The Week In Ink: December 16, 2009

First Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, now kicks to the face?



Sean McKeever knows what I like.

And what I like is comics, and it’s a good thing too, because it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Christmasy Comics Reviews! Here’s what I bought at the shop yesterday…



…but those aren’t the only great comics you can find this week! One of them we’ll be talking about in a moment, but for those of you who missed the fanfare, I dropped the latest Instant Classic of the Action Age of Comics last night: The Christmas Chronicles of Solomon Stone!

It’s an all-new nine page holiday adventure from the World’s Greatest Half-Vampire Skateboard Champion Private Detective, written by me (my second Christmas comic!) and drawn by the phenomenal Matt Digges. If you haven’t, give it a read, and enjoy the comic that took a Christmas Miracle to pull off.

Okay, melodrama over. Now, the reviews!



Captain America Reborn #5: Aaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Okay, okay, sorry, it’s just that… Look, I’ve been waiting for Ed Brubaker to drop a full-on MODOK appearance in his Captain America run for like five years now, and although he came close with the MODOC Squadron, which were basically dudes in MODOK cosplay (MODOCosplay?), this one just… I mean… There’s a whole damn two-page spread… and..


Okay, I’m good this time. I’m good.

Anyway, I’ve heard some griping about this book’s pacing from the usual quarters, and while it’s been a slow build, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A strange sentiment, I know, but the slow burn of plot threads coming together is what makes an issue like this one–which is just a flat-out super-hero adventure with body-swapping and laser cages made by Nazis to trap robots and… well, you know–so great to read, even if Bryan Hitch is still refusing to give Captain America a proper A on his forehead.


Chimichanga #1: Eric Powell’s latest project dropped this week, and the big deal with it–aside from it having the most appetizing title since Richie Rich’s Beach Boys Barbecue Blowout Bash Blast–is that he’s self publishing it through Exploding Albatross Funnybooks, which hasn’t had much to do since The Goon found a home at Dark Horse. As such, as much as Powell’s a guy who has recent work on Superman–the diametric opposite of self-publishing–it’s got that indie-comic feel, not to mention that heavy ink smell.

Of course, a lot of that probably has to do with the subject matter, which–like The Goon–is set in a nebulous world of traveling circuses, monsters and freaks. It’s a setting that, like the references to hobo culture that crop up in Goon from time to time, is fascinating for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that this story could’ve taken place any time in the past fifty years, with a kid’s bluetooth headset being the only thing that pins it down to nowish. The end result is something that, for the start at least, has the same kind of fun you’d expect if you’re a fan of Goon–which I am–but with less scarred-up mobsters and with more bearded little girls.


El Gorgo! #3: Earlier tonight, I said that along with Solomon Stone, there was another awesome comic that you could read online for free, and I’ve got to say: If you can only read one, well… you should probably read El Gorgo!.

I mean, look: I try hard, folks. I really do, and I’m helped out by the fact that I’ve got some phenomenal artists to work with, but man. McGee and Jakab didn’t just drop 32 gorgeous, full-color pages of a time-traveling gorilla luchador surf guitar super-scientist teaming up with a dinosaur man from the future who wore the gorilla’s lucha mask because his culture literally worships him as the god of punching monsters so that they could battle Dagon. No, they did all that… and then introduced it with a news report given by a foxy television journalist… who was also herself a luchdador.

That is pure genius, and I honestly don’t know if I can compete with that.

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to, as El Gorgo!, like the comics we put up at the Action Age, are completely free to read online or download, and you can grab #3 right here. There’s even a print version if you want to throw some scratch their way, and I’d suggest you do, because these guys are the future. And that’s real.





The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures: For those of you who might not be familiar with the Rocketeer, here’s how it works: Dude finds a jtpack. Dude wears jetpack to fight Nazis. Dude’s girlfriend is a frequently naked analogue of Bettie Page. It’s as awesome as it sounds. Now about this new hardcover…

Holy cats, is this thing beautiful.

That’s no surprise, of course; The Rocketeer‘s been a good-looking comic for as long as it’s existed. That’s kind of its deal, and while it was the late, great Dave Stevens’ amazing design sense, expressive faces, sultry women that caught the eye, it was the fun, pulpy adventures he constructed to showcase them that made this book what it is.

