and that’s a good thing: Rather than taking a walk down memory lane, Slott and Romita celebrate the past 47 years of Spider-Man in the best way they could, by doing a solid story that touches on what’s good about the character. They even manage to throw in a few guest stars (including, yes, Wolverine) and there’s the almost mandatory team-up that hearkens back not just to the long history of Amazing, but the first issue of Marvel Team-Up as well.

It’s rock-solid stuff, and it’s exactly the sort of thing I wanted it to be. Mostly because I’ve always wanted to see Marcos Martin draw the Spectacular Spider-Ham.

 

Captain Britain and MI13 #15: With this issue, we bid a fond farewell to Captain Britaina nd MI13, a book that was clearly too, too solid for this world, and I’ve got to say that it’s a pretty big letdown.

Not because of the story itself, though–that part’s pretty awesome–but because it’s almost impossible to read it without feeling morose about the end of such a good book. But even so, it’s good enough to cut through a lot of that, what with the fact that it’s a comic with super-heroes fighting Dracula, pages upon pages of explosions, Union Jack using a seltzer bottle full of Holy Water to fight vampires, and even a special surprise appearance by… well, there oughtta be some secrets left if you haven’t read the issue already, yes? Suffice to say that it’s good stuff, and while Cornell gives it as good an ending as you’d expect, it’s still a damn shame that it has to end at all.

For the apparently large number of you who haven’t read the series, though, I can assure you that canceled or not, it’s still well worth it, and with two trades out now and Vampire State on the way soon, there’s not much of an excuse to not check out what you’ve been missing.

 

ISB BEST OF THE WEEK

 

 

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5: Somewhere in the eleven paragraphs of vitriol that I passed off as a review of Blackest Night last week, I mentioned that while I’ve tended to dislike the majority of his recent work, I don’t actually think Geoff Johns is necessarily a bad writer. For all my grousing about looking backwards and how putting nostalgia ahead of innovation is steadily killing comics, there are times when that guy manages to fire on all cylinders and hit me just right with something that’s exactly what I want to see. And this, as you might expect, is one of those times.

I’m just going to go ahead and throw this out here: Legion of 3 Worlds is probably the best thing Geoff Johns has ever written.

There’s a metafictional aspect to the story that I’ll get to in a moment, but before I do, I want to make it clear that there’s a lot to this story that I love in a completely unironic fashion. It is, after all, a big crazy punch-out written with the discerning Legion Fan in mind, and while I might complain about fan-pandering, I’m not immune to it. Plus, the whole thing’s drawn by the legendary George Perez, who does amazing work, throwing in double-page spreads with tons of characters, including Jimmy Olsen. There’s no way I’m not going to like this.

That’s not to say that it’s not without its faults; they’re in there, and in fact, the story’s based around setting yet another property back to the way it was when Johns was a kid so that he can play with his old toys in the pages of Adventure Comics. It’s the same fetish for nostalgia that we’ve seen in his work four or five times now, but for some reason, it doesn’t bother me here as much as it did when he did the same thing to the Flash or Green Lantern or the entire DC Universe. It might be because I’m a big enough fan of the Legion to have written a chapter a book about the team or because the Legion itself has been rebooted, threebooted and retrobooted enough at this point that I’m pretty sure if I don’t like the direction, I can just wait a few years for a new one to come along and hope it’s a return of my own personal One True Legion, but the fact is that I came away loving this comic.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s a friggin’ hoot.

And it is, too: Lending credence to Douglas Wolk’s theory about the Two Geoff Johnses walking the Earth, Superboy Prime has completely evolved from the absolutely terrible character that they were trying so hard to portray as a legitimate threat in Infinite Crisis to a character that’s still sucks, but is written to take advantage of that rather than to deny it. His self-consciously lame attempts at fight banter alone shows that we’re not meant to take him seriously, and even though he’s been fighting the Legion for, oh, eleven months now, there’s not really much of an attempt to show him as a real villain. This, I imagine, is why the Legion ends up beating him in the absolute stupidest way possible by getting more and more Legionnaires to show up and punch him, and when they run out, they just go get more Legionnaires. There’s a ridiculous, wonderful kind of genius to that.

The best part, though, is the end, where Superboy Prime is returned to Earth-Prime and decides that the best way to get his revenge is by–and this seriously happens–logging on to the DC Comics message boards and bitching about the story on the Internet. That shit is hilarious.

