You know, I think my biggest regret this week is that the double-page spread from Kyle Baker’s Special Forces #3 where Felony kicks a bunch of children in the face just doesn’t hold the same impact once it’s shrunk down to fit on the ISB.
But considering that Dr. Who Classics featured Shaolin monks fighting Sontarans this week, I guess everything works out okay.
Yes, you might be tired of face-kicking after the past week, but Lord knows I’m not, and the one above signals the return of the Internet’s Most Tooth-Loosening Comics Reviews! Here’s what I bought this week…
And here’s what I thought about ’em!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #17: All right, folks: I realize that I normally try to keep it lighthearted around here and stay away from more serious issues, but at this point, I have to say something, because we’re getting to the point where if this goes any further, it’s going to be a national crisis.
The future-slang has got to stop, people.
I mean, it was fine when it was just “grife” and “sprock” in the pages of Legion of Super-Heroes, and even when Joss Whedon himself was replacing actual curses with Swearproximations™ on Firefly wasn’t terrible, as it allowed characters to express intense emotion without going through the hassle of network censorship. But between Jim Shooter’s attempt to make anything with four letters that is not actually a word into a 30th-century obscenity and Fray’s annoying hab of abbreving her words three times in every sent with a cadence that would be embarrassingly hokey in Back to the Future Part 2, my urge to punch the future in its cybernetic face is getting stronger than ever.
Let it never be said, however, that Chris Sims is a guy who criticizes without offering a solution, and if your question is “what do I make my characters say if I cut back on annoying future slang,” then I suggest that you do it… like this:
Clearly, I’m in my zone.
Comic Book Comics #2: This probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but I’ve been eagerly anticipating the second issue of Comic Book Comics since the moment that I finished the first one. I mean, I like Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey a heck of a lot individually, but together, those two guys make some of the most informative and entertaining comic books I’ve ever read, resetting the standard for educational fun with their previous effort, Action Philosophers! Of course, it’s not much of a secret that I like that book a hell of a lot too–especially considering that I’m quoted on the back of AP! v.3–so my opinions on the matter might come off as a little biased.
With that in mind, I’d like to just offer you a list of things you can find in this issue of Comic Book Comics and let you decide for yourselves whether it’s really as awesome as I say it is, which it is: Veronica Lodge as a Cyborg Killing Machine. Jack Kirby threatening to kill Stan Lee. A handy guide to spotting Mr. Wrong. A comic book called Fetus Force. A harrowing and entirely accurate portrait of William Moulton Marston’s love life. And one of my favorite stories about Bill Gaines, done in two panels with a phrase you usually only hear from Kevin Church.
It’s truly fantastic, and if you’ve got any love for the medium, you should definitely be reading it.
Final Crisis #3: I’ve gotta say, from what we’ve seen of Final Crisis so far, this issue’s the one I like the least.
Wehn you get right down to it, I think you can trace a lot of that back to two things about it in particular, and one of them’s directly to the left. To be fair to J.G. Jones, a cover that portrays Supergirl as an uncomfortably oversexualized teenage strumpet is pretty consistent with the way she’s been characterized since her return a couple of years back, and since Benjamin Birdie–who wrote a pretty snazzy review of this issue himself over at CBR–claimed that he didn’t see anything wrong with the cover at all until I came along and ruined it with my filthy mind, I’m willing to entertain that there’s a slim, microscopic chance that it’s just me.
The other mitigating factor in my enjoyment is one that I’ve talked about before: Barry Allen, who proves that while death might not be able to run faster than the speed of light, nostalgia can sure as hell keep up. Because seriously, when it turns out that a character whose finest moment involved him sacrificing his life to save the universe didn’t actually sacrifice his life to save the universe and has just been running around for the past two decades, it makes it difficult to get around the fact that comics only present the illusion of change until someone comes along to make stuff just like it was when they were kids.
On the other hand, though, there’s an awful lot to like here, too–ateam-up with the Question and Frankenstein doesn’t happen every day, after all–but even the good stuff is starting to feel like it was cobbled together from leftover bits of other Morrison projects, whether it’s Marvel Boy’s Oubliette standing in for Mary Marvel, or the fact that–as Andrew pointed out–the whole end of the issue is essentially just Rock of Ages with Kyle Rayner the Parademon swapped out for Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Catwoman and Giganta as the Female Furies.
Still, we’re less than halfway into it at this point, and at the very least, it’s well-written, well-drawn (Supergirl cover aside), and the scenes with Sonny Sumo, Mr. Miracle and the Super Young Team alone are snappy and intriguing enough to keep me looking forward to the moment that the disparate plotlines all tie in for the big showdown.
Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #2: As you’re probably already aware if you read guys like Mike Sterling, being a comics retailer comes with a whole different set of gripes than being a comics fan, although you don’t usually find one without the other. As a fan, for example, I can wail and gnash my teeth about Dwayne McDuffie leaving Fantastic Four because I really liked his run, but as a guy who sells the darn things, I can at least be glad that–at least for a while–we’ll be selling more copies of FF when Mark Millar comes on.
Every now and then, though the complaints line right up, and Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas is the perfect example. Chris the Fan doesn’t like to wait thirteen weeks to read a comic that was supposed to come out monthly, and Chris the Retailer thinks that it’d be awfully nice if the comic that has the strongest ties to the Iron Man movie–what with the fact that it’s written by the director and drawn by the guy who did design work for the costumes–would’ve come out in a manner that was timely enough to capitalize on the film’s incredible success. Instead, anybody who was interested has either migrated over to Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man–which is awfully good–or moved on to, I don’t know, finally realizing that they ought to read that Watchmen thing that everyone’s been raving about for the past twenty years.
It’s pretty frustrating, but it’s something that I’m willing to completely overlook, because this is a comic where a hard-drinking Tony Stark teams up to fight a Goddamn dragon with the ISB’s favorite monster hunter, Elsa Bloodstone, and no matter what a delay might do to sales, that’s the kind of sentence that means Fan Chris wins automatically.
Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle #4: In the time since I reviewed the last issue of the Dresden Files comic, I’ve managed to knock through the first two novels in their entirety and most of the third, and I’ve got to say… Those things are pretty damn awesome.
It’s the first one, I think–Storm Front–that had the greatest appeal for me, since it’s set up as though to answer the question of what would happen if Harry Potter grew up to be Philip Marlowe. And Dresden himself definitely starts out as a hero cast in the classic Chandler mold who down these mean streets must walk, complete with an attention to minor detail and an overwhelming compulsion to rescue damsels in distress. It’s a great hook, and by the time you get through the second book, he’s been smacked around, knocked out and tied up so much that I got the feeling he was going for the Spirit’s lifetime achievement record.
What really sells him as a character, though, is his pragmatism, and at least half the fun is watching Butcher contrast the sweeping aspects of high fantasy with Dresden’s dry, no-nonsense commentaries and response. This is, after all, a guy who describes the nature of time and distance in the Land of Faerie as, and I’m quoting here, “all fucked up.” And then there’s the comic book version, who in this issue manages to defeat a trio of ancient and horrible hags with the judicious application of a handgun and an angry gorilla, and come on, man, we all know that’s exactly what I want from my comic books.
So congratulations, Dabel Bros.: You have made me a fan. I mean heck, the only thing I’m not 100% wild about is Dresden’s girlfriend, who is one part smoky latina hotness to two parts Silver Age Lois Lane. And even that, I don’t mind too much.
King-Size Spider-Man Summer Special: You should all buy this comic book.
Not just because it’s got a full-length lead story by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover where Mary Jane, Millie the Model, Hellcat, She-Hulk, Clea, Marvel Girl and the Scarlet Witch team up to fight Amora the Enchantress, although that’s a darn good reason, especially when you consider that it also features an appearance by Fandral the Dashing. Sadly, Fandral’s two pals don’t make an appearance, which would catapult this thing into Best of the Willennium status, but still: the Marvel Universe’s three greatest fashion models in action drawn by Colleen Coover is awesome enough to launch a series by itself.
And not just because of Tobin and Coover’s two-page backup strip wherein Spider-Man and MODOK–yes, COLLEEN COVER DRAWS MODOK–go shopping for a new rocket chair, although seeing Big M waddle around a furniture store is worth $4.99 itself before you even get to the new stories by Keith Giffen and a full-length Mini-Marvels reprint by Chris Giarrusso that makes this flat-out one of the most purely fun comic books ever printed.
No, you need to buy this thing because it has what is without question the single greatest origin recap in the history of comic books:
They do not make them better than that, folks. And that’s real.
Annnnnd that’s the week! As always, if you have any questions about something I read this week, if you want to talk about how great Special Forces is in the way that Kyle Baker effortlessly goes from the creepy to the absurd to the terrifying-because-it’s-real set against an action-movie background of explosions and hot girls, or if you’re still shell-shocked from Cary Bates’s return with True Believers last week, feel free to leave a comment below.
As for me, I’m going to go redub that musical episode of Buffy with Soulja Boy and Mike Jones. You can thank me later.