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Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Week in Ink: 6-28-06

HeroesCon is this weekend, and despite the fact that I'm a mere state away from all the action, I won't be attending. Although really, considering that when I went last year I ended up sitting on an ottoman in the hotel bar with a Jack and coke in one hand and a whiskey sour in the other, telling all of my friends they were assholes and loudly expressing a desire to fight the Luna Brothers, this might be a good thing.

Chris Sims, circa June 2005

Besides, if I was going up there I'd have to wake up early, and I wouldn't be able to do my level best to bring you the internet's most awesome comics reviews for the fourth week of June, 2006!


52: Week Eight: I love the cover for this one, and the art for 52 seems to be back on track after the rush job last week, although someone seems to have forgotten that Adam Strange doesn't have any eyes at the moment. Still, it's a pretty enjoyable issue, and although the function of this one seems to revolve more around fleshing out existing plots rather than moving them forward (with the exception of Supernova making his appearance), I imagine that--much like the abrupt cut at the end of the Ralph Dibny/Green Arrow sequence--is the sort of thing you can get away with more easily when your book's hitting the shelves every Wednesday. And on the bright side, Donna Troy and her Magic Floating Volleyball seem to be getting into more recent events, thus heralding the end of that little storytelling expierment gone awry, although I have a paralyzing fear that the explanations of Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis are going to be way longer than they need to be.

Action Comics #840: Seriously, I want you guys to level with me: Am I the only person in the entire world that thinks the movie version of the Fortress of Solitude is a really, really stupid idea? Really: Where's he going to keep the wax statues of all of his friends? Anyway, despite my personal tastes in Kryptonian architecture, I actually enjoyed the heck out of this issue. It's free of the awkward quirks of dialogue that popped up in past installments (like Lois telling Superman to go hurt people), and Pete Woods does a great job with the art. Really, though, my enjoyment is largely due to the fact that Superman and Lex Luthor have a good old-fashioned punchout, and that's the sort of thing I like to see every now and then. Like, say, in a period of two hours and forty minutes, that's something I'd want to see at least once. You might be surprised how often I'm disappointed.

All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #6: This thing might have the most confusing paragraph ever written, in the form of an explanation of the relationships between a Universe, a Multiverse, an Omniverse, and a Megaverse in the entry for The Living Tribunal. But anyway, at this time each month, I usually like to single out one entry from the OHOTMU that goes above and beyond the normal standards of awesome, and I was all set to delve into Machine Man's profile and its conspicuous use of the phrase "kit-bashing" when I saw this guy:

Meet Gideon Mace, who--as you might expect--has a giant spiked ball of titanium attached to his wrist that apparently weighs two hundred and thirty-seven pounds. And apparently that's all it takes for you to think you should fight Luke Cage. Go figure.

Batman #654: I've got to say: Basing the entire plot that's driven the "One Year Later" story from the beginning and will (presumably) have lasting effects for Gotham City on a three year-old miniseries that nobody read? That's got to be one of the ballsiest moves I've seen in a while. It's pretty enjoyable too, although Two-Face seems to be back to an "evil plot involving a pair of Siberian tigers" kind of crazy rather than the "beat your sidekick viciously with a baseball bat" type of crazy that I've come to love, but it's fun regardless.

Blue Beetle #4: Cully Hamner returns after last month's fill-in, and much to my surprise, Blue Beetle seems to be getting better every month. The book seems to have finally hit its stride and fallen into a pretty enjoyable--if unremarkable--clip, although I hate the new costume more and more every time Jaime does something new with it. This time it's giant metal butterfly wings, and they're just not doing it for me. There's a lot to like about the story itself, though, especially the supporting cast, but I don't think it's ever going to end up replacing Impulse as the best DC teen super-hero comic.

Brave New World: It's eighty pages for one dollar, so there's really no reason not to buy this, even if the list of writers on it--with the exception of Gail Simone--reads like my own personal rogues gallery. Everyone pretty much plays true to form, too: Palmiotti and Gray's Freedom Fighters is not about Jonah Hex and is therefore pretty uninteresting; AJ Lieberman's Martian Manhunter doesn't make a lot of sense, much like everything else he's written since he made Harley Quinn even more dismal and incomprehensible than it already was; Bruce Jones's OMAC is interchangeable with his Hulk and Nightwing stories; and Steve Niles stole my girlfriend five times over the course of eleven pages and I didn't even have one to begin with! Judd Winick, of course, wrote the atrocious lines about Billy Batson "bringing it down hard" and "making them feel it" in the preview pages for Trials of Shazam, and while the Brave New World story is fine, I'm not holding my breath for quality there.

