You know, there’s an Chris Hansen joke one could easily make about that panel, but we here at the ISB are slightly better than that. Besides, I’m saving all that for the Gunsmith Cats review at the end of the post.
But no matter! It’s Friday night, and with the comics shipping a day late this week, that means it’s time for another no-holds-barred round of the Internet’s Most Explosive Comics Reviews! Here’s what put the match to the powderkeg this week…
…Now brace yourselves, ’cause this thing’s about to blow!
The All-New Atom #13: As much as this book’s been hovering right on the line between fun and boring over the past few months, I’ve got to say that it’s about time somebody remembered that Ray Palmer spent a couple years as an ass-kicking barbarian king. I mean really, it’s not all little chairs and hanging out on Hawkman’s shoulder with that guy; he swings a mean broadsword for a theoretical physicist. It makes for some pretty decent comics, too, and the revelation of the tiny village’s Ray Palmer Impersonator (complete with a highly dubious vocabulary) makes for a couple of great punchlines along the way, but I can’t help thinking that the best stuff in the issue by far was the scene with Chronos at the beginning. It was interesting, well-written, and even referenced 1995’s all-but-forgotten Underworld Unleashed, but it’s over in four pages to make room for a story that ends up with Jason Todd and Donna Troy showing up to rope yet another unsuspecting victim into the neverending quagmire that is Countdown.
Needless to say, that’s a little disappointing.
All-Star Superman #8: You have no idea how much it pains me to say this, given the astounding amount of affection I’ve got for #4’s battle between Doomsday Jimmy Olsen and the Reverse Superman, but I’ve got to be honest with you guys: For the first time, an issue of All-Star Superman has just fallen flat for me.
“But Chris!” you may well be saying, as soon as you recover your monocle from its unexpected flight from your surprise-widened eyes, “This issue’s got the Bizarro Justice League helping Superman to build a rocket out of garbage so that he can escape Bizarro World, and what may well be our first look at the long-awaited return of Solaris the Tyrant Sun! You love Solaris the Tyrant Sun!” And I do, and I’m even excited about the fact that this one only took three months to come out, but it just didn’t do it for me.
It may be that I’m not sure why Bizarro, out of all the things that’ve been explored in the series so far, is what Grant Morrison felt he should spend two issues on, especially given the fact that reading Bizarro dialogue is always a pain in the neck, even with the added comedy of watching Superman try to muddle through it himself. It could just be that Zibarro’s plight as the only Bizarro sensitive enough to write emo poetry about sunsets didn’t strike the right chords. Either way, it just didn’t click. It’s not that it’s bad–and there are some wonderful touches, like the way Bizarro World’s oceans and continents are laid out in a mirror image of Earth’s, or the advent of the highly confusing Bizarro Sarcasm–but it’s certainly not up to the high bar set by previous issues. It’s just… Well, average.
But hang on a second. Maybe it’s not that good because it’s the Bizarro World issue, and on Bizarro World, the comics that aren’t great are the greatest comics of all! Why… That’s metatextual genius!
The Astounding Wolf-Man #2: And the parade of negativity continues. That’s right, folks: It’s gonna be one of those weeks.
Other than the fact that I thought it was pretty cool of him to launch it with the actual full-length first issue on Free Comic Book Day–which probably got it into the hands of a lot more folks than would’ve snagged it otherwise–I’ve been pretty ambivalent towards Robert Kirkman’s latest project ever since it was announced. That said, I like the guy’s other work (most notably Invincible and about half of Marvel Team-Up) enough that I went into this one expecting his usual style of relatively lighthearted adventure. And that’s exactly what it is, right up until a last-page shot that was jarring enough to put the kibosh on any enjoyment I’d had getting to it.
