The Week In Ink: June 27, 2007

When I posted a list of fifty things that I love about comics last night, a few readers were surprised that I didn’t actually list “kicks to the face” in there with the rest of it. The reason for this, of course, is that kicks to the face aren’t something that I love about comics.

They’re something that I love about life.



Incidentally, that thing where something happens and it’s so awesome that the sound effect is the panel? I love that.

But enough with the positivity! Tonight belongs to the Internet’s most bone-shattering comics reviews, and after last night’s lovefest, can there be anything left but the all-consuming bitterness and spite that comes from working in comics retail?! Read on, gentle reader! Read on!






Blue Beetle #16: Let’s talk for a minute about what makes a great comic. For the past few months–ever since it broke through the mild shakiness of the first story arcBlue Beetle has been one of the most consistently enjoyable comics that DC puts out. Rogers and Albuquerque have been doing a phenomenal job on it lately, fine-tuning the great cast of characters and putting together stories that are almost up to the standard set by the early issues of Impulse for sheer enjoyability, and this issue’s a perfect example why. It’s completely solid, from the arrival of Traci 13 to a sequence where Jaime Reyes comes off as one of the most likable characters in years. But really, is that what makes this thing great? No.

For that, just take a look at page two, where the title of the story is revealed to be “Total Eclipso: The Heart.” Oh, John Rogers! You complete me.


Criminal #7: What is it about the Dodge Charger that makes it the car of choice for jumping over things and outrunning cops?

Seriously, though: The last thing anyone should need at this point is for me to tell them that Criminal is awesome. Its two Eisner nominations aside, it’s a book by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips, and as anyone who read Sleeper knows, those guys just don’t make bad comics. What is surprising though is how well-done their heist sequences are: The one in this issue involves a sniper rifle, a cocktail of crystal meth and valium, and a stolen ambulance that gets set on fire, and that’s just to get what they need to pull of the actual heist later in the story! It’s ridiculously exciting stuff that’s beautifully done in every way, from the covers all the way to the essays on film noir that close out every issue.



Immortal Iron Fist #6: This, for the record, is a comic book where one character says to another: “Less talking. More kicking.” How, I ask you, could it not be the best of the week?

This issue wraps up the first story arc of the new series, and for those of you who have been waiting for the trade to jump on, allow me to assure you: This is everything you have ever wanted from Iron Fist. Hell, it’s everything you never even knew that you wanted: A legacy that stretches back to the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay, a guy shooting chi-powered bullets from a pair of US Army .45s, and the Heroes for Hire reuniting to fight the armies of HYDRA!

To be fair, you probably did know you wanted that last one, but make no mistake: This book delivers, with each issue crammed as full as it can get with some of the most enjoyable action you’re going to get in comics, bar none. I’ve already gone on tonight about Ed Brubaker’s talents, and Matt Fraction’s body of work–which includes both a kung fu gorilla and a story where the Punisher fights Nazis–is spoken for pretty much every time I open my mouth, and they’re both knocking it out of the park on this one, with art to match. David Aja’s fight scenes are kinetic and frenzied, and Russ Heath’s flashback sequences are, well, drawn by Russ Heath. No further commentary should be necessary.

It is–and I’m saying this with no undue hyperbole–one of those comics that’s as close to being perfect as I can possibly imagine, and it’s something that you need to be reading. Heck, I even like Iron Fist’s new costume, and considering the amount of affection I’ve got for a good old-fashioned high collar, that’s saying something.

Incidentally, if you demand more Matt Fraction in your life–and really, who doesn’t?–ISB reader Jeff Brister has a brief interview with him up at his blog where he talks about, among other things, the next arc on Casanova. Brister refrains from just flipping right out about Iron Fist–a show of discipline which obviously continues to elude me–but it’s worth checking out anyway.


Legion of Monsters: Satana: Yeah, I know, I’m as surprised to see it here as you are, but let’s be honest: A man’s desire to see what Pamela Anderson would look like with red hair cannot be underestimated, and thus I have turned once again to the public service provided by Greg Land.

I’m kidding, of course. Aside from my brief interest in Brian Pulido’s mildly wretched Supernaturals last Halloween, Satana’s never really done much for me, and with a story so boring that I got two pages from the end and just decided to skip the rest, this issue didn’t really change that.

No, the real reason I picked this one up was to see the second feature: a story about N’Kantu the Living Mummy done by Jonathan Hickman, whose last issue of The Nightly News also dropped this week. I’ve really been enjoying Nightly News–especially given the fact that it’s Hickman’s first comics work–and I was really interested to see how he’d manage to work his distinct style in a story that, thematically speaking, was about as far from an indictment of biased journalism as you could possibly get. What surprised me when I actually read it today, though, was that if you take away the fact that he’s drawing mummies and skeletons, this story looks exactly like The Nightly News.

