The Week In Ink: May 21, 2008

Ah, DC Comics. Fine purveyors of girl-on-girl action since 1938:



Wait… what’d you think I meant by “action?”

Get yer mind outta the gutter and focus, people! It’s Thursday night, and that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Misleading Comics Reviews! Here’s what I picked up this week…



And here’s what was so awesome about ’em!





Amazing Spider-Man #560: Some of you might recall that I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling off and on throughout my life, and in discussions of that most noble sport of kings, the term “mark” is one that gets thrown around a lot, although you don’t hear it as much anymore now that the WWE’s embraced the idea of being “Sports Entertainment” and dropped a lot of the secrecy that used to be around the industry. See, a mark is somebody who “thinks it’s real”–or at least, somebody who buys into the illusion long enough to buy a t-shirt–and while I like to think that I’m a shrewder customer than most, Dr. K can vouch for the fact that when we went to Smackdown last year, it only took two seconds of the Undertaker’s theme music to get me out of my seat and cheering like a schoolgirl.

Point being: I marked out so hard for Spider-Man this week.

Don’t get me wrong: There’s nothing about this issue that’s going to set the world on fire or redefine the character, and to be honest, there’s not even anything about it that you wouldn’t expect from talented guys like Dan Slott and Marcos Martin. Beautiful pages, a new villain with an interesting hook (that being “What if Flatman from the Great Lakes Avengers was an obsessive goth girl”), it’s all the same kind of enjoyable stuff that we’ve seen from these guys before. But this time around, everything just comes together so well that it caught me up in the story, and all the dissatisfaction of “One More Day” and the recent disappointing bits from the Spider-Man “brain-trust” were gone. Even the pop art gags that I’d seen before in Grant Morrison’s Batman just worked better with Martin’s art. And that last page… There’s no reason I shouldn’t have seen it coming–I read the solicitations every month, fer Chrissakes–but it blindsided me with just how perfect it was.

Admittedly, I’m more excitable about this stuff than most people–after all, if I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I am, you probably wouldn’t be reading about it on my daily comics blog–and there are a lot of things that can account for how much I loved this issue. I might’ve just been in a really good mood, or maybe Slott stumbled on just the right formula of nostalgia and action to remind me one more time of why Spider-Man’s one of my absolute favorite characters. But whatever it was, it hit all of my Spider-Fan buttons, and I don’t regret a second of it.

Well, except for the part where I actually typed a phrase like “pushed all my Spider-Fan buttons,” that is. Probably best to just move on.


Captain America #38: Hang on a second… This is Captain America? But there are scenes that take place during the day in this one, and that can’t be right…

Oh, but I kid. The record will show that I actually like the dark, moody color palette of the series a heck of a lot, especially since it goes along pretty well with Ed Brubaker’s noir-influenced scripts. Still, sometimes it’s nice to see Steve Epting’s artwork with the bright splashes of color that only Captain America kicking a terrorist beekeeper in the face at high noon can provide.

Then again, it’s always nice to read Captain America.


Catwoman #79: With the end of the series on the horizon and only three more issues left until the axe falls, I feel like I can finally say this:

If you don’t like Will Pfeifer’s Catwoman, then we can never be friends.

I’m sorry, but… Well, actually, that’s a lie, I’m not sorry at all. I mean, sure, I like having friends, but to be honest, with a disagreement on such a fundamental issue as the quality of one of DC’s hands-down best series, I doubt there’s a lot we’d agree on anyway. Take this issue, for instance: I give a lot of credit to Pfeifer–and believe me, I think he deserves every bit of it–but even beyond his sharp, engaging scripts, David and Alvaro Lopez make the art in this book sing. If you have a copy handy, flip open to page seven and just look at how beautiful it is from the basic layout right down to the overlay of a smirking Catwoman at the bottom. It’s gorgeous, and the thing is, it’s not out of the ordinary. You can find something that well-done on every page.

And if you can’t, well, like I said. We’re not friends. But just so we’re clear on this, I’ll still be accepting birthday presents from acquaintances, lackeys and assorted hangers-on.

And also Dave Campbell.


The Damned: Prodigal Sons #2: If you’ve ever wondered what Weekend at Bernies would be like if it was a supernatural crime noir thriller–and really, who hasn’t?–then brother, have I got the comic book for you!