But this hardcover, man, dang. Stevens was great to begin with, but for the hardcover, IDW got Laura Martin–hands down one of the top two or three colorists working today–to recolor the whole thing, and it’s incredible. It compliments the original work, it’s not overdone, and it gives the whole thing such an incredibly slick appearance that I’ll be absolutely shocked if this thing doesn’t take home a stack of awards next summer.

Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s a page–chosen at random, I assure you–as it originally appeared:



And the same page with Martin’s colors:



The difference is incredible, and like all good coloring, it really brings out Stevens’ artwork, and makes this volume more than worth the $30 cover price. In other words, I highly recommend it.


Yotsuba&! v.7:




…burns with the intensity of a thousand suns



And that’s the week! As always, any questions, concerns, etc. can be left in the comments section below. But will Yotsuba’s intensity replace the Fried Ice Cream picture as my preferred way of responding? That is up to you.

48 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: December 16, 2009

  1. Artie Simek is like Laura Martin’s color remastering job on THE ROCKETEER: just fuckin’ SICK

  2. Effin’ Laura Martin, makin’ the rest of us look bad.

    Seriously, though, the recoloring job pushes this one into must-buy territory for me.

  3. Right so I’ll be needing to add that Rocketeer collection to my buy list. Also, what is the stick figure cartoon from? The Eric Powell book? I can’t spot anything else on your list that it would seem to fit…

  4. You know, something about the old style coloring I enjoy a little more than the update. It may be just me but I often feel like with the ‘absolute editions’ and whatnot, when they recolor everything, it’s like they just say “man this guy sucked at coloring, we better go over this fuckups work to make it acceptable.” As pretty as the new colors are with the expanded pallet and computer rendered highlights, something seems off to me. I doubt anyone would agree though. It may be I am just sort of a ‘purist’ when it comes down to things of the sort. It reminds me of the Star Wars re-releases where they added pointless new scenes that didn’t mesh with the original at all. Even if he had intended it that way originally, it was a piece of art as it was and we didn’t need to re-attach new arms to the Venus de Milo to appreciate it (and yes, I just compared Star Was to the Venus de Milo, deal with it).

  5. Actually Adam, I logged onto the comments just to see if anyone else felt the same as me about preferring the old coloring style. Don’t get me wrong, the new stuff is pretty, but the efforts of the computer almost looks like it takes the original artwork as a “helpful suggestion”. And your comparison to the Star Wars redos is pretty apt. Something that looked like the old serials it emulated was turned into something that looks more like the monstrosity the franchise would become. Pretty, but loses quite a bit of its soul.

  6. Add me to the list of those who like the original colouring style more. Don’t get me wrong, the new one is nice to look at in a Zenescope sort of way — but it’s a bit too glossy, I think. It doesn’t seem to fit the period.

  7. And add me to the list that prefers the original coloring. Yes, I can see that the new coloring is “better” – and certainly more contemporary – but it’s also less colourful and more dull than the original.

    Mind you, both versions are still very good. And if it helps to sell it to today’s audience, then I’m all for it.

  8. No love for Power Girl? Not even a glance? One would think the sheer magnificence of VARTOX would be right up your alley…

  9. Yeah, I much prefer the original colouring, too. This isn’t the same as the recolouring of, say, Gaiman’s Sandman, where the colouring really fixed things up. This is recolouring a classic piece of comic and making it all look modern.

    It’d be like putting Casablanca in colour.

  10. The thing I love most about McKeever’s Nomad is that it takes all of the guilty pleasure of enjoying Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane and replaces it with the aforementioned kicks to the face. I was ecstatic when I found out this would be getting the back-up feature treatment in Captain America.

  11. So I go to looks at the Rocketeer page on Amazon, like a good little consumer and I notice the “Complete Deluxe Edition” for another thirty bucks and 100 pages.

    What to do…

  12. I’ve had my order in for that Rocketeer collection and I’m waiting for it to show up in my mailbox. Fortunately I ordered a copy of the movie which arrived yesterday so I can hold myself over with that (I love the score and apparently so do most producers in Hollywood considering how often they use it as a temp track for trailers).

