The Badass Week in Ink: 7-06-06
Badass Week once punched out a mule!
Yes, it's still Badass Week, but it's also Thursday in the second week of July. So let us pause from the intense, mind-shattering action of super-heroes punching each other for a few brief moments. You go get something to drink, and me, I'll review this week's new comics.
52: Week Nine: Despite the fact that there was quite a bit of punching in this issue, it still felt like placeholder material for the most part, which is odd, considering that it involved DEVILANCE THE PURSUER and the Question hanging out at a lesbian bar, and those are both pretty cool things to have in a comic book. Also, Natasha Irons proves herself to be quite possibly the stupidest person in the DC Universe, because really: How can you fight crime and hang out with Superman even a little and then not realize that Lex Luthor is a very bad man?
Regardless, there were some nice moments, and the last-page reveal of what's going on in Gotham is enough to get me pretty excited. Other than that, everything looks normal here--
TERRY LONG MAKES AN APPEARANCE DURING BADASS WEEK?!
For those of you unaware, Terry Long is Donna Troy's creepy husband, and whatever the opposite of badass is, that guy embodies it. He's more of a sadass, as evidenced by the fact that his grimacing, mopey head is floating directly under a word balloon where someone is referring to him as a vulnerable weakling. Needless to say, I do not like him very much, although I have to admit: Having him show up this week just makes Sgt. Rock and Conan seem all the more awesome by comparison. Moving on!
The All-New Atom #1: Although I really can't get behind having the words "All-New" actually in a book's title, I really enjoyed this issue. It's (obviously) very similar in tone to the eleven-pager in Brave New World, but Gail Simone's fun, quirky narration style from the preview is really paired well with the textbook-style story introduction. It's a framing gimmick that I really hope she sticks with, because I got a pretty big kick out of it. The plot itself is interesting and does a good job of alternating the lighthearted shrinky-adventure moments with the, you know, complete subjugation of the human race. Very enjoyable.
Beyond! #1: It is, as you may have heard, Lost meets Secret Wars, but I'm not going to lie to you: I like it a lot when that guy FROM BEYOND! comes around and makes a bunch of Marvel characters fight each other, but I like it even more when there's somebody in the mix that I have never heard of in my life.
And considering that I've read every single appearance of both Gravity and the Hood, that's no mean feat for ISB favorite Dwayne McDuffie to pull off. But he does, and that's the beauty of it: It's such a crazy group of characters that you can't help but be intrigued. There are, after all, three guys who have pretty much only appeared in their own introductory miniseries (although Gravity did make it into the 2005 Holiday Special) standing alongside the new Venom, two founding Avengers, Medusa of the Inhumans, and Spider-Man! How, I ask you, could you not want to know what was going on with that motley assortment?
Not to mention that Scott Kolins's art is pretty incredible in this one. I liked his Marvel Team-Up and Earth's Mightiest Heroes work a lot, but the pencils for Beyond! are every bit as good as those.
But most of all, it's just a lot of fun. This is a comic that opens with a the Bi-Beast and those Kree and Skrull guys from the Dark Phoenix saga, and then drops a quote from King Lear as an epigraph before building to one of the most shocking shock-endings I've seen in a while, with McDuffie adding his own twists to the Hood and Venom along the way. Trust me, it all just flows together to make a pretty darn enjoyable comic, and it's well worth your time to pick it up.
BPRD: The Universal Machine #4: Hellboy! The Wendigo! Liz Sherman's astoundingly creepy secret origin! Talking wolves! And in case you missed it, Hellboy fights a frigg'n Wendigo! Don't ask, Just Buy It!
Dark Horse: 20 Years: Seriously, if you need me to tell you to go buy a twenty-five cent pin-up book that has Stan Sakai drawing Sin City, Sergio Aragonés drawing Conan, and Art Adams drawing Ghost in an homage to this cover, then I can only assume that you lack the ability to read, and are only here for the pretty pictures of people kicking each other in the face. And that's cool, too.
