Go Ask Bahlactus!
All panels by Jack Kirby, from the mind-blowingly awesome Devil Dinosaur #1-3, beautifully reprinted in Marvel’s Devil Dinosaur Omnibus.
And we’re back!
The more astute among you may have noticed that there was no update to the ISB last night, in flagrant violation of the immutable daily schedule I run around here. Sadly, it was out of my hands: A pretty hellacious storm rolled through town last night, taking out my power until about three in the morning and leaving me to enjoy the magic of South Carolina in July with no air conditioning.
This is, for the record, not as fun as it sounds. And incidentally? Hits were up today, even with no update. Why you gots to send me those mixed signals, baby?
Oh well, it doesn’t matter! After all, it’s Thursday night, and that can mean only one thing:
Yes, nothing quite says “well thought-out critical acumen” like a boot to the chops, so buckle up for another round of the Internet’s Most Violently Credible Comics Reviews!
Here’s what crashed headlong into my collection this week…
…and these are the snappiest judgements you’re likely to find!
Annihilation: Conquest – Wraith #1: So in case you haven’t heard it, there’s a rumor going around that the Big Secret of Wraith’s origin–set to be revealed in the next issue–is that he is actually ROM, and if that is true, it will come perilously close to displacing Nextwave #12 as the single best thing that Marvel has done this year. There are a few signs, of course: The Spaceknights show up in the Annihilation: Conquest Prologue as the first victims of the Phalanx, which would make for a nice motivation to have Galador’s favorite son join the big conflict. Also, if you squint and really, really hope that it’s true, the markings on Wraith’s poncho kinda look like they could be sort of be… You know… ROMish.
I’m trying not to get my hopes up in the very likely case that it’s not true, but even if this doesn’t turn out to be the long-awaited return of the greatest of the Spaceknights, it’s not like this book is exactly devoid of potential. I mean, really: When your worst-case scenario is an all-out action space adventure from the guy that wrote The Middleman, thats a pretty good place to be.
BPRD: Garden of Souls #5: I’ve mentioned my love of Hellboy before on numerous occasions, and almost every time, I talk about how the roots of my affection lie in the simple premise of a character who confronts the unknowable horrors of the supernatural and then clubs them into submission with a pistol or punches them out with his giant rock hand. It’s a beautiful concept, and Mike Mignola pulls it off in such a way that doesn’t reduce the threats of the monsters or make Hellboy seem like a clod. It’s just perfect.
And that, dear friends, is one of the many reasons that this issue, which includes a scene where Abe Sapien rips the arm off of an eldritch robotic horror and then uses it to beat the ever-living crap out of another eldritch robotic horror, struck me as flat-out awesome. Along with Mignola, John Arcudi and Guy Davis have been producing top-notch comics with every single issue of the various BPRD mini-series, and Garden of Souls was certainly no exception: It’s the revelation of the final pieces of Abe’s origin set against a mad arcane plot with a suitably creepy new cast member thrown in to boot. It’s great stuff, and it’s exactly what I’ve come to expect from the team.
Deadpool/GLI Summer Fun Spectacular: Like most Marvel comics readers who like a few laughs with my face-kicking, there was a time when I enjoyed the bejeezus out of some Deadpool. Two times, actually, if you’re counting the Joe Kelly and Gail Simone runs as two individual entities separated by a dismal chasm from which no chuckles could escape, but that’s beside the point. Sadly, I’m starting to feel like those times might be over: Despite a few genuninely funny bits that I’ve seen (mostly in the Civil War crossover, oddly enough), Fabian Nicieza’s Deadpool has never really struck me very well. I know how this is going to sound, given that his defining characteristics in the Joe Kelly years were holding a blind woman hostage under threats of death, heaping abuse on an alcoholic sidekick and uppercutting Kitty Pryde, but he just seems a lot less funny and a lot more meanspirited here.
