The Week in Ink: 7-19-06
CRAZY ROBOT FREAKOUT!
Yes, the automata may be going mad (perhaps necessitating some kind of... Robot Fighter), but for the time being, you're just going to have to deal with a bunch of reviews where the ISB tells you Everything You Need To Know about the comics for the third week of July!
52: Week Eleven: Break out the champagne, kids: No more History of the DCU! Seriously, there were times during those long and wholly unnecessary expositions of things that happened three months ago that I prayed for the subtlety and nuance of Extreme Justice. But anyway, it's over now, and the healing can begin. Meanwhile, over in the main story, the art for this issue is a heck of a lot sharper than it has been recently, with Todd Nauck handling the Elongated Man sequences and Joe Bennet getting back up to speed for the Batwoman sequences, and it all ends up being highly enjoyable stuff. But that could just be the Post-Donna-Troy-And-Her-Floating-Dodgeball Euphoria talking.
Aquaman #43: Kurt Busiek is the kind of writer that can write 22 pages of a teenage Aquaman talking to the ghost of an Atlantean technocrat and still deliver an enjoyable product. I suspect it has a lot to do with telepathic shark translators, but it makes for a nice break from the "Conan of the Sea" story we've been going through for the past few issues, while leaving us with the promise of more underwater swordfights to come. And I'm a man who loves some underwater swordfights.
Bite Club: Vampire Crime Unit #4: Vampire Lesbian Mafia Adventure! There. That oughtta get me some fresh Google hits.
0Casanova #2: As we all know by now, casanova uses the same sixteen-page, $1.99 format as Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith's ridiculously awesome Fell, but whereas that book seems to work by gridding out a tight, focused story, Matt Fraction and Gabriel Bá's new book seems to work through the sheer amount of wild ideas that Fraction's cramming into every one of Bá's slick, monochrome pages. The whole thing's filled almost to bursting with High Concepts, and once it gets into its rhythm, it's a great, fun read. But there is one problem: In the "liner notes" to this issue, Matt Fraction refers to the album Liquid Swords, erroneously crediting it to the RZA when it is, in fact, The GZA who dropped that hit. See, the Wu-Tang Clan forms like Voltron, and the GZA's the head.
Not to call him out on his mistake or anything. It's just that, honestly: When's the next time I'll be able to claim I'm more hip-hop savvy than someone?
Catwoman #57: And speaking of Shogun Assassin, this month's incredibly awesome Adam Hughes cover is the Lone Wolf and Cub homage that I've been wanting since I saw the solicitation for it. Seriously, the last thing the Internet needs is someone talking about how good Adam Hughes is, but man: That guy can do a cover like nobody's business. Inside, Will Pfeifer and David Lopez continue to bring us a solid, consistent book that I find myself enjoying more and more with each issue. The Film Freak's worked out great so far, with Pfeifer pulling off some great bits of characterization in this issue--because really, when The Angle Man tells you to stop being so hung up on your gimmick, it might be time to take a good hard look in the mirror.
Checkmate #4: Greg Rucka rounds out the first Checkmate story arc with a pitch-perfect conclusion, restructuring the cast in pretty much the only way he could, and since said restructuring also features guys named The Perfect Physician and The August General in Iron, that is pretty exciting. Not that Amanda Waller and Alan Scott sending super-spies to Communist China to fight rogue Durlan technology needed any assistance, I mean.
Civil War #3: So here's the problem: For the past few years, Mark Millar's been writing in this big action-movie style that pretty much involves nothing but a series of big, explosive, awesome moments where somebody says something really badass and then punches someone else right in the face. And while I'm the last person you'd expect to complain about that, it's got the side effect of boiling everything else down to its simplistic action-movie fundamentals along with it. Reed Richards becomes nothing but a Supergenius Asshole, Iron Man becomes The Republican Party, and poor ol' Spider-Man becomes Tony Stark's Sniveling Personal Secretary for the duration, and that's really fucking annoying. Don't get me wrong, I like Civil War on the whole, but I also like Iron Man, Reed Richards, and Spider-Man, and they're pretty much irredeemable through the whole thing.
That said, I really did enjoy this issue (despite the fact that there's a lot that doesn't make sense), mostly because of the great moments that Millar puts in. Heck, there's stuff in there that makes me like Hercules, and I kinda hate that guy. I just wish there was a little heart behind it.
Conan #30: Mike Mignola's two issues of Conan have pretty much been a Hellboy story with a broadsword instead of a giant stone hand and slightly less-than-altruistic intentions, but trust me when I say this: That's not a bad thing. Not by any means. It's got everything you want to see from Conan, with everyone's favorite Cimmerian climbing walls, looting forgotten temples, and--most importantly--throwing down on a giant frog demon. Plus, there's a great gag in this month's Two-Gun Bob by Jim and Ruth Keegan, which all adds up to a comic that's way better than it has to be.