The Atom story, though, was surprisingly fun, and I loved the way the narration was structured with the scientists' quotes and the way it all built to a really well-done punchline. Still don't like that new costume, though.

Catwoman #56: It's not like anybody actually needs me to say this, but the Adam Hughes covers for Catwoman have been awesome lately. I've been really looking forward to the Lone Wolf and Cub homage next month, but this week's issue has is one of my favorite covers in recent memory. It's great, and once you get to the inside, that's not half bad either. I've been consistently surprised at how much I'm enjoying Will Pfeifer's stories--not that I ever hated him or anything--and he seems like he's having a lot of fun with characters, especially when it comes to Film Freak. And although it's not much of a challenge when you're up against Paul Gulacy's occasionally horrid art, David Lopez's pencils are by far the best the book has had since they abandoned the Darwyn Cooke/Cameron Stewart style that launched the series. It's consistent, highly enjoyable, and--dare I say it?!--even better than Firestorm!

Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre #2: While it seems like he's having a lot of fun witih Catwoman, Will Pfeifer's take on the Spectre reads a lot more like he's working out is own annoyances and frustrations with the character through the narrative voice of Cris Allen. That's not necessarily a bad thing--the John Ostrander Spectre series reads the same way in a lot of parts--but it has the side effect of slowing the story to a far slower pace than I think it should have.


Daredevil #86: You have no idea how much I wish this book didn't have a David Finch cover.

Regardless, it's what's inside that counts, and ever since Brubaker and Lark came on, Daredevil has quickly become one of the best comics Marvel's putting out. This issue, though, is the one I've been waiting for ever since the storyline started, because this one--as the very first piece of dialogue says--is where the shit jumps off. I was able to sell three people on this issue today alone just by giving them a generic plot synopsis: Daredevil, the Kingpin, Bullseye, Hammerhead, and The Punisher are all in jail together... and then there's a riot.

That would be pretty exciting no matter what actually happened in the story, but Brubaker and Lark pull it off amazingly well, with the two-fisted action sequences punctuated by some truly phenomenal character moments, where we find out how far Matt Murdock is willing to go to get out of prison and pursue his own brand of justice--and exactly where he'll draw the line. The Punisher moments are fantastic, actually working out even better than I expected. Seriously, when Garth Ennis finally gets tired of telling stories about Frank Castle doling out horrific vengeance on people who really deserve it, I hope we see Brubaker take a stab at the book.

All that, and a last page that's damn near perfect. You should be reading it right now.

Forgotten Realms: Sojourn #3: Just so you know, if you're as bored as I think you are when I go on about these D&D-themed comics with characters named Roddy McGristle, using sentences including words like "chaotic evil" and "ranged attack modifier," you might not want to be here in August when Devil's Due puts out the Eberron comic. My affection for that particular campaign setting and its magical robot men dwarfs my feelings for the Forgotten Realms, so it's entirely probable that I will flip out, name it best of the week, and not shut up about it for days afterward. Just sayin'.

Invincible #33: For some reason, the fact that this issue of Invincible has a little picture of the title character in the UPC box on the cover (even though there's an actual UPC on the back) makes me unreasonably happy. It's a solid comic, too, continuing the story from Marvel Team-Up as Invincible gets blasted into different dimensions by a purple man with an over-large brain. This, for those of you keeping score at home, is what comics are all about, and the way Kirkman keeps upping the stakes with Invincible keeps it very entertaining from month to month.

The Last Christmas #2: Did I mention last month how amusing I thought it was that genre porn websites are advertising on comics? Yes? Okay, good. Moving on.

JLA Classified #23: Attention, Scipio: Vibe is featured prominently on the cover, and is shown breakdancing on page three. You may now cease your letter-writing campaign.

Nextwave #6: Further proving that songs always tell the truth, this issue of Nextwave [Agents of HATE] reveals that yes: Dirk Anger is one crazy mamma-jamma. It also might be the best issue yet, what with large sections wherein Elsa Bloodstone battles HATE's deranged superweapons through the lethal combination of jump-kicks and hitting things with a shovel. Also, Machine Man does things that are easily eight thousand times more exciting than standing around telling the Watcher what middle-aged Super-Heroes are doing. Actually, forget best issue--this might be the best thing ever.

Runaways #17: I'm really running out of ways to talk about how Runaways is one of the prettiest on the stands, but the fact remains: Alphona, Yeung, and Strain work together better than almost any art team out there, and that's a fact. Of course, aside from being a gorgeous comic, the storyline with the new Pride kicks up again, this time with a shock ending that has me questioning whether the spoilerific pages from Marvel Previews really spoiled all that much after all. My money's on yes, but still: I'm not so sure anymore, and as a reader, that's a good way to be.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #7: If you do not like this comic, you do not love life. That is all.