Detective Comics #821: I've been almost as excited about Paul Dini writing 'Tec as I am about Grant Morrison coming on Batman ever since the teams were announced, and with good reason: In Batman: The Animated Series, Dini wrote some of the most iconic and definitive portrayals of Batman ever. Plus, he's said that he's going to be sticking with done-in-one stories for a while, and it's nice to see tha the's keeping that up with his first issue, complete with a charmingly ludicrous new villain. What I wasn't sure about, though, was J.H. Williams III--not that I thought that he'd be bad, I'm just worried about keeping up with the book's schedule, especially since this is the job that took him off Desolation Jones, where his work was absolutely phenomenal. He certainly gets the job done here, though (employing the same nifty tricks from Jones in the fight scenes), although there are a few sections where it feels rushed. His page layouts and designs are as masterful as ever, but his Bruce Wayne comes off as more goofy-looking and toothy than I'd like him to be.
Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius Super Summer Spectacular: Today's lesson: Robot sharks make everything better. Even the ISB. I really, really love Chris Eliopoulos and Marc Sumerak's Franklin stories, and while they're easy to dismiss as "Calvin and H.E.R.B.I.E.," a nickname for the series that I love, they've ended up being solid, and in parts, phenomenal. This issue's lead story actually has one of the better sight gags I've seen in a long time, with the Fantastic Four attending Franklin's litlte league game (which, as you might expect, involves explosions) and Reed uses his powers to stretch his own hand like a big foam #1 sign. It's hard to explain, but, y'know, most sight gags are. Just trust me on this one.
Fury: Peacemaker #6: Between Fury: Peacemaker, War Story, Enemy Ace: War in Heaven, today's Battler Britton and a Haunted Tank story in the pages of The Demon, it suddenly occurred to me today that as far as war comics go, Garth Ennis is the new Robert Kanigher. Although I imagine his take on the Metal Men would be vastly different.
The Goon #18: ¡Dios Mio! ¡Es la vuelta de Lagarto Hombre! Eso está totalmente mal asno.
Incredible Hulk #96: This week, Marvel announced that Greg Pak is going to be doing a sequel to Phoenix: Endsong, and any goodwill he'd built up with me pver the past month was completely thrown out the window. Seriously, Endsong was worthless. Fortunately, though, that seems to have no bearing whatsoever on the undeniably awesome "Planet Hulk" story, which continues to surprise me with how much I'm enjoying it. The writing's sharp and well-paced, the art and covers are fantastic, and the characters are all really enjoyable to read, even through their crazy alien syntax and dialogue quirks, which I usually find to be an annoyance at best. Even the big Temple of Doom moment in this one comes off as being exciting. Good stuff.
Jonah Hex #8: The story's better than last issue's infuritaing rehash of #2, but coming off of Luke Ross, Tony Dezuniga is more than a little jarring in this month's adventure of everyone's favorite Western badass. Unfortunately, the story's pretty disjointed in a lot of ways, and being that I'm not a tough-as-nails lonesome rider on the Western frontier, I'm having a little toruble trying to figure out why anyone does what they do in this issue, and that bothers me. For the first seven issues, Jonah Hex was well on its way to being an absolutely fantastic treatment of the character, but with a clunker and a placeholder right after one another, it's rapidly losing momentum, and readers along with it.
JSA #87: Final Fight, the 1989 arcade and Super NES classic that featured ex-professional wrestler and Metro City Mayor Mike Haggar temporarily abdicating office and teaming up with a ninja to go rescue his daughter by beating the hell out of enough people that everything eventually works out okay? TOTALLY BADASS. Final Fight, the not-with-a-bang-but-a-whimper last issue of JSA< wherein Wildcat learns a little something about his family and The Virgin Courtney Whitmore rides a cosmic rod across the Atlantic Ocean in less time than it took me to write this sentence? Yeah, not so much.
Marvel Team-Up #22: So wait, I'm confused: Is Evil Tony Stark the one who dresses like Dr. Doom, fights SHIELD agents, and killed the Human Torch, or the one that hired the Titanium Man to attack the UN and wants to put Captain America in a concentration camp? I can't remember. Anyway, whoever the bad one is, Robert Kirkman's good, and in this issue begins to tie up the threads he's been leaving all over the Marvel Universe--and I mean that in a good way: it's a lot of fun to see him come in and use the Diamondback LMD from his Captain America run to further another story. Even if this particular story doesn't involve Speeball and the Terror.