    As for the recoloring debate I can see both sides. The original coloring is part of the art; techniques may have improved but the penciling and inking were done with the old style flat coloring in mind.

    On the flip side Laura Martin definitely did not ruin the integrity of the image with her recoloring. I took a very close look even before I came into the comments and saw that the discussion had already started. Her worst “sin” (and that’s in quotes since I’m sure that people will disagree) is adding extra texture to the scene.

    I think the new coloring job looks fantastic but I’m just not comfortable with the idea of recoloring everything older than 1998 when it gets reprinted…

  13. Yeah, Laura Martin is undoubtedly an ace colourist, but I just prefer the original style. I’m a flat colours man, me.

    It’s a personal thing, no slight on the new colours, at all.

    This will not stop me buying the living shecht out of this comic when I have enough Scottish buxxors, though.

    (apologies for that last sentence)

  14. You should move to Napier, New Zealand, which is the Art Deco capital of the world. They had an earthquake in the late 1920s and rebuilt using all Art Deco, and most of the buildings are still there. It’s a gorgeous city.

  15. I do not like the new coloring. It is well done, with alot of different tones, but the inking were intended to be colored with flat colors; this is why the original coloring feels, to me, more authentic. Also, I think that the new colors lacks harmony or vibrance (a little more color contrast could be interesting. Also, there is too much white/dark shading; its a boring way to create volumes.). That being said, I think the original colors are old and unesthetic; this comic certainly needed to be recolored, only they should have sticked with flat colors instead.

  16. As someone who has never read The Rocketeer before, I prefer whichever version I happen to be looking at at any given second. They’re both great but in very different way, and I suspect that the only solution may be to buy both hardcovers.

  17. Obviously, all of you who prefer the original coloring are wrong.

    I often feel like with the ‘absolute editions’ and whatnot, when they recolor everything, it’s like they just say “man this guy sucked at coloring, we better go over this fuckups work to make it acceptable.”

    I don’t think Laura Martin’s recoloring of the Rocketeer was an indictment of Dave Stevens or Henry Mayo’s coloring skills. The advances that have been made in coloring over the past ten years alone–not to mention the past twenty–just allow for so much more than they did when the book was originally published. Like, say, the fact that you can actually tell Betty has a nose now.

    I’ll agree that a lot of modern recoloring can be obtrusive–I like the Conan recoloring that Dark Horse has done quite a bit, but I’ll admit that sometimes it doesn’t quite jibe with the mid-’70s John Buscema art, and I know Roy Thomas himself doesn’t really care for it–but the Rocketeer collection is a thing of beauty.

    And I’ll admit that recoloring isn’t for everything, too. A digitally recolored and shaded version of Mr. Miracle or The Demon or anything Jack Kirby did, really, would be so darn weird that I’d probably turn haterish at the first sign of it. It just wouldn’t work as well as the flat, vibrant colors they were drawn for.

    But Dave Stevens isn’t Jack Kirby. And I don’t mean that Kirby’s art is “sacred” and Stevens’ isn’t, it’s a matter of styles. Stevens–especially where Betty/Bettie was concerned–drew things in an exaggerated photo-realism, and while it looked awesome in the original coloring style, Martin’s version really compliments it well.

    I think it does, anyway.

    It’d be like putting Casablanca in colour.

    I see your point, but I don’t think that’s accurate. It’s more like if Casablanca had originally been filmed in color and distributed on VHS, and now it was getting a Criterion release where an extremely talented person worked hard to make it not look like grainy newsprint.

    But to each his own.

  18. YES! That’s exactly what I was wanting to say, Chris. Of course, you put it in a much more coherent way than I would have.

    I’m as much a fan of flat colors and old-school style as anybody, but modern digital colors have a place too, and this is a PERFECT example of that.

  19. Wow. I’m a little shocked by how many people prefer the original coloring to Laura Martin’s work. If you look at any of the pieces that Mr. Stevens colored himself you would see that he would use an “airbrush style” very similar to the digitally rendered coloring that Laura has used here.

