The Week In Ink: January 16, 2008

You know, I have no idea why these guys are wearing crazy Chinese demon masks with their business suits…

 

 

…but it’s exactly the kind of fashion statement that adds a bit of joi de vivre to a good ol’ fashioned facekick.

Anyway, enough with the clothes! After all, there’s plenty of time for that nonsense after we get through yet another installment of the Internet’s Most Pugilistic Comics Reviews! Here’s what I got this week…

 

 

…And here’s what I thought about ‘em.

 


 

Comics

Amazing Spider-Man #547: Given the speed that it made the rounds on the comics internet, you’ve probably all heard about this one already, but on the off chance that you haven’t, here’s what Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada had to say in a recent interview that made it to CNN:

“When we first did it, the reaction was, ‘How could you do this? This is a terrible thing to do.’ But with the first issue of ‘Brand New Day,’ our letters very quickly changed to people saying, ‘This is fantastic. This is the Spider-Man we remembered. We didn’t know what we’d been missing.’

Okay, look: I’m not J. Michael Straczynski, so it’s not my job to sit here and argue with Joe Quesada about why “One More Day” is absolutely godawful in just about every sense of the word, and besides, I went through all that last week. I will, however, say this: As much as I’ve liked both parts of Brand New Day that have hit shelves so far, there’s nothing I like about them that couldn’t have been done with a married Spider-Man, and in fact, having to pretend like the guy I’m reading about didn’t just literally make a deal with the Devil last week is the biggest detriment to my enjoyment that the book has.

I mean really, what’s Dan Slott brought to the table that’s so fun? New villains? A desperate Peter Parker going back to work for an equally desperate Daily Bugle? The Spider-Mugger? All told, they make for a really fun read, and I’m glad to have them, but when you get right down to it, the only thing that makes the book different than it was two years ago is that now, it’s actually being written well. That’s what people wanted from the Spider-Man books, and the fact that it wasn’t happening when Peter and MJ were married says a lot more about the guys writing the stories than the characters that were in them.

But again, complaining about it now doesn’t solve anything. What’s done is done–until it’s undone at least; this is comics we’re talking about–but if we could get by without pretending like two good issues somehow make the bad ones any better, that’d be swell.

 

Atomic Robo #4: The awkward ending of the last issue aside, I think I’ve made my feelings on Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener’s tale of Robot Action Science pretty clear, but even if you missed my discussions of the earlier issues, the fact that all three words in the description I used are things that I love to see in my comic books, you’ve probably already been hipped to the fact that I like it a lot. It’s the kind of comic that just starts from a premise so brilliant that it was last seen in luchadore cinema–that being the timeless conflict of Robot vs. Mummy–and does it with such undeniable fun that even a backup story that seems to crib a bit from The Five Fists of Science doesn’t slow it down.

That said, it takes a special kind of comic to not only feature a robot in a disco medallion, but also create and explore a bitter spacefaring rivalry between the main character and Professor Stephen Hawking. Clearly, this is a comic we should all be reading.

 

Birds of Prey #114: You know, I just realized that right now, I’ve been reading Birds of Prey longer than I’ve been reading any other current comic book. I originally jumped on with #19 for a crossover with Nightwing and while I’ve hopped on and off virtually every other comic I read (not counting the ones that have been relaunched), I’ve stuck with BOP every month since for almost a hundred issues.

From this, we can learn two things: One, I am getting perilously old, and two, while I rarely have an occasion to recommend it over anything else I’m enjoying, the fact that I’ve stuck with it for ninety-four issues does speak well of its consistency and, with the exception of the issues between the end of Dixon’s run and the start of Gail Simone’s–the only parts of the run I’ve since gotten rid of–a baseline level of quality that runs through the series.

As for how I came to this conclusion, well, I’ve been thinking of dropping the book. Like I said before, it’s enjoyable enough at its high points, but it’s never really been one that’s wowed me on a regular basis, and right now, it seems pretty precariously balanced between “fun to read” and “buying out of habit.” On the one hand, you’ve got Sean “Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane” McKeever writing the book now, and at least one of the plots he’s exploring dates back to a Blackhawk story from the ’60s by one of the Two Great Bobs that saw Lady Blackhawk brainwashed into becoming Queen Killer Shark.

