The Week In Ink: November 19, 2008

If you pay attention, comics will teach you many important lessons, and this week, we learn that even a man wearing what is essentially an extremely garish quilt can be taken down with the judicious application of a kick to the face.

 

 

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle when it comes to the Internet’s Most Uniformed Comics Reviews!

Here’s what I got this week…

 

 

And here’s what I thought about ’em!

 


 

Comics

 

Age of the Sentry #3: Jeff Parker makes me jealous.

This probably doesn’t surprise anyone; if you’ve ever met Jeff Parker, you know that he’s tall, handsome, and unfailingly nice to his fans, whereas I’m more like an extremely high-strung tree sloth. That’s not where the jealousy comes from though–or at least, not most of it. No, that comes from the fact that Parker writes the comics I wish I could write. There’s not an issue of Age of the Sentry yet that I’ve been able to read without thinking “man, I wish I’d thought of that,” and this time out–with its story of super-powered mountain men who strike it rich to become Hillbillionaires–is no exception.

But here’s the thing: The book’s so darn good that the jealousy doesn’t last too long before I’m back to the joy and amazement that comes with reading the Apex of the Artform. And it’s not just Parker, either: Cowriter Paul Tobin and artist Colleen Coover–or to use their Official Celebrity Couple Name, Pauleen Toover–bring more than his share of the fun to the second story, giving us something I honestly never thought I’d see: A team-up between the Sentry and Millie the Model. It’s just phenomenal stuff, and it’s shaping up to be one of my favorite series of the year.

 

ISB BEST OF THE WEEK

 

 

Amazing Spider-Man #578: Given the amount of time I’ve spent reviewing the last few issues of Amazing, it should probably have become pretty apparent that I tend to think about Spider-Man stories more than just about anything else I read. Although to be fair, that’s also a function of the fact that they come at the beginning of the alphabet, so I get around to reviewing them while I’m still awake and before I descend into sentences like “Zatanna good, like legs and magic stuff.”

Even so, I do tend to take the Spider-Man books a little more seriously than other titles, not only because he’s been one of my favorite characters since I was a kid, but because I truly believe that when he’s good, he’s the best. And this one is a textbook example of how to do Spider-Man right.

For starters, there’s Mark Waid, who–besides being, you know, Mark Waid–is a guy that I’ve been wanting to see on a Spider-Man book since he did a great Spidey/Torch bit during his phenomenal run on Fantastic Four with Mike Wieringo. It’s no surprise that a guy with his track record knows how to put together a fun comic, but he manages to pull off the neat trick of hitting all the familiar beats of a classic Spider-Man story–from the way Peter Parker has to ditch the buxom, red-haired model on the subway to the thrill of the last-page reveal–while still keeping everything fresh and exciting.

But again, just like last week’s issue, the real star here is the art. Marcos Martin is a treasure, folks, and while everybody already knew that from his work on the Paper Doll story with Dan Slott, he’s still in top form here, doing pages with everything from a wondeful, kinetic sense of motion and timing–watch for the burger on page three–to his detailed, claustrophobic subway crowd. He’s great, and while his art alone would make the book worth reading, the way he pulls off every beat of Waid’s scrpit is just a joy to read.

Again, you might want to take that with a grain of salt, because like I said: my emotions about Spider-Man stories tend to get a little more extreme than they probably should. When they’re bad, I hate them, but when they’re good, I don’t think there’s a whole lot out there that’s better. And this is one of the latter.

 

Firebreather #3: And speaking of things that I love to an almost irrational extreme, we have Phil Hester and Andy Kuhn’s Firebreather, which, as far as teen super-hero books go, is right up there with Impulse and Invincible as one of the best. In case you haven’t been reading it–or you’ve missed it when I’ve talked about it before–the premise of Firebreather is one of those great high concepts that I love: What would happen if a rampaging, kaiju-esque dragon mated with a normal human woman and they had a kid who was trying to lead the life of a normal American teenager?

