The Week In Ink: September 2, 2009

What? Again? Already?



Yes, as shocking as it may be to believe since it totally feels like I just did this, it’s Thursday night, and that means that instead of sitting down to watch the all-new Bring it On: Fight to the Finish (that’s right: the fifth Bring It On movie), it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Reluctant Comics Reviews!

Here’s what I picked up this week…



…and here’s what I thought about ’em!



Ghost Riders: Heaven’s On Fire #2: Over the past few months, I’ve talked more than a few times about how awesome Jason Aaron is, but there’s one thing that might not be readily apparent about the guy: He is hilarious.

Then again, given the stuff I tend to flip out over–Smokey and the Bandit Ghost Riders, Wolverine getting punched in the soul and fighting guys who have guns that shoot cancer–Aaron’s sense of humor might me more recognizable than I’m giving it credit for. Still, nowhere has he been funnier than the opening scene of this issue, wherein Master Pandemonium tries to eat breakfast.

Those of you who are already familiar with Master P will already know why this is hilarious, but for those of you who don’t spend your time prowling through mid-70s issues of Avengers, here’s the short version: Master Pandemonium, owing to a deal with the devil that he clearly did not think through, has demons for arms. This idea–not to mention the fact that he once swapped out the demons for the Scarlet Witch’s babies in an apparent attempt to have the most useless hands ever–is already hilarious (not to mention inspirational), but the idea of this miserable bastard trying to have some cereal while his own hands are punching him in the face because they are demons just cracks me right up. And Aaron pulls it off, just like he pulls off something equally as awesome in pretty much every comic he’s written.

Plus, I’m pretty sure this thing’s got Killdozer in it.





Incognito #6: At this point, saying that Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips made the best comic I read all week is almost a total copout. Those guys have been doing amazing work together since Scene of the Crime, and saying that they’re great comics is sort of like saying they’ve got two staples in them: It’s sort of expected. And for the past six months, Incognito‘s mix of super-heroics and pulp storytelling has been no exception.

It’s not just Brubaker and Philips that make this one so good, though. I mean sure, they’re the major factor, and the story that finishes this issue has all the earmarks of their quality work together. As good as he is on super-hero titles like Captain America and his woefully overlooked run on Batman, he is truly gifted at writing extremely hateful people. It was strongest in Sleeper, but between his dialogue and the way Phillips captures moody faces combine to the point where you can just feel the loathing radiating off of the characters in this book. And Phillips does a great job himself; seeing his work colored in brighter colors (like the laboratory scenes lit in pink and green) was an interesting contrast to what he does on Criminal, and really underscores the super-hero aspect that sets this book apart.

So yeah, those two are awesome, but what really sends this one over the top is the bonus material, an essay on the Zeppelin Pulps by Jess Nevins that opens with a full-page piece by Sean Phillips of a man with a ray-gun battling a gorilla while dangling from a dirigible. Listeners to this week’s episode of War Rocket Ajax heard Jess refer to this piece as being Jess’s favorite thing that he’s ever written, and it’s easy to see why as it might by my favorite thing of his that I’ve read. He recaps the brief, wild popularity ofthe zeppelin pulp from its propaganda origins to its sudden death at the hands of the Hindenberg disaster, and in the process writes about some truly amazing things, including the single greatest magazine title I have ever read.

It’s the delicious icing on an already fantastic cake, and it’s one of the best things I’ve read in a while.


Invincible Iron Man #17: It’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down and written something about Matt Fraction’s comics–mostly because I’m pretty sure that if I say any more stuff about how much I love his work and what a great guy he is, we’ll actually be legally married in the state of South Carolina, and I don’t think Kelly Sue would appreciate that–but it’s always worth mentioning that this guy can still just straight up knock one out of the park, which is exactly what he does in this one.

Specifically, it’s Tony’s email to Maria Hill that really got me in this one, and while I’m used to Fraction getting the fist-pumping gut reaction to awesome moments (like, you know, Cyclops having a jetpack or pretty much every page of Mantooth!), but I did not expect to come out of this issue feeling as sad for Tony Stark as I did. For those of you who haven’t been following the series, the current arc has shown Tony going through a process of slowly deleting his own brain to keep Norman Osborn from getting crucial information stored in his noggin (the identities of every super-hero who registered with the government while he was head of SHIELD), with the unfortunate side-effect of wiping the rest of his brain in the process.

It’s been a fun story–and it’s always nice to see a clever reason for Tony to dig out his old armor–but in this issue, when Tony sends an email to Maria Hill from the covert Gmail address Fraction set up as a plot device at the beginning of the series, it’s just heartbreaking. It’s Flowers for Algernon Starring Iron Man, and while that could easily go awry into the realm of the maudlin, Fraction pulls off every misspelled word of it with Tony’s childlike earnestness, guilt, and–for me, the saddest bit–the fact that he no longer remembers what happened to Captain America. It’s excellent stuff, and it’s a good reminder of just why he’s one of the best writers working today.


Iron Man: Armor Wars #2: And speaking of Iron Man comics that I really like, we’ve got this one. Much like Paul Tobin’s incredible Dr. Doom And The Masters Of Evil, it’s a Marvel Adventures title in everything but its name, and much like Dr. Doom, it’s an incredible amount of fun.

I’ve mentioned my affection for the original Armor Wars story before–as far as Shellhead stories go, it’s second only to Armor Wars II, a story for which I have a completely unnecessary amount of love–but aside from the title, Joe Caramagna’s version doesn’t have much to do with the original, and rather than rehashing the same plot, this takes a different direction: Instead of Tony Stark tracking down armors based on his technology (and being a total jerk to Stingray while he’s at it), this one has a mysterious villain actually steal all of his Iron Man suits and put them on existing villains to further the glory of mother Russia, leaving Tony to fight them off in a borrowed suit of Dr. Doom’s armor.

One more time, for those of you in the back: This is a comic where Tony Stark puts on Dr. Doom’s armor and fights super-villains in Iron Man suits. And that is a hoot. And to make things even more fun, he’s taking out the villians in more-or-less the order of the Iron Man armors they’re wearing, going from his hollowed-out Doombot to the old-school Gold version to the classic yellow and gold in the space of this issue, essentially doing the reverse of what Fraction’s got him doing in Invincible Iron Man.

Like I said before, it fits right in with the Marvel Adventures line in that it’s lighthearted but still full of great action and incredibly enjoyable moments, and everybody–yes, everybody–ought to check it out. After all, it’s got panels like this:



And what more could you want?


Justice League: Cry For Justice #3: I actually live-blogged my reaction to the issue yesterday on Twitter, but for those of you who don’t find yourselves hanging on my every 140-word missive, the gist of it was that this has got to be one of the worst comics I have ever read.

My main problem with it is very simple, and it’s one that I’ve mentioned before: This is a book where Green Lantern and the Atom torture people. And it’s not the Batman dangling-the-perp-off-the-ledge type either; Green Lantern ties a man up and then the Atom jumps around inside his brain–which, if you’ll remember, is exactly how the Atom’s ex-wife killed somebody–until he’s screaming in pain. And they are the good guys.

Now, I don’t often object to comics on moral grounds (in fact, outside of the sketchier bits of Tarot, I’m hard-pressed to think of a time when I’ve done so), and if it were another character that was built around a different idiom, it’d be a different matter. I mean, I’m a big fan of the Punisher, and I’ve read The Slavers, which has one of the most brutal scenes I’ve ever seen, where Frank Castle essentially tortures a woman to death by repeatedly throwing her against a shatterproof window. But even there, Garth Ennis is talented enough to structure the scene so that the reader is shocked and disgusted by it, and only tacitly approves because the woman in question has done one of the most gut-wrenchingly terrible things imaginable. And that’s in a story about a man who is essentially a serial killer with a clear motivation, whereas I’ve read every issue of this thing and I’m still not clear why Hal Jordan thinks it’s a good idea to torture Prometheus, who turns out to be Clayface, so he was torturing the wrong guy anyway. So good job.

As near as I can tell, Hal’s upset because of the recent deaths of Batman and the Martian Manhunter, and while two friends being murdered might be enough to get you to completely abandon your pre-existing moral structure, it would probably have more of an impact if he and the guy he spends most of the series talking to hadn’t died themselves and come back from the dead none the worse for wear. This, incidentally, is the same thing that happens in Blackest Night #1, where Barry Allen asks Hal to tell him who all had died and Hal puts on a little light show that is, I think, meant to be really moving in showing everyone who died, but conveniently leaves out characters that have returned from the dead, like Superman, Green Arrow, and Barry and Hal themselves. Yes, this is metafictional thinking, but when you set up a universe where the only thing that it takes to shuffle back into the mortal coil is for someone to want to write the characters they liked when they were twelve, the characters seem disingenuous when they get upset about what essentially amounts to the drunk tank of fiction.

Which is to say that even if there is some sort of motivation that makes Green Lantern torturing someone okay, this book sure as hell doesn’t have it. And again, not every character needs to have a strict moral code, and not every book needs to have the nobody-needs-to-suffer mentality of All Star Superman (though I honestly wouldn’t mind if every DC comic did), but this is a Justice League comic about Green Lantern, Supergirl, Captain Marvel, and Congorilla.

I’m not Frederick H. Moral Relativism or anything, but I’m pretty sure that when your Glowing Green Space-Cop is losing the moral high ground to the fucking Punisher, there’s a problem with your story.

And even if it’s all building to Hal having some sort of revelation about how it’s wrong to torture someone in the name of justice, that’s some shit the guy DC’s been pushing down our throats as the Greatest of the Green Lanterns should’ve figured out a while ago, and if it turns out that Hal’s been mind-controlled by yet another stupid giant yellow space-bug, then that’s even worse, especially since it doesn’t excuse Green Arrow–remember Green Arrow? Hal’s “liberal conscience” from the ’70s?–from doing nothing other than saying, and I quote, “I gotta ask, Hal–is this right? I mean, isn’t this torture?” Again, they’re not my characters, but I’m pretty sure Green Arrow has been written for the past thirty years as a guy who is pretty quick to make moral judgments on issues like torturing people. So since either method of Robinson cheating his way out of having written a bloodthirsty exxxtreme Green Lantern that would embarrass the creators of Extreme Justice is actually worse than playing it straight, Green Lantern just cold torturing people is the best option. And that’s hardly an option at all.

