The Week In Ink: 10-25-06
Kevin previews the list.
I review the stack.
Tombstone gets kicked in the face.
That's just how I roll.
52: Week Twenty-Five: As much as this one focuses on Bruno Manheim's newly formed cult--which, while still a little wacky, is explained and established pretty well--I have the sneaking feeling that the entire comics blogger internet was completely focused on the last page reveal, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Absorbascon. It's the shocking return that we've been waiting for since Ambush Bug #3, and while I have to admit that I saw it coming, I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a pretty huge kick out of it. Aside from that, though, it's another solid but largely unremarkable issue with another fantastic cover.
Action Comics #844: I'll be honest with you: As much as I love Terence Stamp as General Zod, I really could not care less about Richard Donner's vision of Superman. A lot of it stems from the fact that I cannot comprehend his apparent fascination with Jor-El, who, as far as I'm concerned, is a footnote at best. Once he hits that button and sends his kid's rocket to Earth, his part of the story is done, and we never need to see him again, least of all as a giant bearded holographic head. And then there's the fact that the movie version of the Fortress of Solitude doesn't have a door, which means you can pretty much just walk in through the giant hole, marking the one time in the history of comics where a giant golden key shaped like an arrow actually makes more sense than the alternative.
As for the rest of Action's new creative team, I like Geoff Johns a lot in general, but after the utter mess that was Infinite Crisis, I'm pretty wary of his work on a top-tier book, and while I like Adam Kubert a lot, I like his brother more. In short, I really wasn't very excited about this one, and nothing about the first issue does anything to change that. It's not terrible, and I'm willing to continue with it if for no other reason than to see where Johns and Donner go with what I'm assuming is the new Mon-El, but if this is a decent sample of what we're going to be getting out of the run, it doesn't quite hit my personal tastes.
All New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #10: A few weeks ago, DK released the Marvel Encyclopedia, and while I've got the one they put out for DC, I skipped out on that one. After all, I've been buying a new installment of the OHOTMU every month for the past two years, and between that and, you know, the internet, I'm pretty sure I'm covered. This particular issue, though, features three pieces of art by Rob Liefeld, two pages of information on Shatterstar, and everything you've ever wanted to know about Steel Raven's tiny, tiny hands, so I'm pretty sure that this is the least essential Marvel Handbook ever. But darn it, I just know I'd kick myself if I had a question about the Snarks that I couldn't answer.
Captain America #23: True to form, Ed Brubaker and Mike Perkins bring us the only Civil War tie-in that features the Red Skull and Dr. Doom talking about time-travel and giant robots, which, in case you didn't know, is totally awesome. It's interesting to see how Brubaker's scripts work around the title character's current busy schedule of getting punched out by Iron Man and surfing on fighter jets, choosing instead to focus on the supporting cast. It has the effect of seamlessly blending his own ongoing story into the crossover while still keeping both aspects moving, and while that's a hard trick to pull off, it's done extremely well here.
Daredevil #90: And speaking of excellent Ed Brubaker comics, Daredevil continues to be one of the best books Marvel's putting out. In addition to the new issue, this week also saw the release of the first trade paperback of Brubaker and Lark's run, and trust me: Those issues are phenomenal, and if you haven't read them, you really, really ought to. The new one's top notch as well, with Brubaker's sharp scripts and Michael Lark's absolutely incredible artwork. As good as he was on Gotham Central, he's even better here, and the whole package is just incredible.
Incidentally, while I was looking for a link to the new trade on Amazon just now, I ran across this little invitation to destruction instead. I don't know about you, but I'm amazed that it took me this long to realize the comedic potential of launching a toddler across the Grand Canyon on a rocket bike.
It's probably best if I just move on.
Forgotten Realms: The Crystal Shard #2: I'd just like to take this opportunity to point out that in the novel this comic adapts, there's a lengthy scene where our two protagonists slather themselves in deer fat so they won't freeze to death while skin-diving in the arctic tundra, which is mercifully left out of the version with pictures. Thanks, Devil's Due!
GØDLAND #13: For some reason, it really doesn't feel like Godland's been gone for three months. It's not that I didn't miss it while it was gone, it's just that I had no problem whatsoever getting right back into the swing of things right from page one with this issue. Either way, it's a fun time to be had by all. Scioli's art is up to its usual standards--a derivative pastiche? Sure, but it's a good derivative pastiche!--and Casey's wacky alien dialogue, which occasionally hangs a left off Clever and goes about four blocks down Annoying, is highly entertaining here. It's good comics!
Hawkgirl #57: Joe Bennett takes over penciling duties with this issue, and in the absence of Howard Chaykin, this comic book actually makes sense, and that alone puts it worlds ahead of anything that's come before in this run. Even better, while it's nothing above average, it is interesting: After dealing with a giant space vagina, Kendra runs across some war criminals from the Rann/Thanagar conflict, and that's an idea with enough potential that this may actually be the start of an upswing for the book.and with Walt Simonson writing, that's pretty much all I need to keep me going.
