The Week In Ink: 2-07-07
As we all make our way through this crazy world, it's comforting to know that there are still some things that are so beautiful that upon seeing them, I am moved to openly weep.
Bruce Wayne kicking a shark in the face while rescuing a pirate is one of those things.
Bless you, Paul Dini. Bless you and your hot magician wife.
Feel free to bask in the glory that is Batman for as long as you'd like, but don't take too long: It's the first week of February, 2007, and it's time for the snappiest comics reviews on the internet!
Here's what I bought:
And now, the reviews!
52: Week 40: For those of you out there wondering why the people who edit comics have an important job, I refer you to this week's 52, which features a scene where Beast Boy stands over the (presumably) dead body of Everyman and offers up the wisecrack, "Not enough room for two shapeshifters around here." Even discounting the fact that this makes Gar Logan seem like a total jerk--which you could write off as one of his poorly-timed attempts at dark humor--the line seems pretty ridiculous when it's spoken while he's standing right next to Offspring, who, much like his father Plastic Man, has the ability to change his shape. The editor's job, then, is to make sure that that kind of thing doesn't happen.
Don't get me wrong: Even with Chris Batista's obviously rushed artwork, I actually found this issue to be pretty entertaining. Then again, I'm easy to please when it comes to a big throwdown, and there's enough to this issue that completely falls apart under any kind of thought (like why a guy who once figured out how to wear the entire JLA Watchtower as a suit of armor didn't think things through a little more, or whether or not Luthor's metagene therapy could be defeated by standing next to a microwave) to start getting on my nerves the longer I think about it.
The All-New Atom #8: According to a blurb on the cover, Etertainment Weekly named this the best new ongoing series of 2006, and to be perfectly honest, my first reaction to that was: Really? I mean, I like The All-New Atom a heck of a lot and want nothing but success for the book--and writer Gail Simone--but last year brought us the debuts of books like Jack of Fables and Darwyn Cooke's relaunch of The Spirit, and those titles ain't no joke, so I have my doubts. What I am sure of, however, is that it's a solidly entertaining comic book every month, especially for me. With each issue and its references to The Karate Kid or reappearance of Lady Cop, I'm convinced that Simone is scripting this thing specifically for me and Devon, or--at the very least--for the comics reading internet at large.
I mean really, how else do you explain a plot that climaxes with a futuristc battle between Bat-planes and the second-stupidest super-hero toy of all tilme, the Super-Mobile?
Cthulhu Tales: The Rising: As you've probably heard from his non-stop deluge of self-promotion, this one includes an all-new 8-pager spawned from the bourbon-soaked pen of ISB pal Kevin Church and Joe Abraham, and while it might just sound like I'm shilling for a friend with this, his story, "The Art of Noise," was the best one in the book. Admittedly, I'm not really a huge fan of Cthulhu stories--what with the fact that my interests rest solidly with the Unnamable King in Yellow--but this one suffers in the way that every anthology suffers, in that the rest of the stories tend to be middling in quality, a necessity brought on by their short length. Ther eis, however, one other great bright spot with Hans Rodionoff and Tim Hamilton's "Pull of Insanity," which I think can be pretty accurately described as being like Die Hard in a comic book store, but with unspeakable horrors instead of terrorists. It's a hoot.
Detective Comics #828: I think I made my opinion about this one pretty clear up at the top of the column, but it bears repeating: Paul Dini's work on this title is resulting in some of the most enjoyable Batman stories in years. It's the sort of book that--outside of the fill-in issues--has yet to disappoint, simply because it's literally everything I want from the series, right down to the way the self-contained, mystery-driven structure that mirrors his work with the animated series. Beyond that, though, his decision to upgrade the Riddler from the Rogues Gallery to a position in Batman's supporting cast was a stroke of genius, and in this issue alone he provides more interesting moments for the character than the last ten years combined, along with a healthy reminder that while he might just be a guy in a green coat with question marks on it, he's also a dude who fights Batman on a regular basis. And to put it mildly, it's nice to know that that still counts for something.
