Man… I can’t for the life of me remember what I did last night. Oh well, it’s probably best to move on. And what better way to move on than with Wilbur Wang: Tree Surgeon?
That’s right, folks: It’s Thursday night on the ISB, and a kick to the face can only mean that it’s time once again for another round of the Internet’s Most Caffeinated Comics Reviews!
Here’s what I picked up this week…
So what did I think about it? Read on, gentle reader… if you dare!
All-Star Superman #10: Well, that was an easy decision.
Really, though: As much as I like to shift the spotlight out a little bit when it comes to my seemingly arbitrary “award” that I hand out every week, there’s no getting around the fact that All-Star Superman really is the best comic of the week every time it comes out. So you heard it here first folks: The Eisners take their cue from the ISB. I wouldn’t be surprised if this year’s ceremony opened with Jackie Estrada giving somebody a boot right to the chops.
But back to the point at hand, which is this: All-Star Superman is a phenomenal comic book, and while everyone already knows that at this point, any book that can boil Superman down to his most essential elements and do it this well deserves all the praise it can get. Admittedly, the Bizarro World storyline wasn’t quite my thing, but this issue… man.
This one has it all, and for a book that did the best Jimmy Olsen story in thirty plus years, that’s saying something. I think Kevin put it best yesterday when he said that Morrison does the perfect summary of Superman’s relationship with Lois on page 8, the people he protects on page 12, and with Luthor on page 15. That’s three amazing moments in the span of eight pages, and the astonishing thing about is that none of those are even the best bit in the comic.
For me, that came on page twenty, when we see this:
This, of course, is Superman sending smaller Supermen out of his hand to deal with the problems that he himself can’t solve, and there’s no way that’s not a reference to “Superman’s New Power,” from 1958’s Superman #125.
This one’s been covered all over the Internet, and with good reason: If it’s not the most beautifully crazy story in the entire Silver Age of Comics, then it’s in the top two. This is probably why Morrison once said it was his favorite Superman story–and you can find out exactly why for yourself in the ridiculously awesome Showcase Presents Superman v.1–and while I knew that going in, seeing it pop up here caused me to freak right out at the fun of it all.
So yeah: All-Star Superman‘s great. In other news, water’s wet and this whole “Sun” thing? We’re thinking “bright.”
Army of Darkness / Xena: Why Not? #1: Ladies and gentlemen, you may now return from the edge of your seats: John Layman has once again descended from heaven amidst a choir of angels and delivered unto us a work of purest genius.
Long-time ISB readers may recall that Layman’s previous work, Dark Xena–wherein Xena is resurrected by Cthulhu, which forces Gabrielle to masquerade as her own hypothetical evil twin, Evielle–will be the cornerstone of future civilizations, but this one addresses more metaphysical matters. It’s a common misconception that the subtitle “Why Not?” refers to the kitchen sink nature of the crossover itself, but in reality, it’s a challenge to the reader. Why not forget your earthly concerns and pursue true happiness for the first time in your life? Why not transcend all that you know and experience pure joy? Why not read this comic book?
Incidentally, the title of this issue, wherein Ash (as played by Bruce Campbell) travels back in time to do battle with Mini-Ash (as played by Bruce Campbell) alongside Autolycus (as played by Bruce Campbell)? “Battered and Bruced.” Genius.
Blue Beetle #25: I realize that after those last two reviews, what I’m about to say is going to come off as hyperbole at best, but this is without question one of the best comic books I’ve read in years.
I’ve been saying for months now that Blue Beetle is at the top of the short list of DC comics that everyone should be reading, but with their latest story–and this issue in particular–Rogers and Albuquerque have topped themselves, and I’m gonna go ahead and say it: Their run on Blue Beetle has made it the best teen super-hero comic since Impulse.
For those of you that have read the original Mark Waid run on Impusle–or at least heard me go on about it before–you probably already know that this is pretty high praise, but when you get right down to it, the books are a lot similar, and for more reasons than just the way all teen super-hero books are alike. Mostly, it comes down to the way that both books deal with heroic legacies in a way that’s far more engaging and fun than other books even come close to, and on that front Blue Beetle‘s got it all over anything else on the stands.
It’s great, and the way Rogers is able to pull off big reveals like finally understanding the scarab after two years makes it well worth picking up, and the only thing I don’t like about it is that he’s off for a (hopefully temporary) hiatus after this one. Of course, the new writer’s going to be Will Pfeifer, whose run on Catwoman is similarly awesome and underrated, I’ll be looking forward to the day he gets back.
Jack of Fables #21: With this issue, Willingham and Sturges take us back a bit to the Golden Boughs retirement village and a story of the inmates putting on a play, and while that could’ve easily come off as an annoying diversion, they handle it in a way that makes for some highly enjoyable comics. Really, who would’ve thought that a comic would come out this week that would combine two of my favorite things so well?