Even beyond those aspects, though, the book’s just bad. Robinson’s always had a flair for purple prose, in this book he manages to combine breathlessly turgid dialogue (Hal justifies his torture by saying “Ask me that when the sting of Bruce and J’onn’s death and all the others has gone away, if it ever does,” once again conveniently forgetting that the sting of his own death went away when he came back, and the Atom actually says “the pain we feel can’t be fixed with an aspirin,” which is just hilarious) with the immaturity of a twelve year-old who just learned how to swear. There’s a joke about Green Lantern’s dick on page two and a minor villain is made to shit himself on p.21, presumably because writing “THIS AIN’T YOUR DADDY’S COMIC!!!!” on the cover would’ve been too much like the silliness of the Silver Age. Except that Robinson throws in scenes like Congorilla and Starman jumping out of a plane to fight robots, and the juxtaposition just makes it come off as stupid, as it’s hard to do a lighthearted romp when your main characters are torturing a suicide bomber on the previous page.

Which brings us to its overarching problem: Cry For Justice is trying too hard. It tries too hard to be emotionally resonant, which means everyone speaks in pithy, soul-tortured quotes that even the Hot Topic crowd would roll their eyes at. It tries too hard to be badass, which leads to torture, which you might’ve guessed I have a slight problem with. It tries too hard to be adult, thus dick jokes and IQ shitting himself, making it read like Robinson doing a worse version of Identity Crisis. It tries too hard to be fun, and a talking gorilla yelling “tally ho” and discussing Long Island Iced Tea comes off as an obnoxious, out-of-place reach.

It tries too hard at everything except being good, and it’s a failure on every level.


Strange Tales #1: I’m not a religious man, but even I have to admit that the fact that Marvel let Johnny Ryan anywhere near their characters is nothing short of a minor miracle.

For those of you who haven’t been looking forward to it as much as I have, the deal with Strange Tales is that Marvel’s letting indie creators–including favorites of mine like James Kochalka and Michael Kupperman–take a shot at short stories of their characters in a book that also finally puts out Peter Bagge’s long-shelved Incorrigable Hulk. And it is a hoot from top to bottom. There’s some really great stuff in here, but Ryan–who takes obscenity to new heights in his own work–steals the show with four pages of outright hilarity that’s worth the price of admission alone.

I do wonder, though, why Marvel didn’t go to ISB favorite Chip Zdarsky, especially when we all know he has some Marvel pitches ready to go.



And that’s the week! As always, if you have any questions or concerns about the reviews–like if you want to talk about the unfortunate (but highly entertaining) finish of Exiles and whether my dreams will come true and see Salva Espin joining Jeff Parker on Agents of Atlas, or if you want to discuss the merits of the new Achewood collection (which are many), or if you just want to note that I get a little verbose when I get angry about fictional characters–feel free to leave a comment below.

The Week In Ink: August 26, 2009

C’mon, c’mon, let’s get on with it!



All right, look: It’s Thursday night and that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Impatient Comics Reviews, but every minute I’m sitting here writing them is a minute that I’m not playing Batman: Arkham Asylum, which is a video game that is built almost entirely around Batman kicking people in the head in slow motion.

It’s a wonder I’ve bothered to write this much at all.

Suffice to say, t’were well t’were done quickly, so here’s what I bought this week…



…and here’s what I’ll tell you I thought about them while looking longingly at the 360!






Batman and Robin #3: I’m not going to lie to you, folks: With as much good stuff as came out this week, I’ve had a hard time picking out which comic I liked best, which is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. The more I thought about it, though, the more I had to go with this one, and not just because it features the rarely seen double-bat-kick to the face, as pictured above. Admittedly, you could argue that I might just be in a Batman kind of mood this week, but if there’s one thing you should’ve learned over the past four years, it’s that I’m in a Batman kind of mood every week, and it’s comics like this that put me there in the first place.

With this issue, Grant Morrison wraps up the first arc with Frank Quitely, and it is an incredible book from top to bottom. I’ve mentioned before how much I’ve been enjoying the way the title characters’ roles have been set up, with Dick as a (slightly) more lighthearted Batman and Damian as the unrepentant bastard spawn of Bruce Wayne’s scowling ruthlessness, and Morrison’s done wonders with that in this one. Damian’s casual escape from being tied up and subsequent sustained and brutal beating of his captors–wherein he backhands one of Pyg’s dollies with the blunt end of a power drill–is exactly the sort of thing his old man would’ve done, but when it’s intercut with Dick doing something as flashy as interrogating a suspect while ramping an ATV into a jump, it makes a nice contrast. Both things are pretty awesome in their own right, but together they really reaffirm the roles nicely. And that’s not even the best thing about this issue.

No, that goes to the scene with Le Bossu, about which I was freaking out. I’m just gonna lay this out: If you don’t think Batman: R.I.P. is awesome, then you’re wrong, and getting the callback to one of my favorite sequences in the past decade at the end of this issue was, for me anyway, pure comics joy. It’s great stuff, and while I’m a little nervous about what it’ll be like when Philip Tan steps in for Quitely on the next arc, there’s not a thing wrong with these first three.


Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter #3: With Previews coming out this week, one of the biggest pieces of news is that Kieron Gillen wil. be taking over Thor, and I’m pretty excited about it.

We’ve known Gillen was a fantastic writer since Phonogram came out, but with Godhunter (and the “Green of Eden” one-shot that preceded it), he’s proven that he’s equally adept at writing thundering cosmic action, which I’ve got to admit came as a pretty pleasant surprise. In four issues with everyone’s favorite Space-Horse, he’s shown that he understands what makes Walt Simonson’s Thor–which might be my all-time favorite run on comics–so enjoyable without feeling the need to mimic its beats to make a good story. In other words, he gets it, and if we’ve got more of the fun he’s delievered with Beta Ray Bill to look forward to, I’m excited about Thor for the first time since Matt Fraction wrote down the words “blood colosusus.”


Fantastic Four #570: In pretty much any other week, this one would’ve easily been the best of the week, but my pretty-much-arbitrary rating system can be cruel. Suffice to say that this one is still pretty awesome.

This one marks the first issue for the new team of Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham, although it picks up where Hickman left off in the five-part Dark Reign: Fantastic Four. If you’re thinking of jumping on and you haven’t read that one, don’t worry: It’s not strictly necessary, but considering that it might end up being one of the best mini-series of the year purely based on its introduction of the alternate universe Chamberlain Grimm and his battle cry, “’tis the clobbering hour,” you should probably just go ahead and read it anyway.

I’ve been swept up in Hickmania ever since he made his debut with The Nightly News, and one of the most appealing things for me as a fan of his is seeing how he brings something new to every project he works on, whether it’s the distinctive visual style of his own stuff or the completely different take on badass espionage action in Secret Warriors. With FF though, it’s the first time I’ve really seen him work with established characters, and he’s able to combine that forward-thinking quality and still come away with, as Mark Waid, the guy who wrote maybe the best run on the title in the past two decades, put it, characters that I recognize for the first time in two years.

On the art side, I’ve got to admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of Dale Eaglesham, and when the first images came out when the book was solicited, I thought Reed especially looked pretty off. In practice, though, it works a lot better than I thought it would; Reed’s certainly built thicker than he’s usually played, but I can see where Eaglesham’s going with it, trying to give him a more Doc Savage-esque action scientist look, and while you could argue that Reed doesn’t need to look physically intimidating when he’s got the Thing standing right next to him, the effect isn’t bad at all. The one thing that does strike me, though, is that his Reed’s got a little stubble, and while I assume that’s there to reflect how Reed’s always busy with one thing or another, this is the guy who took time out for a shave when Galactus showed up to eat the planet. Dude doesn’t let a little thing like the end of the world keep him from looking crisp.

Other than that, the art’s great, except for a few panels where the background’s been replaced with what appear to be photographs run through a couple of PhotoShop filters. I’m not sure if that’s Eaglesham’s doing or a colorist filling space, but it jumped out at me as a reader, especially considering the detail Eaglesham puts into the backgrounds of other scenes, like the laboratory or the home of the Reedocracy. It’s the sort of thing that draws your attention once you notice it, and for me at least, it has the effect of pulling me right out of the story.

Overall, though, it’s highly enjoyable stuff. I’d never think to list FF as one of my favorite titles, but when there’s a good team behind it, it’s easily one of the best books on the stands, and I cant’ wait to see where this one goes.


Invincible Presents Atom Eve: Collected Edition: Every now and then, I’ll joke about how a creator put a kick to the face in a story just for me, but this is pretty much the only story where I know that’s actually true.

In any case, I’m not so much reviewing this one as putting it here to let everyone know they’ve got a second chance to catch Atom Eve’s origin by Benito Cereno and Nate Bellegarde, the Friends of the ISB who brought you Hector Plasm. It’s good stuff, and with the country gripped by Atom Eve Fever after the events of the last few issues of Invincible–who would’ve thought that comics fans would become so attached to a pretty girl character who’s in love with the main character, who also happens to read comics?–it’s a nice chance to jump on before Benito and Nate return for Atom Eve and Rex Splode later this year. It’s good stuff.

And speaking of good stuff from Benito, he’s going to be the writer of an all-new ongoing Tick series alongside Les McClaine (of Middleman fame) that kicks off with a Christmas special, and there’s nothing about that that doesn’t sound awesome. Believe it.


Ghost Rider: Trials and Tribulations: I’ve gone on and on about Jason Aaron’s run on Ghost Rider since I started reading it, but the facts of the matter are these: This is a paperback collection of stories that feature the return of a villain from US1 drawn by The Walking Dead‘s Tony Moore, the hilariously Sailor Moon-esque Skinbender, and–most importantly–GHOST RIDER SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. If you like things that are awesome, you’re going to want this.



