The Week in Ink: 8-31-06
Amazingly enough, out of eleven comics I bought this week, there was not a single kick to the face to be found.
Fortunately, I have a backup plan. Previews came out this week, and that means that it's time once again to play Spot The Yaoi! Can you tell which of these upcoming titles does not feature wispy, man-on-man action?
B) Princess Princess
C) Superman Confidential
Find out after the ISB's two-fisted reviews of the comics for the fifth week of August, 2006!
52: Week 17: This might come as a surprise considering the kind of comics I tend to enjoy, but I pretty much hate everything about Lobo. Outside of his earlier appearances by Giffen, Dematteis and Maguire in JLI--which I actually enjoyed a lot--every experience I've had with the character has done absolutely nothing for me other than to reinforce my feeling that he's an annoyingly over-powered and over-used one-joke series of poorly-developed plot contrivances wrapped up in an exterior so "bad-ass" that it could've only come from the early '90s.
That said, that guy's coat is awesome. When I first glanced at the cover yesterday, I actually thought it was Frankenstein from Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers, but then wondered where exactly Lobo got a crazy pirate coat in space. And that, of course, is a question that presents its own answer: Space Pirates.
Unfortunately, that's about the only question raised in this issue that wraps up that neatly. Specifically, I'm wondering how exactly I'm supposed to reconcile Starfire's line about Lobo joining the church and turning his back on violence (which would actually be an interesting twist that I'd like to see played out) with, y'know, the severed head of Devilance mounted on a pike two panels later. Mixed signals, 52. Mixed signals.
Action Comics #842: The tabloid-style covers for the current story-arc, along with the way that Busiek's been using them as an actual in-story tabloid over in Superman, are great, especially in the way that they're recapping the plot and throwing in a few gags all before you even crack it open. Once you do that, though, it's another issue full of giant set pieces with lots of super-heroes--which, honestly, is what I want from a book called Action Comics--but unfortunately, it's not doing much for me. It's enjoyable stuff, and Pete Woods has been doing a great job with the art, but I'm still left wondering how The Auctioneer is different or more interesting than, say, Manga Khan, and the reference to Mr. Terrific's highly nebulous power of being "invisible to all forms of electronic detection" always creates more problems than it's worth for me, especially when he's seen communicating electronically with Superman a few pages later. There are a lot of details like that in this story that if nothing else strike me as a little off, and, well, you know what they say about where the Devil is. Here's hoping it picks up.
All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #8: This might actually be the most thoroughly uninteresting Handbook issue yet, and that's coming from a guy who found himself thoroughly fascinated with the unseemly demise (via being eaten) of The Gamecock a few months back, so take it as you will. Really, though, when your main draw is a cache of information about Paibok the Power Skrull and a detailed list of the life and times of Priapus--fertility god and occasional foe of Terror, Inc--you've got to expect that it's not going to bring the fans out in droves.
There is, however, one redeeming quality:
A picture of Prester John, the time-traveling veteran of the Crusades whom ISB readers might remember as the guy being punched out by the Thing for not being happy enough, looking way more badass than he actually deserves.
All-Star Superman #5: It might not be as good as last issue's Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen-style adventure, but considering that that was one of my favorite comic books ever printed, it can fall short of that mark and still be an incredible piece of comics.
The issue's focus, of course, is on Lex Luthor, and Morrison and Quitely don't waste any time, kicking it off with one of the best pages in that character's history. It might just be because of when I grew up, but I've always really preferred the John Byrne-style businessman Lex who hides his evil schemes behind a façade of corporate legitimacy to the purple high-collar-sporting criminal scientist of the Silver Age, but even so, I've always had a soft spot for the kind of guy who fills a hallway in his underground lair with statues of History's Greatest Villains. And that's the type of evil madness that Morrison really brings to the forefront in this issue: Superman's the sharpest, best, and most honest person in the world--as evidenced in this issue where he continually saves his most hated enemy's life despite the fact that he's been condemned by law to death, all while playing it off as more of Clark Kent's bumbling--and Luthor's the exact opposite. He's not just incurably crazy and irrevocably evil; he's the craziest, the most evil, and perhaps most importantly, the most insanely smart person in the world, a dynamic that he set up in the first issue and builds on even better here. It's incredibly entertaining and well-done on all parts.
