The Week In Ink: August 29, 2007

What kind of world are we living in when brother can turn against brother? Parent against child? Archie… against Jughead?



Yes, Civil Chore roars into its second installment this week in a digest where even the unrelated stories are finally getting the infusion of violence that we’ve been clamoring for since Riverdale played host to that deadly Box of Satan back in the ’70s. Still, it’s Thursday night, and even the tragedy and heartbreak of seeing Moose turn against Midge and the possibility of having the Elevenaire show up to solve everything can’t stop the rock here on the ISB as we head into another round of the Internet’s Most Mirthful Comics Reviews!

Here’s the Fifth Week offerings I snagged up this week…



…and here’s what I thought about them.



Avengers: The Initiative #5: As some of you may recall, Dan Slott is the same writer who brought us a comic where Spider-Man’s dune buggy was carjacked by a trio of communist space monkeys in a move that cemented him as one of the most beloved writers of the past few years. That in itself is a pretty neat trick, but the fact that he’s managed to turn in that kind of quality work on such a consistent level–from the humor that runs through She-HulK to the two-fisted fun that he put into the cancelled-but-awesome The Thing–is nothing short of amazing, and this is the kind of book that really plays to his strengths. He’s one of the few writers that can manage to do some of his best work during crossovers, simply because he takes the opportunity to expand the amount of stuff he’s allowed to play with.

And he does play with it: This issue sees Slott dragging in stuff from Planet Hulk to House of M in a way that seems completely effortless, and it’s all done in a way that lets you know he’s having fun doing it. And when people are having fun writing comics, it makes it a lot easier to have fun reading them.

The biggest problem, as I’ve mentioned before, is the art. It’s not Stefano Caselli’s pencils that bother me–I think his semi-cartoony style has a great sense of energy and motion to it that adds a heck of a lot to the book–but Daniele Rudoni’s coloring, which remains a blindingly high-contrast pastel assault on the eyes. There are certainly scenes where it’s not as noticeable as others, and on the whole, it’s gotten a lot better than the migraine-inducing Civil War: Young Avengers and Runaways, but really: There are panels where everything’s a shade of yellow and panels where everything’s a shade of pink, and it all adds up to something that looks like the Hulk’s fighting the concept of Easter. And I’m pretty sure that crossover’s not scheduled ’til next year.


Batman Annual #26: I’ve been as excited about the return of Annuals to the world of comics as the next guy–or let’s be honest here: a lot more than the next guy–but I’ll admit to being a little wary of this one when it was solicited a few months ago.

It’s not that I don’t like Peter Miligan, because I do. In fact, that guy wrote a couple of my favorite Batman stories when I was a kid, namely the often-overlooked Dark Knight, Dark City and a story where a derranged librarian kills people and then puts their bodies in leather jackets with patches corresponding to the Dewey Decimal System numbers of their professions.

You know, now that I’m actually writing down what that story’s about, I realize that my affection for it might say a lot more about me than it does about its writer.

Anyway, back to the point: Not only do I like Pete Miligan, but I actually like his work on Batman an awful lot, too; it’s the premise of the story that’s bothering me. I realize, of course, that the return of Ra’s al-Ghul was inevitable–especially given how underrated Death and the Maidens is–but it just seems like a major waste of potential to have him return without ever doing the big story about the League of Assassins under Nyssa, a villain with the same resources as her predecessor, but without the affection for Batman or the desire to keep Talia happy. For me, the biggest annoyance of Adam Beechen’s much-maligned run on Robin wasn’t anything with Cassandra Cain, but rather Nyssa’s quiet, off-panel death via car-bomb.

Add that to the fact that Miligan’s been known to phone it in on occasion (much like, y’know, everybody), and you end up with something that reads like little more than filler, and–if you’ve read Denny O’Neil’s Birth of the Demon–pretty unnecessary filler at that. It’s not badly written by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s just not a whole lot to it. Well, except for the absolutely gorgeous artwork of David and Alvaro Lopez, who turn in their usual wonderful job with clean, fluid artwork that makes it almost worth the price alone. I just wish they were drawing something a little more engaging.


