The Week In Ink: 4-11-07
Warren Ellis knows what the people want!
Admittedly, that's more of a stomp than a kick, but it's foot-to-face contact, and that's all that matters! After all, when it comes to the Internet's Dopest Comics Reviews, there's only one rule: There Are no rules!
Wait, no, that's not right at all. There are actually plenty of rules.
Rule #1: I post a list of what I bought this week:
Rule #2: I write about them!
Rule #3: I am then given a large assortment of delicious pies.
52: Week Forty-Nine: It probably says a lot about Robert Kanigher, but in this issue of 52, tiny versions of the Metal Men attack a giant sentient egg with with a set of metal spider-legs with machine-guns on them, and that's not even close to being the craziest thing I've ever seen those guys do. Although admittedly, there was a giant egg involved that time, too. Regardless, the Science Squad of Oolong Island continues to be the most entertaining part of 52 through this whole thing, but I can't shake the feeling that it might be the one that finally breaks the "real-time" aspect of the book. This issue, after all, takes place entirely in the span of one day, which means that when the next issue hits, it'll mean that a week's gone by before the story picks up again, and I've got the sneaking suspicion that we're going to end up with a another jumbled plot element like the fact that it took the police six weeks to get around to arresting Lex Luthor after the big throwdown.
That said, seeing T.O. Morrow kicking it with his Hawaiian Shirt and his crazy Science Gun pretty much makes the whole thing worth it, and that's before Will Magnus gets around to freaking out so hard that it's going to start World War III, and that's an exciting bit of comics.
All-Star Superman #7: When this book first came out, I said that if it would only come out on time, it may be the best thing ever, but now, well, it's three months since the last issue, and you know what? It's still pretty awesome. To be fair, this one has been my least favorite issue of the series thus far, but with the amount of pure, manic joy that I experienced from scenes like Jimmy Olsen transforming himself into Doomsday to battle an evil Superman in a scene that won the ISB's Dave Jackson Memorial Award for Best Comic Ever, that's not really much of a criticism. It's still an amazingly fun comic to read, with the fast-paced action that I've come to expect from Morrison and Quitely. The only major problem, in fact, is that with a last page cliffhanger as compelling as this one, the next few months of waiting for #8 are going to be almost unbearable.
Dynamo 5 #2: This is a comic that opens with a gothy ex-film student in a bathing suit punching a dinosaur-man in the face, ends with the same girl beating said monster into submission with a car, and features a few panels of her stretching thrown into the middle for good measure, so I think it's safe to say that Jay Faerber has his finger right on the pulse of what the comics reading audience would like to see in their new super-hero titles. And, well, that's pretty much what happens in this issue. Of course, I could mention that Faerber--always at his best working with his own creations--keeps the action moving along while simultaneously fleshing out the backstories and relationships of his characters and laying down plot threads almost seamlessly within the stand-alone story, but let's be honest here: If a girl knocking out a dinosaur-man with a car didn't strike you as being worth $3.50, then I'm pretty much out of my element as far as reviews go.
Fables #60: You know, it's not every day that you get to read a story where Little Red Riding Hood clamors for bloody vengeance. Thank you, Bill Willingham, for showing me how empty my life has been up to this point.
Then again, it's been well-chronicled around here that I'm a total sucker for revenge stories, but the point stands: Alongside the always-fantastic pencils of Mark Buckingham--whose clean linework here has turned Flycatcher into a slightly more freckly Alan Moore--Willingham's building off of the heartbreaking revelations from the Christmas issue in one of the most exciting ways he possibly could, and no matter what direction he takes it from here, I can't imagine it not being awesome. What's more, that's just one of the plots that's running through the series at this point, and the rest of them are just as compelling, like the slow-burning stories of Frau Totenkinder and Baba Yaga or (and I honestly never thought I'd have an occasion to type this phrase) the recent developments with Hansel. It's a book that's so consistently well done that it's easy to take for granted, but it always bears repeating: This is an excellent piece of comics.
Gen13 #7: And speaking of phrases I never thought I'd have an occasion to type, try this one on for size: I think Gail Simone's taking Gen13 a little too seriously. It might just be a matter of me becoming a fan of hers while she was on Agent X (an amazingly underappreciated book that struck a great balance of occasional serious character moments to counter things like the title character fighting off hitmen with a toilet) and the fact that I have slightly-more-than-fond memories of the lighthearted, almost nonsensical stories from Gen13's original incarnation, but the stories this time around seem to be coming on a little heavy-handed for my tastes. This is, after all, a book where Caitlin Fairchild puts on her fur bikini and fights off a tyrannosaurus rex, but the only impression I got from reading it was that it just didn't seem like Simone was having any fun with it.
Of course, I could be wrong. This might actually be the fun part in and of itself; taking the underlying concepts of the orignal series--like this issue's pretty obvious homage to Gen13 v.2 #3-5--and trying to apply any sort of deeper meaning at all rather than just rolling with the complete and utter lack of subtext that characterized the old stuff. If that's the case, though, it really just comes down to the fact that, well, Adam Warren already did that, and he didn't lose any of the fun with it, either.