But in case you’re thinking that means I didn’t like this one, DON’T! Putting the Deadpool stories completely aside, Nicieza and Dan Slott strike absolute gold with the plot of ISB Favorite Squirrel Girl going on a mission to find out what happened with Speedball after their first kiss, thus proving that someone besides me actually remembers I Heart Marvel: Masked Intentions. It’s fantastically entertaining stuff, and by the time it’s over, Slott and Nicieza take the utter nonsense that is Penance and knock out one of the best fixes since Agents of Atlas, bar none.
Fables #63: I generally don’t bother to review Fables every month, seeing as how there are only so many ways to talk about how good it is (which is similar to the problem I have with Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli’s DMZ), but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the current story-arc may actually be the best one of the series thus far. That’s not an easy bar to reach, either: For my money, the current title belongs to “Homelands,” which features Boy Blue fighting his way to the Big Reveal, but “The Good Prince” is almost nothing but big reveals and shocking returns, with a liberal dose of well-done foreshadowing thrown in for good measure. It’s truly excellent storytelling as usual from Bill Willingham, with the equally fantastic art (also as usual) from Mark Buckingham, and really: You don’t need me to tell you that. I just really like it.
Green Arrow: Year One #1: Before my interest in the title was brutally beaten and left for dead by a run where Judd Winick thought it would be a good idea to have him take on a bunch of monsters and then karate-fight Deathstroke with his samurai sword, I liked Green Arrow an awful lot. It’s one of those concepts that’s so simple that it takes an amazing amount of effort to get it wrong: He’s a modern-day Robin Hood, a spoiled rich kid with a social conscience that drives him to help out the less fortunate by shooting bad guys with pointy sticks. See? It’s genius, and while most of DC’s planned “Year One” titles didn’t really catch my fancy, the promise of something that would boil Oliver Queen back down to that simple concept was incredibly appealing.
Of course, it helps when the team behind it happens to be the same pair of guys that brought you Vertigo’s late, lamented Losers, which stood alongside books like Queen & Country as one of the most thrilling action comics to hit the stands in recent memory. It’s a tough legacy to live up to, but Andy Diggle and Jock make a pretty good go at it, sticking to a familiar story and casting Ollie as a complete–if mildly repentant–jackass, setting the stage for his big Road to Damascus moment later in the story. Even the seemingly small details, like his casual brush-off of drug rehabilitation, make for nice touches and go a long way towards fleshing out something that you usually see encapsulated in a sentence and a half. It’s good stuff, and if it keeps up, it’s going to make for a pretty enjoyable series when it’s all said and done. Which is to say, as long as Green Arrow gets to shoot people with pointy sticks. And maybe one with a boxing glove on the end.
Madman Atomic Comics #3: Under a lesser creator, a book where two characters essentially stand around discussing the plot with each other to catch up everyone who didn’t know what was going on already–presumably because they were still waiting for Madman Gargantua–would be one of the most unforgivably boring expository tricks a guy could pull. With this one, however, Mike Allred’s found a way to make it work: Doing every single panel in the style of a different artist as Frank Einstein wanders through his subconscious. And the list of artists he pays homage to is like a history of sequential art, from Winsor McKay and Jack Cole to Kirby and Ditko to Eric Powell and Darwyn Cooke to Art Adams and Dr. Seuss to the Kuberts and the Romitas and just about everyone you can think of in between. It’s absolutely flat-out amazing, and it speaks to Allred’s talent that he’s able to pull them all off so beautifully. It’s incredible, and even if you haven’t been picking up the series, you’re going to want to at least take a look at this one. And once you look at it, you’re going to want to look at it again and again, matching up panels to the phenomenally long list of names on the first page and marveling at how Allred pulled it off. Great, great stuff.