Not just because it underscores the continuing metaphor for Prime as the petulant comics fan who can’t stand that the stories are panning out in a way that he doesn’t like, but because I couldn’t help but imagine Prime spending his time on the Internet talking about comics–maybe even staying up ’til 3 AM on Thursday nights writing hate-filled screeds wondering whose bright idea it was to do a story about Zombie Golden Glider–then maybe one day being able to break into comics and finally getting the chance to change things back to how he wants them to be.

So yes: The fact that DC just did a story where a stand-in for the Comics Internet was ruthlessly beaten by the Legion of Super-Heroes and then blasted out of the universe when it got in a fight with itself is pretty funny, but the fact that the guy writing the story where the villain wants to make comics more like they were when he was a kid is a guy who has made his entire career making comics more like they were when he was a kid? That’s even funnier.

 

Immortal Weapons #1: I don’t normally do this sort of thing, since there’s always the off chance that someone’s reading my reviews in order to make an informed purchase rather than just showing up to confirm their own opinions and/or argue with me about how I dared to say such horrible things about their favorite character or not show the proper reverence to a title (this week’s Usagi Yojimbo trade is awesome, by the way), and I don’t like spoiling the important moments for people who haven’t read them yet. This time, however, there’s something I’ve pretty much got to share, and that is that in this issue, Jason Aaron–whose run on Ghost Rider gave us both a supernatural Smokey and the Bandit and the vengeful spirit of Lone Wolf McQuade–wrote the following caption:

“In 1939, you were the sole survivor of a team of Kung Fu Commandoes put together by British Hero Union Jack to take down Hitler’s secret death squad of S.S. Ninjas led by the notorious butcher Herr Samurai.”

If you have any doubts about whether you should be reading this comic book, then brother, you’re on the wrong website.

 

Invincible #64: My love/hate relationship with Invincible–which is really more of a love/love slightly less relationship–is something that I’ve been through more than once here on the ISB, but for those of you just joining us, here’s the basics: I have a distaste for the extreme violence that Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley use in the book. Kirkman makes a strog defense for it in this issue, citing Invincible as a rare book that can contain everything from romance to lighthearted fun to brutal violence, the latter’s just not really my thing, and I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it’s just something I’ll have to deal with in order to enjoy the rest of a truly fantastic comic.

Then I read this issue, where Invincible totally fucking headbangs a dude to death.

Seriously. That is what happens. It is the most metal thing I have ever seen in a comic book, and I’ve read at least fifty issues of The Savage Sword of Conan. And I loved it.

Congratulations, Robert Kirkman. You win again.

 

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #53: Marvel’s been promoting this one pretty heavily over the past few months, which itself is something of an anomaly. After all, they don’t generally tend to go out of their way to turn readers on to their kid-friendly Adventures line, but there have been previews and house ads for it in most of their all-ages titles for a while now to promote the arrival of the new creative team, Paul Tobin and Matteo Lolli.

It’s sort of redundant to say that they’re doing it as a new jumping-on point–as the Adventures titles are designed as one-issue stories so that every issue is a good jumping-on point–but that’s exactly what they’ve done here. The story feels like a new direction, introducing a couple of new cast members (Gwen Stacy, with whom I imagine you’re familiar, and a character that I think is new named Chat, who talks to animals, mostly about food) as well as the mandatory origin recap. To be fair, though, the origin recap is framed in a neat enough way that it doesn’t seem as much of a detraction from the story as it might otherwise.

I don’t imagine that there are too many people out there looking to jump on a kid-friendly title if they aren’t already reading them, but Tobin, like Jeff Parker, is an amazingly talented writer that manages to knock it out of the park with his all ages work–like he did in the incredible Dr. Doom mini-series from a few months ago–and Lolli does a great job with the art, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do.

Personally, I’m holding out hope that the Green Goblin still chucks Gwen off a bridge, but owing to the fact that it’s a kids’ book, he does it on the day of the 26th Annual Brooklyn Bridge Trampoline Festival, and everything works out okay.

 

Myspace Dark Horse Presents v.3: Twenty years of buying comics and you’d think I’d know better, but yesterday, I accidentally bought a comic that included an Emily the Strange story. This is, I assure you, to my eternal shame.

