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Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Week In Ink: 6-14-06

Close your eyes. Give me your hand, darling. Do you feel my heart beating? Do you understand? Do you feel the same? Am I only dreaming?

Or is this burning... The ISB's Comics Reviews For the Third Week of June!

Whoo. Kickin' it off with a Bangles reference. Strap yourselves in, kids: It's all downhill from here.

52: Week Six: On the off chance that you missed it, Scipio over at the Absorbascon has posted a nifty little breakdown of the cryptic phrases and visual elements of Rip Hunter's lab, along with his own interesting commentary for each. For me, though, this issue is all about MANTHRAX, because seriously: That has got to be one of the top three most awesomely terrible supervillain names of all time, and I love it. I want him in his own miniseries. Plus, this issue features the debut of the Great Ten, and that's something I've been pretty excited about since I first heard the codename "The Perfect Physician," and it all adds up to another rock-solid installment, even with the omission of the Question. Still, though, the "History of the DC Universe" backups are past the point where they're leaving me cold and right about to where they're just becoming an annoyance, even though I think the latest one was the best-written of the whole lot. It's just that if I'm going to get The History of the DCU, I want it to start with Anthro and end in the 853rd Century, and--if at all possible--not involve Donna Troy wandering around talking to a floating dodgeball.

Battle Pope #8

Checkmate #3: What is it about King Faraday that makes him one of the coolest characters of all time? That is, of course, a rhetorical question, since you can pretty much trace it right back to Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier, but the fact remains: I'm perilously close to purchasing myself a run of 1993's four-issue Danger Trail which--unless I miss my guess--also involves Kobra, the Deadliest Man Alive. Why I would do such a thing when I've got Checkmate, which is a darn fine comic with both of those guys that also involves a stone-cold Amanda Waller, Alan Scott being a total badass, and four other characters I really like is beyond me, but the desire remains.

Civil War #2: Despite its flaws, I'm starting to think that Civil War is starting to look like the big, slam-bang Marvel crossover that I think we all kinda want it to be. There is, after all, a lot to like about it: great Captain America action, a great J. Jonah Jameson moment, and--let's be honest--the most excited I've been to see Cable since... well, since the "1991" issue of Marvel Team-Up a few months ago actually, but before that, it was a really, really long time. Trust me. There's a lot of fun to it, though, and Millar and McNiven are handling it well, but it's not without its problems. Reed Richards, for instance, comes off as a total dick (albeit a smart one), especially when he's complaining about the exploding super-hero population. For the record, that's Reed Richards, who dragged his girlfriend and her kid brother into a space rocket and got his best friend turned into a rock monster. And now that I'm mentioning it, doesn't this exponential increase in people with super-powers just kinda balance out the loss of a couple million mutants? You know, from last year? And then there's the whole thing with Spider-Man, which I'm pretty fundamentally opposed to no matter which way you look at it, but if that's what it's going to take to get him out of that ridiculous costume, I guess I'm on for the ride.

DMZ #8: As much as I was worried about the switch to a longer-form story-arc, Brian Wood and Ricardo Burchielli haven't missed a step with DMZ, and they certainly don't start here. This issue finally gives us the Secret Origin of the war raging around Matty Roth, and while I think I would've been perfectly happy to let it go unexplained, Wood drops just enough information at exactly the right time to be highly enjoyable and interesting. The real key to the story though isn't the war, but rather the interplay between politics and media that seems to be driving it, and that's handled extremely well. Also, and I note this only for journalistic review purposes, there's a naked cheerleader makeout scene. So you should probably go buy it. Immediately.

Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer #3: FUN FACT: After I finished reading Elric of Melniboné a few years ago, I would routinely kill time at work by flailing my arms and shrieking sentences like: "Arioch! Arioch! My loathesome cousin Yyrkoon sits upon the Ruby Throne!" in a falsetto British aristocrat voice. It's sort of an odd habit, and really has nothing to do with the comic itself, but I'm the kind of person who would spend six bucks to see Walt Simonson drawing an albino sorceror fighting off armies with a black-bladed demon sword and think nothing of it, so any actual review I could offer would be suspect at best. That Simonson though... Man is he good.