Normally, this is where I’d tell you I was just kidding and then give a semi-serious review, but that’s actually a pretty good description, except that Damned is about thirty times better than Bernie’s could ever be. But the point stands: While the first series and its focus on Eddie, his curse and his desperate attempts to rise up through the ranks of the demon mafia were dead serious, this issue is… well, it’s funny, with a sense of humor that veers into slapstick in scenes where Morgan escapes from mobsters while lugging around his brother’s corpse, occasionally using it as a shield or a battering ram.

It sounds grotesque–and it is, albeit in an Itchy & Scratchy sort of way–but more than anything else, it’s a riot, and Brian Hurtt’s subtle shifts from his usual work to a more exaggerated, cartoonish (and in places, Will Eisner-ish) style as the scenes cut back and forth between Eddie and Morgan just sell the whole gimmick beautifully. It’s an absolutely fantastic read, and if you’ve been curious about the series thus far, this is the one to pick up, just to see what these guys can do with it.

In fact, the only way it could be better is if–hang on, what’s this?




Ah, that settles it, then. This issue couldn’t possibly be better.





Incredible Hercules #117: In this comic, a Japanese god of evil who speaks only in Haiku fights a polar bear.



So really, there’s no possible way that this isn’t the best comic book of the week. Maybe the year.

Seriously, though: Forget about Secret Invasion. Super-heroes fighting Skrulls? That’s tired. It’s been done. But Sacred Invasion, where the pantheons of Earth get together to go fight the Skrull gods? That is genius. And I know: I’ve been singing the praises of Pak and Van Lente’s work on this book for months, but it always bears repeating that with the combination of mythology and Marvel, they’ve not only done something that captures the sweeping grandeur of what an event like Secret Invasion should be, they’ve come as close to creating my ideal Marvel Comic as anything else I’ve ever read.

If you haven’t already, take a look: The first trade hit shelves this week, and while it won’t be until the next one that they really hit their stride with incorporating the mythology, it’s very well worth it.


Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle #2: Okay, somebody help me out here, because I’m really starting to get confused. I was getting ready to go back in and catch up with my annotations of the Anita Blake comics, but then I read this and… And I think it might be… pretty good.

I mean, it’s snappily written and reasonably well-drawn, everything seems to make sense (well, after a fashion), the action sequences are paced well and tense, and there are funny parts that are funny because they’re funny and not because they’re awful, and the main character is actually likable and doesn’t sit around waiting for things to happen to him rather than actually doing something. And even weirder, there are supporting characters that I don’t hate. It’s… It’s just very confusing.

I mean, this is a comic book adaptation of an urban fantasy novel, right? And it’s actually a fun read? But that would mean that everything I know about the genre is… wrong? Man. I think I might need to lay down for a minute.


Madame Mirage #6: Hey, did you guys know this thing was still coming out?

Yeah, me neither. Next.


Marvel Adventures Avengers: Mark your calendars, folks: Not only does this issue of the world’s best Avengers title feature the return of ISB Favorite writer Jeff Parker, but it also features the return of the Sensational Character Find of 2007.

That’s right, folks: Karl’s in the house.

And as is often the case with comics where AIM’s most illustrious agent makes an appearance, there’s nothing about this one that isn’t fun. It’s one of those comics where it’s obvious that Parker was laughing all the way through it, from Captain America’s “That’s how we had lunch back in the war!” to Doc Samson’s psychological evaluation and its non-stop parade of in-jokes to the first appearance of the Marvel Adventures Bi-Beast–a phrase I never thought I’d get to type–and it’s a feeling that came through very well through Guara’s art.

It’s great, and most importantly, younger readers can appreciate that the story has a moral: The best way to help people is to beat other people up. It’s science!



And that’s the week. As always, any questions about anything I read–or if anyone would care to explain what the fuck Lisa Lampanelli was doing in my Goddamn X-Factor this week–can be left in the comments section below.

I mean seriously, what the hell? Lisa Lampanelli. It’s enough to make a guy drop the book.

