The Week In Ink: 5-17-07

Oh, All-Star Batman… Why you gotta hurt me so good?



That’s right, folks: A mere three hundred and sixty-four days since I reviewed the last issue, Frank Miller and Jim Lee have finally gotten it together long enough to produce another installment of their mind-bending All-Star Batman, and a kick to the face like that can only mean that it’s time once again for another round of the Internet’s Most Senses-Shattering Comics Reviews!

Here’s a list of what I bought yesterday (which astoundingly includes a few titles that were shipping a mere month after their last issue)…



…and here’s what I thought about ’em!




All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #5: And now, the ISB Proudly Presents a selection of actual dialogue from All-Star Batman #5:

Wonder Woman: You bastard! You bastard. I hate your guts. I hate your guts. You make me sick. You make me sick.

Its called being paid by the word, folks.

Anyway, at this point, I think at this point, we can all pretty much agree that ASBAR is just awful, but the debate rages on as to whether or not it’s actually awful on purpose, and I honestly don’t know which side I’m on. I mean, this is a book where the first piece of dialogue is Wonder Woman saying “Out of my way, sperm bank,” and it just gets funnier from there. Seriously, every single page of this thing is a riot, from the scene where Miller just goes ahead and re-does a scene from Sin City with Dwight and Gail re-cast as Superman and Wonder Woman to the page where Batman responds to a thug asking “What?” by punching him so hard that a nearby woman immediately falls in love with him. See? It’s amazing.

And yet the whole thing’s played so straight by Miller and Jim Lee that it’s impossible to tell if it’s genius or madness, and the only thing I really know for sure is that it’s absolutely freakin’ hilarious. Intentional or not, it’s a hoot, and while I hate to support a “monthly” comic that only bothers to come out once a year, it’s worth $2.99 just to get a line like Superman’s stirring: “Damn you, Diana! Damn you and your Amazon arrogance!” Delightful!


Batman #665: Prophetic dreams, maniac cops and an impending battle with The Devil Himself next month aside, if there’s anything that belongs in the Black Casebook, it’s a story where Batman and Superman go back to 1776 and try to have each other convicted of witchcraft so that they can beat an evil karate genie. Just sayin’.


Catwoman #67: Over at his highly entertaining blog, writer Will Pfeifer referred to this issue of Catwoman as a humdinger that never lets up, and brother, he ain’t lyin’. I’ve mentioned before that this book has been pretty much flawless over the past year, but with the last few issues, it’s been all-out action with beautiful artwork by David Lopez, and it’s just an absolute joy to read. I mean really: It might just be me, but seeing a pair of Russian super-villains whose real names are Boris and Natasha is just something that never gets old, and when said super-villains are also being shot, blown up and kicked out of windows while Holly drops another uppercut on Blitzkrieg, it all adds up to one of the most solidly entertaining comics on the market today.


Conan #40: I think it’s been pretty well established here on the ISB that my love for Conan and his adventures is second to none, but believe me: I have never seen things go from life-threatening to slapstick quite as fast as they do in this issue, and it is fantastic. Tim Truman’s been doing a great job with the series ever since he took over, but with this one, it’s like he decided halfway through to replace his script with a series of phenomenally violent Looney Tunes gags–complete with Thoth Amon falling, Wile E. Coyote-esque, off a cliff and showing up none the worse for wear on the next page, already hatching a new scheme–and while that could easily go wrong, it’s great here, right down to the Prince and Wazir reacting to it at the end. I’m not sure if I want every issue to be like this, with the evil wizards of Stygia trying to brain Conan with Acme-brand anvils, but…

…Aw, who am I kidding? That’d be awesome.


Countdown #50: So last week, I said that a story about Jimmy Olsen going up against the Joker was “pretty much foolproof,” and if there’s one thing I should know from reviewing comics for the past couple of years, it’s that saying that sort of thing will almost invariably result in the storyline in question failing miserably. So there you have it, folks: Countdown #50 sucks, and it’s all my fault. I apologize.

