The Week in Ink: 4-05-06
Ladies and Gentlemen: I have conquered Darkhawk. And that calls for a song.
Like she's never soared before!
From rocky coast to golden shore!
Let the mighty Darkhawk soar!"
And that's about enough of that, but feel free to leave it playing for the duration of tonight's ISB. I think you'll find it gives a whole new twist to Planetary.
Aquaman #41: I'll admit to being slightly underwhelmed by last month's issue of Aquaman, although it was certainly a well-done comic. This one, however, was awesome. And why? Well, coming as a surprise to absolutely nobody, I am apparently a sucker for an action-packed duel-to-the-death swordfight with a fish-man at the bottom of the ocean. Really, though, the reluctant hero characterization for the new Aquaman is great, and Butch Guice's moody art hits just the right notes, and they both come together perfectly when Arthur meets Mera. Still, the dynamics of an underwater civilization aren't quite as visually interesting as I'd want them to be, but on the plus side, there's no skull-shaped rock yet. It's a solid read, even if you missed the first one.
Batman and the Monster Men #6: The first of the "Dark Moon Rising" mini-series comes to a close, leaving us with a thoroughly enjoyable series. And it ends on a high note, too, in an issue that's got everything you'd want to see: Hugo Strange being evil, Monster Men going on a rampage, Bruce Wayne's decidedly screwy relationship with Julie Madison, and of course, Batman being totally badass. Matt Wagner is one of those creators that very rarely misses the mark with a knack for starting strong and just getting better, and Monster Men was no exception. I loved it, and if you can resist a comic where Batman shoves aside a gun-toting mobster and shouts "Back off, Maroni! Leave him to me!" before jump-kicking a twelve-foot tall Hulk equivalent, then you're no friend of mine.
Battle Pope #6
Detective Comics #818: "Face the Face" continues to be enjoyable as James Robinson steps in to settle the Magpie issue once and for all. See, she was dead over in Superman/Batman, and then alive and shacking up with Poison Ivy in Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, and is now thoroughly deceased. She will most likely not be missed. It's a weird bit of house-cleaning, and Robinson's dialogue feels a half-step off in certain places, but with the surprising--and if you're me, exciting--return in this issue's back-up story, it all comes together nicely.
Ex Machina #19: Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris turn in their usual product, which is to say, a fine comic indeed. I was trying to explain this series today to someone who hadn't read it, and like a lot of Vaughan's work, when you just hit the high points of the concept, it sounds pretty rough: "A super-hero becomes mayor of New York after 9/11 because he saved one of the Towers" doesn't really capture the way that Vaughan mixes revisionist political intrigue with a healthy dose of action to keep things moving, along with really likeable characters. Harris's art is, of course, fantastic, especially in terms of consistency, and along with Tom Feister and colorist JD Mettler, makes it one of the prettiest books on the stands. So I'm willing to overlook the fact that the KISS font was used yet again in the credits.
Infinite Crisis #6: Hey DC, thanks for switching up the cover stock two issues from the end of your mini-series. That's just swell. Anyway, I'm just going to come out and say it: I liked this one. Of course, it is pretty much an issue-length punchout that doesn't make a whole lot of sense and is punctuated by badass dialogue, which means it's right up my alley. It's pretty much become clear by this point--especially if you've been following Evil Robby's Infinite Crisis Reviews on Dial B for Blog--that Infinite Crisis isn't going to be as good as we all wanted it to be, so I think the best we can hope for is to have a good time getting to the end of it, and on that point at least, I think this one delivers.
In between scenes where Green Lantern continues to vie for the title of the new Major Asshole of the DC Universe and hyperviolent executions that make this book a pretty poor attempt to lighten up the DCU, there's some genuinely good stuff. Batman's line about Hal Jordan, Mister Terrific trading quips with Black Lightning, and Superboy Prime punching Connor with his own girlfriend are all pretty enjoyable little moments. And if nothing else, it's a good book to play Spot the Character with, because this may be the first and only time we're ever going to see a Freedom Beast/Stanley and His Monster team-up. ...Or is it?
Still, I'm thoroughly uncomfortable with the idea of capital-N "New Earth" that appears. I don't have anything against the Pre-Crisis DCU or the Multiverse, but I don't want things like Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's JLA Year One to be stricken from the record so that we can have Wonder Woman turned into a tree, and I definitely don't want Joe Chill arrested for the Wayne murder--if that's actually what's going to happen and not just some crazy stuff that got drawn in the margins, MAD Magazine style.
Jonah Hex #6: I've always been the first guy in line to badmouth Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray's previous writing efforts, but even I have to admit that those two guys are doing amazing things on Jonah Hex with Luke Ross. It's incredibly entertaining stuff, and each self-contained issue seems to top the last. In this one, for instance, we learn that Jonah Hex is the kind of guy who will punch a nun and throw her through a window. Yes. He's that much of a badass. Jimmy, Justin, I owe you guys an apology for those things I said about your Deadpool run. Well, no, I really don't. But this book is awesome.