On the other hand, the main plot of his run thus far has led to a scene where Barbara Gordon breaks Misfit’s ankle, and even if it’s healed in the next panel, that seems pretty wildly out of character no matter what the end results of her “experiment” turn out to be. It’s not enough to make me drop the book at this point, but if it doesn’t pick back up in the next couple of issues, well, a habit can only keep a guy buying so long.

 

Booster Gold #6: You know, if you told me last year that I was going to see Jack Knight make a one-panel appearance in the pages of Booster Gold, and that I’d be happy about it, I would’ve thought you were out of your freakin’ mind.

But then again, Booster Gold‘s a book that’s full of surprises, and while it’s not often that I’ll admit to being wrong here on the ISB–mostly because, you know, I’m not–now that the first story arc is all said and done, I’ll cop to completely misjuding this one back when it was solicited, and if anything, this issue seals the deal even more than the ones before it. After all, for a comics reader, I’m a pretty big fan of characters who die actually staying dead, but an issue that sees Booster saving Ted Kord from getting shot in the head without negating anything about his story is a good sign, right down to the fun bits of pseudo-science (you know, the “chronal wave” that “breaks up” the “solidified time”) that flow through it. It’s good stuff, and seriously? I’m excited as heck for next month’s Zero Hour tie in, and nobody’s said that in fifteen years.

If they even said it then, I mean.

 

Checkmate #22: You know, the thing that really stuck out to me in this issue was the opening scene, where the Mademoiselle Marie of 1944–which is presumably the one we were already familiar with–is executed by firing squad in Nazi-occupied France. It’s something that I’d never really thought about before, but it’s a completely appropriate end for the character. Kanigher, after all, was fond of saying in his later years that Sgt. Rock dies at the end of the War as a victim of the last bullet, and it makes perfect sense that Marie–with whom Rock was in love, which he intended to follow up on once they’d gotten rid of the rather pressing concern of, you know, World War II–would meet a similar fate.

It’s an idea that’s always appealed to me. I mean, I like Sgt. Rock and Mlle Marie an awful lot, and while it’d be nice to reward their years of bare-knuckled Nazi-punching with a long and peaceful retirement, they belong to World War II. And unlike, say, Jeb Stuart and the Haunted Tank, who had a great, fun return in the pages of Garth Ennis’s Demon, they just don’t seem like they’d work outside of that specific idiom. It’s not what you’d call a happy ending, but it’s just as right to see them give themselves to the defense of their countries, right down to the very en–

Huh? This issue? Oh, Josephine beats a guy to death with a claw hammer. It’s totally awesome.

 

Flash #236: So, you guys remember how I was really apprehensive about Mark Waid coming back to the Flash, because I was worried about him falling far, far short of an incredible run that pretty much defined the character?

Turns out I was right. Go figure.

 

ISB BEST OF THE WEEK

 

 

Immortal Iron Fist #12: Okay, true story: Halfway through reading this issue, I had to actually put it down and go find someone to talk to about how hard Davos just got his ass kicked. And brother, if there’s any better sign that you’re reading an awesome fight comic, I’d like to hear it.

Actually, come to think of it, I got interrupted when I was reading this one and ended up skipping the last bit until I went back to look through it tonight, presumably because the first sixteen pages had enough awesome for a full twenty-two. But anyway, at this point, we all know how I feel about Iron Fist and why, for my money, it’s the best comic Marvel’s putting out, but it always bears repeating that Brubaker and Fraction are doing things perfectly with it. The setup of the Tournament alone, with Danny going out in the first round and Davos utterly destroying his competition and then being thoroughly wrecked in turn by a man that turns into green lightning? It’s amazing, and David Aja’s art on the fight sequences flows with a pacing that makes it look like the greatest kung fu movie ever made.

It’s awesome. Read it.