I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, though: This is a comic with a blood-soaked cover of a werewolf tearing into something, after all, so it’s probably on me that I didn’t see it coming. But even so, the violence in the FCBD special was far more subtle, and even the scene of Gary right after the initial werewolf attack–which was itself meant to look pretty horrific–doesn’t match an evisceration complete with trailing intestines and kidneys flying out. And it’s even worse when it comes from Jason Howard’s cartoony (for lack of a better word) style, as that just makes it seem even more remarkably out of place. It’s pretty annoying; the last thing I want to see as a comics reader after the past year is someone else getting brutally disemboweled in full color, and given that Kirkman himself has done similar scenes recently in his other titles, it’s got the added frustration of coming off like just another lazy trick that could’ve been done much better and to a far greater effect in a different way.
See what happens when you hire Dave Campbell, Kirkman? The whole thing just goes right down the tubes
Black Canary #1: I’ve been on the fence about getting this one for a while. On the one hand, as a long-time Birds of Prey reader, I actually do like Black Canary an awful lot. Not enough to think she should actually be the leader of the Justice League (because really, she wasn’t even the leader of the Brids of Prey, and there were only two of them), but still, I’ve got a lot of affection for the character and I’m curious about what she’s doing with her newly adopted “sister,” Sin. On the other hand, I have virtually no interest in finding out whether or not she’s going to accept Green Arrow’s proposal, especially given that DC’s pretty much tossed any suspsense on that front right out the window with this month’s solicitations.
What it really came down to was the team: Tony Bedard’s a hit-or-miss writer for me, but he’s actually doing a lot of stuff that I’m pretty interested in lately, and I thought Paulo Siqueira did a fine job handling pencils on BoP, so I figured I’d give it a shot, and the end result isn’t half bad. Sure, there are parts that don’t even bother to make a bit of sense–like where exactly Merlyn got a framed photograph of Green Arrow and Green Lantern walking in on Speedy while he was shooting up or the fact that Green Arrow is actually stupid enough to confuse a 19 year-old Dinah Lance with her mother, who he saw fighting crime back in the 40s-but if nothing else, it’s nice to see Bedard bringing up Dinah’s ex-husband, who was mentioned a grand total of one (1) time by Chuck Dixon in the pages of Birds of Prey like ten years ago. This is going to sound pretty obvious, but it’s very much like one of those four issue solo mini-series that DC used to hand out to their characters like Halloween candy back in the late ’80s, and while it could go either way at this point, I liked this issue enough to hope it’ll end up being good.
Detective Comics #834: Hey, you know what would be awesome? If the Joker from Detective Comics and the Joker from Batman didn’t appear to exist in complete isolation from one another.
Dynamo 5 #5: It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Jay Faerber’s work her on the ISB, since Noble Causes seems to have plateaued again after the frustrating series of issues that led up to #25, but everything I’ve said about Dynamo 5 in the past is still true: Faerber unquestionably does his best work on the titles he creates himself, and with this one, it’s like he’s hit the perfect balance of super-hero action and the character-driven family struggle element that made the earlier issues of Noble Causes so good. It’s become something of a trademark for him, and with good reason: When he’s firing on all cylinders, it makes for some highly enjoyable comics.
And that’s what’s happening here. Faerber never stops tweaking the book, adding new and interesting plot threads with every issue to create something incredibly entertaining, and Mahmud Asrar’s art compliments it perfectly. It’s excellent stuff, and if you haven’t already, give it a shot.
Jonah Hex #21: So here’s the thing: This book is probably the best thing that Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray have done, and the idea of putting out a Western book with a character that I really like starring in self-contained single issue stories is one that I’d be more than happy tor ead every month if they didn’t keep basing the entire series on stories about rape. It is ridiculous, and nowhere more than in this issue, where the rape and subsequent murders have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the story, and seems to have been tacked on at the beginning and end for no other reason than to meet some sort of quota.
That’s the only thing that could possibly explain it, and so I’m done with the book. It’s already an overused plot device in comics, and any enjoyment that comes from the book is completely outmatched every three months when Palmiotti and Gray trot out the same reasonably offensive plot over and over again. It’s stupid, it’s lazy, it’s frustrating, and it’s dropped.