Jughead #140: Over the past few weeks of reading the Archie books, it's come to my attention that the writers over there really like to use the word "Boo-Yah."
Jughead, of course, remains unenthused.
Marvel Team-Up: Come on, a story called "1991" about Cable, Wolverine, and Jubilee, with a cover by Phil Hester that features Cable holding a gun with a knife stuck on the end, that ties into an issue of X-Force written by Rob Liefeld and drawn by Mike Mignola? What, I ask you, is not to love? With his noted love of Sleepwalker and my main man Darkhawk, Kirkman's becoming a sort of one-man early-90s revival, but he manages to pull off nostalgia for some of the most hated comics ever printed in a really enjoyable way, and while I'm not too thrilled with the name "Freedom Ring," I'm certainly excited about seeing where he's going with the story he's been building since #1.
Marvel Zombies #5: Yeah, that ended about the only way it could've. Now join me in my time machine, as I travel to 1999 and tell my younger self that one day I'll be really excited about a comic with an eviscerated Mary Jane Watson on the cover in an attempt to blow my own mind!
The Omac Project Special #1
Planetary #25: And now, the ISB presents An Imaginary Conversation Between Warren Ellis and Me:
"Hey Chris, what would you like to see in a comic book?"
"A really hot woman who does nothing but punch people in the face?"
Yes, this issue finally reveals the origin of the Four and the terrifying secret of Randall Dowling, but it also has Jakita Wagner going toe-to-toe with the bastard child of King Faraday and Claw the Unconquered drawn by John Cassaday, and that's all I needed to hear.
Punisher #32: Although I certainly enjoy them more than the average guy, I recognize that Garth Ennis's Punisher stories tend to be pretty formulaic, which means that here in Part 2 of the six-part "Barracuda" story, we're going to be seeing some pretty reprehensible people do something that warrants getting shot in the face by a grim, gun-toting sociopath in two or three issues. Which, as it turns out, is exactly what happens, although like I said: It's pretty darn enjoyable.
Street Fighter II #3
Tales From Riverdale Digest #10: I was actually pretty surprised by this one from a technical standpoint, as the folks at Archie have added different page backgrounds for a lot of the stories reprinted in the digest format. It seems like a relatively small thing, but leopard-print margins really make a Josie and the Pussycats story pop when you look at them. Anyway, as far as the stories go, this issue's lead story is focused on a new Riverdale High student, Wendy "Double-W" Weatherbee, who delivers what may be the coldest line since Batman turned a mud pit to an operating table:
Dag, yo. That is cold as ice.
Teen Titans #34: Anybody else notice that this book opened with a sequence lifted from RoboCop? Weird, huh? Anyway, a few days ago when I was talking about Extreme Justice, I mentioned how that book filled the void in DC continuity left by the absence of the Wonder Twins. Well, now all of you folks that were clamoring for the return of Marvin and Wendy can relax. Thanks, Geoff Johns. Needless to say, I thought this issue was more than a little wonky, but (and this may sound familiar) there are some pretty good moments within the script, like the bit with Kid Devil at the beginning and the Ravager's interplay with Wonder Girl later in the book. It's fun, but it'll be interesting to see if it keeps up the quality and momentum it had before Infinite Crisis.
Ultimate X-Men #69
Y - The Last Man #44: This one's another one of those issues where things seem to happen all around Yorick Brown while he makes with the snappy one-liners in almost every piece of his dialogue, and I'll be honest with you: I love when that happens. It's a solid read, and halfway through it toes the line dividing "odd" from "absurd," but in a good way.
Young Avengers #11: I've always liked Jim Cheung's art a lot, but Young Avengers is the kind of book where he really gets to show off, thanks in no small part to Justin Ponsor's coloring, and it shows when he's doing huge fight scenes between two teams of super-heroes and two groups of super-powered alien warriors. I liked this issue quite a bit, which may seem a little odd considering that I have very little knowledge of the Kree-Skrull War and the Scarlet Witch's little tussle with Master P and even less affection for them, but Heinberg does a good job of making me care about things like that and the reasonably awful House of M. And believe me, that's no mean feat.
Essential X-Men v.7: I've got all the Essential X-Men trades so far, because if we're honest with ourselves, we all want to see Wolverine throw down every now and then. But this one has a little something extra. Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to present...
Hellboy v.6: Strange Places: I'm reasonably certain that I have all of these issues, but they're in the boxes, and this one can go on the bookshelf. Which means once again, laziness has triumphed over thriftiness. It's a never-ending battle.
The Superman Story: The other day while I was pumping gas, a woman walked up to me and handed me a little pamphlet on how I should turn to Jesus because Satan rules the world. I'm not exactly sure what gave her the impression that I was in the market for salvation, but the next time that happens, I'm going to pull out this pocket-sized black-and-white reprint of Silver Age Superman's life story by Marty Pasko and Curt Swan, and do a little witnessing of my own.
Think I can get tax breaks for that?
Neal Conan. Wolverine. Why, I ask you, is there not a story where these two team up and take out ULTIMATUM? It needs to happen.