All right, folks, let’s get to it! After all, every minute I spend writing a snappy intro is a minute I’m not playing Megaman 9, so it’s best to just dive right in.
Yes, it’s that time again, and what better way to kick off October than with the spoooooky story of a man who went to the comic book store and found that almost nothing had come out! I mean, I only ended up coming home with nine singles this time, and if you’ve been following the ISB, you probably realize that that’s a bit lighter than usual.
Still, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to stop the Internet’s Most Distracted Comics Reviews! Here’s what I got…
And here’s what I thought about ’em!
Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book One #1: Well, well, well.
You know, ever since the end of the last series, which was capped off by a full-page ad for this issue, people have been asking me if I was planning on continuing my award-seeking series of annotations on the Anita Blake comics. And that is a question that I can only answer thus:
Do you dare miss a minute of the action?
Batman #680: In this issue, both the Joker and Commissioner Gordon discover Batman’s secret identity, Bat-Mite is revealed to be an interdimensional Jiminy Cricket, and Bruce Wayne manages to maintain his perfect .000 batting average of romantic choices.
So in other words, it’s just another Wednesday night in Gotham City.
Really, though, as crazy as this book’s gotten over the past few months–or let’s be honest, because of it–I’m having a blast with this story. Admittedly, it feels like the kind of thing where Morrison’s run is going to have a huge, explosive climax that’ll be the comics equivalent of dropping the mic after a battle rhyme, and then whoever gets the book after’ll have to come in and explain it all away with lines like “Well when Batman punched out the Joker, he hit his head on the coffee table and suffered amnesia, and Commissioner Gordon had been dosed with Velocity-9 over in Detective that month, so he wrote it off as a fever dream.” Or maybe I’m just paranoid because that’s pretty much what happened with New X-Men. Either way, it’s a lot of fun right now, and I’m loving it.
Specifically, I’m pretty excited about the fact that the human mind–even Batman’s–simply cannot handle being a Silver Age character for an extended amount of time without just giving out, sharpened soup can lids being used as shuriken, and the fact that the DCU equivalent of the characters from the Marquis De Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom–which Morrison based a good chunk of The Invisibles around–apparently get together every year to watch the Black Glove take down a super-hero, and yet were completely unprepared for Batman to bust in on them holding a baseball bat in one hand and The Bat-Radia in the other. That is fun comics.
As for this issue’s Big Reveal, however, I’ve got to say that if it actually is the Big Reveal of Batman R.I.P., it’s a little disappointing. I mean, Morrison did say that the identity of the Black Glove was going to be the biggest reveal in seventy years, and even making allowances for hyperbole, that’s overstating matters just a little. Still, there’s one issue left, and that’s plenty of time to pick it up.
The Man With No Name #4: Four months into this one, and as much as I like westerns, Christos Gage, and Man With No Name trilogy, I’ve got to say that this is a more than a little underwhelming. It’s not that it’s a bad comic; it’s a perfectly serviceable western. But that’s the problem: It’s only serviceable.
As much as Gage has gone to the trouble of tying the plot into The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the end result is a story that just feels generic, and really, that’s not his fault. Story is, after all, a secondary concern in those movies–if it was the real draw, then you could just watch Fistful of Dollars or Yojimbo and not have any particular need to see the other. But in Sergio Leone’s films, the plot takes a decided back seat to style, and while comics are a pretty versatile medium, it’s going to be impossible to capture what’s so incredible about a six minutes of Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach staring at each other while an Ennio Morricone score builds to a crescendo on the comics page. It can’t be done. And yet the draw here as a licensed comic is that it’s not just a western, but a western about The Man With No Name, and so a story that could easily be fun if it was tailored for Jonah Hex or the Two-Gun Kid instead falls flat.
And it’s nowhere more apparent, oddly enough, than in the lettering, which gives TMWNN’s dialogue a different font than anybody else’s–one that you usually see being used for ghosts or something–for no particular reason that I can think of. I mean, it’s not like his voice in those movies is so different from anybody else’s. It’s distinctive because of Clint Eastwood’s laconic delivery, and that’s something that you have to hear. Trying to duplicate it with a lettering trick is just distracting.
Marvel Apes #3: Bruce Bananner. Oh, Marvel Apes! Once again you have warmed my bitter old heart!
Top Ten Season Two #1: I’m pretty sure that I said when this was solicited that Alan Moore’s Top Ten is one of my favorite comics, so I was pretty skeptical when I heard there was going to be another volume without Alan Moore writing it. I did feel a little better once I heard that Zander Cannon and Gene Ha–the original art team–were sticking around with Cannon taking the lateral move to scripting chores, and now that I’ve actually read it, I feel even better, because this thing’s a lot of fun.
The biggest criticism I’ve heard about the book is that the art is… well, off, and that’s definitely a valid point. Ha and Cannon (who also does layouts) have chosen to give the characters a painted, watercolor sort of look while doing the backgrounds with a more traditional penciled and inked style, and while it’s not very noticeable in a lot of scenes that focus on the characters, there are spots where it outright clashes. Specifically, check out Irmageddon, whose head is done in the painted style while the rest of her–in her nuclear battlesuit–is drawn with sharply inked lines. It’s weird, especially given Ha’s crisp, detail oriented art on the original series and Cannon’s more cartoony work on Smax.
The story, however, more than makes up for the art’s shortcomings, coming complete with the series’ trademark references, from the pregnancy test shaped like the Ultimate Nullifier to the concept of crossover-dressing, which is a great punchline that I’m surprised I haven’t seen before. It’s fun, clever, and while it looks like it’s going to just go ahead and ignore Beyond the Furthest Precinct–the first attempt at a Moore-less Top Ten–and instead take place concurrently with Smax, I don’t have a problem with that at all.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney v.1: I’ve mentioned my affection for Phoenix Wright games before, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I grabbed this one, thinking that it’d either be an adaptation of the stories in the game–which would be pretty pointless, since it’s in the “visual novel” style that means you’re doing more reading than actual playing–or, even better, original stories done in the same style. Instead, it turned out to be an odd little anthology of stories, some of which are based around cases, some of which are based around ramen-eating contests involving the principal cast, and most of which do their best to take a sledgehammer to the fourth wall in that charmingly inimitable doujinshi style. The end result, at least for me, was something that’s bizarrely entertaining in almost exactly the same way as the game is, throwing slapstick comedy, grisly murders, and the complete disregard of the Fourth Ammendment into a blender and coming out with something that’s highly enjoyable.
Of course, there is a story where Maya, Phoenix’s youthful, spirit channeling sidekick, attempts to breastfeed a cat, so, you know. Thanks, Japan.
And that’s the week! As always, any questions, such as whether or not the Phoenix Wrighit manga could’ve used more Franziska (answer: Yes) can be left in the comments section below. And if you’ve already managed to get through your stack this week, why not head over to Living Between Wednesdays, where Rachelle Goguen has not only posted more Marvel Hobos, but a reimagining of the Punisher that you must see to believe.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy the original art and have it framed.