 

Incredible Hercules #113: Long-time ISB readers might recall that I have an intense and abiding hatred of Wonder Man, so believe me when I say that seeing Hercules drop a Quinjet on him was quite possibly the highlight of my week. Especially since he dropped it right on his stupid face with his stupid glasses and his stupid jacket and I hate you so much Wonder Ma–

Er, sorry. Got a little distracted there. Point is, Greg Pak’s responsible for the most enjoyable Hulk stories in recent memory, and now that he and Fred Van Lente have shifted the book’s focus over to everyone’s favorite punch-drunk immortal, the way that they’re blending mythology and the Marvel Universe is downright Simonsonian. And believe me, that’s not an easy label to live up to.

And yet, they seem to be pulling it off with ease, and a lot of it, I suspect, comes from the great combination of characters. But really, who would’ve thought that the surly super-genius teenager with a pet coyote and the Avenger that’s only ever been really good when he’s drunk and/or punching out other super-heroes would work so well? Well, I suppose Van Lente and Pak did, obviously, seeing as they’ve given us a story where Amadeus Cho can be as surly as humanly possible, and Hercules can be completely justified in going crazy and punching out other alleged “good guys.”

Good guys like Wonder Man. Stupid, stupid Wonder Man. It’s a win-win!

 

Robin #170: So, Chuck Dixon’s back on Robin with this issue, and in case you couldn’t tell from the reliable ol’ Fight Scene – Exposition – Set Piece Fight Scene – Development – Cliffhanger story structure that he patented back in ’94, the fact that there’s a reference to Sundollars Coffee on Page 9 should’ve been a pretty big tipoff. This is, after all, the man who showed us the difference between Zesti and Soder Cola, and made sure we all knew that Curtains ’98 was an unreliable operating system.

I kid Dixon, of course, but to be honest, his use of stand-in products has always really appealed to the minutia-oriented section of my brain, and while I’m not sure why, they’ve always had a strong appeal for me. But alas, the return of Sundollars to the DC Universe isn’t the alleged “big” draw here, as that spot’s occupied by the possible return of the Spoiler (or at least Tim Drake sitting around thinking about the possible return of the Spoiler for the next few issues), which pretty much just boils down to pandering to the Internet.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m usually well up for a good bit of pandering to the Internet, but it might help if this issue was actually, you know, any good. The whole thing starts off with Batman claiming that he accepts his losses and moves on, and while that’s pretty good general advice, the fact that it’s coming from a guy in his thirties who’s dressed like a giant bat-demon so that he can avenge his dead parents makes it ring a little hollow. Admittedly, Robin solving his problems with the aid of a giant bowling ball is a high point, but it doesn’t make up for what essentially amounts to a bland, boring read about a narcoleptic vigilante and his dead ex-girlfriend.

 


 

And that’s the week! If you have any questions or comments on something that I read or skipped over this week–like, say, throwing out some possible theories on why Matt Wagner’s such a freakin’ genius or whatever–feel free to leave a comment below.

51 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: January 16, 2008

  1. Hey, Chris. Mephisto is a Skrull. That’s how it will play out. Or a Skrull-clone. If this is what happens down the line, I’ll give you sole credit. (By the way, what the HELL was the idea of the title “One More Day”? Granted, I didn’t read it, but what if Parker had, say, Two More Days?

  2. 2 things:

    1. Atomic Robo should be #4 I think, you have it as #5.

    2… eh, getting pretty sleepy here.

  3. Y’know… if you had asked me in 2006 which Marvel titles I would be digging the most in just two years’ time, I don’t know that an Iron Fist or Hercules book would have even made the top 100.

    I would even go so far as to say that if it didn’t ship the same week as Immortal Iron Fist (the “Best Book” of ANY week it’s released), The Incredible Hercules would have grabbed the top spot quite easily.

    Verily.

  4. Dear Mr. Sims:

    Why are we both still buying New Warriors? Its shit awful. New words for awful need to be created to describe it. Ok, I know why I’m still doing it. I’m an idiot. A fool who keeps dreaming that if I just keep picking it up whoever the hack writer on it (whose name I won’t even bother remembering) will somehow magically transform into Fabian Nieceza and I’ll get the book I loved from back in the 90s…

    But what the hell is keeping you on it?

  5. “like, say, throwing out some possible theories on why Matt Wagner’s such a freakin’ genius or whatever”

    Because Bob Haney. That’s why.

