And now, two words that you don’t see together nearly as often as you should:
Also: “Free Pie.”
But alas! Dessert will have to wait until later: It’s Thursday night, and that means that it’s time once again for another round of the Internet’s Gnarliest Comics Reviews! Here’s what I picked up this week…
…and now that I look at it, that’s a lot of comics for what I thought was going to be a light week. And yet, only one of them contained Midget Devilance and laser-breathing dinosaurs. Go figure.
Amazing Spider-Man #562: Take note, music fans! This issue, the web-slinger faces off against none other than the notorious Nick Lowe!!\
No, wait, sorry… In this issue, Spider-Man fights The Basher. My mistake. Man, and I was getting so excited, too. Come on, Marvel… You know I can’t take another heartache.
In any case, the sheer joy I experienced reading Amazing Spider-Man last week may have passed, but this is another solid issue that I had a lot of fun with, especially in the way that the story–especially the aspects concerning Peter Parker’s job at the DB–flows from issue to issue with subplots that break out of the standard three-act structure. It’s very much an old-school style of storytelling that I’ve missed in recent comics, where the emphasis tends to be on repackaging the high points of nostalgia into six-issue trades that are as easy to jump off as they are to jump on. Now admittedly, the post-Brand New Day Amazing is as guilty as anything else of attempting to recapture the past, but here, I don’t mind. Mostly, I think it comes down to the fact that they’re using new villains–and even better in this issue, re-using new villains that I’d assumed were going to end-up as throwaway one-hit wonders–and new cast members to at least make a token effort at moving forward.
But my problems with the State Of The Industry™ and how we got here are beside the point. All that really matters is that right now, these guys are making some pretty good comics.
Batman Confidential #18: I meant to mention this last month when I picked up the first part of this story, but on the off chance that your tastes are similar to mine, then it might interest you to know that in this issue, ISB favorite Kevin Maguire draws Batgirl getting naked to fight a similarly attired Catwoman in the Gotham City Hedonist’s Club.
Just, you know, puttin’ that out there. We’re all friends here. Nobody’s judging you.
Also of note? Batgirl’s entire costume can apparently fit in a large-sized Crown Royal bag. And here I was thinking those were just for booze and dice.
Captain Britain and MI13 #2: Prepare to mark your price guides, folks: This issue features the dynamic debut of The Deathlok Skrull. And much like the Legion of Monsters Skrull that appeared last issue, this one leaves only awe and confusion in his wake. I mean, there’s so many questions here, and “how do the Skrulls even know about Deathlok?!” is only one of them.
Is he half-Skrull, half-Computer, or is he just a Skrull with a gun that shape-shifted to look like Deathlok? Is he based on Luther Manning or Michael Collins, or, in the tradition of the original Super-Skrull and the ones that have shown up lately, is he somehow both? And if so, does he have the power of two Deathloks, or does it just average out to one, in which case what’s the point? And what would the power of two Deathloks even be?!
Thank you, Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk, for asking the hard questions. And allowing me to use phrases like “a Skrull with the power of two Deathloks.” I do, however, have one minor quibble with the series, which I’m otherwise enjoying: Did Marvel really think that we wouldn’t notice they were re-using the cover art from the UK-only release of AxeWülf’s third album?
Come on, guys. You know better.
Invincible #50: The long-delayed milestone issue of Invincible hit the stands this week, and while it’s the fun read that Invincible always delivers, I’m more interested in the fact that the “twist” of this arc is pretty much the same as the first big twist of the series. And that’s not a bad thing.
With the way that Cecil and Mark’s relationship comes to an explosive end in this issue, Robert Kirkman’s not just retreading the same ground that he’s gone to before; he’s setting up a recurring theme of the inevitable betrayal of the father figure that’s more concerned with the greater good than with simple matters of right and wrong. It’s the same trick, the same deception and the same motivation that he’s been through with Omni-Man, and both times it’s led to Mark defining himself by what he believes and growing as a character to stand on his own.
It’s a rarity to see that sort of growth in comics, but Kirkman, Ryan Ottley and Corey Walker (who returns this issue for a fun Science Dog backup) pulls it off with the same sense of fun that’s made Invincible such a solid comic to read for the past fifty issues.