Jack of Fables #4: As I've mentioned countless times here on the ISB, I'm a pretty solid Bill Willingham fan, but with Matthew Sturges, Tony Akins, and Katy Keene's own Andrew Pepoy, Jack of Fables is rapidly becoming my favorite thing he's done. Ever since the preview in Fables #50, I've liked everything about it, and this issue's big escape attempt is no exception. It's hard to really talk about in-depth without going into the specifics of what makes it such an enjoyable issue to read, but any comic with the dynamic teams of the Walrus and the Carpenter and the Tortoise and the Hare making a mad dash for freedom from the concept of fairy-tale censorship has got to be worth reading. Incredible stuff, as per usual.
Justice #8: Last month I called this book "Alex Ross's Super-Friends Fan-Fiction," and it lives up to that title pretty well in this one, right about the time that Elongated Man and Plastic Man actually have an argument about who's better. It's thoroughly pointless and remarkably stupid, even for a story where Aquaman recovered from having the top of his head chopped off and his brain scrambled in about fifteen minutes.
Mouse Guard #5: If I was told a year ago that one of my favorite mini-series of 2006 would feature an issue with a four-page illuminated manuscript sequence that revealed the secret origin of the greatest mouse warrior of all time and his unstoppable axe, I would've... Well, I probably would've believed you, because that does sound pretty awesome. The point is, with David Petersen's incredible storytelling, Mouse Guard's actually living up to every expectation I had for it, even with the incredible amount of buzz surrounding it before its release, and that's no small feat.
Nextwave: Agents of HATE #9: This is the single most mind-shatteringly glorious comic since the advent of battery-throwing, and that's a fact.
It's got the most shocking return of the year, the mind-melting debut of three new teams of terrifying (or at least mildly disconcerting) super-villains, non-Euclidean geometry, and a joke on page 22 that's telegraphed on page 4 and is still funnier than just about anything else I've ever read in a Marvel Comic! It wants your love! It needs your money!
Planetary #26: On the off chance that you're late to the party and have no idea what the deal is with the best triannual comic in history, I'll explain: This is the penultimate issue of Planetary, and while it features neither an orbital death ray (#25) nor the Satan Claw (#25), it is by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday, and is therefore very, very good. #27 will be out sometime around the next epoch of civilization, and will most likely be totally worth the wait.
Ptolus: City by the Spire #1: I bought this back when it first came out from Dabel Brothers, and I bought it again this week. I wouldn't reccomend that anyone else buy it twice--that's just the obsessive completist in me who doesn't want to bag up the DB version with the Marvel version when the next issue comes out--but if you find yourself in the mood to read some Dungeons & Dragons-inspired fantasy comics (and who WOULDN'T?!), you could do a lot worse than to buy it once. The Ptolus campaign setting--which weighs in at around $120, making it the one of the most expensive RPG products around--was extremely well-done and the idea of a world where everybody pretty much accepts the inherent chaos of a city populated by adventurers is one that leads to some very interesting concepts, like Sheva's sidekick, a dreadlock-sporting ghost who smokes a magical weed to stay corporeal, and it comes off as a pretty entertaining read in its own right. If that's your thing, give it a shot.
Secret Six #5: And suddenly, life on Apokalips doesn't seem so bad.
Yep. I'm going to leave it at that.
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #11: I've mentioned before that one of my favorite things about this book is that whether it's Spider-Man fighting the looter on the roof of Midtown High after giving MJ a pep talk or Ned Leeds showing up as someone's rebound boyfriend, every issue has a subtle reminder that the high school drama is taking place in a version of the Marvel Universe. But this issue... This issue features the first appearance of a new student. A new African-American student. Named Luke. Who wears a yellow shirt.
Thank you, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, for being the best comic book ever.
Showcase Presents: The Phantom Stranger v.1: To be perfectly honest with you, I'm planning on getting every single Showcase volume that DC's putting out, so I'm probably not the guy you want to turn to for a review if you're trying to decide whether to buy it. So with that in mind, I'll turn this one over to Dr. K:
"...Kanigher had the Phantom Stranger teaming up with a Scooby-Doo-Style group of kids (sans dog), who represent what Kanigher must have thought teenagers were like in the early 70s.
One of the odd things about the series, though, is that, for most of the first year or so (after the first few issues reprint stories from the 1950s Phantom Stranger series), each story followed an identical structure. The group of kids would come across an event that may or may not be supernatural. Coincidentally, both Dr. Thirteen and the Stranger would be in the neighborhood as well. Then, Dr. Thirteen would tell a story that resembles the current event, demonstrating how he exposed it to be a fraud. Next, the Stranger would tell a similar story that had a supernatural explanation. Later, the Stranger would fight whatever supernatural force was causing the event, but Dr. Thirteen would miss it all and continue in his skepticism. The story would end with Dr. Thirteen shaking his fist at the cloud of vapor that once was the Phantom Stranger and shouting something like, 'One day I'll prove you to be the charlatan that you are!'
I've basically taken you through the first year of the series. Do with it what you will."