    I’m sorry, what was the question?

  6. I don’t get the hate for Wonder Man. Hell, just a few hours ago, I was talking with a friend about why he was cool. Ironically, the jacket and glasses were part of it.

    But, Fred Van Lente’s writing “Incredible Herc”? Okay, I just may be in for that. Especially if it’s legitimately “Simonsonian”.

  7. It wasn’t until my 2nd read through this week’s Booster Gold that I noticed the Abbey Road homage panel at the top of p. 4.

    So clever! Or shameless… I’m not sure which.

  8. “Kanigher, after all, was fond of saying in his later years that Sgt. Rock dies at the end of the War as a victim of the last bullet.”

    But…then who kills Rock’s killer? Does Bulldozer have to choke a bitch or something?

    I don’t know if I care for that idea: that kind of gloom and doom is all fine and good for say, Jonah Hex, but not Rock. And if Rock dies, he can’t appear in Brave and the Bold or Suicide Squad…well, forget that last one.

  9. One of my favorite things about that Iron Fist cover is that the “7″ is the Chinese character for 7 turned upside down. It’s a great visual pun.

    Kanigher didn’t get his wish with Sgt. Rock, did he? I thought there was a Rock/Batman team-up of sorts in the first O’Neil/Adams Batman HC (OK, they were punching each other as I recall, though no car batteries were involved), and Rock was into his retirement years.

  10. I think for the sake of everyone’s sanity that we don’t try to fit Bob Haney’s stories into the confines of “continuity”. Case in point, page 399 of Showcase Presents The Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups Volume 2.

  11. Personally, I love DC’s “brand name” products like Big Belly Burgers and Chocos, if only because they appeal to the world builder in me.

    They’re a reminder that the DC world is not “our world, but with superheroes”. It’s a whole ‘nother place, with a different history and economy and world structure. It resembles our world, but it’s significantly different from the big things (aliens are real) to the little things (“What’s a coke?”)

  12. I have 2 questions this week:

    1) How is WWH: Aftersmash: Warbound? I have to admit I was very intrigued but flipping through the pages didn’t really spark my interest to actually buy it. Is it worth the read?
    2) What is your take on the Messiah Complex? I think this is the first week where I haven’t seen one of the X titles on your buy list. Am I to take this as you think it sucks? Or you just don’t want to spend another $4 on it?

  13. If somebody – let’s call them me – wanted to get the most out of the current run of the Invincible Iron Fist, which trade paperback (or hardcover, preferably) would that somebody need to start reading from?

  14. I will go on record as saying that WONDER MAN is a FINE character (not spectacular or anything) but that his SAFARI JACKET, SUNGLASSES & BOOTS costume is one of the TOP TEN costumes that have EVER existed.

    Well… maybe.

    But, that IS his BEST look, hands down.

    ~P~
    P-TOR

  15. Agreed completely with your “Brand New Day” comments.

    The only thing Joe Q has done to Spider-Man (as a mythology) is strip off the quarterpanels, apply a new paint job, bake it, and buff the knicks out of the chrome.

    Otherwise, I still don’t see the narrative point of “One More Day” other than using it as a cheap stunt to temporarily boost sales.

    What a concept…

  16. Simon, there’s only been one HC/TPB of the new Iron Fist released so far, and I think it’s #1-6 of the series. So… that’d be it.

  17. I recently read that Kanigher’s “Rock gets killed by last bullet fired of WWII” was indeed retconned.

    Now, Rock is killed by sack of horse’s anuses, thrown at him by Maxwell Lord.

    If only.

    MAN, how good is Iron Fist?
    Frubaker have taken all that kung fu goodness and mixed in some crazy, pulp stuff and baked a tasty read.

    Go buy it.

  18. If it hadn’t been for the ISB telling me to buy Iron Fist I would have never known its glory.

    As someone who plays World of Warcraft, I was bored by the first issue and stopped reading it. I too am curious why you bought it.

    Also, Did you miss Fell as much as I did? I just wish that damn book was more regular but it blows my mind everytime I read one.