50 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: May 21, 2008

  1. I only looked at a few pages of the Martin drawn Spider-Man. And it seemed pretty good. Except for the last page. Where I wondered what the hell was wrong with her? Twig limbs and a giant head? It was like a Twiggy bobble head!

    But yeah the Crazy Stalker Flat Girl villain is actually pretty cool…

    And can I get by with just thinking the Pfieffer Catwoman is nice enough but nothing I want to actually spend money on?

    As for The Dresden Files book, Jim Butcher is crazy awesome and writes stories where a cynical joke cracking wizard makes things go boom and once rode a t-rex zombie into battle. LKH has slowly gone insane and turned a passable adventure series into her writing out her sex fantasies…

    So its pretty easy to see why one would utterly suck in comics form and the other would be pretty damn awesome…

  2. Hang on, hang on.

    Sims, you sold me on the Marvel Adventures series when you revealed that Hercules asks some heroes to look after Cerburus, and the Hulk then takes him to a dog show.


  3. Chris –

    I mentioned this last time, but you may not have seen the comment. However, you do owe it to yourself to read the Dresden Files series – yes, all 10 books that are currently out, and the rest of them as they arrive.

    This is a series where Harry Dresden starts a war between wizards and vampires by setting a lot of important vampires on fire, and his former mentor later takes a bunch of them out by crashing a satellite into them. Where he gets smack dab in the middle of a war between the Winter and Summer courts of Faerie and impresses Mab enough she wants to recruit him as the Winter Knight. Where his magical reference book is a possessed skull named Bob with a penchant for romance novels.

    Harry Dresden fights werewolves, multiple kinds of vampires, people possessed by Fallen Angels, and even the Billy Goats Gruff.

    He also fights necromancers. On a giant undead Tyrannosaurus Rex named Sue. Kept animated by a guy playing polka music.

    Seriously, I swear on my Nextwave hardcover that this stuff is right up your alley. Check it out when you finish Nico Bellic’s reign of terror over Liberty City.

  4. Was Arcade evading capture by pretending to be a robot copy of himself enough to keep you reading?

    And yeah, Sacred Invasion. That’s a ride and a half. I loved how Amadeus got all fanboy over the team-up. “Oh boy! It’s the Godmobile!”

  5. Oh, man. After typing the Amadeus quote I realized that it was necessary for me to go read that issue again.

    Thanks, the ISB!

  6. Lisa Lampanelli (born Lisa Lampugnale; July 19, 1961), often called the Queen of Mean, is a Grammy-nominated American stand-up comedian and “insult comic”. She is noted for her extremely racy, raunchy, style of comedy, which frequently includes ‘taboo’ subjects such as racism.

    She is also roughly as funny as rectal reconstructive surgery.

  7. Can I just say that it always annoys the hell out of me when people reverse the R to make things seem all Russian-y? A reversed R in Russian is prounounced “Ya”. The thing that makes the R sound looks like a P.

    (But they can’t really call it “Tetpis”, because that sounds wrong.)

  8. So is the Dresden Files tv series any good? I know nothing about the book, but the lead actor looks just like a zany friend of mine, so I’ve been assuming the show is awesome.

  9. You know, I didn’t realize that was Lisa Lampanelli, but that would explain why I stared at my comic in shock and horror every time that character spoke. I suppose that means that PAD did a bang-up job getting her voice down, but really, I absolutely could have done without that.

    Ah well, Hercules beats the crap out of a forest. That makes everything better.

  10. Aw, cripes. Here I was going to talk up the Dresden Files books as a great antidote to Ms. Framingham’s works, and I find folks have already done it. Much more I can’t say, other than “freakin’ Tyrannosaur zombie? How the hell did I miss THAT? I must read them all again now, damn you!”

  11. Ditto on the Dresden Novels. I’m on “Proven Guilty” and the quality does has not let up yet.

  12. Well we all know PAD has a thing for fatties. Also, if you were paying attention the building practically fell on Lampenelli, it looked like she was on fire too. When Siryn found her she realized “Oh shit, she’s still alive, I need to do something”. So she grabbed her and while flying tried to drop her to crack her skull open. She was going to let her burn if Guido hadn’t shown up to put out the flames.