    But beyond that, Mr. Stevens himself handpicked Laura Martin to color this definitive collected edition. I quote IDW editor Scott Dunbier from back in February:“While there have been some nice versions in the past, we’re going all out to make this the definitive one. First, we’re following Dave’s wishes and having the entire book re-colored. Not by just anyone, but by the colorist Dave handpicked for the job–Laura Martin. Laura is probably best known to fans for her work on Bryan Hitch’s ‘Authority’ and John Cassaday’s ‘Planetary’ and ‘Astonishing X-Men.’ She’s damn talented and we’re lucky to have her on board.”

    Those of you who prefer the original coloring should do yourselves a favor and go back and read Laura Martin’s comments in the link above. Half of the article is Ms. Martin explaining the decisions she made in terms of technique, and how much research she undertook in order to come to those decisions. She deserves a fair shake. Not only because she was Dunbier and Stevens’ choice. Nor because of the painstaking research she undertook. But because she’s a damn good colorist.

  20. Also, before his untimely passing, didn’t Dave Stevens hand-pick Laura Martin to re-color “The Rocketeer?” If so, Stevens was well aware of the type, and style, of work Martin would produce. Therefore, any issues over the final product are just matters of personal taste, not whether or not she violated the artist’s intent.

    – JEP

  21. I am by no means saying Laura Martin is a bad colorist. She does beautiful work. I think it’s a style thing. The older, limited pallet, ‘pop art’ kind of look appeals to me and I think it meshes better with the art. Where as the newer colors are well picked and the scene in particularly is well laid out (the way all the dark blues surround the warm colored centerpiece is a nice and effective way of drawing the eye in) it doesn’t seem the same for some reason. Like I said I think it’s a style thing. The older colors are easily recognizable as an old pulp style story. The newer ones, though wonderful to look at, give it a different feel all together. Way more modern in both good and bad ways.

    Still though I am willing to accept that my opinion is totally and utterly wrong.

  22. On Captain America Reborn #5, doesn’t it seem strange that an A.I.M. transport can shoot down an Avengers quinjet over Washington D.C. and a superhero slugfest can break out in front of the Lincoln Memorial, and there is NO military, Initiative or police response?
    Even the civilians clear out pretty fast without even a bystander stating the obvious: “Look, there’s TWO Captain Americas”!
    Yotsuba&! v.7 was great.
    Our store won’t get Chimichanga #1 until next week…

  23. Still though I am willing to accept that my opinion is totally and utterly wrong.

    This is pretty much required to be an ISB reader, and I’m glad you’ve embraced it.

  24. I say that the pic of Yotsuba be the standard response to assholes like Frank Stallone in your Time-Lost Batman post’s comments thread, who wants Batman to kill President Obama. Fuck that Frank guy.

  25. I don’t know…I’m finding Reborn to be really underwhelming.

    A time gun? Really? Using the DNA of Sharon Carter’s miscarriage (IIRC) to bring Captain America back from the timestream? REALLY? The whole thing feels a little Silver Age…and not in a good way.

    I enjoy Brubaker’s work on the regular title, but this isn’t doing it for me AT ALL.

    It’s also silly that I’ve already seen Steve Rogers in TWO other books now, yet this thing still isn’t wrapped up.

  26. We need to give Chris reason to take the Yotsuba&! and SOTB pictures for a test run so we can evaluate our responses to both before making an informed decision.

    I know it’s asking a lot of ISB readers to come up with comments that will befuddle and infuriate Chris enough that words fail him, but we at least have to try.

  27. Geez, a perfectly reasonable debate is going on, and Chris has me thinking “maybe the pro-new-colouring side has a point” then someone has to drop a pure-douche turn of phrase like “should do yourselves a favor…”

  28. What edition of “The Rocketeer” is the first image taken from? The coloring of that page in the 1991 edition of the first story in the Eclipse softback is much closer to Laura’s version. Betty has a nose, the backdrop cloth is pale yellow, she’s sitting on a pink sheet, a white fur behind her, etc. Joe Chiodo was principle colourist on this job, although Bruce Timm and others helped out. Anyone know how many colour versions so far?