Solo #11: Sergio Aragon├ęs: Over on his weekly MySpace Bulletin, Brian K. Vaughan referred to Solo as "consistently the best comic DC is publishing," which I thought was a little weird. For me, the quality of Solo seems to be based solely in whether or not I like the artist behind it. I liked the Darwyn Cooke, Paul Pope, and Mike Allred issues a heck of a lot, but the rest of them left me completely cold. Still, though, inconsistency is hardly a concern when it's Sergio Aragon├ęs, who is always amazing. The stories are funny and fascinating, but although I like Mark Evanier a lot usually, I could've done without the story where he relentlessly bashes the idea that a guy who dresses up like a bat to fight criminals might not be the most stable guy in the world, something I've seen him do before with a similar lack of enjoyment. But considering that you also get Sergio's true-life stories and a history of the Irish soldiers who fought for Mexico, it's a reasonable trade-off.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #19

X-Factor #8: This is the book that keeps proving month in and month out that when Peter David is good, he is very good. The way he crafts the stories with these random-but-interconnected events that seem to funnel through Layla Miller--who spends the entire issue sitting on a curb reading Ayn Rand and having an amazing conversation with Quicksilver, fending off his insanity with the tenets of objectivism. Steve Ditko would be proud.

Young Avengers #12: So, for the record: The Young Avengers and the New Avengers--featuring Spider-Man's good costume--team up and slug it out with two different alien races who are also battling each other in the skies above Manhattan. So yeah. I loved it.


Edu-Manga: Anne Frank: My mother has been teaching The Diary of Anne Frank to 8th Graders for years, and yet I'm pretty sure she's never thought of using a book where Astro Boy narrates the story--And if there's a beter way than that, I'd like to see it. I mean, I guess you could probably just read the original story, but that probably doesn't have a picture of Astro Boy defending the very concept of Judaism from hopping-mad swastikas:

Eternals by Jack Kirby HC: The fact that the cover says "STILL only $75!" is almost funny enough to offset the fact that this thing actually costs $75. Still, it's a big old slab of mid-70s Kirby, and while I could read the New Gods all day (and really ought to get around to doing that), I've never been able to sit down and do the same with the Eternals. But now, should the mood strike me, I've got it all.

Plus, as you probably noticed, it involves THE TOMB OF THE SPACE GODS. Excitement!

Mail Order Ninja v.1: I'll cop to ordering this based solely on the title, but it actually turned out to be pretty entertaining, especially for a six-dollar price tag. Young Timmy McAlister loves Ninjas--as well he should--and has the fortune to be living in a world where you can win the service of an elite invisible assassin for an entire year from the equivalent of the Things You Never Knew Existed catalog. Hilarity, along with at least one attempt at ritual suicide, ensues. Every character comes from the cookie-cutter mold of a standard children's book, and while it doesn't take the kind of risks that would put it in the same class as, say, Spiral Bound, the risks it does take with the kid's book formula turn out pretty well more often than not, and it ends up actually being a solid read that's good for the kids. Assuming that the kids like unstoppable shadow warriors, which they should.


DC: The New Frontier Blackhawk Action Figure

Justice League Season 2 DVD

Superman: The Animated Series Season 2 DVD
: Both of these DVD sets feature something that always makes everything better: A big frigg'n fight with Darkseid.

"Had I known the death of one human would pain you so much, I would have killed more...
And kill more I shall."

That guy is rad.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you absolutely sure that isn't Grey and Palmiotti writing Hex in that Freedom Fighters story?

Take a second look at Uncle Sam - sure looks an awful lot like a famous movie cowboy (albeit a lot older, like in Unforgiven...)

6/30/2006 4:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Action Comics was good stuff, but does it bug anybody else that Superman's sleeves are too long? He doesn't get chilly. It doesn't look cool. He's not a teenage girl. Get Ma Kent to take in the sleeves already.

6/30/2006 4:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really tempted to get that edumanga, just to see what the rest of it is like. If it's any good I'll donate it to my rabbi...

And Young Avengers had one of the best pulled-off twists yet, and it finally gave me a reason to accept Wolverine as one of the Avengers.

6/30/2006 7:35 AM

Blogger Phil Looney said...

>>Palmiotti and Gray's Freedom Fighters is not about Jonah Hex and is therefore pretty uninteresting.

I'm surprised you didn't like it. I thought it was pretty good. It has a guy sayingf "Back off, I am the Human Bomb" and then some fights with Nazis.

