The Week In Ink: 11-29-06
You know, it's probably just a side-effect of my jet-setting comics blogger lifestyle, but it feels like I was just doing weekly comics reviews yesterday. Huh.
Ah, well. Time and facekicks wait for no man!
Yes, it's the fifth week of November, 2006, and the question on everyone's mind is undoubtedly "Did Iron Fist punch enough people to become the ISB Best of the Week?!"
Short answer: Yes.
The long answer? That begins here! Now on with it!
52: Week 30: Aside from the scenes at the Mad Scientists' Thanksgiving dinner, last week's installment of 52 was my least favorite of the bunch, right up until this one came out. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that the solicitations for every single issue for the past eight months have reminded us that this book solely exists is to chronicle a year without Batman, and even discounting the fact that I've seen that guy go on a spiritual journey to find himself at least twice by this point, an issue that catches us up on what Batman's doing seems to run contrary to the whole frigg'n point. Add to that the fact that the Bat-Crew was partying with supermodels in France while Black Adam tore Terra-Man into pieces (rather than, say, being on a mountaintop in Tibet meditating or something), and you've got 22 pages that leave me extremely unsatisfied at the expense of the stories in this book that I actually do care about.
Well, except for the Lobo story. You can pretty much keep that one.
Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #46: It could just be that I've gotten into the habit of comparing this book to Kurt Busiek's run writing everyone's favorite barbarian, but this issue's focus on one of the original Aquaman's adventures--which comes hot on the heels of the month-late #45 from two weeks ago--immediately put me in mind of the stories in Conan that cut back to the framing sequence with the Wazir and the Prince reading the Nemedian Chronicles. Either way, Busiek, Karl Kesel and Phil Winslade tell another highly enjoyable story that really captures all the underwater sword-and-sorcery aspects of this book that I've been enjoying so much, even if I'm still waiting for the Atlanteans to stop walking around like they're not moving underwater. Other than that minor, pretty personal nitpick, though, it's fun stuff.
Batman #659: I mentioned my general distaste for fill-in issues when the last issue of Detective came out, but I actually had pretty high hopes for this one. After all, John Ostrander is one of the great unsung talents of comics with his amazing runs on Suicide Squad, and his Spectre work with Tom Mandrake isn't half bad either. Unfortunately, this issue's pretty terrible. I've said it before, but one of the comic book clichés that we never need to see again is the panel where a new super-villain shows up and shouts their name in huge red letters, and sadly, that's the least of the hackneyed tricks that are pulled out over the course of this issue. There are a few interesting moments, which will hopefully be built upon over the next few parts of the story, but if the first issue's a good measure of what we're in for, you're probably better off waiting until Morrison gets back.
Batman/The Spirit: Back on Tuesday, Johanna Draper Carlson said that this one had the potential to be really enjoyable if "Darwyn Cooke’s influence overcomes the Jeph Loeb taint." That, my friends, is as good a setup as you're ever going to see, but I'm going to go ahead and let you write the punchline yourselves. What I will say, however, is that this book opens up with the single worst opening caption I've ever read, and while the dialogue doesn't really get much better, the plot's a goofy but serviceable way to get the door open for the real draw here: The beautiful, beautiful art of Darwyn Cooke.
With J. Bone working on inks, Cooke's art is amazing through the whole thing, including a fantastic splash page of the Spirit--complete with his name spelled out in the background, of course--that has no business not being a poster. It's worth the five bucks alone just to look at this thing, and it's given me even higher hopes for Cooke's Spirit ongoing, which will be mercifully Loeb-free.
Captain America #24
The Immortal Iron Fist #1: Even discounting the time where he charges up his fist like unto a thing of iron and punches seven guys in one panel--thus tying OMAC's record--Danny Rand kicks five Hydra agents in the face in this issue, and that makes for some fine comics. And yes, I counted.