Still, it does raise an interesting philosophical question: All other things being equal and using the Usagi Yojimbo story as a control, is buying an anthology that includes Emily the Strange balanced out if the anthology also contains an eight-page Achewood story where Ray, Teodor and Roast Beef eat every item on the Taco Bell menu? The mind boggles.

 


 

Annnnnnnnnnnd that’s the week! As always, any comments or concerns can be left in the comments section below, like if you’re wondering if the sound effects in Incredible Hercules could possibly get any better than they already have been (yes, they can), or if you’re looking for a review of the last couple issues of Wednesday Comics (Pal Dave has one, and honestly, who woulda thought Dan Didio’s Metal Men would be that good, even with Nowlan and JLGL?), that’s the place to ask.

Well, not now, as I’ve just answered them and you’d look silly. And we wouldn’t want that, now would we?

45 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: July 22, 2009

  1. Aaron’s the writer on that Immortal Weapons book? Tempting. Seriously tempting…

    Also do you know if there are any trades for his Ghost Rider run? I can never find any…

  2. As for this week’s comics, I was really impressed by ASM#600, and I don’t even follow/read/care about Spider-Man for the most part. That was everything I could’ve asked for, and the rejected covers were hilarious.

  3. As a Scotsman, I must say that I always appreciate watching a man being headbutted to death, so this issue of Invincible was a grand sight.

  4. I thought Legion of 3 Worlds #5 was awesome, too! Not only is it a brilliant story, but it looks like a great setup for the Legion’s upcoming Adventure Comics backup stories. SO EXCITED.

    Also, two thumbs up for that Dawnstar variant cover. Yes.

  5. Legion of 3 Worlds was a terrible story. Nothing but fanservice about a bunch of the dumbest characters in comics history. Typical Perez kind of mindless realism in the art. Plus the character of Prime, who has so much untapped potential, is absolutely wasted. The book really should have been about him far more, and opened up the possibility of a continuing series. Plus, it was tied into that Final Crisis nonsense, which I’ve just been reading the back issues of. Terribad!

    You’d be just the kind of guy who’d like this book as it was done, Sims, you and the rest of the sheep.

  6. Did Jason Aaron really write:
    “In 1939, you were the wole survivor…”?
    If so, his editor should’ve corrected that typo. ;)

    Plus, your shopping list just gets longer and longer. How much are those other websites that you write for paying you!?

  7. Sissy-Poof was the only sound effect that really caught my attention the first time through. Then I spotted the absolutely wonderful BICHSLAP. And then I went ahead and flipped through the whole issue of Herc, only reading the sound effects.

    I swear, a Sound Effects Only issue of Incredible Herc would be better than 90% of the comics out there. I’d even pay $4 for it.

  8. I feel kind of left out because I really didn’t like Lo3W, mainly because it was sold as a Legion book but was pretty much a series where the Legion were guest stars in someone else’s story.

  9. I have to say, I was pretty disappointed that Johns completely dropped the ball on the idea he introduced in Lo3W #1, where Superman declared that they had to “redeem” Superboy-Prime. A lot of people (myself included) really dug that, thought it was going to be the theme of the series…and waited in vain as the idea was never even mentioned again.

    Because, of course, Johns was too busy using the series to revive dead 21st century Titans and the 31st century GL Corps to actually follow through on stuff like characterization…unless you count scenes of the 3 Brainiacs arguing. Man, that never got old!!

  10. “All other things being equal and using the Usagi Yojimbo story as a control, is buying an anthology that includes Emily the Strange balanced out if the anthology also contains an eight-page Achewood story where Ray, Teodor and Roast Beef eat every item on the Taco Bell menu?”

    I’m gonna have to say yes, you’re in the clear. If you can get an eight-page Achewood story in an anthology, no matter what else is in the book, you have performed an Act of Righteousness, and you made the angels weep for joy. Or at least high-five each other.

  11. I noticed you got Dethklok vs. The Goon. I don’t want to be that guy (OK, I totally do) but was it good? I didn’t get my copy this week for some reason.

  12. the only thing I felt 3 Worlds was missing was Computo, I mean everyone else showed up

    oh and Johns has confirmed that all 3 Legion teams will appear in the backups to Adventure not just the PC team

  13. You really need to dedicate a post to the sound effects in Incredible Hercules. They truly get better every month and are on a near amazing level at this point. Also the part where Herc ranted about gods usuing Shakespearean English. That was a total HELL YEAH moment.

