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Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Week In Ink: 10-11-06

Shock follows shock here on the ISB: Out of eleven new comics that I purchased yesterday, not a single one included a good solid boot to the face. So to kick off tonight's installment of the ISB's ill-formed reviews for the comics of the second week of October, 2006, we must turn--as we have so often before--to Danny Rand, the Immortal Iron Fist!

Wait. He's not quite done.

You can tell that Iron Fist is a supreme master of the Martial Arts because his hang time while delivering a jump-kick is long enough for him to deliver a soliloquy of Ditkoesque proportions. But then again, that sort of thing'll happen when you're being written by Chris Claremont.


Even better? Those are all from the same page.

But enough foolin' around with the most unbeatable adventures of 1978! We've got new comics to talk about!


52: Week Twenty-Three: The fact that there are some weeks where I get comics that don't include people shouting things like "MY CRICKETRON'S GONE BERSERK!" is something that I hope is remedied far more often. Even beyond that moment, though, the idea of Will Magnus waking up on what appears to be an island paradise built specifically for people who Know Too Much is more than a little reminiscent of The Prisoner, which is a recurring theme in a lot of Grant Morrison's work and certainly something that I like seeing in my comics, especially with the creator of the Metal Men cast as Number Six. Moving past the Will Magnus sequence, the bit with Montoya, the Question, Black Adam and Isis works out about like I expected--as does the Jerry Ordway Wildcat backup--but the pages focusing on Intergang's re-education process stuck out to the point where I had to read it a few times.

Indoctrinating people into a lifetime of crime in the service of Darkseid and/or Ra's Al-Ghul through pseudo-Biblical stories of Moriarty is an interesting concept to say the least, but considering that the Napoleon of Crime gets chucked off a cliff by Sherlock Holmes, who--in the DC Universe, anwyay--has a successful career and ends up living long enough to team up with Batman and Robin in the mid-80s, he might not be the best role model for aspiring super-villains.

DMZ #12: For this month's issue of DMZ, Brian Wood goes solo for what essentially amounts to a DMZ Secret Files & Origins, and brother, is it dense. That's not necessarily a bad thing, either; I enjoyed it quite a bit, even despite the constant feeling that Wood (or at least series protagnoist Matty Roth) is going a little overboard on romanticizing the art scene in a war zone. As far as text goes, it rivals your average issue of Rex Libris, but by couching it as a guide written by Roth, Wood's able to complete his recent revelation of how the New York of DMZ got to its current state, while at the same time adding a rich, complex background to the story as it's told by other characters, and it all comes together to have the affect of creating a very rich world to draw from, with new and interesting concepts being discussed on every page. I imagine it's intimidating for a first-time reader, but if you've been curious as to how DMZ works as a series, this is the one that'll tell you everything you need to know.


Dork #11: Evan Dorkin is unquestionably the funniest man working in comics today, and this might just be the funniest comic book I've ever read.

Then again, I've never read anything he's written that I haven't absolutely loved. He is, after all, the creator of Milk & Cheese, which does the exact same joke in every strip and still manages to be hilariously funny, and his Superman and Batman: Worlds Funnest is right up there with Kyle Baker's "Letetia Lerner" as one of the best humor comics DC's ever published. This one, though, is almost perfect. In typical Dork fashion, the pages are divided up, usually into seven four-panel strips or twelve single-panel gags with a couple of longer, half-page strips thrown in for good measure, and they are all fantastic. Twenty-two pages of it, and there was only one cartoon that didn't get at least a chuckle out of me, and that owed to the fact that I was pretty unfamiliar with the work of Al Hischfeld.

It's an amazing piece of humor comics, and if you haven't checked Dorkin's work out, you really owe it to yourself to give it a shot, because I can pretty much guarantee it's worth three bucks for the Justice Society strip alone.