Nexus #99: And speaking of comics that I’m waiting for a little bit of backstory on, we have Nexus. It’s weird: I like Steve “The Dude” Rude’s art a heck of a lot, and given that he was the writer on Punisher for over five years, I’ve developed a pretty strong affinity for Mike Baron’s work as well. He did, after all, bring us both the saga of the best ninja training camp in Kansas story where the Punisher hangs out with Luke Cage after a pigment-altering surgery performed by a heroin-addict prostitute turns him black for a few months, so needless to say, I’m a fan. And yet, before about a month ago, I’d never actually read Nexus. At this point, though, I’ve only made it through the first of the Dark Horse archives, which means that I’m still separated from the current issue by a pretty huge margin, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to catch up. But what’s more, I’m not sure that it’ll even be worth it to try: What I’ve read just doesn’t seem to grab me, and for next month’s big hundredth issue, there’s going to be a recap anyway, which is really what I’m holding out for. I’m hoping that something in there hits me just right, but if it doesn’t, there’s no big loss. After all, I’ll always have that Mister Miracle Special and a story where Frank Castle fights a dog that is also a ninja, so rest easy, Baron and Rude: You guys have given me enough.
Punisher War Journal #9: There are a few things in this life that I will never, ever get tired of, and Frank Castle brutally murdering Nazis is one of them. Needless to say, Matt Fraction and Ariel Olivetti continue to give me pretty much exactly what I want from the Punisher, but rather than falling into the predictable (and enjoyable) cycle that marks Garth Ennis’s run of late, they continue to surprise me as well. For instance, the last thing I was expecting out of a Punisher story was for Frank to be hit by H-Rays, and the subsequent question of what happens when you take a guy that is completely consumed by a slow, single-minded hatred… and make him hate more. The answer, as you probably know by know, is something very bad, and it’s something that I certainly didn’t see coming from this one, leading to a fight that just keeps getting more and more personal. As always, it’s a great read, and in case you haven’t been paying attention for the past year, it’s one of the best books Marvel’s putting out, hands down.
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #20: With this issue, the ISB bids a fond farewell to writer Sean McKeever, whose departure from this book (and Marvel Comics) made for much wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst a group of fans significantly older and more male than the actual target audience for the comic. Make no mistake: I love this comic, and McKeever’s scripts–along with the beautiful art of Takeshi Miyazawa, who provides the best cover of the series for this issue, David Hahn, and colorist Christina Strain–have made it easily the best ongoing Spider-Man title on the stands, and seeing him go is just breaking my heart. But it’s in a good way: For his swan song here, McKeever manages to deal with Peter Parker’s embarrassment of riches when it comes to the ladies–what with the fact that he’s torn between Gwen Stacy, Firestar, and our title heroine–in a way that actually makes him sympathetic. It’s beautiful character work, and given how McKeever’s worked with the past 28 issues of the Mary Jane titles, it’s a perfect end to his run.
As for the book’s future, well, I’ll say this: Terry Moore was really very nice when I met him at a con a few years ago, and he even did a sketch of Black Canary that I like an awful lot, but I’ve never really enjoyed his comics, and I’m pretty sure that’s going to remain the status quo for the forseeable future.
Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen #1: You know, I was actually struggling with how I was going to treat this book when it came time to review it, wondering whether I should do it “in character” so to speak, treating it as a serious work from a conservative pundit, or just review it as a humor title, or even if I should compare it to my own foray into the world of fiction, The Chronicles of Solomon Stone.
But then I saw this panel…
…and realized that was probably all anyone needed to see.
Clubbing: Well, it had to happen sooner or later, but with Clubbing, the Minx line has made its first major misstep. And it’s a sharp drop, too, given that their last offering, Mike Carey and Sonny Liew’s Re-Gifters set the bar so high by being one of the most entertaining graphic novels of the year, and while I didn’t really expect Clubbing to live up, I didn’t expect it to fall quite so flat, either.
The plot is thus: The girl on the cover there is Charlotte Brook. See, she’s from West London, born and raised, and at the goth clubs is where she spends most of her days. Coolin’ out, maxin’ relaxin’ all cool, or stealing some Photoshop from the school, but there’s this one time that she’s up to no good. She starts making trouble in the neighborhood. She gets caught by some cops and her mom gets scared, and says you’re moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air.
No, wait. She moves in with her Grandparents in Meadowdale. Sorry, got confused for a second.