Conan #43: It occurs to me that this is an issue of Conan where the principal characters pretty much just stand around discussing the plot, and yet it still features a giant ape in a red wizard robe killing the bejeezus out of a bunch of shirtless, sword-weilding mercenaries.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this lately, but man. I freakin’ love Conan.


Ex Machina: Masquerade: It certainly seems like we haven’t gotten an issue of Ex Machina in quite a while, and I realize that this thing’s cover-dated for October, but doesn’t anyone else think Labor Day weekend is kind of an odd time for a Halloween special to come out?

Unusual timing choices aside, Brian K. Vaughan turns in his usual excellent script along with artist John Paul Leon for a story that does a better story about super-heroes and the anonymity that comes with their masks in one double-sized issue than a lot of writers manage to squeeze out in entire story-arcs. Granted, Vaughan’s got the luxury of working in a world he’s created specifically to address issues like this, where he’s able to mix real-world laws with scenes where the main character walks around doing his best Unknown Soldier impression telling machines what to do, but the fact remains that it’s a pretty entertaining read with a lot of thought behind it. You just might want to wait another month, just to make sure it all works thematically. Or, alternately, you could eat an entire bucket of candy while reading it. Your choice, really.





Hellboy: Darkness Calls #5: I usually try to be a little more in-depth with my “Best of the Week” reviews than the ones I write for the other books, but with Hellboy, there’s really no point. Trying to break down what I like about every issue would be like trying to explain why you like your favorite song.

I’ve been trying since this series started to explain what it is I love so much about the character and his world, but Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo are doing things with this book that are just so intrinsically appealing that any attempt to “review” would just end up with me summarizing the plot. And while I’m sure that “Hellboy fights for his life and soul in the Russian afterlife against Baba Yaga and Koschei the Deathless” sounds awesome, I can pretty much assure you that it just doesn’t do justice to how well-crafted this book actually is.

Those of you who have read it–or any of Mignola’s truly wonderful Hellboy stories–will know what I’m talking about when I say this, and those of you who haven’t really, really should. It’s great.


Mice Templar #1: Let’s be honest here, folks: There is no way whatsoever that anyone’s going to be able to talk about this book without comparing it to David Petersen’s Mouse Guard, so we might as well get that out of the way first. After all, even though the creators of both books have said several times that it’s just a coincidence, the books are pretty thematically similar.

Right off the bat, though, there’s a pretty marked difference: Guard focuses pretty tightly on three principal characters, while Templar starts off with an entire village of mice, and that leads to the big problem for this issue. Petersen’s Guard Mice are visually distinctive, with different colors of fur and cloaks, and while that seems like a pretty minor element, it helps a lot when it comes to telling them apart. Templar’s opening scenes, on the other hand, are full of mice standing around talking about secret histories and mythologies, and with so many of them showing up, it can be a little difficult–even with Oeming’s great artwork and distinct touches for each character–to keep track of who’s who.

Of course, halfway through the book, that becomes a pretty moot point, as does the bulk of the comparison to Guard, because that’s when the fighting starts. I mentioned already that Oeming’s art is wonderful in this, and this is really where it swings into full gear as he illustrates all the classic tropes of a big fantasy-battle, as waged by mice with swords. Amazingly, this is actually more awesome than it sounds, and Glass’s script fits right in, flowing from one big set piece to another in scenes that make for striking visuals all the way through. It’s fun, and while I’m not sure if it bodes well that the fights are so much better than the exposition pieces with so much left to be revealed, it’s definitely enough to keep me around for the next issue.


