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Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Week In Ink: 2-28-07

For two terrifying weeks, the ISB's weekly comics reviews have been without the Kick of the Week!

For fourteen horrifying days, I've devoted this space to mourning the passing of Nextwave and showcasing what may be the most awesomely terrible cover in Marvel history!

But tonight... IT IS ON!

Ouch. Right in the breadbasket!

And with that, all is once again right in the world of the internet's rowdiest comics reviews! For the completists out there, here's everything I bought (Clip and Save!):

And now, the highlights!


Action Philosophers! #8: The Senseless Violence Spectacular: The record will back me up on this, but if there are two things that we love here at the ISB, it's Action Philosophers! and senseless violence, and I'm happy to report that yes, they are the two great tastes that go great together.

At this point, everyone probably already knows that Action Philosophers! is one of the most enjoyable (and educational!) comics on the stands, but the reasons why have rarely been more evident than in this issue. The best thing about the series as a whole, of course, is the way that Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey boil down the entire life's works of history's greatest thinkers--in this case, Kant, Hegel and Schopenhauer--and present them in such an amazingly accessable and engaging manner, but this issue's "You're A Good Man, John Stuart Mill," a utilitarian Peanuts parody really takes it to new heights. It's worth the price of admission alone, and that's not even mentioning the fact that in this issue, they literally put God on trial.

It's an excellent comic, and it's one of the few that I really believe everyone should be reading, and this one in particular does a great job of showing why I'll buy anything Van Lente and Dunlavey care to put out. So if you haven't already, check out the trades and give them a shot. Now if only it had come out five years ago, I probably wouldn't have failed Philosophy in my sophomore year of college.

Daredevil #94: In today's troubled times, it's comforting to know that a guy like John Romita can still put out such an awesome cover, but while it's easy to look at as just a neat throwback to romance comics, the old-school sensibilities don't stop once you pop the book open. Ed Brubaker structures this one like an old-style Marvel "catch-up" issue, condensing everything you need to know about the last half of Brian Bendis's run and playing it out from Milla Donovan's point of view, and if nothing else, it's a neat narrative trick that makes a fantastic jumping on point as he kicks off the next storyline next month. Of course, I say that like this issue doesn't have anything else going for it, but, well, it's Ed Brubaker and Lee Weeks. Those two guys just get up in the morning and make good comics, and this one's no exception.

Doctor Strange: The Oath #5: It occurred to me while I was reading this issue that I'm well into my third year of daily comics blogging, and yet I've barely mentioned Dr. Strange. Admittedly, I haven't read that much material, and I probably like him more in concept than in execution most of the time, but, heck, there are folks out there who've made an entire blogging career out of it. Even so, the one thing that I have touched on is that when it all comes down to it, Dr. Strange is fully prepared to beat the living crap out of you. And that, for me at least, is what made this issue's climax so rewarding. It's a great ending for everyone involved, and Marcos Martin's art is as beautiful as always. I hate to see Brian K. Vaughan leaving a book I love as much as Runaways, but if there's the possibility of getting more stories like The Oath from the same team, it's a trade-off that's well worth it.

Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #33: This is about as close as it comes to DC publishing exactly the kind of comics that I want: I like Firestorm, I like the New Gods, and I certainly like Dwayne McDuffie, a fact that I've rediscovered thanks to the absolute roll he's been on with Beyond! and that last issue of Fantastic Four. It doesn't disappoint, either: It opens with Mr. Miracle--the Seven Soldiers version of Shilo Norman--pulling off a daring escape, and then segues immediately into Firestorm fighting white supremacists in a scene with the best Firestorm joke I've seen in the entire series.

And I've read Extreme Justice.

It's a fun piece of super-hero pop, and the only problem comes from the art. I didn't really care for Ken Lashley's work on the new Flash title, and while he's pencilling over Dan Jurgens layouts for this issue, there are spots--mostly the slower, talky scenes--that are just rough. It's a little distracting, especially considering how perfect Jamal Igle's art was for the book during the last run, but, well, it's Firestorm vs. the New Gods, and I'd buy that with almost anybody drawing it. Your tastes, however, may vary.

Jack of Fables #8: Collectors, take note! This issue features the first appearance of Aubrey, an overweight blogger who plays a lot of D&D, berates his friends, makes wild assumptions based only partially on fact, and--needless to say--was inspired by none other than Chris Sims. Of course, changes were made for legal purposes, such as the omission of my utter distaste for Star Wars, but the clues are there.

That's... Well, that's not true at all, actually. What is true, though, is that Jack of Fables continues to be one of the most entertaining comics on the stands, and as Jack's adventure with the Pathetic Fallacy in Las Vegas roars in through its second part, the grim humor of the series has never been more apparent. There's a four-page sequence in this one where everything suddenly gets really, really serious--almost to the point where it turns into an issue of Hellblazer--and then suddenly, with one facial expression, Tony Akins drops it right back into the status quo. It's excellent stuff from Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges, and with the release of the first trade, there's never been a better time to jump on.

Jack Staff #13: I've mentioned on more than one occasion that if Jack Staff was coming out monthly, it'd be the best comic on the stands, and with the last three issues dropping on a regular schedule, it now ooks like that might actually be the case. It's a book that pretty much defines everything I love about comic books, so I'm pretty excited about the possibility of getting a regular fix of the stuff, and this issue--which dives headlong onto the slippery slope of alternate realities with Paul Grist's usual innovative, fourth wall-busting page layouts--ought to show you exactly why.

