The Week In Ink: May 29, 2008

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
Gotham Central
Grant Morrison’s New X-Men
Human Target
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
Major Bummer
The Order
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.

32 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: May 29, 2008

  1. I’ve gotta laugh when I look at that list of comics cancelled before issue 50. I own quite a few of them.

  2. I hope I’m not the only one here who thinks that Young Avengers Presents #5 was really weak. I mean, the art was just… *weird*, like the artist wasn’t quite sure if they were drawing a comic book or a cautionary poster. And then there was the completely dimwitted reason for everyone getting mad at Cassie in the first place:

    “Well, the Growing Man WAS tearing up a major metropolitan area, causing millions of dollars worth of property damage and endangering hundreds of lives, but since he fell on a guy when you took him down we hate you now. Never mind that the asshole he fell on probably would have gotten stepped or worse if the Growing Man had been allowed to keep going, we’re just going to scold you for ‘using your powers irresponsiblWHAAARGLBLARGL’.”

    Sorry. But I really like the Young Avengers and the YAP has been really good before this issue. Anyone have thoughts?

  3. “Of course, for a flagship title written by one of comics’ top writers, ‘competent’ should be a given”

    You’d think that but comic book companies seem to keep screwing it up.

    And with OMAC and Starman hitting in the same week I’ve got to ask: am I the only only one getting overwhelmed with the impressive hardcovers releases? I’ve got Starman in paperback but I want those hardcovers for the stuff that wasn’t collected and the Kirby omnibuses are natural picks. There’s tons of great material already and they just keep coming faster and faster. Hard cover is my preference for any book but between Absolutes, Omnibuses, Premiers, and the rest it makes the wallet sting…

  4. Wait a sec, the Starman Omnibus has shipped? Did Amazon lie to me? Stupid Amazon.

  5. The scenes with Spider-man in Astonishing X-Men were great, especially when Storm says she ‘sure’ he’s hitting Dr. Strange to wake him.

  6. In re: Starman Omnibus. Amazon ships things later than Diamond. Especially on pre-orders. I’d complain more about gettting it a week after everyone else but I’m paying $33 instead of $50 so I’ll cope…

    And I missed the relaunch of Firebreather. So annoying! Though Sims, you should mention the Firebreather one-shot where he fights a giant iron knight while on a class trip to England…

    Also any thoughts on the first Pfiefer bridging issue on Blue Beetle?

  7. Well Power Pack: Day One. And that Hercules book. And of course just this last week the ultimate Furry/X-Men book ever written. Or at least the first half of it…

  8. I first read Starman last year. the amount of material they crammed into 22 pages was astounding and yet it didn’t feel cluttered. I found it an amazing feat that even the seemingly throwaway details and filler issues were actually plot points for Grand Guignol.

  9. I think Whedon was making a pitch that he ought to be given a Spider-Man book– and he sure convinced me.

    Just one of the ways in which Starman is noteworthy: in a post-Zero Hour world where Dr. Fate go replaced by the knife-wielding Fate and the editorial edict was pretty much “all new and young, all the time, and forget about all the old stuff,” Robinson made the old stuff sing. Having a character who we’d now (groaningly) call a ‘legacy hero’ who was also himself a nostalgist and a collector was a perfect combination– and directly paved the way for the JSA relaunch, which in important ways paved the way for the whole contemporary era at DC, the Johns Age. I don’t like everything in the current editorial direction by a long shot, but I do like that Robinson kept a certain kind of torch burning through the 90s when it really needed to be done.

  10. You know, I’ve read five reviews of ‘Final Crisis’ now, and all of them seem to be saying the same thing. “If this were by anyone other than Grant Morrison, I’d be ripping it to shreds, but he’s built up so much goodwill that I’m assuming that a lame first issue must be going somewhere good because, come on, he wrote DC One Million and Animal Man and Doom Patrol and JLA and X-Men and he can’t tank _now_, not when the thought of ‘Final Crisis’ was the only thing keeping me from killing myself during ‘Countdown’…*sob*”

    Of course, I’m paraphrasing here. :)

  11. I only got three comics this week – Final Crisis, Batman, and Action Comics – and I gotta say I preferred Johns over Morrison this week.