Plus--and I hesitate to even bring this up--that part with the monkey? Genius.
Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways #2: I'm really not one to get all upset about a character I like being taken in a new direction--or at least, I like to pretend I'm not--but having read through a few issues of Marvel Boy a couple weeks ago looking for that scene where he kicks Midas in the face, it's pretty rough to see Noh-Varr reduced to what essentially amounts to a brainwashed lapdog under the control of SHIELD, especially considering the way his own book ends. To be fair, though, there are actually a a few bits of Zeb Wells' script that I really liked, particularly the parts that revolve around the Skrulls hanging out with each team. Unfortunately, most of those bits take place in interior scenes that are colored like a rainbow threw up on it, which would be jarring enough even if I wasn't used to seeing the Runaways in one of the best-colored books on the market.
Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters #2: The mroe I read of Galactic Bounty Hunters, the more I get the feeling that I would've enjoyed it more as a few entries in Jack Kirby: The Unpublished Archives--the single greatest trading card set ever printed--than as an actual comic book, but I've got to say, I liked the second issue a lot more than I liked the first. The story seems to be picking up a little bit now that Mainframe is almost through the requisite "getting the team back together" phase of the story, and with a scene where a drunken, floating, tenatacle-waving robot (?) gets thrashed around by some surprisingly polite Space Pirates, I'm almost sold on the whole idea. What's really enjoyable, though, are the great chapter titles, which in this issue includes, in giant yellow letters written across a krackling purple starfield, "D-DAY IN DANGERLAND!" Your mileage may vary, but me? I get pretty excited about things like that.
Justice #7: Alex Ross's SuperFriends fan-fiction continues at a mind-numbing pace, pretty much bearing out my theory that odd-numbered issues of this series totally suck. Harsh? Possibly, but consider for a moment that this issue revolves around Aquaman's healing factor, which allows him to grow back chunks of his brain.
Aquaman's healing factor.
Aquaman's healing factor.
Yeah. Anyway, throw in a thoroughly incomprehensible conversation with the Doom Patrol's Chief, and you've got yourself a comic. One thing that surprised me, though: Aquaman's had the top of his head lopped off so that Brainiac can poke around in his noggin, but we never actually see that in the story--it's always obscured by a lamp or something. Don't get me wrong, I don't really have a particular desire to see Aquaman with the top of his skull cut off; I just think it'd be great to see the "Behind-the-Scenes" shots of Alex Ross with a bonesaw in one hand, strapping down a neighbor with the other, whistling merrily as he sets up the scene for a reference photo.
She-Hulk #11: From reading through a bunch of Essentials over the past few weeks, I've come to realize that Dan Slott is very much an "old-school" Marvel writer, which may actually be why I like him so much. What clinched it for me was the fact that this issue features quick segues into full-page recaps of Man-Wolf's origin and subsequent hi-jinks, and believe me: Slott pulls it off a lot better than even the mighty Bill Mantlo did back in the '70s--if he was writing this issue, She-Hulk would've probably paused in the middle of the fight and said something along the lines of "Didn't you know John used to be The Man Wolf, Matt?" before the whole thing moved into a lengthy nine-panel grid of flashback.
Of course, it also probably would've had futuristic laser-powered explosion sharks, but that's probably a fair trade to get Slott's writing.
Snakes on a Plane: Someone please tell me: Has there ever, in the entire history of comics, been a movie adaptation that was actually any good? I mean, I remember liking the one for The Rocketeer quite a bit, but I was ten, and it featured drawings of Jennifer Connelly putting on stockings, so my judgement here is probably clouded. Point being? Snakes on a Plane: The Comic is not very good.