Teen Titans #50: I’ve said before that my interest in Teen Titans lately has been pretty much reduced to just hoping that it gets better soon–which, considering the godawful ending of “Titans East,” didn’t exactly pan out for me–so for me, this issue was the last chance for the book to actually get good again. After all, if the only thing keeping me around is idle curiosity over what they’re going to do with animated series Starfire Miss Martian, then it’s probably not going to work.

Unfortunately, I’m still not sure where I stand with this one. After all, an anniversary jam issue with four different writers (or five, really, but I’ll get to that in a second) probably isn’t the best place to gauge the quality of a series, and while there’s nothing in here that really struck me as being bad, it didn’t have the decisive moment that I wanted it to.

Instead, it had a decent-enough story marked with major annoyances, like the way the Flash showed up and proceeded to act like a complete and utter tool for the duration of his appearance, or the six-page sequence lifted verbatim from last week’s Blue Beetle. Admittedly, there’s a footnote, and while I’m all for anything that gets people to pick up one of DC’s best titles, the fact that there wasn’t even an attempt to show the big fight with Lobo from a different perspective is a little annoying. Still, there’s as much potential for good stuff to come from it as there is annoyance at the way the book’s been treading water for a year and a half, so I’m going to break my own rule here and hold out for another issue, if only to see if new writer Sean McKeever can recapture a little bit of the magic that had every month on Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane.

I mean really, it’s a time-travel story involving evil opposites! How could that possibly go wrong?



And with that ominous statement, I’m done for the evening. As always, feel free to drop a line in the comments section below if you have any questions or comments on something that hit the shelves this week, or if you just want to talk about how some good finally came out of the wholesale slaughter of the cast of New X-Men: Academy X.

If only they’d had footclaws to save them…

32 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: August 29, 2007

  1. I know you probably haven’t had time to read it, and Hellboy taken as a whole is of course the best thing to exist on a complete list of all things in existence, but the best book of the week was really Super Spy.

    In terms of intricacy of plotting, it supersedes even its predecessor, 2 Sisters (and contains a few nods to that book as well).

    Hopefully you’ll get a chance to talk about it, because people listen when you talk about comics or something.

  2. What I wnat to know is if John Paul Leon’s ever going to finish The Wintermen. Awesome Book, just left hanging.

    As for the New X-Men, every single graduating class since the first has been culled like a mother, so I really cna’t bring myself to care anymore. Christ, you’d think that people would figure out sending their kid to Xavier’s is a death sentence by now, but no.

  3. Bosswald: it’s because the parents are chasing the mutant merchandising. Even if a child’s power is the ability to create solid-light holograms (or whatever we saw in New Mutants 45), that’s no reason to give up hope that they won’t get to appear on lunchboxes and boxer shorts.

    I miss Merv. I like to think that he’s building a huge bonfire of unsold issues of Countdown in the Dreaming somewhere.

  4. Hmm, too many negatives there – sorry. It’s 10.36 am in England, and my brain *still* hasn’t woken up.

  5. *hands Seth a coffee*

    I can almost understand sending your kids to a place with a worse safety record than a knife throwing school for the short sighted, if it’s the one chance they have to learn to control their powers. What I don’t get is how parents let them get away with wearing those crazy uniforms. If I’d worn twice as much material as the miniskirt / catsuit / little revealing cutaways brigade at Xavier’s did I *still* would have been grounded for about a decade.

  6. You said you were going to come back to the five or six writer thing on Teen Titans, but you never did!!!???

  7. Why is it that Chris’ pull list has books that occasionally don’t show up in my shop until next week and his next week list will have books that showed up in my shop this week?

    I was looking forward to reading a review of this week’s She-Hulk (Dan Slott’s last) and had to settle for WWH: The Initiative for my Dan Slott review fix.

    It’s all part of a Diamond plot of some sort, isn’t it?

    Have a Great Day,
    Gary E. Poisson

  8. Dear Mr. Sims,

    I discovered your blog earlier this year, and I have recently finshed combing through the archives. Simply put, I love the Invincible Super-Blog. It’s funny and well-written and I can’t wait to get a T-shirt.