New Warriors #2: I’m going to owe my friend Brandon ten bucks after this review thanks to a bet we had going back in 2004 about sentences I didn’t think I’d ever say, but even I have to admit that I was pretty excited to see Jubilee show up in this one. Yes, New Warriors continues apace, and Underworld‘s Kevin Grevioux continues to surprise me at every turn with how well he’s managing to pull things off here. I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoyed the Nunzio Defillipis/Christina Weir run on New Mutants and New X-Men, and to see Grevioux and Paco Medina using a powerless Sofia Mantenga as his point of view character, complete with her dreams about the “good times” back before everyone she went to Xavier’s with was blown up or shot in the head makes for one of the most unexpected surprises of the summer. What’s more, the New Warriors themselves are actually a well-done mystery, with Beak showing up in the first issue and Jubliee making her appearance in this one–which itself leads to a genuinely worthwhile cameo by Wolverine–just begging the question as to who else made it to the lineup. It’s fast-paced fun, and it’s exactly the sort of thing I’d want from a Marvel team book right now.
And yet, it’s still New Warriors. Truly, these are wonderful times in which we live.
Runaways #27: Any lingering doubts I might’ve had about whether Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan’s run on this title was going to be as fun and enjoyable as Vaughan and Alphona’s have been, in the span of this one issue, all but completely eradicated.
And I’m as surprised as anybody by it: Time Travel stories are notoriously difficult to pull off, but Whedon makes the absolute most of it in this issue, throwing in what appears to be a 1900s version of the Punisher, a foundation for the Age of Wonders to go right along with the Age of Marvels, and what is probably the most shocking return for a character I’ve ever seen. I honestly didn’t think anything could top Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges bring Sambo back from literary obscurity in the pages of Jack of Fables, but bringing back the Yellow Kid–the Yellow Freakin’ Kid, complete with words on his shirt!–as part of a turn of the century teenage super-team is pretty mind-blowing.
Well, mind-blowing for anybody who ever wrote a paper on the history of comics in high school, I mean. Hully Gee!
And the art matches right up: Ryan’s pencils are better than I’ve ever seen them, thanks in no small part to Christina Strain’s usual (read: amazing) job on colors. It’s a great-looking book, and it lives up to Jo Chen’s fantastic cover. It’s great, great stuff, and it’s finally got me excited about getting to the next issue, instead of looking back on the run that led up to it.
Y – The Last Man #57: And speaking of things I love about Brian K. Vaughan, we have Y, which continues its final story arc this month, three issues from the big finish. It’s always been one of my favorite titles, and ever since I found out it was ending, I’ve been talking about how upset I was going to be if it managed to finish without giving us a scene where Beth and Yorick reunited with a kiss.
We all feel a little bit of fan-entitlement sometimes, folks.
Anyway, that particular scene happened last issue, and since I was completely elated at the prospect of the big payoff for all the tribulations that Yorick’s been through over the past five years, I neglected to consider what was going to have to happen next, which is where this issue picks up, and it’s excellent. Beth’s revelation to Yorick and his reactions are almost perfect, full of the almost-too-clever-for-its-own-good dialogue tricks that are Vaughan’s trademark, from “I was just a straitjacket you were trying to get out of” to his wonderful response when she tells him he can’t be alone out there. The kicker, though, is the bit that leads to the last page. It’s excellent, and now that my own little requirement’s been met, I’m really, really excited about seeing where it’s going to go.
Anita Blake: Vamprie Hunter: Guilty Pleasures: Volume One: That’s right, folks: I am now the proud owner of the Anita Blake hardcover, despite the fact that I not only own every issue, but every second printing Marvel and DBPro have put out, based solely on the fact that the covers just kept getting more and more hilarious every time. After all, the hardcover contains Vampre Victim, an all-new nine-pager by Laurell K. Hamilton and whichever one of her assistants drew the short straw that day, and someone‘s going to have to go in there and wrench the answers between the panels out of it in the form of my incredibly dubious annotations.
