The Week In Ink: 3-29-06
Before we get started with another installment of two-fisted reviews of this week's funnybooks, I have a confession to make.
In the interest of full disclosure, I feel you should all know that over the past week, I've read the first half of a full run of 1991's breakout hit, Darkhawk. And what's more, I actually liked it. A lot.
Admittedly, it takes a downturn about the time Venom shows up--which pretty much everything does in that situation--but yeah. It's something to keep in mind if you've been using "The Week In Ink" to inform your own purchases.
Action Comics #837: The One Year Later story continues apace, and it's highly enjoyable. One of the things that I've always wanted to see more of was Clark Kent the journalist--a career that doesn't just allow him to know when trouble's happening, but to crusade against the larger injustices that punching a giant robot just won't solve. I like a big Superman punchout as much as--and quite possibly more than--the next guy, but it's an aspect of his character that I just don't think we see enough of. Which, of course, is why I'm ejoying "Up, Up, and Away" so much. When Lois asks Clark why he didn't fight back against Luthor last issue and he responds "I did. The article ran today, didn't it?" that single line does more for Clark-As-Journalist than we've gotten in quite a while. On the flipside, the old Toyman shows up in what feels like a step backward. I actually like the concept of the Hiro Okamura version of Toyman quite a bit, even though he's mostly appeared in lousy stories. Other than that, it's solid stuff from top to bottom--and it even has a cryptic clue to the missing year.
All-Star Superman #3: Ladies and gentlemen, the ISB proudly presents: Lois Lane Getting Bonked On The Head With A Rock:
Quitely's art in this issue is amazing, even when it doesn't involve Chuck Jones moments with rocks and Lois's noggin. There are just so many panels that are just incredible, especially the way he draws Superman's face in the various close-ups, with everything from the Jim Lee style red-eyes angry Superman to the casual show-off Silver Age superman, and they're just perfect. Morrison's story--and it pretty much goes without saying at this point--is a joy to read as the "12 Labors of Superman" structure is finalized within the story. And in case you missed it, it's finalized with a mention of SOLARIS THE TYRANT SUN, and that guy ain't no joke.
Blue Beetle #1: If we can go through the rest of our lives without a character slipping into his "native tongue" in order to denote his ethnicity, that'd be swell. Just sayin'. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that this isn't actually a One Year Later book, although it was certainly advertised as such. If it is, it seems awfully disjointed with the way the flashbacks work, and if it isn't, that seems like it'd be an awkward hurdle to jump within the next few issues of a new book. Regardless of those problems, I enjoyed this one, although it didn't really strike me as anything special, and Guy Gardner seemed to come off as even more of an unreasonable asshole than he usually does. And while I didn't think it was Cully Hamner's best work by far when I first read it, I find myself enjoying the art more and more each time I flip through. At the very least, it's enough to keep me around until we figure out what the new Blue Beetle's deal is.
Books of Doom #5: I enjoyed this issue a heck of a lot more than the previous four. It's not that they're bad, it's just that I have no particular desire to see Victor von Doom doing things that I could do. You know, bumming around Prague, getting kicked out of college. That sort of thing. What I want to see is Dr. Doom conquering all who oppose them and laying waste to the paltry things they hold dear, and on that front, this issue delivers.
Captain America 65th Anniversary Special: Hot on the heels of ISB readers clamoring for more Nazis getting the business end of a fist, we have this: the best Ed Brubaker Cap story yet, with beautiful art by Javier Pulido and Marcos Martin. It's gorgeous, and it's got everything you want from a World War II Captain America story, and by that, I mean it's got the Howling Commandos, Cap being awesome, and a giant magical Nazi robot. And it's even got a surprise ending that ties into the ongoing. It's great.
GØDLAND #9: I'd just like to say that I'm going to derrive endless enjoyment from the phrase "Funky Buster Round" by the time this is all said and done. The story takes a breather after the mind-shattering events of last issue (which was awesome) where Adam Archer learned the Secret Origin of the Universe. Of course, in the world of Godland, a "breather" consists of no less than five explosions. Yes. I counted. It's just how I roll.
Hysteria: One Man Gang #2: This is one of the best comics I've ever read in under two minutes, but since Mike Hawthorne has set out to create a hundred-page story with nothing but fast-paced karate action, I'm his exact target audience. It's a noble goal, as is his rule outlined in one of the most readable making-of sections at the end of the book that nobody gets killed in the story, and he's doing a fantastic job of it. The action scenes--in this one especially--are as close as you can get to a Jackie Chan fight sequence rendered on the page, and the book has a real sense of motion to it. I love it, and if you're not reading it, you should be.