Don’t get me wrong: It’s a crazy idea, but Hester’s scripts work with it amazingly well, and the best part is the clash between how Duncan’s mother and their normal suburban life, and the upbringing he gets from his world-conquering monster of a father. It’s… Well, it’s not exactly played straight–there’s a lot of inherent comedy in that sort of thing, and Hester doesn’t let it go unremarked by any stretch of the imagination–but even with its built-in strangeness, it’s presented in a way that feels authentic and relatable in the way that the best teen hero books are.

And in this issue, a dragon fights a robot, and this is one of the few times that something like that is actually as awesome as you want it to be.

 

The Punisher #64: Well, on the one hand, Gregg Hurwitz’s scripts for Punisher still read like pretty much every action movie from the 80s, right down to the momentary emotional breakdown that’s quickly forgotten and doesn’t actually address any of the conflicts within the character and the lurking super-badass boss in the shadows (in this case Jigsaw, but it might as well be Bennett from Commando) and his attendant ethnic stereotypes.

But on the other hand, the Punisher totally kills a dude with a shark in this one.

Folks, I am torn.

 

Uncanny X-Men #504: Despite the fact that I’ve been reading and enjoying Uncanny–especially since the new direction that began with the team’s relocation to San Francisco, storywise–I haven’t really felt the need to review it because… well, because it’s X-Men, and odds are, you already know whether you’re going to be reading it or not based on that fact alone.

I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t at least point out that in this issue, Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson deliver what is unquestionably the Sensational Character Rediscovery of 2008 with the addition of Dr. Nemesis, a Golden Age character who co-created the Human Torch, fought the Invaders, and then spent the intervening time building new eyes and then using them to hunt down cloned Nazi super-soldiers and shoot them in the face with his guns made of science. And really, I don’t think I’m overstating matters when I say that a crotchety old super-genius hitman is exactly what the franchise has been lacking all these years.

 

Trades

 

Crogan’s Vengeance: Longtime ISB readers might recall that this is one that I’ve been excited about since I met Chris Schweizer back at HeroesCon and heard the guys from Oni describe what he wanted to do: A sixteen-part series of graphic novels, each one focused on one member of the illustrious Crogan family through the ages. It sounded like a neat concept, and given what I saw of the book back then, it’s been something that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. What surprised me, though, was that the finished product is actually even better than I expected.

Simply put, it’s great, fun comics, telling the story of a reluctant–but very skilled–pirate, related as an object lesson to the latest generation of the family after an unfortunate encounter with a neighbor’s birdfeeder. That was, one of the things that surprised me the most, actually: the idea that the Crogan family wasn’t just a group of luminaries from the past, but that there would be a connection to the modern day that to tie things together. But while that’s a nice touch that I wasn’t expecting, the real action here is on the high seas, and that’s where Schweizer excels.

I imagine this is a comparison he’s going to get a lot, but his art reminded me a lot of Jeff Smith’s Bone: Strong lines and cartoony, expressive features against detailed backgrounds that add up to beautiful pages of stark, black and white linework. And while Schweizer did a lot of research for the book, the script is organic and doesn’t fall into the trap of letting the research become the focus.

But like the man says, you don’t have to take my word for it: There’s a preview on Schweizer’s website that, at 26 pages, is longer than most comics. So give it a read and then pick it up. It’s worth it.

 

Spider-Man: Kraven’s First Hunt HC:

 

IT’S A FAUX HAWK YOU BIRD BRAIN.

 


 

And that’s the week. As always, any questions about something I picked up or dodged this week can be left in the comments below.

In the meantime, I’m going to try and figure out what exactly Lady Kraven is a new look between.

37 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: November 19, 2008

  1. Dammit! I forgot to grab Firebreather this week. I knew I’d forgotten something. Of course if I’d gotten it I probably wouldn’t have splurged on that Simonson Visionaries thing…

    Bennett from Commando) and his attendant ethnic stereotypes.

