The Week In Ink: October 1, 2008

All right, folks, let’s get to it! After all, every minute I spend writing a snappy intro is a minute I’m not playing Megaman 9, so it’s best to just dive right in.

 

 

Yes, it’s that time again, and what better way to kick off October than with the spoooooky story of a man who went to the comic book store and found that almost nothing had come out! I mean, I only ended up coming home with nine singles this time, and if you’ve been following the ISB, you probably realize that that’s a bit lighter than usual.

Still, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to stop the Internet’s Most Distracted Comics Reviews! Here’s what I got…

 

 

And here’s what I thought about ’em!

 


 

Comics

 

Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book One #1: Well, well, well.

You know, ever since the end of the last series, which was capped off by a full-page ad for this issue, people have been asking me if I was planning on continuing my award-seeking series of annotations on the Anita Blake comics. And that is a question that I can only answer thus:

 

 

Do you dare miss a minute of the action?

 

Batman #680: In this issue, both the Joker and Commissioner Gordon discover Batman’s secret identity, Bat-Mite is revealed to be an interdimensional Jiminy Cricket, and Bruce Wayne manages to maintain his perfect .000 batting average of romantic choices.

So in other words, it’s just another Wednesday night in Gotham City.

Really, though, as crazy as this book’s gotten over the past few months–or let’s be honest, because of it–I’m having a blast with this story. Admittedly, it feels like the kind of thing where Morrison’s run is going to have a huge, explosive climax that’ll be the comics equivalent of dropping the mic after a battle rhyme, and then whoever gets the book after’ll have to come in and explain it all away with lines like “Well when Batman punched out the Joker, he hit his head on the coffee table and suffered amnesia, and Commissioner Gordon had been dosed with Velocity-9 over in Detective that month, so he wrote it off as a fever dream.” Or maybe I’m just paranoid because that’s pretty much what happened with New X-Men. Either way, it’s a lot of fun right now, and I’m loving it.

Specifically, I’m pretty excited about the fact that the human mind–even Batman’s–simply cannot handle being a Silver Age character for an extended amount of time without just giving out, sharpened soup can lids being used as shuriken, and the fact that the DCU equivalent of the characters from the Marquis De Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom–which Morrison based a good chunk of The Invisibles around–apparently get together every year to watch the Black Glove take down a super-hero, and yet were completely unprepared for Batman to bust in on them holding a baseball bat in one hand and The Bat-Radia in the other. That is fun comics.

As for this issue’s Big Reveal, however, I’ve got to say that if it actually is the Big Reveal of Batman R.I.P., it’s a little disappointing. I mean, Morrison did say that the identity of the Black Glove was going to be the biggest reveal in seventy years, and even making allowances for hyperbole, that’s overstating matters just a little. Still, there’s one issue left, and that’s plenty of time to pick it up.

 

The Man With No Name #4: Four months into this one, and as much as I like westerns, Christos Gage, and Man With No Name trilogy, I’ve got to say that this is a more than a little underwhelming. It’s not that it’s a bad comic; it’s a perfectly serviceable western. But that’s the problem: It’s only serviceable.

As much as Gage has gone to the trouble of tying the plot into The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the end result is a story that just feels generic, and really, that’s not his fault. Story is, after all, a secondary concern in those movies–if it was the real draw, then you could just watch Fistful of Dollars or Yojimbo and not have any particular need to see the other. But in Sergio Leone’s films, the plot takes a decided back seat to style, and while comics are a pretty versatile medium, it’s going to be impossible to capture what’s so incredible about a six minutes of Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach staring at each other while an Ennio Morricone score builds to a crescendo on the comics page. It can’t be done. And yet the draw here as a licensed comic is that it’s not just a western, but a western about The Man With No Name, and so a story that could easily be fun if it was tailored for Jonah Hex or the Two-Gun Kid instead falls flat.

And it’s nowhere more apparent, oddly enough, than in the lettering, which gives TMWNN’s dialogue a different font than anybody else’s–one that you usually see being used for ghosts or something–for no particular reason that I can think of. I mean, it’s not like his voice in those movies is so different from anybody else’s. It’s distinctive because of Clint Eastwood’s laconic delivery, and that’s something that you have to hear. Trying to duplicate it with a lettering trick is just distracting.

 

Marvel Apes #3: Bruce Bananner. Oh, Marvel Apes! Once again you have warmed my bitter old heart!

 

ISB BEST OF THE WEEK

 

 

Top Ten Season Two #1: I’m pretty sure that I said when this was solicited that Alan Moore’s Top Ten is one of my favorite comics, so I was pretty skeptical when I heard there was going to be another volume without Alan Moore writing it. I did feel a little better once I heard that Zander Cannon and Gene Ha–the original art team–were sticking around with Cannon taking the lateral move to scripting chores, and now that I’ve actually read it, I feel even better, because this thing’s a lot of fun.