And that’s the week! As always, any questions or concerns can be left in the comments section below, so if you’re wondering if enough people are reading Marvel Adventures Spider-Man (no), whether Usagi Yojimbo is still awsome (yes) or if I think what happens in the second Jimmy Olsen special is going to stick (no, but I’m stoked to see Breach come back), feel free to ask. Otherwise… well, you know where I’ll be.

The Week In Ink: August 19, 2009

Step away from the edge, folks! Your lives have meaning again!



Yes, after taking a week off, it’s once again Thursday night and time for the Internet’s Most Salacious Comics Reviews!

But let’s be honest here, folks: Who wants to hear about the comics that are already out? I mean, those things are a day old already, which means that they are quite literally yesterday’s news. The real action is in comics that haven’t even come out yet, and that’s why last night’s update at Action Age Comics had previews for not one, not two, but three titles Chad’s been working on, including the fan-demanded return of Danger Ace!



He’s also got quick previews up for the return of Impossible!, and an all-new series that you’ll have to see to believe. So check it out, Action Agents, and then get back here to see the list of comics I bought yesterday…



…and my undoubtedly indispensable thoughts about them!






Atomic Robo: Shadow From Beyond Time #4: Straight up, you guys: I love Atomic Robo.

There have been a lot of comparisons of Robo to Hellboy–some flattering, and some less so–and on the surface, that’s a pretty easy line to draw. After all, they’re both about more-or-less indestructible protagonists who wage battles with forces Beyond The Reach Of Science while being far more sarcastic than one would normally expect from a demon and/or robot, but it’s the differences that really make them stand out. Hellboy, at its heart, is a horror comic. I’ve mentioned before that there’s no better summary of the series than Mike Mignola’s dedication in the first book to H.P. Lovecraft and Jack Kirby, and while the humor that he works into the series is great, there’s no mistaking it for a comedy.

Robo on the other hand, is not only more action-oriented (and since we’re talking about the story of a demon who has a giant right hand made of rock that he can punch out werewolves with, that’s saying something), but there’s a baseline lightheartedness to it that Brian Clevinger frequently pushes into hilarious. Everything he’s learned from his long-running webcomics about comedic timing in print is on display here. It’s fantastic, and as excellent as the first two series were, this one’s managed to top them.

And really, it all comes down to the guest stars. HP Lovecraft and Charles Fort in the first issue were funny enough, but this issue’s appearance by Carl Sagan might just be the best real-person guest star since Goody Rickles, if only for the the chance to see the host of Cosmos deliver the supremely badass “Tell them Carl Sagan sent you.” It’s awesome, and you should be reading it.

Even if it does derail my plans to have Neil deGrasse Tyson team up with Penny in Woman of A.C.T.I.O.N. #3.


Daredevil #500: With this issue, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark end their run on Daredevil and it should surprise absolutely nobody that it’s a great comic. But first things first: The fact that I’m not a big fan of Alex Ross is a matter of public record, but from a purely objective standpoint, I’ve got to wonder why anyone would even bother with his cover for this issue. It’s not that it’s bad, if you like that sort of thing–although it is the same monochromatic Screamin’ Protagonist style cover that he’s done for just about everything lately, albeit with a Daredevil that looks significantly less doughy than I was expecting–but it’s just a static image slapped on the front cover, while Marko Djurdjevic dropped a beautiful wraparound gatefold with everyone from Power Man and Iron Fist to the Gladiator on it. Put them next to each other and, for me anyway, it’s no contest.

But back to what’s inside. By this point, most people know already that Andy Diggle’s going to be taking over writing chores on the title, and if you’ve ever read The Losers or Green Arrow: Year One, then you probably recognize this as Good News. Still, despite the fact that nothing about it would fit with his previous work, I wondered if Brubaker’s departure would give Diggle a chance at bringing back a little of the swashbuckling Daredevil that was last seen in Karl Kesel and Cary Nord’s criminally underrated run.

And this issue answers that with a pretty definitive no, which is about what I was expecting. Not that it’s a bad thing, Daredevil works just fine as a tragic vigilante, and for his last issue, Brubaker pulls out all the stops to set a new status quo that opens up some really interesting possibilities. But again, it’s Brubaker: Excellent stories are pretty much all that guy does.

Along with the extra-sized main story, this one’s also got some back-up material, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a new Ann Nocenti story in there with art by Immortal Iron Fist’s David Aja. Nocenti’s run on Daredevil seems to be pretty polarizing among comics fans: You either love it or you’re stupid and I hate you. As you might expect, I’m in the former camp, and while this story certainly lacks the stories of DD beating Ultron to death with a stick and fighting a demonic vacuum cleaner for two or three issues that her run had, it’s a nice little callback to, again, a very underrated piece of the title’s history.

There’s also the all-but-mandatory Frank Miller reprint, and while I can’t imagine that there’s anyone out there who likes Daredevil but doesn’t have the comic where he plays Russian Roulette with a paralyzed Bullseye in one form or another, it’s still one of the best single issues ever printed, and it’s worth rereading.

All in all, it makes for a pretty good way to cap off Brubaker and Lark’s run, making it slightly easier than you might expect to say goodbye to yesterday.


Archie #600: I don’t normally review the Archie books, as I’m reasonably certain I’m the only one who reads the ISB that actually cares about Archie comics. This, however, is the much-touted issue where Archie gets married, so it’s probably worth talking about just to answer a few questions.

For starters, this one’s interesting to look at from a retail standpoint. Normally, when there’s a book that gets a lot of press coverage, it happens right when the comic comes out. This was the case with Captain America #25 and the infamous Amazing Spider-Man Obama issue, and it’s the sort of thing that puts retailers in an awkward position. Yes, the solicitations said it would be a big issue, but that’s what the solicitations say for every issue. It’s their job to get people interested in buying it, and unless you’re willing to believe the ad copy every time it says something will bring an Earth-shattering change that people won’t want to miss (300 times a month, give or take) or take unscrupulous rumor-mongers at face value, it generally pays to be cautious.

This one, however, got press back when it was solicited, which is a different beast entirely. On the one hand, it gives retailers enough time to get a sense of customer interest before they make their orders, and I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t get a lot of phone calls on the day the story went out asking about it. The problem is that the people who were calling wanted it right now, not in three months, and while a few people did put their names down to get a copy ordered for them, most of them didn’t bother. The three-month lag is more than long enough for the general public to forget that they ever cared about a funnybook anyway, and of the people who ordered it, I’ll be pleasantly surprised if any of them actually bother to show up to get it.

Comics are a strange business.

But if there’s one thing that I’m sure the ISB die-hards care less about than Archie, it’s the process that goes into figuring out how many copies of Archie to order, so let’s move on to the contents. The story, which I’ve previously referred to as What-If Wedding of the Willennium, is written by Michael Uslan (who produced the Batman movies), and–you might want to sit down for this one–it is not very good. Really, that’s not much of a shock; most Archie books tend to fall somewhere between Decent and Annoying, with the occasional trip into Mildly Terrible.

SIDENOTE: Man, the last issue of Archie? That thing was all about the 40th anniversary of a hippie music festival in Riverdale called Riverstock, and it was dire. Not only did they reveal that in the Archie universe, Jimi Hendrix didn’t die, but in surviving, he was eventually reduced to opening for the friggin’ Archies. What a world.

To be fair, there’s nothing glaringly wrong with what Uslan is doing here, and in fact, the way it’s set up is actually pretty clever. Archie goes to Memory Lane–which is a literal street named Memory Ln. that leads to pedestrian time travel, a plot device that’s been used over the past year to celebrate anniversaries by having the Archie characters of 2009 meet up with their original counterparts, which, again, is something only I would know or care about–but instead of walking down he walks up, and gets to a fork in the road that obviously represents the Betty/Veronica choice. He picks one way at random and we get the story of his wedding to Ronnie, which sets up the future issues where he’ll go right instead of left and we’ll get the story of his marriage to Betty.

Beyond that, though–and beyond the fact that Future Ronnie’s haircut looks like Superman’s mid-90s mullet–it’s just boring.

SIDENOTE 2: You know, back in the ’40s and ’50s, Veronica rocked the Bettie Page style haircut with the bangs and all. Considering that it’s sort of come back into fashion–at least among girls who want to look like Bettie Page, which is a pretty noble goal–they really should’ve used it here for Future Ronnie as a way to set her apart that didn’t look like she was about to fight Kismet or the Millennium Giants.

Anyway, it makes me wonder what we would’ve gotten if they’d brought in Batton Lash, of Freshman Year and, more importantly, Archie Meets the Punisher fame. As strange as it might sound to those of you who haven’t read it, there’s a genuine love of the characters in there that’s combined with a knack for tying things together that one would think would’ve made him perfect for this type of story. But like I said when I reviewed Batman RIP, there’s not much point in arguing what might’ve been; this is what we’ve got, and it’s pretty sub-par.

And worst of all, it came out a year after I did my Common People mash-up. There’s like five panels in here I could’ve used!


Killer of Demons: Okay, okay, we already know that this series was a lot of fun. Yost is an extremely talented writer with a great sense of humor, Wegener’s a phenomenal artist (as we previously saw in Atomic Robo, and the trade has some fantastic bonus stuff that’s worth taking a look at even if you’ve got the original issues. None of that is important.

What matters to you, the discerning blog reader, is that this is the first trade paperback that I’ve written the foreword to. That’s right, folks: Pop this sucker open and the first thing you’ll see is an introduction by me, the Internet’s Chris Sims. So you’re probably going to want to buy two (or three) and keep them sealed in mylar so that you can use them for currency in the World That’s Coming.

Seriously though, it was a thrill to be asked to write the foreword because I really do think it’s a fun comic that came as an extremely pleasant surprise, and it’d be worth checking out even without seven rambly, half-nonsense paragraphs by me slapped into the front. But, uh, if anyone asks, tell them that’s why you got it.


The Middleman: The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse: Long-time ISB readers will recall that I’m a pretty big fan of Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s Middleman as both a comic and its (sadly short-lived) television incarnation, owing to the fact that it’s almost scientifically tailored to my tastes, what with all the kung fu luchadores and talking gorillas, not to mention the TV show’s ridiculously attractive cast. And before you ask, yes, I’m specifically thinking of Matt Keeslar here. Seriously, have you seen that dude’s abs? I was like dang.

