One of the most annoying things about pushing back my reviews until Friday is that I don’t get to put anything up for Bahlactus’s Friday Night Fights. I mean, I could do two posts, but… Well, let’s not get crazy here, folks.
Instead, we’ll just have to make do with this:
See? It even meets the Black & White requirement.
Still, this stack of comics here ain’t gonna review itself, so it’s time once again for the Ineternet’s Most Procrastinated Comics Reviews! Here’s the truly ridiculous amount of crap I bought this week…
…and that is why I needed the extra day. Let’s get to it.
All-Star Superman #11: You know, I’m pretty sure that we haven’t gotten three new comics by Grant Morrison since… well, since DC One Million, and that’s only if you count plotting. It’s tempting to call it, I don’t know, “Grantapalooza” or something, but as you can tell by the absence of the word “livejournal” in the address bar, we’re better than that around here.
Anyway, this one kicks off the final two-issue arc of “The Twelve Labors of Superman,” and speaking of DC One Million, sees the return of Solaris the Tyrant Sun, which I’ve been waiting for ever since Morrison mentioned that he was bringing it back when the series first started. And while there’s no shortage of complimentary things to say about this issue–right down to the perfect little moments like Luthor’s “How’s your mom?”–I think it can all be summed up in one sentence:
This is a story where the sun tries to kill a dying Superman, so he punches it so hard that it explodes and then writes his own obituary.
Sometimes, I love these crazy comics.
Batman #677: The second part of tonight’s Morrison Trifecta brings us the second part of “Batman R.I.P.,” and while I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this story, I’ve got to admit that I’m enjoying it. Admittedly, it’s not as engaging as the Club of Heroes story–or even his initial arc–but it’s surprisingly entertaining.
I think what I like best about it–aside from the sequence with Batman’s parents, which is just thrilling–is that Morrison’s revisiting one of the themes that he often revisits, showing how different the world of the DC Universe is from ours. The last time he did it, I think, was in the JLA Classified arc that led into 7 Soldiers, where Superman had a great line about how the simple solutions of gritty vigilantes just don’t hold water in a complex world of telepathic gorillas. It’s the same note that he hits here with Jezebel Jet’s criticisms of Batman and his obsessions–which are often cited as criticisms of the character and of super-hero comics in general–but applying a normal logic to a man who has routine battles of wits with genocidal murder-clowns just doesn’t work out. Of course he seems crazy. He lives in a crazy world.
Beyond that, though, the story’s appealing in that it reminds me a lot of another one of my childhood favorites, The Untold Legend of the Batman, for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who’s read it. And if not, don’t worry: I’ll probably be covering it next week.
As for the art, well, as much as some folks don’t like it, I can honestly say that I can’t find much fault with Tony Daniel’s work on the title. I mean, it’s not great, and it’s a definite step down from the kind of page layouts and attention to detail that you get from a guy like J.H. Williams, it’s competent. Of course, for a flagship title written by one of comics’ top writers, “competent” should be a given, but as strange as it is to be defending the guy who brought us The Tenth/, Daniel’s work is at least readable and he’s able to pull off some neat stuff on occasion, and that’s a lot more than you can say for the guys who did the fill-in a few issues back.
Incidentally, Kevin’s response when I told him that I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it was, and I quote, “Yes, there is. It’s ugly as sin and his storytelling is stupid and you’re stupid.” So, you know. There’s that.
Final Crisis #1: And rounding things out for Grant Morrison, we have DC’s latest foray into the world of the Grand Event. And, well, it is what it is.
Pretty vague, I know, but to be honest, it was exactly what I was expecting from a crossover written by Grant Morrison and drawn by J.G. Jones: It’s well-done, entertaining and beautifully drawn, with a rapid-fire stream of high concepts that deliver on a lot of what Morrison’s been promising. I will say, though, that out of the three comics that guy came out with this week, this is probably the one that I like the least. Then again, since one of those comics had a super-powered evil Lex Luthor and the other had Batman… well, being Batman, it’s safe to say that it was up against some pretty stiff competition.
And actually, the more I think about it, the more I like it. For a book as loaded as it is with reworked Kirby concepts, getting Dan Turpin as the viewpoint character is a nice touch, and as promised, this is a book that opens with Anthro at the dawn of time. It’s fun stuff, and while there’s nothing in it that’s really grabbed me in the way that I’d hoped it would, I’m going to chalk that up to the fact that Sonny Sumo hasn’t appeared. Yet.
Firebreather #1: If you’re a fan of things that are awesome, then it might interest you to know that Phil Hester and Andy Kuhn’s Firebreather returned to comics this week with a new ongoing series.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, it goes like this: Duncan Rosenblatt is doing his best to grow up as a normal teenager, which is somewhat complicated–even by comic book standards–by the fact that his mom is a normal suburban woman and his dad is, you know, Godzilla. Just… just don’t think about the logistics behind it, and you’ll be okay. The original mini-series is an incredible amount of fun, and the idea of a kid torn between a mom who wants him to do well in school and a father who would prefer him to focus on grinding the world beneath his draconic heel is typical of the high concepts with which Hester does his best work as a writer.
