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Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Week in Ink: 7-12-06


I told you: He's destroying everything. Fortunately, I was able to save the ISB's comic book reviews for the second week of July, thus ensuring that you won't have to go without my completely unnecessary loudmouth opinions on this week's offerings!

So saddle up, laddios! The Missile Men are on the attack, and this one's for all the marbles!

52: Week Ten: History of the DCU with Donna Troy and the Floating Golden Dodgeball has gone from "well, it's not as good as I wanted it to be" to "Dear God, when will the hurting stop?!" in record time, thanks largely to Donna's weepy-eyed mooning over Terry Long last week, along with the fact that it's gotten up to a completely unnecessary recap of Infinite Crisis in this issue (which, as you well know by now, I already did). Thankfully, next week's the last installment, and we can all move onto happier things, like an all-new Metamorpho origin with art by Eric Powell next month, just in time for my birthday. As for the main story, Supernova shows up, and Black Adam's new cape is snazzy, but the most exciting thing part of the issue is, of course, two aging scientists talking to each other through a plexiglass wall.

DMZ #9: Brian Wood's characterization of Matty Roth has been a pretty solid portrait of a gutsy young reporter since the series began, but the scene in this issue where he goes alone to the rooftop and tells the US army to come and get him just to prove to himself that he's being paranoid about being bugged? That is darned exciting comics right there. And that's no surprise, considering that Wood and Burchielli haven't made a misstep yet in DMZ. "Body of a Journalist" is continuing to be highly enjoyable, which owes a lot to the fact that Wood's keeping the story moving at a surprisingly brisk pace, instead of decompressing a smaller story into a longer format, like I was worried about. Which, really, was my mistake. My bad.


The Escapists #1: I'm going out on a limb here, but I won't hesitate to say that Dark Horse's Escapist books are unquestionably the best comics based on Pulitzer Prize-winning novels being published today. And even among those, The Escapists is a standout.

The only problem that it could run up against is that Brian K. Vaughan is extrapolating from a pretty stern legacy: Kavalier and Clay didn't win the Pulitzer for nothin', and from the looks of things, Vaughan's telling a pretty similar story in this. But by the same token, with Kavalier and Clay, it was a story about the creation of something new at the dawn of comics (when everything was new) and World War II. With this, though, the focus seems to be more on the idea of perpetuating and revitalizing a forgotten mythology rather than creating one, and it's set against the backdrop of a time when nostalgia for the way comics "used to be" is a pretty big movement in the industry.

There's a lot of namedropping, though, from the main character's mentions of Brians Bendis and Azzarello over the establishing shot to Case's standard-issue punk-chick taste in indy books (which mirrors the scene with Yorick's "Fuck Communism" lighter in Vaughan's Y - The Last Man), and that's annoying enough that it still stuck out when I finished reading it. To be fair, though it works in the context of the story as "comics reader shorthand" to tell you a lot of what you need to know in a short amount of time; by the end of page one, we know that Maxwell Roth talks about comics a lot, and he's done enough research to know more about certain creators than just what issues of Batman they wrote.

Despite that shortcoming, though, it's a very enjoyable story, and the art by the awesome Philip Bond (with "flashback"-ish sequences by the awesome and underrated Eduardo Barreto) is worth the price of admission alone. Which is, in case you missed it one thin dollar, meaning that you really don't have a reason to not to buy this. Do so immediately.

Fables #51: Hot on the heels of last month's Best-of-the-Year contender, Bill Willingham and guest artist Shawn McManus come back with an issue that surprises absolutely nobody by being thoroughly enjoyable. It's a great little caper story that, even as a standalone issue, advances the ongoing plot of the book and deals with the interesting setup elements from the last issue, and that's exactly how these things ought to work. McManus's art, too, is fantastic in this issue, although to be fair, I can't really say I cared for Doctor Fate. Here, his work fits the series perfectly while being just enough of a departure from Mark Buckingham to highlight the lighthearted (for the most part) tone of a story where Cinderella skydives off of the magic beanstalk while reminiscing about killing for hire.

Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #27: This Issue: Jason Rusch Gets All Peter Parkered Up! Yes, the inevitable complications with his lady friend finally hit home due to his can't-win super-hero shennanigans, but really: That's what everybody likes about Firestorm. He's a Marvel-style character so utterly steeped in the DC Universe that he's got the metagene and a crazy Swamp Thing style origin. Anyway, the mystery of Martin Stein's disappearance gets (mostly) wrapped up in this one, along with two last-page shockers and a tantalizing Next Issue blurb. If you want anything from Firestorm, this is it. Unless of course you want Multiplex and the Zuggernaut, but trust me: You probably don't.