What? Google it. You’ll see.

Anyway, given how I feel about the series thus far, this is less a review and more of a reminder that it came out for any like-minded fans who may have missed it, but I will say that as a fan from the beginning, it’s sort of an odd experience to read. It’s certainly not bad–it’s quite fun–but rather than a continuation of the comics (which were all collected in a handy omnibus that I’m not even going to bother linking to, as the only one on Amazon is a hundred bucks), it’s definitely a sequel to the TV show, with Armando Zanker’s art drawn to reflect the actors. Again, that’s not bad at all, and it does provide a nice bit of closure, but it gives it a weird sort of Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game sort of feel. Except for the part where it’s not terrible.

All in all, it reads like exactly what it was meant to be: A series finale for the TV show that ties everything together, and while it doesn’t quite have the zing of the Grillo-Marxuach/Les McClaine stories, it’s well worth picking up.



And that’s the week! As always, any questions or concerns can be left in the comments section below, but before I go reward myself for getting through another round of reviews, here’s something I forgot to mention when I came back after my vacation:

For those of you who aren’t sick of hearing my voice on War Rocket Ajax, I was interviewed on another podcast while I was out! Check out Geek Speak for the roundtable discussion and interview they invited me to, where I talk about everything from RoboCop 2 to my unabashed love of Christian Bale’s Batman Voice.

So basically just the stuff I talk about all the time anyway.

The Week In Ink: August 5, 2009

[NOTE: In a second, you’ll read a line about how it’s definitely Thursday night, and the more time-sensitive readers may notice that this is not the case. That’s because my Internet connection was knocked out so I couldn’t post anything, so I went ahead and wrote the reviews in Notepad anyway to post when I got the chance. Don’t say I never did nothin’ for you.]

This week’s issue of Street Fighter IV contains yet another kik to the face accompanied by the sound effect “KRA-KOW”, and while it’s tempting to run it as part of my ongoing tribute to the former capital of Poland…



…it’s starting to get a bit old.

But there’ll be time enough for pre-war European geography later! It’s Thursday night, and that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Fogliophilic Comics Reviews!

Here’s what I picked up this week…



…an Sweet Christmas, that is way more comics than I ought to be getting. Were they worth it? And which one will prompt me to use the phrase “moistly pawing at it?” Read on!



Amazing Spider-Man #601: As ISB readers who are tired of me going on and on about how reading “The Final Chapter” was a life-changing experience for me as a youngster can probably attest, there are maybe two things I like more than a good Spider-Man story–those being, of course, Batman hucking auto parts at his enemies and comics where talking gorillas fight crime with the SCIENCE! of the future–so it probably goes without saying that I loved this week’s issue by Mark Waid and Mario Alberti.

Waid’s not really a guy who needs much of an introduction, seeing as he’s hands down one of the best super-hero comics writers of our time with a character-defining run on Flash and one of the best runs on Fantastic Four ever under his belt (both of which saw him collaborating with the late, truly great Mike Weiringo), and at this point I’m pretty sure he can deliver a quality story in his sleep. That said, his recent work on Spider-Man has been even better than I would’ve expected, perfectly capturing the fun essence of the character in ways that it’s obvious they’ve been striving to hit since the “Brand New Day” relaunch. He does it again here, too, turning in a perfect, episodic “Parker Luck” story that Mary Jane’s appearance adds a nice little twist to.

Alberti, however, is a newer commodity. Or at least, he’s new to me; the only thing I’ve seen him do before this was the X-Men/Spider-Man mini-series with Christos Gage, which I absolutely loved. His art on this one doesn’t quite hit the highs of that story, though. MJ’s face, especially on the last page, doesn’t really come off as attractive as I think he was going for, but Peter’s expressions are perfect and the rest of his work is just beautiful, with Andres Mossa’s coloring pushing it right over the edge into “gorgeous,” especially in the scenes where he’s able to pull the old contrasting-water-and-fire trick. I can’t get enough of this guy, and while I love John Romita Jr., Barry Kitson and Phil Jimenez on this book, I’d really like to see a few years of Spider-Man that were defined by artists like Alberti, Marcos Martin, and Paolo Rivera. They’re all guys who bring something to the table that’s a little different than one expects from super-hero comics, but they all fit perfectly with Spider-Man, and that’s exactly what the character needs.

As to the details of the story, I liked it quite a bit, but it does raise some interesting questions, as well as–and, uh, Spoiler Warning, I guess–confirming that Mary Jane does still remember Spider-Man’s identity, which I’ll confess to being split on. On the one hand, in the year since the soft reboot and the promise that nobody knew Peter Parker was Spider-Man, not no way, not no how, he’s revealed his identity to the Avengers and the Fantastic Four (although notably skipping Daredevil), and if Mary Jane knows too, that seems like an awful lot of hubub just to get rid of one issue of Civil War. And if the speculation’s true and Mary Jane made a deal to not forget about her marriage, then the fact that we saw shacking up with a movie star a few months after the deal means she’s awfully quick to get over her heartbreak.

But on the other hand, there’s the idea that Kurt Busiek brought up in Untold Tales of Spider-Man #14–honestly one of my favorite Spidey stories ever, despite the fact that me and like eight other people have actually read it–which is that MJ’s known his secret identity since before her first appearance. I love that idea and the way it ties into MJ’s own “secret identity” as the flighty party girl that breaks down when she closes the door to stay with Peter after Gwen dies. It’s a core element of their relationship for me as a fan, and if Waid and the rest of Spidey’s “brain trust” are bringing that back to recast MJ as something other than a redheaded albatross around Peter’s neck, then I’m all for it.


Captain America Reborn #2: It’s the second issue of the book I like to call Cap’s Big Comeback, and as should be expected by this point, Ed Brubaker’s turning in his normal–which is to say superb–story, but there’s something else on my mind tonight. I’ve got a confession to make, folks: I like Bryan Hitch just fine and he’s doing a great job here, especially with unsung hero Butch Guice coming in on this one to make sure it actually comes out on time. You’d have to be out of your mind to say that the guy’s not talented, but man… the way he draws Cap with the more “realistic” style costume, with the boots and the chinstrap and all that. For some reason, that just sticks right in my craw. I don’t know why, but there you go.

That said, if you draw Captain America choking out Hitler with the Million Dollar Dream on the cover of your comic, you can put him and Bucky in whatever stupid helmets you want. You earned it.





Chew #3: A few weeks ago, I gave a decidedly glowing review to the reprint of Chew #1 that appeared in its entirety for no extra cost in an issue of Walking Dead–still an incredibly cool thing to do, Robert Kirkman and Image Comics–but this is the first issue of the series that I’ve picked up as it hit the stands, and I’ve gotta say, Layman and Guillory are still just killing it with this book.

As I’m sure we’re all aware by now, Chew is currently enjoying the “Sleeper Hit/Indie Darling” status that was most recently occupied by David Petersen’s Mouse Guard, and like Mouse Guard, every bit of the praise it’s gathering is deserved. There’s nothing not to love about this book, from the truly bizarre and bizarrely compelling premise (a man who gets psychic impressions from food busting crimes in a world where a ban on poultry has made the FDA the most prominent branch of Federal Law) to Guillory’s beautifully stylized art that plays up the cartoonish aspects of the story to great comedic effect.

It’s exactly the kind of book comics need more of: Innovative, stylish, and perfectly executed. And this issue follows right along with the last two, introducing another strange wrinkle into the already odd storyline with a love interest for Tony with her own power that can allow him to taste food without the lingering psychic impressions. There’s something really beautiful about that in an Alicia Masters/Ben Grimm sort of way, but the premise of the book allows it to be taken to an extreme in a way that you don’t get to see too often. After all, if you’re willing to accept a cibopath like Tony, then why not everything that goes with it?

I’ve known for a while now that John Layman had a great sense of humor and a killer wit to go along with it–seriously, you guys thought I was kidding about Dark Xena–but I didn’t expect him to come out with something this well-done and engaging. If you missed out, this week also saw a second printing of #2 and a third for #1, so gamble three bucks and give it a shot. It’s good stuff.


Doom Patrol #1: A few days ago in the comments section, someone asked me if I thought this one was going to be any good, and I said that with Keith Giffen doing the main story and a backup by Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire, it sounded like the single best DC comic of 1989.

That’s not to say that they’re has-beens or anything–especially Maguire, who continues to be one of the best and most expressive pencillers in comics–but when a team is that influential and that perfect for a particular era, it’s hard not to come in with a set of expectations. And the backup–or “co-feature,” as they’re called in solicitations–meets them perfectly, with Giffen and DeMatteis bringing everyone’s favorite dysfunctional and destructible robots back with a story that reads a lot like an encore performance of the JLI: Gold has swapped nobility out for narcissism to appropriately fill Booster’s spot, Mercury’s playing the role of the hotheaded Guy Gardner, and one assumes that in 20 years, Will Magnus will shoot Iron in the head and set off a whole new round of angry message board posts. It’s the kind of story these guys are comfortable with, which owes largely to the fact that it’s the kind of story they’re really good at, and while it hews closer to what they’ve done in the past than the outright bat-shit craziness of the original Kanigher stories that I love to pieces, i’s worth reading.

The main story, though, I’m not quite sure how to pin down yet. To continue with my theme of dredging up the creators’ past work, it reads more like Giffen’s short-lived Suicide Squad revival (of which I am not a fan) than anything else, right down to the completely expendable secondary characters getting killed off with very little preamble. It’s a curious thing with the Doom Patrol that everybody who has come to it after Grant Morrison seems to want to have as little to do with what he did on the title as possible (as opposed to Animal Man, where, not without good reason, they just ignore everything after Morrison left), and this one seems to follow right along with that trend. I can’t quite tell if it’s supposed to fit with the Creepy Livin’ In A Castle DP that Geoff Johns came up with a while ago or the “TOTALLY ALL NEW YOU HAVE DEFINITELY NEVER SEEN THESE CHARACTERS BEFORE” John Byrne relaunch that landed with a resounding thud after that one Justice League story–

BRIEF ASIDE: Man, remember that Justice League run? When you were all excited because it was Claremont and Byrne gettin’ back together and you thought it might spark a little bit of that old X-Men magic but then you suddenly remembered it was 2006 and you were reading a story about a vampire named “Crucifer?” Good times, man. Good times.

