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Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Week in Ink, 3-01-06

It's One Week Later... and my comic book buying habits are officially out of control.

Yes, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to jump on every one of DC's One Year Later books that wasn't Green Lantern, Blood of the Demon, or written by Judd Winnick--and even those, I've read at the store. I'm not exactly sure why I did it, but I get the sneaking suspicion that it's got something to do with all the time I've spent trying to go back and put together runs of the DC books that followed Crisis, like Suicide Squad, Animal Man and the Giffen/Dematteis Justice League.

Or, as evidenced by the fact that I still get New Avengers, I just really like to know what's going on in those super-hero comics the kids like so much.

Of course, that doesn't explain why I decided to subscribe to all the Archie comics this month too, but we'll get into that later.


Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40: This week's surprise hit down at the shop, considering that it sold out within a few hours of hitting the shelves. That came as a pretty big surprise to most of us, and I think I'll always cherish the memory of Tug coming out of his office, taking a glance up at the wall, and mutteirng: "We're going to need more Aquaman." I mean, I'm not sure that's ever been said before. As for the book itself, this is going to be my third attempt at reading an Aquaman title, and I'm more than a little gun-shy. Fortunately, I thoroughly enjoyed this first issue. Busiek's story is solid and the new Arthur Curry's interesting, even if his origin story does raise my eyebrow a bit, and Guice's art--especially his costume design--is nice as well. I'm hoping he'll be able to pull off a more visually interesting underwater civilization than I've seen in the past, which has always been a little disappointing for me. And hopefully, there will be no skull-shaped rocks.

Batman Annual #25: Judd Winnick's run on Batman hasn't really done much for me, since every scene that's genuinely good seems to be balanced out with a groaner, usually on the same page. Also: Scarebeast. But I'll admit, I'm as curious as the next guy as to what's going on with Jason Todd and I'm pretty happy to see Annuals back, so I picked this one up. I've got to say, it's pretty enjoyable, and it manages to provide a nice, if somewhat silly explanation for his return that ties into Infinite Crisis, among other things. Plus, there's a scene where Jay gets kissed and chucked off a cliff, which is more than he did for the guy he threw to his doom.

Battle Pope #5: I'd just like to point out that this is a comic where Jesus Christ is portrayed as borderline retarded and sporting tiny cutoff jean shorts. And yet, to my knowledge, there have been no riots.

Books of Doom #4

Corporate Ninja #2: You know, it does my allergies good to read a comic where a ninja smacks a cigarette-smoking housecat around with a pair of nunchucks. It's another hyper-violent bit of slapstick fun from Matt Mocarski, following the first issue from a few months ago with one of the funniest ninja-related sight gags I've ever seen, coupled with the line: "His lungs were ninja lungs! His blood was ninja blood!" It's good stuff.

Detective Comics #817: This may come as a surprise to some of you, but Batman is my favorite comic book character of all time, and it's nice to be reading his books again. That said, I loved this issue. It definitely feels like a back-to-status-quo sort of story, with Jim Gordon as Commissioner again and Harvey Bullock back on the force, but there's enough to it, like Gordon's references to the events of the missing year that sound exciting as hell, that make it really enjoyable to read. I really like James Robinson's other Batman work, especially the three-part "Blades" with Tim Sale from Legends of the Dark Knight, and while I'm filled with an almost all-consuming anticipation for Paul Dini and Grant Morrison on the Batman titles, this issue's excellent.

Ex Machina #18

Fallen Angel #3: As much as I liked this book when it was coming out from DC, the new direction at IDW hasn't exactly grabbed me--not to the point where I can justify the $3.99 price tag. It's not bad by any means, and each issue is interesting enough to keep me buying the next, but with the sudden explosion in my comics buying habits, I wouldn't shed a tear if this one hit the chopping block.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man: So here we are, five issues into this book, Peter David's first chance to really break out of the confining storyline of "The Other" and do something on his own, and what do we get? Oh, nothing. Just a story that doesn't really matter and includes a scene in The Future after Spider-Man's vague death at a ripe old age that revolves around a woman who's been keeping a blog for the past ten years, making her Midtown High's most remarkably tech-savvy cheerleader. Yeah, I'm just going to come out and say it: Comics writers, please think carefully before involving blogs or other cliche trendiness in your comic book. It cheapens all of us. Honestly, I don't think it would be a terrible story if it appeared in, say, Spider-Man Unlimited, or as a fill-in issue, but to come out as David's first "real" issue on the title is frustrating. I was going to give this book a few months to get into the swing of things, but honestly? If it's going to be like this, I can't be bothered. It's off the list.