How do you not find that interesting?

6/30/2006 8:37 AM

Blogger googum said...

Man, I hated Brave New World more than I hated Countdown. I'm still mildly hopeful for Creeper, though.

How is the Blackhawk figure? I was thinking about it...

6/30/2006 10:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Creeper story was surprisingly interesting, considering how every Niles comic I've read what wasn't co-writte by Rob Zombie for featured giant Nazi robots has bored me to tears.

Seriously, that's the cover for the Eternals HC? That's hilarious. Not sure I'll buy it, but that's hilarious.

Now if only we could get hardcovers of 2001 and Machine Man...

6/30/2006 10:40 AM

Blogger JG said...

" It's eighty pages for one dollar, so there's really no reason to buy this"

Of course there is: if it's crap. See Greg's review of Countdown to Infinite Crisis at Comics Should be Good for more on why this is not a good mentality to have when looking for comics.

6/30/2006 12:16 PM

Blogger Scott said...

Want to know what's even funnier than Gideon Mace thinking he can take on Luke Cage with a mace prosthesis?

Evidently, the mace has *switched sides*. Look in any old appearance of the character, and it's the right hand that's replaced by a mace; whereas in the illustration you show, it's his left.

Did he get a hand transplant, lose the other hand, and replace that one with a mace? Or are Superboy's punches affecting Earth-616 remotely now?

6/30/2006 2:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who's read the Luke Cage Essential, I can happily report to you that Gideon Mace was about as effective at fighting Luke Cage as you would expect a man with a mace for a hand to be.

Of course, in the course of that trade, Luke also fought villains like Steeplejack, a disgruntled construction worker with a vendetta against his boss; a midget acrobat out for revenge against his father's partner, and Discus, a high school athlete who's superpower is having a SUPERPOWERFUL DISCUS that somehow manages to hurt Luke Cage, this actually made Gideon one of Luke's better opponents. Sheesh.

6/30/2006 3:03 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Cheeseburger: As my friend Scott once put it, "reading a bad comic is still better than digging a ditch."

The idea that I shouldn't take a chance on a comic that's four times the size of a normal single and a third the price seems pretty weird, especially since I figure I got my money's worth in the Atom story and the opportunity to make a joke about Steve Niles stealing someone's girlfriend.

There's always the chance--however remote--that I'll sit down and find myself really enjoying the Bruce Jones OMAC story, and at an incredibly reduced price point, the risk I'm taking by trying it out is minimal.

Despite my best efforts, my opinions have yet to be ratified into law, so the fact that I didn't find anything worth reading about in Freedom Fighters doesn't mean you won't, and if nothing else, it's got the Human Bomb blowing up nazis.

Cheap + Variety + Eighty Pages / Quality = Worth about a buck.

6/30/2006 3:46 PM

Blogger JG said...

Yeah I see your point. I haven't read it so I don't know what the format is. Are they complete stories or is it like 10 pages of each of those series' first issues where it says "check out the stunning conclusion in (insert title here) #1!" because the latter would be lame to the nth degree.

6/30/2006 7:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally loved Arkham Asylum.

I've read the trade so many times I should go by another.

6/30/2006 8:40 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

They seem to be reasonably self-contained eleven pagers, with cliffhangerish endings. If they do end up getting reprinted in the first issue, I fully agree with you on that lameness, but from the looks of it, they just lead in.

6/30/2006 8:50 PM

Blogger JG said...

That's not too bad then. If DC does this on a regular basis and does it properly, it can be a nice way to get the flavour of a title before digging in to a monthly book.

6/30/2006 9:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's eighty pages for one dollar, so there's really no reason to buy this, even if the list of writers on it--with the exception of Gail Simone--reads like my own personal rogues gallery."

That sentence would make much more sense if it read "there's really no reason NOT to buy this, ...". Or at least it would to me.

The Atom story was probably worth a dollar to me. I am cautiously interested in the Freedom Fighters story, but the book probably saved me $3 by allowing me to ignore the Martian Manhunter mini that I was on the fence about without even getting a single issue. When the preview basically boils down to "EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG!", I can wait for the trade to show up at my local library to see if I even want to own it. That alone might have made the book worth a dollar to me, even without the Atom story.

7/04/2006 7:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not like anybody actually needs me to say this, but the Adam Hughes covers for Catwoman have been awesome lately.

I had a customer purchase that book proudly SOLELY for the little baidaid on Catwoman's nose. He thought it was priceless and put his money on the counter for it.

AH!, indeed

7/06/2006 1:26 AM

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9/18/2011 6:34 AM


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