I gotta tell you, folks: This was the one that almost didn’t happen. After taking last week off to prep for FCBD and then writing up a storm this afternoon, I just wasn’t feeling it. But then:
Hellboy being kicked in the face by a luchador possessed by Camazotz, the Mayan Bat-God of Death. Truly, it is as though El Santo himself was urging me to post it. Thus, the Internet’s Most Rudo Comics Reviews have returned for another night! For my thoughts on Hellboy in Mexico, check out this week’s ComicsAlliance roundtable, but now, here are my thoughts on this week’s books!
Archie #608: On the off chance that anyone thinks I haven’t written enough about race in comics today, this week saw me finally getting my hands on a copy of Archie #608. This was, of course, the comic that prompted my last outburst of pseudo-brainy writing on the subject, and I’ve been wondering for a while how it was going to play out. This is a pretty key moment for Riverdale, standing as almost as big a step as their upcoming introduction of Kevin Keller, and it really could’ve gone either way.
So what’s the verdict? It’s actually pretty good stuff. For one thing, while most of the Archie books are the only ones left that stick to the three-story format, this one takes up the whole issue, following the model of the “New Look” stories without losing the house art style. It’s something that Dan Parent and Bill Galvan really take advantage of, establishing an enjoyable sitcom conflict, wrapping it up, and then escalating things with Archie and Val, and while the issue could certainly use a little more Melody Valentine (and really, what couldn’t?
?) the extra breathing room allows for a much zippier story.
But the big deal is the kiss itself. Not to spoil anything, but Parent and Galvan actually manage to pull off a surprise fakeout in an Archie comic, which is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before: After a long night of songwriting, Archie and Valerie have a reasonably chaste goodnight kiss, then part… and then come back together for something that’s one poet shirt away from a romance novel cover. By Archie standards, it’s a remarkably passionate display, and it’s obvious that the creators knew exactly what they were doing when they set it up–they know this is a big deal, and that’s exactly how they’re treating it.
Plus, there were two other things that I really found notable about it: One, that they actually involved Veronica’s nerdy cousin Marcy in the plot (notable because she’s my go-to example for a third-tier Archie character that doesn’t get much to do), and second, that it was inked by Rich Koslowski. Yeah, that Rich Koslowski, from 3 Geeks and one of my favorite comics about religion ever, The King.
Batman and Robin #12: Okay, look: I don’t want to spoil the last page of this one for anyone–even someone who should know better than to go into a page of reviews if they don’t want spoilers–but I would like to point out something I said in November:
“…if I’m Dick Grayson and I meet a guy named “Oberon Sexton,” I’m just going to start hitting him on general principle.”
Told you so.
The amazing thing about this issue, though, is that the last page reveal isn’t the only great moment about it. It’s fantastic from top to bottom, and while you can hear Euge and I gushing about it on next week’s episode of Ajax, but the scene with Damian and Talia is one of the most ice-cold badass moments I’ve seen in comics in a long time, as is the nice reminder that Dick Grayson is a guy that not only inherited Bruce Wayne’s arch-enemies, but also brings his own to the table. And then there’s the part where they connect the dots on a map.
Guys, I am not gonna lie here: I am a total sucker for guys connecting lines on a map to see a pattern. On one level, it’s absolutely ludicrous, but in a way that appeals to the kid inside me that grew up loving the World’s Greatest Detective, it’s always hit me as not only the perfect visual representation of putting clues together, but as the kind of thing that embodies the over-the-top nature of what I love about comics. I loved it in Dark Knight, Dark City, and I love it here. It’s just the way I’m made.
And that’s all I’ve got for this week! As always, if you’d like to discuss anything that hit the shelves, whether it’s Chris Roberson and Mike Allred’s truly awesome first issue of I, Zombie or the abysmal Brightest Day #1, which managed to embody this brighter spirit of the DC Universe by going 8 pages before the first reference to rape and 17 pages before someone’s arm got torn off, feel free to leave a comment below!