Eternals #2: I'd probably be getting a lot more out of this if I actually sat down and finished reading all about those crazy space-gods, but I still found this issue to be highly enjoyable. The sequences with Ikaris, while highly reminiscent of Croup and Vandemar from Gaiman's novel/BBC miniseries/comic Neverwhere, were still pretty fun, and Sersi managed to almost avoid talking about her website, which made her character a lot more likeable. John Romita Jr., of course, was fantastic as always, and while I would've liked to see more Celestials--because I always want to see more Celesitals--I ended up liking this issue a heck of a lot more than the first.
Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters #1: Allow me to sum up why you should purchase this in one sentence: The back cover features a three foot tall space criminal mother who has a laser gun and a set of nunchucks made out of rolling pins. Anything else is completley irrelevant.
Justice League of America #0: Look, DC, we need to talk. I came up in the early '90s, so believe me: There was a time in my life when Gen 13 spoke to me, and I've got a lot of nostalgia for J. Scott Campbell from back int he day, but his variant cover for this issue? Yeah, that is shit. I hate to have to be the one to bring it up, but God Almighty, that thing is wretched. I can only assume that you guys ran it in an effort to do the impossible and make the Mike Turner cover look good by comparison, because man. It's terrible.
Oh, and by the way? This right here needs to stop:
Yes, my personal comic book nemesis, Terry Long, in all his horrific glory. This makes three apperances in recent memory, and that's four too many. Other than that, though, it's better than I expected it to be, although the way that the story is structured--with sequences set at various points of the history of the League and others in the future--is problematic in that the "Future" bits don't really make much sense, are awkwardly written, and won't matter anyway. I blame Terry.
Manhunter #24: I've been waiting for the reason Kate Spencer switched from being a United States prosecutor to having her own criminal defense firm ever since the "One Year Later" story started, and this issue's reveal didn't disappoint, especially since Marc Andreyko (along with Will Pfeifer on Catwoman) seems to be using the year-long storyline gap to better effect than anyone else at DC. It's a great little book, that Manhunter.
Planet Hulk: Gladiator Guidebook
Public Enemy #1: YES! The rhythm, the rebel! Without a pause, I'm lowerin' my level! The hard rhymer, where you never been I'm in! You want stylin', you know it's time again: D! The enemy, tellin' you to hear it!
Or, in this case, to read it, which is something I'm not sure I can do. Because while this is the only comic book I've ever read that opens with Flava Flav jump-kicking a footsoldier of the New World Order in the face, whirling a clock (or possibly buzzsaw blade) around on a gold chain as a weapon, and shouting "YEAH, BOYEEEEEEEE!", it's a triumph that's somewhat ameliorated by the fact that it's not very good. Seriously, though? Panel of the year.
Rival Schools: United by Fate #2
Robin #152: Adam Beechen's run on Robin has been, hands-down the best of the One Year Later titles, and with this one, it's bordering on phenomenally enjoyable. It's not going to change the world, but it is amazingly consistent, with fun, engaging adventures and a Batman that's more likeable in two panels than he has been in years in other books. Freddie Williams' art has some odd quirks, but mostly, it's just stylized enough to put me in mind of Humberto Ramos on Impulse, and that's pretty much the highest praise I can give out to a DC teen super-hero comic.
Runaways #18: Runaways is always good, but this issue is amazing.
From the cover by the incredible and underappreciated Marcos Martin on down, it's a great-looking book, with Christina Strain doing some phenomenal work with the coloring in this issue. Every month I mention how much I love the art team on this book, but they're always astoundingly good. And while the character who dies wasn't who I expected, well, I didn't expect Victor to turn the New Pride's van into a frigg'n Transformer either, and that didn't make it any less awesome.
She-Hulk #9: In addition to getting the wedding of She-Hulk and Man-Wolf out of the way early (along with your standard-issue Jenna Jameson joke), this issue features She-Hulk's first dinner with her new father-in-law, and that, as you might imagine, does not go well. In fact, it goes so not well that I began to wonder whether Dan Slott was taking J. Jonah Jameson's character a little too over-the-top for the sake of a joke.
But then I remembered this:
... and now I'm starting to think that Jonah's really mellowed in his old age.
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #20: It's another fine issue of Legion, but the only thing I really have to say is this: Bizarro Brainiac may be the single greatest idea since a monkey with a jetpack.
Uncanny X-Men #476: I'm really starting to think that Marvel might be onto something with the way they've restructured the X-Titles in a way that keeps the character lineups completely seperate. After all, Wolverine's been a pretty essential part of the team for years now, and restricting him to the Astonishing X-Men team really makes for some interesting scenarios where they can't rely on the standard tropes of the character, and it's pretty refreshing. This Issue: Warpath cuts up some guys with his Vibranium Knives! Don't miss it, bub!
X-Factor #9: Another character-driven issue of X-Factor that, while slightly bogged down by the trappings of being a Civil War and House of M tie-in, manages to be pretty entertaining.
This week's issue of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man finishes a time-travel story arc by introducing a murderous parallel-universe version of Uncle Ben into the Marvel Universe.
It is, despite all evidence to the contrary, written by the same person.