Ex Machina Special #2: I've mentioned my great affection for the coloring on Ex Machina before, but the way that colorist JD Mettler works with Chris Sprouse's always-fantastic pencils on the Special to create a unified look for the series is pretty amazing--and the rest of the book's no slouch, either. The story of Mitchell Hundred's first (and from what we know thus far, only) encounter with a "super-villain" makes for a great read, and any chance to see the early days of the Great Machine is a good one.


Fables #50: It's not just that this is one of the best issues of Fables. It's that it's one of the best comic books I have ever read.

I'll admit that I'm a sucker for a good wedding issue, but this is a wedding issue that also has explosions, and that's the sort of thing I live for. Needless to say, Bill Willingham does an absolutely amazing job in this one, with panel after panel of the sharpest dialogue in comics. There's romance, there's action, there are some great jokes, and he hits it all. And honestly, Mark Buckingham's art has never looked better.

Even the preview for Jack of Fables is great, filled as it is with extra pieces of commentary and notes. It's everything you need, and an appearance from three guys that caused no small amount of completely-unwarranted flipping out around the store. It's just that good.

Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #26: You know, there's something uniquely Ronnie Raymond-esque about Martin Stein being kidnapped for six weeks and being held rougly thirty yards away from his other half.

JLA: Classified #22: Is it just me, or was there an awful lot of dialogue in this one about just why they put the guy who passes out whenever someone lights a match in charge of cooking dinner ona camp stove? Anyway, it's a solid read from Englehart and Derenick, and I'm actually really glad to see the Detroit Leauge back in action--and I mean that. I've got a lot of affection for those guys, mainly because they were involved in one of the greatest Justice League stories of all time. Admittedly, I have not read and do not plan to read most of the rest of those issues, and that might be why I still have affection for them, but it's worth picking up regardless. After all, there have to be at least a few of you out there who don't see Vibe on a daily basis.

Marvel Westerns: The Two-Gun Kid #1: A Dan Slott/Eduardo Baretto Two-Gun Kid story with a cover by Eric Powell that features Matt Hawk tracking down the Man-Wolf? That, my friends, would be enough to sell this book to me alone, but it's the Rawhide Kid backup story that pretty much ensures you've got to own this. It involves the Rawhide Kid--and it's four in the morning and I'm going completely from memory, so bear with me--going up against a living, walking, conquering totem pole that a bunch of miners stumble across in, you know, their mine. What makes it great, though, is the second-best opening caption I've ever seen, where Stan Lee out Stan-Lees himself: "Can we believe our eyes?! Can this actually be a living totem bent on destroying the Rawhide Kid?!" Almost kills me every time.

Public Enemy #0: Bass! How low can you go? Death Row--what a brother knows. Once again back it's the incredible--the rhyme animal--the incredible D! Public Enemy Number One...

Or, actually, in this case, #0. And oddly enough, Terminator X isn't in it. That's like having the Justice League without Batman. But reagardless, the joy that I felt upon reading a comic where Public Enemy the rappers moonlight as Public Enemy the paramilitary strike team that fights against a government conspiracy cannot accurately be expressed. All I will say is that when Flava Flav used clock-shaped time-bomb gas grenades to take out a gang of thugs, I wept openly and without shame at its simple beauty.

Superman #653: The punchingest installment of "Up, Up, And Away!" and my favorite thus far. Everything clicked in this one for me, but it really just comes down to Lex Luthor's last line in the book. And What a great little line it is.

Supermarket #2

Ultimate X-Men #71


Abadazad v.2: The Dream Thief: Everything I said about last week's release of Volume one still applies, but in case you missed it, I'll sum up: Too much novel, not enough graphic.

Mage v.2: The Hero Defined: When I was but a lad and decided to start buying comics that didn't exclusively deal with Spider-Man lifting up heavy objects and hurling them at his various clones, I picked up a few issues of Mage: The Hero Defined and they immediately blew my mind. I loved them then, and I love them now, because honestly: It's Matt Wagner telling the story of a reincarnated King Arthur who battles monsters with a magical lightning-powered baseball bat, and there's nothing about that sentence that isn't totally awesome. Plus, this volume introduces one of his friends, who has what might be the greatest name in the history of comics: Kirby Hero. Well worth it.


Anonymous dr. k said...