Well, maybe not all my fault. I mean, I’m not the one who thought that Jimmy Olsen knowing Jason Todd and Dick Grayson’s (and therefore Batman’s) secret identities was a good idea, nor did I suggest that Jim Calafiore completely forget how to draw during the Mary Marvel sequences, and I certainly didn’t tell anyone to just redo a couple of pages from Justice League of America. And now that I think of it, I didn’t sit down and write a script where Jimmy Olsen–a journalist–isn’t able to figure out that Duela Dent isn’t really the Joker’s daughter, or that included a darn near incomprehensible scene with the Rogues, so maybe I’m not to blame after all. One thing doesn’t change, though: It is not very good.

I’m doing my best to hold out for the first month just to see the full rotation of writers for this thing, but with two full issues of absolutely nothing worth reading, I can’t see myself sticking it out for the full year, even if I do still want that t-shirt.



Satan’s Sodomy Baby: You know, what can you really say about Satan’s Sodomy Baby that isn’t summed up right there in the title of the book?

How about this: It might well be the single funniest thing that Eric Powell has produced in his entire career, and as the cover suggests, it is astonishingly offensive. Of course, coming from a creator that responded to winning an Eisner Award by including a scene that saw “a simpleton playing in his own filth” in The Goon, it should come as no surprise that the story just gets funnier and funnier as Powell pushes the envelope in a story of the Devil’s back-door lovin’, the grim consequences that result, and the Goon’s quest to put that sucker right back where it goes.

It’s the kind of book that you imagine Powell could barely draw from laughing at the punchline on every single page, and I don’t blame him. I’ve read the thing cover to cover three times already today, and there are still panels that I burst out laughing when I see. It’s fantastic, and if you missed ordering it from your shop–what with it only being solicited in the pages of Previews Adult–I’d advise you to do whatever you can to get a copy. It’s awesome, and that’s as much as I can possibly say without spoiling the jokes.


The Ultimates 2 #13: You know, nothing says “Suck it, All-Star Batman” quite like an eight-page gatefold of super-heroes fighting an army of trolls on the White House lawn. Yes, it’s the last bone-shattering installment of The Ultimates from Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, and despite the fact that those guys missed the perfect opportunity for the return of Ultimate Volstagg, it pretty much confirms my theory that today’s Mark Millar is at his best when there is no possible chance of people acting out of character in his stories. This is, of course, aided by the fact that everyone pretty much acts the same in this book, but the point stands: When it comes to big, stupid fights where things get blown up and nothing really has to make sense, there really aren’t a lot of people who do it bigger, stupider or better than those guys. It’s nothing but fun, from a story that allows Thor to kill Loki four or five times before it sticks to a scene where Scarlet Witch makes a date with an Ultron robot, and even though it never freakin’ comes out, I’m sad to see it go. Not sad enough to, y’know, jump on the Jeph Loeb run or anything, but still.


X-Men First Class Special #1: Between Official Handbook pages for the original X-Men, the shocking return of Bernard the Poet, and a class trip to Monster Island, it can finally be said: Truly, this one has it all. Of course, the real gems of this issue–which sees Jeff Parker writing yet another solid, highly entertaining kid-friendly comic with a team that I don’t particularly care for otherwise–are the three short gag strips that Parker does with Colleen Coover. She’s one of my favorite artists, and seeing her drawing a story where Jean Grey throws cars around with her mind so that she can harness the power of cuteness for good, instead of evil is almost everything that I want to see from a comic about the original X-Men. It’s great stuff, and with First Class set to return as an ongoing series next month, there’s a heck of a lot to look forward to.





The Plain Janes: As long-time readers of the ISB will probably already know, I’ve been as excited about DC’s Minx line as is humanly possible for someone who falls squarely into the diametric opposite of the target audience can be ever since it was first announced. Long-time readers will probably also be familiar with my love of Degrassi, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, and pretty ponies, so this probably wasn’t too shocking, but that’s beside the point: With the release of The Plain Janes, Minx has officially launched, and after reading through it today, I’m still pretty darn excited about the whole thing.

