You know, the Red Skull’s daughter is… What’s the word I’m looking for here, Bucky?
Ah yes. “Slippery.” That’s the one.
Be that as it may, though, there’s nothing more slippery than my attention span when I’ve got LEGO Batman waiting in the other room, so it looks like it’s time to get on with another round of the Internet’s Most Out of Control Comics Reviews!
I mean seriously, look at all these comics:
It’s just getting downright ridiculous.
All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder #10: All right kids, let’s get this out of the way up front: This is the all-new Bowdlerized edition of ASBAR #10, which–previous to this week’s rerelease–included a scene where, in addition to other obscenities, somebody dropped the C-Bomb–which was actually lettered and then covered with a translucent censor bar–in reference to a fifteen year old girl. In a Batman comic. That DC actually published.
I mean, that’s pretty much everything you need to know about All-Star Batman right there, a moment that Frank Miller–in one of his genius moments–referred to as “terrible and glorious.” But still, it leaves me with a couple questions. First off, at this point, why even bother correcting it? This is, after all, the comic that brought us the Goddamn Batman–a phrase which I was genuinely shocked did not leave Heath Ledger’s mouth during The Dark Knight–but now that everybody and their mother’s heard about it, we all know what’s being said even without the second of work it would take to figure it out from the context. And really, all that pulping the run’s going to do is ensure that for the forseeable future, we’re going to have to live with a bunch of eBay auctions with headlines like “CGC 9.8 ALL STAR BATMAN BATGIRL NAUGHTY LANGUAGE EDITION L@@K!!!”
And second–and this is the important one–somebody dropped one of the Carlin Seven in a Batman comic that is ostensibly meant for new readers. And really, how the hell do we top that?
My suggestion? Well, depending on whether or not you’re the kind of person who reads through each issue of Previews four times, you may have heard of a company called Graphic Audio that produces audio-play versions of DC stories like Infinite Crisis and 52, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating to say that we need them to do one for ASBAR. They don’t even have to add sound effects, just put a guy in a room and have him read each issue exactly as written. Heck, get Andrew to do it, and I guarantee there will be Grammys.
All of them.
Blue Beetle #31: I’ll be honest with you here, folks: I freakin’ love Dr. Mid-Nite.
He’s one of the most underused characters in the DC Universe, mostly because it seemed like Geoff Johns–who lumped him in the initial run of JSA based on his status as a legacy character–had no idea what to do with him. Don’t get me wrong here, that’s not one of my usual digs on Johns; I actually like those comics a lot, but the fact remains that in the Matt Wagner’s original miniseries, Pieter Cross is a man who, like Polite Scott, uses his medical knowledge to become a super-hero.
In his other appearances, though, it got flip-turned upside down, and Mid-Nite became the go-to doctor for the super-hero set and ended up hanging out at headquarters waiting for anybody with a mask to get the Space-Flu or whatever. And that’s when he wasn’t performing autopsies, which I’m pretty sure surgeons don’t usually do, and which I know for a fact very rarely involve throwing down some blackout bombs and punching out thugs.
So it’s nice to see him actually doing some honest-to-God super-heroing in this story. Sure, he shows up in response to a medical emergency, but Sturges makes sure to show him in action here, fighting bad guys and even dropping the occasional dry quip.
Oh, and some good stuff happens with Blue Beetle too, but heck. That happens every month.
Hellboy: The Crooked Man #3: In this issue, Hellboy bashes in a Hillbilly Devil’s face with a consecrated shovel.
Goddamn I love comic books.
Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Death Queen of California: Even with two solid issues of the regular run under his belt, I’ll admit that I’ve still been on the fence about Duane Swierczynski’s run on Immortal Iron Fist, although the fact that I just spelled the guy’s name right from memory is probably a pretty good sign. I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of my hesitation comes from the fact that he’s had a pretty hard act to follow–what with the Brubaker/Fraction/Aja run giving me pretty much everything I want to see in comics short of battery throwing, and they even made up for that by including the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay–and call me crazy, but I’ve always had a hard time trusting people who spend any significant amount of time writing about Cable.
With this, though, he’s done a lot to ease my mind, coming through with a pulp-style story of kung fu versus cultists set against the backdrop of exploitation and back-stabbing dames that made up Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles. Sure, all the clichés are present and accounted for, but it all ends up being pretty fun, especially with the ending that’s equal parts punchline and tragedy.
The art, too, works nicely. Giuseppe Camuncoli is one of those guys that’s always hit or miss with me, but he comes through really well here, especially in the big, OMAC-esque panel of Orson Randall busting through a good portion of the Los Angeles Police Department. So really, I guess what I’m trying to say here is that you’ll probably get a lot of enjoyment out of this one if you’re the type of person who likes two-fisted supernatural Martial Arts action set against a Chandleresque backdrop and drawn with a Kirby Homage or two.
And it just so happens that I am.
Nova #17: You know, I never thought I’d be sitting here in the year 2008 getting this excited about a comic with the words “ENTER: DARKHAWK” on the cover. And yet, here we are.