The Escapists #4: Probably the highest compliment I can give to this book is that it's turning out to be a perfect sequel to Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and considering that that book won the Pulitzer Prize, that's saying quite a bit about Vaughan, Alexander, and Rolston. This issue continues to be incredibly entertaining, and Vaughan's standard tricks of having his characters drop interesting bits of trivia that frame major plot points has been working better with this one than in almost anything else he's done.

Fables #54: In this month's installment of the most consistently amazing comic on the stands, Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham bring us the violent and tragic story of how Gretel's older brother got to be such a bastard, and the whole time I was reading it, all I could think of the entire time I was reading it was that Chuck Jones cartoon where Bugs Bunny keeps mugging to the camera and going "Hansel?!" Of course, while that does make for some inappropriate punchlines when Hansel's rolling around the 16th century brutally murdering women as he sinks further into the depths of his obsession, it doesn't do a whole lot to distract from the standard excellent story.

Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #30: I've only been reading it since a few issues before the "One Year Later" Jump, but it seems like Stuart Moore's over-arching plan for Firestorm is to combine John Ostrander's more serious take on the character--rooted in the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union and the consequences behind splitting the atom--with Gerry Conway's more lighthearted original stories--built mostly around goofy-ass Ronnie Raymond saying things like "Come on, Professor, let's go fight Multiplex!"--and if you throw in a pair of poofy sleeves, that's pretty much exactly what I want out of this comic. It's big, crazy, atomic super-hero action, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Gen13 #1: I am amazed that this book only shipped with two variant covers. Anyway, because I, and only I, demanded it, Gen13 has returned with one of my favorite writers at the helm, and while I had assumed Gail Simone would be taking it in the same kind of over-the-top fun direction that Adam Warren did, it seems she's going for a more over-the-top serious take for the beginning. That's not entirely unexpected, of course--the original Gen13 mini-series opens up with Caitlin Fairchild's parents getting murdered pretty graphically and just spirals into melodrama from there--and it is pretty entertaining. As for Talent Caldwell, it seems odd to say this considering how much I loathe Michael Turner's artwork, but even despite all the Turneresque noses and sketchy, Imaged-up linework, I kinda like him. And if there's any book that really oughtta be drawn like that, well, it's Gen13.

One thing that almost ruined it for me, though, was Pat Brosseau's lettering. After page six, it's perfectly fine, but the opening sequence features black text on a dark green gradient background, and the fact that nobody looked at that and realized it was a bad idea just mystifies me.

The Punisher #39: One of the things that's really interesting about Garth Ennis's Punisher stories--aside from seeing how he manages to tell the exact same story every six months and still keep it pretty entertaining--it to see how he raises the ante for the villains each time around, increasing the justification for the Punisher to kill them, and each time topping the last bad guy who got offed. Really, though, there's not a whole heck of a lot you can do to top the bad guys from "The Slavers," so when this issue's villain does his mandatory Horrendous Act, it didn't have as much of an impact as it probably should've--which seems to roll back to the growing repetitive nature of the stories. It's a problem that crops up with a lot of books that devote themselves exclusively to long-form six-part story arcs that are easily traded up for the bookshelf, and it's one that Ennis took the edge off of back in the Marvel Knights series by mixing it up with shorter stories. I'd like to see something like that here, but then again, I've read pretty much all the Punisher there is, so the fact that it's starting to get repetitive is probably way overdue for me.

Tales of the Unexpected #1: David Lapham and Brian Azzarello are both predominantly known for writing comics with the word "Bullets" in their titles, but I tend to think of them more as two guys who wrote Batman stories that I really, really didn't like. Even so, I was willing to take a chance on this one, and to be honest, it left me pretty cold. Lapham's Spectre story seems to be written along the same lines as Will Pfeifer's recent mini-series, in that it has the feeling of a writer working out his frustrations with a character who literally has the power of God. In this case, Lapham circumvents that conflict-destroying plot-killer much in the way that Pfeifer did, by rendering Cris Allen completely impotent to prevent a crime, instead devoting him to the necessary vengeance that follows. I get that that's the point, but it's really not the kind of character development that I have a desire to read about. I want to see Cris Allen solving crimes and being a by-the-book badass like he was in Gotham Central, and I want to see the Spectre standing out in space as big as the world, throwing comets around and fighting cosmic horrors in between dealing out EC-worthy punishments to criminals. Instead, I got a pretty decent story with neither, and nothing that really makes me care about Allen or why he's hanging around this tenement.

