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Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Week in Ink, 3-15-06

As The Grippe continues to hold me in its icy clutches, there will be no humorous introductory paragraph to lead into the reviews this week. Instead, please enjoy this picture of Superboy from that time They Gave Him Hitler's Brain!!:

In a finer world, that would be the dastardly event behind Infinite Crisis.

But it's not.


The Atheist #3: It's been a long while since the last issue came out, so it took me a page or so to remember what was going on in the story, but for those of you who haven't been paying attention, here's the rundown: Antoine Sharpe (the eponymous athiest and all around Warren Ellis-style badass) has been called in by the government to deal with a small problem brought on by the spirits of the dead returning from the afterlife and taking over the young, healthy bodies of Canadians. Even better, it's all brought to you by Phil Hester and John McCrea, and in this issue, those guys prove that they know exactly how to get Chris Sims excited by revealing the identity of the Evil Mastermind behind the whole plot. Trust me, it's one of the best villain reveals I've seen in a while, and it's worth picking up just for the scene where it happens.

Batman: Year One Hundred #2: Hey, check it out! Crazy Future Batman does stuff and talks to people in this one! Awesome! Seriously, though: it is awesome. Pope's drawing a lot from Year One, obviously--which gives me the sneaking suspicion that what happens to Jim Gordon at the end of this one won't go without reprisal--but he's twisting and adding more than enough to make it interesting on its own. It's thoroughly enjoyable, especially with Jose Villarrubia's colors blending with Pope's art to perfectly set the mood for his script.

Betty and Veronica #216: So, remember how I jumped on all but four of the "One Year Later" books? Well, I also thought it would be a good idea to jump on almost all the Archie books at the same time, because I am apparently completely insane. I have a lot more affection for the Archie books than I probably should, but I'm not sure why I thought it'd be a good idea to start buying them all. Until I saw this:

Feast thine eyes, friends, on Randolph, who may be the funniest character I have ever seen. Note that Veronica's totally into him despite the fact that he's under the impression that anime rules, and that wearing a top hat to school doesn't make you look like a total douchebag. Also, he has a mullet, and I'm reasonably sure he shops at the Wiz. He is, without a doubt, The Sensational Character Find of 2006.

Birds of Prey #92: Well, that didn't stick around too long. Still, this issue's a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Gail Simone does the best job so far of actually shaking up the status quo, if for no other reason than Oracle's line when she's asked about Black Canary. It adds a great bit of intrigue to an otherwise action-heavy story, and it makes for a nice hook to the Canary subplot. Plus, it's got the Crime Doctor and his crazy shades, and you can't really pass those up, now can you?

Conan #26: So the last issue of Conan ends with everyone's favorite Cimmerian facing certain doom as he's hunted down by a small army of angry Shadizarians. This issue, though, is a completely different story. It would've been nice to see how the other stuff turned out, but I suppose it's reasonable to assume that Conan beat the hell out of them, because generally, that's what Conan does.

Conan: Book of Thoth #1: And while we're on the subject, if "Conan" (the word) is on the cover of a comic book and Conan (the barbarian) doesn't show up in said comic, that does not make Chris Sims happy. Still, it's to be expected, as this book reveals the Secret Origin of Thoth-Amon, which is pretty enjoyable even if it does seem to drag a bit. I've never been a big fan of Kelley Jones, seeing as I don't like the way he draws Batman, but his work's very enjoyable indeed in this one.

DMZ #5: Brian Wood and Ricardo Burchielli bring out another stand-alone issue--this time in the form of a 22-page chase sequence--which makes me like this title even more. Instead of writing for the eventual collection (and I'm looking at you here, Marvel Comics), Wood seems to be using the single-issue format to its fullest, telling great single-issue stories that support his over-arching theme. There's a lot to be said for it, especially since it allows him to address the mechanics of the book's world--such as the fate of Central Park in #4 and the reason that we still have definable New York City landmarks in what's ostensibly a war zone this month--in a way that's less intrusive and more interesting than it could be otherwise. The hit-and-run storytelling is something he's doing quite well in a lot of his other books, and it suits his writing style. And although the next story comes in five parts--which I'm looking forward to--it's nice to have the shorter bits to break it up. Burchielli's art remains a perfect fit for the book, from the desperation on Matt's face as he runs around with a figurative and literal target on his back to big ol' explosions. And I love explosions.

Fury: Peacemaker #2: Hey, thanks for putting that four-page Squadron Supreme preview right in the middle of a two-page spread, Marvel! Rock on! Anyway, this is, for the record, maybe the fifth Garth Ennis story I've read about those deucedly charming British soldiers of World War II. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Infinite Crisis Secret Files 2006: So, for the record: Superboy Prime got mad and punched a wall, and that's why Hawkman doesn't make sense. Glad we cleared that up with a perfectly reasonable explanation.

JLA: Classified #18

Nextwave #1: Director's Cut: I won't even try to act like I'm not a sucker for this sort of thing. Especially when it includes a script. Especially when it's an awesome Warren Ellis script, and most especially when said script is accompanied by Stuart Immonen concept art and the story isn't broken up at all by ads. Well, except for another one of those frigg'n Squadron Supreme ads right in the middle of Elsa Bloodstone smacking things around with guitars. Rest assured, I will have my vengeance for that.

