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Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Week in Ink: 9-13-06

Allow me, if I may, to use this week's panel of kicking as a metaphor for recent events in the comics blogger internet:

On the right, we have self-righteous internet loudmouth James Meeley, who earlier this week claimed ownership of the internet and editorial control over every blog thereupon. And on the left, we have what essentially amounts to the entire comics blogger internet rising as one to explain to him that this is reasonably idiotic. Still, let me know how that whole owning the internet thing works out for you.

What does this have to do with my reviews of comics for the second week of September, 2006? Nothing! But it's way funnier than the stuff I usually write an intro about. Now face front, soldier! We got comics incoming!


52: Week Nineteen: Everyone seems to have loved this issue of 52, and while it's certainly one of the better ones to come down the pike (aside from some odd, clearly-rushed art by Pat Olliffe in places), it suffers from a severe lack of Dr. Magnus and his band of fantastic Metal Men--some of whom, I'm told, can remain liquid at room temperature--and therefore fell a little short for me. What can I say, I have specific tastes.

That aside, the story's main focus on Skeets and Dan Carter, who provided us with the funniest punchline of the series so far last issue, is definitely enjoyable. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the sequences with Pope Lobo, where the dialogue was, at best, a chore, even if it did prove a lot of us right about the Emerald Eye of Ekron. That could just be me and my stated bias against everyone's favorite Czarnian, and this issue's Origin of Animal Man more than makes up for it, consider that it's got Brian Bolland drawing the single best pair of goggles in comics. Man, I love those things.

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #44: Not only would "Conan Under the Sea" have made a better theme for my senior prom than "An Evening In Paris," it also makes for an incredibly entertaining take on Aquaman. I've really been enjoying it since it kicked off, and this issue's no exception, as it features our teenage hero (who looks to be in his mid-forties, in a minor quibble I have with the otherwise fantastic art that might just be a throwback to movies like I Was A Teenage Werewolf) shouting about breaking peoples' faces and teaming up with the Sea Devils to fight Ocean Master, who seems to have gotten over his whole my-trident-was-cursed-by-Neron phase. It's great, it's fun, it's action-packed, and while there's not a whole lot of competition, it's the best Aquaman I've ever read by far.

Captain America #21: This year's Captain America 65th Anniversary Special was one of my favorite Cap stories in a while, so it follows pretty logically that "21st Century Blitz" has been my favorite story in Ed Brubaker's run so far, especially seeing as it's got Cap jumping off a rooftop to fight a giant laser-blasting robot from the Middle Ages resurrected by the Red Skull. It's like he's writing exactly what I want to see. And it's not just the story, either: Steve Epting and Carlos D'Armata are producing some amazing art that fits the book perfectly, and it's shaping up to be one of my favorite runs on the character, even with an absolutely stunning lack of MODOK and Batroc the Leaper (who, by the way, is great in next week's Union Jack). If you haven't already, try it out. It's good stuff.


Casanova #4: Noted Abraham Lincoln fan Matt Fraction and Gabriel Bá have what's rapidly becoming the best value in comics--and that's only partly because it costs a dollar less than anything else.

Four isssues in, and it's unquestionably the best one yet, as Fraction's wild, machine-gun-style rate of a new idea on every page has evened out into a fantastic issue formula, and this one works amazingly well in a story that combines a heist, life-or-death casual sporting wagers, illusion, magic, and religion into sixteen pages of pure comics joy, and I absolutely love it. Even beyond the main story, Fraction's "backmatter" content in this one is a great read in itself, and stands as one of those rare occasions where a writer talking about the inspiration for a story is almost as enjoyable as the story itself.

Bá's art, of course, is smooth as silk, with great panels that work with everything from Zephyr shrouded in a cloud of snakes to the brief, iconic fight sequence between Casanova Quinn--who, if you're just joining the party, is an international thief turned interdimensional double-agent--and the New Buddha (see above). It's just excellent, excellent stuff, and for two bucks a pop, it's one of those comics you owe it to yourself to read.

DMZ #11: With as much as I loved the initial, in media res storytelling that Brian Wood launched the series with, I'm a little surprised that I've liked the recent storylines--which deal largely with revealing the backstory of the Second American Civil War--as much as I have. Not that much of a surprise, anyway, because Wood's been amazingly solid with the storytelling on this book since day one. This issue in particular focuses on the Secret Origin of Zee, and features some phenomenal art by guest penciller Kristian Donaldson, who recently teamed with Wood on SuperMarket. I enjoyed that book a lot, and with this one, it's interesting to see Kristian's pencils colored with a much more varied palette, and they ended up reminding me a lot of Ryan Kelley's work on another Brian Wood collaboration, Demo. But, you know, with more explosions. And needless to say, that's a very good thing.