And not only that, but it’s a comic where Darkhawk and Nova have to team up to fight Skrulls at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. while accidentally resurrecting the spirit of Wendell “Quasar” Vaughan, the first and greatest of the two Protectors of the Universe to hail from Wisconsin. And again, this is happening in the year two thousand eight. And it’s great, although I’ve got to admit, if it had a chromium cover or some trading cards bound in, then… well, that’d probably be pushing it.
A Xandarian Worldmind POG, on the other hand…
Solomon Kane #1: Over on Twitter tonight, Johnny Bacardi was complaining about losing a review of Solomon Kane just after he finished typing it, and I told him that I could knock out a review of this thing in five words:
“Puritain Conan shoots, stabs, proselytizes.”
Of course, he then told me that Solomon Kane wasn’t actually Puritan Conan, and I told him that he’s not my real dad, and things just got stranger from there, but I think both points stand. As one of Robert E. Howard’s lesser-known creations, Kane certainly fits into the mold of the two-fisted wandering adventure hero, but he’s certainly different from his Cimmerian brother.
For one thing, whereas Conan is described as at least being capable of great mirth, Solomon Kane is as dour as the day is long, and pretty much just acts like a dick to everybody, getting by most of the time on his willingness to shoot and/or stab the unrighteous, which he usually defines as “people who are not Solomon Kane.” So maybe a better explanation would be “Total Puritan Badass,” a phrase that doesn’t get thrown around all that often.
Either way, he makes for a good read, and while I would’ve preferred a done-in-one to lead the series rather than jumping into a long-form story-arc, there’s a standalone story over at MySpace Dark Horse Presents that suits that purpose well enough, and Allie and Guevara pull off a good enough hook to pull me in for the next one. Something’s awfully familiar about that name, though…
Superman #680: As much as I was excited about James Robinson coming on to write Superman–which was mostly the product of a wellspring of goodwill based on re-reading Starman, which is so good that it can make you forget he wrote the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie–I’ve got to admit that I was finding the whole thing pretty boring. Odd, I know, since a big fight between Superman and Jack Kirby’s Atlas should be anything but, except when it drags on for several issues without really resolving itself into anything. I was actually thinking of just giving it up as a lost cause and dropping it.
And then I hit the last page of last month’s issue, and got excited all over again.
For those of you who aren’t reading the series, I’ll explain: The last issue ends with Atlas, who has just beaten the stuffing out of Superman, suddenly finding himself in a staredown with Krypto the Superdog, who resolves, in captions that are only slightly more literate than the ones in We3, that he is going to fight the living hell out of the guy who just punched out his master. And in this issue, he proceeds to do exactly that.
Admittedly, I’m probably more of a fan of Man vs. Animal violence than the average reader, but after having Krypto back for like eight years with a net result of exactly nothing, it’s nice to finally get a story that involves both violence and Superman calling him a good boy in front of the entire city. I’m just sentimental like that.
Basic Instructions: Help Is On The Way: I’ve mentioned before that aside from Penny Arcade, Order of the Stick and the occasional xkcd, I’m not really much of a webcomics fan. This means that I actually do get things done at work on occasion, but the downside is that I’m always late to the party when it comes to finding out about something truly, mind-bendingly awesome like Dr. McNinja. Fortunately, Dark Horse has decided that it’d be a good idea to market directly to people like me, and over the past year or so, they’ve been doing a fine job of putting out some amazingly nice webcomic collections.
Specifically, I’m thinking of Achewood’s Great Outdoor Fight (which, yes, I ended up having a blast with once I read it) and the absolutely gorgeous hardcover of Wondermark. Much like the trend of getting super-hero comics into formats like Marvel’s Premiere Hardcovers or DC’s Omnibus Editions, getting something in a nicer presentation can usually make a guy feel better about not getting in on the ground floor with this stuff.
With the new collection of Scott Meyer’s Basic Instructions, though, there aren’t a whole lot of bells and whistles to distract me from the fact that I should’ve been reading this thing all along.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Basic Instructions is a series of four-panel guides for getting through life, focusing on topics as varied as How To Help A Friend Cope With A Divorce to How To Threaten Vengeance, rendered by Meyer in simple, photo-traced strips that are dead ringers for army instruction manuals, but with slackers instead of soldiers. It’s an odd little format that could get stale quickly, but Meyer manages to keep it fresh and pretty hilarious in almost every strip, and it’s well worth checking it out.
Seriously, there’s a strip in there that explains how to watch the most perfect movie ever made with your significant other, and that’s advice we could all use.
And that’s the week. As always, any questions about something I bought or read this week, like whether or not this week’s Wasteland with storybook style art by Black Metal’s Chuck BB was totally awesome (answer: yes) or if the lack of a fauxhawk will keep Lady Bullseye from reaching the heights of Lady Kraven (probably), can be left in the comments section below.
As for me, I’ll be trying to figure out if they bothered to include LEGO Shark-Chuks, or if I’m going to have to wait for LEGO Solomon Stone for that to become a reality.