The Week In Ink: October 31, 2007

I realize that I’ve been known to throw around a little hyperbole every now and then, but seriously, you guys? Yesterday may have actually been the best day ever.

Not only was it Halloween–the one day of the year dedicated entirely to putting on a costume and giving candy to strangers–but comics came out, ROM made a guest-appearance on South Park and, perhaps the most telling all… The McRib is Back.

If only it had somehow been Christmas too…



But alas! My ruminations on the creation of some kind of superholiday will have to be put aside for the moment, because that kick to the face meants that it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most BOne-Shattering Comics Reviews! Because really, comics coming out in general is always pretty good, but how do they hold up when you stack ’em against free candy and the McRib?

There’s only one way to find out, folks, and here are this week’s candidates:



How’d they do? We’ll find out together!





Annihilation: Conquest – Quasar #4: So for the final issue of Christos Gage and Mike Lilly’s portion of Conquest, Phyla-Vell creates an army of skeletons made of lasers to fight the Super-Adaptoid and save the Kree Messiah, and as fun as that sentence is to type, it’s not the best thing that happens in this issue.

No, that honor goes to a scene a few pages before, where we see a woman with a giant, glowing sword hop onto her psychic dragon and team up with an army of cavemen to fight off robots from space, and seriously? Outside of the world of comics, you can only find that kind of action in eight-minute heavy metal masterpieces that feature no fewer than two dueling guitar solos.

Actually, now that I think of it.. I’m pretty sure I have that album somewhere…



Oh, right! Man, that thing was the jam!

Batman #670: I’ve mentioned before that I’m not all that excited about the Resurrection of Ra’s al-Ghul–even with the promise of that Nightwing/Robin fight that we’ve all, apparently, been dreading–and while I hate to say it, this issue doesn’t do a whole lot to change that.

Admittedly, I’m going into it with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder: I might well be the only one, but I thought Ra’s al-Ghul’s death and replacement by Nyssa in the pages of Death and the Maidens was great, but it wasn’t long before it became clear that it was a great story that was going absolutely nowhere, to the point where Nyssa was eventually killed off-panel by a car-bomb in the pages of Robin. Really: Getting knocked off secondhand in the pages of a sidekick title? There may have been a more ignominious death in comics, but I sure haven’t seen it.

Complicating matters are the fact that Grant Morrison’s coming to this one from three issues of what were unquestionably my favorite Batman story in years, and compared to the smooth masterpiece that he and J.H. Williams worked their magic on in “The Club of Heroes,” the storytelling here seems incredibly choppy and disjointed, and while that’s a trick Morrison’s turned to his advantage more than once, it falls pretty flat here.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have some enjoyable moments, however, and the neatest among them was the shocking return of a trio of villains so obscure that I had to get Dorian Wright to explain who the hell they were. It was definitely the most enjoyable sequence of the comic, but then again, when it’s stacked up against a guy who may or may not be Ra’s al-Ghul lurking around, issuing proclamations and reminding me vaguely of Serpentor, that probably wasn’t a difficult achievement.


Biff Bam Pow! #1: With this issue, Evan Dorkin proves what we’ve all known in our hearts all along: You can make anything way more awesome by putting the word “Space” in front of it.

I mean, if I told you that this was a comic about One-Punch Goldberg, the all-time women’s champion (who signs autographs by writing her initials backwards on her fist and then punching it into some jerk’s head) duking it out with heavyweight champion Otto von Ripsnort III, you’d… well, you’d probably be really excited, because man, that already sounds awesome. But when you add in the fact that she’s a Space-Boxer fighting for the Galactic World Championship, the discussion becomes completely moot: There’s no way it can’t be awesome.

And it is, which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Evan Dorkin’s other work. He’s unquestionably one of the best creators working in comics today when it comes to humor work, and seeing him apply that same sense of manic energy and fun to a lighthearted action story is a rare treat indeed. It’s great stuff, and it only gets better with the backups, reprinting a Nutsy Monkey strip from the pages of Nickelodeon Magazine and a Kid Blastoff story with one of the best punchlines since… well, since the last issue of Dork, probably.

Now if we could only get Space Milk and Cosmic Cheese, we’d be set.


Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood #1: When it first appeared in the pages of 52, the idea of a cult devoted to the worship of crime itself struck me as both incredibly goofy and undeniably appealing. It is, of course, patently ridiculous, but considering that it was designed to happen in a setting based around a guy who dresses up as a bat to beat up muggers, it’s that shade of complete nonsense that fits right. Throw in the fact that it’s an Intergang plot and recruiting people for a religion based on crime seems like the sort of thing Darkseid would get up to back in the day, and it seems like a pretty sure thing.

And yet it left me cold, and the only reason I can think of is that, well, it’s too serious. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mind things showing up in my comics that don’t directly involve talking monkeys or something, and if there’s one thing that I’ve come to really enjoy about Greg Rucka’s recent work, it’s the way that he effortlessly blends the elements of a spy thriller (like an undercover agent embedded into sinister terrorist organizations) with the distinc nature of the DCU (like the way they placed him into the terrorist cell with the aid of a sorceress and, yes, a talking monkey), and I was really hoping I’d find the same kind of approach here.

But it doesn’t quite hold up, and I think it has a lot to do with the way it treads the line a little too sloppily. Take, for instance, the two books in the Crime Bible that are mentioned right off the bat: The Book of Moriarty and the Book of Kürten. Even putting aside the fact that I’m not sure what kind of morals (or immorals, I suppose) these stories are supposed to teach budding criminals–what with the fact that Moriarty gets chucked off a waterfall and Peter Kürten was executed for the amazing accomplishment of being one of the worst people in Germany in the 1930s–the juxtaposition of the fictional villain and the real-life serial murderer does a lot less to legitimize the former than it does to make the whole thing seem weirdly out of place.

But like I said: Rucka’s earned enough credit with me that I’m not going to write it off after a shaky first issue alone. I’m just hoping that things start to fall into place for it a little faster with the next one.


Death of the New Gods #2: The first issue of this one came out a couple of weeks ago while I was still off from reviewing, but my thoughts on reading it were pretty much the same as they’ve been since it was first announced: There’s not a whole heck of a lot that I want to see less than the wholesale slaughter of one of my favorite parts of the DC Universe, and kicking it off with the murder of Big Barda didn’t really do a lot to endear it to me.

And it stayed like that through this issue, too: Scott Free literally “getting darker” with a costume change that looks an awful lot like that Doctor Impossible guy who showed up once or twice in Justice League and a plan to blow up a ton of Parademons felt like a rehash of Identity Crisis, and having the characters in the story itself acknowledge that doesn’t really fix the problem. Beyond that, though, the whole thing just feels padded out, especially in the fight between Superman and Orion. Admittedly, it’s not out of character for Orion to start throwing punches, but when Superman indulges him with a brawl about five minutes after they scrape the corpse of a friend off the floor just doesn’t ring true.

That said, if it wasn’t for writer/artist Jim Starlin, there’s a pretty good chance that I wouldn’t be reading comics today, and while it would’ve been nice to see how my life turned out if I’d devoted it to something, y’know, productive, I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt. I ended up having a great time with Mystery in Space after all, but right now, Death of the New Gods doesn’t look like it’s going to end up all that great.

Unless, of course, it’s Kanto killing everyone. Because Kanto, as we all know, is the coolest.


Dynamo 5 #8: In the letters page for this month’s issue of Dynamo 5, Jay Faerber talks about how the thing that inspires him the most when he writes the comic is “simply my love of super-heroes,” and while it’s been a solid read from the start, there’s really no issue where that love comes through quite like in this one.

On the surface, this one’s a paint-by-numbers super-hero story, from the trouble with secret identities to the fight with a bold new villain–played this evening by Bonechill, a guy with a skull made of ice that’s a much better design than it sounds like–that leads to an appearance by a couple of guest-stars. To be honest, it’s the same set of elements that you’ve seen a hundred times already, but the sheer fun that Faerber’s having with it–come on! Bonechill! Skull made of ice!–is something you can almost feel on every single page.

The best part, though, is that this issue comes complete with a new price, and really: When was the last time you saw the cost of a comic actually drop by fifty cents an issue? It all adds up to another reason to pick it up, and if you haven’t already, give it a shot. It’s good stuff.