The Escapists #3: Brian K. Vaughan's Pride of Baghdad came out this week, and while I've heard a lot of good things about it, I oped out of picking it up myself. Sorry, Brian, but with 1001 Nights of Snowfall, The Black Dossier, and two Absolute Editions hitting the shelves in the near future, I had to wait for softcover for something After this and Ex Machina, though, I was starting to regret it: This series is not turning out at all like I thought it was going to. It's actually a lot more awesome, from last issue's blindsiding climax--easily one of my favorite last pages in recent memory--to Steve Rolston's pitch-perfect art for the book. Plus, this one's got a cover by John Cassaday, and, well, we all know how I feel about that guy.

Ex Machina #23: I toyed with the idea of taking the above review and just swapping out the titles and names of creators, but you people deserve slightly better than that. I think. Regardless, Ex Machina's been good for almost two full years now, and that's not a record that changes with this issue, although I do think this is the first time Mitchell Hundred's had a Lynchian hallucination of a talking dog wearing a tuxedo giving him vague clues about his destiny, and, well, I like that sort of thing. I like dancing backwards-talking midgets better, mind, but I like it nonetheless.

Fables #53: One of the things that Bill Willingham excels at in the pages of Fables--aside from his uncanny ability to dredge up forgotten, yet totally radical characters from obscure German folktales, a talent he shares with Mike Mignola--is the seemingly effortless way he takes those fairy-tale characters and fleshes them out into a fully-formed, relevant cast. And in this case, as the Adversary calls a Council of War to decide what to do with Fabletown, that seems to revolve around making them terrifying. Mark Buckingham's art is astounding in this one, too, especially in the way he renders the cold, enjoyably vicious smirks of the Snow Queen as she reveals her plan. In other words, it's another issue of Fables, just as phenomenal as the last, but with a fun backup story with art by Josh Middleton, too.

Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #29: Were I a lesser man, I would use this space every month to go on at interminable length about Mikail Arkadin (alias Pozhar), Svarozich (a Russian clone of Firestorm that was once merged with Ronnie Raymond to form the goofy, childlike Firestorm that fought during Invasion), and Mikail's neice, who championed the people of Russia as a member of Soyuz (or was that the People's Heroes? No, definitely Soyuz). Of course, there are two, maybe three people in the world who would actually want to read that, so I'll pass, and just mention that I'm really getting a kick out of this book.

Incredible Hulk #98: I absolutely love Planet Hulk--and I'm planning on loving the bejeezus out of World War Hulk, too--but at this point, it's not just that I think it's the best Hulk story in fifteen years; I actually think it might be the sole reason Greg Pak was put on this planet to begin with. And brother, this one's got it all, including the Hulk not only fighting a small army of bugs and being lauded as the messiah (or possibly destroyer) by the downtrodden people of Sakaar, but also throwing down with the Oldstrong in a sequence where Aaron Lopresti draws the kind of thunderous double-knockout punch that leaves a crater. And that, my friends, can only be called... Mantloesque.

Phonogram #2: The only reason I declared the first issue to be the best of the week and not the second is quite simply this: At no point in Phonogram #2 does our erstwhile protagonist compare himself to Henry Rollins. Of course, that doesn't mean that this isn't a good comic--it's great. Kohl's pretentious, Constantine-like mannerisms are as enjoyable here as they were in the first, and with the addition of the honest, reasonably oblivious Kid-With-Knife as his sidekick, they may actually work better for the contrast. The high point of this one, aside from the appearance of the Phonomancer's mortal enemy, is, of course, Jamie McKelvie's rendition of Kohl's information-overload explanation of who the Manic Street Preachers are and how they came to be, a band that I immediately assumed was fictional, right up until I got to Kieron Gillen's glossary of terms, presumably put there for people who, like me, are far less indie than David Kohl.

What can I say? I spent my childhood listening exclusively to metal and 70s funk.

Regardless, it's a great sequence that stands out even in book that's well-done all around. It's great stuff, and you should give it a try. If nothing else, you'll have the urge to hear that Kenickie song they talk about in the first issue, and I've gotta say: It's a catchy tune.

Ultimate X-Men #74: As excited I was to see Robert Kirkman come on this book (although I enjoyed Brian K. Vaughan's run and its "ultimatization" of Longshot), I've got to say: "Magical" was a pretty big letdown. A character with reality warping powers--which, incidentally, is pretty similar to Freedom Ring, recently stabbed-in-the-face to death over in Kirkman's Marvel Team-Up--is pretty tricky to handle and an easy one to fall flat with. I appreciate the "twist ending," but, well, it didn't do much for me. Here's hoping it gets better.

