Some people question the logic behind continuing to write these comics reviews a solid four weeks after I told everyone I was quitting, but to those people, I say this:
Yes, it’s another round of the Internet’s Most Schadenfreuderrific Comics Reviews, but this week I’m doing things a little differently and only reviewing one comic, for the simple reason that–as good as a lot of the comics I read this week were–it’s the only one I’ve really got something to say about.
So let’s get to it!
Girl Comics #1: The release of Girl Comics #1 is probably the biggest news in this week’s comics, and I’ve got to say, I am all for this stuff. Throwing the spotlight onto female creators in an industry that’s perceived–fairly, for the most part–as being overwhelmingly male-dominated and male-oriented is an excellent way to get some attention for creators that really deserve to be more prominent, and it dovetails in nicely with what I’ve seen as a recent drive to recruit a lot of talented women.
And visually speaking, it’s paid off: If nothing else, this is a good-looking comic book, from Amanda Connor’s cover all the way down. Ming Doyle (the artist on pal Kevin’s Loneliest Astronauts) does an excellent, moody job on the opening Nightcrawler story, Stephanie Buscema’s poppy take on Venus was great, Agnes Garbowska’s art for the Franklin and Val Richards story had a storybook quality to it that was just beautiful, and Emma Rios is just as good here as she was in Strange. Plus, Colleen Coover does the introduction, and as long-time ISB readers already know, I’m a big enough fan of hers that I will buy literally anything she cares to draw. She could do Gambit and Wonder Man Deny the Holocaust and I would be the first person in line to put $3.99 down for it. She’s just that good. So artwise, this thing is top notch, and worth the money alone just to look at.
As to the stories themselves, they’re the mixed bag that usually comes with an anthology title. The standout for me, though–aside from Coover’s introduction–was Lucy Knisley’s Dr. Octopus story, which took up a quick two pages with some fun sight gags that woudld’ve been equally at home in Marvel’s last anthology, the indie-friendly Strange Tales. Beyond that, though, a couple of the stories just flat-out Aren’t My Thing, including the X-Men story by Devin Grayson that… well, it’s certainly a story by Devin Grayson all right.
And then there’s Valerie D’Orazio.
The fact that I don’t personally care for D’Orazio is one of the ISB’s worst-kept secrets–it was the entire joke behind her interviewing me about Solomon Stone last year–but if Marvel wants to hire loudmouthed comics bloggers to write their comics, that can only be a good thing for me, so good on her for getting the work. But even so, the antipathy’s there, and along with the fact that there’s nothing to keep me from swallowing my own tongue and dying when the inevitable rage-induced aneurysm hit, it’s one of the reasons that I’m opting out of reviewing Punisher Max: Butterfly this week, as you can never really trust someone with an axe to grind. With the Girl Comics story, however, the problem is one that I think I can be a little more objective about.
It’s certainly the best comic D’Orazio’s written so far, but as it’s the only one that doesn’t feature some version of herself in the starring role, it sort of wins that dubious honor by default. To be fair, it does have a pretty nice first page, although the idea of Frank Castle being on the other end of a Chris Hansen-esque Instant Messenger conversation is one that already seems a little played out. Also, the subterfuge of it doesn’t really feel like the sort of thing the Punisher would do. If nothing else, he’s direct, and always struck me as the kind of character that would be more about action rather than laying a trap that did not explicitly involve ordnance, even one as simple as registering for Facebook. But again, that’s just my interpretation as a guy who’s read an awful lot of Punisher comics, and hell, if he can be a Frankenstein, he can be “sadprincess14.” So yeah: The first page is just fine. The problem is that there are pages after it.
That’s not sarcasm, either: With the punchline that comes at the end of the first page, D’Orazio has told her entire story. From the moment Frank Castle shows up on the other end of the chat, you know how it ends, and yet it drags on for another three pages. Admittedly, you could argue that we know how every Punisher story ends–Garth Ennis’s landmark run on the title is entirely predicated on there being nothing that can stop the Punisher from killing the people he’s going to kill–but the other three pages just don’t add anything to the narrative. It’s the exact, literal, no-subtext-necessary ending that you expect right from the start, with the only surprise being that the normally terse Punisher actually offers a few pleasantries and talks about flowers. It’s a four-page story that ends on page one and then lingers, doing nothing but taking up space.
It’s not terrible, per se, but it is aggressively, pointedly mediocre, especially for a story described by the writer as “a little unsettling at first, then darkly humorous.” But again, to be fair, with the exception of a couple of the prestige-format one-shots, I’ve read every single Punisher comic Marvel’s put out, and this is by no means the worst I’ve ever read.
That would be Butterfly.
And that’s the week. I’ll be giving a few more of my thoughts on this week’s books on the next episode of Ajax, but if you’ve got any thoughts on this week’s books, or if you’re like me and just want an excuse to use the phrase “multiple Deathloks,” feel free to leave a comment below.