Last Week In Ink: 11-22-06
It's been almost a week since Thanksgiving, so I'm pretty sure that most of the American public has now returned from its incoherent, Tryptophan-induced haze, but for those of you still lagging behind, here's a little wake-up call:
There's only one way that could be better, friends: Mandroids.
That's right: In the interest of keeping things current, I'm going to go ahead and review last week's comics, but considering that you've all had a chance to actually go to the store and look through, say, Wonder Woman on your own, I'm just going to hit the highlights here. If you're curious, though, you can click here to find a full list of what I spent my money on this week.
Now then, on with it!
Action Comics #845: I think made my distaste for this book's new direction pretty clear in my comments on last issue, but right now, the only thing keeping me on this book is curiosity over how the 3-D issue's going to work out, and that really might not be enough, as this thing's a mess. Right from the opening shots of benevolent floating head of this year's version of Jor-El (#5 in a series!), there's absolutely nothing here that I care about, and for good reason: It's all stuff that I've seen before. To make matters worse, in the case of the "surprise" revelation that it's all a plot of the Phantom Zone criminals, it's something I've seen before from the same guy writing it now, and I've got my doubts that Richard Donner's going to do a better job of it now than he did it twenty-six years ago, and I'm certain that he and Johns aren't going to do it better than Byrne. It's nothing that I need to see again, and in all honesty, it's probably nothing I need to see in my stack of comics next month.
Daredevil #91: Yesterday, I was reading through an issue of the Dan Jurgens/Johh Romita Jr. run of Thor--the one where the crazy military guy transfers his mind to the Destroyer armor, beats Thor to death, and then has the courtesy to just knock out and tie up the rest of the Avengers--and I realized that one of the things I really, really like to see in that book is the moment where the bad guy has pretty much won, and Thor finally rises up from being beaten half to death with a big "I say thee nay!" or whatever, and then proceeds to kick everybody's ass. Admittedly, that kind of thing happens to everybody in the Marvel Universe every now and then, but Daredevil--a character that's as far from Thor that you can get in pretty much every respect--is defined by those same kinds of moments, and this issue, once he finally figures out that he's been played for a fool and comes down on the guilty parties like a hard rain, is one of the most enjoyable I've seen in a long while.
Or it could be that he just reminded me of Thor because he hit somebody in the face with a hammer really, really hard in this issue. Either way, it's awesome.
Jack of Fables #5: The first storyline for Jack of Fables has ended, and while it's rapidly becoming one of those books that I can't say enough good things about, every time I read it, I find something new to love. This time, it's the little one-line gags on the covers that are worked into the logo every month. I'd noticed them before, but the one for this issue just struck me as absolutely hilarious, and while I'm not sure if it's part of James Jean's department as cover artist to work those in (like he did with the equally funny protest signs on #1), but whoever it is does a great job with it. Inside, of course, things are kept to their usual high levels of quality to wrap up one of the year's best stories, even if I have no idea how Humpty Dumpty got super-powers. Excellent stuff!
But not as excellent as...
Punisher War Journal #1: I'm saying this as a guy who likes everything of Matt Fraction's that he's read, has wanted to see Ariel Olivetti on a comic that was actually good for a few years, and as someone who once read over 300 Punisher comics in the span of three weeks: Punisher War Journal #1 was even better than I wanted it to be.
As tied as he is to gritty, street-level crime stories, I've always thought that the way the desire to have militaristic "realism" in The Punisher--which sets him aside from the rest of the Marvel Universe as a vigilante rather than a super-hero and occasionally results in stories where he goes undercover as a meth-dealing biker so that he can kill an ersatz Charles Manson--isn't always a good thing. And that's where this book comes in, and if this is the way that the Punisher returns to interacting with the Marvel Universe, it's unquestionably going to be the best thing that comes out of Civil War.
