Sometimes it’s hard to tell when you’ve got a weight problem, but I’m pretty sure that if the sound of someone kicking you in the face ends with a double-F, you should probably look into long walks and a personal trainer.
And with two boots to the face of the morbidly obese, it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Two-Footed Comics Reviews! Here’s what I picked up this week…
…and here’s what I thought of them!
Adventure Comics #4: This is without question one of the funniest comics I’ve read all year.
I was thoroughly entertained by the final fate of Superboy Prime, who was fated to live out the rest of his days in the hellish existence of the Message Board Troll at the end of Legion of Three Worlds, and while I was pretty sure that was the last time I ever needed to see that guy, the fact that this issue opens with Prime being just as displeased as I was at finding himself in one of my comics did a lot to set the tone. And it just gets better from there, which is honestly something I never thought I’d say about a comic where Earth-3 Alexander Luthor comes back to life as a zombie and fights Superboy Prime.
What it all comes down to is that there’s a self-awareness to this story that’s largely absent in Geoff Johns’s other work. Despite a few token attempts to be serious–which generally involve casting Prime as that kid from the Twilight Zone who sent people to the cornfield for listening to Perry Como, which is itself a concept that is goofy as all hell–this story is essentially functioning as a parody of Blackest Night by the guy who is actually writing it. Through Prime, Johns not only points out the ludicrous aspects of the crossover–Prime knocking over short boxes as he yells an explanation of what the Black Lanterns are, which is interrupted by Zombie Luthor because he finds the DC Comics message boards more interesting than another infodump–but even skewers his own turgid prose by having Prime offer commentary on his own battle cries. Luthor’s even got the same kind of “You’re the fastest man alive, Barry–but you’re always slowing down!!” speech that Hal Jordan gives in BN #3, but geared towards explicitly calling out inside jokes, which–for me at least–makes it a bigger laugh than even Luthor’s summation of the Internet.
Admittedly, that might all be attributed to co-writer Sterling Gates, but given that it’s the same kind of tongue-in-cheek fun–and there’s a word you can’t apply to too many Johns books–that capped off LO3W, I’m inclined to believe that it’s both of them, having a laugh at their own expense. And I’m laughing right along with ’em.
Amazing Spider-Man #612: A couple of sharp-eyed ISB readers have noticed that I haven’t been picking up Spider-Man for the past month or so, my reasoning being that a) Clone Saga stuff–even when it involves Kaine, the living embodiment of Marvel’s excess circa 1994 that a 12 year-old C. Sims thought was the tops–just does absolutely nothing for me, and b) as I may have mentioned before, I’m pretty much done with Joe Kelly. This week, then, was Spidey’s big return to my stack with the Dan Slott-scripted Dark Reign tie-in and the start of Mark Waid and Paul Azaceta’s “The Gauntlet,” and I’ve got to say that I was a little let down.
Admittedly, a lot of that’s my fault: I’d assumed that “Gauntlet” was going to be just a straight-up throwdown with Spider-Man’s villains, and it’s not. Of course, I assumed this because that’s the impression I got from the promotion for it, and the fact that it’s, y’know, called “The Gauntlet” which tends to either mean a rapid series of increasingly high-stakes fights or a wizard insisting that he needs food badly. Instead, it’s the type of solid (if run-of-the-mill) super-hero story with a clever twist that Mark Waid excels at.
And that’s the problem: The twist–Electro raging against the government bailout by promising to give (groan) “power to the people”–is not just a little too cute for its own good, it’s a story that already feels dated. That might just be a side-effect of the fact that it takes place during a summer heat wave when it was released smack in the middle of November (as opposed to last year’s “Sometimes it Snows in April,” which was actually released in April), but something about the setting of Electro’s grassroots “shock-ins” feels old hat even when you can tie it to stuff like the
Douchebagger Teabagger protests from two months ago. It might just be media fatigue on my part, but it feels like Waid & Co. might as well have just stamped “SEPTEMBER 2009” on the cover and included a single of “Poker Face.”
As for the backup, well, I’ve already gone into my feelings about Joe Kelly’s Spider-Man work on the ISB before, and this thing didn’t do much to change that. Which is a shame, as it’s Kelly reuniting with JM Ken Niimura, with whom he collaborated on I Kill Giants, a book that I actually did enjoy. Niimura’s art is fantastic, and it’s exactly the type of thing I’d like to see more of, especially on the Spider-Man books, but Kelly’s script just turns me right off with its clumsy injection of melodrama into what is essentially a story about how Spider-Man and the Black Cat getting it on constantly.
Throw in the Dark Reign special that opens with a page where Adam Kubert decided to give Spidey two Christmas geese for thighs, and it’s not exactly the return to form I was hoping for.
Conan the Cimmerian #16: I’ve had my criticisms of Tim Truman’s Conan the Cimmerian before. I generally like his work, but since the new series started, I’ve felt like he’s devoted a lot of time to flashbacks and side stories about people who Are Not Conan, and that’s not why I’m putting my money down.
But this issue opens with Conan sucker-punching a velociraptor.
All is forgiven.
Punisher #11: Last week, I was talking to Chad Bowers, my writing partner and the creator of Monster Plus, and he told me: “Chris, a comic is coming out where the Punisher’s dismembered body gets hauled off by the Man-Thing so they can stitch him up into a Frankenstein’s Monster. Truly, the Action Age of Comics is upon us.”
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anybody that I’ve been looking forward to this one since it was announced, as my love of the High Concept is pretty well-known by now, but even so, I wasn’t prepared for the first issue to be quite this good. It is without question the best issue Remender’s done with the title, upping his game to a level that I’ve come to expect from guys like Jason Aaron with the way that he’s throwing concept after concept at the reader and hitting with each one. It’s not just the Punisher as a Frankenstein’s monster, but the idea of the Legion of Monsters returning to protect Monster Island against a gang of renegade super-samurai monster hunters. Everything about it is so gloriously over the top that you can’t help but see the fun Remender and artist Tony Moore are having with it, coming through with an “isn’t this awesome?” sort of vibe rather than one that’s self-congratulatory.
As for Moore’s art, most readers are probably already well-acquainted with him from his six-issue run with Robert Kirkman on The Walking Dead [Note: I’d originally thought he’d done the whole thing, but I was wrong. Sorry, Charlie Adlard!], and while his work here definitely draws on the strengths he built there, with expressive faces and a knack for grotesques, this is the best of his that I’ve ever seen. Of course, that might have a lot do to with the fact that he’s drawing full-color shots of things like a sheepish Orrgo the Unconquerable, who I would read about all day long.
As excited as I’ve been, the true test of a high concept is how it fares under the actual execution, and with this one, the team behind it is really living up to the potential. It’s a hoot, and I can’t wait for more.
Spider-Man 1602 #2: And speaking of high concepts done right, here’s a story where a Colonial-era Spider-Man fights pirates.
I went on and on about my affection for Jeff Parker and how pleasantly surprised I was by this book when the first issue came out, and as all that holds true here–Jeff Parker’s still awesome, Ramon Rosanas is still awesome, the book’s still an incredible amount of fun–I’ll just add this one note: The sound of Ye Olde Spider-Man’s webs is “Thwippe.” That alone is worth four bucks to me.
And that’s the week! As always, any questions or concerns can be left in the comments section below, so if you want to discuss how awesome Jason Aaron’s dialogue is in Wolverine: Weapon X–“He’s… he’s got chainsaws for hands.” “I know, isn’t he just amazing?”–feel free to chime in!