–but at this point, that hardly matters. It could be that in dropping Nudge and Grunt–because apparently we’re just going to name characters after whatever nouns are handy–Giffen’s symbolically killing off any link to those past incarnations. Or maybe he just thought they were stupid, I don’t know. Point being, it reads like a fresh start (give or take a reboot or two) and when that happens, there’s always the danger of it reading like a book that was just put out to service the copyright.

There are more than a few interesting bits to it–I think Oolong Island is one of the best versatile plot hooks to come down the pike at DC for a while, and casting the Doom Patrol as their military strike force isn’t a bad idea at all–and it’s good enough that I’m going to stay with it for now, but I’m hoping it gets better. At the very least, they could get a proper logo for it.


Exiles #5: Last week, the word came down that Exiles was canceled with #6, and once again, I am completely mystified by the comics-buying public.

It’s not just that I can’t imagine not wanting to read a comic by Jeff Parker, or that this one’s been a ton of fun and had some absolutely fantastic art, but this one came as a complete surprise, because at my store–and the usual caveat applies here; I know I’m dealing with a pretty tiny slice of the market–Exiles was actually doing pretty well. The people who liked the franchise were picking it up, the people who liked Parker’s other stuff were picking it up, and the people who were into Dave Bullock’s cheesecakey covers were at least moistly pawing at it on the shelf, so it seemed like everybody was happy. But apparently my shop was an anomaly.

The way Jeff Parker phrased it on his website, it sort of seemed like it was between Exiles and Agents of Atlas, and only one of ’em could stick around. And to be honest, I would’ve picked Atlas too, as it’s easily the best team book going.

That doesn’t mean Exiles is a slouch, though. I’ve already mentioned the fantastic artwork (which this issue comes courtesy of Casey Jones and Karl Kesel), and Parker nails the fun of the where-did-it-all-go-wrong alternate realities that hae always been the strongest point of the book. It’s thrilling, and as though that weren’t enough, it’s also a book where someone is constantly making Forge sock himself in the face:



Cracks me up every time. How could you not want to read that?


Justice League: Cry For Justice #2: The second issue of Cry For Justice hit the stands this week, and while it’s worlds better than the first installment, let’s be honest here: That’s not a very tough feat to accomplish. Considering that the first issue involved weeping Congorilla, the Atom torturing someone and something like six pages of Hal Jordan–who once lost his temper, killed 3000 people and starred in two bad crossovers–complaining about how it sucked that he couldn’t just go punch out people who hadn’t committed any crimes yet, the standard for a massive improvement was pretty much just James Robinson managing to avoid throwing a kitten into a blender.

I guess the obvious question is why I even bothered with the second issue when I hated the first so much–and I like it even less the more I think about it–but it really just comes down to me wanting to give Robinson as fair a shake on this as I can. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge Starman fan, and I’ve been re-reading it in the Omnibus editions that’ve come out recently, and they make a nice reminder of everything there is to like about Robinson’s work. And there’s a bit to like here, too. Jason Bard’s role as Batman’s “Daytime Detective” was an really interesting bit that Robinson introduced in “Face the Face” that subsequently went absolutely nowhere, and it’s nice to see it crop up again.

But on the flip side, it’s not really balancing out with what there is to hate. Robinson’s dialogue has always been a little stilted (and some would say that’s putting it charitably, but compared to them, I’m Chris Isaak), but here it’s unnatural to the point of distraction. Everyone talks like they’re reciting lines from an overwritten stage play and doing their best to emote so that the people in the back can figure out what’s going on. Admittedly, it does serve a purpose when Congorilla’s discussing the finer points of a martini to set up Mikaal for a nice little punchline, but when it’s Hal Jordan and Green Arrow soliloquizing at each other, it’s just annoying. And again: the entire premise of the book is fundamentally flawed. Hal’s upset because some people died, so he and Green Arrow go off to meet up with the Atom, and they talk about how much they missed each other when they were all dead themselves (or, in the Atom’s case, when they all thought he was dead because he was bopping around the multiverse, which is still a better excuse than a giant yellow space-bug). We all know that mortality in super-hero comics is a joke, but acknowledging that while trying to build a story around death being Super-Serious Business is maybe not a great idea.

And then there are the characters themselves, none of whom have displayed any likeability beyond what we’re supposed to bring to the table ourselves from seeing them in other, better books. Seeing super-heroes blowing up cars and torturing people because they’re angry doesn’t make me sympathize, it makes me want to read a Garth Ennis story where they get taken down a peg for acting like pricks, and even if you’re making a reference to it in the story itself–Green Arrow stops just short of calling Hal Jordan an asshole for complaining all the time–it doesn’t make the character any easier to like. It just makes you wonder how they got people to hang out with them.

But the weird part here is that I’m actually not sure if I’m done with this thing. If the third issue is as much of an exponential improvement as the second was, then we could come away from this series with something really good. I doubt it’ll happen, but I’m at least considering giving it a shot.


Wednesday Comics #5: I pretty much all I have to say about Wednesday Comics last week, and while not much has changed–Gibbons, Sook, Pope, Gaiman, Allred, Palmiotti, Conner, Baker, Kerschl, JLGL, Nowlan and even Dan Didio his own self are doing a damn fine job, Busiek continues to forget that the title of his strip is Green Lantern and not Hal Jordan: The College Years, and now that I’m not actually trying to read it, Ben Caldwell’s Wonder Woman is just beautiful to look at–the Superman strip has managed to get even more frustrating than it already was.

I got into a friendly debate (and yes, it’s possible for two folks to disagree on the Internet while still being generally amicable. I know, I was shocked too.) with LBFA’s Chris Haley where we both laid out our positions. And like I said, I’d prefer more action, but I’d settle for anything that wasn’t Superman whining. Well, almost anything, because the one thing we need less than a story that would’ve been called The Super-Mope From Krypton forty years ago is yet another recap of his origin.

Superman’s origin is so incredibly simple that Grant Morrison was able to do it in exactly four panels with exactly eight words, and the fact that there’s an entire page of absolutely gorgeous Lee Bermejo art that serves just to remind us of something that everyone who is going to read this thing already knows by heart. And if it was strictly necessary to include an origin recap–which it’s not–then why wait until five weeks into a 12-week run to put it out there? Why not do it right from the start so that we can get to the action that we’re not having either? The whole thing has just become a beautifully drawn oroborous of unnecessary stories, and every time I look at those giant-sized pages, I think of all the stuff Bermejo could be filling them with instead.

And again, I’m not trying to hate on John Arcudi here–well, yes I am, but only a little–because I do think he’s a genuinely talented guy that’s done some great work, but this isn’t a story that plays to his strengths. Or maybe it is, and I’m just a cranky old man who wants to see a 14″ x 20″ Terra Man story by Cary Bates. Either way, it’s not my thing.


Spider-Man/Human Torch HC: All told, this hardcover represents the third time I’ve purchased this series, the other two being the single issues and then the sadly out-of-print digest paperback that came out shortly after, and that alone should give you an idea of how much I love this comic.

This was the one that cemented Dan Slott as one of my favorite writers. If you’ve read any of his work on books like The Thing (also sadly out of print, c’mon Marvel!) or the stuff he’s done with Amazing Spider-Man, it’s clear that he’s a guy who has a deep and abiding love of the Marvel Universe, and while that’s true of a lot of people, what’s unique about Slott is that he’s one of the few with the talent to go back and tie that stuff together in incredibly entertaining ways, and this one is the perfect example of how he does it. It follows the relationship between the title characters through their history, starting in their earliest encounters from the Lee/Ditko days of Amazing and moving on to the way things were shortly before Civil War when it was published, and it’s just pure comics joy through and through.

I will say, though, that it’s a pretty odd choice to put out now–as the last issue hinges both on on Spidey revealing his identity to the Torch and the fact that he’s married to Mary Jane–but that’s only going to bother you if you overlook the fact that it’s an absolutely incredible story with note-perfect art from Ty “The Guy” Templeton. If you missed out, pick it up. You won’t regret it.


Girl Genius v.8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones: I’ve mentioned the fact that I’m a huge fan of Phil Foglio here and there over the past few years, and as much as I’ve enjoyed his other work, Girl Genius is far and away the best thing he’s done.

This is one of those occasions where reviewing it is almost pointless thanks to the fact that you can just go read the whole thing yourself online for free, but I prefer to wait for the paperbacks and get a big chunk of the strips at once. And since the content really isn’t in question, I’ll just go ahead and say that the trades are very well done, beautifully designed and loaded up with bonus features to make it worth it. But in either case, it’s a fantastic story and it’s something more people ought to be reading.

So get on that.



Annnnnnnnnnd that’s the week! As always, any questions or concerns can be left in the comments section below, so if you want to discuss whether Irredeemable is worth the price for the 99-cent fifth issue or the $10 trade of the first four (yes it is, it’s highly enjoyable), feel free to put them below. And for those of you about to tell me that that’s not really the Million Dollar Dream, yes. I know. It is a joke, and I write those on occasion. But since I doubt anyone got this far before their pedant-sense took over and directed them to right the terrible wrongs of mild inaccuracy on the Internet, this oughtta make for a fun read later.

But before I wrap up though, two quick announcements. I’ve been meaning to mention this for the past few weeks, but friends of writer John Ostrander are trying to raise money to cover the surgery that kept him from going blind. I’ve mentioned several times that Ostrander wrote one of my all-time favorite series, Suicide Squad, and I’d encourage you to donate to help him out. Plus Gail Simone–who it turns out is not just a great writer but a great human being–has been very active in putting together a benefit art auction with work by Joe Kubert, Neal Adams, Jeff Smith, Phil Noto, Art Adams, Jim Lee, Thom Zahler, and others. Go check it out, and if you can, help.

And if you still have money left over, I’ve heard through the grapevine that Nate “the Great” Bellegarde is accepting commissions and selling some original art himself. He’s darn good.

