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Thursday, April 12, 2007

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.




Comics

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.
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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.

ISB BEST OF THE WEEK




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.





Trades

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.

32 Comments:

Anonymous Matt said...

Aah! Chris! Which title features Batroc getting his nose broken?

4/13/2007 4:10 AM

 
Blogger Nimbus said...

Re: "how to best put Rule #3 into effect"

Considering rules #1 and #2 are provided by yourself in electronic interwebbyblog style, I shall reciprocate. Here and here ya go. :)

Again, wonderfully amusing reviews. And Nova best of the week?!? Must check it out.

4/13/2007 4:42 AM

 
Blogger LurkerWithout said...

You got Fell this week? I fucking hate you right now. You evil bastard!

4/13/2007 4:45 AM

 
Blogger LurkerWithout said...

And now that I've read the rest of your list I'm reminded that I forgot to check out Dynamo 5 again this month. Also Loners, just to try and see if they explain the concept of that title on a team book...

As for the new Nova book, I'm waiting for the next issue to decide. If it involves Rich hitting a certain drunk in the face for EVERY TIME he talked down about the Warriors I'll be sold...

4/13/2007 5:06 AM

 
Blogger Matthew said...

matt, I haven't picked my comics up yet this week but I THINK it's in She-Hulk.

4/13/2007 5:25 AM

 
Anonymous Sadcap said...

'The Eye of Argon' sounds magnificent (Argon, that most mystical and noble of gases). I like how the author isn't sure if she is saying something 'bustily' or not. It's like "she queried, I dunno, bustily? I guess? Will that do? Yeah, 'bustily'. That'll do. Man I ROCK at writing."

I NEED All-Star Superman NOWWWW, but will not be near a comic shop until tomorrow. Gruunnngh. Word on the street is that Quitely will be doing a signing at my local shop soon, but I'm not sure if going along and having to speak words at someone I really admire will just create another bad memory to mull over or not...

4/13/2007 6:11 AM

 
Anonymous Brian said...

But does this version of 'Eye of Argon' include the illustrations? My eyes have barely stopped bleeding from my last encounter with them.

4/13/2007 7:11 AM

 
Anonymous Julian said...

Chris, I believe you would have loved Wolfskin. The 3rd and final issue was just released. It's written by Warren Ellis and it's in his words (badly paraphrased) a samurai/Conan adventure. It's also by Ellis and published at Avatar, which means that it's original, but eff'ed up, in a very good way of course. You won't regret checking it out.

4/13/2007 7:29 AM

 
Anonymous Greg said...

That 52 cover is awesome, but this week's She-Hulk cover totally beats it.

I mean, it features Nick Fury hitting She-Hulk with his flying car... IN SPACE!

4/13/2007 7:52 AM

 
Anonymous James Schend said...

DENIED

The worst novel ever written is a lovely piece of excrement named "Starbird."

http://www.amazon.com/StarBird-David-Greenley/dp/0738812439/ref=sr_1_22/002-3699275-9111221?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1176468104&sr=8-22

Now that said, it is self-published, so maybe it doesn't count.

I found a website about a year ago that had a couple samples you could read... it might have been Amazon, and the chapters removed, but now I can't seem to find them on the Internets. Tragic.

Aha! Found it!

http://www2.xlibris.com/bookstore/book_excerpt.asp?bookid=553

Read it and weep.

4/13/2007 8:47 AM

 
Anonymous Mike Skel said...

So, wait, you didn't buy Death Dealer? I thought you were ordering it from your previews posts. There's one that I suspected might feature some Death Dealing. Now, how will I find out?

4/13/2007 8:53 AM

 
Anonymous linda said...

Chris, you've gone and outdone yourself today. The Eye of Argon is truly worthy of the "worst Sci fi ever" title. I think I'll be chuckling bustily all day. This has been the ISB's best week since I found you about a year ago.

4/13/2007 9:25 AM

 
Blogger FireworksFactory said...

So wait? If the Punisher steals a car that makes him a thief, a criminal. Does that mean he has to punish himself?

How's that for an issue? The Punisher fighting himself!

Maybe it's just me but I prefer the older, more morally black and white Punisher. And I just don't like seeing heroes doing something wrong like stealing.

4/13/2007 12:12 PM

 
Anonymous The Mutt said...

Please tell me that William Shatner is doing the audiobook of The Eye of Argon.

4/13/2007 12:31 PM

 
Blogger Chris Sims said...

Aah! Chris! Which title features Batroc getting his nose broken

Matthew's right: it's this week's She-Hulk.

Chris, I believe you would have loved Wolfskin.