But there is, however, another reason why you may want to pick this thing up:
Your eyes do not deceive you: I am quoted on the dust jacket of the Anita Blake Hardcover. No, really. And believe me, I’m as surprised as you are.
So, on the off chance that anyone out there is joining us after googling “Chris Sims” and “Annotated Anita Blake,” well… Surprise!
Gunsmith Cats Burst v.2: There’s been a minor buzz going around the ol’ Internet lately about Kenichi Sonada’s proclivity for putting out comics with highly sexualized and young-looking women, which just tends to get creepier and creepier the more you think about Minnie May Hopkins (18?) and her boyfriend Ken (30), who have been dating ever since she was a prostitute five years prior. I assure you, it creeps me out as much as the next guy, but the fact of the matter is that Gunsmith Cats is still one of the best comics to roar out of Japan in a bullet-riddled muscle car, and even with the fact that I feel nervous flipping through it in public, it’s awesome enough that I find myself not caring. That said:
That has got to be the funniest Parental Advisory Sticker placement ever.
And that’s the week. As always, any questions you may have about something I read or skipped over this week can be directed to the comments section below. As for me, I’ll be over here marveling at the folks over at Dabel Brothers (who are, in all honesty, being amazingly good sports about everything) and plotting my next move.
Look out, Dark Xena: You’re next.
There were a lot of italics in this one, but nothing too outrageous.
I was really enjoying Barracuda, just for its weird, Ennisian humor and craziness, but since it was all apparently leading up to Barracuda’s Master Plan to take out the big Pun, the way it ended left me cold. he’s just back at square one. I mean what was the point of all that?
One day I’m going to find you Mr. Sims and force you to read some ps238. Because you not reading it is simply criminal. CRIMINAL!
Well, you have to remember at least that this All Star Sups arc was the only one so far happening in more than one issue. Bizaaarrooo!
(and OMFG! That quote is just… ba-wha?!)
Hah on the Anita Blake thing, though it is a little sad – presumably your comments are some of the nicest things said about it? Looking at it again, the second comment looks odd to my eye as well – as if there’s to be a “…but…” any moment.
That’s weird, I personally found the LAST issue of All-Star Supes to be the first one that didn’t do it for me…and I thought this one was a return to form. And HELL YES Bizarro needs two issues devoted to him! It’s Bizarro, dammit! I actually found him genuinely funny in this issue, with the tangled syntax and the, as you said, highly confusing Bizarro Sarcasm. And the Bizarro Justice League–that’s awesome. In fact, the whole issue was so demented that it actually accomplished, for me, something that I never would have thought possible–it made Bizarro World kind of creepy. I mean, it’s superficially ridiculous, and obviously Bizarro’s not a real threat, but Morrison pushes it to the point where the illogic (and Quitely’s art, which has always had a surreal quality) starts to become nightmarish. It’s kind of a Heironymous Bosch thing.
Re: The Anita Blake Blurbs
Did you read Adam Berry’s review they quote?
They use one sentence out of context and “forget” the essential parts where he trashes the book.
There is a pattern of deception…
I am quoted on the dust jacket of the Anita Blake Hardcover.
That is absolutely fricking hilarious. Movie ads do this with movie reviewers all the time, but c’mon– anyone whose comics-buying is going to be influenced by a Chris Sims blurb already knows perfectly well what you think of this thing. And, even as an out-of-context quote goes, that’s hardly high praise.
I wonder whether they’re grateful for the publicity you provide? “Look, our buying audience isn’t people who want good comics; it’s 14-year old boys who aren’t old enough to buy regular porn yet. And by making clear exactly how porny the book is, Sims is bringing us to a wider audience. None of the people put off by his reviews were going to buy it anyways…”
Context is, apparently, for losers.
You know, the weird thing is that I don’t remember asking for stylistic criticisms, but surely I must have.