The biggest criticism I’ve heard about the book is that the art is… well, off, and that’s definitely a valid point. Ha and Cannon (who also does layouts) have chosen to give the characters a painted, watercolor sort of look while doing the backgrounds with a more traditional penciled and inked style, and while it’s not very noticeable in a lot of scenes that focus on the characters, there are spots where it outright clashes. Specifically, check out Irmageddon, whose head is done in the painted style while the rest of her–in her nuclear battlesuit–is drawn with sharply inked lines. It’s weird, especially given Ha’s crisp, detail oriented art on the original series and Cannon’s more cartoony work on Smax.

The story, however, more than makes up for the art’s shortcomings, coming complete with the series’ trademark references, from the pregnancy test shaped like the Ultimate Nullifier to the concept of crossover-dressing, which is a great punchline that I’m surprised I haven’t seen before. It’s fun, clever, and while it looks like it’s going to just go ahead and ignore Beyond the Furthest Precinct–the first attempt at a Moore-less Top Ten–and instead take place concurrently with Smax, I don’t have a problem with that at all.

 

Trades

 

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney v.1: I’ve mentioned my affection for Phoenix Wright games before, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I grabbed this one, thinking that it’d either be an adaptation of the stories in the game–which would be pretty pointless, since it’s in the “visual novel” style that means you’re doing more reading than actual playing–or, even better, original stories done in the same style. Instead, it turned out to be an odd little anthology of stories, some of which are based around cases, some of which are based around ramen-eating contests involving the principal cast, and most of which do their best to take a sledgehammer to the fourth wall in that charmingly inimitable doujinshi style. The end result, at least for me, was something that’s bizarrely entertaining in almost exactly the same way as the game is, throwing slapstick comedy, grisly murders, and the complete disregard of the Fourth Ammendment into a blender and coming out with something that’s highly enjoyable.

Of course, there is a story where Maya, Phoenix’s youthful, spirit channeling sidekick, attempts to breastfeed a cat, so, you know. Thanks, Japan.

 


 

And that’s the week! As always, any questions, such as whether or not the Phoenix Wrighit manga could’ve used more Franziska (answer: Yes) can be left in the comments section below. And if you’ve already managed to get through your stack this week, why not head over to Living Between Wednesdays, where Rachelle Goguen has not only posted more Marvel Hobos, but a reimagining of the Punisher that you must see to believe.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy the original art and have it framed.

43 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: October 1, 2008

  1. Considering the light week, Mr. Sims, I’m curious – would you be interested in receiving a review copy of my own first foray into semi-professional (i.e. paid) comic writing?

    While I admit it loses points for a lack of apes, it does feature superheroes in a dystopia, a woman who throws miniaturized eight-balls as weapons, a guy who cuts a gun in half with a sword, and another individual who quotes Sandman.

    And I keep meaning to take a look at Top 10…

  2. I think we can ALL agree that Top 10: Beyond the Furthest Precinct, much live Highlander 2 and Principal Skinner being an imposter, are things that NEVER EVER happened and shall not be spoken of again…

    UNDER PENALTY OF TORTURE

  3. No, I…my friend gets that, it’s just there was some sort of big reveal at the end of this issue, and the Joker gleefully asks “NOW DO YOU GET IT?” and I’m afraiud the short answer is no. No I don’t.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m really digging the series so far, but ..I guess I just don’t get it.

  4. My question is where do I get a hold of the stunning Chris Sims sketch from the versus poster… is that bad boy up on ebay??

  5. On the shopping list, I misread the Anita Blake book as being subtitled “The Lightning Corpse”. I was incredibly disappointed to learn that I was mistaken.

  6. OHhhhhhh….THAT was the big reveal of the Black Glove’s identity? Really? I couldn’t quite figure the climax out. Yeah, that was kind of a disappointment. Of course, short of the Black Glove turning out to be Pa Kent, I don’t really know how it could have been the most shocking reveal in 70 years.

  7. You underestimate Alex Ross. Not only did he not have to buy a luchadore mask for that cover but he went to his luchadore closet and had to select from the dozens of luchadore masks lined up on Styrofoam heads waiting for just that moment.

    The man is scary.

  8. The Black glove is who now?Is it Harley Quinn?
    The Goddamned Batman of Zur En Arr:So are you a figment of my imagination or an imp from the fifth dimension?

    The Goddamned Batmite: The fifth dimension is imagination.Some world’s greatest detective you are.

    That was my favourite bit,sorry if it is misquoted.

  9. The Black Glove is revealed in the final issue, according to some blurb I read somewhere. So I don’t think its confirmed as being Jezebel just yet.

  10. With RIP, I really can’t tell whether things are unclear because they are written that way, because they are drawn that way, or because I am suffering from a nervous breakdown over the fact that I am having a difficult time following A BATMAN COMIC. I like to think that I understand things that I read in comics, I am even pretty sure that I know what is going on in 100 Bullets, but I have responded to every ‘SURPRISE!’ moment in this comic by going to the Wikipedia page to try and figure out what just happened (only to find out that whoever updates that page is pretty much just typing out the text from the comic, God Bless you, Wiki-editor).

    So please, correct me if I am wrong: The Black Glove is Batman’s girlfriend who is drawn as a white woman and coloured to not look white.