It’s got the same starkly contrasted, almost abstract pages, the same sans-serif lettering, heck, there’s even informative boxes that pop up to explain the Dynasties of Egypt like there are in his other book, and the end result is, well, interesting. I’m not reaching for something nice to say with that, either: It’s not at all the story that I expected, but in a lot of ways, Hickman makes it work. Either way, it’s definitely worth checking out, if only to see how different it is from the story that precedes it.


She-Hulk #19: It’s been a while since I’ve checked out any comic book message boards, so I’m not sure if the heated debate about Rick Burchett’s work on She-Hulk is still going on. If it is, though, this issue ought to set everything right once and for all, because under Cliff Rathburn’s inks and Andy Troy’s beautiful coloring, Burchett’s work has never looked better. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had my doubts about him in places–especially given how much I liked Juan Bobillo’s distinctive look for the series–but this issue is nothing short of fantastic, with his smooth, never a hair out of place Mallory Book facing off against an increasingly frazzled Jennifer Walters over the course of the issue. Just watch the way that he draws Mallory’s facial expressions and mannerisms, putting so much character into the way she stands in each panel, and you’ll understand why I like that guy so darn much. It’s gorgeous.

As for the writing, Dan Slott’s not exactly a slouch: The page where Ditto’s being hit in the face with long boxes for eight panels has one of the best sight gags I’ve seen in comics in a long while, and that last page is a hoot. Or quite possibly a squawk. You know what I mean.


World War Hulk: X-Men #1: You know what’s nice? Reading a comic where the kids from New X-Men show up and manage to all make it through 22 pages without getting killed. It’s a simple pleasure that’s become increasingly rare in the months since Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir got the boot in favor of turning the book into X-23 and her Bullet Magnet Sidekicks, The New X-Men.

…uh, sorry. That really has nothing to do with this particular series, and that’s why you’re reading these reviews for free on the Internet. But back to the point at hand: Christos Gage is on a roll, and has been for the past couple of years, with books that often slip under the radar despite being amazingly entertaining, like Union Jack and Stormwatch PHD. He has a gift for getting to the heart of a character and bringing it to the surface with just a few lines of dialogue, and he’s in rare form here, which is what pushes this thing from a book that doesn’t really have to be anything but a big, stupid super-hero punchout to a comic with a little more depth and enjoyment to it.

Well, that and the Hulk saying: “Xavier. You’re walking again. I can fix that.” That was freakin’ awesome.


X-Men: First Class #1: I really enjoyed the First Class mini-series, so when Marvel announced that they were following it up with an ongoing (hey, imagine that! An X-Men title selling well!), I was elated, and with good reason: With stuff like his dynamite run on Marvel Adventures: The Avengers and absolute masterpieces like Agents of Atlas, it’s rapidly becoming clear that Jeff Parker makes fun comics, and this one might just be the most fun of ’em all.

Just look at the art. Roger Cruz is absolutely perfect for the book: Stylized and incredibly expressive in a way that captures the colorful excitement that got so many of us hooked on comics in the first place. And the stories themselves are fantastic, too. Even though I’ve never been that big a fan of the original lineup, Parker makes the most of them with stories like this one, which sees Jean Grey shadowing the Invisible Woman on a typical day at work–which for her, means fighting (come on, let’s all say it together)…


Man. I will never get tired of that phrase. Anyway, it’s great, and I think it’s the best X-Men title on the stands.





Showcase Presents: Batman v.2: I probably won’t be getting around to reading this one for a while, since I’ve got an entire bookshelf full of Showcases and Essentials that I’ve yet to read, but flipping through it today, I did see that this volume contains Batman #186. And that, for those of you who might have forgotten, is the first and only appearance of Gagsworth A. Gagsworthy, The Joker’s Midget Sidekick.

Even stacked up alongside the Trial of the Bat-Witch and the Planetary Chance Machine, Gaggy’s right there in the running for the craziest damn thing I’ve ever seen, and probably has a lock on being the creepiest, so if that story’s a good representation of what goes on in this one, I’m willing to declare it the greatest trade paperback in the history of man.



And with that, you can file this week under Done, son. As always, if you’ve got any questions about anything I didn’t mention, or if you just want to talk about how much better Amazons Attack would be if Will Pfeifer and Pete Woods were doing the whole darn thing, feel free to leave a comment. As for me, I’ll be over here livin’ in a powder keg.