I just finished Y #57. What a great series it is… hard to look over the shoulder and see five full years waiting for the next issue, and now everything is going to end.
What freaks me out are these dreams I’ve been having. I don’t want to see Beth (any of them) dead. I just want a happy ending. A really happy ending.
But I don’t thing I’ll get it.
Re: the Anita Blake hc
I think an editor at Marvel must be aware of the inherent crappiness of the book, but also the contractual obligations involved, so is picking blurb quotes as a cry for help.
They obviously aren’t revelling in their bad reviews by using choice slams as the blurbs, as was done for Iain Banks’ Wasp Factory, which has a few pages’ worth.
And I’m sure if they’d wanted unabashedly positive blurbs they could have found a rave review by some sad gothy dragonkin on LiveJournal.
Wait a minute!! I wrote a paper high school on the history of comics!!!
Can you prove that you’re not really me?!?!?
Re: Hey, you know what would be awesome? If the Joker from Detective Comics and the Joker from Batman didnâ€™t appear to exist in complete isolation from one another.
Ditto on the Phantom Zone in Action and Supergirl…really, does DC even have editors anymore??
Mild typo, it’s Runaways #27 as the cover shows, not #25; might influence search results.
The Yellow Kid was in an issue of Blade recently too; he was a vampire who tried to kill Blade but himself got killed. I can’t remember the issue number though; it’s the one that was split into two narratives, with one taking place in the present and teh other in the past, if that helps (it doesn’t).
And that Anita Blake quote…? I saw mention of your blurbage elsewhere, but now I’m surprised that it was just “grab a copy and follow along.” That’s not much of a reccomendation? Surely you used the expression “mindshattering” or maybe “delightful” at some point that they could have pulled out of context?
Thank you, sir, for the Monstrosity reference. I love me some proboscis, and you have certainly made my week.
I think the whole Anita Blake thing is kind of like the Andy Sidaris movies starring former Penthouse pinups shooting guns. It’s not good–there’s no pretense about that–but it’s certainly entertaining.
Having said that, I’ll just continue to read your reviews because the art makes me sad.
I wrote papers on the history of comics in both high school and college.
“Zibarro am king of coool!”
If for no other reason, I loved All-Star Superman #8.
That ISN’T the funniest placemtn of a parental advisory stciker ever… surely if you’ve ever purused the anime section of a Suncoast Video or sumsuch you’d see all the fun they have there. seriously, pull out a copy of la Blue Girl or something and see where they put all the advisory tags on those things…
And that Anita Blake quoteâ€¦? I saw mention of your blurbage elsewhere, but now Iâ€™m surprised that it was just â€œgrab a copy and follow along.â€ Thatâ€™s not much of a reccomendation? Surely you used the expression â€œmindshatteringâ€ or maybe â€œdelightfulâ€ at some point that they could have pulled out of context?
If I were them, I’d have perhaps taken “Her constant struggles with indecision … echo Hamlet’s” from the sentence “Her constant struggles with indecision would echo Hamlet’s if Hamlet was, y’know, really, really shitty,” or just have nabbed the “awesome” out of “awesomely terrible.” If you’re going to start taking things out of context, you may as well go mental with it.
Man, them using that blurb has got to be one of the most annoying and dishonest tricks I’ve ever seen. Deliberately taking your words out of context in the hopes of tricking people? That’s fucked up. Personally, I’d be pissed.
Sue them!! Sue them!! SUE THEM!!!!!
a 1900s version of the Punisher
Those could quite seriously be the most exciting six words I’ve read this month. Who is this character and where can I buy his ongoing?
Sorry to hear about ya dropping Hex, but I can understand. Personally, I have to buy every single issue that Jonah appears in so that I can redeem my soul from the Scottish Demon that snatched from my sleeping form when I was 7 days old.
If only Dad hadn’t stolen that Blarney Stone on our trip to Easter Island.
