Apparently, we’re in one of those weird, nebulous weeks where, despite my best efforts, I didn’t buy a single comic with a kick to the face, which is probably because Diamond futzed up our order on Iron Fist: The Origin of Danny Rand.
Fortunately, we did get Conan’s grandfather punching out a werewolf.
Now I’m reasonably certain that there’s a clause in my contract that explicitly states that I don’t have to review any comics on a week with no face-kicking, but what the heck. Not like I was doing anything tonight anyway, so I might as well get on with another round of the Internet’s Most Contractually Obligated Comics Reviews!
Here’s what I bought…
And here’s what I thought about ’em!
Brave and the Bold #16: Despite the fact that the contents of this issue do absolutely nothing to clear up the mystery of its solicitation, Mark Waid’s run on this quietly continues along as a great little team-up book that’s heavy on its DC Universe aspects without being bogged down by the baggage that usually comes along with that. It’s fun stuff, and with the fun twist of the second-act reveal and its zippy, done-in-one format, this issue in particular reads more like a classic Haney/Aparo BATB story than anything in the series thus far, and I enjoyed the heck out of it.
Of course there is one nagging aspect of it that raised my eyebrow, and that’s the scene where Superman says “You must be Catwoman,” as though those two have never met before. Now, I hate to nitpick the guy who wrote Who’s Who, but not only am I pretty sure those two have met, I’m pretty sure that they did it in the pages of a book Waid was the fill-in writer for. So feel free to grab your crayons–kids, get your parents’ permission–and add the following exchange on Page 5:
“You must be Catwoman.”
“Uh, yeah. We’ve met.”
“Oh, have we?”
“Yeah, you don’t remember? That time up on your old Moon-Base when Prometheus was about to kill the entire JLA and I whipped him right in the beanbag?”
“Oh, gosh, you’re right, that was awesome! Sorry, I didn’t recognize you.”
“It’s okay. That was back when Jim Balent was drawing me.”
Doctor Who: The Forgotten #1: I’ll be honest here, folks: I’m not the Doctor Who fan that some of my friends are. I’m certainly not on the level of Dorian or Lartigue or my pal Chad, who can’t get through a day without using the words “Jon Pertwee” in a sentence. I mean, I like the show a lot–because really, where else am I going to see the Daleks, Venusian Karate, or Donovan from Last Crusade turning into a Lizard-Man who fights Tom Baker at the beginning of time–but, well, a guy can’t be obsessed with everything, and knowing that Roadblock’s real name is Marvin F. Hinton takes up a lot of head space.
Even so, I know better than to miss out on a Doctor Who comic drawn by Y – The Last Man’s Eisner-winning Pia Guerra that features a scene where the Doctor walks into a room to find all of his old “costumes” on display in Jason Todd-like cases.
And it works out pretty well: The art’s predictably solid, and while there are scenes where I’ll cop to thinking that Guerra’s David Tennant looked an awful lot like Yorick Brown, she manages to do something that’s rarely pulled off well in licensed comics by capturing the look of the actors without seeming overly photo-referenced. Her David Tennant’s got the mannerisms of wide-eyed distraction, her Martha looks curious, and her William Hartnell–whose sequence is done entirely in black and white–comes off as suitably austere and superior. As for the story, well, much like The Ten Doctors, it’s “fan-fiction done right.” It’s the sort of thing that could only be done in comics, it’s zippy and entertaining, and for a guy like me who has never actually seen anything with the First Doctor, Tony Lee brings in everything I need to know without slowing things down.
It’s good stuff, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, especially if there’s a chance we’ll get more of that Dalek/Cyberman shit-talking contest I like so much.
Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #1: Okay, standard caveats here: As some of you might recall, I love the Legion, but even I’m annoyed with the constant state of flux in which the characters exist. It’s not so much the constant reboots that bother me, but the fact that for all intents and purposes, we’ve got four completely different sets of them running around, and when you put those two together, you end up with something that takes a beautifully simple concept (super-space teenagers of the future!) and makes it daunting even for a lot of hardcore comics fans. And even beyond that is the fact that Geoff Johns seems to have decided that the early-’80s Dystopian Future Legion is the “real” team, and while they’re the Originals and I like those stories a hell of a lot, they suffer from a) leaving one of the book’s cornerstones (teenagers) in the dust, and b) not being the team that’s actually appearing in Legion of Super-Heroes. Even by Legion standards, it’s a bit of a mess right now.
That said, this issue is completely freakin’ awesome.
Long-time ISB readers might recall that aside from Booster Gold, I’d pretty much given up on Geoff Johns until I picked up and thoroughly enjoyed his recent Superman and the Legion, and at least so far, FCLO3W is more a direct sequel to that story than anything having to do with Final Crisis. In either case, it’s exactly the kind of story that plays to Johns’s strengths: the Legion lends itself pretty easily to big, sweeping melodrama, slavish attention to obscure reference-dropping and a big, crazy future that’s been so cut off and reworked that you can’t even really break it anymore. It’s the perfect playground for him, and in this issue, it just works. So well, in fact, that they’re using Super
boyman Prime as the villain and it’s actually not stupid.