  13. Chris,

    Didn’t see the Bruce Jones “Checkmate” in your pull list, which I can only take as evidence of your highly evolved survival instinct. There is just so much wrong with the issue, it freakin’ glows in an unhealthy way. Also on the crap-cakes list for this week is Birds of Prey; Bedard can’t write dialogue, has a complete tin ear for characterization and an under-evolved sense of plot. I know it’s a “Club Dark Side” cross-over, but please someone should be trying a little harder. Art is purty though.

  14. Oops, did NOT mean to use “evolved” twice in the same post…

  15. So is the Dresden Files tv series any good? I know nothing about the book, but the lead actor looks just like a zany friend of mine, so I’ve been assuming the show is awesome.

    Okay, if you know nothing about the books, the series is great.

    If you know a lot about the books, then the series is still great, but it is RADICALLY DIFFERENT than the books as far as setting goes.

    And I have to echo the general sentiment of Dresden Files. The books are awesome and relatively quick reads, and I am frustrated as hell that I can’t find this comic in ANY of the local shops! ARGARGARGARGARGARGARG!!!

  16. Yeah, I’m going to pretty much agree with the folks here that if you aren’t reading the Dresden Files novels you should at least try them out. The “urban fantasy” genre hasn’t got many ticks in the “good examples” column, but the Dresden Files series is definitely one of them. Perhaps because Jim Butcher’s definition of fantasy includes elves, wizards, guys with swords, and undead Tyrannosaurs and doesn’t seem to just be about sex with vampires (as most examples of the “urban fantasy” genre seem to focus on). I’ve been waiting for the comic to come out in trade, and I’m glad to hear that it’s sounding promising.

  17. Did anybody else notice that Marvel books have corner boxes this week? They should bring corner boxes back for good.

  18. But that would mean that everything I know about the genre is… wrong?

    Somewhere, Kittredge is ready to cut a bitch.

  19. “He also fights necromancers. On a giant undead Tyrannosaurus Rex named Sue. Kept animated by a guy playing polka music.”

    I think that about sums it up for the Dresden books. The great thing is that even when the undead Rex is being kept alive by a one-man polka band, there’s no playing it all for laughs. It’s quite suspensful, and there’s a real sense of danger throughout that whole scene.

    Besides, Dresden’s best friend is an honest to goodness knight who received his magical sword from an Angel, and who is married to a woman he saved from a dragon. (They’re both hardcore Catholic, so they also have like a gazillion kids).

    Even better, there are three of those “called directly by god to fight evil” knights, and one of them is an agnostic.

  20. I couldn’t even finish reading before I had to give you a Kudos on the Damned/Help reference.


  21. Well Chris, imagine you’re PAD writing this month’s X-Factor and you have to feature the most unfunny comedienne on the planet? Who do you turn to?

    Lisa Lampanelli, that’s who.

    Question: Answered

  22. I read Marvel Adventures: Avengers first and set it aside with the statement, “Book of the Week.” I was right. Hurrah for Karl! I desire a book that teams up Bob, Agent of Hydra with Karl, Inept Agent of AIM.

    I’m torn between which I like better: Wolverine’s “Some pretty flowers,” or Doc Samson commenting that Spider-Man “Needs a wife.” Maybe I’m wrong and it’s all about Captain America’s free-association.

  23. I remember a day when a Paul Dini written comic book on the stands was real cause for excitement. Then I got the one-two punch of a lackluster Detective Comics run and Madame Mirage.

  24. I really liked the Dresden Files tv series, and I wish it hadn’t been replaced by the crap-a-licious Flash Gordon.

    Then again, I haven’t read the novels, so I’m appreciating it on its own merits.

  25. I picked up MA: Avengers like I usually do, without really looking at it. When I got home, I saw Jeff Parker’s name on the cover and immediately KNEW I was in for some Karl goodness.

    With this issue, I believe Karl’s legend is forever secured. As it should be.

  26. Somewhere, Kittredge is ready to cut a bitch.

    She doesn’t write in the Urban Fantasy genre; she writes in the Books Written By Friends of Chris Sims genre. And of course those are good.

  27. Can I just say that it always annoys the hell out of me when people reverse the R to make things seem all Russian-y? A reversed R in Russian is prounounced “Ya”. The thing that makes the R sound looks like a P.

    Speaking as a native-born Russian… Motto.