G0DLAND #8: I mentioned this last month when I jumped on after picking up the trade, but I'm really enjoying G0DLAND a heck of a lot. It's a surprise, since I'm not usually a big fan of Joe Casey, but really: How could I not like a comic book where the main character's reduced to a sobbing wreck after learning the Secret Origin of the Universe, which in turn involves a giant with hair made of Kirby Krackle? Plus, the scenes with Basil Cronus, Freidrich Nickelhead, and the delightfully strange Tormentor can't be beat, especially with the developments concerning the recently-exploded Discordia. It's just one of those comics where it's obvious from everything from the inside front-cover recap to the next-issue box that everyone involved is having fun with it, and it's the sort of fun that translates straight to the reader. If you're not reading it, give it a shot.

Hellboy: Makoma #2: If for no other reason than his no-nonsense, completely sensible (and occasionally slightly bored) reactions to the horrific and the fact that he has a fistfight with a seven-headed dragon that is the End of All Things, Hellboy may go down as the single greatest creation of the Modern Age, and this series has everything you want to see. Richard Corben does a great job with the art, while Mignola's framing sequence manages to be thoroughly creepy and utterly hilarious. It's fantastic.

I Love Marvel: Masked Intentions: Squirrel Girl and Speedball go on a date, and it's every bit as fun as you'd expect. Also, Firestar and Justice talk about their relationship for a while. That, too, is probably as fun as you'd expect, so make of that what you will.

Infinite Crisis #5: Going through it page by page, we've got Hal Jordan leaving a church in the middle of a sermon given by an actual Angel, thus proving that he is indeed a total dick; Earth-2 Lois looking at Superman like she's about to devour his very soul; an appearance by Tangent Comics Superman; and Superboy-Prime getting Hannibal King!!ed. So if that sounds like it might be your kind of thing, have at it. Me, I didn't hate it, but it looked a lot more exciting on a flip-through than it ended up being on a thorough read, especially considering the occasionally wooden dialogue and the fact that a fight between Superman and Superman probably should've lasted more than a couple pages, and I imagine that the last page would've stirred up a bigger reaction if the surprise hadn't been spoiled by the DC Direct solicitations a few months back. However, it does feature THE BREACH, and that alone is a bargain at twice the price, friends.

Jonah Hex #5: Palmiotti and Gray--along with Tony Dezuniga, which came as a surprise--turn in another solid, entertaining stand-alone story, but what makes it interesting is that this, the March issue of Jonah Hex, is a Christmas Story. Apparently, someone at DC got my letter.

JSA #83

Local #4: In the best issue of Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly's miniseries so far, our erstwhile hero Megan learns that maybe doing things like letting guys come into your apartment and leave pictures of themselves isn't such a good idea after all. It's a fantastic bit of character development: Surprising, funny, and chilling at the same time, and I get the feeling that Wood's going to parley it into a turning point for the character in upcoming issues, and it's great to watch it happen month to month. But of course, the story of the issue isn't all about her, but rather a solid and fun to read portrait of two brothers who hate each other squaring off in a diner. It could've just been the mountain setting, but it reminded me an awful lot of the sort of thing you'd see on Twin Peaks, and Ryan Kelly's art does a great job of capturing that tense, boiling-beneath-the-surface kind of tension as each twist of the story is reflected in Megan's face, the silent observer that fills the reader's place. It's a dynamite comic book, and you owe it to yourself to read it.

Marvel Team-Up: Well, that's all for the League of Losers, but what a great story. The two-page spread that kicks this issue off is great, and it's one of the best "never thought I'd see that" moments in recent memory, like a lot of stuff from this storyline. I mean, I didn't think I'd get excited when Chris Powell said something like "I can get there faster... As DARKHAWK!" but there it was, and I did.

Marvel Zombies #4: Not only does this one have my favorite of the zombified homage covers so far, but it's also got the zombie super-heroes squaring off against the Devourer of Worlds, and even I don't see that every day. It's good, stupid fun that's completely self aware and totally unapolagetic about its stupidity, which somehow makes it even better. This Man, this Kirk-Man... He writes some fun comics.

NextWave #2: I had to attempt to sell someone on buying this comic today, and I managed to accomplish it with one sentence: "Fin Fang Foom puts Boom-Boom in his pants." I think it might've just been the phrase "Boom-Boom in his pants," but if that and one of the best cover-blurbs of all time doesn't spark your interest, then you are beyond my help. As I've said, I love this book, and if it keeps up like this, Elsa Bloodstone's probably going to become my favorite character. And I'm not really sure how I feel about that.

The Punisher #31

Queen and Country: Declassified v.2 #3: At last! Given my love of Greg Rucka and Slick Rick Burchett combined with my rigorous filing system that doesn't allow for Q&C:D volume 3 to be put in the boxes before volume 2 finishes, I've been going crazy waiting for this one to come out. As I expected, it's totally awesome, and would probably be even better if I had more than a vague recollection of what was going on in the series before the huge gap. But here it is, I can bag it up, file it, and all will be right with the world.