Wasteland #3: I'm not sure what it is about the post-apocalyptic/future Western subgenre, but I love those things. Daisy Kutter, Trigun, Firefly, all things that I really enjoy, and Antony Johnston and Christopher Mitten's Wasteland is shaping up to be as enjoyable as the best of them. It's a book that so far has pulled a lot of the same tricks that the genre invites--and in some cases, almost demands--but with Johnston's scripts, even the desert-walking loner with shady connections to the technological caravan nomads doesn't seem like a cliché, and as odd as it was to type all that out, it's a trope that comes up a lot in these sorts of things. With this, though, there's so much added and mixed into the old standards that it comes off as a surprisingly enjoyable and fun read.

And, you know, just in case anybody at Oni spots this, I really like those t-shirts in the letters page. Just, uh, just sayin'.


Doom Patrol v.4: Musclebound: For a while, I wasn't sure if these issues were going to make it into trade paperback, considering the litigious proclivities of a certain Mr. Atlas that have kept Flex Mentallo from being reprinted all these years, but here it is! It's a Christmas Miracle! I haven't gotten around to reading it yet--what with the fact that it came out yesterday and all--but I am pretty excited about it, and I'm going to go ahead and make the educated guess that it won't be very much like the Teen Titans Go! issue I read a few days ago where the Doom Patrol guest-starred. Just a thought.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No offense, but I can't imagine a bunch of comics bloggers having that much political clout.

"Feel my Potato Chip fueled rage!"

9/15/2006 2:38 AM

Blogger antony said...

"I really like those t-shirts in the letters page."

Best get writing to the letters page, then, hadn't you? ;)

9/15/2006 3:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last season of the Teen Titans cartoon had an extended storyline involving the Doom Patrol and the Brotherhood of Evil, which sounds cool but wasn't.

The Doom Patrol was a militaristic and humourless group of losers, and The Brotherhood of Evil, a group made up entirely of super-geniuses, behaved like a bunch of morons.

Also, Madame Rouge was depicted as an unstopable terminator-esque character, which really didn't make a lot of sense.

It annoyed me way more then it should have, because I loves me some Doonm Patrol, and I want a Doom Patrol cartoon.

I'm glad the new collection's out; the last one frustrated me because I neverr read Doom Patrol as individual issues, and all the Flex Mentallo/Pentagon stuff seemed WAY more interesting then the Judge Rock storyline.

9/15/2006 8:57 AM

Blogger Edward Liu said...

christopher said: "The Doom Patrol was a militaristic and humourless group of losers, and The Brotherhood of Evil, a group made up entirely of super-geniuses, behaved like a bunch of morons."

Yes, but the deadpan electronic voice of the Brain (which sounded suspiciously like it was done by running a script through text-to-speech on a Mac) was both stunningly hilarious and slightly creepy at the same time.

However, I agree that the last season of Teen Titans was far lesser than anything they had done before. I still enjoyed it, though I'm glad that they didn't try very hard for another season.


Um, this has nothing to do with anything above, does it? Hrm. The Escapists is indeed more wildly awesome than I ever thought it would be, proving again that I should know better than to try not buying something with Brian K. Vaughan's name on it. I knew Greg Pak in college and he is an astonishingly cool guy in addition to being a nifty writer of stuff, even if I'm waiting for the trade on Planet Hulk. And I'm idly wondering if I'll like Phonogram considering I don't like or have never heard of the bands that the comics blogosphere seems to like. I'm an old-timey jazz and blues fan myself.

9/15/2006 9:21 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Best get writing to the letters page, then, hadn't you? ;)

Touché, sir.

9/15/2006 9:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You missed Rokkin #3, where someone got his face bit off in a barfight.

9/15/2006 3:59 PM

Blogger James Meeley said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/15/2006 6:20 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

James, you're not Coppernicus being forced to say the world is flat here, okay? You're telling people what they can and cannot put on their blogs, and that's a little bit out of your scope. You simultaneously claim to have absolute control over your blog--including the people who read it--and control over what other people put on theirs. That's patently fucking ridiculous, and what's worse, you're being a petulant child about it.

Ragnell told you not to comment on her blog. That's fine, as it's her blog, and quite honestly, you were being incredibly condescending at times. You want to tell her not to comment on your blog, that's fine. You can start up the Ancient and Honorable Society of No Ragnells Or Kalinaras if you want to--it's your blog. But the content of someone else's is out of your hands, bucko.

The best you can do at this point is drop it, man up, and go on about your business.

9/15/2006 6:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"James, you're not Coppernicus being forced to say the world is flat here, okay?"

Ha Ha! Historical inaccuracy!

Well, I guess that's why you stick to reading comic books and WWE novels.

9/15/2006 8:27 PM

Blogger Cullen Waters said...

"I'm not trying to control their content at their blog. Honestly I'm not. But when MY blog is the content, I should have a say in it."

How is this not a contradiction in terms?