And that, for the record, is more analysis than anyone has ever put forth for Gen13 in the title's history. I should get an honorary degree or something.
Nova #1: Yeah, I know, I was surprised too. To be perfectly honest, I've never really cared about Nova. It's not that I've got anything against the character, but he's never really sparked my interest. I don't even think I've read a single issue before last week, but I like Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning a lot from their work on the Legion, and if there's one thing those dudes know how to write about, it's teenagers in space.
So maybe it shouldn't have surprised me that much that this one turned out to be an amazingly solid and engaging first issue. It's a simple formula for a story: In the aftermath of Annihilation, Richard Rider's the last of the Nova Corps, and he's the only thing standing between the galaxy and a thousand world-shattering crises that need his attention, so he spends the entire issue flying from one planet to the next, averting extinction-level disasters without even pausing to take a breath in between. It's exactly the sort of fast-paced adventure that immediately grabs the reader and makes for a great first issue, and in one scene where Nova argues with the Xandarian Worldmind (your standard-issue repository for all planetary knowledge that's now stuck inside Nova's head) about how he's pushing himself too hard, Abnett and Lanning told me everything I need to know about Richard Rider to get behind him as a hero.
It's excellent stuff, and Sean Chen's artwork only compliments the frenetic pace of the story, right down to the little touches like Nova making gun fingers before blasting a giant space robot. Give it a shot.
Punisher War Journal #6: At this point, I think we can all just settle in and take it as a matter of fact from now on that this is going to be one of my favorite comic books for the duration of Matt Fraction's run as writer. I was going to make an attempt to review it here, and mention all the awesome moments that get thrown in as the Punisher goes on the run from SHIELD, but when you get right down to it, everything I love about it--heck, everything I love about the Punisher--shows up in this one perfect panel:
Now that's exciting.
Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #1: The Fantastic Four and Spider-Man go together like chocolate and peanut butter, like Riggs and Murtaugh, like... like... well, like Jeff Parker and Mike Wieringo, now that I think of it. Parker, of course, is currently making a career writing nothing but stories that I want to read, from the phenomenal Agents of Atlas to the mind-blowing all-MODOC issue of Marvel Adventures Avengers, and as far as I'm concerned, 'Ringo could've drawn the FF for as long as he wanted and it still wouldn't be enough after the amount of quality that marked his run with Mark Waid, so this one was pretty much a no-brainer when it came time for me to order my comics.
And it worked out, too: Not only does this issue feature the Impossible Man giving a pair of hapless New Yorkers a lecture on the dangers of getting Teen Pregnant, but it's got one of the best Ben and Johnny gags I've seen in a long time. Very fun stuff.
The Eye of Argon: Like a lot of people, I suspect, I first ran across The Eye of Argon several years ago as a "MSTing," which, for those of you who don't know, is essentially fan-fiction for Mystery Science Theater 3000, only keeping true to the theme of the show, it's based around making fun of other people's fan-fiction and the occasional piece of spam. It was funny stuff, but as great as a lot of those jokes were, they just did not compare to the innate humor of the story itself. Why?
Because it is, without question, the worst piece of fiction ever published.
Admittedly, I haven't actually read the Anita Blake books in their novel form, but I think that's a pretty safe statement. Here, see for yourself:
"What are you called by female?"
"Carthena, daughter of Minkardos, Duke of Barwego, whose lands border along the northwestern fringes of Gorzom. I was paid as homage to Agaphim upon his thirty-eighth year," husked the femme!
"And I am called a barbarian!" Grunted Grignr in a disgusted tone!
"Aye! The ways of our civilization are in many ways warped and distorted, but what is your calling," she queried, bustily?
"Grignr of Ecordia."
"Ah, I have heard vaguely of Ecordia. It is the hill country to the far east of the Noregolean Empire. I have also heard Agaphim curse your land more than once when his troops were routed in the unaccustomed mountains and gorges." Sayeth she.
Yes, the saga of Grignr the Ecordian--or Fauxnan, as I like to call him--was originally written by a guy named Jim Theis and published in a fanzine in 1970 when he was sixteen, and while Carthena asking her question "bustily" is certainly the high point as far as I'm concerned, the rest of the story is full of gems like that. And now, after thirty-seven years of transcriptions and contests at conventions to see who could get through reading it without breaking into hysterical laughter, it's finally back in print with a definitive edition.
If you haven't already experienced it, you can find the full text online, and trust me, it's well worth it. In fact, it might actually be to blame for my peculiar fascination with horrible writing that continues today, and for those of you out there wondering why I'm stil reading Tarot, it might clear a few things up.
And that's the week. As always, any questions, comments, or discussions of how to best put Rule #3 into effect can be left below in the comments section or sent to me via email.