  28. Re: The Dresden Files Comic. This is actually a four part story written by Jim Butcher specifically for the comics and is set prior to Storm Front, the first book in the series. Next, they will be adapting the first novel but they also plan to do some additional stories set between events of the novels. Butcher has been very involved with the initial series. As for the TV series, it was a decent series with some changes made and actually did decent numbers for SciFi, but attracted the wrong demographics and thus did not get picked up. With the latest novel hitting #2 on the NYT list, the novel series is doing quite well and has been improving as it goes along, unlike some other urban fantasy series have done.

  29. “Can I just say that it always annoys the hell out of me when people reverse the R to make things seem all Russian-y? A reversed R in Russian is prounounced “Ya”. The thing that makes the R sound looks like a P.”

    Right, but you do understand how stupid it would look having a P in place of an R on an english-language poster, right? The reverse R isn’t there to be grammatically or linguistically accurate, it’s artistic license designed to portray a Russian-y feel.

  30. Great shout-out on the Damned book! I work at Brian and Cullen’s home store and…I never recognize them when they come in. But they’re the nicest guys, and now it’s lots of things I like all on one book! Brian! Cullen! The ISB!

  31. Seriously, if a backwards R is your biggest complaint, you need to suck it up. Did Russia suddenly turn wussy when no one was looking?

    On a comics-related note, the shout-out to Thor in Incredible Herc was pretty cool. It’s also kind of nice to know the Ares miniseries actually happened at some point. Not too keen on Pointer getting blamed for what the Collective did, though. I mean, you’d think a god stuck in Canada by godly decree would be able to appreciate how much it sucks being controlled by someone else.

  32. polar bear GOD. you left out some hyperbole. that bear you are referring to is ALSO a god.

  33. Well, if there’s a polar bear god in Herc, then I’ll hope other bruin deities show up.

    I’ll be praying for an appearance by Yogi Bear, representing the Hanna-Barbera pantheon.

  34. PS

    I occasionally calibrate how close our tastes in comics are, Chris; and having just finished the TPBs It’s Only A Movie and Catwoman Dies, I’d bump it up to about 70% overlap.

    I briefly picked up Pfeifer’s run when the “Hammer and Sickle” storyline ran, and then dropped it. Big mistake. I missed out on some great writing; and who knows, maybe my $$ would have kept the series running a little longer. (Manhunter‘s coming back, so I again believe in Santa Claus.)

    On the other hand, I cannot warm up to Casanova. Eh, whaddyagonnado?

  35. Maybe Snowbird, like everyone else, didn’t bother to read Omega Flight or Marvel Comics Presents.

    That’s just the kind of attitude that lands us with things like OMD and Civil War and [insert whatever comic fans are up in arms about now].

    Besides, do we really want the message here to be that Snowbird can’t hero it up and forgive like Sasquatch, Shaman’s daughter, Spider-Woman, and even U.S. freakin’ Agent could? Because seriously, when you’re getting out hero’d by U.S.Agent, you’ve sunk pretty low.

  36. Comparing Harry Dresden to Anita Blake is like comparing tiramisu to Twinkies. Complex, rich, interesting, and layered compared to cheap, mass produced, and bad for you.
    Can’t wait for the next installment of your annotations, though, how much longer will you keep us snarkers waiting?

  37. I’m not dissing Twinkies, if that is what you’re into, but dude…life is too short and there are too many better things out there! (Still going with the metaphor here. Or is that a simile?)

  38. Even better, there are three of those “called directly by god to fight evil” knights, and one of them is an agnostic.

    Giant Black Russian Agnostic Holy Knight!

    Besides the Sue Scene you also have a climatic scene involing faires and well I wont ruin it, but dman its like a fircking geniou bit of set work.

  39. “Comparing Harry Dresden to Anita Blake is like comparing tiramisu to Twinkies. Complex, rich, interesting, and layered compared to cheap, mass produced, and bad for you.”

    Well yeah if twinkies were evil and actively worked to kill your soul, say if twinkies were made of babies.

  40. “Well yeah if twinkies were evil and actively worked to kill your soul, say if twinkies were made of babies.”

    Ah, so you HAVE read the back-story the ad company came up for Twinkie the Kid…