Anyway, the problems here are many and varied, starting with the fact that, well, that’s a pretty terrible cover. I’m not sure what the folks at DC thought they were going to accomplish by mixing photography and comic art here, but it doesn’t work, and the perspective is just wrong enough that Charlotte looks to be twelve feet tall and about as natural in her setting as Roger Rabbit. And once you get inside the comic, they just keep stacking up from there.
For one thing, I’m really not sure if Josh Howard’s the right guy to be drawing it. Don’t get me wrong, I actually do like the man’s art, but that’s just the thing: I like it, and I like it because I enjoy pinup-style drawings of angular women in what essentially amounts to fetish gear. Thus, Charlotte changes into a new and revealing outfit in almost every scene, with mini-skirts getting shorter, heels getting higher, and garter belts more visible along the way, which, for a book aimed at young girls, seems awfully exploitative. And then there’s the problem of Charlotte herself: She doesn’t come off as particularly brave, smart, or concerned with anything but herself, leaving me with the problem of a pretty unrelatable protagonist. Admittedly, it’s not designed to relate to me, but I didn’t have much trouble finding something to like about Main Jane and Dixie, either.
And hey, did you know this thing was a murder mystery with a supernatural element to it? No? Yeah, me either, and I’m relatively certain that I pay closer attention to the solicitations than your average joe. There’s one mention of the murder on the back cover copy, and none whatsoever of the supernatural element, which is, y’know, kind of a huge selling point that they might want to draw attention to. Or maybe they skipped it because it’s not introduced until page 108, when the book takes a sharp left turn into the realm of the paranormal for 38 pages. It just would’ve been nice to know, but even with fair warning, it’s still pretty poorly constructed, with a telegraphed ending and no discernable character growth for our alleged heroine.
Oh, and they also misspell Bertie Wooster’s name in the glossary, identifying him as Bernie Wooster. I mean really!
Devil Dinosaur Omnibus: IN AN AGE WHEN GIANTS WALKED THE WORLD, HE WAS THE MIGHTIEST OF ALL!
Dinosaurs! Fire! Spacemen! Kirby! A note in the letter column that assures you that the subject matter is being presented with only the strictest attempts at historical accuracy! DON’T ASK! JUST BUY IT!
And that’s the week! As always, if you have any questions about something I read, comments on something I ought to read, or just want to join me in celebration of the fact that we got two new oversized Jack Kirby hardcovers and two oversized hardcovers featuring Devil Dinosaur this week–a feat that I can almost assure you will never be repeated ever–feel free to leave a comment.
As for me, I’ll be over here trying to figure out how to repackage a giant red Tyrannosaurus and his filthy naked ape-man companion into a form more suited for younger female readers.
Maybe if I gave them flowers?
Thanos was arraigned in Superior Court, in and for the City of New York.
In a moment, the results of that trial.
Thanos was found guilty on one count of disturbing the peace and one count of simple assault, and was sentenced to forty hours of community service and a stern talking-to from Mar-Vell.
Courtesy of The Smoking Cube:
Your Spidey Super Stories Moment of Joy for this week:
Here’s something you might not know about Thanos: Sometimes, he rolls around in a helicopter with his own name painted on the side.
All panels from Spidey Super Stories #39, which concludes with Thanos being taken into custody by two uniformed policemen in what is the most beautiful denoument ever written.
As frequent readers of the ISB may recall from my discussion of it Friday night, last week saw the release of Marvel and Dabel Brothers’ first hardcover collection of their comic book adaptation of Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures.
In addition to an actual, honest-to-God quote from yours truly on the dust jacket, the hardcover collects the first six issues of the series. I have, of course, already handled those with my highly dubious annotations, but there is the added attraction of a new nine-page story by Laurell K. Hamilton, Jonothon Green, and our old pal Brett Booth that raises its own particular brand of questions.
Thus, in keeping with my goal of providing the Internet’s most
meanspirited comprehensive examinations of everyone’s favorite bowlegged enemy of the supernatural, that’s what’s on the chopping block for tonight’s entry into The Annotated Anita Blake. Grab your own copy and follow along!
