The Week In Ink: January 21, 2009

Okay, folks, embarrassing confession time: When I was twelve and Super Street Fighter II came out on the SNES, I totally had a crush on Chun-Li, to what I would consider to be a completely inappropriate extreme.



Sort of explains a lot, doesn’t it?

But enough reminisces of chldhood! It’s Thursday,a nd that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Freudian Comics Reviews! Here’s what I picked up this week…



…and here’s what I thought about ’em!



Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil #1: Y’know, I don’t know why they didn’t just call this thing what it is: Marvel Adventures Super-Villain Team-Up.

Actually, I do know why: Because they wanted it to sell, and the Marvel Adventures titles–despite often being the best versions of the characters on the stands–don’t really fly off the shelves, presumably because they’re kid-friendly and comics, as we all know, are serious business. But I’ll get into that some other time.

What matters tonight is that Doc D and the Furious Fiends is a Marvel Adventures title in all but name, and that’s a good thing. Just like he does in those books, Paul Tobin turns in a fun, continuity-free story of a Doctor Doom who shows up and just starts kicking the crap out of a gang of super-villains, rather than sitting in a basement waiting to be told what to do, and then polishes it off with the promise of the Circus of Crime next issue. And also, Iron Man fights a bear with a mop. Which is to say that Iron Man, with a mop, fights a bear.

Either way, it’s pretty rad, and I’m sure it’ll tide us over until Marvel Adventures Mopfightin’ drops in June.





El Gorgo! #2: Okay, this one’s cheating a little since it didn’t actually come out this week–it actually dropped January 4–but since I haven’t had a chance to mention it yet here on the ISB, I’m doing it now: El Gorgo! is without question one of the best comics you can read.

Long-time ISB readers and fans of things that are awesome might recall that I loved the first issue of Mike McGee and Tamas Jakab’s tale of a gorilla rock star luchadore super-scientist–for what I think are pretty obvious reasons–but I’ll confess that I was actually a little surprised that I liked the second issue as much as I did. Not because I have doubts about the creative team’s talent, but because the kind of manic energy that went into their creation is hard to keep up for twenty-four pages of one issue, let alone two. And yet, here we are with “Terror On Titan!!!” (that’s right: three exclamation points), a time-bending, dinosaur-fighting, face-rocking epic that lives up to the first issue’s potential and more.

McGee’s script is just flat-out fun, with a self-aware deadpan rhythm that only heightens the weirdness of his plot, full of lines like this:

EL GORGO: Perhaps we have not met!! You are bat-winged, lizard-faced, woman-sacrificing, reflexively sadistic would-be-world-conquering evil–whereas I… am EL GORGO!

And then he gives the bad guy a Double Axehandle. But as crazy as the scripts can get, Jakab’s art has the perfect, Kirby-inspired style to pull it off, with pages that are always solid and occasionally beautiful.

Of course, one of the best features about the book is that it’s completely free to read online in three formats, with a hard copy available at $3.95 plus shipping. Not just because it’s always nice to get something good for free, but because McGee and Jakab are the prime example of what the Internet can allow you to do with comics. They’re literally two guys doing it for themselves, and they’re putting out a project that’s better than a lot of what you’ll find from any of the major companies, and I don’t mind telling you that as someone who’s trying to do the same thing with my stuff, they’re an inspiration.

With El Gorgo!, Jakab and McGee are using the Internet as their proving ground, and when they hit it big–and they will–the people in charge are gonna kick themselves for taking so long to realize it. Give ’em a read.


Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #2: The long-delayed Superman Beyond #2 finally hit this week, and while it would’ve made a hell of a lot more sense for it to come out before Final Crisis #6, I still thought it was a hell of a good read.

The nature of fiction is something that Morrison’s been playing with for his entire career. It’s a theme that runs through virtually all of his major works, to the point where some–Animal Man and The Invisibles spring to mind–are entirely built around exploring new ways to incorporate the fourth wall into the story itself, and that’s exactly what he’s doing here.