Forgotten Realms: The Halfling’s Gem #2: I get the sneaking feeling that halfling enthusiasts are already on board with the Forgotten Realms comics, but for all of you fans of gems out there, have I got some good news…

Fans of Jem however, will continue to be disappointed.


DC Infinite Halloween Special: I think the record will show pretty clearly that there’s not a whole lot I love more than a good holiday special, but sadly, the keyword there is “good,” and that not really a word that applies here. “Wretched,” however, pretty much fits the bill.

I’ll be honest with you, folks: I didn’t even bother to finish about half of the stories in this one, and in case you forgot, I made it through a two-part Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose Halloween special on at least two occasions, so that oughtta give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here. The key difference: While Tarot was aggressively bad on multiple levels, it at least kept moving; the stories in here were both terrible and mind-numbingly boring, and when you can tell a boring story that features both Jimmy Olsen and zombies on the moon, that’s a pretty amazing achievement.

And now that I’m looking at it, I managed to somehow skip about four pages in the story by actor/former WCW champion David Arquette without noticing. Or caring. It’s really bad, guys.

To be fair, things do pick up in the last quarter of the book with a competent story I imagine it took Mark Waid about ten minutes to bang out on a slow afternoon and the mildly enjoyable return of Resurrection Man, but surprisingly enough, the best thing in the whole awful lot comes from Dan DiDio himself. It’s not that great, there are a few genuinely funny gags (which, to be extra fair, were actually a lot funnier when I saw them the first time in Weapon Brown). Beyond that, though, it’s a mess, pure and simple, and stands as quite possibly the worst $5.99 you could’ve spent on a comic book this week.

And yes: I’m counting both covers of Anita Blake in that.





Special Forces #1: If you’ve ever heard me talk about Kyle Baker for any length of time, you’ve probably heard me refer to him as America’s Greatest Living Cartoonist. And if you’ve ever wondered why, grab a copy of Special Forces #1 and see for yourself.

Of course, you could probably do that with just about anything the guy’s done, from Nat Turner to The Cowboy Wally Show (and if you haven’t already, you really, really should), but if the first issue’s any indication, Special Forces is going to stand up there with the rest of them.

For those of you who’d like a little more explanation, though, allow me: Inspired by the true story of an autistic teenager recruited by the Army (which is detailed in a pair of articles from ABC and CBS news that are reprinted in this issue), Baker crafts something that falls squarely into that part of satire that’s hilariously funny and chillingly close to the truth at the same time: A sergeant who fails to meet his quota being sent to Iraq with the same group of soldiers that he lowered the standards to recruit in the first place, all of whom are saddled with Easy Company-esque nicknames, and very few of whom actually make it through the first issue. Because when it goes bad, Baker makes sure it goes real bad.

And he does it with the consummate skill that we’ve come to expect from his work: The panels of action are riddled with sound effects, from the booming explosions that break through the panel borders to the tiny ricochets that surround the characters. This is a book that opens with a full-page shot of someone getting their head blown off and just runs from there, only pausing to let you catch your breath by letting you know a little–very little–about who these people are.

The Short Version: It’s a new Kyle Baker story that I’ve read three times today and still get surprised by how much I love it each time. Pick it up.




Showcase Presents: The Teen Titans v.2: I’d just like to take this opportunity to point out that this volume includes a story by Bob Haney called “The Skis of Death,” which is immediately followed by a story by Bob Kanigher entitled “The Titans Kill a Saint.”

So yeah: You’re probably gonna want to get that.



And as far as I’m concerned, that’s the week. As always, any questions–like how does Mouse Guard continue to be an incredibly exciting comic despite a plot for this issue that consists entirely of three mice going into a hole?–or comments–like the assertion that Nicholas Gurewitch’s Perry Bible Fellowship might have the best three-panel gags in the business–can be directed to the comments section below.

As for me, well, I’ll be over here recovering from my intense celebration of El Dia De Los Muertos! As it turned out, why, they weren’t actually skeletons at all!