Marvel's Greatest Comics: Fantastic Four #52: I am all for Marvel putting out complete replica-style versions of their most famous comics (in this case, the first appearance of Black Panther) on nice glossy paper complete with the classic ads, but I'd like it a hell of a lot more if they hadn't just made it look like an old beat-up comic. I mean honestly: What is the point of putting something on glossy paper if you're going to use images that look like forty year-old newsprint? If I wanted a faded-out reprint that was nearly illegible in places, I'd go find myself a copy of Marvel's Greatest Comics #39 in Poor condition. It's frustrating, especially since there's a Marvel Masterworks version of this story that looks a lot cleaner, and that Marvel even put out "Milestone Editions" in the 90s that were complete ads-included reprints that didn't look like I found it in a basement. Seriously: Color Balance is three keys in Photoshop. Look into it.
Punisher #35: This is the fifth part of a six-part Punisher story, and in accordance with the Garth Ennis Punish For Success™ storyline formula, Frank Castle doesn't get a whole lot of killing done. Instead, everyone else just stands around doing morally reprehensible things and getting manipulated into situations where they can be easily and horrifically killed next month. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
Secret Six #2: Surprisingly, I've managed to get five days into Badass Week without once mentioning Deadshot, who was one of about four characters who managed to make it through the entire run of Suicide Squad and come out alive. Clearly, Gail Simone is well aware of this fact, and that's just one of many reasons why it's not a good day to be a member of the Ravens, although I notice Vicious hasn't shown up lately, which, considering? Probably a good move on her part. Anyway, Secret Six surprises no one by still being a thoroughly enjoyable read, although now I can't stop trying to figure out why Cheshire likes guys with red hair so much.
Teen Titans #37: So the Teen Titans and the Doom Patrol team up to fight the Brotherhood of Evil in this issue. But what you might not know is that over in Outsiders--which I don't buy and therefore don't usually review--the Outsiders are also fighting the Brotherhood of Evil, who seem to have a completely different scheme and method going on the same month, in a related title. You know what that is? A sloppy way to run a shared universe. But anyawy, given the choice between the two, I'll stick with the Titans, although the fact that Robin took a year off and came back calm and together in every other book but spends most of his time in Teen Titans down in his special clone basement is also starting to bug me pretty hard.
The Thing #8: Well, that's it for one of my favorite Marvel books, but Dan Slott manages to end on a high note. He's clearly taking a bunch of unused plotlines that he's had for (now-nonexistant) future issues of The Thing and putting them all into one comic, but instead of reading like it's all crammed in (like Geoff Johns's last issue of The Flash), the ideas have a really nice flow to them, with each one boiled down to its high point and a quick punchline before moving onto the next one. The only problem is the quick-and-dirty solution to the Ben/Alicia love triangle, which doesn't do a lot to make her character likeable if you stop to think about it. But still: there's a lot of good stuff in this one, and it's a damn shame that this book got cancelled.
Uncanny X-Men #475: As much as I like the X-Men (and deep down, you know you do too), the idea of them going out into space and kicking it with vast alien empires has never been my favorite thing about the story. But it's no secret that I really, really like Ed Brubaker, especially since he came aboard and made Daredevil the best book in the Marvel Universe, and that all adds up to me not being too sure where I stand on this one just yet. I actually ended up liking Deadly Genesis, and the first issue of "Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire" was definitely good enough to keep me interested for next month, but I'm not sure if it's going to be able to keep my interest with a team roster with only one character I really care about, and a couple I actively dislike. Billy Tan, however, was pretty surprising in this one, with his art coming off much better than the usual stuf--right up until fourteen year-old elf Rachel Summers shows up, anyway.
Y - The Last Man #47 I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank Brian K. Vaughan, not only for being one of the top writers working in comics today and creating several comics that I really enjoy, but for writing an issue where some lesbians watch Die Hard. That, sir, is totally rad.
Showcase Presents: The Elongated Man: Haven't read it yet, obviously. But really, stick around a couple weeks. I'll flip out about it eventually.
And that's it! But Badass Week continues tomorrow as, for the first time ever, the Toughest Man in Comics is revealed, as voted by YOU, the ISB reader! BE THERE!