1.1: The opening caption for this series states that “Once upon a time, you could kill a vampire on sight.”
As more astute readers will no doubt expect, however, the original caption, edited for length, was “Once upon a time, you could tear ass through a mini-mall firing wildly into a crowd of pedestrians and expect to be congratulated for your efforts by a pair of extremely gregarious, mildly suggestive police officers.” See also: 1.5.
1.4: Someone please, please tell me that Sausage on a Stick is a recurring motif in the Anita Blake universe.
Because seriously, if it is? My jokes about Jean-Claude just got a whole lot easier to make.
1.5: Scabbers and Crabman:
Together, they fight crime.
2.1: For those of you who weren’t able to piece it together from the 47 times it was mentioned over the course of the series thus far, this scene contains an explanation of Addison v. Clarke, the landmark Supreme Court case that caused the soulless undead to be recognized as citizens under US law. One can only assume that the ruling was delivered with the same amont of dignity and respect as the “Bong Hits For Jesus” case.
2.3: LOST: One Vampire Hunter. Answers to “Spot.”
Last seen being led off by Officer Cary Elwes, SLPD.
3.6: So, how dumb are the cops in the grim and terrible world of Anita Blake?
So dumb that Anita has to inform them that Vampires like the taste of blood. Wow. Just… wow.
4.7: And here we have Anita, whose fashion sense is so acute that she is only seen wearing articles of clothing featuring vampire penguins and allegedly “clever” sayings, sporting a leather jacket that is at least 40% fringe:
Add that to her swirling, impenetrable mass of hair, and I’m pretty sure that Anita’s a full-time zombie re-animator, part-time vampire hunter, and long-time guitarist for Guns ‘n’ Roses.
5.1-2: These panels contain the first mention in the comics of the Regional Preturnatural Team, which is occasionally referred to by the police as “RIP” despite the fact that acronyms don’t actually work that way. I mean really, you can’t just add and subtract letters at random to make it sound cooler, and if you do, you probably shouldn’t draw attention to it by making it the punchline to what I can only assume was supposed to be a joke.
6.2-6: Yeah, I have absolutely no idea what’s going on in this sequence.
Hell, I’m not even sure if that second panel’s right-side up.
7.2: This is the first appearance of Dolph, who is not to be confused with Soviet pugilist Dolph Lundgren, whose brutal in-ring murder of Apollo Creed shocked a nation into action in 1985. Rather, Dolph and his partner Zerbrowski seem like the Riggs and Murtaugh of the supernatural set, with one notable exception:
Dolph is roughly nine feet tall. Also, considering that he brings in the perp responsible for the murder that Anita’s been trying to solve within three panels of his existence, his main plot function seems to be pointing out how ineffective and completely unnecessary the actual heroine of the story really is. That’s, uh, probably not such a good idea.
This page would’ve been perfect if everybody jumped up for a high five right before the credits started to roll.
…an important message from Yotsuba Koiwai:
Now run along, you little scamp!
You know, there’s an Chris Hansen joke one could easily make about that panel, but we here at the ISB are slightly better than that. Besides, I’m saving all that for the Gunsmith Cats review at the end of the post.
But no matter! It’s Friday night, and with the comics shipping a day late this week, that means it’s time for another no-holds-barred round of the Internet’s Most Explosive Comics Reviews! Here’s what put the match to the powderkeg this week…
…Now brace yourselves, ’cause this thing’s about to blow!
The All-New Atom #13: As much as this book’s been hovering right on the line between fun and boring over the past few months, I’ve got to say that it’s about time somebody remembered that Ray Palmer spent a couple years as an ass-kicking barbarian king. I mean really, it’s not all little chairs and hanging out on Hawkman’s shoulder with that guy; he swings a mean broadsword for a theoretical physicist. It makes for some pretty decent comics, too, and the revelation of the tiny village’s Ray Palmer Impersonator (complete with a highly dubious vocabulary) makes for a couple of great punchlines along the way, but I can’t help thinking that the best stuff in the issue by far was the scene with Chronos at the beginning. It was interesting, well-written, and even referenced 1995′s all-but-forgotten Underworld Unleashed, but it’s over in four pages to make room for a story that ends up with Jason Todd and Donna Troy showing up to rope yet another unsuspecting victim into the neverending quagmire that is Countdown.