The story, as you might expect from the title, revolves around a girl named Jane who moves to a small town from her big-city home in the wake of an undefined terrorist attack, leaving behind her old friends, her old personality, and a comatose artist whose sketchbook inspires her to join up with three girls at her new school–Jane, Jayne, and Polly-Jane–to form an “art girl gang” called PLAIN that secretly creates art in the new town. It’s a plot that borders on farcical in a lot of places with how unabashedly goofy it gets, but it’s engaging and might well be the definition of “charming.” Probably owing a lot to the fact that she’s a novelist, Castellucci relies a lot on Main Jane’s first-person narration, and does a pretty fantastic job of giving a her an immediately likeable voice that drives the story, and Jim Rugg’s art is great, even with a distinct lack of ninjas, which he used to great artistic effect in the awesome Street Angel. It reads quick, but it’s a lot of fun while it lasts, and with it being the title I was least excited about, it bodes well for the rest of the line.


Showcase Presents the Flash v.1: ATTENTION, CITIZENS:


Barry Allen’s Head is Freakin’ Huge.


That is all.



And that’s the week. Yeah yeah, I know, I only reviewed half of the titles on my list, but hey: Chronicling the devastating adventures of the Bat-Witch takes it out of a guy. Besides, if you have any questions, comments, or just want to talk about what a great hardcover Mouse Guard turned into or debate the merits of Giant Girl’s new costume, feel free to leave a comment or shoot an email to the address at the right.

As for me, I’ll be trying to figure out why wind resistance didn’t just snap Barry’s neck the first time he got up to sixty. I mean really.

35 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: 5-17-07

  1. I am kinda curious about what you thought regarding Local and Uncanny X-Men — my shop didn’t have either when I cruised through and I was wondering how they were, but not strongly enough to go to another shop.

  2. Stupid Jimmy, Joker’s only got one kid and just because he wears a big red dress doesn’t change his dudeness…

    Also nothing to say about Fables or Ex Machina? That makes me sad…

  3. I mean, I’m not the one who thought that Jimmy Olsen knowing Jason Todd and Dick Grayson’s (and therefore Batman’s) secret identities was a good idea,

    No, that would be Mort Weisinger (and whichever writer was made to work with the old curmudgeon back in 1964). Jimmy learned the identities both of Batman and of Robin in World’s Finest 144, ‘The 1,000 Tricks of Clayface and Brainiac’, when Superman and Batman exchanged partners after Jimmy was stuffed with tiny Kryptonite particles…

  4. Ultimates 2 #13 – agree the ommission of the Big Fella, Fandral and Hogun is a saddening thing.

    I own the original Ultimate Volstagg page by Hitch – its framed above my desk. So if I ever need a rebooted Asgardian Lion to reaffirm my comic faith, its within touching distance.

    keep up the damn good work Chris!

  5. I’m on the “All Star Batman is genius” side of the fence myself.

    I laughed out loud several times but the “out of the way Sperm bank” line was my favourite.

  6. I think I still have a sub to Ultimates. Which I totally forgot about; I realized the other day that the comics I sub to don’t actually come out!

    As far as All-Star goes: how is it that somebody who wrote Year One and the Dark Knight Returns can write this SAME TRASH?? See also: that other Dark Knight thing, the one we all thought was going to be awesome but then it was like all Braniac and Luthor and . . . wha?

  7. I dunno. I want to believe that Miller is a genius, but I can’t get beyond the “All Star Batman is just awful!” stance. I get the impression that Frank was offered a lot of money to do this comic but that he didn’t want to, or care to, and he’s just pushing things to see how far he can go before someone says “enough.” I mean he’s already revamped Batman way back when with “Year One” and DKR, surely one kick start is enough?

  8. I loved Colleen Coover’s work enough on “Banana Sunday” to seek out some of her older work. After finally seeking out and reading “Small Favors,” though, I have a bit of a hard time reading her other stuff the same way. Not that it’s bad or I don’t like it, mind you. It’s just that it takes the same cute style and applies it to something entirely different.

    And that’s about all I’m willing to say in public without turning beet red and changing the subject to the weather.

  9. Who drew Jean Grey on thay X-Men cover? She way too skinny, and looks like the artist was trying to portray her as being two-dimensional. It’s a really bad drawing.

  10. Sadly, I’m of the opinion that Miller, as much as I love the guy, is just out of ideas.

    I cringe at seeing one of comics most notable writers embarrassing himself on a Brando in “Dr Moreau” scale. And hopefully for everyone concerned “Holy terror Batman” will never ever see the light of day.