The Dr. 13 backup hit me pretty much the same way. Even putting aside the fact that Terry Thirteen dies in Seven Soldiers: Zatanna and was already replaced by a female version in the pages of 52, he's a character that doesn't really hold much water in the DC Universe, considering that he doesn't believe in ghosts or alien abductions or sea monsters, and he lives in a world that's routinely saved from things like Invasion! by a couple of aliens, a mer-man, and a guy with a magical alien wishing ring. Ghost-Breaker or no, there was a story where he met the Spectre, and, well, that should've been the end of him not believing in ghosts right there. And yet, he persists.

Ultimate X-Men #75: As is his custom, Michael Turner turns in the worst cover Ultimate X-Men's ever had, and that includes a year's worth of Dave Finch. Anyway, one of the things that Ultimate X-Men does quite a bit is take the kinda crappy mid-90s characters and try to rework them into something a little more enjoyable. Brian K. Vaughan did it well with Longshot and Brian Bendis tried it with Dazzler--which, in typical Dazzler fashion, was already a few years out of date by the time it hit the stands--and now, Robert Kirkman's trying his hand at a new version of Cable. It's early in the game to see how it's going to end up working out, but at the very least, it's interesting.

Uncanny X-Men #479: One thing that I've learned from the last few years of Captain America and Daredevil is that Ed Brubaker can do long-form Marvel story-arcs better and more reliably than pretty much anyone else working in comics today, and I cannot get enough of them. Seriously, if you told me two years ago that I'd be reading a comic where the X-Men were out in space fighting a guy who had the power of the Phoenix in a sword lifted wholesale from Final Fantasy VII and thoroughly enjoying it, I would've done something unspeakable to you. And yet, here we are, and despite some awkward panels from Billy Tan--who, to his credit, is improving by leaps and bounds from a year ago under Frank D'Armata's coloring--I'm doing just that.


Absolute Sandman v.1: Normally, I'd accompany this review with a picture, but considering that this thing is larger than my scanner, I don't think you'll have much of a problem finding it at your local store. Regardless, I've got a weakness for Absolute Editions ever since I missed out on the gorgeous Absolute Authority v.1, but this one had a lot going for it even without that: The recoloring's gorgeous (even though I'm not a Sam Keith fan by any stretch of the imagination), and the first twenty issues of Sandman include my favorite stories of the run, aside from "Four Septembers and a January" and "Ramadan," and since I don't actually own all of Sandman, this seemed like the perfect thing to jump on. It's expensive, but it's very well-packaged, and as you might've heard, it's a pretty good comic as well.

Dramacon v.2 / Steady Beat v.2: Further confirming my status as a total teenage girl, I'll probably be reviewing these in greater detail later, like I did with the first volumes.

And that's the end!


Blogger Ragnell said...

I vote for variations of "My Cricketron is Going Berserk" to be a new euphemism for "Awesome"

10/13/2006 4:42 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...


10/13/2006 4:43 AM

Blogger Brett said...

Oh I want a Cricketron of my own, but can't I at least have my flying car they promised me in elementary school so many years ago? I would settle with my flying car going berserk, then I could dream of moving on to a Cricketron....

10/13/2006 7:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

one of the things that Ultimate X-Men does quite a bit is take the kinda crappy mid-90s characters and try to rework them into something a little more enjoyable. Brian K. Vaughan did it well with Longshot and Brian Bendis tried it with Dazzler

Except Dazzler was an early 80s concept, and Longshot was a mid-80s one.