They’re elements that we’ve seen before–the teenager dealing with developing super-powers, the kid struggling against a villainous heritage–and they could easily turn into something trite and clichéd, but Hester and Kuhn keep things fresh and highly entertaining every time the character shows up. If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of the original mini-series on the cheap and give it a read, then grab the new stuff. You won’t be disappointed.
Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1: So I’ve got this friend named Brandon that I’ve mentioned a couple of times on the blog before, and he’s a big Joss Whedon fan. He’s the guy who got me to actually sit down and watch Buffy on DVD long after I’d dismissed it as a bunch of teen angst nonsense. Which, you know, it is, but in a very entertaining way.
Anyway, we were talking about Whedon’s X-Men stuff a few months ago and I mentioned that I was pretty sure Kitty Pryde was going to die at the end of the story. “But Chris,” says Brandon, “he can’t do that. That’s exactly what he did on Buffy.”
And yet, here we are.
Ah, but I kid Whedon and his bag of tricks, because despite the fact that Brandon’s the only guy I know who didn’t see this one coming from a mile away, it’s actually highly enjoyable. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for a good bit of Spider-Man action, and between the opening sequence and the fact that it’s his own neuroses that allow him to snap out of the trance, there’s a definite appeal there. Really, though, this one all comes down to John Cassaday, who takes the visuals called for in Whedon’s script and just runs with them, delivering page after page of absolutely gorgeous art. It’s a good issue, and while it doesn’t offer quite the surprising punchout finale that I wanted after the run that led up to it, it’s well worth it.
Helen Killer #2: So here’s something that hit me as a little surreal when I was getting my comics yesterday: The back cover of this week’s Helen Killer features a quote from Stan Lee… and a quote from Chris Sims.
Specifically, the quote they use involves me saying that if the rest of the series lives up to the promise of the first issue, then it’ll be the first great mini-series of 2008, and when I saw it, I realized that most of my feelings about Helen Killer up to this point have been conditional. At first, it was “what a great concept! If the series lives up to it, that’ll be awesome!” and then “Great first issue! I hope the rest of the series is that good!” Now that we’ve got a second issue that’s just as good as the first and delves even further into Helen Keller’s struggle against her berserker rages, however, I think it’s safe to say that Helen Killer really is that good.
Just like the first issue, the second is sharper and funnier than it has to be, in a way that shows a complete awareness of the story’s inherent goofiness without dropping into the self-congratulatory, and it all comes off as an incredibly entertaining comic with a sense of fun that comes through from the creators to the reader without missing a beat. Give it a read.
Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #50: With this issue, Tarot hits its landmark fiftieth issue.
I’ll repeat that, as it bears repeating: Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose has been coming out for fifty issues. To put that in context, here’s a brief list of series that were canceled before they hit #50:
Bob Haney’s Metamorpho
Grant Morrison’s New X-Men
Jack Kirby’s The Demon
Jack Kirby’s Devil Dinosaur
Jack Kirby’s Eternals
Jack Kirby’s Forever People
Jack Kirby’s Mr. Miracle
Jack Kirby’s New Gods
Kyle Baker’s Plastic Man
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane
Untold Tales of Spider-Man
Walt Simonson’s Orion
Young Heroes In Love
Once you wrap your head around that, consider that Tarot is also bimonthly.
In other news, according to this issue, breasts are the last thing on a corpse to decompose, Tarot has an interdimensional counterpart named Thornwic who dresses like a French pirate, and I need a drink.
Jack Kirby’s OMAC Omnibus: The reasoning here should be obvious.
Starman Omnibus v.1: I touched on this briefly last night, but really: This thing is beautiful. It’s got a great printing on high-quality, glossy pages gorgeous cover art from Tony Harris, and for a book that’s got seventeen issues of one of the best comics of the ’90s, a fifty-dollar cover price isn’t that bad. And while the story of Starman spreads well beyond the series itself to Annuals, Showcase stories, the Shade mini-series and a crossover with The Power of Shazam (among other places), DC has promised to include everything in the hardcovers. So for those of you who, like me, are thinking of switching out the issues for a more convenient version, I can vouch that this one, at least, meets pretty high standards.
For those of you who haven’t read Starman, however, allow me to make a recommendation. Starman‘s not just a great comic. It’s certainly that, but really, it’s a little more, and it amazes me every time I read it that someone could take bits of the DC Universe that nobody was paying attention to at the time and build something new out of them that had this much heart and personality, and it’s something that you rarely see in comics. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s the same sort of feeling that I get when I read Hitman, or Jack Staff. It’s the sense that there’s something more to these characters that you just don’t get from other places, and James Robinson and Tony Harris (and later, Peter Snejbjerg) are able to pull it off, creating a book that’s not just about Jack Knight or even about his family, but about Opal City itself and its residents, past, present and future.
People who like Starman are die-hard fans, and with good reason. And I’m most certainly one of them.
And that’s the week. As always, questions and comments, etc., and hey! I just realized that I left Angry Youth Comix off the shopping list. Boy howdy, that Johnny Ryan.
Boy howdy indeed.