32 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: October 31, 2007

  1. You know if Pip the Troll shows up in the final issue of Starlord, I think we’ve got the Greatest Team Reunion ever going into the main Annihilation: Conquest…

  2. So, Chris, given that you’re still going with it, what are your thoughts on Doktor Sleepless? Still ‘Warren Ellis doing Warren Ellis’ greatest hits’, or something that could really go somewhere? I’m a bit on the fence myself, but I thought Issue 3 has things heading in the right direction (specifically, us wondering what the hell ass is up with Reinhardt and the Doktor). I mean, as a die-hard Ellis fan, I’m going to be sticking around a while anyway, but I’m definitely curious what you think.

  3. I totally made a point of getting a McRib yesterday.

    All I’ve read so far is the Messiah Complex issue, which wasn’t too exciting. I was a little startled when Nightcrawler was all “Mein Gott! I’m scared!” while looking out the window… and the image at the top of the next page was the Transformers. Stupid ads. Killed my moment.

  4. Now I have to check out Quasar! Grrrr

    S is Moondragon an actual dragon now? confused

    Also very glad I didn’t go for the Infinite Halloween special, saved up for slow News Day instead :)

  5. Did you make Axe Wulf up? If so, not funny. Especially since I can’t find out anything about it/them. Even Amazon let me down.

  6. It appears I’m the only person who thought the fun of the Halloween Special outweighed the dreary and crappy parts. But I did. Admittedly the bads were really bad– but then I just skimmed right through them to get to the next good part.

  7. The CD cover and the review of Special Forces have pushed you over the genius line again.

    You should totally make Axe Wulf a reality!

    The ISB is the place to be :)

  8. Apropos of nothing, fans of Mobile Organisms Designed Only for things AND/OR fans of Rupert Murdoch might enjoy today’s ScaryGoRound.

  9. I like Starlin, but it completely clear he just doesn’t get the Fourth World at all. Have you guys ever read his Cosmic Odyssey?

  10. “Ay caramba! That Dia de los Muertos decoration next to the churro vendor … NO ES UN ESQUELETO!”

  11. I know the return of Ra’s al-Ghul is supposed to be the big deal in that new Batman issue, but that same book also features the return of I-Ching, which is a much bigger deal, at least to me.

  12. Man, why didn’t I wait a day, read this, and not pick up Infinite Halloween. I mean, parts of it were fun, the Flash story was the best part and, really, it wasn’t much of a “ghost” story, but whatever. The Zatanna story was pretty solid and I liked the lovecraftian aquaman
    story, but everything else either left me cold or was mindnumbingly awful. I have to admit, Arquette’s “Watchdogs” was so bad that I actually enjoyed how ridiculously terrible it was. And the zombie superman story was such a complete non-story.

    The Daredevil annual was pretty disappointing too. This was a weak week for comics.

  13. I wish comics were released every day if for no other reason than to read this blog!

    *bats eyes sheepishly*

    *cough!* ahem,


  14. There may have been a more ignominious death in comics, but I sure haven’t seen it.

    You didn’t see Big Barda murdered off panel in the kitchen without a fight in DONG #1, then?

  15. “Death of the New Gods” may well wind up Never Happening, just like Rocky V and the Grinch movie with Jim Carrey.

    BTW – you listed an Anita Blake comic, without any actual mention in the reviews. Dare I hope that this will result in a full-post smackdown within the next week or so?

  16. I remember Adam Warlock stealing the soul of his own future self. I remember half the universe being wiped out with a snap of Thanos’ fingers at the start of Infinity Gauntlet. I also remember a teacher in issue 1 of DONG (awesome) saying that the New Gods only came into being when the old gods died. Starlin hasn’t let me down yet (although I haven’t read Infinity Crusade), so I think there’s still a chance the healing power of Cosmic Jim can overcome the DC Darkness.

    Cosmic Lesbians versus the Super Adaptoid was the only other issue I picked up this week, and reading it on the bus I was grinning like an idiot all the way home from the second I saw the Kree Messiah’s… confinement. If the writers want me to start reading Wraith again, all they need to do is get him to go fetch Pip and Drax!

  17. Spot on with the Halloween Special. Unbelievably wretched–the bad stuff so bad that it made the mildly good stuff bad.