The basic beats of the plot–Superman fights, saves world, loves Lois–are all things that we’ve seen before, but the way that Morrison treats Superman as exactly what he is, a fictional character designed to win against evil, is something that you don’t get a whole lot of, and it’s I find it very appealing. Again, it’s stuff that Morrison’s done before. The entire point of JLA: Earth 2 is that The Justice League Always Wins, and it’s no coincidence that Batman RIP–which opens by literally telling us that Batman and Robin Will Never Die–was almost immediately followed by the release of a book where Batman dies.

Batman’ll be back. We all know it. Morrison knows it. DC knows it, which is why they put out a collection this week of all the other times Batman died and came back no worse for wear. And the same applies for everyone: We had Wally West as the Flash for twenty years, and comics just couldn’t let go of Barry Allen. We had Kyle Rayner for ten before Hal Jordan came back in a story that explained he’d been gone because–I shit you not–a giant yellow space bug lived in his head and outwitted God. It’s fiction. Anyone can come back for any reason, and to believe otherwise is the mark of an immature reader.

And yes, I realize the irony that the lecture about immature readers is coming from a guy primarily known for liking comics where guys in costumes punch sharks in the face, but hey: I know what I like.

Anyway, Superman Beyond doesn’t do that, and as a result it’s the exact opposite of Dan Didio standing in a room asking a bunch of fanfic writers how excited they’d be if Dick Grayson was the New Batman For Reals This Time You Guys. I don’t want to get too fannish here (too late!), but in putting that idea at the forefront of his comic and casting Superman as the guardian capital-F Fiction created to protect itself, Morrison strips away that last bit of artifice and treats us like we’re grown-ups who know how lowercase-f fiction works. And I thought it was great.

3-D still needs some work, though.


Mighty Avengers #21: With this issue, writer Dan Slott takes over Mighty Avengers, and while I’m usually a pretty big fan of Slott’s work, this thing did absolutely nothing for me.

When you get right down to it, I think the problem is that I just really don’t care about most of the characters that make up his team. I mean, sure, I like the Hulk and Hercules, but the rest of the team… USAgent? Don’t care. Stature and the Vision? My least favorite characters from Young Avengers. Jocasta? Only when she’s being romanced by a whiskey-drinking, zombie-chopping Machine Man. Scarlet Witch? Didn’t care even before she was reduced to a plot device in a one-piece. And Hank Pym? Could not possibly care less, and to be honest, the whole thing where he’s the new Wasp just strikes me as being monumentally goofy, and not in the good way.

Even the villain, Quicksilver turned evil by the Darkhold and used as the host body for Chthon, is the kind of throwback to c-list Marvel titles and their attendant villains that Slott excels at and that I usually like, but this time… nothin’.

All of which begs the question of why I bothered in the first place, and aside from the fact that I’m a guy who actually wants to read a book about a team of super-heroes, it’s like I said: I’m a fan of Slott’s work. Over the past five years, that guy has been turning in underappreciated classic after underappreciated classic, and the Avengers seemed to be the next logical step. And hey, raining blood seemed like a pretty good idea when Slayer and Matt Fraction did it, so why not?

But in practice, it just sort of sits there, asking me to care about Hank Pym whining through an issue in a red and yellow tail coat, and there are some things I cannot do.


Punisher (Frank Castle) #66: Okay, first things first: This issue marks what is quite possibly the most complicated renumbering ever. I went through it before, but for those of you who missed it: Punisher War Journal (v.2) was relaunched with a new #1 as The Punisher (v.8), while The Punisher (v.7) was changed without being relaunched or renumbered to The Punisher: Frank Castle (v.1), which was necessary because… You know, I really have no idea. I’ll get back to you on that one. Basically, the net result was that now, the MAX series has one of the worst-designed logos in comics. Seriously, it’s like they just put “FRANK CASTLE THE” above the regular logo in boldface Times New Roman, put a stroke around it, and then knocked off to grab some lunch. I mean, I’m not as design-oriented as a lot of people, but really.

