I know everyone’s expecting Drax and Cosmo the Space Dog here, but let’s be real: if there’s one thing better than kicking a Nazi in the face, it’s kicking a Nazi in the face with another Nazi’s foot while judo throwing the second Nazi.
Oh Atomic Robo. You make life worth living.
Yes, after two light weeks, we’ve finally gotten back on track around here, but before we get into the comics, a word of warning. Those of you who don’t live in the midlands of South Carolina may not know this, but it’s the week of the State Fair, which means that I went over there for lunch today and ate, among other things, two deep-fried Oreos and a deep-fried Reese’s peanut butter cup. So there’s a good chance that about halfway through tonight’s post, I’ll be lost to whatever you call it when you mix a heart attack and a diabetic coma.
That said, let’s get on with the Internet’s Most Batter-Dipped Comics Reviews! Here’s what I got this week…
And here’s what I thought of it!
Age of the Sentry #2: When the comics scholars of the future look back on today, they’re going to get to Age of the Sentry #2 and ask themselves one question: “Why did they even keep making comics after this one came out?” And they will ask themselves that because this is it, folks: This is the new apex of the art form, to which all others must be compared and, almost inevitably, fall short.
And I know this, because this is the very first panel.
Let’s do this by the numbers, shall we? That is one panel that contains:
1. A bear
2. That is both gigantic and wearing a tutu
3. Fighting two super-heroes
4. At the behest of a man with three brains
5. In a flying saucer that also has training wheels
6. While a robot priest looks on.
Now admittedly, the robot priest actually doesn’t show up for the rest of the story, but any disappointment about that is completely obliterated once we get to page two and find that Jeff Parker and Nick Dragotta have not only given us Harrison Oogar, the Caveman of Wall Street, but a story in which J. Jonah Jameson hires Truman Capote as a columnist to cover the Sentry’s worldwide battle with a rampaging super-bear. Yes: Truman Capote and J. Jonah Jameson. Together at last, just as Jah intended.
It’s everything I love about comics in one place, and with it, Parker and Dragotta (along with Paul Tobin and Mike Cho, who do the second story) have made me love the Sentry. Or, to be perfectly accurate, they’ve made me love the stand-in for Silver Age Superman that the Sentry works so well as, but even with the cracks in the retro facade that are leading to a bigger story for the character, they’ve made me want to know what happens to him. I mean, really: They’ve made me care about the Sentry, and that’s something that I thought was impossible three months ago. And yet, here we are with what might be the most fun comic since Nextwave. Read it. Love it.
Amazing Spider-Man #573: ¡Dios mio! ¡Es la primera aparición del Señor Frowny Pumpkin! And just in time for Halloween!
Unfortunately, despite his prominent placement on the cover, SFP–like the robot priest discussed above–doesn’t actually appear in the story. In fact, now that I’m flipping back through, the only pumpkin bombs that get tossed around seem distinctly happy about their work, which only begs the question of what manner melancholy can descend on a novelty explosive for such results. These are the questions I ask myself when I read my comics, which in turn is why I’m always surprised that anyone actually reads my reviews. But anyway, back to Spider-Man.
This issue caps off “New Ways to Die,” which was about as fun as a story could be while involving not only Venom–whose status as the epitome of the regrettable ’90s is matched only by Gambit–but his color-inverted doppelganger who cures cancer with his tentacles. It’s a premise that sounds absolutely ridiculous at first glance (and every subsequent glance, too), but Dan Slott pulls it off with the same sense of fun that runs through all of his stories, and nobody needs me to tell them that JRJr draws a darn fine Spider-Man. So yeah, I like it.
Then again, I also support gay marriage, but that’s a topic for when an issue by Marc Guggenheim actually comes out.
Fables #77: Ever since I found out that Bill Willingham was going to go ahead and do his planned ending for Fables without actually ending the comic, I’ve been curious about how it was going to turn out. After all, as much as the chance is there for the book to lose its direction after a peak like that and end up wandering around aimlessly until it grinds to a halt, there’s a certain kind of freedom that can come from getting out from underneath a big plan like that, and with this issue, it looks like we’re getting a taste of the latter.
Yes, for me at least, the big news in this issue was the introduction of Freddy and the Mouse, two characters who are pretty clearly stand-ins for Fritz Lieber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the characters, F and the GM are essentially the Riggs and Murtaugh of the sword and sorcery set: A pair of mercenaries who get up to what can only be called “rollicking shennanigans.” I mean, there’s one story where they steal a nobleman’s entire house. Admittedly, it’s a small house–more of a cottage–but it is described as being well-stocked with the Lankhmar’s greatest collection of erotica, and being able to steal even a small building is a pretty mean feat when you get right down to it.