Fraction's script is tight and well-done, cramming in a great amount of action with the same kind of intensity and humor that marks his work on a book like Casanova, and the scene where Frank Castle pulls on his white gloves and picks up a futuristic SHIELD-tech rifle after having a conversation with a guy who owns a horde of adorable Iron Man robots combines exactly what I like about the Punisher with exactly what I love about the Marvel Universe as a whole. Olivetti, of course, does his usual great job, with a style that fits the writing perfectly and with a great eye for detail. His Punisher looks great, and from the opening battle with Stilt Man to the last-page Frank Miller homage, it's a great-looking book.
Needless to say, if you like things that are awesome, you really need to get it.
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #12: By now, it's no secret that I'm a total girl for loving this book, but the main thing to watch out for in this issue is the lettercolumn--or, to be more accurate, the lack thereof. Apparently, there just weren't enough letters to print in this issue, which means that after Sean McKeever and Takeshi Miyazawa's usual entertaining teen drama, we got a picture of a sad Mary Jane with Spider-Man telling us that she's upset because nobody's been writing her letters. It's a genius bit of guilt-trip marketing, and it's nothing if not effective. So here's the one I'm sending in:
Dear MJ Loves You,
Until Midtown High's new yellow-shirted student Luke starts hanging out with Danny, the foreign exchange student from K'un Lun, Make Mine Mary Jane!
...Wait... that would actually be totally awesome.
X-Factor #13: After I was done reading through this one, I went back and read its predecessor, the original psychoanalysis story from X-Factor v.1 #87, and I've got to say: As much as I find myself disenchanted with Peter David a lot of the time, when that guy's good, he's pretty darn good. It's this kind of issue that he really excels at, and as fashionable as decompression is as a storytelling technique now, it's nice to see how taking an issue that does nothing but get into the characters' heads as they react to the ongoing story should be done. As for the art, I've been wanting Pablo Raimondi on this book ever since I picked up Madrox in trade. He's a perfect fit for it, and this issue shows that off pretty well.
Degrassi Extra Credit v.1: Turning Japanese: Finally, the single most successful Canadian television show of all time is available in comic form, and if I wasn't already a total girl for loving Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, the fact that I'm absolutely thrilled about this thing would do it. Degrassi: The Next Generation, as longtime readers might recall, was the object of one of my customary obsessions over the past year, and I've been waiting for this pretty eagerly ever since it was announced. It actually works out really well: Canadian Firestorm fan J. Torres nails the show perfectly, right down to the flaws, and since the flaws are half the charm of the intense melodrama of the show, it works to his favor. Plus, he even throws in the standard Heather Sinclair reference for good measure and, thanks to the unlimited special effects budget of a comic book, tosses in a scene where the oh-so-emo Ellie Nash jumps through a skylight and throws down with a gang of ninja, pretty much assuring that I would love it.
On the art side of things, Ed Northcott does a fine job handling pencils with a stripped-down style, although he manages to get every character to look like their live-action counterpart with the ironic exception of Ellie and JT, this volume's lead characters. It's not like there's any trouble picking out who they are, but everybody else looks exactly right, so the minor differences on those two stand out more than they would otherwise. Still, it's not half bad, and if you're a fan of Canadian teen drama and comics--and if you're reading this on the ISB, there's a disturbingly high chance that you are--give it a shot. It's worth it.
Marvel Holiday Special Digest: I've actually got both Holiday specials that are reprinted in this thing (and the other two issues are readily available in a few formats), but it bears repeating: Jeff Parker's "SANTRON" story is one of the best holiday specials ever, and if you don't have it, you need it.
Showcase Presents the Unknown Soldier v.1: I realize that nobody's tastes are quite as unique as we'd like to think they are, but really: I've got to be the only one who was equally excited about getting Degrassi and The Unknown Soldier, right?
And that's all for tonight's reviews! But be here tomorrow when the ISB takes on... Well, this, really, only with newer comics. But don't worry.
I've got a surprise coming for you on Friday.