I’m not quite sure if the Anita Blake people were trying to trick people who didn’t know what “Anita Blake Annotated” is into thinking someone is taking the comic seriously — or if they were actually trying to convince ISB fans that reading the comic itself would make Chris’s parodies funnier.
Either way, those have to be three of the most ambivalent cover blurbs anywhere ever.
a 1900s version of the Punisher
I’m with HydrogenGuy. Seriously — it would be so refreshing to see someone take out Professor Moriarty-ilk criminals quickly and efficiently — i.e., shot to pieces or fed to bears, instead of wrestled off of a Swiss waterfall.
Like… like Meet Me In St. Louis, but more blood! (And less singing.)
Sir, the feeding of criminals, even of the most monstrous variety, to bears, was simply not done by a loyal subject of good breeding of H.R.H. Queen Victoria’s empire. Perhaps in the godforsaken wastes of America they would consider such a thing, but across the pond, 150 years ago, it was out of the question. I bid you good day.
Deliberately taking your words out of context in the hopes of tricking people? Thatâ€™s fucked up. Personally, Iâ€™d be pissed.
Well, it’s not really taking my words out of context. I do advise people to grab their own copies and follow along, if only because scanning every panel I talk about would be a major hassle.
Besides, I do enjoy Anita Blake. I’m reasonably certain that I don’t enjoy it in the way that it’s probably intended, but much like Tarot or All-Star Batman it’s a series that never fails to crack me up. It’s a hoot, and like I’ve said before, I hope it runs for a hundred issues.
And it’s not like they’re really perverting my intentions or anything. Hell, the damn hardcovers come shrink-wrapped, so you can’t even catch the pullquote (on the inside of the dust jacket) until after you’ve bought one. It’s way more like a nod-and-a-wink from the folks over at DBPro to let everyone know that maybe, just maybe, they’re just as in on the joke as you guys are.
This will not, of course, stop me from talking an amazing amount of smack about the products they put out. That, dear friends, is just how I roll.
To paraphrase your own joke, Chris:
Canary marrying Green Arrow? Not sexism.
Canary in that white skirt she was almost wearing in #1? Sexism.
Hey Chris, have you followed “Fallen Son” at all? Because even if you hate the idea, this week’s issue is worth checking out if only for some of the best splash pages John Cassaday has ever done.
Yeah, I feel you on the Jonah Hex thing.
I told the JLA that sending Dr. Light back in time to the Old West wasn’t going to solve anything, but did they listen?
You should have bought THOR. For all the (well deserved) JMS hate for his run on ASM, he gets Thor right at least for this one issue. Thor unlike most of the Marvel stable is truly a god and just works differently. No matter how much the world needed a Mr. Fantastic or a Spiderman, the universe would not feel obligated to provide it. I look forward to what should be a great new telling of this classic hero.
I read it, but honestly, there’s nothing there that sparks my interest outside of two flashback panels featuring Volstagg.
Don Blake is an utterly pointless secret identity, and–not to get too into my reputation here–when I pick up Thor, I want to see the God of Thunder beating the crap out of things with his hammer, not an extended metaphor about how it’s time for him to get up and go do something. Maybe I’ll change my mind when the next bit comes out, but for now, I’m unimpressed.
I wrote a paper on the history of comics in high-school. The on in college was actually about Superheroes as a manifestation of the hysteric personality.
I was about to comment on the cartoonishly disingenuous nature of the Anita Blake quote, but I see a) Everyone else beat me to it and b) You’ve quite admirably taken the high road on the matter.
Seriously though, the Adam Berry thing is even more ridiculous. I half expect the edition to list a half-dozen glowing reviews along the lines of “Anita…Blake is…good book.”
So, I know you love everything Van Lente touches, but how do you feel about the fact he’s on power pack this mini.
Despite some other serious contenders, the most disturbing part of This particular Week In Ink has to be the caption on The Dynamo 5 cover: “Metal codpieces are evil.” Metal codpieces. Never have I been so unsettled by the use of a subtle qualifier.