    Does Frank tell the scrawny dude he’d kill him last and then kill him second?

    But on the other hand, the Punisher totally kills a dude with a shark in this one.

    So, like Brock Samson taking out the Fisherman?

  2. Just in case you think it’s nothing but your own obsession, I occur completely on this Spidey issue.

    Writing and art that both understands the character and the medium! Awesome!

  3. LW – Not even fractionally as awesome as Brock Samson, sadly. Though at least it didn’t say “She is dead.”

  4. Also to Rich Green- you “concur” over Spider-Man. If you “occur” on this issue then you either appear in it or are doing something to it which shouldn’t even be talked about on the internet.

  5. I have to check the Age of The Sentry to see if its that good.
    Its funny though how tastes are subjective. A guy at comicbookresources found Age of the Sentry to be one of the worst of the week

  6. What’s with you Disco people and your spelling catches? Sheesh, get a life!

    (Dammit Brian, I really really wanted to be the one to point out the “uniformed” bit, and you took that away from me)

  7. That Dr Nemisis stuff was great. I got a distinct Warren Ellis vibe of that whole scene which wasn’t a bad thing.

  8. “Firebreather” is the progeny of a woman and…Godzilla?

    How…who…why…how?

    Now I’m picturing Godzilla reclining on the field of Giants Stadium, propped on one elbow. He’s wearing a giant satin robe and a necklace made from the ruins of a suspension bridge. He’s holding half of a ripped-open tanker truck filled with Courvoisier. Over the stadium’s PA system blares Marvin Gaye…

    Okay, sure, I can see why she’d go for him, I mean, c’mon, who wouldn’t.

    But how would she… with… giant cloaca… AstroGlide… flexible… tantric yoga… ReadiWhip… the safety word is “Gamera”…

    Egad.

    Some questions are best left unanswered, I suppose.

  9. Chris Schweizer is a gentleman of the highest order. I had preordered Crogan’s Vengeance and when it did not come out as originally solicited, I emailed him through his website and asked him politely what the expected target date would be.

    He responded with a lengthy answer that involved the frustrations of dealing with international printing/shipping. Not only that, he offered, as a conciliatory gesture, (even though he had done a total of nothing wrong) to mail me a sketch of one of the characters in the book.

    I received it the other day and it is awesome. I don’t even know who the character is, but getting that sketch (which is my first ever from a real live comic book artist) makes my anticipation for Crogan’s Vengeance’s arrival in the mail that much stronger.

    Chris Schweizer – Class Act Extraordinaire.

  10. “Christian Otholm Says:

    Fraction said that his inspiration for Dr. Nemesis was Warren Ellis btw.”

    Dude in a white suit ranting about narcotics….SCIENCE NARCOTICS! How could that be inspired by anything but Warren Ellis?

  11. crotchety old super-genius hitman is exactly what the franchise has been lacking all these years.

    I think everything could benefit from this addition.

  12. Re: the alt-text on the shopping list –

    I would actually be a little surprised if it was.

  13. The Amazon link leading from “Mark Waid” up in the Spidey review appears to be something I must read. The Red Skull, Hitler AND the Cosmic Cube? Hot damn.

  14. I know I’m in the far minority here, but Fraction’s Uncanny X-Men just irks the hell out of me. He spends so much time and effort trying to be “hip”, with the tongue-in-cheek captions for the characters and things of that nature. But then again, I haven’t liked anything of Fraction’s outside of Iron Fist, which I contribute far more to Brubaker. ::shrug::

  15. Wait, more than one person created the original Human Torch? Since when?

    Any specific thoughts to the latest issue of The Forgotten, Chris? Pia Guerra had some personal issues to deal with, so the art takes a hit, but the story remains basic. Personally, I’m happy that a story with the Fifth Doctor didn’t end with a double-digit body count (see: “Resurrection Of The Daleks”), though I still keep thinking of Turlough (the alien posing as a human student and one-time agent of the Dark Guardian) as a red-headed weasel. I also liked how Four and Romana’s story briefly referenced “City Of Death,” which was one of the first old-school DW arcs that I watched. And it’s written by Douglas Adams, which does nothing for me, but might intrigue some people.