    I’ll get my Starman whenever Amazon ships it to me…

  12. Astonishing X-Men is a stinking heap of shite. At least, parts of it are.

    Previously in this series, the main Marvel Universe was a barely tangible part of the story. Suddenly the entire Marvel Universe is a part of the story. 43 pages of story, of which 16 are primarily Doctor Strange having a seizure and the rest of mainstream Marvel suffering hallucinations. This has nothing to do with the basic X-Men story being told. It doesn’t belong in this story.

    Colossus brought back to life, Kitty and he are re-united, Kitty now gone forever. A variation on boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy loses girl. I can live with that part of the story (even though I don’t like it). But the rest of the Marvel Universe crap is just crap, and has no place here.

    I have the feeling that it was introduced at the request of the next writer, but I’ve got news for Marvel—I won’t be following this series any more. $4.99 for 27 pages of X-Men story, 16 pages of filler, and 12 more pages of reprinted covers……BAH! Thanks, Marvel, for raping my wallet.


  13. This has nothing to do with the basic X-Men story being told. It doesn’t belong in this story.

    Yes, because there’s no reason to think other Marvel heroes would get involved trying to stop a missile sent to destroy Earth…

    I enjoyed the inclusion of the other heroes, I loved the fact that Spidey was the only one to recognize on his own that they were caught in a hallucination, and I liked that ultimately, it was Kitty who saved the day, doing so in a manner that can be pretty easily resolved when the time comes to bring her back.

    And for those who haven’t read, and might be thinking Mr. Coil’s page counts are correct: Total pages devoted to primarily to non-X Marvel heroes? Eight, two of which are the absolutely gorgeous two-page spread of Spidey that opens the book.

  14. don’t forget ‘Nextwave’
    only 12 issues, but, man, they were AWESOME

  15. Robocop: “Alan, you have suffered an emotional shock. I will notify a wallet rape crisis center.”

  16. The Dabel Bros “Wild Cards: the Hard Call” #2 is excellent, as was the first installment. Hoping that they stick to schedule and get the whole thing out on time. Croyd the Sleeper is the greatest character ever, bar none.


  17. I’d never read Starman before, and I went nuts for awhile hunting for the old trades while the interweb kept on telling me how great it was. So this first collection has a LOT to answer for.

    Turns out they were right…

  18. That’s about as concise and perceptive a summary of Starman as I’ve ever read, Chris. Good one.

  19. Be nice to this Alex Ross Batman cover. I don’t like his art either, but there are surprisingly few penises* depicted.

    *I didn’t think the Whoever Steel cover he did was egregious in any way, but the fanboy penile fears it inspired were hilarious and easily mocked.

  20. Remember the first-ever Arcade vs. the X-Men encounter, back when Claremont was at the top of his game? It started out with Cyclops on a date with Misty Knight in Manhattan, running into Spider-Man, chatting with him a bit, and to Total Comics Newbie Brian it was *awesome*.

    Now, of course, I see Claremont was being a horrible, wallet-raping hack. Thank you, Alan Coil, for helping me see through the lies.

  21. Why are you afraid to come out and say it? FINAL CRISIS sucked big time! Stop making excuses for it. Please stop trying to explain why this awful comic is actually good. It isn’t.

  22. A 2-page shot of Spider-Man’s crotch I’d expect in Amazing Spider-Man Almost Weekly But We Didn’t Want People To Say We Were Copying DC. It had no place in this series. This series was pretty much stand alone from the start, but suddenly everybody shows up, just like the cavalry in those old, lame westerns they used to turn out every month in the 50s. That’s not good storytelling, it’s just throwing crap on the wall.

  23. Hey, I picked up the whole run of Hex for about $9. I’m not sure what I think about it.

  24. Why are you afraid to come out and say it? FINAL CRISIS sucked big time! Stop making excuses for it.

    Yeah. Because I have a long and storied history of not telling people when comics aren’t good.