Ah, DC Comics. Fine purveyors of girl-on-girl action since 1938:
Wait… what’d you think I meant by “action?”
Get yer mind outta the gutter and focus, people! It’s Thursday night, and that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Misleading Comics Reviews! Here’s what I picked up this week…
And here’s what was so awesome about ’em!
Amazing Spider-Man #560: Some of you might recall that I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling off and on throughout my life, and in discussions of that most noble sport of kings, the term “mark” is one that gets thrown around a lot, although you don’t hear it as much anymore now that the WWE’s embraced the idea of being “Sports Entertainment” and dropped a lot of the secrecy that used to be around the industry. See, a mark is somebody who “thinks it’s real”–or at least, somebody who buys into the illusion long enough to buy a t-shirt–and while I like to think that I’m a shrewder customer than most, Dr. K can vouch for the fact that when we went to Smackdown last year, it only took two seconds of the Undertaker’s theme music to get me out of my seat and cheering like a schoolgirl.
Point being: I marked out so hard for Spider-Man this week.
Don’t get me wrong: There’s nothing about this issue that’s going to set the world on fire or redefine the character, and to be honest, there’s not even anything about it that you wouldn’t expect from talented guys like Dan Slott and Marcos Martin. Beautiful pages, a new villain with an interesting hook (that being “What if Flatman from the Great Lakes Avengers was an obsessive goth girl”), it’s all the same kind of enjoyable stuff that we’ve seen from these guys before. But this time around, everything just comes together so well that it caught me up in the story, and all the dissatisfaction of “One More Day” and the recent disappointing bits from the Spider-Man “brain-trust” were gone. Even the pop art gags that I’d seen before in Grant Morrison’s Batman just worked better with Martin’s art. And that last page… There’s no reason I shouldn’t have seen it coming–I read the solicitations every month, fer Chrissakes–but it blindsided me with just how perfect it was.
Admittedly, I’m more excitable about this stuff than most people–after all, if I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I am, you probably wouldn’t be reading about it on my daily comics blog–and there are a lot of things that can account for how much I loved this issue. I might’ve just been in a really good mood, or maybe Slott stumbled on just the right formula of nostalgia and action to remind me one more time of why Spider-Man’s one of my absolute favorite characters. But whatever it was, it hit all of my Spider-Fan buttons, and I don’t regret a second of it.
Well, except for the part where I actually typed a phrase like “pushed all my Spider-Fan buttons,” that is. Probably best to just move on.
Captain America #38: Hang on a second… This is Captain America? But there are scenes that take place during the day in this one, and that can’t be right…
Oh, but I kid. The record will show that I actually like the dark, moody color palette of the series a heck of a lot, especially since it goes along pretty well with Ed Brubaker’s noir-influenced scripts. Still, sometimes it’s nice to see Steve Epting’s artwork with the bright splashes of color that only Captain America kicking a terrorist beekeeper in the face at high noon can provide.
Then again, it’s always nice to read Captain America.
Catwoman #79: With the end of the series on the horizon and only three more issues left until the axe falls, I feel like I can finally say this:
If you don’t like Will Pfeifer’s Catwoman, then we can never be friends.
I’m sorry, but… Well, actually, that’s a lie, I’m not sorry at all. I mean, sure, I like having friends, but to be honest, with a disagreement on such a fundamental issue as the quality of one of DC’s hands-down best series, I doubt there’s a lot we’d agree on anyway. Take this issue, for instance: I give a lot of credit to Pfeifer–and believe me, I think he deserves every bit of it–but even beyond his sharp, engaging scripts, David and Alvaro Lopez make the art in this book sing. If you have a copy handy, flip open to page seven and just look at how beautiful it is from the basic layout right down to the overlay of a smirking Catwoman at the bottom. It’s gorgeous, and the thing is, it’s not out of the ordinary. You can find something that well-done on every page.
And if you can’t, well, like I said. We’re not friends. But just so we’re clear on this, I’ll still be accepting birthday presents from acquaintances, lackeys and assorted hangers-on.
And also Dave Campbell.
