The Week In Ink: 5-24-06
Now that we've all head a break to catch our breath after my senses-shattering exposé of deep space trucking action as you like it, it's time to get on with the reviews of my comics purchases for the third week of May, 2006.
52: Week Three: Don't get me wrong: I hate Terra Man with the same kind of firey passion I hold for Man-Bat, but I was really hoping that Black Adam crushing people's skulls and rending them limb-from-limb was the kind of thing we were leaving behind as we left Infinite Crisis. And I say that as someone who loves a good limb-rending. Other than that, and the fact that I'm not sure where the dead body of Lex Luthor came from, the third issue of 52 stayed reasonably enjoyable despite a severe lack of the Question. Still, though, I imagine it's too much to ask for someone in the crowd of reporters to say "Hey wait a second, Lex... If you replace 'alternate dimension' with 'evil clone,' isn't this the exact same excuse you used that time you blew up Metropolis?"
Batman #653: Putting a guy with profound psychological problems who once beat Dick Grayson to within an inch of his life with a baseball bat in charge of protecting Gotham City seems to be working out about as well as everybody except Batman expected it to, and this issue left me pretty underwhelmed. Between the awkwardly formal quirks that slip into James Robinson's dialogue every now and then ("Have you the power" instead of "Do you have the power," for example) and the fact that I feel like I've read this story before--which I have, including a Bruce Timm Batman: Black & White story where Harvey gets cured and married, at which time things go spectacularly wrong and he ends up burning half his face off with a handful of hot coals--I just had a hard time enjoying it. Plus, and I'm sure this has been made abundantly clear over the last year and a half, I don't exactly have the patience for an issue where a guy talks to himself for twenty-two pages, no matter how many broken mirrors it involves.
Birds of Prey #94: Not only does Gail Simone seem to be having an absolute bang-up time writing Lady Shiva--the line where she talks about Cassandra Cain being "an achiever" is one of the best and funniest little character moments I've seen in quite some time--but she even does a great job of returning Prometheus to the status he never should've lost on his downfall to becoming just another plot device for a new villain to smack around to show what a badass he is. He is, after all, the Crooked Man from the Ghost Zone who took on the entire JLA, and as Oracle points out several times in this issue, that ain't no joke. It's the same kind of thing she shows with Black Canary taking on an entire army: it's pretty darn exciting stuff, and Paolo Siqueira's pencils continue to get sharper with each issue.
Blue Beetle #3: You know what's pretty high on the list of Bad Signs For Your New Comic™? Having a fill-in artist on the third issue. Admittedly, Cynthia Martin's pencils compliment Cully Hamner's work on the book pretty well and they're not at all bad, it's just reasonably worrisome, as is the fact that we're three months in and I'm still waiting for this book to hit its stride.
Catwoman #55: Will Pfeifer and David Lopez have obviously realized that the key to writing good comics is to have Wildcat jump off a building and start busting heads within the first seven pages, and if that little rule isn't written down somewhere, it should be. Anyway, the storyline's been highly entertaining so far, and the Film Freak's continuing to round out as a great nemesis for Holly, but honestly: Selina's baby's only like a week old, and already she's pawning him off on a nanny so she can go run around on rooftops, and that seems a little unnecessary. Seriously, lady: Stay home a while, catch some Baby Einstein videos or something.
Checkmate #2: All of the thrilling spy action of the first issue, but this time in far less ridiculous outfits! Beyond my petty fashion concerns, there's a lot to like about this book, what with the return of Kobra. So far, it doesn't grab me quite the same way that Suicide Squad did, but the fact that it's written by Greg Rucka certainly invites another comparison: It's essentially Queen & Country, but without the alcoholism and... Well, that's it, really. Self-destructive relationships and cold-hearted government-sanctioned murder sprees are all present and accounted for. Except that it's in the DC Universe, which for me means only one thing: Count Vertigo.
Conan: Book of Thoth #3: I generally read all of my comics wednesday night, but I haven't been getting to Book of Thoth until the next day for the past three months. It's not that I don't like it--it is, in fact, my favorite Kelley Jones work to date--it's just that forty pages of Conan-related sorcery is a lot to get through at two in the morning.
Dardevil #83: It's old news by now that the Ed Brubaker/Michael Lark run on Daredevil has quickly become one of my favorite monthly books, but now that it's got the frigg'n Punisher locked up alongside Matt Murdock, the Kingpin, and Bullseye, it's hardly even a contest anymore. So instead of praising it ad infinitum, I'll just draw your attention to a moment that gave me an unspeakable amount of joy:
What could have possibly have possessed that guy to start running his mouth? Seriously: it's the Punisher. What the hell did that guy think was going to happen? Murdock's blind and he can see where this is headed.
Iron Man #8
JSA Classified #12: Quick! Turn to page five and try to tell me that Jade doesn't look like Whitney Houston from a few years ago when she was on TV saying she didn't do crack because crack is for poor people. I dare you. Such is the art of Paul Gulacy. Anyway, while I don't actually hold out hope for it ever actually happening, it would be nice if Vandal Savage could think about one of the dozens of times he fought Resurrection Man over the centuries while he was flashing back to his origin. I mean, yeah, it doesn't have a lot to do with One-Eyed Alan Scott or anything, but really. That's the dude's whole deal.