And my Cricketron broke down on my way to work one morning - it went berserk and injured a schoolbus full of nuns. The dealer told me that might happen occasionally, but do you suppose it might be covered under the warranty?

10/13/2006 8:36 AM

Blogger Phil Looney said...

My Cricketron totally went berserk when I read this in Dork 11:

"In the Village"
"Um, spare change?"


>>I want to see the Spectre standing out in space as big as the world, throwing comets around and fighting cosmic horrors in between dealing out EC-worthy punishments to criminals.

I also want that.

10/13/2006 8:43 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Except Dazzler was an early 80s concept, and Longshot was a mid-80s one.

Yes, but I tend to lump them all into the same group that got a lot of face-time in the boom years. Heck, Wolverine, the Punisher, and the Ghost Rider all hail from the mid-70s, but if you read a story that has all three of 'em, odds are it's got 1992 written all over it.

But yeah, I probably should've written that differently.

10/13/2006 2:00 PM

Blogger Harvey Jerkwater said...

Holy crap, that first Iron Fist panel is pure badassery. He kicks the dude in the head so hard that the air itself cries out to the Cimmerian God of the Mountain in astonishment. (Granted, the air can't spell.)

Dude, how hard do you have to kick a dude in the head to invoke a call to Crom?

Man, now I'm inspired! I have a project!

This weekend, armed with a pair of Doc Martens, a mastery of profanity in several languages, and a half-dozen bottles of cheap malt liquor, I aim to find out.

My dedicated ass-whupping pants have accelerometers built into them, so the data should be easy to retrieve. The findings should be published in The Journal of Applied Boot-To-Head Studies later this year.

...man, it's been a long day.

10/13/2006 3:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone should do a comic wherein Iron Fist squares off against Thor for Grand Supreme Smack-Talker of The Universe. Thor'd only have to draw back and whop him with that hammer once, but until then, it'd be nothing but word balloons. And if we could work a Cricketron in there somehow, all the better.

10/13/2006 6:09 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Believe it or not, Harvey, that was exactly what I thought when I first read that panel, but I wanted to draw attention to the mid-jump-kick novella Danny was writing.

10/13/2006 6:56 PM

Blogger evanmcb said...

You know what I think before I think the Prisoner? I think Double Team. So, y'know, I thought it twice this week, what with Dork and 52.

If lovin' Van Damme is wrong, I don't want to be right.

10/14/2006 12:03 AM

Blogger Randall Kirby said...

That new Dr. 13 is Terry's daughter. She was introduced a while back in Action (?) Comics. Drawn by Pasqual Ferry, anyway.

10/14/2006 12:08 AM

Blogger Wrye said...

That last page firestorm reveal is definitely going to set the Cricketrons berserk...

10/14/2006 12:52 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Yeah, well, the Dr. Thirteen that's in Tales of the Unexpected is certianly nobody's daughter. Traci 13 appears in that story--as Dr. Thirteen's daughter, who was created a few years ago in the Superman books--but this one certainly looks like the original article.

10/14/2006 1:04 AM

Blogger the Isotope Communique said...

I want to see Cris Allen solving crimes and being a by-the-book badass like he was in Gotham Central, and I want to see the Spectre standing out in space as big as the world, throwing comets around and fighting cosmic horrors in between dealing out EC-worthy punishments to criminals.

I want to see DC hiring you to write THE SPECTRE.

10/16/2006 5:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Dr. Thirteen's ridiculous persistence. I loved the Yeti unmasking - the expression of 50s style ticked-off-ness was just great.
So yeah. I didn't much care for the Spectre, but I liked Dr. Thirteen much more than I thought I would have.

10/18/2006 5:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Further confirming my status as a total teenage girl, I'll probably be reviewing these in greater detail later, like I did with the first volumes.

I can't wait to hear what you think! :) Especially considering I was considerably more confident and happy with volume 2 than I was with volume 1. Stuff happens in volume 2! :D

10/25/2006 4:29 PM


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