I speak of course of a) Hamlet, and b) Alice (of Wonderland fame) using promises of sexual favors to get her way. I mean, up ’til I read this issue, I wasn’t even sure I liked that last one that much myself, although it probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise.
I mean, I did shell out seventy-five bucks for Lost Girls.
Legion of Super-Heroes #40: I can’t speak for anywhere else, but around my shop, I’ve noticed that over the past couple months, there seems to have been a spike in interest in Legion of Super-Heroes, and I’m pretty happy about that. Not just because I’m a big fan of the Legion myself–although that’ll become readily apparent soon, even moreso than usual–but because over the past four issues, Jim Shooter and Francis Manapul have been turning in some incredibly solid work.
Admittedly, I wouldn’t mind at all if Shooter laid off the future slang, but when the worst thing about a guy’s script is his very, very liberal use of the alleged word “florg,” then that’s not a bad place to be, especially when it’s balanced out by issues that are packed full of future-action and teenage super-romance involving Karate Kid. It’s fun, and while it’s obvious that the break-neck pacing of the stories owes a lot to Shooter’s original run, the content falls right in line with the problems and humor of Waid and Kitson’s relaunch. So if you haven’t jumped on yet, I’m pretty sure they’re all still available, and between this and Ostrander on Suicide Squad, I’m starting to think that sometimes, you actually can go home again.
Unless you’re Chris Claremont, I mean. Let’s not go crazy here.
Power Pack: Day One #1: See, you guys? This is what happens when we let girls create comics. We get super-heroes who get their powers from a magic space unicorn that turns into rainbows.
Ah, but I kid Louise Simonson and June Brigman; I actually like the Power Pack a heck of a lot, and ever since the relaunch a couple years back by Sumerak and Gurihiru, it’s been one of the most enjoyable kids’ comics on the market. Seriously, there was an issue where Doctor Doom took over Franklin Richards’ body and then spent a day at Elementary School, and if that’s not a formula for good comics, then brother, I don’t know what is.
Beyond that, though, this one has an added selling point that I mentioned back when it first got solicited: Science lessons in the form of backup stories by Fred “Action Philosophers” Van Lente and Colleen “Banana Sunday” Coover, and while the main story is highly enjoyable–with Gurihiru’s art making a great return to form–I’d pay for a whole book of those backups.
Hear that, Marvel? I would pay good money for a whole book of Van Lente/Coover science lessons!
Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #49: So, Tarot‘s out again, and rather than risk my own sanity typing up a review of this month’s adventure of a real-life Witchity type–thus marking Tarot’s complete descent into Jim Balent doing fan-fiction starring his own characters–I thought I’d just offer up two quotes on the subject.
First, from last month’s Previews, a Diamond staffer’s opinion of the book:
“What these impressionable young men donâ€™t know is that they just put down, quite possibly, the most female-empowering book in the whole shop.”
And secondly, from this issue:
“When I awoke, I felt the slithering of a tentacle upon my chest.”
You can probably see where I’m going with this. Clearly, someone has never read Dark Xena.
Usagi Yojimbo #110: I don’t usually talk about Usagi for the same reason that I skip over a lot of books: It’s so consistently good that I rarely have anything to say about it, and with over a hundred amazing issues and everything from an Eisner to a Parent’s Choice Award on Stan Sakai’s shelf, it’s not like that’s really news.
This issue, though, isn’t just everything I like abotut Usagi, it’s everything I like about comics. It’s a simple premise–Gen and Usagi are split up in a haunted forest and reunite with the possibility that one’s been replaced by a nine-tailed trickster fox–that belies the craftsmanship of Sakai’s work, and the end result is pure lighthearted enjoyment wrapped around a samurai battle. And honestly, if that sentence doesn’t convince you to jump on for this one, then nothing will.
It’s fantastic stuff, and if you’re a new reader, it’s a done-in-one that makes it ideal for jumping on. And if you’re not, well.. Pretty awesome, right?
JACK KIRBY’S FOURTH WORLD V.4:
EVEN GODS MUST DIE!
FINAL BATTLES ARE FOUGHT IN THE STREETS!
FINAL BATTLES ARE FOUGHT BY THE POWERLESS!
FINAL BATTLES ARE DECIDED BY…
THE HUNGER DOGS!!
And that’s more or less the week! As always, any questions or comments on this week’s titles–like whether Jonathan Hickman’s Transhuman maintains the words-to-awesome ratio of his other books (it does!) or if it was totally awesome when Damage Control took on the Chrysler Building in what I hope is a prelude to a new ongoing series (it was! I do!)–can be left in the comments section below.