Chris, if you think King Faraday is cool, try to avoid the 91 Danger Trail series, unless you just want to look at the great Paul Gulacy covers. It appears to have been created just to save the trademark on "Danger Trail." In particular, it does two really annoying things: 1) the story is narrated by Faraday in the form of a report to Sarge Steel on the adventure, which ruins any dramatic tension or sense of danger when Faraday's life is threatened; 2) each issue ends with a seemingly inescapable cliffhanger, only for the beginning of the next issue to change the parameters of the cliffhanger, making it completely escapable. I can loan it to you if you're really interested.

But if you want to see how cool Faraday can be, read the Batman story "The Lazarus Affair," where Faraday is left out in the cold trying to track down Ra's al Ghul after Faraday's partner had been killed. I don't have the issue numbers handy, but Marv Wolfman wrote it, and it's great. Wolfman built up to the story for many issues before the story proper kicked in. It's a Batman story that really needs to be collected in trade.

6/16/2006 7:51 AM

Anonymous William Sims said...

Hey is that Elric the #3 of the series that started like two years ago? Is it new this week, or did you just get around to reading it? I haven't been buying comics regularly in quite a while, so finally seeing the second half of the story would be nice. When does #4 come out? 2008? 2010?

6/16/2006 9:33 AM

Anonymous Rasselas said...

"Arioch! Blood and souls for my lord Arioch!"

Man, it's embarrassin to be caught muttering that in the office on Saturday afternoon.

6/16/2006 10:27 AM

Blogger Jim said...

After all the negative publicity Marvel got about the Rawhide Kid a few years back, you wouldn't think they'd dig up a story about him tussling with a pole.

6/16/2006 12:57 PM

Blogger Scott said...

Hmmm... I'm not sure that Pherson counts as the only 'super villain' faced by Hundred, although he might be the only one to be faced during his active career as the Great Machine. After all, there's also weird biomechanical whatsit that was slaughtering/possessing people for a while, and the buddy that pretended to be an android wearing the jet pack and everything - both being 'special' enough to count as super villains, I would think.

6/16/2006 2:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


That's just great to say.


6/16/2006 2:54 PM

Blogger Philip Looney said...

>>Reed Richards, for instance, comes off as a total dick (albeit a smart one)

Why does this surpirse you? This is the same guy who decides to name himself "Mr. Fantastic" after his friend is turned ino a hideous monster. He is also the man who locks himself in his lab and when his wife says "honey, what do you want for dinner?" syas "Not now woman! I'm trying to save the world!" - only to later stop and shave while Galactus is hanging around outside.

6/16/2006 3:35 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Dr. K: Wait, the Paul Gulacy covers are the best part of the series? Yeah, I'm going to go ahead and pass then.

William: Yeah, it's the same one. I'm not sure what the big delay was, but it sure ends up being pretty.

Scott: I'd love to tell you that what I actually meant was that it was the Great Machine's battle with a super-villain and the others are sort of Mitchell Hundred's, but the fact is, I totally forgot about those. How, I'm not sure, since they were the focus of two entire story-arcs that I remember clearly here in the light of day, but, you know. That's how I roll sometimes.

Phil: Yeah, but that was forty years ago, and I'd like to think that Reed has learned how to stop being such a dick in the intervening years, since we've seen stories where he learns to not be such a dick. The fact that he's running around super-excited and cheery about locking up Captain America in The Gulag while Sue's getting ready to go visit Johnny in the hospital is slightly irksome.

6/16/2006 4:06 PM

Blogger Brack said...

I don't think Terminator X is in PE anymore. He's now an Ostrich farmer.

6/16/2006 4:12 PM

Anonymous Tom said...

Thanks for making me feel like less of a sap re: Fables #50.

6/21/2006 4:20 PM

Anonymous Danicus said...

Any blog that references obscure Bangles songs is okay in my book!

ALso, King Faraday has somehow wormed his way into my heart and become one of my favorite heroes ever. I have no idea how he did it, but well, the guy is resourceful.

6/22/2006 9:16 PM

Blogger Mark "Puff" Anderson said...

My problem with 52 was the way that the Chinese superteam was made to talk. I get that it's supposed to be Madarin translated into English, but it seemed so clunky to me.

But on the whole it was till pretty cool.

I am growing to hate Booster Gold. I had such high hopes for the character after Ted's death and with Booster laying the smack down on the Batman and then...poof...welcome back Booster Gold, corporate shill.

Mark "Puff" Anderson

6/22/2006 11:59 PM


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