And givin’ off sparks.

36 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: June 27, 2007

  1. I can’t think of a good pretext to bring this up, so I’ll just be blunt: My letter got printed in X-Men First Class #1, WOOOOOO!

    Sorry. As you were.

  2. “Total Eclipso: The Heart”

    that has to be the best issue title I have ever heard.

  3. Did you notice that Kirkman actually went an ENTIRE issue of Invincible with no one getting their head punched off? I mean, their was one “fight”. And that was the Immortal losing it on Allen the Alien…

  4. No review of Marvel Adventures Avengers? I thought it was a nice riff on the Magnificent Seven and contained the Wolverine moment of the year …

  5. Ah, The Week in Ink: able to bring a genuine smile to my face since circa 2006.

    Thanks, Chris.

  6. As if the opening kick to the face and book of the week honors weren’t enough, I give extra highlights from issue #6, aka, the reason I buy comic books.

    DR: We’re doooooomed
    OR: Less talking. More Kicking

    LC: The Ol’ School Heroes for Hire are BACK, Baby! Sweet #%&%$!! CHRISTMAS!

    MK: Say that AGAIN tough guy– say “Hail Hydra” one more mother–

    CW:(Falling down elevator shaft)10th floor– accounting, lingerie, and DEATH BY SWORD

    MK: I love that crazy white girl so much I could holler
    LC: Y’all should get gay-married
    MK: Eh, we’d lose our health care
    LC: Love hurts
    MK: Tell me about it

    DR: Jeryn Hogarth. Where did you people take him?
    Hydra Agent: hai– hai– hail hydra?
    DR: wrong answer

    And now with a metaphysical kung-fu tourney coming up, you just KNOW I’m going to have to read every issue with “You’re the best around” playing in the background.

    Bummer about Wetworks, but yeah, that was more effective than Ambien or Lunesta.

  7. MK: Say that AGAIN tough guy– say “Hail Hydra” one more mother–

    Misty Knight is Sam Jackson?

  8. The best is the last “Hail Hydra” the dude sneaks in as the door is closing.. brillant.

  9. I’m surprised Thunderbolts isn’t on your list. I realize the title has problems (Penance, the team is so different it shouldn’t be called Thunderbolts, the cover blurb that says “Justice, Like Lightning,” Penance) but it’s damn fun comics.

    Exhibit A: Jack Flagg (in an earlier issue), American Eagle, and the Steel Spider kicking the crap out of the title team.

    Exhibit B: AE’s speech to Bullseye.

    Exhibit C: After years of Venom (versions 1 and 2) talking about eating various parts of the human body, he actually does it in this issue. And it’s kinda awesome.

  10. Re: Showcase Presents Batman Vol 2

    It needs to be pointed out that Robert Kanigher wrote several Batman stories in this volume. At least a couple of them are surprisingly violent for a mid-60s superhero comic.

  11. I’m sorry, I may have missed this, but did you drop COUNTDOWN? (I’m keeping an unofficial tally of the number of bloggers who have dropped it…)

  12. I am surprised to see no Sinestro Corps or Silent War 6 on your reviews. For the first time in years I was more impressed by a DC comic than a Marvel. Sinestro Corps was amazing, and Silent War was so terrible I puked.

  13. I’m surprised Thunderbolts isn’t on your list. I realize the title has problems (Penance, the team is so different it shouldn’t be called Thunderbolts, the cover blurb that says “Justice, Like Lightning,” Penance) but it’s damn fun comics.

    Yeah, I have to second the Thunderbolts lovin’ there… I was having doubts about it, especially after what happened to Jack Flag. But this end of the story arc made up for it in a big way, and any story that makes American Eagle into someone who is WAY cool deserves props. Though Sinestro Corps was kinda meh to me, Silent War was, indeed, utter crap that deserves only to be burned into ashes and buried, with the earth salted afterwards to make sure no vile fruit can grow from that land forevermore.

  14. So here’s the thing about Thunderbolts: There are places in that book where it’s really good, which are mostly when Warren Ellis is doing his Warren Ellis Tough Guy Dialogue thing or writing clever action sequences. That part when Jack Flagg takes out some of the T-Bolts with a trash can lid was awesome, and the scene in this one where American Eagle says something along the lines of: “But now you’re in Phoenix, Arizona, and we’ll see how tough you are against a real American” to Bullseye was a total fuck-yeah moment.