  19. Said it before, saying it again: the “new” Spider-Man books are not some kind of stunning revelation, and they’re not even excellent super-hero books. They’re just slightly above average books that seem much better in comparison to all the dogshit Spider-fans have had to endure. Put these things in 1988 or so and nobody would so much as blink at the writing.

    (The art, sure. Steve McNiven’s art is purty.)

  20. Atomic Robo is the only Red 5 offering that I’ve managed to stick with (helped a bit by also being the only Red 5 offering that comes out consistently). Can’t help but think the pitch went, “What if Hellboy were a robot?” Yes, it’s derivative but at least it’s fun.

  21. As I believe one of the Savage Critics said (Jog? Graeme?), the new Spider-man is about what you’d find in any 70′s Spider-man comic. In that sense, it is fine, but very familiar (especially as those were among my first comics) and so while it is somewhat entertaining, it feels very bland and average.

    Personally, I had the hardest time with it starting off with Pete being surprised kissed by the club girl, which just was too jarring for me for a “newly divorced” Peter. Also having Harry back is really weird and a bit on the creepy side for me.

    Add on three times a month (at once a month I’d be more likely to hang in there) and despite my long tenure with ASM, I’m seriously considering dropping it.

  22. Chris– if you liked this month’s Booster Gold, the next issue is gonna blow you away. I’m coloring it right now and man, this is one of the most fun 22-pagers I’ve ever read. It’s a hoot!

  23. I never thought I’d actually enjoy an appearance of Venom, but his whole “LETHAL PROTECTOR!!!” schtick in Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man was outstanding.

    Van Lente did that one, too!

  24. Some thoughts:

    Here is a senses shattering idea, any chance of a team-up between Iron Fist’s Fat Cobra and Volstag the Voluminous?

    Oh man how the end of this week’s Booster Gold got me cheering.

    Any chance we can see the source of this Wonder Man hatred, Chris? As much as I dig when you’re enthusiastically positive about something you’re also quite fun to read when you’re filled with loathing.

  25. One More Day seemed to be about the supporting cast more than the marriage it feels like. I agree with you Chris, I don’t get why they couldn’t have the supporting cast this way the whole time they were married.

    And a super-hero with naturally grey hair that wears a leisure suit and starred in B-movie Conan knock-offs can’t be all that bad.

  26. LurkerWithout sure didn’t care for it, but I wonder what you opinion is on the latest New Warriors book, Chris. I am another fan of the Nicieza run, and was hoping to encounter an entertaining revival when the first trade arrives in my monthly comics order. Do I hope too much?

  27. What we really need is gay Spider-Man. It would complete re-invigorate the franchise and breathe new life into the character, cast, and mythos. Spider-Man’s the perfect character to do it with, too.

  28. Why are we both still buying New Warriors?

    Well, I’m buying it because I think it’s a genuinely enjoyable comic book, although the art in this week’s issue was pretty rough. If you’re buying it and you don’t enjoy it, well, one can only assume that you’re not very bright.

    SO WHAT HAPPENED WITH WORLD OF WARCRAFT #3 THAT MADE YOU PITY SIMONSON THE GREAT???!

    Well, aside from the fact that it’s, you know, not very good, it’s written in a style that Andrew described as “heroic fantasy paint-by-numbers.” Seriously, anyone could write it. Even you, Kevin Kelly. You could write World of Warcraft.

    1) How is WWH: Aftersmash: Warbound?

    It’s pretty good. It’s got Kate Waynesboro, a Bill Mantlo creation if memory serves, but beyond that, it’s a pretty solid action adventure so far that does a good job with working in the backstories of the characters.

    2) What is your take on the Messiah Complex?

    Eh, it’s an X-Men crossover. I really only read Uncanny and X-Factor when it comes to the X-Men books, so I’ve only followed the parts that have gone through those, and, well, it’s certainly an X-Men crossover. One day, we as a society will come together and realize that those are generally bad ideas.

    If somebody – let’s call them me – wanted to get the most out of the current run of the Invincible Iron Fist, which trade paperback (or hardcover, preferably) would that somebody need to start reading from?