Nightwing #118: Bruce Jones is a writer that I'm mostly familiar with for his run on Incredible Hulk that included a lot of Bruce Banner walking around without a shirt on and very little of the Hulk rampaging, so I didn't really have high hopes for this title. And, well, that's about what I got. It's exactly what I expect: Dick Grayson runs around doing some man-whoring and, in a pleasant surprise, it does have hisex-landlady Clancy in it, which is nice, as I always liked her from the Chuck Dixon run. Of course, it also has what might be the worst dialogue I have ever seen. Have a look:

If that was a ">choke!<" instead, it would've been just over-the-top enough to be hilarious. As it stands, it's just weird and generally pretty stupid, especially since he's been fighting super-villains since he was a teenager. There's just no reason for him to be that shocked about fighting a metahuman, which is literally an everyday event for him, even if he didn't know the guy had powers beforehand. Seriously, that's bad.

The Perhapanauts #4

Runaways #14: I've talked about pretty much every aspect of this book, right down to how well it's colored (very), so I'd just like to point out, as Tug and I talked about, that this issue includes a reference to the Skrull Imperial Marching Band. Skrull Marching Band. If that thought does not bring you happiness, then you, sir, are devoid of a soul.

Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #4: As longtime ISB readers will know immediately, this comic has something that I've been wanting to see for seventeen years. And surprisingly, it has very little to do with chrome-plated breasts, although rest assured: They generally make everything better. This was a dynamite issue, a much better exploration of the exploited-female-celebrity-superhero motif than the last one, which fell a bit flat for me on my initial read through. This one, though, hits the topic just right to get the message through in a highly entertaining way, even before the addition of a little metal mouse.

Spike vs. Dracula #1: One day, I will learn not to purchase liscensed comics written by Peter David. But not today.

Superman #650: Much like Detective Comics from two weeks ago, this is very much an issue about "everything's back to the status quo--but something's DIFFERENT!" With Superman, though, it's taken a few steps further, and there's enough up in the air at this point that I really want to see more before I make a judgement call on the story. There are certainly elements that I don't care for, and that really need to be explained before we go any further, not the least of which is the fact that Lex Luthor wasn't convicted after being on national television fighting the world's most beloved hero in a suit of nuclear-powered murder armor. That said, there's a lot I liked about it, and Pete Woods does a great job stepping up to the art chores, and it more than did its job of getting me intrigued enough to read the next issue.

Teen Titans Annual #1: Thrill to the most awkward sex scene since Fair Game! The New DC: That's How We Roll!

Ultimate Extinction #3: I really like Ultimate Misty Knight. I'm not sure whether it's the fact that I can describe her in one word as "Sassy!" or if it's how she refers to Captain America as a swear word from the TV edit of Scarface. Either way, I want her to get a miniseries out of this deal, assuming those crazy super-heroes can beat the Devourer of Ultimate Worlds.

Ultimate X-Men #68: And now, Robert Kirkman presents a page from Professor X's 100% Guaranteed Pick-Up Lines:

I am totally using that.

The Walking Dead #26

Showcase Presents: Superman Family v.1: The last time I bought a book that included the words Showcase, Presents, and Superman in the title, I was physically incapable of writing about anything but that book for about a month, and still can't make it a week without talking about Lion-Head Superman.

This one has Jimmy Olsen punching out a gorilla with his atomic strength.

You've been warned.


Blogger Phil Looney said...

I've only read the first story in the Superman Family, but I couldn't stop laughing when Jimmy's runaway ice cream cart almost got hit by the semi truck - and the truck driver explains to the reader before they can even ask themselves the question - "Oh no! I can't stop in time or swerve out the way!" - kind of like the guy is saying, "too bad for you chump, I'm just going to have to hit you."

3/17/2006 8:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If that was a '>choke!<' instead, it would've been just over-the-top enough to be hilarious."

I took it to be a gasp of pain, not of surprise. (He broke his hand on the guy's face, remember?) Either way, it's going to take a lot more than that to convince me Jones is worse than Devin Grayson.

3/17/2006 11:06 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

That was Jose Villarubia who did the colors on Batman Year 100, not John Workman. Sorry to nitpick. And what was it that you've been waiting 17 years to see? Was it somebody being smashed with not just a car battery, but an entire engine block?

3/17/2006 4:03 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Rats, you're right. What can I say, I was sleepy. Workman is, of course, one of my favorite letterers.

And yes. Yes it was.

3/17/2006 4:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

But what about Essential Godzilla Chris? The world demands to know!

3/17/2006 6:03 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Hm, let's see:

Thinner than usual and three bucks more, and it has Godzilla, about whom I could not care less.


3/17/2006 6:22 PM

Blogger Canton said...

"Well, except for another one of those frigg'n Squadron Supreme ads right in the middle of Elsa Bloodstone smacking things around with guitars. Rest assured, I will have my vengeance for that."

Rest assured, you are NOT alone.

3/18/2006 12:53 AM

Blogger Michael said...

I think I'm going to do a more extended version of this on my blog - but here'a brief view of some of the OYL books from a guy who has bought no mainstream DC hero books in years. Aquaman - a fav hero of mine - gets mixed reviews but generally favorable as it has an Atlantis Chronicles feel to it yet clearly mixing and mingling very old and very new. Detective just confused me with no mystery that did anything other than add to the confusion - the art was purty though. Superman was very enjoyable with plenty of big mysteries (where has Supes been? why isn't Kent Supes? what's up with Jimmy? etc.) to keep me hooked. Busiek certainly has some good explanation for Luthor not being convicted (although not knowing for what exactly when I read it, it didn't strike me odd).

3/19/2006 12:14 AM


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