    Am I close?

  11. I was iffy on the Phoenix Wright manga, but the words “Maya breastfeeding a cat” have convinced me.

    Zvarri!

    -M

  12. I just got to say:

    Godot>>>>>>>>>>Edgeworth>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Fransiska

  13. upps, seems that i broke the comments

    What i mean is that, Fransiska is THE crappiests of all the prosecutors(yes, including the dude that always loses in the first case)

    Godot has a theme that sounds like it was lifted from a porno movie, can Fransiska top that?

  14. I have to be honest: I am going to finish out the Batman: RIP storyline because, at this point, duh, but I AM SO FRIGGIN’ LOST. I mean, I swear Morrison is just being weird for the sake of being weird now. I thought maybe I missed an issue, but no, I just cannot fathom what is happening. Someone please call Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle, stat.

    (Though I am looking forward to the Denny O’Neil issues coming up!)

  15. Got to admit that I’m a little surprised that Top Ten made #1 instead of Batman 680. But I guess that’s comparing apples to oranges that have finally gone insane after years of teetering on the edge of vigilante fruit justice.
    I will buy any amount of Ace Attorney products, as long as they feature Phoenix and not that young upstart. Oh, who am I kidding? I’d buy that too. Apollo Justice, you keep on trucking.

  16. Black Glove is Superman. Evidence:
    1. Superman is so jealous of Batman’s intelligence, he feels he has to outsmart him, even if it’s only just this once.
    2. Superman is the only person with the time for such a scheme.
    3. Superman is a dick.

  17. Is it really a big deal that the Joker and Gordon now know that Bruce Wayne is Batman? I mean everyone knows Bruce Wayne is the Batman, worst kept secret identity ever.

  18. “Anita Blake..you have met your match. I will watch you grovel in the dirt.”

    Yeah, but it is Anita Blake…she’d probably equate that with kinky sex and enjoy it.

  19. maybe bruce wayne zur en arr is the black glove

  20. Lookin’ at a thing in a bag??? Hey, did you get Homestarrunner.com: Everything Else on DVD from Netflix this week, too?

  21. DC misses such a big market by not releasing a HARVEY BIRDMAN: ATTORNEY AT LAW comicbook. They milked Scooby Doo (not literally obviously, that would be too manga) for over a 100 issues of repetitive goodness… Surely Birdman could carry the torch (but not in a gay way not that there’s anything wrong with that) for say… 3.

  22. man i need to read Batman RIP in trade. i love Grant Morrison, though alot of his schtick is pretty ripped from Burroughs/Borges (One’s a drug addicted pederast Beat. The other is a blind Argentinian librarian. They fight crime!). haven’t followed RIP but it looks like it picks up on how SCARY and surreal the Silver Age is to a child of the 90s like me. Its like some Lynchian nightclub in 4 colours

  23. I was too tired to write a full review of it, but briefly: I’m starting to feel burnt out on a lot of Warren Ellis’s Avatar projects, because the majority of them are just neat ideas that have been drawn out to eight issues when they could’ve been done in one. Black Summer was okay, but could’ve been a lot shorter; I’ve finally gotten bored enough to quit reading Doktor Sleepless, and I was glad to see Anna Mercury go, too. So at this point, No Hero feels like more of the same, and while it’s a generally enjoyable same, it’s one that I don’t plan on sticking with too long if it starts to feel overextended.

  24. What does happen in Black Summer after the heroes kill the government? Seems like a fairly standard by-the-book kind of plot of “ZOMG heroes can’t take the real world!” kind of thing, but I admit i haven’t read it.

    And Mr. Sims, I reiterate my question from the first post. Come on – a superhero who uses eight-balls as weapons in a variety of different ways. Eh? Eh?

  25. What Sims just said about Ellis’ Avatar work sums up why I’ve given the whole line a pass. I mean its interesting enough when I flip thru the roommate’s copies (and he never seems to get the whole series of one either), but for this and an X-book I get no Fell?

  26. No House of M: Civil War? A comic in which The Blob is seen fighting Ursa Major, the communist bear, doesn’t even get a mention?

  27. I dinnae remember there being a big braw reveal in the new Batman, but I just pure read it on a long bus journey, while off my face on real ale.

    Why does no-one mock shitty brown-lens Tool-video Joker, incidentally? He is silly and stinks of 2002.

    That said, GUID COMIX.

  28. PS. “weird for the sake of weird” is a nonsense phrase. there’s nowt happening in the Batman comic that hasn’t been sorta explained in the context of the rest of the Morrrissson runnnnnnnnn, it all hangs together real nice, it is exhilarating, it doesn’t seem ‘weird’ it just seems ACE

    STILL DRUNK

    sometimes I wish… I just… wish…

  29. I need to read RIP like, 3 more times before I feel like I get it.

    It has a weird feel to it, like the pacing is off. It feels decompressed and way-too-compressed all at the same time.

    Final Crisis feels the same way, but more so. Reading Final Crisis, I always feel like there’s something off-panel I should be seeing.