Once you get past the needless complexities and the logo, though, this issue’s actually really good. So good, in fact, that I thought Gregg Hurwitz had stepped his game up astronomically before I flipped back to the cover to find that it was actually Duane Swierczynski, which made a whole lot more sense. Swierczynski is, after all, the guy who took over scripting Immortal Iron Fist after Matt Fraction and, despite my initial skepticism, has been doing a pretty bang-up job with it. And the same goes here, because while this is essentially Crank with the Punisher standing in for Jason Statham, it turns out that that’s exactly what I’d like to read. Who knew?


Uncanny X-Men Annual #2: Chad told me yesterday that he’d seen someone refer to this as the best comic that Matt Fraction had ever written, and while it is pretty good, I’m not sure that anything and wrench that title away from Mantooth, the story of a Kung Fu Gorilla and his battle with the World’s Greatest Grandpa Robot. Still, it does hold the distinction of being the Matt Fraction comic with the most focus on Emma Frost in her underwear (more than usual, I mean), so I suppose that oughtta count for something!



And that’s the week. As always, if you have any questions or thoughts about something I read this week, or if you just want to chime in with an opinion on Jeff Parker’s highly enjoyable Mysterius the Unfathomable or discuss how this week’s issue of Tiny Titans justifies the existence of the entire series, feel free to leave it in the comment section below.

50 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: January 21, 2009

  1. I’ll have to read both issues of Superman Beyond because I don’t get it. I mean, I sense that it’s good, and it’s fun to see a Not-Really-Dr. Manhattan do Dr. Manhattan things, but I’m not getting it. Do the 3-D glasses help? I never use those because I don’t want to mess up the book and they never work for me.

    Chris, did you bail on Doctor Who: The Forgotten? Heckuva finale with lots of blasts from the past, and a long-overdue farwell for a companion I wasn’t expecting. Also, the Ben Templesmith cover gives a taste of what’s to come from his upcoming one-shot DW story.

  2. I think that the other series is going to change who the Punisher is. That’s the only explanation that’s somewhat logical as to having dude’s name in the title.

  3. re: Uncanny X-Men Annual 2. This made the Scott/Emma dynamic make far more sense to me. Cyclops keeping secrets from a telepathic girlfriend? Doesn’t make sense. The telepathic girlfriend sneaking out of bed at night to hang out with big powerful men, and everyone in a delightful state of deshabille? With all the respect in the world to Mr. Summers, THAT makes sense.

  4. “And also, Iron Man fights a bear with a mop. Which is to say that Iron Man, with a mop, fights a bear.”

    The first scenario is more in line with Iron Man’s current 616 persona. The bear, a productive member of ursine society, is quietly cleaning the floor when Tony sneaks up and smacks the crap out it (the bear).

  5. Amazed you don’t like Hank Pym, Chris. It might help if you thought of him as Marvel’s take on The Amazing Transforming Jimmy Olsen. Apart from the whole wife-hitting incident I wish someone would retcon so writers don’t have to discuss it clumsily EVERY SINGLE TIME HE APPEARS…

  6. Hank Pym is amazing…insomuch that he’s loathed both inside the books he’s in and by the people reading them to the degree that he changes costumes and powers every few weeks in the hopes that people won’t recognize him.

    His two defining moments, when he’s ostensibly a hero, are hitting his wife and building Ultron. That’s just the calibur of hero he is.

    Ultron, at least, had the decency to dress up like Santa once, which justifies Pym’s existence.

  7. Chris
    have you picked up Diggle’s Thunderbolts lately? In three issues (after the first, actually), he’s managed to cleanse the stench of Christos Gage from the book and turn in some stellar dialogue, returning Tommy Lee Osborne to his intelligently scheming manipulative self instead of the gung-ho scene-chewing-up has-been drill seargant Gage portrayed him as.
    Jus’ wonderin’.

  8. That is a really random renumbering on the Punisher titles. I was organizing my collection recently and realized that after One Year Later Superman (one of the Supes titles, I think it was adjectiveless) jumped ahead like 400 issues. No idea why.

  9. El Gorgo is good comics and suggesting Dr. Doom & Masters of Evil is like a MA title is about the most convincing sales pitch you could give me. I think Tobin, Van Lente, and Parker are easily doing some of the best superhero writing on the stands aright nowt, not by reinventing the wheel but by enjoying what makes it go around in the first place.