  16. So I noticed this issue of Invincible referred to itself as a “family title.” Naturally, this is the same issue that Omni-Man and Allen the Alien punch someone so hard his brains fly out.

  17. Does Frank tell the scrawny dude he’d kill him last and then kill him second?

    That was Matrix, not Bennett.

    I assume we’re taking it as read that the Jack Kirby Demon omnibus is a fat sack of awesome?

    Yeah, I was going to review it, but really, what it comes down to is that it’s awesome, and if you disagree with me I will probably call you stupid. And those feelings are all pretty well-known.

    A guy at comicbookresources found Age of the Sentry to be one of the worst of the week

    Yeah, well, who are you gonna believe, pal?

    How did you manage to avoid mentioning getting name-checked by Kirkman in the Invincible letters column?

    Do what now?! Huh, hang on..

    Oh, snap, there it is! Well I’ll be.

    Any specific thoughts to the latest issue of The Forgotten, Chris? Pia Guerra had some personal issues to deal with, so the art takes a hit, but the story remains basic.

    Enjoyable, although I did notice the art and wondered why she was off the book.

  18. I think getting a crotchety old super-genius Garth Ennis’ Hitman would probably be the pinnacle of existence.

  19. Fraction can write Uncanny for the next five years as far as I’m concerned. I like his style (The Order was terribly underrated), I like his “hip” (rolleyes) sensibilities, and I like HIM. No one else sorted me out with awesomely acronymed stickers at Heroes Con.

    Also, wouldn’t the reveal at the end of Punisher been so much more gratifying if they hadn’t broadcasted who the antagonist was… ON… THE… COVER?!

  20. Some other Chris than the one who owns this blog said:
    “I haven’t liked anything of Fraction’s outside of Iron Fist, which I contribute far more to Brubaker.”

    You “contribute” it to him, do you? You and that guy who “occurs” with peoples’ opinions should get together.

  21. Yes, that was a typo, thank you for pointing that out. I should now retreat back into my cave with a thousand shames upon my family, I suppose.

    And Dragonlyte, I’m very happy that you like Matt Fraction. Seriously, that’s awesome that someone is enjoying it (actually, I’m sure most people probably enjoy his work). I believe I’ll continue having my own opinion, though, thanks.

  22. I’ll point out my own typo this time, even. That should have been “Dragonflye”, not “Dragonlyte”. My apologies.

  23. Chris, every time an issue of the new Deadpool comes out I come on here hoping you’ve reviewed it. Checking your preview of the series, you said you were torn about picking it up, and I guess you decided to be cautious. But four issues in, it’s totally great. Really fun, cartoony, laugh-out-loud funny stuff.

  24. Kris, you can drink all the Haterade you want. I never said you couldn’t. I just like the guy, I like how he writes, and I find no evidence of affected style whatsoever. Hell, it’s refreshing to have someone writing Uncanny who isn’t aping old school Claremont for a change. Geez. Did you find Morrison’s run on NXM to be too “hip” for you as well?

  25. I also rarely agree with any reviews in The Buy Pile (well, I do often like the comics he likes, like Fables, but I more often also like the comics he dislikes, particularly the ones he really dislikes… like fun comics, seriously, is he allergic to fun?) and hope that people who read his suggestion and act on them are people who would actually agree with him if they did read the books, and not people who like fun and thefore would actually like Age of The Sentry et al.

    Also someone made a spelling mistake somewhere or used the wrong word and corecting them politely is fine since y’know, knowledge is awesome power whoo! And I met someone else who didnt like Fraction’s work and I looked at him funny for a bit and said, `really?’ and he said `yes, really’ and I said `huh’. Then we both politely moved on.