That is, of course, part of its charm. But unfortunately, it's got its share of problems, not the least of which is the fact that cramming a movie--even one as light on plot as SoaP--into 44 total pages of comics is going to necessitate a lot of script trimming, and as a result, the comic reads more like a jumbled, spastic collection of disjointed scenes than an actual story. Plus, for some reason, Chuck Dixon cut out all three of my absolute favorite lines from the film (which, incidentally, is awesome). Those lines?
"These pheremones are gonna drive 'em fuckin' nuts."
"Do you think I haven't exhausted every other option?!" (Spoken by Eddie Kim when someone asks him why he put snakes on the plane. No, Eddie, I don't.)
And finally: "Fuckin' snake, get off my dick!
How, I ask, could any right-thinking person leave that out of an adaptation? Trust me, it's the catchphrase of a new generation.
Teen Titans #38: There's just no getting around it: Carlos Ferreira's art in this issue is rough. The recent issues by Tony Daniel haven't quite been up to par, but Ferreira takes the static poses and ups the ante with oddly-shaped bodies, thoroughly bored expressions, and the occasional shot right up the Red Star's nostrils, and while I'm a person that's more into story than art, it makes for a book that's more trouble to read than it's worth.
Speaking of the story, there's nothing wrong there, although I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the person wo betrayed the Titans is probably the one who was pictured on an upcoming cover with a bunch of other people who betrayed the Titans. Just a thought there.
X-Factor #10: I honestly wasn't sure what to make of this issue's opening sequence, seeing as it takes place in the 12th century and doesn't really tie into anything just yet, but fortunately, this issue picks up bigtime after that. There's a great comedic moment--with another great punchline from Layla Miller, who gets more likeable every issue--and a shock ending that actually does the job pretty well, setting up a lot of intrigue in the process. It's a good, solid read.
Lost Girls HC: I've mentioned it before, but according to the fine folks over at Wizard magazine, I just purchased a $75 slipcased hardcover of, and I quote, "Alan Moore's Steamy Sex Comic," and while that is technically true, it also manages to miss the point entirely. Anyway, I read the first three issues a few years ago when my friend Chad loaned them to me, and, well, they're Alan Moore, and as you might've heard, that guy's pretty good at this whole "comic book writing" thing. Really, though, what sticks out in my memory is Melinda Gebbie's art--the whole thing's full of interesting visual tricks and layouts. There's the fact that the book's opening sequence, which introduces Alice (of Wonderland fame), is depicted entirely in the reflection of a mirror, and the scene where Wendy does the mending while her husband discusses business is really fun, and that's got me excited about finally finishing it.
Showcase Presents Batman v.1: Out of all the Showcases that I've bought--and, for the most part, thoroughly enjoyed--I get the sneaking suspicion that this is going to be the one I have the least fun with. After all, Batman's my favorite character, but like most people, I imagine, I've got a pretty definite idea of what I like about him, and for me, that tends to include a pretty definite cutoff date for stories that I enjoy. Really, it all comes down to this simple rule: If it pre-dates the first appearance of Ra's Al-Ghul and does not involve Batman saving Gotham City from a nuclear explosion by lifting up a gorilla for fifteen minutes, then I'm probably not going to be that into it.
Seriously, I read the first few stories today, and as I'm sure Scipio would be happy to point out, there's a Carmine Infantino story where Batman busts up a criminal ring base that's been set up in what appears to be the entire Carlsbad Cavern system conveniently located under a Gotham City Warehouse, shortly followed by a tale of Batman helping out a band called "The Hootenanny Hotshots," which works out about as well as Bob Haney's "The Flips," but without the board, babe, or bike.
And really, without that, what's the point?
Spot the Yaoi Answer: It might surprise you, but the correct answer was C) Superman Confidential, which--despite having a terrible title, is going to be by Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale, and is probably going to be totally rad. As for the others, Princess Princess is, of course, the story of a high school boy bribed by his new high school into transvestite prostitution (with his heroin addiction and jaded, drunken suicide presumably to follow in later volumes), and you know what? I'm just going to assume that the rest of them are pretty much exactly like that.
Anyway, be sure to tune in next week for our new game Who's Greg Land Lightboxing Now?, featuring the cover to Ultimate Power #2!
Hint: It's Kurt Angle.