    (I don’t actually know what I meant by that but I liked how it sounded. The MA books are fun to read is basically my point.)

  10. Is there some kind of Comics Authority I can write and demand that Brad Walker and Carlos Magno learn how to draw Rocket Raccoon? Because the one they gave us looked like total ass..

  11. Its sad how Dan Slott has fallen into the black of hole of crud that is the centre of the marvel bendisverse these days.I am just hoping the hidden character osborne is keeping doom et al in line with doesn’t turn out to be Squirrel Girl or I will have to go into mourning.

  12. It’s not that I don’t believe that “anyone can come back for any reason”, it’s that I believe that fundamentally, Marvel and DC continue to sell me comics based on the premise that it is inherently worth buying because a character dies, while blatantly acknowledging that “anyone can come back for any reason.”

    The death of the Martian Manhunter was perfunctory, uninvolving, and trite. The sales pitch was, plain and simple, “Where were you when the Martian Manhunter died?”, suggesting that this is some sort of milestone in the DC Universe, that we will date all our comics from Before the Death of the Martian Manhunter, and After the Death of the Martian Manhunter. Whether or not it was a good story was pretty much an afterthought.

    And since I know he’s going to come back in a couple of years, why should I care where I was when the Martian Manhunter died? It didn’t involve me as a reader; it didn’t even try. DC just expected me to spend money on it because it’s “Important to Continuity”.

    But oddly enough, when it gets retconned, I don’t get that money back.

    At least Marvel Adventures (which I love just as much as you do) is honest about this stuff. Buy an issue, and you will see the hero fight a bad guy and defeat them. None of this “Nothing will ever be the same again!” line of BS. And lo and behold, without hyped up events to fall back on, they have to tell better stories! It’s like the two things are connected somehow!

    *sigh* I fear I have gotten long and ranty. I will leave you with a memory that never fails to make me smile.

    “I’m Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. And these are my toasters.”

  13. I have to second the VERY BAD DRAWING of Rocket Raccoon. Oy.

    However, it was almost worth it, just to see Jack Flag kicking ass from a wheelchair.

  14. Dan Slott does seem to have become a company man lately. Hope he can break free of the editorial shackles and write something like what got him there in the first place!

    Chris: do you remember when Chun-Li first got her red outfit?

    And, when you say “The Captain,” do you mean “The **** Captain”? From Nextwave?

  15. And, when you say “The Captain,” do you mean “The **** Captain”? From Nextwave?

    Now THAT would be great. It was actually just U.S. Agent.

  16. Aw. Ok. Wow. Is THAT ever the biggest let-down of all time :) Thanks for saving me a few $, though!

  17. So the X-men annual was awesome except for one minor issue that pretty much ruined it for this X-fanboy.

    All through the issue they called Sage, “Selene.” Now if it was just a continuity error and they through Selene into the book when she shouldn’t have joined the Hellfire Club yet I’d be fine with it (well not fine, but I’d accept it).

    However they made it clear it was supposed to be Tessa. They used her same powers, the same relationship with Shaw, everything except the name. Really drove me up a wall.

    Of course I’m an X-fanboy, it might not bother anyone else.

  18. “The first scenario is more in line with Iron Man’s current 616 persona. The bear, a productive member of ursine society, is quietly cleaning the floor when Tony sneaks up and smacks the crap out it (the bear).”

    That bear had it coming. By not informing the US government of it’s ability to use a mop any use of force is clearly justified to bring it down.

    And Chun Li was cute until the Alpha series when the artists started giving her legs like a horse. Seriously the legs were wider around than her waist…

  19. I had my bus-pass in hand and my jacket half-way on when I saw that The Captain was in an Avengers book. I twigged that something was amiss when Chris said he didn’t care. He hadn’t sounded like a pod-person beforehand so there must have been more to it. USAgent? Wasn’t he in Alpha Flight?

    And what are Captain D’s, anyway?