And that’s all I’ve got! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go enjoy my Thursday night. Because that’s definitely what it is. Thursday night.

The Week In Ink: July 29, 2009

You know, I’ve scanned something out of Wednesday Comics every week since it started, like so…



…and I gotta say, that thing is a hassle to scan. I don’t know if DC’s actually advanced the art form or anything, but I’ve got the sneaking suspicion that they’ve finally produced the comic that’ll make even the most die-hard digital pirate throw his hands up and say “You know what? Y’all can go buy that one in the store.”

But enough ruminations about the state of the industry! It’s another Thursday night, and that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Digitalist Comics Reviews! Here’s what I picked up this week…



…and here’s what I thought about ’em!






Detective Comics #855: Given how much I liked the first part of Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s Batwoman story, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone that I’m still enjoying it, but even I was surprised at just how much I’m loving it.

The obvious credit goes to Williams and colorist Dave Stewart, for the obvious reason that this book is just flat-out gorgeous. I’ve talked about Williams before, owing mainly to his phenomenal work on the Black Glove story from Grant Morrison’s Batman run, but his work has never looked better than it does here. The detail, the incredible facial expressions, the angles he chooses, the way that everything from the panel layouts to the actual linework reflects what’s going on in the story; it’s all amazing, and it makes for something that’s not just one of the best looking comics on the stands today, but that I think I’ve ever read.

And amazingly, it’s got the story to match. Despite a few missteps, Greg Rucka’s still a guy that’s written some of my favorite comics, but it’s not just that he’s doing good work that makes me like this book so much. Given what I often find myself complaining about, I think it’s pretty clear that I value innovation, and this thing’s full of it. It’s not just a new (albeit legacy) character, and it’s not just that there’s a new villain, but the idea that it’s all happening in the flagship title that the company takes its very name from… well, it’s melodramatic to say that it gives me hope, but it’s certainly one of the best things DC has going for it. It’s truly amazing comics, and as you can tell, I’m pretty excited about it.

Plus in the Question story, there are nunchuks.


Justice Society of America #29: This issue marks the arrival on JSA of the new creative team of Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, and Jesus Merino, and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced a while back. After all, I think the record will show that I’m a pretty big fan of Willingham and Sturges’s other work, and for all my grousing about getting on with the new, I actually do like DC’s Golden Age and legacy characters quite a bit. Well, except Magog. And Citizen Steel. And the new Mr. America, who fights with a whip in each hand and reminds me more of the climactic towel battle from I Love You, Beth Cooper than anything else. And Wildcat’s kid the furry. And Cyclone, who is really annoying. And, jeez, is that Jonni Thunder in there? Yeesh.

Really though, I actually do like most of them (especially poor Doctor Mid-Nite, who had an amazing start courtesy of Matt Wagner but was then quickly relegated to patching up super-sprained ankles all the time), but for some reason, this issue left me a little cold. It’s certainly not bad or poorly written, and there’s enough about it that’s interesting that I’m planning on sticking with it, but something just felt a little off.

Then again, I’ve not read any Justice Society comics in a couple of years, and while I’m usually prone to snap judgments, it occasionally takes me a few issues to warm up to a series that I end up liking a lot (heck, I outright hated Manhunter for the first few issues, and now I’m buying a comic I actively dislike just to get eight pages of Kate Spencer backup stories). Or it could be that I’m distracted from an otherwise solid issue by the fact that there’s a) a woman in jodhpurs and b) an analogue for Cable that everyone’s talking to like he’s not absolutely ridiculous. Either way, it doesn’t quite feel right just yet, and since I can’t put my finger on exactly why, I’m willing to accept that it might just be me, but I’m hoping it snaps in place soon.


Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #57: In this issue of everyone’s favorite witchity “adventure” series, the title character spends an (admittedly low) nine pages nude, eight of which involve her tied up and one of which involves a dragon running its tongue over her breasts. Secondary characters are nude (and in two instances, fully splayed) on eight pages. In the backmatter, there are six photographs of nude (but tastefully obscured) women.

On the letters page, someone writes in to ask Jim Balent if he’s ever going to do something really explicit.

That is all.


Wednesday Comics #4: Well, we’re officially a month into DC’s experiment with the newspaper-sized format, and while I applaud its revolutionary scanner-foiling properties, I’ve got to admit that I’ve just flat-out given up on a few chunks of this thing.

I mentioned my problems with Caldwell’s Wonder Woman strip in my review of the first issue, and to be honest, I’ve just stopped reading it. As pretty as it is–and it is pretty–Caldwell errs in the exact opposite way that most of the strips do, cramming in too much instead of too little. From a purely visual standpoint the twisting layouts look great, but in practice the shading that would look great on a better paper stock just ends up looking drab, and it’s just too dense. There are fifty-five panels in this week’s, and even at four times the size of a normal comics page, that works out to 13 panels per, and that’s just too much. Plus, while the “it was all a dream… or was it?!” endings are a nice callback to Winsor McCay and the strips of the past, is really repetitive. Still, there’s a chance that when it’s all done, I’ll sit down with them and try to get through, as it’s at least got stuff going on.

The Superman strip, however… I honestly cannot imagine who would want to read this.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually do like John Arcudi’s work a lot on the B.P.R.D. books, and Lee Bermejo’s doing a beautiful job drawing it, but the things he’s drawing are boring. This is Superman, but for the past three issues–ever since the flawed but promising fight with the robot in the first issue–we’ve seen him do nothing but act like an insufferably self-absorbed child, especially in the interactions with Batman in the second part. And in this one, he spends the entire page hanging out at the county fair looking at things.

Again, this is Superman, and out of everything that ran in Wednesday Comics, this one was supposed to be the one that had the best chance of really introducing people to the character (with the first page running in USA Today and all), but not only is there nothing here I’d want to be introduced to, this is the same version of the character that people have seen in stuff like Superman Returns. It’s not new, it’s not engaging, and it’s not good. And it’s especially annoying both because Arcudi’s capable of better work and because DC can put out a much better continuity-free Superman comic that captures the essence of the character without miring itself down into pointless introspection. We know they can. We’ve seen it.

Of course, the story’s not over yet, and there’s always a chance Arcudi could pull out a winner, but for it to be this frustrating to read a full third of the way into the project, I’m not holding out hope.

But those are the bad bits; there’s also a lot of Wednesday Comics that’s really enjoyable: Kamandi and Adam Strange are darn-near-perfect uses of the form, Supergirl and Flash are a hoot, and Dan Didio, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan’s Metal Men story is way, way better than I ever expected it to be. And although the last two weeks of Neil Gaiman’s Metamorpho read like someone suddenly told him it was twelve pages and not ten, it’s pretty enjoyable too.

And then there’s Hawkman, which is by the incredible Kyle Baker and ends with a joke so gloriously, perfectly awful that it loops back around to awesome and pretty much justifies the whole series. That guy knows how it’s done.


Woman of A.C.T.I.O.N. #1, Chapter One: I honestly considered making the first chapter of this my Best of the Week, but that would push even my shameless self promotion past its limits. So I’ll just use this space to mention that my latest comic, drawn and lettered by “Peerless” Chris Piers and colored by “Swingin'” Steve Downer, is now available for your reading pleasure over at the Action Age.

These are the first ten pages, but there’s still fifteen more to go that’ll be going up over the next two Wednesdays, along with some incredible pin-ups and a letter column with the third installment. So if you haven’t yet, go read it! And if you’ve read it already… uh… go read it again? Or tell someone else to. Consider it ISB homework.


You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation: We’ve discussed Paul Karasik’s collections of the work of Golden Age madman Fletcher Hanks a few times here on the ISB since the release of the first volume, I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets, and as much as I’ve been looking forward to the second collection, I honestly thought there was no way it could be as crazy, awesome, or crazy-awesome as the first one.

I was wrong.



This is the best thing ever.



And on that planet-destroying note, that’s the week! As always, any questions or concerns can be left in the comments, so if you want to talk about how great the past few issues of Secret Warriors have been (“Recoil.”) or how awesome that Ghost Rider story where the fate of Heaven is decided by a motorcycle race around the world is (guest starring Thor and the Punisher! Seriously!), that’s the place to do it.

The Week In Ink: July 22, 2009

Finally, I’m writing something for this website.



Yes, it’s another Thursday night, and while pretty much everyone who cares about this sort of thing is paying attention to the San Diego Shindig this week, I’m here for another round of the Internet’s Most Stealthy Comics Reviews!

Here’s what I picked up this week to lessen the anticipation of waiting for Woman of A.C.T.I.O.N.




Amazing Spider-Man #600: Sharp-eyed ISB readers may have noticed that I’ve been dodging the last few issues of Amazing after the abysmal first couple of chapters of “American Son,” but this is the kind of book that’ll get me back on.

Even at five bucks, it’s one of the best values in comics: 105 pages (64 of which are a complete story by Dan Slott and John Romita Jr.) with no ads, no reprints, contributions from guys like Matt Fraction, Mark Waid, Stan Lee, the always-fantastic Marcos Martin and even–believe it or not–a one-page gag strip by Jeph Loeb that’s actually really guh.

Really guuuuhhh.

Sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve had to say something like this, let me try it again: A one-page strip by Jeph Loeb that’s actually really good.

Man, that felt weird. But the point here is that the bonus material, as good as it is, is still just icing on the cake. Slott and Romita’s story–which is nominally about Aunt May’s wedding but features far less matrimonial action than I’d expected–would’ve made for three really fun regular issues by itself with its interesting take on Doctor Octopus. It’s not nearly the anniversary celebration that I thought it would be either, and that’s a good thing: Rather than taking a walk down memory lane, Slott and Romita celebrate the past 47 years of Spider-Man in the best way they could, by doing a solid story that touches on what’s good about the character. They even manage to throw in a few guest stars (including, yes, Wolverine) and there’s the almost mandatory team-up that hearkens back not just to the long history of Amazing, but the first issue of Marvel Team-Up as well.

It’s rock-solid stuff, and it’s exactly the sort of thing I wanted it to be. Mostly because I’ve always wanted to see Marcos Martin draw the Spectacular Spider-Ham.