  11. I am kinda curious about what you thought regarding Local and Uncanny X-Men

    Local‘s fantastic, as always. I like the idea of Megan as little more than a cipher who reacts to things around her (which is what happens in a few of the issues), but as the stories have become more focused on exploring her as a character, Wood and Kelly have done a pretty great job with it.

    As for Uncanny, well, I’ve liked the Ed Brubaker run for exactly the reason that he’s trotting out all the crappy mid-90s plot elements (like the third Summers brother and his glowing eye) and actually doing something entertaining with them, and while that’s a trend that continues in this issue, I don’t really like the way it ends up. I like it when the X-Men go out into space every now and then, even though it’s not really sticking to the underlying theme of the series, and I can deal with having a few of them stay out there to fight the Shi’ar, because, well, that’s their problem. But bringing a couple of aliens back to Earth to hang out and join the team just seems like it’s getting further away from what the series is supposed to be about.

    Also nothing to say about Fables or Ex Machina? That makes me sad…

    Fables is really really good, and has been for the past five years, so I can’t think of something new to say about it every month.

    Ex Machina‘s pretty good, too.

    No, that would be Mort Weisinger (and whichever writer was made to work with the old curmudgeon back in 1964).

    It’s not often that I say this about Mort Weisinger, but that is a bad idea, especially in the Post-Crisis DCU (if such a thing even exists anymore). There are very few people who should know Batman’s secret identity, and while I’m pretty sure Mr. Action could handle it, I don’t know about a guy who doesn’t even bother to get on Wikipedia before he goes and chit-chats with the Joker.

    After finally seeking out and reading “Small Favors,” though, I have a bit of a hard time reading her other stuff the same way.

    Now you know why I spent the entirety of Banana Sunday hoping that Nickels and Kirby would just start making it out.

    Seriously, though, Small Favors is awesome. Is the Color Special still in print?

    Who drew Jean Grey on thay X-Men cover?

    Kevin Nowlan, and while she is a little on the skinny side, the actual cover looks a little better than the tiny scan I put up here.

  12. All Star Batman is the funniest comic being published currently. And it’s even funnier to think some poor readers are taking it deadly seriously.

    MA: Avengers was also wacky fun, but then, it’s Jeff Parker. Par for the course.

    But c’mon, don’t leave us hanging. How was Jughead actually funny? The public has a right to know.

  13. Totally agree with you across the board. Except I was kinda into Countdown. And we didn’t get copies of Satan’s Sodomy Baby yet, but we’re expecting them next week. I’m excited.

    Plain Janes was fantastic. I’m very pleased.

  14. As someone who reads All Star B&R for the laughs, I am going to err on the side of /genius/.

    Also of note: The Runaways HC cover is /phenomenal/.

  15. Hey, Chris Sims:

    As someone who would really like to buy every new Showcase edition as it comes out, but really can’t spare the money or the time it would take to read them all, I have to ask you: is the Flash volume good enough to make the final, awesome cut?

    I realize it’s got THE ORIGINAL Silver Age story, plus even a Golden Age story up front? And lots of Gardner Fox action… I’m pretty sure this is a Thing I Want, but only you can tell me for sure. Is this top tier, sensational Silver Age Explosions of Madness?

  16. To be honest with you, Benito? I have no idea. I’ve only read through a few of my Showcases (Metamorpho, Teen Titans, Superman 1-3, Superman Family, and Legion, if you count the Archive) and I’m so woefully behind right now that I don’t know if I’ll ever catch up.

    If you like your super-heroes with huge, nigh-MODOKian heads, though…

  17. Damn, you haven’t even read the Justice League ones? They are insane.

    Well, all right. I’m going to get the Flash because it Needs Doing.

  18. Seriously, though, Small Favors is awesome. Is the Color Special still in print?

    I got my copy from Fantagraphics relatively recently, so I think so. Also, according to her LJ she’s working on a new issue…

  19. As much as I usually enjoy Dini’s work, he is SEVERELY off his game in COUNTDOWN. For instance, did Dini or his editors actually READ the “Rogue War” saga during Johns’ Flash run? Why is HEAT WAVE getting all down on Trickster and Piper for temporarily becoming good guys, when HE DID THE EXACT SAME THING DURING THE SAME TIME THEY DID. They were on the SAME TEAM, for God’s sake! And nobody called Heat Wave out on this, not even Trickster? Also, Captain Cold welcomed Trickster back with open arms at the end of “Rogue War” but all of a sudden he doesn’t trust him ONE YEAR LATER? And, anyway, did the other Rogues forget that Trickster, et al going good was essentially caused by the Top messing with their heads?