Iron Man #10: Even though I know intellectually that I probably shouldn't, I'm still enjoying this story-arc, because honestly: Aside from going down into his basement to build himself new Nuclear Underpants, a bad guy taking over Iron Man technology and necessitating a future Tony Stark flipout is my favorite thing to see in Iron Man. But seriously: Is there no-one in the Marvel Universe right now going: "Iron Man supports the Registration Act? You mean that dude who killed a bunch of people last week?" Anyone? At all?

JLA Classified #24: So apparently, the Detroit League's boundless popularity is such that their story needs to be told on a biweekly basis. Yeah, I don't know why either. All I know is that I might have waited my entire life to see the phrase: "The Thrilling Conclusion, With Gypsy in the Spotlight!" in a Next Issue box, and now that I have, I feel a little empty.

Street Fighter II #4: So is the third volume of Udon's Street Fighter comic going to be called Street Fighter II Turbo? Because that would actually be pretty awesome. Although not as awesome as Corey Lewis's "Cheap Shots" backup in this issue, which explains the subtle differences between Ken and Ryu in a way that can only be described as "rad."

Superman #654: Before I get started here, I just want to say that this cover is awesome, if for no other reason than that Carlos Pacheco included the guy flipping out in the foreground there. Incredible. Anyway, as much as I like Pacheco's Superman--and I do like him a lot, especially when he's flying around hitting things, which is what I paid to see--there's just no getting around it: What is up with Lois's hair? Does anyone else think it looks like somebody dropped a bucket of paint on her head? Is it just me? Okay, that said, this issue's pretty enjoyable, especially with the return of a pretty exciting villain, although the enjoyably sentimental subplot has just a little too much "Can you read my mind? Do you know how you make me feel?" for my tastes.

The Walking Dead #29: It's always weird to say this, since I think Walking Dead is always generally well-done, but man: I hope this book ends soon. I like Robert Kirkman a lot (as evidenced by the fact that I buy everything the guy writes), but this title stopped being able to hold my interest a while back, and now just seems to frustrate me more than anything else. I think it's a function of the storyline itself, because honestly: the undead, being as they symbolize the inescapable nature of death that eventually catches us all, are only interesting for about two hours into the Zombie Apocalypse, which is why most movies end there. In Kirkman's case, however, it's been two and a half years, and in order to keep things moving along, Kirkman's introduced the last plot I really think he needs: A villain. Plus, we have Michonne, The Living Shorthand, who first appeared wielding the 90s Symbol of Toughness (a katana), and who is currently undergoing the 2000-era symbol for Female Toughness: being raped and, presumably, overcoming it as a testament to her ability to deal with trauma. Which again, is the same problem: When you've already got your built-in symbols of horror and death, there's no need to pile more on top of it. Obviously, Kirkman's going for The Worst Thing That Can Happen To Her™, but even as brutal as it's depicted here, it's become such a tired cliche that it sparks almost no reaction in me whatsoever, other than the thought that he's been around long enough to know better than to go that route with a hackneyed plot twist that leaves the reader (or at least, this reader) rolling his eyes at the banality of it. So for me, at least, it's outlived its welcome.

The Riverdale Experiment

I haven't writing much about the Riverdale Experiment lately, but that's mostly due to teh fact that by the tiem I get around to this section, it's four in the morning and I'd much rather go to sleep than list the Archie comics I bought that week. Plus, it's mostly gotten to the point wheret here's not much new to say about them, except that I'm pretty sure Johanna Draper Carlson is going to have a fun time reviewing the issue where Archie helps otu with Dilton's science camp, where an Asian kid builds a Transformer.

This week, though, came one of my least favorite subjects so far, with Veronica #172. And it's mostly because Hiram Lodge is a total dick. I mean really: Veronica goes to Summer School, but then convinces Ms. Grundy to hold classes outside, which ends up helping everyone study better and improves there grades. But when Mr. Lodge finally comes to the school and Ms. Grundy tells him that Veronica helped everyone learn new things, he pretty much says: "What? Veronica? But she's stupid and worthless!" What a jerk.

The other reason why I brought this one to your attention? Riverdale's Newest Landmark.

And I was surprised when I found out they had a diamond exchange.


Invincible: The Ultimate Collection v.2: See? I really do like Robert Kirkman. And for my money (which in this case is thirty-five bucks for twelve issues and an FCBD story), Invincible is his best work by far, especially with the fantastic talents of Ryan Ottley, Bill Crabtree, and Cory Walker, who has the best creator bio I have ever read.

