The Week In Ink 2: Trade Paperback Boogaloo
At this point, even I have to admit that my comic book purchasing habits are totally getting out of control.
Yes, right about five AM Friday morning, as I was wrapping up the seventeenth new comic review of the night in the shadow of a towering stack of Christmas issues, I started to get the feeling that I might have to cut back, and the fact that I completely forgot to review NewUniversal #1 (which itself should tell you a lot about my reaction to it) seems to bear that out pretty well. But that's a problem for another day.
What matters now is that I ended up skipping out on reviewing this week's haul of trade paperbacks. So, in the interest of keeping things current, let's all pretend it's still Friday morning, and get back to it.
Except instead of leading this one off with a kick to the face, I give you the single greatest page of Takeshi Miyazawa's remarkably underrated career:
My personal favorite part? The terrified, yet slightly intrigued expressions on the faces of the bystanders.
Cowboys and Aliens: Even considering the fact that your purchasing dollars may well go to fund the slightly unsavory business practices of Platinum Studios, that's pretty much outweighed entirely by the fact that this is an original, 100-page graphic novel written by Fred Van Lente for less than five bucks. Van Lente, of course, is the writer behind the absolutely phenomenal Action Philosophers, and while this one's not exactly in the same league as that book--or his work on the new Scorpion, really--it's certainly worth the price of admission.
Van Lente teams up with cowriter Andrew Foley and penciller Luciano Lima for this one, and while Foley's prologue is an ultra-serious, heavy-handed metaphor likening an alien invasion to the United States' expansion into Native American territories, the story itself just drops into a fun, popcorn story of cowboys stealing laser guns to fight off an alien armada, complete with a romance between a dashing Brisco County simulacrum and a relatively hot alien gal. The only word I can think of that accurately describes it is "Bruckheimeresque," and while I'm not sure that really is a word, I think you get my meaning. It's a lot of fun, and for a hundred pages of goofy scenes where Native American warriors with stolen X-Ray specs take down flying space motorcycles with well-placed arrows, there's a lot worse you can do with $4.99.
Mail Order Ninja v.2: When I reviewed the first installment of Joshua Elder and Erich Owen's Mail Order Ninja, my biggest criticism was that--while it was perfectly competent and enjoyable for a kid's book--it really didn't take a lot of risks with the format or cover any new ground beyond the idea that adding a ninja into a situation makes for instant comedy. This one, however, really delivers on all the promising elements of the first installment, and considering that by ten pages into it, little Timmy's rival Felicity (who served as a standard-issue spoiled rich nemesis in volume 1) has hired out her own ninja, gained evil magic powers, and ends up taking over the town and ruling with an iron fist over a drug-addled populace in a huge parody of Brave New World.
Needless to say, that struck me as fitting the label of "taking a risk" pretty well. And it's one that pays off for Elder, as the book comes off a heck of a lot more entertaining than the first, with a string of great jokes that play like the ones slipped into the old Looney Tunes to appeal to adults. The only problem I've got with it comes from Erich Owens, who re-uses a few panels very close to each other, which is a pretty big pet peeve of mine. Beyond that, though, his art's generally very well-done and fitting for the book with the way he easily transitions from wide-eyed kids having fun at a middle-school dance to ninja battles and back again. It's very enjoyable stuff, and if you've got a kid on your Christmas List with an interest in martial arts and the work of Aldous Huxley, it makes for the perfect gift.
Runaways v.2 Hardcover: Last December, I wrote that the first Runaways hardcover--which crammed all eighteen issues of the first series and a ton of bonus material into one oversized, $35 volume--was one of the best trades of the year, and since this one picks up right where volume 1 left off, there's a pretty good chance that it's going to end up the same way.
It's no secret that I think Runaways is easily one of the best comics Marvel's putting out, and "True Believers," which leads this one off, might just be my favorite story of the entire run so far, if for no other reason than the inclusion of Excelsior. Seriously, it has been scientifically proven that a team containing Darkhawk, Ricochet and an all-grown-up Julie Power is awesome, and with twelve issues and a Free Comic Book Day special wrapped up in one of the best covers of the year for $24.99 is all the evidence you need.
Showcase Presents SHAZAM! v.1: I think I've proven pretty adequately by this point that I'll buy just about anything DC wants to slap into a giant black-and-white reprint book, but man: I've only got so much shelf space to work with here, and if DC keeps putting these things out twice a month, I'm going to end up building myself a new couch out of these things. Anyway, SHAZAM! is the one that a lot of people have been waiting for from this line, and while I would've preferred to get a nice slab of the absolutely ridiculous Golden Age stories--like that time he fought super-evolved mice from the 820th Century--I'm pretty sure this one'll have its moments.
I've only read a few issues into it, and I've already seen what are probably some of the most gloriously stupid stories of '70s DC by Denny O'Neil and the incomparable C.C. Beck. So far, the one that takes the prize involves Captain Marvel managing to defeat a super-intelligent mind-controlling worm by bending the St. Louis Arch back like a rubber band and snapping it back into place so that a trillion worms rise to the surface, in a plan that could only come from the Wisdom of Solomon.
Clearly, this book was made to be talked about on the internet.