  29. Jambe, the collections have been pushed back a lot. Last I saw this one was supposed to be out a few months ago and the deluxe one was supposed to be out a couple of weeks ago. Last I heard it was now expected in the middle of January.

  30. Geez, a perfectly reasonable debate is going on, and Chris has me thinking “maybe the pro-new-colouring side has a point” then someone has to drop a pure-douche turn of phrase like “should do yourselves a favor…”

    Sorry you feel that way about my phrasing. I enjoy Ms. Martin’s work quite a bit, and I found her comments in the linked story enlightening. Considering the tenor of comments earlier in the thread I felt compelled to show that this wasn’t just crass hackwork (not that anyone claimed it was), but real craft from a gifted artist. Which is pretty evident from the splash Chris posted.

    I’d hate for someone to pass on a great book like the Rocketeer because of some crank on the internet. So make fun of my choice of words all you want. My point still stands.

  31. What edition of “The Rocketeer” is the first image taken from?

    My copy of the original issue. I scanned it on the sad day that Stevens died.

  32. On a scale of one to the Humanoids reprint of The Incal, where one is an absolute bang-up job, the Rocketeer recolor looks like, I dunno, a six. Not even approaching the epic atrocities inflicted on Moebius’ art in the Incal update, but still bearing an all-to-great resemblance to a Top Cow comic.

  33. So, I need the Rocketeer collection… I remember loving that movie as a kid, but now knowing it was something before the movie. I just hate giving IDW money tho, and have managed to avoid it for a while now… this sucks.

  34. “I’d hate for someone to pass on a great book like the Rocketeer because of some crank on the internet.”

    Hey I am not a crank… well maybe a little bit but… wait nevermind. Anyway I don’t think I am dissuaded by from buying the book. I still want to read it definitely. the only thing stopping me from buying it really is lack of funds. Different coloring doesn’t make the story any less interesting.

  35. I was going to chime in on the side of the original colouring because I hate the Incal “remaster” (the colourised Casablanca analogy is an apt one) and I just think it’s wrong to publish a version not authorised by its principal creator. But if Dave Stevens actually did authorise it that’s good enough for me. I’ll go with his artistic decision.

  36. Those re-colored Dark Horse Conans are just atrocious. They take truly great comics and render them unreadable. I think that the the Essential and Showcase lines are so successful not despite the lack of color but because of it. Even if the comics were originally printed in color, re-printing them in b/w looks more attractive and authentic than computer color, which almost always looks awful (Another example: the Miller Daredevil trades). I’m not prepared to render an opinion on Rocketeer based on these two panels, but I’m certainly against it as a rule.

  37. Your comments re: the lack of Art Deco architecture in our lives: Word. Art Deco is to Modernism like Jack Kirby is to Todd McFarlane.

    It came as no surprise to find that one of the proponents of Modernism in architecture was named Ernő Goldfinger, who designed ugly concrete hives like this.

    It’s some comfort knowing that James Bond eventually killed him.

  38. Hi folks, thanks for chiming in with your opinions about the coloring. I totally respect those who prefer the originals. Lucky for all of us, all of the previous versions still exist, so you are welcome to enjoy whichever version you prefer!

    I did want to chime in with an answer for David M (post #36), who asked how many versions there are of this book. Let me see if I can get this straight: The first two chapters appeared originally as backup stories in Starslayer #2 and 3 (1982). Chapters 3 and 4 appeared in Pacific Presents. The fifth and final chapter of the first storyline was published by Eclipse Comics, which then collected all five chapters, had them recolored, and printed them under the title “The Rocketeer” (1985-ish). So yes, the first four chapters have been colored twice already before I got my hands on them. You’re not imagining things. :)

    Anyway, thanks again for everyone’s input. I especially enjoyed Chris T’s comment (post #44). Thanks for trusting Dave’s judgement!

  39. Just a point of clarification of release dates between the Regular edition of the Complete Rocketeer and the Deluxe edition. They were both officially released by IDW(as specifically intended) on the same day- 12/16/2009. It’s just that for some reason’s info was never updated and kept jumping around. If you ordered the book from Diamond via a comicbook store, it should have arrived on 12/16- the following week if it was a re-order.