Seriously, though, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction are telling an incredibly enjoyable story here, blending kung-fu action with some intriguing revelations about a legacy surrounding Iron Fists's power. The idea that Danny Rand isn't the first Iron Fist is one that has the potential to take away a lot of what's unique about the character--namely that there's nobody else rolling around that was tough enough to bear-hug a dragon to death--but at this point, it's a risk that's more than outweighed by a very interesting and extremely well-done story by Fraction and Brubaker, who's currently writing some of the best Marvel comics in years. As for the art, I've heard David Aja's work compared to Jae Lee's, but since you can actually tell what's going on in this comic, I'd put it a fair step above that. It's in the same vein as Michael Lark's current work on Daredevil, and while there are some rough spots (like the picture of Luke Cage that bears a striking resemblance to that guy who dresses up like Superman), that's good company to be in. Even the flashback sequences by Travel Foreman and Derek Fridolfs are well-done and add a lot to the book, and Matt Hollingsworth's coloring is top notch, as always.
It certainly doesn't hurt that Iron Fist is one of my favorite characters, but really: It's action-packed, highly entertaining, and very much worth your time.
Nextwave: Agents of HATE #10: Warren Ellis sent out a Bad Signal email earlier this week that mentioned how much of a mess he thought Nextwave #10 was and how it didn't work out quite right, which struck me as a little odd, as it might just be my favorite issue so far. I absolutely loved the last issue, with its crazy super-teams and the shocking return of the crew from Not Brand Ecch, but this one goes in the diametrically opposite direction, and the only way I can think of to describe it is that it sort of becomes a "real" comic for eleven pages, and that's what's so awesome about it. It's a great sharp contrast between the goofy, self-aware stupid fun that marks Nextwave, and the fact that the dire, soul-crushing conflict is resolved in typical explosion-filled Nextwave fashion just makes it even better. Then again, what do you expect? This comic is like Hate Face for the modern world.
Ptolus: City by the Spire #2
The Punisher #41
Punisher X-Mas SPecial 2006: I've been doing the Week in Ink for over a year now, so the fact that I can't resist buying a Punisher Christmas Special should only come as a surprise if you mistakenly stumbled onto the ISB after Googling "Degrassi awesome punch" or something. Unfortunately, the fact that they appear at the nexus of two of my "sure-sells" is about the only reason to pick up any sort of Punisher holiday special, because they're never really any good. This year's--by Stuart Moore and CP Smith--does have the distinction of being a lot better than Andy Diggle's offering from last year, but whereas he sacrificed character and likability for the sake of humor, Stuat Moore makes the exact opposite mistake, going way too serious with it. The best Punisher stories--and, in fact, the whole Garth Ennis run--have a constant dark sense of humor to them, and a holiday special's the perfect opportunity to play with that, and this one reads like nothing quite so much as a wasted opportunity.
Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #41: Wow. Just... just wow. A few weeks ago, I made a comment that with its supernatural, oversexed attempts at witty dialogue, Anita Blake was going to be the new Tarot. But... no. No, this issue makes it pretty clear that Tarot will always be a thing unto itsel, and the fact that it's a holiday special means that I'll have no choice but to bring you an in-depth review in the near future. You might want to go ahead and start drinking now, just to prepare yourself.
Teen Titans #41: Let's not mince words here: I frigg'n hate Jericho, to a point that rivals the universally loathsome Terry Long. I think it all boils down to the costume, but the fact remains, I have no desire to ever see him again, and considering that he's a character with two big, plot-shattering death scenes--one of which written by the same guy writing him now--I think we can all join hands and agree that he should go away and never, ever come back. Or maybe it's just me. Either way, I'm rapidly losing interest in the Titans, even with the addition of the likeable and interesting Miss Martian, and the inconsistent fill-in art by Paco Diaz and Ryan Benjamin (replacing the inconsistent-but-improving Tony Daniel)--really doesn't help matters much on that front.
Wetworks #3: Even though it's at least an issue ahead of the rest of the Worldstorm books, I don't have the same familiarity with Wetworks to draw on like I do with Gen13, so Mike Carey and Whilce Portacio's run on this one is still in a sort of holding pattern while I try to figure out what exactly's going on. It's pretty unusual for someone who's used to making pretty quick snap judgements on comics, but the fact that I'm still reading it three months in probably says more for it than I can easily put into words.
The Dark Horse Book of Monsters: There's a new Mike Mignola Hellboy story in this one, along with new work from folks like Evan Dorkin, Kurt Busiek, Jill Thompson, Keith Giffen, and Affable Al Milgrom, so honestly? I'm just putting this here in case you somehow missed that it came out.
And that's the reviews for this week--But be here tomorrow, for a very special installment of the ISB, where everything will change! Or maybe not.
But something will, I'm sure. So I've got that going for me.