    But then there’s everything else. For every Norman Osborn slipping up and talking about Spider-Man, there’s a page of Penance bashing his head into a wall (which, metaphorically, is probably what Ellis is doing when he’s trying to write that damn character). It just doesn’t seem worth it to get through all of those parts for the same bits of fun I can get from other Ellis stuff, and I really have no desire to see Mike Deodato draw Tommy Lee Jones ever again.

    I’m sorry, I may have missed this, but did you drop COUNTDOWN?

    I did indeed.

    I am surprised to see no Sinestro Corps or Silent War 6 on your reviews.

    Spoiler Warning! I stopped really giving a crap about Green Lantern after Hal Jordan came back and started punching people in the face for no reason whatsoever and torturing Hector Hammond in a prison cell, but I did flip through it, and man. Kyle being Parallax is just an eye-roller. Even disregarding my opinions about the “Oh, it’s a giant yellow space bug that’s more powerful than God” premise of the thing to begin with, Kyle Rayner out-willpowered Mageddon the Anti-Sun, and I’m apparently the only freakin’ person who remembers that. I’m sure they’re going somewhere with it, because the idea that Hal and Kyle are just going to switch off being hero and villain every ten years is just crazy, but, y’know, why bother?

  15. It’s awesome that you listen to Jarvis Cocker. I thought his new album was just okay, though.

    For the actual comics review bit, yeah, it is a great story title. Iron Fist has yet to click for me, though, which is weird, because I love Fraction and I love the art. I’m left with blaming Brubaker for me being left cold by it… Hmm.

  16. This is everything you have ever wanted from Iron Fist. Hell, it’s everything you never even knew that you wanted
    -Chris Sims

    Dead on. All I wanted out of Iron Fist was some over-the-top martial arts action (which I definitely got) but the entire run has been completely unexpected and thoroughly excellent.

    Hafta thank you for the recommendation; I might not have picked it up otherwise.

    Marvel Adventures Avengers… contained the Wolverine moment of the year…


  17. I’m still reeling from Immortal Iron Fist #6. It may just be the best damn comic of the year.

    And I’m with Danx on the elevator door thing. Sheer brilliance.

  18. I walked up to the counter yesterday with Daredevil, Iron Fist and Criminal in my hands and thought that if I had a personal assistant I would be instructing them to hold my calls for the night. What a great week. Iron Fist has been ridiculously good from panel 1, but this issue is like the highlighted kick to the face.

    I loved Danny’s “And I have the best kung fu” moment. I would totally use that line for myself, but you know, you say it enough without the truth backing it up and that’s a good way to get an asswhumpin’.

  19. Is that Michael Jackson on the cover of Criminal?

    No, Michael Jackson is on the cover of Smooth Criminal.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!



  20. Kyle did pretty damn good against Solaris too.
    For a guy with self-doubts, his Willpower can’t be beat.

  21. I couldn’t agree more with you about Blue Beetle. When the series first started I was kind of just waiting for the wheels to fall off, and for it to turn into a thoroughly mediocre book about a character I didn’t care about. Instead, the book just kept getting better and Jaime Reyes really grew on me:

    Blue Beetle: “An evil all-seeing artificial intelligence…with an army of robots manned by innocent people kidnapped against their will? What psycho-nut job supervillian built that?”

    (uncomfortable pause)

    Batman: “Do me a favor, Jaime. Don’t tell Green Arrow you said that.”

  22. I have to respectifully disagree about Iron Fist #6.

    I’m an old school Power Man, Iron Fist, HFH, Misty Knight, and Colleen Wing fangirl; I own almost every single appearance of all of the above characters/teams.

    I want to love this series so very badly; when I first heard that Brubaker would be involved with Iron Fist, my squees were supersonic (only wargs could hear after a certain point), despite my reservations that Brubaker might go on another killing spree, as he did in X-Men: Deadly Genesis, Uncanny X-Men (what did space pirates ever do to Ed Brubaker, man? Seriously? Why the space pirate hate?), Captain America, etc.

    Then we had Danny saying things like “these egg rolls are killer,” and, y’know, that just really didn’t quite sound right coming from the usually eloquent and composed Daniel Thomas Rand K’ai. But I put those reservations aside and kept reading, because there’s no way in HELL I’m not buying an Iron Fist book. Bru & Fraction get tons of points for the characters they’re picking and the *ideas* of the plots, but the dialog, in some cases, seemed dumbed down.

    Then, in issue #6, I was treated to the worst written Misty Knight in the history of time and space, in my humble opinion. Every ounce of intelligence and articulateness that Misty possessed in, oh, *every other of her appearances ever* was gone, and instead we have Blaxploitation Chick Stereotype #47. That would be all well and good, except that it’s been done already to death, and done *better* back in the seventies. Hell, it’s saying something when I can argue that *Jimmy Palmiotti* writes a better Misty than Ed Brubaker. I just…couldn’t believe how idiotic her lines were; they read like every gratingly bad cliche given to black characters thirty years ago.