The Last Christmas #1: On the off chance that you've been using the ISB to inform your own purchasing decisions, you might want to go ahead and skip this one. After all, it's a well-known fact that I will buy any Christmas comic that is put in front of me, even in the dead heat of summer. And the fact that this one was co-written by one of my favorite stand-up comedians, Brian Posehn, makes it so minutely targeted towards me that I'm not sure who else would be picking it up. I do, however, feel that it's worth noting that if there's one thing I could possibly like more than a Christmas comic, it's a Christmas comic that advertises genre porn on the back cover. That's awesome.
Nextwave: Agents of Hate #5: FOR ONCE IT CAN TRULY BE SAID: THIS ONE HAS IT ALL! If you can think of any possible reason not to buy this joyous chunk of madness, then I will punch you in your stupid face, stupid. Heck, I might do it anyway, because after an issue that features broccoli monsters, rabid koalas, the death of Special Bear, the shocking secret of Monica Rambeau, Celestials acting like total jerks, Elsa Bloodstone striking a pose, and no fewer than four different laser beams, I'm full of the kind of energy that can only be released by violent acts of the purest savagery. Or savage acts of the purest violence. I don't have time for semantics. Oh, and the Crayon Butchery Variant? I bought two. Because I'm a man what loves his crayons.
Secret Six #1: I like the cover to this one quite a bit, but not as much as the negatived-up version that was was pictured in the solicitation, especially when it comes to the way that the title--which I also like a heck of a lot--was laid out between the images. I normally try to avoid falling into this trap (and often fail miserably), but I honestly don't think I'd mind seeing it as a second printing cover. Anyway, Villains United was my favorite of the "Countdown" miniseries, and so it's no surprise that I really enjoyed this one, especially considering that between this and Green Lantern, third-rate Nightwing villains Double Dare are appearing in two titles this week, something that I never would've thought was possible. But most importantly, Gail Simone finally answers the age-old question: How do you deal with a sociopathic midget who can take over your mind?
She-Hulk #8: Yeah, I'm not saying that it's not a bold design that stands out on the shelf or anything, but I've got the sneaking suspicion that the Civil War cover layout is going to get real old, real quick. That said, Dan Slott turns out another highly enjoyable script where he makes a good go at reconciling She-Hulk's behavior in her own book with with her behavior in others, and even goes so far as to have her call Iron Man out on that time he mindwiped the world like I've been wanting someone to. And while I really enjoy the fun feel of Juan Bobillo's art, Paul Smith proves to be a great fit for pencils. Plus, the lettercolun this month is pretty darn funny.
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #6: Oh. Snap. It's the secret origin of Mary Jane, and that's a phrase I never thought I'd be excited about, especially if I would've known it involves awesomely bad goth poetry. It's fun stuff, but while I wish Takeshi Miyazawa had done the whole issue, having Valentine De Landro come on for the flashback sequences makes sense, and it's got that pretty coloring from Christina Strain to help out any rough edges it might have. What really caught my eye, though, was--again--the lettercolumn, wherein Sean McKeever talks about why Mary Jane won't be involving stories about more "serious" teen issues and, more importantly, makes reference to "MJ Compound," which I can only assume is a secret government installation designed purely for making comics that appeal to both teenage girls and slackers in their mid-twenties.
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #18: Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's reboot is almost entirely responsible for my recent interest in the Legion as chronicled here on the ISB, so we can all come together and agree that I'm a fan of the book and that--except for some weird faces that crop up in the way Adam DeKraker pencils over Kitson's layouts--this issue's no exception. But I would like to take the time to point out that this issue has a fantastic cover that's would be a hell of a lot better if it didn't have the name of a mid-80s Tony Danza sitcom plastered on it for no particular reason. Seriously, DC: That shit needs to stop.
Teen Titans #36: You know what? I think Geoff Johns did a good job with the Doom Patrol in this one. He's obviously going for the sinister, creepy feel of the Grant Morrison run, and sure enough, everything that happens in Dayton Manor, from the Chief berating a tiny Elasti-Girl and telling her that she has to do what he says or nobody will love her, to Beast Boy trying to keep the whole thing from falling apart comes off as genuinely creepy, threatening, and sad, and I ended up liking it a lot.
X-Statix #5: You know who I feel bad for? Venus Dee Milo. I mean really, you get to the afterlife and find out your boyfriend's spending eternity pining away for his ex while you don't even get to make an appearance? That's harsh. Fortunately, my sympathy for her plight is mitigated by the fact that this was one highly entertaining miniseries.
The Riverdale Experiment
Cheryl Blossom Triple Pack: And now, an ISB Handy Visual Guide to the phenomenally cheap three-issue mini-series where Cheryl Blossom has to go get a job so she can afford a new car:
Carl Barks' Greatest DuckTales Stories, Volume One: In case you missed it, this thing is a full-size trade for less than eleven bucks that not only has a bunch of Carl Barks stories that aren't currently available in any kind of affordable format, but at least two of them--"Back to the Klondie" and "Hound of the Whiskervilles"--tie in heavily to Don Rosa's amazing Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck. In the biz, we call this sort of thing "a must-have."
Cromartie High School v.6
Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness: Like you really needed me to tell you this. Unlike my usual M.O., I don't plan on sitting here explaining the hell out of why I like this book so much; I'll just say that there are a bunch of strips at the end by guest artists, and since I'm the kind of person who recognized one of my childhood idols, Howard Philips on sight, I'm clearly the kind of person Bryan Lee O'Malley is marketing to.
Scott Pilgrim: Easilly Ten Times Better Than The Best Howard and Nester Strips. And you can take that to the bank, son.