The Metal Men Archives v.1: See last night's post. I eded up reading the entire book today, and from the Missile Men who want to make Platinum their bride to the giant Robot Queen of Space who wanted to make an evil version of Tin her husband, to the fact that the Metal men sacrifice their lives to save the world in every single issue, I had only one thought: I am going to get so much mileage out of this thing.

Project X: Cup Noodle: I'm not sure why this comic--which celebrates the Japanese businessman in ways that most of the comics I read celebrate vigilantes and barbarians--even exists, but I'm glad it does. It's astounding, which is no surprise, being that it's a manga telling the story of how Japan's delicious and portable instant ramen was created. So astounding, in fact, that its awesomeness can only be revealed in a Full ISB Review

Watch for it, True Believer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There's got to be a rule about merging with a student ..."

Trust me, there is.

7/14/2006 3:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even though I give higher marks to Ms. Marvel and X-Men this week, I think the most impressive issue was Superman. In fact, if "Up, Up, and Away" is anything to judge by, I have an idea we'll all be talking about Busiek's run in hushed, reverent tones ten years from now. I don't know how he's going to top Secret Identity, but he just might do it. I could do without Pacheco's Belgian Supermodel Lois and Chinese Shapeshifting Superman, not to mention Dave Stewart's Van Gogh-ish colors (really, dude, stop smudging your paints!)

And if it weren't for Rip Hunter, Will Magnus, and TO Morrow, I'd have ditched 52 four weeks ago. It's time to get with a little bit of actual plot progression here, guys.

7/14/2006 4:43 AM

Blogger Phil Looney said...

>>you really don't have a reason to not to buy this

I did - the shop you work out was sold out when I got there.

7/14/2006 8:20 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

That's weird, I seem to remember that you have a subscription through said store that you can add things to at any time, and that employees of said store are often encouraging you to look through a frigg'n copy of Previews, ya whiner.

7/14/2006 8:48 AM

Blogger Big AL said...

We all like Robert kirkman, some of us are just a little more frugal about it

7/14/2006 12:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What no Ghost Rider?

7/14/2006 1:39 PM

Blogger Phil Looney said...

>>That's weird, I seem to remember that you have a subscription through said store that you can add things to at any time, and that employees of said store are often encouraging you to look through a frigg'n copy of Previews, ya whiner.

Hey, I buy previews every month and plac emy order out of it - but sometimes I miss stuff, or here a good review about something I passed over, and then I want it.

I probably saw this in previews and totally missed that it was $1 - as my bigest gripe with the previous Escapist stuff was that it was like $8 an issue, and then they collected all 3 issues in trade for like $14.

7/14/2006 4:42 PM

Blogger Philip said...

Philip Looney said: "my bigest gripe with the previous Escapist stuff was that it was like $8 an issue, and then they collected all 3 issues in trade for like $14."

It's even worse than that. The Escapist collections are digest-sized reprints of full-sized comics, and each one collects 2 issues. The original issues cost $7.95. So if you get the collections, you're paying an extra $.05 for the privilege of having the art shrunk down.

7/14/2006 5:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I couldn't get past the image of Chemo pissing out of holes in places that can't possibly be sanitary.

7/14/2006 11:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect that when you've committed to the goal of destroying Everything, feasible biology takes a back seat to the doom of your enemies.

Chemo's a trooper.

7/14/2006 11:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sorry, I couldn't get past the image of Chemo pissing out of holes in places that can't possibly be sanitary."

How do you even write that up afterwords?

Somehow I think you're going to get an audit if you spend money to replace tanks that were destroyed when, quote, "A giant peed on them".

Metal Men and Doom Patrol were great comics.

Any superhero who introduces himself by saying "I melt at 106.3 degrees centigrade! An ounce of me can be drawn into a wire 50 miles long! Or hammered into a sheet for millionths of an inch thick!" is a-okay in my book.

I don't suppose there are plans to release an affordable Metal Men collection any time soon?

7/15/2006 3:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pacheco draws Superman as an Asian dude with some sort of eye allergy. Does he miss Dean Cain that much?

7/15/2006 3:27 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Well I like it.

7/16/2006 2:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there no-one in the Marvel Universe right now going: "Iron Man supports the Registration Act? You mean that dude who killed a bunch of people last week?" Anyone? At all?

Nope! The convient excuse we're using this time is that Ellis set the whole Extremis Virus back so late that we're actually reading the past and this storyline should have been over before Civil War started.

So it's not 'last week', it's more like 'a couple of months ago'.

It's how I sleep at night.

7/18/2006 2:15 AM


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