I read the first two issues when they came out, and, well, I wouldn't say I regret checking them out, but I really didn't care all that much for them. My biggest problem with the Avatar books is that pretty much all of them are drawn by Juan Jose Ryp or Jacen Burrows, and those are two guys that I just don't care for. Their attempts at "ultra-detail" (or, you know, trying to be Geoff Darrow) just tends to come off as cluttered and over-inked--although to be fair, that's more of a complaint about Ryp than Burrows, who avoided that trick for the majority of Ellis's SIMON SPECTOR.

Anyway, back to the point: I read it, and it just felt pretty skippable and unnecessary.

So wait? If the Punisher steals a car that makes him a thief, a criminal. Does that mean he has to punish himself?

As opposed to, y'know, all those times that he murdered people?

Despite the ludicrous premise of Civil War, the Marvel universe didn't just make vigilantes illegal last year or something; the Punisher's always been a criminal. And lately, there's been this weird idea--again, as evidenced in the scene from Civil War that Fraction did so much better in PWJ--that Frank Castle is concerned with the law.

He's not. I mean, he's a murderer who steals mob money to further his own ends, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't have a license for all the bazookas and assault helicopters that pad out the ten issues of Punisher Armory.

I'm not saying that the Punisher doesn't mind thieves, but really: They're mot his primary concern here. He's out to stop killers (or people who do something even worse, as seen in "The Slavers"), not "criminals" in general.

4/13/2007 2:47 PM

 
Anonymous Jeff said...

I'm not saying that the Punisher doesn't mind thieves, but really: They're mot his primary concern here. He's out to stop killers (or people who do something even worse, as seen in "The Slavers"), not "criminals" in general.

I think we can all consider Sims the foremost authority on the Punisher from here on in.

But seriously Chris, great reviews this week. I'll probably have to get myself a copy of PWJ and Nova now.

4/13/2007 3:22 PM

 
Blogger Ferrous Buller said...

I just want to say that when I end up picking up Dynamo 5, Jay Faerber owes you a nickel.

"Goth girl beats dinosaur man with car" - God, have I really waited my entire life for this single perfect moment?

4/13/2007 4:21 PM

 
Blogger Chris Sims said...

One day I hope to be credited somewhere as "Punisher Consultant Chris Sims."

4/13/2007 4:51 PM

 
Blogger Jeff said...

"Explain the purpose of this intrusion upon my chateau!"

This is my new catch phrase in the office.

Chris, I demand a crossover for Grignr and Solomon Stone. I believe Minxy is quite fluent in Bustily.

4/13/2007 5:08 PM

 
Blogger FireworksFactory said...

Despite the ludicrous premise of Civil War, the Marvel universe didn't just make vigilantes illegal last year or something; the Punisher's always been a criminal. And lately, there's been this weird idea--again, as evidenced in the scene from Civil War that Fraction did so much better in PWJ--that Frank Castle is concerned with the law.

He's not. I mean, he's a murderer who steals mob money to further his own ends, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't have a license for all the bazookas and assault helicopters that pad out the ten issues of Punisher Armory.

I'm not saying that the Punisher doesn't mind thieves, but really: They're mot his primary concern here. He's out to stop killers (or people who do something even worse, as seen in "The Slavers"), not "criminals" in general.


While it's true that the Punisher operates outside the law, the examples you mentioned at least had some moral justification. He may not be concerned with the law, but he is concerned with justice. And the things that are lawful and the things that are just are not always the same.

He didn't murder all those people, he simply killed them. Murder is the unjust act of taking a life. Everyone he's taken out he has had a reason for doing so. They were guilty, and deserved punishment. If the authorities weren't going to do anything, he had to.

When he takes money from mobsters, it was to keep them from using it to further their own criminal ends. That's hardly the same as stealing a car from some random schmo who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As far as weapon licenses are concerned, there are certain firearms enthusiasts (myself included) who believe that the government has no right to regulate the sale or ownership of guns and weapons. You want an example? http://www.lufa.ca/

And I find it hard to believe that a man who, in some of his earliest appearances would gun down jaywalkers and shoplifters wouldn't be concerned with "criminals in general".

One day I hope to be credited somewhere as "Punisher Consultant Chris Sims."

That would be impressive, but I can't really think of any practical applications for such a credit outside of internet-based fandom.

4/13/2007 7:42 PM

 
Blogger SilverPantsBlue said...

Um, wow.

Good thing this blog isn't a quasi-fictional writing exercise in which fictional funnybook characters are discussed in a tongue-in-cheek manner strictly for amusement, or that would have been really awkward.