  14. Chris, you buy both Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova, and I know you don’t typically review them because you don’t want to say the same things every month, but I was wondering if between the two of them, you were enjoying one more than the other, and if so, which one, and if you’re so inclined, why?

  15. Wait, you didn’t pick up the rest of Fletcher Hanks? Geez, your valentine from a couple of years ago was the reason I picked the book up in the first place.

  16. Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and thought I’d drop by to add my two cents regarding the latest Invincible.

    I’m not very fond of the ultra-gory-violence depicted on the book either, but I can get behind the concept that this is a book where the author cn cut loose and not worry about the typical restraints of corporate-owned books.

    But then that kinda gets screwed by the fact that I can see three pages of Invinvible headbanging a guy’s face into pudding, but god forbid we see the guy’s penis when Eve freaking burns the skin off his body! Or are we supposed to assume she fried the guy’s dong as well? Or that he was an eunuch to begin with?

  17. “Chris, you buy both Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova, and I know you don’t typically review them because you don’t want to say the same things every month, but I was wondering if between the two of them, you were enjoying one more than the other, and if so, which one, and if you’re so inclined, why?”

    both were pretty awesome this week, but Guardians did have the BADOON chaining the Celestials to the Dying sun to create an engine and keep the universe from ending

  18. I almost don’t want to read ASM 600 now, because it might dilute the beautiful purity of my seething hate for Jeph Loeb.

  19. Beating Superboy by throwing wave after wave of Legion members at him? They stole that strategy from Zap Brannigan and his campaign against the Killbots.

  20. Is the perspective weird in that top Spider-Man panel or has Peter Parker been replaced with some kind of lemur?

  21. You know, I rarely object to the old ultra-violence, but DAMN. Invincible 64 is about one of the bloodiest comics I’ve ever read that didn’t have a “Mature Readers” label on the cover.

    That said, there is headbutting. And it is glorious. I fervently hope that this gets revisited in future issues, just having someone mention offhandedly, “You know, you totally headbutted that guy to death, right?”

  22. Aaron’s the writer on that Immortal Weapons book?

    He’s the writer of the first issue, I believe it’s a different team each time.

    Also do you know if there are any trades for his Ghost Rider run?

    You mean the ones that I literally linked to using the words “Ghost Rider” in the review you just read? Yes. Yes there are.

    I have to say, I was pretty disappointed that Johns completely dropped the ball on the idea he introduced in Lo3W #1, where Superman declared that they had to “redeem” Superboy-Prime

    Not totally; the thread Superboy Prime starts on the DC Comics Message Boards is “Can Superboy Prime be redeemed?”

    Well I laughed.

    I noticed you got Dethklok vs. The Goon. I don’t want to be that guy (OK, I totally do) but was it good?

    Yep, highly enjoyable. As much as I loved Home Movies, Metalocalypse is hit-or-miss with me, and this time it hit really well and blended with the humor of the Goon perfectly. Plus it had Dr. Rockzo, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Clown.

    Chris, you buy both Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova, and I know you don’t typically review them because you don’t want to say the same things every month, but I was wondering if between the two of them, you were enjoying one more than the other, and if so, which one, and if you’re so inclined, why?

    They’re honestly both about the same for me, which is to say that they’re both very good. Nova, I think, has more solid stories overall, but Guardians has the brain candy of a telepathic muttnik, so it all sort of balances out.

    Wait, you didn’t pick up the rest of Fletcher Hanks?

    Relax, Buster, I’m getting mine direct from Fantagraphics.

  23. To review here:

    Legion of Five Worlds was Better (Meaning possessed of superior quality too)

    The Goon vs. Dethklok?

    I mean, I’m not entirely innocent here because it just took me three minutes to finally spell DethKlock right, but I don’t honestly thing that the first paragraph is possible in this lifetime.

  24. “This Comics Funnies Books Ams Has No Continudities Withs Any Other Comics Funnies Books Or Thems Cartoons TelaBisions Shows. You Jack Offs Fanboys Dildos.”

    I mean, OK, I didn’t actually READ Legion of 5 Worlds, but from where I’m standing the first sentence just beat the crap out of the rest of Johns’ entire oeuvre.