Iron Man #6: So you know how I like that time in Iron Man #200 where somebody gets their head blown off with a repulsor ray? Yeah. If this book would've come out on time, it would've been awesome, although with the great Adi Granov art and Warren Ellis's futurist modernization of Iron Man that still manages to involve a healthy amount of punching people through walls in between scenes of cell phone use, I imagine it's going to hold up quite well.
JLA Classified #19: I'll admit that I wasn't particularly thrilled with this storyline for the past few issues, but this one turned that all around, thanks largely to the fact that Wonder Woman gets what Dave Campbell would call a F*@% Yeah Moment that got me pretty excited--along with a setup for Batman to get one next issue. I'm just a sucker for "evil versions of the Justice League" stories. Plus, Sean Phillips is a major improvement over Klaus Janson's inks on Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez's art. It's similar, which I think comes from the coloring, but it's different enough that there's a noticeable difference.
Marvel Romance Redux: Guys and Dolls
The Middleman #2.2: Everybody and their brother knows by now that The Middleman is pretty awesome, so I'll just give you a short list of the things you'll find in this issue that'll support that very claim: Luchadores, a kung fu master in a luchadore mask, a cage made of diamond-powered lasers, scantily clad women serving chicken wings, and--my personal favorite--pretentious boyfriends getting their comeuppance. Read it, yo!
Queen & Country #29: Discounting the Declassified miniseries, this is not only the first issue of Q&C in quite some time, but also the first issue since A Gentleman's Game. I was actually pretty surprised that the novel that had such major ramifications for the comic, but at the same time, I can't imagine anyone who likes the comic not wanting to get the novel either. It's a solid return to the story, but I do think Tara Chace and Renee Montoya ought to get together for some group therapy, since they seem to deal with tragedy and frustration in exactly the same way. Fortunately, they are both in very, very good comic books.
Spike vs. Dracula #2: One day, I promise I'll learn. But really, the prospect of vampires in zoot suits duking it out on the wing of a flying airplane appeals to me in a way I can't deny.
Star Wars: The Return of Tag & Bink #1: This may just be a by-product of the fact that I hate Star Wars now, but I really thought the previous version of Tag & Bink in Return of the Jedi (from Star Wars Tales #13) was actually a lot funnier than it ended up in this one. That's not to say that this one isn't funny, and in fact it's got a lot of great gags; the one about the Bothans made me crack up almost as much as Lois getting bonked with a rock. It's solid, but I'm looking forward to the next one, where Rubio and Marangon take on Episode I a lot more.
The Surrogates #5: One thing I've learned about future dystopian crime dramas: They do not tend to have happy endings. But we all pretty much knew that, although we might not have known that Top Shelf's first monthly book was going to be as good as it ended up. It's been thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end, and may well be one of my favorite miniseries of the year.
Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #37: After the sheer, abject horrorporn that was last issue, Tarot's adventures this month involve a fifteen-page adventure where she goes to the Fairy Realm and fights a tree. Not that I even need to tell you, but this results in Tarot walking around naked a lot. After that, she returns to the "Mortal World" and gets hated on by a lady for being a witch who walks around naked a lot--which from what I've seen is a fair criticism--in yet another object lesson on why we shouldn't discriminate against people who believe some stuff that I'm pretty sure Jim Balent made up. As a dubious bonus, this issue also features a backup story about "Spellarella," a cartoonish witch who--oh, imagine that--ends up naked a lot. And here's the kicker: Rhyming narration that works out just about as good as you'd think, followed up by a page of letters that attempt to assure us that this isn't just a book about witches and their breasts. And it can all be yours for a mere $2.99, folks.
The Thing #5
Veronica #169: The Riverdale Experiment continues, and I only now realize that I have become what I hate most: I'm a guy who buys Tarot and Veronica at the same time. Such are the sacrifices I make for you people. But anyway, this issue features apperances by a few lesser-known Archie characters, like Cricket O'Dell and Veronica's rarely-seen mother. But it also features an appearance by Betty, working down in the food court at a stand with the best corporate logo ever:
Not only is that thing adorable, but there is nothing that gets me hungrier than the idea of eating the soul of a righteous corndog. I really shouldn't have skipped dinner.
Walking Dead #27
X-Men: Deadly Genesis #5: If you would've told me five years ago that I'd be thoroughly enjoying a book about the Third Summers Brother, I doubt I would've believed you. And yet, here we are, and I'm liking it quite a bit. And why? Because Kitty Was Right.
X-Statix Presents Dead Girl #3