The Damned: Prodigal Sons #2: If you’ve ever wondered what Weekend at Bernies would be like if it was a supernatural crime noir thriller–and really, who hasn’t?–then brother, have I got the comic book for you!
Normally, this is where I’d tell you I was just kidding and then give a semi-serious review, but that’s actually a pretty good description, except that Damned is about thirty times better than Bernie’s could ever be. But the point stands: While the first series and its focus on Eddie, his curse and his desperate attempts to rise up through the ranks of the demon mafia were dead serious, this issue is… well, it’s funny, with a sense of humor that veers into slapstick in scenes where Morgan escapes from mobsters while lugging around his brother’s corpse, occasionally using it as a shield or a battering ram.
It sounds grotesque–and it is, albeit in an Itchy & Scratchy sort of way–but more than anything else, it’s a riot, and Brian Hurtt’s subtle shifts from his usual work to a more exaggerated, cartoonish (and in places, Will Eisner-ish) style as the scenes cut back and forth between Eddie and Morgan just sell the whole gimmick beautifully. It’s an absolutely fantastic read, and if you’ve been curious about the series thus far, this is the one to pick up, just to see what these guys can do with it.
In fact, the only way it could be better is if–hang on, what’s this?
Ah, that settles it, then. This issue couldn’t possibly be better.
Incredible Hercules #117: In this comic, a Japanese god of evil who speaks only in Haiku fights a polar bear.
So really, there’s no possible way that this isn’t the best comic book of the week. Maybe the year.
Seriously, though: Forget about Secret Invasion. Super-heroes fighting Skrulls? That’s tired. It’s been done. But Sacred Invasion, where the pantheons of Earth get together to go fight the Skrull gods? That is genius. And I know: I’ve been singing the praises of Pak and Van Lente’s work on this book for months, but it always bears repeating that with the combination of mythology and Marvel, they’ve not only done something that captures the sweeping grandeur of what an event like Secret Invasion should be, they’ve come as close to creating my ideal Marvel Comic as anything else I’ve ever read.
If you haven’t already, take a look: The first trade hit shelves this week, and while it won’t be until the next one that they really hit their stride with incorporating the mythology, it’s very well worth it.
Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle #2: Okay, somebody help me out here, because I’m really starting to get confused. I was getting ready to go back in and catch up with my annotations of the Anita Blake comics, but then I read this and… And I think it might be… pretty good.
I mean, it’s snappily written and reasonably well-drawn, everything seems to make sense (well, after a fashion), the action sequences are paced well and tense, and there are funny parts that are funny because they’re funny and not because they’re awful, and the main character is actually likable and doesn’t sit around waiting for things to happen to him rather than actually doing something. And even weirder, there are supporting characters that I don’t hate. It’s… It’s just very confusing.
I mean, this is a comic book adaptation of an urban fantasy novel, right? And it’s actually a fun read? But that would mean that everything I know about the genre is… wrong? Man. I think I might need to lay down for a minute.
Madame Mirage #6: Hey, did you guys know this thing was still coming out?
Yeah, me neither. Next.
Marvel Adventures Avengers: Mark your calendars, folks: Not only does this issue of the world’s best Avengers title feature the return of ISB Favorite writer Jeff Parker, but it also features the return of the Sensational Character Find of 2007.
That’s right, folks: Karl’s in the house.
And as is often the case with comics where AIM’s most illustrious agent makes an appearance, there’s nothing about this one that isn’t fun. It’s one of those comics where it’s obvious that Parker was laughing all the way through it, from Captain America’s “That’s how we had lunch back in the war!” to Doc Samson’s psychological evaluation and its non-stop parade of in-jokes to the first appearance of the Marvel Adventures Bi-Beast–a phrase I never thought I’d get to type–and it’s a feeling that came through very well through Guara’s art.
It’s great, and most importantly, younger readers can appreciate that the story has a moral: The best way to help people is to beat other people up. It’s science!
And that’s the week. As always, any questions about anything I read–or if anyone would care to explain what the fuck Lisa Lampanelli was doing in my Goddamn X-Factor this week–can be left in the comments section below.
I mean seriously, what the hell? Lisa Lampanelli. It’s enough to make a guy drop the book.