  25. I’m 99.9% certain that Immortal Weapons is the best thing I’ve ever read.

    (South Alabama Shin Stomp!)

  26. I buy trades, and not even immediately when they come out, so I’m always behind on these discussions…

    The review of Immortal Weapons reminded me to ask: do I want to keep getting The Immortal Iron Fist after Brubaker & Fraction’s run ends?

  27. Your closing paragraph reviewing Legion of 3 Worlds is both spot-on and hilarious – are you ABSOLUTELY SURE you don’t hate Geoff Johns with a passion?

    While I’m critical of Johns’ retcon-addiction, I don’t think there’s anything actually wrong with resetting the status of a character every so often, as older readers drift away and newer readers need to be found to make up the shortfall, since no medium can survive without a renewable audience and not every reader is willing to jump into a series that’s currently at part 150 of a storyline that started in the early 1990s.

    Franchise properties reset every so often and it’s no biggie – if anything, it’s a sign that comics are healthy enough the creators feel they can reach out to new readers every few years.

  28. not every reader is willing to jump into a series that’s currently at part 150 of a storyline that started in the early 1990s.

    The Legion of Super-Heroes was last rebooted in 2005. Before that, 1994, with a “soft” reboot and new series in 2001.

    I think changing things every five years is a bit excessive.

  29. Actually, I never make it to the shop until Saturday (if I even make it). This place is one of my main places to look and see what’s good that I might otherwise miss. I’m usually looking for indy stuff and tend to skip the Big 2 shelves outside of what I’ve seen featured here.

    Legion has had so many re-boots it should be published by Wildstorm.

  30. Incidentally, # 36, there are no new comics readers. There’s about 300,000~400,000 current comics readers who actively read and purchase books on a regular basis, and once they die…

  31. “Incidentally, # 36, there are no new comics readers. There’s about 300,000~400,000 current comics readers who actively read and purchase books on a regular basis, and once they die…”

    Or get girlfriends!

    I mean it’s possible. Technically speaking.

  32. “I think changing things every five years is a bit excessive.”

    Yeah, you do always run the risk of a Wonder Woman or a Hawkman/Hawkgirl in that you end up with too convoluted a background not just for new readers, but for dedicated nerds like me who know who these characters are, but don’t actually know what they’re supposed to be this week. But resetting stuff like bringing Bruce Wayne back to life or fixing his gammy back – that’s good for the property in the long run.

    @Owesome: comic book stores close all the time and few reopen. Given that currently they’re the only outlets for comic books, that’s a worry too. Especially coupled with more than a few stores reducing their inventory to become toy stores and gadget shops first, and comic books outlets second.

  33. The Marvel Uk guest stars in the final arc of Captain Britain really does make me sad that the series is over – oh, the stories Cornell could have told! I am a total Marvel UK geek, I must admit. Misspent youth and all that.

    The actual story itself was excellent, as well, which obviously helps. The new (and lassssst, noooo) issue was pure upbeat fist-in-air joy, really, a feeling I have not got from my pop culture since watching the last episode of Gurren Lagann or something.

  34. LOVED Amazing Spider-Man 600, and let me be the one to say that I would love it even more if it meant that Marvel’s going to be undoing the supernatural divorce!

    Secondly…the Superboy-Prime ending would be okay to me.

    If Geoff Johns had just been able to friggin’ resist his gruesome urges and not implied that SBP had killed his sister and was threatening his parents to do the same.

    …..seriously, evil Johns, WHAT IS YOUR DAMNED PROBLEM???

  35. “Yeah, you do always run the risk of a Wonder Woman or a Hawkman/Hawkgirl in that you end up with too convoluted a background not just for new readers, but for dedicated nerds like me who know who these characters are, but don’t actually know what they’re supposed to be this week. But resetting stuff like bringing Bruce Wayne back to life or fixing his gammy back – that’s good for the property in the long run.”

    Hawkman and Wonder Woman have way bigger problems than the fact that they’ve been rebooted too many times. Namely: they suck.

    Which has basically been the problem with the Legion since whenever! (And the Teen Titans. Seriously, sometimes a concept just runs it’s course. Let it die or at least let it rest, but don’t keep waving a balloon in front of it and claiming it’s not in a persistent vegetative state.)