    I’d just like to ask if you’re going to pick up Atomic Robo. I’m really looking forward to the series, since it’s by the writer of 8-Bit Theater. It’s published by Red 5 Comics and is available to order now through Previews. Since it’s about a robot fighting Nazis, I thought you might like it.

    Thanks for giving me such great reading material evrey day, sir.

  9. I totally love Dan Slott’s Avengers. I really love the joke about this not becoming a “Hulk World War”.

    Did you not get (or care) about Silver Surfer Requiem? I found it to be very moving and I love Ribic’s painting style. They should have let Stracsynski write a tribute to Captian America and maybe it would have been more meaningful than the clap trap that was Fallen Son.

  10. David: Sims did come back to it, by pointing out that the Lobo/Blue Beetle sequence was lifted from BB’s own book, hence five writers instead of four.

    Sims, you should have bought Transformers Spotlight: Optimus Prime, because that has Prime jumping on a giant robot and ripping its heart out.

  11. See someone should have told Tony or Reed that Hulk fears X-Wangst. It probably would have helped them…

    Plus WWH: X-Men needed some thought bubbles.

    Hulk: Aw hell. Is this chick crying? I can’t handle that. I’m so out of here!

  12. Oh yes, Sims, you need to review Amazons Attack just because how god awful it is. Just download it, it’s not worth the money. It is the most craptastic crossover I have ever read. The review will surely be hilarious.

  13. It was a pretty light week, eh?

    I’m also curious as to why you didn’t check out the Eric Powell Action Comics. It was real nice.

  14. I realise it came out last week, and I didn’t see on on your list, but I got it just this week and the OMAC cameo (the real one, not Batman’s murderbots from Infinite Crisis) just requires me to ask:

    Chris Sims, what did you think of the wrap-up to Brave and the Bold’s first storyline? Awesome, or super-awesome?

    Spencer Curran: you have just guaranteed that I and probably everyone else reading here will be buying Spider-Man Family #5.

  15. Chris, I was going to ask why you didn’t pick up the Batman Annual, as it’s not on your shopping list.

    Since you reviewed it, I’m only going to ask why it’s not on your list.

  16. Oh yes, Sims, you need to review Amazons Attack just because how god awful it is. Just download it, it’s not worth the money. It is the most craptastic crossover I have ever read. The review will surely be hilarious.

    But if Sims goes blind, who will maintain the ISB?!? Think of the children, man!

  17. I know you probably haven’t had time to read it, and Hellboy taken as a whole is of course the best thing to exist on a complete list of all things in existence, but the best book of the week was really Super Spy.

    I’ve read about half of it so far; it’s good, but very, very dense. It’s the sort of book that I can’t get through more than a couple of the vignettes without feeling pretty drained. Definitely good stuff, though.

    and on another topic, how would you rate this ( ) on a scale of 1-awesome?

    I’m going to go ahead and rank that at BEST THING EVER.

    Why is it that Chris’ pull list has books that occasionally don’t show up in my shop until next week and his next week list will have books that showed up in my shop this week?

    Diamond shorted my store on Amazons Attack (along with a couple of other things), and while we did get a copy of She-Hulk, it was as a preview book for next week. I did read it, it is awesome, and I’ll probably review it next week when it actually comes out.

    I’d just like to ask if you’re going to pick up Atomic Robo.

    I keep meaning to sit down and actually order that book, because it does look pretty good, and Phil seemed to like it when he reviewed it. I used to like 8BT an awful lot, so I’m curious to see how it’ll all work out.

    Did you not get (or care) about Silver Surfer Requiem?

    Nope. I’ve heard it’s good, and I’ll probably give it a look when it comes out in trade, but man, Stracynszki’s pretty much sucked out loud for the past few years at Marvel, and his track record didn’t really give me a lot of incentive to check it out.

