The Week in Ink: 4-26-06
I bought and read no fewer than twenty comics yesterday, and yet not a single one of them managed to be Tokyopop's new offering, Boys of Summer. But I did give it a stern reading this afternoon.
Yes, after being allegedly run out of comics by a torch-bearing mob known as "the internet," rather than, say, writing a story where Husk had sex with Archangel in midair in front of her mother, Chuck Austen has returned alongside fellow ex-pornographer Hiroki Otsuka. It's not an entirely unenjoyable way to pass a half hour, but as far as softcore baseball-themed sex romps go, I'll always prefer the pre-Toxic Avenger Troma classic, Squeeze Play.
Which I have never seen.
And now, tremble in mind-shattering terror as I turn my wrath to these, the comics released the last week of April. NONE SHALL SURVIVE!
All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #3: On Tuesday afternoon, I was sitting in a Taco Bell with Scott hearing about Steve Gerber's run on Defenders and how every time the plot started to drag, an elf with a gun would show up and shoot a random passer-by. Cut to Wednesday, and we now have two pages of biographical information on what is certainly one of the five best concepts in comics history, conveniently filed under Elf With A Gun. Now that's the sort of information we desperatley need. This gentleman, however, may be of more interest to my fellow South Carolinians:
Yes, The Gamecock, who fought the Falcon and was eaten alive in Madripoor shortly thereafter. I love the Official Handbook.
Astonishing X-Men #14: For some reason, the sentence "Cyclops can't control his optic blasts because his father the space pirate threw him out of a plane to keep him from being abducted by aliens and he bumped his head" has always made me chuckle a little bit. Anyway, this issue sees Emma Frost being mean, Kitty and Peter having X-Gene powered sex, and the setup for a rematch that I'm pretty excited about. And of course, it's all pencilled by Handsome John Cassaday, who was robbed of his Marvel Hunk-of-the-Month title by Paolo Rivera. And I mean that in a totally straight way. It's enjoyable stuff, and it's nice to see someone building off of Grant Morrison's concepts from New X-Men without completely destroying them in the process, like what happened with Xorn.
Batman #652: ATTENTION SPECULATORS: Break out the self-sealing mylar, because this issue marks the return of what is unquestionably the worst Batman villain of all time. The way things are going, she'll end up shot twice in the head by the end of the next issue, which we can all be happy about, but it's actually a pretty nice moment when we get the reveal and it feels like even Batman and Robin let out a collective groan at the prospect. There's a lot of those nice moments in this story, and this issue's got its share, with Batman actively showing more trust in Robin, and great scenes with Harveys Dent and Bullock by the end of the story. It's incredibly solid stuff.
Blue Beetle #2: Another issue from Giffen, Rogers and Hamner that doesn't reall do a whole lot for me. I ended up liking it a lot more than the first issue, though, and the reveal at the end was a nice touch that addressed a lot of the problems that I had with the first issue. It's interesting and seems to be getting better, but the whole thing feels like it's just missing clicking with me. Hopefully once the setup arc is through, the book'll be able to find its feet, but for now, I'm a little wary. Still worth reading, though.
Catwoman #54: The "One Year Later" arc of Catwoman has been highly enjoyable so far, and Holly taking up the role of Catwoman is playing out in a way that feels like the natural extension of how she was treated in the Ed Brubaker run. Of course, the real treat here is Will Pfeifer's revamp of the Film Freak, who comes off as the kind of highly entertaining "quirk" villain that'll be a good foil for Holly's inexperience.
Checkmate #1: As big a fan as I am of John Ostrander's Suicide Squad and Greg Rucka's comics in general, it's really no surprise that I enjoyed this one, especially since it involves the Kobra Cult, which as we all know is the best terrorist organization in comics. It's good stuff, but I can't help but wonder why Amanda Waller and
Conan #27: And now, an ISB One-Sentence Review: Unlike Cary Nord and his proclivity for loincloths, Tim Truman puts Conan in no less than three solid layers of clothing before sending him out to chop people's heads off in this, the manliest story of feudal politics ever written.
GØDLAND #10: Joe Casey and Tom Scioli turn in another fine issue with a story that opens with a literally Earth-shattering explosion and builds to a climax involving a midget in crazy sunglasses kicking Our Hero's teeth in while spouting one-word sentences. Which is to say, it's a lot of fun all around. What really caught my eye in this issue, though, was the coloring by--I think--Nick Filardi. It's hard to tell from the credits, but whomever it is is doing a great job with the book. The flat Kirbyesque color pallet is probably a lot harder to pull off than it looks if it's going to remain visually interesting, and the scenes in the psychedellic torture chambers have some very nice effects that don't get to the point of distracting from the art. Very well-done.
Hawkgirl #51: I seem to be the only one around my shop enjoying Hawkgirl, which came as kind of a surprise to me. Admittedly, I wish John Workman was lettering it since those narrative captions just don't sit well with me, it comes off a little disjointed in places, and Kendra seems to be gritting her teeth an awful, awful lot, but I really like it. My comrade and occasional nemesis Kevin suggested this week that he'd like to see Walt Simonson and Howard Chaykin swap jobs as writer and artist to see the results. It's something that I don't think I'd mind either, as I prefer Simonson's pencils to Chaykin's, especially when it comes to flying people hitting opponents with blunt objects. Not that I don't like Hawkgirl's nipples, mind you...
Invincible #31: We had a long conversation at lunch today about Invincible's girlfriend and how we think he'd be better off with Atom Eve--who returns in this issue sporting a fresh pair of cargo shorts--and as I look back on it, I realize that it's one of the less creepy conversations about super-hero love interests that Tug and I have ever had in public. That, my friends, is the power of Robert Kirkman.