4/13/2007 8:03 PM

 
Blogger Chris Sims said...

Just so we're accurate here, he gunned down jaywalkers while under the influence of mind-altering drugs as part of a plot by the Jackal to get him thrown in jail.

It's not like he routinely tracks down unpaid parking ticket offenders and shoots them.

4/13/2007 8:07 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That would be impressive, but I can't really think of any practical applications for such a credit outside of internet-based fandom.

So not only do you have a bit of a troll, but a troll with no sense of humor either. Nice work.

Anyhow, a brother makes a mean cobbler, if that can do instead of pies I've got rule three covered. Great reviews this week, homey. Long time reader, first time commenter.

-DJ Regular

4/13/2007 11:04 PM

 
Anonymous NBarnes said...

Is there something wrong with me that I find the new Egg Fu *cough* sorry, Chang Tzu, is actually kinda creepy?

4/14/2007 6:37 AM

 
Anonymous "Starman" Matt Morrison said...

Re: Gen13 #7

Chris, you disappoint me. I thought you knew the joke behind Gail's run on Gen13 is that she's doing the characters in a way that CAN be taken seriously while still doing the same crazy things that made the first book so... so goshdarn COMICS!

Consider this issue - it's your fairly standard "kids get stranded somewhere strange and Caitlin winds up in a skimpy outfit" scenario. Now consider the fact that, for the first time ever, CAITLIN GOT INTO A SKIMPY COSTUME FOR A LOGICAL REASON!

Literally, she thinks "Plastic jumpsuit + jungle heat and humidity = dead of dehydration in a day" and makes herself a fur bikini out of the monster cat she killed. And yet despite styling the outfit herself, she STILL makes a thong bottom.

There lies the humor of the issue.

Another funny point is that the only other person to realize that wearing plastic in Jamacia is a bad idea is Grunge.

Granted, he doesn't use quite the same thought process as Caitlin (i.e. it hurts when I do this, so I won't do that) and he carries his solution to the logical (from his perspective) end as Freefall, Burnout and Rainmaker are slowly stewing inside their costumes as Grunge talks of building a new society - free from the old laws of their fathers, free from the constraints of oppressive government and most of all - free from pants!

4/14/2007 11:04 AM

 
Anonymous Thorpe said...

Dynamo 5 is a definite must. Faerber's writing has been either on or off for me and he is most definitely on with this book. I was already sold on Mahmud Asrar's artwork having seen it around on the Net and in the title The Last Paladin within the pages of Digital Webbing Presents. It's perfect combo in this case.

4/14/2007 2:24 PM

 
Blogger FireworksFactory said...

Just so we're accurate here, he gunned down jaywalkers while under the influence of mind-altering drugs as part of a plot by the Jackal to get him thrown in jail.

It's not like he routinely tracks down unpaid parking ticket offenders and shoots them.


True, but you have to admit that would be fun to read.

I guess I'm kind of married to the 70's, early 80's version of The Punisher when he was more or less a ripoff of Mack Bolan. His methods might have been questionable, but at heart he was a good man doing what he felt was necessary to stop those who did wrong. He would never do anything to anyone who didn't deserve it, which is not to say that I approve of all his methods, but that they are easier to understand, and root for. So I guess that's why I can't get behind the idea of Castle jacking some poor Joe's car. He's out to "punish" criminals, not civilians.

Good thing this blog isn't a quasi-fictional writing exercise in which fictional funnybook characters are discussed in a tongue-in-cheek manner strictly for amusement, or that would have been really awkward.

If Chris can over analyze Gen13, then I can do the same thing to The Punisher's character.

4/14/2007 5:39 PM

 
Blogger Chris Sims said...

But the '80s-'90s Punisher still did just that. In fact, I was reading an issue of Punisher Armory today--because, y'know, that's how I roll--where he talked about six cars he had, only one of which he actually bought. The rest were described explicitly as stolen.

4/14/2007 11:13 PM

 
Anonymous The Thing That Walks Like A Man said...

So I guess that's why I can't get behind the idea of Castle jacking some poor Joe's car. He's out to "punish" criminals, not civilians. -- FireworksFactory



So Frank steals a car from a criminal, and thereby punishes him in the process.

I thought that was inherently obvious how it'd work, Mr. Factory.

4/15/2007 10:41 AM

 
Anonymous Jim Treacher said...

Zibarro.

Zibarro!

ZIBARRO!!!

4/15/2007 9:29 PM

 
Anonymous halcyon said...

I love how the Eye of Argon cover has the same design as the Civil War covers. So appropriate.

4/16/2007 6:59 PM

 
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4/19/2007 6:12 PM

 

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