    So… Eric Powell art not enough to get you to pick up Action Comics?

    Nope. I read it, and while it is a gorgeous book, it’s still an issue of Geoff Johns/”Richard Donner” Action Comics, which means that Superman talks about his dad way too much and nothing really makes a lot of sense. Admittedly, it’s a Bizarro story and those never make sense, and the sequence with Bizarro Lois and Clark is one of the better little bits of joy I’ve seen in a while, but it’s not enough to get me excited about the whole run.

    Beautiful art, though.

    Chris Sims, what did you think of the wrap-up to Brave and the Bold’s first storyline? Awesome, or super-awesome?


    Chris, I was going to ask why you didn’t pick up the Batman Annual, as it’s not on your shopping list. Since you reviewed it, I’m only going to ask why it’s not on your list.

    D’oh… It’s not on my list because it was sitting in the scanner when I went through my stack of comics, because I was scanning the Shopping List panel from it.

    My Bad!

  18. Good Sir Sims,

    I’d like to make a request of you for a post. You’ve written before that there are books you read that have been so consistently good that you don’t feel the need to review them as you’d just be repeating yourself every month (like Fables.) Could you do a post on what books these are and what makes them good in your opinion? I always keep the ISB in mind when I’m trying to decide whats worth buying, and I’d like to know what I’m missing out on.

  19. Chris, is the sustained ROM coverage finished? The grief will be easier to bear if I know for sure. Thanks everso.

  20. Avengers: The Initiative is interesting. I can’t exactly call it “bad,” because Slott is writing it very well. But the problem is that he is writing a book about bad guys.

    Not fun caper bad guys like Modok’s 11 either – he is seriously writing a book where the protagonists are, of various degrees, out-and-out fascists.

    It’s a good read. But it makes me horribly uncomfortable, not least because I’m not sure if Slott is going for vicious satire or playing it straight.

  21. I don’t think it’s fair to say that the protagonists are fascists–I’ve always gotten the idea that the protagonists are the kids, who are being herded around by the actual bad guys: Gyrich, Pym, and their ilk.

  22. Yeah, but with the possible exception of Trauma, there isn’t a “kid” in that title who’s gotten more facetime in the book than Gyrich – I don’t buy that the kid team are the protagonists, because it feels more like a setting-oriented book than a character-oriented one.

    As for the kids themselves, this issue featured innocent Cloud 9 suffocating someone nearly to death and not quite understanding Why That Is Bad, and that’s only the latest in a string of “why do I care about these people” incidents, so I’m hard-pressed to see them as heroic.

  23. The biggest problem with the Batman Annual, for me, was that they somehow had to make it a Batman story, not just a Damian/Talia story, therefore you get the whole “Batman enters the room seconds after Damian leaves thereby never learning of his existence” cliche. Other than that, the flashback scenes were great (Ra’s beat Napoleon!).

    But stunned mullets aren’t hot.

  24. Didn’t you get Four Horsemen? I thought that was great.

    I found Mice Templar utterly confusing and uninteresting. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want to have to try hard to discern characters or grasp backstories from gleaned hints when I’m reading a comic about mice with swords. Keep it simple, no?

  25. That IS Marv from The Dreaming then?. What’s he doing in New York?.

    I really love your site mate, so much goodness.

  26. “…therefore you get the whole “Batman enters the room seconds after Damian leaves thereby never learning of his existence” cliche”

    …What are you talking about? Batman literally says (and I quote) “Talia and Damian were here?” The book takes place post Batman-and-Son, after Talia’s taken Damian back.

  27. Y’know, I sort of liked Countdown to Adventures, if only for the Adam Strange part. You don’t see the fun in the whole Champ Hazzard concept? It really strikes me as some sort of commentary on the current mode of storytelling in comics…

    …or I’m reading too much subtext into it. I do that sometimes. :\