Fell #7: It's been six months since the last issue of Fell hit the shelves, and from what I've heard, that's a result of Warren Ellis reworking the script to this issue over and over until it came out the way he wanted it to. It's the kind of dedication to the craft--and to the "slimline" format that causes him to wrangle these stories into sixteen pages--that shows in the final product, and it was worth every second of the wait. At its heart, this is Ellis taking on the Parlor Scene, and reminded me more than anything else of his version of those segments from the last ten minutes of Perry Mason or Matlock, where they get The Real Killer on the stand and go through what he did in meticulous detail, invariably causing him to break down and confess on the spot. Unfortunately for Richard Fell, Matlock never had to try a case in Snowtown, and that's not exactly how things work here. It's got a tightly written script, with a story that takes place entirely in one room with four characters, and Ben Templesmith's art is fantastic as usual, illustrating every line of the incredible tension. Also, in case you missed the memo, it's only two bucks, and it's really something you ought to be reading.
Iron Man: Hypervelocity #2: When you get right down to it, there are really only about six plots anyone ever does with Tony Stark, and right at the top of the list is Man vs. A Suit OF Armor That Is Going Crazy For Some Reason. Much like Man vs. Booze, this isn't exactly a new idea for Iron Man, but when there's a guy like Adam Warren writing it, it's one that I definitely don't mind seeeing a fourth time around. With his experience doing stories about crazy futuristic technology, Warren's just about the perfect guy to handle something like a sentient Iron Man armor, and he's clever enough to acknowledege that we've been through this before right in the story in this issue, which is where the story starts to unravel in earnest. It's an excellent, fun read and seeing as it comes at a time when it's pretty hard to actually like Iron Man, it's certainly a breath of fresh air.
Jonah Hex #16: Longtime ISB readers might recall that my biggest complaint with this book is the almost constant depiction of sexual abuse towards women to the point where I've attempted to bribe Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with delicious baked goods if they'd just knock it off for a while. Unfortunately, while the three-part origin story was refreshingly free of rape as a plot point, this issue brings it back in full force, and it's almost enough to make me want to drop the book just so I don't have to deal with rolling my eyes every month. The sad part, though, is that I actually think this is Palmiotti and Gray's best work by far, and really enjoy their take on the character when he's involved in a story that doesn't revolve around violating a frontier housewife, but it's something that's quickly moved from tiresome to phenomenally annoying, and I know for a fact that there are plenty of stories they could tell that didn't have that one overused, simplistic plot device driving them. I'm planning on sticking with it through this story, but like the man says, I'm putting Jonah Hex on notice.
Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil #1: Earlier today, I spent a few minutes on the phone with my good pal Chad while I was at work, trying to figure out how long we've been waiting for this thing to come out. I think I may have actually been in high school when it was first announced, but either way, it's been years.
I've mentioned it before, but there was a time when I was a kid that I'd pretty much given up on DC Comics and switched to a steady diet of Clone Saga Spider-Man and--of course--Gen 13, which held up until I managed to check out a copy of Jerry Ordway's Power of Shazam! graphic novel from the county library, which immediately hooked me back in.
Since then, I've come to the conclusion that it's very rare that I actually get a version of Captain Marvel that I actually enjoy reading about from DC, up to and including the current Judd Winick "bring it down hard" iteration. Of course, I've also become a fan of Jeff Smith in the intervening years, thanks to his handy One Volume Edition of Bone, and I'm glad to say that this first issue's hot dog-eating, bully-trouncing Big Red Cheese is as close to how I want him as I'd hope for. Smith's art, of course, is fantastic under Steve Hamaker's wonderful coloring, with the end result being a book that's absolutely gorgeous to look at and a pure joy to read. So yeah, like I'm sure pretty much everybody's going to be saying: It was definitley worth the wait.
Mighty Skullboy Army v.1: I first became aware of Jacob Chabot's Skullboy when he made an appearance in one of Chris Giarrusso's G-Man backups in the pages of Savage Dragon. That strip, which involved Skullboy attempting to get G-Man to kick a puppy to prove he was evil enough for a part-time job at SkullCo, had one of the funniest punchlines of the series, and I've been wanting to read more with the character ever since. And now I can, thanks to Dark Horse and a pretty affordable volume collecting Chabot's earlier strips, and i was not disappointed. It's phenomenally enjoyable, and essentially revolves around the premise of what Dr. Doom would be like in elementary school, and if that premise doesn't already have you excited, I'd just like to point out that on page 13, a turnip-man rips off a robot's head and hits a monkey with it.
And that is awesome.
Trust me, it's a riot, and I really can't recommend it enough. Give it a shot.
And that's it for tonight's reviews. As always, if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or just a desire to bribe me with delicious baked goods, don't hesitate to leave a comment or email using the address in the sidebar.
And don't forget to be here tomorrow, when the ISB finally takes on the much-delayed unholy matrimony of Lois Lane!