Captain Britain and MI13 #15: With this issue, we bid a fond farewell to Captain Britaina nd MI13, a book that was clearly too, too solid for this world, and I’ve got to say that it’s a pretty big letdown.

Not because of the story itself, though–that part’s pretty awesome–but because it’s almost impossible to read it without feeling morose about the end of such a good book. But even so, it’s good enough to cut through a lot of that, what with the fact that it’s a comic with super-heroes fighting Dracula, pages upon pages of explosions, Union Jack using a seltzer bottle full of Holy Water to fight vampires, and even a special surprise appearance by… well, there oughtta be some secrets left if you haven’t read the issue already, yes? Suffice to say that it’s good stuff, and while Cornell gives it as good an ending as you’d expect, it’s still a damn shame that it has to end at all.

For the apparently large number of you who haven’t read the series, though, I can assure you that canceled or not, it’s still well worth it, and with two trades out now and Vampire State on the way soon, there’s not much of an excuse to not check out what you’ve been missing.





Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5: Somewhere in the eleven paragraphs of vitriol that I passed off as a review of Blackest Night last week, I mentioned that while I’ve tended to dislike the majority of his recent work, I don’t actually think Geoff Johns is necessarily a bad writer. For all my grousing about looking backwards and how putting nostalgia ahead of innovation is steadily killing comics, there are times when that guy manages to fire on all cylinders and hit me just right with something that’s exactly what I want to see. And this, as you might expect, is one of those times.

I’m just going to go ahead and throw this out here: Legion of 3 Worlds is probably the best thing Geoff Johns has ever written.

There’s a metafictional aspect to the story that I’ll get to in a moment, but before I do, I want to make it clear that there’s a lot to this story that I love in a completely unironic fashion. It is, after all, a big crazy punch-out written with the discerning Legion Fan in mind, and while I might complain about fan-pandering, I’m not immune to it. Plus, the whole thing’s drawn by the legendary George Perez, who does amazing work, throwing in double-page spreads with tons of characters, including Jimmy Olsen. There’s no way I’m not going to like this.

That’s not to say that it’s not without its faults; they’re in there, and in fact, the story’s based around setting yet another property back to the way it was when Johns was a kid so that he can play with his old toys in the pages of Adventure Comics. It’s the same fetish for nostalgia that we’ve seen in his work four or five times now, but for some reason, it doesn’t bother me here as much as it did when he did the same thing to the Flash or Green Lantern or the entire DC Universe. It might be because I’m a big enough fan of the Legion to have written a chapter a book about the team or because the Legion itself has been rebooted, threebooted and retrobooted enough at this point that I’m pretty sure if I don’t like the direction, I can just wait a few years for a new one to come along and hope it’s a return of my own personal One True Legion, but the fact is that I came away loving this comic.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s a friggin’ hoot.

And it is, too: Lending credence to Douglas Wolk’s theory about the Two Geoff Johnses walking the Earth, Superboy Prime has completely evolved from the absolutely terrible character that they were trying so hard to portray as a legitimate threat in Infinite Crisis to a character that’s still sucks, but is written to take advantage of that rather than to deny it. His self-consciously lame attempts at fight banter alone shows that we’re not meant to take him seriously, and even though he’s been fighting the Legion for, oh, eleven months now, there’s not really much of an attempt to show him as a real villain. This, I imagine, is why the Legion ends up beating him in the absolute stupidest way possible by getting more and more Legionnaires to show up and punch him, and when they run out, they just go get more Legionnaires. There’s a ridiculous, wonderful kind of genius to that.

The best part, though, is the end, where Superboy Prime is returned to Earth-Prime and decides that the best way to get his revenge is by–and this seriously happens–logging on to the DC Comics message boards and bitching about the story on the Internet. That shit is hilarious.

Not just because it underscores the continuing metaphor for Prime as the petulant comics fan who can’t stand that the stories are panning out in a way that he doesn’t like, but because I couldn’t help but imagine Prime spending his time on the Internet talking about comics–maybe even staying up ’til 3 AM on Thursday nights writing hate-filled screeds wondering whose bright idea it was to do a story about Zombie Golden Glider–then maybe one day being able to break into comics and finally getting the chance to change things back to how he wants them to be.

So yes: The fact that DC just did a story where a stand-in for the Comics Internet was ruthlessly beaten by the Legion of Super-Heroes and then blasted out of the universe when it got in a fight with itself is pretty funny, but the fact that the guy writing the story where the villain wants to make comics more like they were when he was a kid is a guy who has made his entire career making comics more like they were when he was a kid? That’s even funnier.


Immortal Weapons #1: I don’t normally do this sort of thing, since there’s always the off chance that someone’s reading my reviews in order to make an informed purchase rather than just showing up to confirm their own opinions and/or argue with me about how I dared to say such horrible things about their favorite character or not show the proper reverence to a title (this week’s Usagi Yojimbo trade is awesome, by the way), and I don’t like spoiling the important moments for people who haven’t read them yet. This time, however, there’s something I’ve pretty much got to share, and that is that in this issue, Jason Aaron–whose run on Ghost Rider gave us both a supernatural Smokey and the Bandit and the vengeful spirit of Lone Wolf McQuade–wrote the following caption:

“In 1939, you were the sole survivor of a team of Kung Fu Commandoes put together by British Hero Union Jack to take down Hitler’s secret death squad of S.S. Ninjas led by the notorious butcher Herr Samurai.”

If you have any doubts about whether you should be reading this comic book, then brother, you’re on the wrong website.


Invincible #64: My love/hate relationship with Invincible–which is really more of a love/love slightly less relationship–is something that I’ve been through more than once here on the ISB, but for those of you just joining us, here’s the basics: I have a distaste for the extreme violence that Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley use in the book. Kirkman makes a strog defense for it in this issue, citing Invincible as a rare book that can contain everything from romance to lighthearted fun to brutal violence, the latter’s just not really my thing, and I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it’s just something I’ll have to deal with in order to enjoy the rest of a truly fantastic comic.

Then I read this issue, where Invincible totally fucking headbangs a dude to death.

Seriously. That is what happens. It is the most metal thing I have ever seen in a comic book, and I’ve read at least fifty issues of The Savage Sword of Conan. And I loved it.

Congratulations, Robert Kirkman. You win again.


Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #53: Marvel’s been promoting this one pretty heavily over the past few months, which itself is something of an anomaly. After all, they don’t generally tend to go out of their way to turn readers on to their kid-friendly Adventures line, but there have been previews and house ads for it in most of their all-ages titles for a while now to promote the arrival of the new creative team, Paul Tobin and Matteo Lolli.

It’s sort of redundant to say that they’re doing it as a new jumping-on point–as the Adventures titles are designed as one-issue stories so that every issue is a good jumping-on point–but that’s exactly what they’ve done here. The story feels like a new direction, introducing a couple of new cast members (Gwen Stacy, with whom I imagine you’re familiar, and a character that I think is new named Chat, who talks to animals, mostly about food) as well as the mandatory origin recap. To be fair, though, the origin recap is framed in a neat enough way that it doesn’t seem as much of a detraction from the story as it might otherwise.

I don’t imagine that there are too many people out there looking to jump on a kid-friendly title if they aren’t already reading them, but Tobin, like Jeff Parker, is an amazingly talented writer that manages to knock it out of the park with his all ages work–like he did in the incredible Dr. Doom mini-series from a few months ago–and Lolli does a great job with the art, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do.

Personally, I’m holding out hope that the Green Goblin still chucks Gwen off a bridge, but owing to the fact that it’s a kids’ book, he does it on the day of the 26th Annual Brooklyn Bridge Trampoline Festival, and everything works out okay.


Myspace Dark Horse Presents v.3: Twenty years of buying comics and you’d think I’d know better, but yesterday, I accidentally bought a comic that included an Emily the Strange story. This is, I assure you, to my eternal shame.

Still, it does raise an interesting philosophical question: All other things being equal and using the Usagi Yojimbo story as a control, is buying an anthology that includes Emily the Strange balanced out if the anthology also contains an eight-page Achewood story where Ray, Teodor and Roast Beef eat every item on the Taco Bell menu? The mind boggles.



Annnnnnnnnnnd that’s the week! As always, any comments or concerns can be left in the comments section below, like if you’re wondering if the sound effects in Incredible Hercules could possibly get any better than they already have been (yes, they can), or if you’re looking for a review of the last couple issues of Wednesday Comics (Pal Dave has one, and honestly, who woulda thought Dan Didio’s Metal Men would be that good, even with Nowlan and JLGL?), that’s the place to ask.

Well, not now, as I’ve just answered them and you’d look silly. And we wouldn’t want that, now would we?

The Week In Ink: July 15, 2009

Originally, I was planning on leading off tonight’s post with the shot of Negative Spider-Man kicking the White Rabbit in the face–because, you know, it’s Negative Spider-Man and the White Rabbit–but then I saw a panel where a werewolf kicked a vampire’s head off while quoting Human Traffic



…and that’s not the sort of thing a guy like me can really pass up.

And with that, we turn to another Thursday night of the Internet’s Most OTT Comics Reviews! Here’s what I bought this week…



And here’s how they made me feel… on the inside.



All-Select Comics Anniversary Special: Given my affection for the comics of the ’30s and ’40s–which didn’t so much break the rules as exist in complete isolation from them–I’ve been pretty interested in the 70th Anniversary Specials that Marvel’s been putting out to celebrate their long-ignored Golden Age properties, and this is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most. Not because of the Blonde Phantom, although I do have a lot of affection for the Nerd Hot adventuress who pretty much fights crime with the power of being sexy, although her story does feature the always beautiful art of Javier Pulido. No, my excitment comes because this issue marks the return of the single greatest character of the Golden Age: MARVEX: THE SUPER ROBOT! And even better, it’s written and drawn Michael Kupperman.