You've had your "say". They said "No" and explained why. They didn't insult you about, call you names, or anything of the sort.

Meanwhile, since they thwarted your will, you've been abusive and snotty towards them and towards those who dared to disagree with you. In continuing to demand them take the link down, you are most definitely dictating what they can and can't do on their site, as well as deciding what is proper for the Web at large.

The real shame here is that I don't think at any point anyone will ever be able to show you that you are wrong. You're so wrapped up in your hatred you can't even see how petty you're being. If you insist on continuing to carp on this insignificant point, you're only going to paint yourself as an insufferable twit.

I don't know. Maybe you are.

But for a man who says he wants an audience, you seem to have no idea on how to either get one or maintain one.

9/15/2006 8:27 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Jimbo, you've cast yourself in the role of Man-Against-The-World, when what you really are is Man-Against-Making-Sense. Linking someone's blog is not co-opting content, especially in the case of WFA, where it is just a link, with no commentary offered on content whatsoever.

I've stated my point rather clearly at least twice now: You want to tell other people what they can and cannot post on their blogs, end of story. That's ridiculous, especially given that your basis for the argument is that ONLY YOU CONTROL YOUR BLOG.

Do you still not see the fatal flaw in this reasoning? Is it that hard to get your head around? It's not a matter of respect, it's a matter of you forcing your will on someone else's content: YOU want them to make a change in theirs. That's editorial control. THEY just want to post whatever they want to. The rights and wrongs of the situation are clear, and have nothing to do with any imaginary betrayals or enemies lists that you might have.

You say you don't expect everyone to agree with you, but considering that you're failing utterly to make a point that's neither ludicrous nor hypocritical, I'm legitimately shocked that you expecty anyone to agree with you out of anything other than spite. And you say that you're taking advice on the matter, but I'm certainly not seeing any evidence of it. Every time you post, it's just another invitation for someone to make fun of you for the thorough nonsense underlying your argument. It doesn't hold up, pal, and it's not just me saying this.

Mike Sterling's one of the most levelheaded and affable comics bloggers around. He's known for it. And even he says you're missing the point of the whole internet, which is that you are putting your ideas in a public forum. It's this crucial piece of information that you seem completely unable to grasp, instead retreating further and further into some grand illusion that sees you as a persecuted iconoclast battling injustice rather than the whiny, attention-whoring nimrod that the stated evidence has led everyone else to see you as.

You're not Hamlet. You're not taking up arms against a sea of troubles, and despite your claims to the contrary, you could easily drop it and, (to complete the metaphor) by not opposing, end them.

Face it, Tiger: You're clinging desperately to a sinking ship that's both devoid of logic and based entirely on you throwing a temper tantrum like a two year old. And I say this as a noted revenge enthusiast and advocate of grudge-holding: Let it go.

Points stated. Lines drawn. Thanks for coming, and I sincerely hope I won't have to explain this again. It's rapidly losing its comedic value, despite what appear to be your best efforts to keep it hilarious.

9/15/2006 8:42 PM

Blogger Cullen Waters said...

Oh. Shit. My first comment on this blog and it's critiquing a commenter and not talking about the blog.

This is a great site. I enjoy reading here immensely.


God, talk about not having courtesy. Jeez. Sorry.

9/15/2006 9:08 PM

Blogger Cullen Waters said...

And now even the comment I was commenting on is deleted.

Don't know how to feel about that.

9/15/2006 9:51 PM

Blogger Steven said...


I've been staying out of this since, well, you usually can say in a sentence what I need to a long form take down to say.

And now I learn your long form take downs are better as well.

Fuck man, stop that.


9/16/2006 12:30 AM

Blogger Gordon D said...


Remind me never to get on your bad side - you were much more eloquent and reasonable than I would have been.


9/16/2006 8:54 AM

Blogger SallyP said...

Poor poor James. He does seem to have something of a history of this. I would wager that in a few weeks, he'll be back on yet another blog, posting merrily posting his wit and wisdom and we can all start again.

9/16/2006 12:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I just finished reading Doom Patrol v4, and I got to say, Chris, if you don't make a post about the Beard Hunter, a bit my soul will die.

9/16/2006 12:21 PM

Blogger Phil Looney said...

You didn't like Lone? I thougt it was great. Easily the best book in the now defunct "Rocket" line from Dark Horse, though I guess that isn't saying much.

That book had radioactive zombies, before zombies were in every comic.

9/17/2006 12:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris, you meant Galileo and not Copernicus.


9/17/2006 5:28 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Yeah yeah yeah. Buncha nerds around here, I swear.

9/18/2006 11:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, though, who really listens to metal? I thought everybody was just pretending, and we all secretly loved Depeche Mode.

Maybe that was just me.

9/20/2006 5:47 AM


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