Needless to say, that’s a little disappointing.
All-Star Superman #8: You have no idea how much it pains me to say this, given the astounding amount of affection I’ve got for #4′s battle between Doomsday Jimmy Olsen and the Reverse Superman, but I’ve got to be honest with you guys: For the first time, an issue of All-Star Superman has just fallen flat for me.
“But Chris!” you may well be saying, as soon as you recover your monocle from its unexpected flight from your surprise-widened eyes, “This issue’s got the Bizarro Justice League helping Superman to build a rocket out of garbage so that he can escape Bizarro World, and what may well be our first look at the long-awaited return of Solaris the Tyrant Sun! You love Solaris the Tyrant Sun!” And I do, and I’m even excited about the fact that this one only took three months to come out, but it just didn’t do it for me.
It may be that I’m not sure why Bizarro, out of all the things that’ve been explored in the series so far, is what Grant Morrison felt he should spend two issues on, especially given the fact that reading Bizarro dialogue is always a pain in the neck, even with the added comedy of watching Superman try to muddle through it himself. It could just be that Zibarro’s plight as the only Bizarro sensitive enough to write emo poetry about sunsets didn’t strike the right chords. Either way, it just didn’t click. It’s not that it’s bad–and there are some wonderful touches, like the way Bizarro World’s oceans and continents are laid out in a mirror image of Earth’s, or the advent of the highly confusing Bizarro Sarcasm–but it’s certainly not up to the high bar set by previous issues. It’s just… Well, average.
But hang on a second. Maybe it’s not that good because it’s the Bizarro World issue, and on Bizarro World, the comics that aren’t great are the greatest comics of all! Why… That’s metatextual genius!
The Astounding Wolf-Man #2: And the parade of negativity continues. That’s right, folks: It’s gonna be one of those weeks.
Other than the fact that I thought it was pretty cool of him to launch it with the actual full-length first issue on Free Comic Book Day–which probably got it into the hands of a lot more folks than would’ve snagged it otherwise–I’ve been pretty ambivalent towards Robert Kirkman’s latest project ever since it was announced. That said, I like the guy’s other work (most notably Invincible and about half of Marvel Team-Up) enough that I went into this one expecting his usual style of relatively lighthearted adventure. And that’s exactly what it is, right up until a last-page shot that was jarring enough to put the kibosh on any enjoyment I’d had getting to it.
I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, though: This is a comic with a blood-soaked cover of a werewolf tearing into something, after all, so it’s probably on me that I didn’t see it coming. But even so, the violence in the FCBD special was far more subtle, and even the scene of Gary right after the initial werewolf attack–which was itself meant to look pretty horrific–doesn’t match an evisceration complete with trailing intestines and kidneys flying out. And it’s even worse when it comes from Jason Howard’s cartoony (for lack of a better word) style, as that just makes it seem even more remarkably out of place. It’s pretty annoying; the last thing I want to see as a comics reader after the past year is someone else getting brutally disemboweled in full color, and given that Kirkman himself has done similar scenes recently in his other titles, it’s got the added frustration of coming off like just another lazy trick that could’ve been done much better and to a far greater effect in a different way.
See what happens when you hire Dave Campbell, Kirkman? The whole thing just goes right down the tubes
Black Canary #1: I’ve been on the fence about getting this one for a while. On the one hand, as a long-time Birds of Prey reader, I actually do like Black Canary an awful lot. Not enough to think she should actually be the leader of the Justice League (because really, she wasn’t even the leader of the Brids of Prey, and there were only two of them), but still, I’ve got a lot of affection for the character and I’m curious about what she’s doing with her newly adopted “sister,” Sin. On the other hand, I have virtually no interest in finding out whether or not she’s going to accept Green Arrow’s proposal, especially given that DC’s pretty much tossed any suspsense on that front right out the window with this month’s solicitations.
