Normally, I like to let these things speak for themselves, but the setup for this one is just too good to leave out:
Well-done, Kirkman & Co. Well done indeed.
As for the rest of the comics this week, well, it just wouldn’t be the Internet’s Jolliest Comics Reviews if I got my opinions out of the way right here in the introduction, would it? Of course not! So then, here’s the frankly ridiculous list of what I picked up this week…
…now, let’s find out which ones kept me Grinchy, and which ones caused my heart to grow three sizes today!
Bat Lash #1: The irony here is astounding.
For those of you who haven’t read it yet, I’ll explain: Aside from the fact that I really like both Sergio Aragones and John Severin (and have no opinion whatsoever on co-writer Peter Brandvold), one of the major reasons that I was excited about the new Bat Lash series when it was announced was that I was hoping it could take the place of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s Jonah Hex, which I dropped for an infuriating over-reliance on rape as a plot point. And yet, here we are with Bat Lash #1, which ends with Lash’s lady-friend in iminent danger of sexual violence from the story’s villain.
What the hell, man?
It’s an incredibly disappointing development, and was only made worse by the high expectations I had for the book to begin with. Still, I’m planning on sticking with the title for the next issue or so, and while that might be hypocritical of me given what I’ve already said and my frustrations with Jonah Hex over the very same issue, but I’ve got to think that Aragones at least is a good enough creator that he ought to be given a chance to do something entertaining with the title, rather than just beating the same old plot point into the ground.
Booster Gold #5: One of the most interesting things about writing a daily comics blog is that I often find myself writing out sentences that, five years ago, I never thought I’d ever actually use. Like, say, “No, really: US1 is actually really good!” Well, prepare to check another one off the list, friends:
Man, this week’s issue of Booster Gold was awesome.
Yeah, I know, it feels weird for me to say it, too. Anyway, as you can probably tell from the cover, this issue finds the time-traveling hero heading back to the events of The Killing Joke in an effort to keep Barbara Gordon from being crippled by the Joker, and needless to say, it doesn’t work out so well. But the stort itself works out beautifully: As much as it’s part of the whole overwritten super-seriousness that surrounded Infinite Crisis, the best moment we’ve gotten for the character in recent years has been the scene where it’s mentioned that Booster knew full well what he was getting into when he tried to take on Doomsday, but that he did it anyway hoping that he could save Superman.
It’s a good little character bit, and it’s that theme that Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz are using to propel the story here, and it’s great. Obviously, it’s a pretty huge departure from the hijinks of the recent issues that saw Booster getting drunk and crashing the Time Sphere, but seeing him throw himself relentlessly against the world’s most dangerous madman when he’s got the concept time itself stacked against him is just fantastic, and as he gets more and more determined with each brutal failure, it turns into an incredible show of heroism. It’s awesome, and along with Catwoman and Blue Beetle, Booster Gold might just be one of the best comics DC’s putting out.
…And that’s another one I thought I’d never say.
The Engineer #1: You might remember that I was pretty excited about this one back when it was solicited, owing to the fact that it can be accurately described as a comic about a guy with a cosmic pipe organ, and to say the least, that’s right up my alley. Even better, he uses said cosmic pipe organ to search for what appears to be a gear-filled FabergÃ© egg crafted for the sole purpose of saving the universe.
Just based on the concept, this thing should be freakin’ radical.
Unfortunately, a good idea can only take you so far, and while there’s nothing I’d call bad–or even “not very good”–about this issue, it doesn’t quite live up to the potential of its premise. To be fair, the first two pages are darn near perfect, and deliver the setup in a fun manner with a great punchline, and the last few pages are great, but the stuff in the middle just doesn’t quite hit. Seeing as it takes place on a planet populated by alien cavemen–again, a great concept–the opening action sequence doesn’t give anyone for the Engineer’s weak shots at witty banter to bounce off of, and when understandable characters do appear–in this case, the specters–the dialogue doesn’t mesh more often than it does.
It’s tricky to pull off, and the end result isn’t a bad comic so much as one that’s a little rougher around the edges than it ought to be. That said, there are a few scenes where it breaks through its shortcomings, and with the challenge of setting things up that a first issue provides out of the way, I’m thinking that it can’t help but improve from here.
Fantastic Four #552: I’ve mentioned my enjoyment of Dwayne McDuffie and Paul Pelletier’s run on FF more than a few times over the past few months, and really, other than the issue where Black Panther puts on the Astro Harness to fight the Silver Surfer in Outer Spaaaaace, there hasn’t been one that quite captures what I like about like this one does.
And it’s not just because there’s a sequence where the Thing just wails on Dr. Doom while explaining his friendship for the best friend that got him turned into an orange rock monster, although I assure you: That makes for some excellent comics. No, the single instant that just encapsulates the strength McDuffie brings to the title is where Reed, right after the rest of the team finally figures out that he just blew the head off of one of Doom’s robots and not the real Sub-Mariner, spins around with a shocked, scandalized look on his face and says “You didn’t think I’d actually killed T’Challa and Namor?!” That’s a guy who thinks so fast that it doesn’t even occur to him to explain why he’s doing something crazy, and doesn’t bother because he knows he’s got the trust of his family, and if that’s not the Reed Richards we all like–rather than, say, Mark Millar’s smarmy know-it-all fascist–then I don’t know what is. Great stuff.