Of course, the fact that the art’s by George Perez doesn’t hurt either, because that guy, as you may already know, is pretty okay. It’s not going to be news to anyone that he routinely drops eleven-panel pages and alternates them with big, beautiful spreads with the same amount of gorgeous detail, but it’s worth saying again because seriously: Dude is awesome.
It all adds up to the kind of book that just sweeps you right up the fun of it all, building to the “fuck yeah!” moment of Brainiac 5 deciding that the only way to deal with an Evil Interdimensional Superman is to recruit the Interdimensional Legions of Super-Heroes, which had me excited even though I knew it was coming because that is in the title of the series.
Plus, it has Holographic Tour Guide Jimmy Olsen and his phone-tree dialogue, which is just fantastic. It’s a great start, and if it can hold the momentum for the next four issues–and while I can get pretty pessimistic about that sort of thing, I’m starting to believe Johns can pull it off–it might just end up being one of my favorite comics of the year.
Punisher #61: I don’t run a comic book company or anything–which you may have already figured out from the fact that there’s nothing called Batroc Team-Up Featuring ROM on the shelf at your local store–but I’ve got to question the wisdom of putting out the next issue of the Punisher one week after Garth Ennis ends his character-defining eight-year run on the title. I guess the idea here is that they want to make this as smooth a transition as possible, or maybe that they don’t want to allow time for nostalgia to set in and set the bar higher for Gregg Hurwitz than it already is, but dude: Eight years. Some people, people who use panels from the Ennis run as the header images of their websites, are already going to have the deck stacked against him, so why not give us a couple weeks to mourn the loss before kicking it right along to the new guy?
Oh well, in any case, it’s here, and it’s not helping the uphill climb that Hurwitz–or anyone else who wants to do a “serious” take on the Punisher over the next few years–is going to have to face to get out of Ennis’s shadow. To be honest, though, the issue itself is actually better than I expected. It might just be a case of me setting the bar lower in an attempt to compensate (“Well it’s not Ennis, but what is?”) but for a first issue, it’s not bad. Hurwitz is obviously drawing a lot from the Ennis run, but more than anything else, it reminds me of the older Carl Potts Punisher War Journal, giving us a threat that we have an immediate reason to hate and then bringing Frank in as our gloomy dispenser of justifiable homicide.
The biggest problem for me is that Hurwitz’s Punisher is a little verbose for my tastes. It’s an odd thing to say considering that he only says 44 words out loud in the course of the comic, but eleven of them come in a last-page tough-guy word balloon that would be more at home coming out of Jesse Custer’s mouth than Frank Castle’s. Still, it’s not bad, and hell, I’ve got a couple hundred comics about the Punisher that, for a large part, are no damn good, so who am I to stop now? You, on the other hand, might want to flip through it first.
Skrulls vs. Power Pack #2: And now, the best comic book cover of the
week month year NEW WILLENNIUM:
And the interior has H.E.R.B.I.E. in bling. Nothing more need be said.
True Believers #2: I mentioned this one when the first issue came out but, what with being on vacation and all, didn’t get the chance to give it a proper review. So in case you missed it, True Believers marks a return to comics for the legendary Cary Bates—yes, that Cary Bates–and it is awesome. Between the first issue’s reference to the “Crusty Bunker”, this issue’s drunken Reed Richards mugshot, and the fact that this is a story where the main character is named “Payback” called “Payback’s a Bitch,” it’s pretty much everything I ever wanted it to be.
Herbie Archives v.1: You know what? I’m not even going to review this one. Why? Because between me, Mike Sterling, and the rest of the comics blogger Internet, I’m pretty sure we will have talked about every single page of this thing by the end of the year.
You’re probably gonna want to read it before then.
The Middleman: The Collected Series Indispensability: This one’s a bit of a cheat, since I actually picked it up when it came out last week, but one of the perks of paying the bills around here is that I get to talk about The Middleman anytime I damn well please. Which is actually pretty often.
Anyway, there may be a few of you out there that are familiar with The Middleman from the TV show version that’s currently airing on ABC Family, and if there’s anyone out there not watching it, then seriously: You need to get on that. I mean, for God’s sake, last week’s episode featured Kevin Sorbo as the Cryogenically Frozen Middleman of 1969, and seriously, that is fantastic. It’s a very, very fun show, and if you’ve been seized by Middlemania (you can have that one for free, Grillo-Marxuach), the new trade makes for a dandy read.
It’s got all three mini-series–all of which are drawn by the incomparably awesome Les McClaine–and while the first two were straight up adapted on the show for episodes that featured gorilla mafiosi and an army of kung fu luchadores, but the third series–which features jetpacks, giant robots, whale-fighting and the Middleman screaming “KAHHHHNNN!”–will be new to anyone who, you know, hasn’t already read the comics, and I can definitely recommend it.
Then again, it was once described in a review as “a psychological treatise on the Id of Chris Sims,” so take that as you will.
And that’s the week! As always, comments, etc., blah blah blah Chris is going to sleep now.
And when I wake up, I’m seriously going to get my lawyer to look at that contract.