They’re fun characters, but unlike the familiar fairy-tale quantities that we’ve gotten for the past six years, they’re not the kind that you can plug into any story easily. It’s closer to when he uses Mowgli, who has a definite milieu that he’s drawn from, but it’s like if Conan suddenly showed up in the middle of things: They demand attention. In any case, I’m pretty excited about them, since they haven’t shown up in comics for a while, and even if Freddy and the Mouse were just off-brand versions that’re dead and gone by the next issue, it’s fun to have them around.
Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2: You know, I’ve seen the phrase “continuity porn” thrown out here and there, but brother, I’ve never seen anything like this. Between a fight scene drawn by the inimitable George Perez that reads like Geoff Johns went through a set of archives making a checklist for villains–or, now that I think of it, just read through An Eye for an Eye and threw in his 31st Century “Justice League” for good measure–and a scene where the original Legion gets the same crystal ball that’s on the cover of the first JLA/JSA team-up to pull two other Legions from various continuities… Well, the mind boggles.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Me, I think it’s a hoot, although I will say this: I love the Legion. I love the Silver Age Legion, I love the Reboot Legion, I love the current Legion. I love that they’re all having a big crazy team-up, even if it means my favorite version’s last hurrah before they get chucked back into limbo again to make way for the return of Dawnstar. But seriously, I don’t care if he comes to the rescue with Bizarro Computo and Tyroc in tow, there is no way in hell that I will ever care about Sodam Yat, beyond wondering why there doesn’t appear to be anyone totally honest or totally fearless in the entire future.
Punisher #63: Well, that worked out pretty much exactly as expected, didn’t it? Only there was the added bonus of it being so monumentally emo that I’m surprised it didn’t come with one of those little sound chips that started playing Hawthorne Heights or something whenever you opened it.
Me, I’m more of a Slayer fan, but the problem here is that this issue reads like a storytelling trick and not a story. I said in my review of the last issue that the way things worked out–with Frank being set up and only made to think he killed the girl–would provide an easy out without addressing the actual problem, but even knowing that going in it was a stretch. Far be it from me to nitpick about realism in my comics–see the above endorsement of a book involving a giant atomic bear–but the Punisher of the MAX series is a different beast entirely, and when your story hinges on Frank Castle–Frank Castle, who has lived gunpowder and smoke for thirty years–not being able to tell the difference between firecrackers and gunfire, things start to get a little iffy.
What’s even stranger is the fact that, in the story as told, this is all used to give Frank a reason to go after the bad guys, which is something that we already have. We know from the beginning of the story that they’re killing young girls in horrible ways, and that’s bad enough to get the Punisher involved without a cheap psyche-out attempt at making it personal. Even worse, it undermines what the character’s been built around for the past eight years. As strange as it might sound, the Frank Castle of the MAX series under Garth Ennis isn’t driven by revenge for himself; he’s simply out to kill people who do bad things. Now, there are stories where that’s not the case–Up Is Down and Black Is White and The Cell spring to mind–but those are based around specific things, and one of them even ends with the Punisher talking about how it’s not revenge anymore, just a job to be done.
And yet, here we are with the Punisher intoning “she is dead” over and over, which really just gets laughable after a while, and resolving that now he’s going to kill them EXTRA HARD. And the worst of it is that even with all that, from a technical standpoint, it’s not a poorly written comic. It’s certainly interesting enough that I don’t hate it, but there’s nothing that falls quite so flat as something that’s almost good.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen Special: When we were talking about the preview of this one that came out last week, Dr. K mentioned that he was glad James Robinson established by page four that Jimmy Olsen gets laid regularly.
My response to that? Of course Jimmy gets laid. He’s best friends with Superman! He’s been to outer space! Hell, he’s been to the future, and while we’re all going to get there eventually, he came back with stories of super-powered triplets fighting over him. He went to the past to drop-kick a leopard in the body of Marco Polo! He dated a robot viking! He survived the Mountain of Judgment!
I guess what I’m saying here is that I love Jimmy Olsen and I would knife any of you right in the eye if it meant I could write an ongoing.
But I guess Robinson does pretty okay.
And that’s the week. As always, questions on anything I read or skipped this week can be left in the comments section below. Also, if anybody wants to explain how we’ve managed to develop the technology to make “fried Pepsi,” I’m curious about that one.
I mean, a deep fried liquid! Now THAT’S science!