Red Sonja #7

The Ultimates 2 #10: Kevin has already had his say about the flipout-inducing first appearance of ULTIMATE SWARM, but I feel it's important to note that my love of everyone's favorite Bee-Nazi has permeated your little inter-network to the point where alert ISB reader Steven emailed me Tuesday night just to let me know I was going to like this issue. And I did. It's quite possibly the most ridiculously over-the-top comic book I've read since OMAC #2, going far beyond the point of your Jerry Bruckheimer and into that realm of just jaw-dropping insane fun. You will chuckle with mirth and widen your eyes in joyous shock, friends.

X-Factor #4: I'm enjoying the heck out of this comic book and fully endorse its purchase, which I think makes it okay that I talked so much shit about Peter David fifteen comics ago. The mysteries function purely as McGuffins, clever little devices that allow Peter David to focus on some really neat and well-done character development, especially in the way that he drags Layla Miller into actually being entertaining, and more than a little sinister. This issue's got a pretty shocking ending, too, and I'm really looking forward to the next.

Y - The Last Man #43


The Order of the Stick: Dungeon Crawlin' Fools: I've mentioned my affection for Rich Burlew's D&D-themed webcomic before, but it bears repeating: It's always consistently clever, funny and engaging, even among my friends that aren't into roleplaying games, and I love it. Which should be pretty obvious, since I just bought a book with a $24.95 price tag that reprints strips I could read for free online, but it's the truth. Not to mention the nice bonus material, like an additional introductory chapter for the story and a great preface by one of the characters, which makes it more than worth buying.

Superman Adventures v.2 and v.3: There is absolutely no reason not to own the Superman Adventures trades, especially considering a price point of seven bucks for each. They're not just some of the best Superman comics ever printed--and certainly the best in the past ten years--but they're unquestionably Mark Millar's finest work, up to and including the creation of Ultimate Swarm. These two trades finish out most of his run, with the notable exception of "22 Stories in a Single Bound," the issue where he told a complete story on every single page, but I can imagine that would've been a bear to reprint. And if you don't have the other two volumes from last year, do yourself a favor and give them a read; one features the best Lex Luthor story of all time, "How Much Can One Man Hate?"

I've been excited about these for a while, and I'd originally thought they were slated to hit stores in January, but I think there's a pretty good reason why DC held off until this week: The story that opens volume 3 might look a little familiar if you're following what's going on with DC. Superman goes missing... but then...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessin' the SUPERMAN ADVENTURES digests have "This Is A Job For Superman"? That may be one of my favorite Superman stories ever.

3/03/2006 3:14 AM

Blogger e said...

I have to give a resounding hell yeah to James Robinson's Blades storyline. That was such an awesome story.

3/03/2006 6:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a fight between Superman and Superman probably should've lasted more than a couple pages"

Actually, it lasted three issues over the last month in Superman, Adventures of Superman, and Action Comics. :)

I enjoyed the arc, as well. It wasn't Alan Moore's Man of Tomorrow, but it was enjoyable enough.

3/03/2006 8:23 AM

Blogger Phil Looney said...

>>we've got Hal Jordan leaving a church in the middle of a sermon given by an actual Angel

Yeah - what was the deal with that?

3/03/2006 8:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We didn't have riots, but we did have a front page news story about the Jesus cartoons in the campus paper at a local university.

3/03/2006 9:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This "One Year Later" business sounds good for books like Hawkgirl or Catwoman: it's a year later, things have changed, and over the course of time we'll see what happened. Fair enough. But in books like Superman or Batman...what, did they take the year off or something? Bum around Europe for awhile, maybe finish that novel, find yourself a little? Bullshit.
On a lighter note...is Ultimate Hawkeye more like Bullseye than Hawkeye, or is that my imagination?
Word verification dcxkxuus, which may be exactly how I feel about DC some days...

3/03/2006 10:02 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

"Actually, it lasted three issues over the last month in Superman, Adventures of Superman, and Action Comics"

I'll admit I didn't give those books the most thorough read in the world, as I'm not a big fan of some of the creators involved, but they tended to focus more on the "life of Superman" storyline, only devoting a few pages each to the actual fight. Regardless, Infinite Crisis is supposed to be the "event" book, and while there certainly is a fight, I feel like it could've been bigger.

As for Ultimate Hawkeye, he does seem to be more in the vein of a Super-Bullseye, but in the Fabian Nicieza Hawkeye series that came out not too long ago, regular Marvel Universe Hawkeye was portrayed as having Bullseye-esque abilites too. I thought that was a little bit annoying, but it doesn't bother me for Ultimate Hawkeye since he's, you know, Ultimate Hawkeye.

3/03/2006 2:40 PM

Blogger Mark Kardwell said...

So, does the fact that this new AQUAMAN series has a lead called Arthur Curry, who clearly isn't the DCU Arthur Curry, mean that HELL YEAH DC has a multiverse again?

'Cus if so, HELL YEAH!

3/05/2006 5:35 PM


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