    I mean, the last time I checked, Misty wasn’t calling Colleen “white girl,” and apparently Bru & Fraction forgot that Colleen is of mixed ancestry?

    As much as it utterly and totally breaks my heart, I’m not paying for this book anymore. With every awesometastic thing that appears – LEI KUNG THE THUNDERER, BISHES! – there’s a critical misstep in characterization, and I have to go back and read my old issues of PM & IF to remind myself that yes, these two once had a book that totally rocked.

    The recent Daughters of the Dragon miniseries exemplifies everything good about Colleen and Misty, while Iron Fist #6 reduced Misty to Ghetto Chick Cipher. I’m heartbroken, and not even the fact that I got my ISB t-shirt in the mail yesterday can console me. My tears, they flow!

  23. I noticed your “50 things” list is missing a #10. Might as well make that one kicks in the face, or better yet… Kicks in the Face in Panels Shaped like Sound-Effects!

  24. Is that Michael Jackson on the cover of Criminal?

    No, Michael Jackson is on the cover of Smooth Criminal.

    So do you guys just want to make the jokes around here from now on, or…?

    I have to respectifully disagree about Iron Fist #6.

    Well, that’s certainly your right, and we can still be pals. I’ve got to say, though, I’ve read my share of PM/IF too (although I’m still five issues short of a full run), and I couldn’t feel more the opposite. The Palmiotti/Gray Daughters of the Dragon struck me as just being an eye-roller, even for something that was obviously basing itself in the exploitative nature of the characters. With this week’s IIF, though, they hit me just right, and if nothing else, Luke’s line “Y’all should get gay married” had me cracking up like a madman in the store.

    Besides, if you can’t go over-the-top and cliche when you’re beating up Nazis in green jumpsuits, when can you?

    Also, is Brubaker’s run on Cap really what you’d call a killing spree? I mean, sure, we lost Nomad, but I’d say a shockingly well-done return for Bucky was worth the trade.

  25. So, I found out yesterday that Matt Fraction is coming to the comic shop I work at, so if you’re in St. Louis at the end of August, come on over! It’ll be a great time.

  26. I don’t know…Brubaker managed to kill Banshee AND Corsair (and D’Ken, who he brought back to life just to kill again) in his first 18 issues of X-Men comics. Apparently, Brubaker is the man to go to if you want to kill long-time characters for no reason. It’s hard to say it, but he’s at best the 3rd best X-writer right now.

    Also, I’m one of those who wishes Hal stayed dead and Kyle was GL, but the last-page reveal of the “Devil” and his “Four Horsemen” in Sinestro Corps made me fear for a fictional multiverse, which isn’t an emotion I usually associate with my comics.

  27. Biggie said:
    Blue Beetle: “An evil all-seeing artificial intelligence…with an army of robots manned by innocent people kidnapped against their will? What psycho-nut job supervillian built that?”

    (uncomfortable pause)

    Batman: “Do me a favor, Jaime. Don’t tell Green Arrow you said that.”

    Biggie, you have just gotten Blue Beetle a new reader.

  28. I have some TPB questions:

    Can I get the X-Men First Class LS in TPB presently?

    How about some Blue Beetle TPBs to shorten the distance between #s 1 and 16?

    Thank you in advance for your help.

  29. I have to say, I look every week for your Invincible review, and never is it there. Why no love? I think think it really may actually very well be the greatest superhero comic in the universe.

    Long time listener/first time caller, by the way. I have to hold my nose while I read ISB so my coworkers don’t here me laugh. I think I hurt my neck today.

  30. There’s no trade for X-Men: First Class yet, but they did just release a very nice hardcover that’s reasonably priced.

  31. Good point by Kali on the “crazy white girl” thing. Some people dislike that line and other aspects of MK’s portrayal by Brubaker and Fraction, believing it was racist. In any case (as others have brought up), it’s not even accurate. Colleen’s mother was Japanese, her father I think at least half Chinese (the one Marvel reference I have seen on Colleen and Lee Wing said they were both of “mixed ancestry”). So Colleen had, say, an Irish grandmother on Lee’s side…she is still 3/4 Asian (which her closest friend Misty would know). That makes her a “crazy white girl”?!

  32. I love seeing all the comics that are
    listed and checking them out, I still
    read some of them today, and love collecting all the old ones also!!!