  20. DC continues their downward slide with this Final Crisis mess. So did Tiny Titans take place before FC 6? I thought Darkseid was shot…and now he’s back?! What teh hell DC? Plus you needed a PhD in DC history to even understand that issue. Why did Robin have the Penguin’s penguins? So now I have to go read all of Kirby’s stuff from 40 years ago to even get what’s going on? Plus it carried some major plot points in it that haven’t been addressed in the main series. If your just reading FC, good luck understanding the final issue. Why is Darkseid wearing a hairnet? Oh, you have to drop another $2.25 for this other book!!! I’m dropping DC forever. And what editer genius didn’t catch the typo of “finalS crisis”? I thought it was “FINAL CRISIS”?! DC is the stupidest thing ever. I’m just going to by all 15 different Avengers titles Marvel puts out because at least they make since and read good.

  21. I read the preview of UXM Annual #2, and was dead sure that the scenes in the Hellfire Club with Sebastian Shaw, Selene, Tony Stark, and Norman Osborne were all flashbacks, not current-day events, especially with the shift in art styles. Could that be why some commenters are confused by Sage/Selene and what-not?

    And dammit, I’ve been off the X-Men wagon for 22 years (!), now, with few occasional relapses, so Mssrs. Brubaker & Fraction, please stop making mutant comics that look interesting to me.

    re: Captain D’s. I didn’t know what they were, either, but Google is your friend and wants to make you smarter =8^).

  22. Mssrs. Brubaker & Fraction, please stop making mutant comics that look interesting to me.

    On a related note, I really liked X-Factor #39 this week. It might have gone for shock value, but it hooked me completely.

  23. Re: Edward Liu

    The scenes in the Hellfire Club with Shaw, Stark and Osborne ARE flashbacks. That’s the problem. Selene doesn’t show up with the Hellfire Club until much later in “history.”

    The other problem is the characterization of “Selene” is the same as Tessa/Sage would have been at that point.

  24. Jason said Do the 3-D glasses help? I never use those because I don’t want to mess up the book and they never work for me.

    Jason, the glasses aren’t essential to the concept of the story, other than to point out that Superman is battling in a realm so hyper-alien that it appears to have an extra dimension in addition to the other ones perceived. I think. (I did think it a nice touch that his eyes were colored the same as the 3D glasses.) There’s some nice effects (the glowing test tube wowed me), but it’s a story that would have worked in 3D.

    On the other hand, you can remove and use the glasses without damaging them or the comics. They’re not stapled in, so you can slide them right out, and instead of punching them out and putting them on your face, just hold ’em up to your eyes. Then, slide the glasses right back in between the pages. Bag and board that sucker!

  25. It’s actually Tessa? That makes the story make so much more sense. Obedient and telepathic Selene was making my head hurt.

    Also, you say true things of Tiny Titans. I now know why I was buying it.

  26. Bully . . . truth be told, I wasn’t serious about the glasses, especially since stuff like that never worked for me. I figure a better accessory would’ve been a helmet, so one’s head doesn’t explode while getting Morrison’s writing in its unfiltered state.

    And crushing on Chun Li? You know Kristen Kreuk from Smallville will be playing her in an upcoming SF movie, right? After roughly eight seasons of her, the phrase “boner breaker” would apply, given all the malignant memories of Lana that I have.

  27. Chris, did you bail on Doctor Who: The Forgotten?

    Oh, no, I actually did get it, but I ended up reading it in bed the other night and left it out of my stack when I wrote the shopping list. Very fun stuff.

    have you picked up Diggle’s Thunderbolts lately?

    Nope. I like Andy Diggle a lot, but it’s just one of those books that doesn’t interest me. Maybe I’ll take a look if I get the chance.

    That is a really random renumbering on the Punisher titles. I was organizing my collection recently and realized that after One Year Later Superman (one of the Supes titles, I think it was adjectiveless) jumped ahead like 400 issues. No idea why.

    Superman was retitled after Crisis on Infinite Earths to Adventures of Superman, and kept the original numbering from its launch in 1940, while a second Superman was launched with a new #1 for John Byrne’s revamp. For One Year Later, they canceled Superman v.2, and reverted Adventures back to its original title, keeping its numbering the same.

    It was actually just U.S. Agent.