What it really came down to was the team: Tony Bedard’s a hit-or-miss writer for me, but he’s actually doing a lot of stuff that I’m pretty interested in lately, and I thought Paulo Siqueira did a fine job handling pencils on BoP, so I figured I’d give it a shot, and the end result isn’t half bad. Sure, there are parts that don’t even bother to make a bit of sense–like where exactly Merlyn got a framed photograph of Green Arrow and Green Lantern walking in on Speedy while he was shooting up or the fact that Green Arrow is actually stupid enough to confuse a 19 year-old Dinah Lance with her mother, who he saw fighting crime back in the 40s-but if nothing else, it’s nice to see Bedard bringing up Dinah’s ex-husband, who was mentioned a grand total of one (1) time by Chuck Dixon in the pages of Birds of Prey like ten years ago. This is going to sound pretty obvious, but it’s very much like one of those four issue solo mini-series that DC used to hand out to their characters like Halloween candy back in the late ’80s, and while it could go either way at this point, I liked this issue enough to hope it’ll end up being good.
Detective Comics #834: Hey, you know what would be awesome? If the Joker from Detective Comics and the Joker from Batman didn’t appear to exist in complete isolation from one another.
Dynamo 5 #5: It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Jay Faerber’s work her on the ISB, since Noble Causes seems to have plateaued again after the frustrating series of issues that led up to #25, but everything I’ve said about Dynamo 5 in the past is still true: Faerber unquestionably does his best work on the titles he creates himself, and with this one, it’s like he’s hit the perfect balance of super-hero action and the character-driven family struggle element that made the earlier issues of Noble Causes so good. It’s become something of a trademark for him, and with good reason: When he’s firing on all cylinders, it makes for some highly enjoyable comics.
And that’s what’s happening here. Faerber never stops tweaking the book, adding new and interesting plot threads with every issue to create something incredibly entertaining, and Mahmud Asrar’s art compliments it perfectly. It’s excellent stuff, and if you haven’t already, give it a shot.
Jonah Hex #21: So here’s the thing: This book is probably the best thing that Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray have done, and the idea of putting out a Western book with a character that I really like starring in self-contained single issue stories is one that I’d be more than happy tor ead every month if they didn’t keep basing the entire series on stories about rape. It is ridiculous, and nowhere more than in this issue, where the rape and subsequent murders have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the story, and seems to have been tacked on at the beginning and end for no other reason than to meet some sort of quota.
That’s the only thing that could possibly explain it, and so I’m done with the book. It’s already an overused plot device in comics, and any enjoyment that comes from the book is completely outmatched every three months when Palmiotti and Gray trot out the same reasonably offensive plot over and over again. It’s stupid, it’s lazy, it’s frustrating, and it’s dropped.
New Warriors #2: I’m going to owe my friend Brandon ten bucks after this review thanks to a bet we had going back in 2004 about sentences I didn’t think I’d ever say, but even I have to admit that I was pretty excited to see Jubilee show up in this one. Yes, New Warriors continues apace, and Underworld‘s Kevin Grevioux continues to surprise me at every turn with how well he’s managing to pull things off here. I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoyed the Nunzio Defillipis/Christina Weir run on New Mutants and New X-Men, and to see Grevioux and Paco Medina using a powerless Sofia Mantenga as his point of view character, complete with her dreams about the “good times” back before everyone she went to Xavier’s with was blown up or shot in the head makes for one of the most unexpected surprises of the summer. What’s more, the New Warriors themselves are actually a well-done mystery, with Beak showing up in the first issue and Jubliee making her appearance in this one–which itself leads to a genuinely worthwhile cameo by Wolverine–just begging the question as to who else made it to the lineup. It’s fast-paced fun, and it’s exactly the sort of thing I’d want from a Marvel team book right now.
And yet, it’s still New Warriors. Truly, these are wonderful times in which we live.
Runaways #27: Any lingering doubts I might’ve had about whether Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan’s run on this title was going to be as fun and enjoyable as Vaughan and Alphona’s have been, in the span of this one issue, all but completely eradicated.