    The New Gods thing is so meh that I’m not even bothering with it, Starlin and all. Either they’re just gonna reboot all these characters in new bodies in “The Fifth World”, and if so, who gives a shit except that they’ll probably lose some of the great Kirby designs and replace them with wretched crap. Or they’re serious and “The Fifth World” will be all-new characters who will be wretched crap like the New Guardians until it’s time to renew the trademarks on the Fourth World characters and they’ll be brought back the same way the JSA was brought out of their time-loop Ragnarok. So it’s not worth getting too bothered about the stupidity of the premise. It would be worth reading if it was a good story, I suppose, but the first issue made it clear to me that it wasn’t going to be.

  18. Man, I second the heck out of the notion that Anita Blake needs a review (read: roasting) in the near future!

  19. So, Chris, given that you’re still going with it, what are your thoughts on Doktor Sleepless?

    Still enjoyable, and the whole “Greatest Hits” vibe seems to be mediated by the mystical elements of the new issue. Of course, that’s not to say that they’re still not there (and I’m thinking here of the technozombies and the secret origin of the Nurse), but Ellis is a good enough writer that even getting him to do stuff that interests him on autopilot is a pretty good read.

    And with this issue, it does get a little deeper than that, and it’s a direction I’m really starting to enjoy.


    I like Starlin, but it completely clear he just doesn’t get the Fourth World at all. Have you guys ever read his Cosmic Odyssey?

    What, seriously? I love Cosmic Odyssey.


    I saw AxeWulf open for Limozeen once. Helluva a show.

    Was that the ’89 ThünderBlade tour? Man, that was a CLASSIC.


    I wish comics were released every day if for no other reason than to read this blog!

    You, uh… you realize I write this blog every day, right? Even when no comics come out?


    You didn’t see Big Barda murdered off panel in the kitchen without a fight in DONG #1, then?

    At least she was actually in the comic. Nyssa didn’t even get an appearance, just half a word balloon in a comic about her enemy’s sidekick.

    Also, the comic’s called Death of the New Gods. You pretty much knew what you were getting into.

    Also, “DONG.” Hahahaha!


    BTW – you listed an Anita Blake comic, without any actual mention in the reviews. Dare I hope that this will result in a full-post smackdown within the next week or so?

    Considering that there hasn’t been an issue of Anita Blake yet that I didn’t annotate, you can probably figure that one out for yourself.

  20. At least she was actually in the comic. Nyssa didn’t even get an appearance, just half a word balloon in a comic about her enemy’s sidekick.

    As bizarre as it feels to me to defend that story arc even the slightest bit, Nyssa’s death actually does get a whole page of Robin #148, in which she meets with generic terrorists (in scenic “Northern Africa”), gets in a car, and then the car explodes.

    It’s still far too lame, though, and you’re not the only one who thinks that Nyssa had a lot of potential to be a strong villain after DatM. (Sadly, at this point DC continuity seems to be pretty much to ignore everything about that story other than the bare fact that R’as died.)

  21. Oh man, I could not finish a single story in that awful Halloween special. It was really, really terrible. It felt a lot like Eddie Berganza, two weeks ago, was like “Oh snap! Halloween is a Wednesday this year! Uh…we’d better pull an all-nighter and write some stories. We’ll charge six dollars for it!”

    We sold out of the Perry Bible Fellowship book in, like, one day. It’s pretty great.

  22. DC Infinite Halloween Special sucked for the most part (other than Waid’s Flash of course). I have to admit though, I enjoyed the Batzarro Dark Knight story. And the line about Phobia basically being Scarecrow, except British and hot. Pretty bad otherwise though, especially the god-awful Smallville and Arquette stories.

  23. It’s those Darkseid genes man. They’re finally kicking in.

    And boy, did DC sure suck this week. And yet Marvel barely showed up all to present a better alternative. Talk about bad timing.

  24. So wait….The PBF book is out?! Every time I see it on Amazon, it’s for pre-order. So I don’t need to know if it’s good or not (that one is obvious), I just need to know if I can find this sucker in stores.

    OH and if the people who also comment here don’t read The Perry Bible Fellowship then they are CLEARLY missing out. Damn Miggs and his puppies.