Still not crazy about that new costume, though.
Jack Staff #17: Paul Grist calls him “Castletown’s latest and greatest hero!”
Benito Cereno calls him “The sensational character find of 2008!”
Kevin Church calls him “Paul Grist’s stab at the Eisner award for Most British Character Ever!”
Chris Sims just says he’s a right diamond geezer!
Now you can thrill to the adventures of The Butler, debuting this month in the pages of Jack Staff! He makes Jeeves look like Seppings! He makes Alfred look like Cadbury! Civility has a new Saviour, and his name is… THE BUTLER!
(Seriously, I’ve already told you Jack Staff is my favorite comic, and this would be why: Every time you turn around, Paul Grist is creating a great new character, and then putting him into a comic that already has vampire fights, mysterious figures, interrupted cell phone calls and Tom Tom The Robot Man. What more do you need to know?)
Marvel Adventures Hulk #12: Here’s a fun fact for the Marvel trivia buffs among you: The Champion of the Universe, who made his first appearance in Tom DeFalco and Ron Wilson’s Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7, has never been in a bad comic book, which is a distinction that I don’t think any other Marvel character I can think of shares.
I mean, I freakin’ love Spider-Man, but that guy’s been in some bad comics that, for lack of a better term, we can just go ahead and call “The ’90s.” And sure, we’ve never seen a bad story about, say, Wu Ao-Shi, the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay, but the Champ’s been around as long as I have, and that’s a pretty mean feat.
Anyway, back to the point: The Champion of the Universe is awesome, and that’s a fact that Paul Benjamin seems well aware of, since he crafted the best issue yet of the awesome Marvel Adventures Hulk to contain his magnificence. How awesome, you ask?
Oh, I’d say about this awesome:
Seriously. You need to own this.
Superior Showcase #3: I don’t normally pick up Superior Showcase, but I made an exception for this one, since it’s got an all-new Street Angel by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca, and as the record will show, I’m a pretty big fan. The result is every bit as good as you might expect: Ten pages of a story showing the kind of friendship that could only develop between a homeless vigilante and a blind kunoichi rooming together in a hospital with a demonic serial-ninja-murderer in the air ducts. And that, as you probably already know from reading the previous sentence, is pretty awesome.
Trinity #2: So DC’s latest weekly series got its second chance, and I’ve gotta say, I’m as underwhelmed with this one as I was with the first, which is kind of a surprise since it leads off with a story called “A Personal Best at Giant Robot Smashing.” Under normal circumstances, that sounds like exactly the sort of thing I’d be into, but, well, it just falls flat, for all of the reasons that I mentioned last week.
It’s not even that it’s a bad comic; it’s completely adequate in every way. Batman shows up, grimaces, does something smart and determined. Superman shows up, pulls off an allegedly amazing feat of strength. Wonder Woman shows up, beats up a robot and talks about being an Amazon. It’s nothing that I haven’t seen before, and I’ve got the impression that if you’ve ever read any halfway decent comic book with these characters, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before either. And that’s the problem: It’s adequate, but it’s just adequate, and while I know every comic can’t be spectacular, I don’t have much of a desire to read one that doesn’t even offer anything new on a weekly basis.
And that’s the week! Well, that and some trades, like the very nice Umbrella Academy–which features the FCBD story, a DarkHorse.com story and a sketchbook in addition to one of my favorite mini-series of the past year–and Incredible Hercules–which is just awesome–but since I already covered those as they came out, I’m done here.
Of course, if there’s anything you’d like to ask about, feel free to leave a comm–ah, crap. There was a new Agents of Atlas story in that Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust book, wasn’t there?
I knew I forgot something…
Also, quick addendum: If anyone’s going to be in Charlotte next weekend for HeroesCon 2008, keep an eye out for me. My Pal Chad, Jay Potts and I will be up there along with a great crowd of friends that includes Dr. K, and while we don’t have a table this year, we’ve definitely got something to give away that might answer a question you might have. Hope to see you there.