And I’m as surprised as anybody by it: Time Travel stories are notoriously difficult to pull off, but Whedon makes the absolute most of it in this issue, throwing in what appears to be a 1900s version of the Punisher, a foundation for the Age of Wonders to go right along with the Age of Marvels, and what is probably the most shocking return for a character I’ve ever seen. I honestly didn’t think anything could top Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges bring Sambo back from literary obscurity in the pages of Jack of Fables, but bringing back the Yellow Kid–the Yellow Freakin’ Kid, complete with words on his shirt!–as part of a turn of the century teenage super-team is pretty mind-blowing.
Well, mind-blowing for anybody who ever wrote a paper on the history of comics in high school, I mean. Hully Gee!
And the art matches right up: Ryan’s pencils are better than I’ve ever seen them, thanks in no small part to Christina Strain’s usual (read: amazing) job on colors. It’s a great-looking book, and it lives up to Jo Chen’s fantastic cover. It’s great, great stuff, and it’s finally got me excited about getting to the next issue, instead of looking back on the run that led up to it.
Y – The Last Man #57: And speaking of things I love about Brian K. Vaughan, we have Y, which continues its final story arc this month, three issues from the big finish. It’s always been one of my favorite titles, and ever since I found out it was ending, I’ve been talking about how upset I was going to be if it managed to finish without giving us a scene where Beth and Yorick reunited with a kiss.
We all feel a little bit of fan-entitlement sometimes, folks.
Anyway, that particular scene happened last issue, and since I was completely elated at the prospect of the big payoff for all the tribulations that Yorick’s been through over the past five years, I neglected to consider what was going to have to happen next, which is where this issue picks up, and it’s excellent. Beth’s revelation to Yorick and his reactions are almost perfect, full of the almost-too-clever-for-its-own-good dialogue tricks that are Vaughan’s trademark, from “I was just a straitjacket you were trying to get out of” to his wonderful response when she tells him he can’t be alone out there. The kicker, though, is the bit that leads to the last page. It’s excellent, and now that my own little requirement’s been met, I’m really, really excited about seeing where it’s going to go.
Anita Blake: Vamprie Hunter: Guilty Pleasures: Volume One: That’s right, folks: I am now the proud owner of the Anita Blake hardcover, despite the fact that I not only own every issue, but every second printing Marvel and DBPro have put out, based solely on the fact that the covers just kept getting more and more hilarious every time. After all, the hardcover contains Vampre Victim, an all-new nine-pager by Laurell K. Hamilton and whichever one of her assistants drew the short straw that day, and someone‘s going to have to go in there and wrench the answers between the panels out of it in the form of my incredibly dubious annotations.
But there is, however, another reason why you may want to pick this thing up:
Your eyes do not deceive you: I am quoted on the dust jacket of the Anita Blake Hardcover. No, really. And believe me, I’m as surprised as you are.
So, on the off chance that anyone out there is joining us after googling “Chris Sims” and “Annotated Anita Blake,” well… Surprise!
Gunsmith Cats Burst v.2: There’s been a minor buzz going around the ol’ Internet lately about Kenichi Sonada’s proclivity for putting out comics with highly sexualized and young-looking women, which just tends to get creepier and creepier the more you think about Minnie May Hopkins (18?) and her boyfriend Ken (30), who have been dating ever since she was a prostitute five years prior. I assure you, it creeps me out as much as the next guy, but the fact of the matter is that Gunsmith Cats is still one of the best comics to roar out of Japan in a bullet-riddled muscle car, and even with the fact that I feel nervous flipping through it in public, it’s awesome enough that I find myself not caring. That said:
That has got to be the funniest Parental Advisory Sticker placement ever.
And that’s the week. As always, any questions you may have about something I read or skipped over this week can be directed to the comments section below. As for me, I’ll be over here marveling at the folks over at Dabel Brothers (who are, in all honesty, being amazingly good sports about everything) and plotting my next move.
Look out, Dark Xena: You’re next.