Ion: Guardian of the Universe #1: The further we get from Grant Morrison's JLA, the harder it gets for me to dredge up enough effort to care about the Green Lanterns. I like Emerald Dawn as much as the next guy, but really: I've been waiting like eight years for Kyle Rayner to live up to that time Dream of the Endless told him he was going to surpass Hal Jordan, and except for that time he contained a super-nova in the 853rd Century (which was awesome), it has yet to happen. Suffice to say, it doesn't happen in this one either, as Kyle Rayner, former artist on a comic strip for a trendy New York magazine--goes to an extremely pretentious European "artist's retreat." All things considered, I think we'd be a lot better off at this point if Kyle Baker had gotten the ring.
The Middleman #2.3: The kick I get out of the convoluted, almost-nonsensical subtitles that each installment of The Middleman has is matched only by the one I got from Wendy Watson's roomate in her iguana suit. Said kicks are of course dwarfed by everything else that happens in this book, which is very, very good.
Runaways #15: As I've said before many, many times, I love everything about this book and the people who make it. It's easily one of the top ten comics I read every month, and as you may have guessed, I read a lot of comics. But this particular issue has what might be my favorite line of the entire series:
Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #4: The miniseries are now over, and thus we are left with what will undoubtedly be a nerve-wrackingly long wait for Seven Soldiers #1 and the debate over whether to re-read everything now or later. Fortunately, we have Frankenstein's monster going toe-to-toe with Ne-Bu-Loh to tide us over, and that's pretty awesome. Also, is this the same S.H.A.D.E. that's been appearing in Battle for Blüdhaven? And if so, how come it's so much more awesome when Frankenstein's tromping around talking to himself and shooting extradimensional huntsmen made of baby universes in the head with flintlock pistols? Feel free to respond with your theories.
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #5: Yeah, that's right. I'm saying Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane is the best comic that came out this week. And that makes me more of a twelve year-old girl than an actual twelve year-old girl. To be perfectly honest, it was a tossup between this and the Villains United Special, but take a look at that happy-ass Dr. Doom doll that MJ's got on the cover and tell me which one you would've picked.
I've been talking about this book a lot this week with various people, trying to convince them that yes, it really is as good as I make it out to be, but it's hard to explain exactly why. It could just be that I'm a sucker for well-done teen drama that also manages to involve muggers getting clocked by Spider-Man, but everyone I've actually convinced to give it a look has, at the very least, enjoyed an issue or two. Takeshi Miyazawa's art, while it might seem a little out of place on a book like Runaways, fits the title perfectly, and Christina Strain does her usual fantastic job with the coloring. It's Sean McKeever, though, who pulls it all together with his great job writing compelling high school love triangles that pack a lot of characterization into things, and the climax of the last issue where Peter Parker tries to convince Mary Jane to go out with him instead of Spider-Man just hits exactly the right buttons for me, despite a count of zero (0) explosions.
This issue sees MJ's date with Spider-Man and the subsequent aftermath, and the way McKeever sets up Mary Jane only to kick the world of romance out from under her is just extremely well-done with this issue's last-page shocker. And while it doesn't take any mean feat of detective work to see where he's going, I'll admit that I was blindsided by it, and so excited that I punched the air and did a little dance after it was over with. And that's what comics should do to you.
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #17: And while we're on the subject of super-hero/teen drama, this one's not too shabby either. Barry Kitson's pencils are great, of course, and the way he draws Supergirl makes her really look like she belongs with the Legion. It's something that Mark Waid's able to deal with, too, making her come off a lot better in these issues than she has before; sweet and innocent instead of ditzy and insufferable. Waid also does a great job--especially in this issue--of treading the line between wacky misadventures and incredible danger, and it all works out to be extremely appealing stuff.
The Thing #6: I wish I could give somebody twenty bucks and make Spider-Man's new costume go away. You're such a tease, Dan Slott.
Villains United Special #1: Like I said, this one was almost the Best of the Week for me, but that's to be expected since it's pretty much nothing but third-string heroes and villains beating the hell out of each other for 48 pages. It's the kind of book that Dave Campbell fantasizes about. It's essentially a heist story built around every supervillain that never got a chance to die in the Suicide Squad getting broken out of prison while all the big heroes are out in space fighting Alexander Luthor's giant hands, and Gail Simone and Dale Eaglesham play it out masterfully. I'm trying to avoid spoilers here, but I will say this: When that guy shows up at the end, that's the most excited I've been to see him ever. And then he fights the Manhattan Guardian.
PS: If anybody knows who that guy with the crazy suit and tie and red and yellow eyes is, let me know. I've been trying to think of him all day. You will not recieve any sort of points for this.
What Were They Thinking?! Some People Never Learn #1: It's not as funny as Marvel Romance Redux, which in turn isn't as funny as Truer Than True Romance, but I'll be damned if there's not some hilarious bits in this one, especially John Rogers' remixed "Voyage to Nowhere."
X-Factor: And now, a one-sentence question regarding the best Peter David book I've ever read, X-Factor: So if a butterfly flapping its wings can cause a hurricane, then what's the result of a hundred Multiple Men flexing in the middle of a park?
Collected Jack Kirby Collector v.5: I'd actually ordered this in the hopes that it'd have an article on OMAC I saw while I was leafing through TJKC last year that featured some notes about Brother Eye that were obviously (and awesomely) made up as they were being written down, but the trade's actually got stuff from several years ago instead. That's fine, though, as I was able to find something even better.
They've got some of Gil Kane's, too, but if the King of Comics drawing Number Six isn't enough to get you to part with your hard earned cash, buster, I don't know what is.