    Also, how lame is it that we see more detail of the Batman-Karate Kid fight in the pages of some cheesy crossover maxi than in the the Justice League story where it originally appeared? But, hey, why let a fight between two martial arts masters from different centuries get in the way of such highlights as the Hawkgirl/Red Arrow mating dance, Mr Terrific playing chess blindfolded, or the final splash page featuring Power Girl’s ta-tas? Well, at least this week’s JLA issue had a saving grace: Ed Benes drawing Dawnstar.

  20. Interestingly, a Google image search on the phrase “Satan’s Sodomy Baby” returns a picture of Henry Winkler at #3.

  21. Well Chris,while I agree that the Mouse Guard hardcover is awesome, I was a little disappointed in the extras.
    Also, please to say whre you want the Court Tv thing sent-I e-mailed you about it a while ago.

  22. Whew, I’m glad someone else realizes how weird it is that Superman basically told Jimmy who Batman is, but keeps his own identity to himself. I knew something was off with Countdown as soon as Red Hood came to the rescue. I really need a good reason to keep reading this thing.

    I want a utility belt made of lightning rods. It’s practical.

  23. Is it me… or is Millar the Michael Bay of comics? When there is action to be had and great big explosions and norse warriors pouring from the skies, I am there. When he actually tries his hand at depth of plot, I fill with rage. Go fig.

    Also: a story where Jean Grey throws cars around with her mind so that she can harness the power of cuteness for good, instead of evil is almost everything that I want to see from a comic about the original X-Men.

    I’m right behind you, sir.

  24. I’ve read “Plain Janes” and “Re-Gifters” and the former is definitely the stronger of the two. Not that “Re-Gifters” is bad or anything, it’s very charming and humorous, it just also seems very by-the-numbers. And like “Plain Janes,” it just sort of ends sooner than it should.

    The page count limit on these books needs to be set up or at least be a little more flexible.

  25. Why is Barry Allen’s head so freakin’ huge?

    Because Carmine Infantino. THAT’S why.

  26. I wonder how SATAN’S SODOMY BABY fits into Mark Waid’s thoughts about “fun” comics.

    I bought that and the new issue of MARVEL ADVENTURES AVENGERS during my lunch last week, making for one of the more diametric comic purchases of all time. As if purchasing a comic called SATAN’S SODOMY BABY didn’t already raise the bar, the clerk pointed out to me and the other worker that it looks like Iron Man was ready to enter Giant Girl’s ass on the cover of MAA. Suddenly, I felt filthy.

  27. The Colleen Coover parts of the X-Men: First Class Special were my favorites, but the whole thing was pretty terrific, and it made me wonder why I haven’t been reading it all along.

    But if Parker and Coover did an X-Men book together on a regular basis, I’d buy it all the time and it’d be my most favoritest X-Men book ever.

  28. My unfounded hunch is that All-Star Batman is Miller trying to be funny, but he’s not very good at it. He reminds me of someone without much of a sense of humor trying to be a comedian; there’s something akin to humor to be found, but it’s not exactly funny per se. It’s too insane to be serious, but the “humor” is too off-tone to feel like genuine humor.

    He’s trying to be outrageous and over-the-top, but the problem is that: (a) his regular style is so overheated that pushing it past the point of absurdity doesn’t really change it much, (b) superhero comics are so insane by nature that being “outrageous and over-the-top” requires tremendous effort, an effort that isn’t evident in ASB&R, and (c) to quote Spinal Tap, “there’s a fine line between clever and stupid.” Being funny is hard, writing straight adventure comics is hard, and creating a fusion of the two is insanely hard. Alas, to my nerdly eyes, Miller doesn’t pull this very difficult task off.

    …I so need the sobriquet “Mister Action.” May have to change my name. “My name is Harvey. Harvey Action. You can call me ‘Mister Action.'”