Kupperman, of course, is the guy behind the truly fantastic Tales Designed to Thrizzle, which, thanks to bits like Jesus’s Evil Half-Brother Pagus, 4Playo the Foreplay Robot, and of course Snake ‘n’ Bacon, is probably the funniest humor book on the stands. But the best thing about his story here is that even though it’s hilarious, and even though it’s a perfect example of the style he employs in Thrizzle, it is still exactly like the original Marvex stories that ran in Daring Mystery back in the ’40s, right down to Marvex, who is clearly made of metal, constantly disrobing to prove that he is in fact a robot. Plus, both of the Golden Age Marvex stories that appeared in the incredible Daring Mystery Masterwork are also included, and that alone makes it worth the four bucks if you haven’t already got them. It’s good stuff, and well worth picking up, if only to support the idea of Marvel going to independent creators to have some fun.


Blackest Night #1: I made a very solemn vow about only reviewing comics that I bought, but for this, I’m making a once-in-a-lifetime exception.

A friend of mine actually gave me a copy to read, and I’ve got to say that I’m glad he did, because this is hands-down one of the most hilariously awful comics I’ve ever read. And in case you forgot, I’ve read every single issue of Tarot.

I don’t even know where to begin with this thing, but I suppose I’ll start with the plot, which–despite all my grousing about how it sounds an awful lot like an attempt to cash in on Marvel Zombies three years after it would’ve been relevant–is actually not a bad idea. The idea of dead characters rising from their graves for revenge is certainly one that could lead to some enjoyable stories, and I’ve got to confess, if I wasn’t thoroughly burnt out on Green Lantern and his Amazing Technicolor Dream Corps, it’s something that I’d probably be very interested in as a big summer punchout. Of course, it’d probably make more sense for it to revolve around, say, Nekron, an actual pre-existing Green Lantern villain that rules the Land of the Dead rather than an embarrassingly gritty revamp of the Black Hand that feels like a leftover throwback to the early ’90s, but it’s got the right amount of continuity-heavy fan appeal and action-oriented potential to be enjoyable. I get that.

Which makes it a real shame that it’s written so poorly.

For one thing, it just don’t make any sense, and considering that I’m willing to accept that it’s about a guy with a magic green wishing ring who went gray because there was an evil yellow space-bug that’s more powerful than God living in his brain, that’s saying something. To start with, it seems a little disingenuous that the world would celebrate dead super-heroes on the day that Superman didn’t actually die. I guess that could be as much of a comment on the fluid nature of super-hero mortality as Superman saying “We’ll all miss him, and pray for a resurrection” at the Martian Manhunter’s funeral in Final Crisis, but considering the lengths that Geoff Johns is going to in this script to make a ham-fisted point, I doubt it.

And brother, does he reach. The prose in this thing is so purple that it oughtta have its own set of rings powered by schmaltz. The scene with Damage and Atom Smasher at the cemetery where they talk about how he’s not turning his back on his father is amazingly awkward, but it reads like Shakespeare next to Hawkman’s hilarious “She made the Atom feel small” line, a pun that surpasses even Peter Davidian levels of smug, aren’t-I-clever self-awareness. And of course, Johns continues the trend of having Barry Allen and Hal Jordan stand around talking about how much it sucks to be super-heroes, which doesn’t do a whole lot to make me want to read about them. Seriously, between this and Cry For Justice, these guys are whining way too much, and I say that as a Spider-Man fan.

And then there’s a litany of assorted smaller annoyances, like this panel, which made me laugh and laugh, or the fact that a good number of the resurrections are just nonsense. I understand why you’d go for Martian Manhunter or Firestorm, but Golden Glider and the Top? I mean, Golden Glider?! You’ve got access to anyone who has ever died, and you bring back a bank-robbing ice-skater?! That shit is Amateur Hour, for real.

And the real shame of it is, Geoff Johns is fully capable of doing better than this. I think Douglas Wolk said it best in his column on ComicsAlliance:

There are two different Geoff Johnses, it sometimes seems. One of them is the watertight plotter and pinpoint character writer who comes up with huge, fantastic ideas and builds toward enormous fist-in-the-air moments for months or years; the other one obsessively lingers over gross-outs, dismemberments and violent slaughter and works in what Wikipedia calls “a primarily in-universe style.”

I don’t dislike Johns as a writer–or at least, I don’t all the time. Long after I’d written that guy off, he did stuff like Booster Gold with Jeff Katz and an extremely entertaining run on Superman, but like Wolk says, this thing reads like an entirely different person wrote it. Someone who is not very good.

To be fair–and I’m sure you know how much it pains me to say that–it’s not all bad. Ivan Reis turns in some fantastic art that’s really deserving in being in one of the company’s biggest titles, and while I don’t like a few of his effects, like Barry Allen always being in two places at once, it’s just because it’s not my cup of tea. Although there is a scene where Barry looks like he’s pouting super-hard, but, well, he is pouting, so it’s pretty appropriate. Also, I liked… well, no, Reis’s art is pretty much it. Everything else is pretty much overshadowed by the fact that it’s Not Very Good.


Dark Avengers #7: A few weeks ago, someone asked me in the comments asked if I was planning on picking up Dark Avengers during the crossover with Uncanny X-Men, and–in an uncharacteristically rational moment, I responded with a simple “No.”

Of course, that was before I realized that the Dark Avengers tie-ins were going to be written by Matt Fraction, and therefore fall under the agreement we have where I buy everything he writes, and he makes sure that everything he writes is totally awesome. Thus, we have this issue, where Cyclops is given not only one of his rare but enjoyable badass moments, but also a jetpack.

Because everything’s better on a jetpack.


Doctor Who #1: This issue launches ongoing Doctor Who series, and while I’m what you might call a casual Who fan–there’s a good chance I’ve read more issues of Doctor Who Magazine than I’ve seen actual episodes of the show, since the mags have Dan McDaid’s comic strips in them–I’ve been looking forward to it.

It is after all scripted by Tony Lee, who turned in a pretty amazing job on Doctor Who: The Forgotten, a story that was steeped in the history of the show without being so complex as to turn off a relative neophyte like me. Plus, it’s got covers by Paul Grist, and we all know how I feel about him. In practice, though, it’s… well, it’s not bad, but it’s strange.

And not in the way that Doctor Who stories are usually strange either. For one thing, there’s the Charlie Chaplin stand-in that the story’s based around, whose name is–and I am serious here–Archie Maplin. Not that using an analogue for a famous person is a foreign concept for comics–who doesn’t love that issue of Firestorm where he has to save Curt Holland, the ersatz Burt Reynolds, from Killer Frost?–but transplanted into Doctor Who, which has stories based around undisguised versions of Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare, it feels a little off. But then again, I’m also reading Sunnyside, Glen David Gold’s novel about Chaplin, so the comparison might’ve stuck out more because of that than anything else. But beyond that–and the oddly confrontational catch-up description of the Doctor on the inside front cover–the story’s fine.

The art, on the other hand… well, it’s not great. There are panels that are really well-done, like Maplin being blasted with the laser, but it’s very inconsistent. Between the scenes where the Doctor looks more like Peter Sellers than David Tennant and the simple mistake of relying so much on photo reference that you forget to flip the locomotive engine when it’s reflected in the Doctor’s glasses on the last page, it comes off as strikingly amateurish, and when it’s stacked against Grist’s cover, or his interior work on Lee’s Time Machination one-shot, or even the strips in Doctor Who Magazine, it suffers for the comparison. Lee’s stories are generally interesting enough that I’m interested as long as they’re, you know, readable, if I remember correctly, it was bad art that killed the first IDW DW mini-series and made it such a relief to get Pia Guerra’s fantastic art on the issues of The Forgotten that she did. Hopefully, Davison’ll get better by the time The Doctor has a team-up with Meonardo MaVinci.





Walking Dead #63: John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew has been getting a lot of positive buzz lately, but owing to the fact that every copy we ordered arrived damaged, I ahven’t been able to give it a read until this week, when it was reprinted in its entirety for no extra charge in Walking Dead.

I don’t even think I have to say this, but that’s an amazingly cool thing for Image (and Robert Kirkman) to do. Throwing in a preview or a backup story is one thing, but to throw twenty-two pages into a book for free is amazing, and really shows that they want Chew to do well.

And they’re not the only ones, either, as now that I’ve read it, I can safely say that it’s totally awesome. Layman is, of course, the writer that brought us the pure, hilarious genius of Dark Xena, but as much as I love that series in a completely unironic way–as Layman takes care of the irony himself–he’s operating on an entirely different level here. The plot revolves around Tony Chu, a policeman with the unfortunate ability of being a cibopath, which means he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats, which comes in handy in a world where food-based crimes run rampant owing to chicken being outlawed.

As you might imagine, this is all played with a comedic bent, even when–well, especially when–Chu has to turn to cannibalism to solve a grisly string of serial murders. It’s a fantastic high concept that’s done very, very well, and Guillory’s art is fantastic. There are spots where it reminds me a lot of Sonny Liew, and his exaggerated figures and expressive faces are just perfect for it.

If you missed the first issue and this week’s Walking Dead, there’s a third printing of #1 and a second printing of #2 coming out when the third issue hits, and having grabbed #2 and seen that it does in fact include a battle with ninjas (yes, really), I’m going to go ahead and highly recommend you check ’em out. It’s good stuff.


Werewolves On The Moon Vs. Vampires #2:



So. You should all be reading this.


Solomon Kane v.1: The Castle of the Devil: About a month ago, I had a dream where Archie Comics bought Sgt. Rock from DC, and then put out a three-issue miniseries called Sgt. Rock vs. Dracula. This is, of course, pretty awesome, but what made it even better was that the issues had painted homage covers to the ’60s Gold Key books, complete with a stylized Archie logo in the corner box. I woke up wanting those covers so bad, but unless the shape of the comics industry undergoes the most dramatic change of all time, I don’t think it’s likely to happen.

So I’ll just have to make do with the awesome Mike Mignola cover to Solomon Kane v.1:




Annnnnnnnnd that’s the week! After all, at this point, nobody needs me to tell them how awesome Preacher is (although they might need me to mention that the new hardcover is pretty nice), but if you’ve got a question or concern, feel free to leave a comment below.

As for me, I’ll be contemplating the life choices that have led me to write 856 words about a Green Lantern story that I did not particularly care for. I’m sure the results will be revealing.