    Click on the words “Iron Fist” in the above post, and you’ll be taken to a magical land called Amazon where the first trade is waiting for you to buy. That’s all you need to jump on the new series, but I, of course, would totally recommend Essential Iron Fist and Essential Power Man and Iron Fist, just because I love the character. They’re not necessary at all to jump right on and enjoy the new stuff, though, because as Fraction said in an interview, they’ve pretty much just boiled him down to the core concept of “Kung Fu Billionaire.”

    I recently read that Kanigher’s “Rock gets killed by last bullet fired of WWII” was indeed retconned.

    Yeah, but in-continuity or not, I think it makes for an interesting idea. And really, all those B&B stories took place on Earth-Haney anyway.

    Here is a senses shattering idea, any chance of a team-up between Iron Fist’s Fat Cobra and Volstag the Voluminous?

    Oh man.

    Oh man.

    That needs to happen.

  29. I’ve got to ask. What exactly are you finding “genuinely enjoyable” about the current New Warriors? Is it the way everyone delivers speeches instead of having conversations? The whining about being ditched by the X-Men (even if its whining with a valid point)? Beak and Angel 2′s 18 mazillion mutant kids? And if they still have a brood of mutants why would they have gotten kicked out of the mansion?

    Yeah, I’m not very bright for buying a book entirely out of fan-boy nostalgia (which I always hate when others do). But I’m honestly baffled as to what you’re enjoying on it. Please, please elaborate…

  30. If you don’t like ASM then stop buying it. It just justifies OMD by purchasing it. Read Marvel Adventures, that was at least funny.

  31. Re: your alt-text for the Flash cover.

    No, next issue is a Keith Champagne fill-in. THEN Tom Peyer, for whose arrival I’m generally excited.

  32. I, too, am excited for Peyer’s run after reading his interview at Newsarama. Being excited about a Tom Peyer comic is a new and truly frightening experience, because as a writer I’ve always considered him an also-ran hack who can’t be bothered to bang out interesting scripts because us lowly fans aren’t worthy of it.

  33. I too am on the verge of dropping BoP. 114 better be good (out here next week), or I’m done. Things took a dive without Black Canary. Having Barda around was awesome, but now she’s gone, and so is Simmone, and I just haven’t enjoyed the last 4 or 5 issues. The current lineup of characters isn’t really strong enough to carry things, imo.

  34. Peyer’s better than he gets credit for. DC 2000 was a great story that nobody read, and I think he suffered the most from the proposed Waid/Morrison/Millar/Peyer lineup on the Superman books falling through back in the late ’90s (to be replaced with Kelly/Loeb/Casey/Schultz runs), as it really could’ve been his shot.

    Hourman‘s pretty enjoyable too, and I’m always a little surprised that it never developed the rabid following when books of similar quality, like, say, Chase did.

  35. Only 9 reviews. Must have been a busy week. If I worked in a comics store, I’d read 25 books a week and review them all.

    Maybe.

    Thanks for all the good work you do, Chris.

  36. “Huh? This issue? Oh, Josephine beats a guy to death with a claw hammer. It’s totally awesome.”

    I must confess, I fully expected Greg or editor Joan Hilty to ask me to dial that back.

    REALLY happy that scene is still there. Way too much fun to write.

    Thanks for the kind words; glad you liked the issue!

    -Eric T.

  37. You know, I used to review everything I bought, but really? I’d rather not stay up ’til five in the morning trying to write jokes about Iron Man every Thursday. Staying up ’til two suits me just fine.

  38. I think Sergeant Rock had a postwar adventure when he went after a guy who seemed to be Hitler but was actually the Devil. And Batman was there I think.

  39. ahem.

    Fat Cobra, Volstagg and Blob.

    You’ve guessed it, the fat boys are back.

    BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR STICK ‘EM!*

    (*Its a gramaphone record circa 1989)

    *Lies down on soft part of ground until the madness subsides*

  40. Whoa, how can you hate so hard on one-half of the Wonder Man and the Beast duo? His early ’90′s solo book was pretty funny at the time, that time being between the ages of 13 and 16. Gerard Jones and those old 70′s/80′s Avengers made him one of my favorite characters.

  41. Glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t like Wonder Man!

    I’m a huge fan of Vision/Scarlet Witch and still not happy with Wonder Man making a move on Wanda, that’s Vision’s gal!