Invincible #47: And speaking of great little moments in this week’s books, there’s one in this one that I just loved. And believe it or not, it’s not the kick to the face that tonight’s post led with, either. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I did like that one an awful lot, but I’m thinking here of the scene where Tether Tyrant and Magmaniac–which, really, have got to be the comic-bookiest super-villain names of all time–are robbing a bank, and Invincible shows up to stop them, saying “You guys?! Where have you been? I missed you.”
Ryan Ottley puts a half-smirk on Invincible’s face when he says it, and there’s no doubt that it’s your standard fight-opening tough-guy dialogue, but it’s played in such a way that I can’t help but think that there’s meant to be a little sincerity in there. One of Invincible’s defining moments, after all, is when he meets Allen the Alien and actually tries talking to him instead of just getting in another high-orbit dustup, so it’s not a stretch to imagine Mark Grayson sitting around one day at lunch and wondering whatever happened to those two goofy guys he beat up, and there’s something undeniably appealing about a character who has a certain fondness for his low-rent adversaries, even when they’re standing in front of him waiting to get punched.
Now, there’s a good chance that I’m reading way too much into what essentially amounts to a throwaway line, but for me, it’s yet another great small moment in a book that never stops delivering ’em.
Marvel Adventures Hulk #6: I don’t say this often, but man: Paul Benjamin just gets it.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned the Marvel Adventures Hulk title before, and how it sort of blindsided me by being way better than I expected it to, but for six solid months, Benjamin’s hit on all cylinders with everything I love about the whole MA line: Much like ISB Favorite Jeff Parker, who used the format to tell the best Avengers story ever, Benjamin’s creating his own idealized Marvel universe with stories where Bruce Banner, Rick Jones and their pet monkey seek out the help of other heroes in attempts to cure himself, and it’s fantastic.
Admittedly, the fact that every issue other than the first one has been about the Hulk teaming up with another Marvel Super-Hero might turn a few readers off, but I think the record will show that my affection for Marvel Two-In-One leads me to think that that’s just a swell idea. Regardless, in this issue, Banner stands trial in Atlantis, and any thoughts about the lack of Hulk stories that are actually about the Hulk rather than the Hulk’s Special Guest should be put to the side once you find out that there’s a scene here where the Hulk and Namor fight gamma sharks.
Yep: Gamma Sharks. No more need be said.
Nova #9: There were a couple of people who were surprised last month when I didn’t mention Nova in the ISB’s weekly reviews, but really: What the heck am I supposed to add to a story where Nova and a telepathic talking cosmonaut dog fight space zombies in a city built in the hollowed-out head of a dead Celestial?
Seriously. You tell me what else I need to say about that, other than the fact that it’s highly enjoyable–much like every issue of what’s definitely one of Marvel’s best new series of 2007–and I’ll say it. Promise.
Thanks, Guys Who Wrote Teenage Future Space Teens!
Punisher War Journal #14: So if you’re like me–a pretty terrifying prospect, I know–you’ve often found yourself wondering what that one J. Michael Straczynski Spider-Man story where the guy’s going around killing super-types with animal powers would be like if it was less about mystical totems and more about good ol’ fashioned Marvel-style ass-kicking, and if that’s the case, then rest easy: Matt Fraction’s done the work for you.
Of course, that’s old news, as this is the second part of the story where Fraction–along with Atomic Robo‘s Scott Wegener, filling in for Cory Walker–pits Frank against Kraven Jr., but there is some new information that I feel compelled to pass along, and that is this: The last two caption boxes in this issue come awfully close to equalling Goin’ Out West‘s immortal “I need to steal a car. I’m gonna drive to Mexico and shoot that guy in the face,” as seen in as the most fun things the Punisher’s said in this run.
Ah, sharkpunching. You never fail to please.
Wonder Woman #15: I know I joke around a lot here, but I’m gonna be real with you guys for a second, and I hope there’s someone at DC listening:
I would totally buy a monthly Gail Simone comic that was nothing but Captain Nazi getting the living crap kicked out of him by various super-heroes. Seriously. Heck, you could probably put out a trade–or at least a Prestige Format book–with just the stuff she’s done already!
Anyway, it’s Simone’s second issue of Wonder Woman, and despite a) the complete lack of Wonder Woman’s famed Gorillaplex, and b) the continuing trend of casting Nemesis as the Worst Secret Agent On Earth, it’s even better than her first. I think you can lay the credit here squarely at the feet of another clever, brutal defeat of Captain Nazi, because as I said above, I could just read about that guy being smacked around all day and never get tired of it, but the way Simone’s fleshing out the plot of the imprisoned Amazon Royal Guard is doing a lot to cast them in a far more sinister light than I’d originally expected. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that the whole thing’s being drawn by Terry and Rachel Dodson, who pull off everything from faces smacking into walls to frizzy-haired pre-battle Amazon coif-maintenance with equal, fantastic ability that makes me feel like it might be time to finally forgive them for Trouble.
…But then again…
And that’s the week! As always, etc., questions and comments, leave ’em, you guys know how it works by now, right?