    Right, right, sorry. It was two in the morning, I’ll fix that.

    Your praise of the luchadore had nothing to do with the recap page shout-out, right? RIGHT?

    Is there one? I honestly just skipped right to the action.

  28. USAgent? Wasn’t he in Alpha Flight?

    They’re called Omega Flight, but essentially. Some stupid thing is happening, and Scarlet Witch showed up to jack USAgent from a battle where Omega Flight was getting killed by what looked like mosquitoes. Wanda actually tried to get Bucky, but she got there too late and these vines had killed Bucky, Wolverine, and Spider-Man (she actually says, “I’m too late. Captain America is dead.”). Wanda left Clint Barton (I think he’s Ronin?) to also die against these same vines.

    Also, the entire state of Oklahoma appears to be gone because Jarvis (the real one) was sensible enough to think “hey, bad magic’s happening! better get Thor!” But he couldn’t. Because the entire state and everything in it was gone.

    I’m gonna give this a few issues, because I like USAgent. It was cool how the writer had Walker saying he couldn’t leave people behind. It reminded me of a fairly cool scene in New Invaders where Walker said the same thing, and blew up an oil tank to save Namor from Wolverine, despite being in pretty poor shape.

    Wish they’d got USAgent for Dark Avengers. I think he really could’ve fit in there.

  29. Man. First time I glanced at the cover I thought I saw Aaron Stack.

    Then I read “The Captain”.

    Man, never have Nextwave based hopes been so crushed.

  30. I will gladly continue to inhale Christos Gage’s “stench” as long as it writes completely enjoyable comics far into the foreseeable future. The man is a fantastic writer, and he’s one of the few scribes in the Marvel stables I give two shits about. He even has me reading the dystopian adventures of Wildcats, a fact that scares me even as I type this. I wish his “stench” continued to stink up Thunderbolts. Maybe if it did, they wouldn’t have to hit the reset button with an entirely new line-up.

  31. Andrew sez: “a battle where Omega Flight was getting killed by what looked like mosquitoes.”

    Finally, an accurate portrayal of life in Canada.

  32. “Wanda actually tried to get Bucky, but she got there too late and these vines had killed Bucky, Wolverine, and Spider-Man (she actually says, “I’m too late. Captain America is dead.”). Wanda left Clint Barton (I think he’s Ronin?) to also die against these same vines.”

    I didn’t get that Bucky was dead. I thought she meant that Steve was when she saw it was Bucky and moved on. Of course, Spider-Man being impaled backs up your reading. And the fact that she settled for US Agent, so she wasn’t that particular on her choice of Caps after all. That, and I’m not very good at reading things, apparently.

    I liked the issue more than Chris did, but I’m not sure I’ll follow it in singles. Really, I’ve read most of Slott’s Marvel work in trades and enjoyed it that way (including Avengers: Intiative).

  33. All the good things that I’ve been reading about the Marvel Adventures line on this blog have got me interested.

    Do you recomend all of them? (Avengers, Hulk, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, Spider Man)

    And can I jump in anytime I want? There aren’t tons of continuity to worry about?

  34. Okay Chris, fess up. One year ago, did you actually travel forward in time one whole year, buy the new comics of the future, then returning to write this, and then sitting on it one whole year before publishing, just so you wouldn’t spoil the comics of the future for your readers? You, sir, are a class act!

    Jest aside, how do you think Bedard is doing wrapping up Birds of Prey?

  35. Nova came out 2 weeks ago here. Chris usually gets it 1 week after I do. I don’t see it on any of the last 3 pull lists.

  36. Superman Beyond is one of the better parts of Final Crisis. Still, there are some truly retarded aspects (the whole conclusion was a mess, but the last panel put a big stupid grin on my face).

    Also: Weird that Martian Manhunter’s death had more resonance and effort put into it than Batman’s.

  37. Chris, that’s EXACTLY how I feel about Mighty Avengers and its roster, word for freaking word, that you’re totally scaring me right now. I might have to stop coming here until it stops feeling awkward.

    But yeah man…the roster doesn’t exactly grab you. More like, it softly caresses your shoulder and says it’s gonna be all right.