Runaways #24: And with this issue, the world bids farewell to what is easily one of my favorite writer-artist treams in comics today. For the past three years, ever since it kicked off under the illfated "Tsunami" imprint--which, wow, bad timing--Runaways has been one of the most consistently enjoyable books I read, and while I've got confidence that Joss Whedon's going to do okay with this whole "teenagers with super-powers who distrust authority and speak exclusively in snappy dialogue" thing, it's a shame to see them go. Of course, with Vaughan, there's not much to worry about: He's got other stuff going on, and even with Y set to end this year, I doubt that I'll have any trouble finding his work. It's Alphona that I'm really sad to see leave. His art, under the truly phenomenal coloring of Christina Strain has been both amazing and woefully underappreciated, and no matter where he ends up next, I'll want to be there reading.

But enough of the lovefest! As for the issue itself, it's not without its problems--for instance, (Spoiler Warning!) I have no idea why the Gibborim die--but on the whole, it's an excellent bookend for Vaughan and Alphona's run. The last page is a nice surprise that wraps up a mystery and opens up a few possibilities, but it's the last shot of the Runaways themselves that makes a great "freeze-frame" ending to the whole thing. It's excellent comics.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #15: And speaking of long-time creators leaving books, this issue of SMLMJ marks the departure of Takeshi Miyazawa, whose artwork has done a lot of the work of defining the series since its inception, with Sean McKeever soon to follow over the next few months, now that he's signed exclusive to DC. McKeever actually called into the store's Comics Club meeting last month when we were discussing the first two MJ trades, and I asked him if we could expect to see Superman Loves Lois Lane in the future, but from what he said, it doesn't look like that's going to happen, so I guess I'll just have to make the most of my favorite teen melodrama while it lasts.

Not that that's a difficult chore: This issue's another great bit of romance that wraps up the story about Peter Parker's secret, cribbing a plot twist from Kurt Busiek's Untold Tales of Spider-Man (which, incidentally, featured a character named Sean McKeever) and setting it up as a great dynamic for Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane in a way that keeps them both at odds over Peter, but without making either one the villain. Although really, when you get right down to it, Gwen doesn't have a chance.

And that's the week. As always, if you have any questions about something I did or didn't read, or just want to hear the vitriolic screed I'd written about Platinum Studios and their shady business practices (now compounded by the production of a new KISS comic), then scrapped because I figured I ought to go ahead and read Watchdogs before I review it, comments are always welcome.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to stare at that parenthetical aside within a hyphenated aside for a while and try to figure out why people occasionally pay me to write.


Blogger LurkerWithout said...

Does anyone out there have ANY idea what the Pathetic Fallacy is originally from? Someone managed to remind me where I'd read Sam of the "run tigers into butter" gimmick from, but PF aka Gary is someone I just draw a blank on...

3/02/2007 2:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The character or the concept?

Also, Chris, you probably know this already and/or read Newsarama's blog just as much as I do, but Action Philosophers is ending. (As of #9.)

3/02/2007 2:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quick! Someone bring a copy of "The Oath" to Bendis and force him to read it, he might actually *gasp* get Dr. Strange afterwards!

3/02/2007 3:36 AM

Blogger Benito said...

See? Someone else who knows that Jack Staff is totally the best book on the stands. This is why you're the smartest blogger in the sphere, Chris.

I declare this a FLASH FACT.

3/02/2007 4:18 AM

Blogger LurkerWithout said...

Ok, now I remember what I really wanted Sims' opinion on. CW: Frontline and the universes' worst reporter...

3/02/2007 5:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack Staff is about the only comic I wait for the trade of instead of buying the 'monthly'. I am sorely tempted to get each individual issue as well, but...must...stay...strongggg.

But what about that Captain America, eh? He disnae even ken whit Myspace is! Straight to jail, Cap, do not pass go, do not collect comments from your virtual friends.

(echoing lurkerwithout, please do a post about Frontline, Mr. Sims)

3/02/2007 5:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee Weeks did this months Daredevil, not Lark. The art looked so similar, I had to re-read the credits a couple of times.

For me the strangest thing about the new DD was that I stopped reading the book the issue before Typhoid Mary was introduced and only started up when Brubaker took over, yet I was pretty much familiar with everything covered by Mila in her monologue beforehand. Did the Bendis years only have three plot points the whole time?

3/02/2007 6:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris: Thanks for the tip-off on the Daredevil issue. I've been curious about the Bendis/Brubaker Daredevil for some time, and getting a "summary" of what's been going on is just what the doctor ordered. I'll be picking it up today at the shop (a little thing called "winter" delayed my weekly comics fix a few days).

3/02/2007 8:13 AM

Blogger Jeff Rients said...

my utter distaste for Star Wars

It's like I don't even know who you are anymore. *sniff* *choke*


(Runs off sobbing.)

3/02/2007 9:23 AM

Blogger Phil Looney said...

What'd you think of the last two pages of this week's 52?

3/02/2007 9:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

the DareDevil #94 cover moved me too. I cherished it as I bought it.

3/02/2007 9:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see I wasn't the only one confused by the prominent number eight on the cover of JoF #7.

Speaking of JoF, and if I may be so bold as to field the question from lurkerwithout, the pathetic fallacy is actually a term used in literary theory to describe when the environment reacts to the emotions of characters (or simply has emotions at all). You can look it up on wikipedia.

3/02/2007 2:32 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Kate: I thought that was pretty common knowledge? They had an ad in Previews that talked about how they were going to let the fans vote on the subject of their next series, though, and I personally have high hopes for Comic Book Comics, which'll be biographies of comics creators.

Phil: Somebody called it that Sobek was Mr. Mind weeks ago, and this issue seems to bear it out. It all clicked when I read Monster Society of Evil and remembered that Mr. Mind is essentially an unevolved version of his species, which looks like crocodiles. Plus, he's named after a) the God of the Dead, and b) The only dead Wu-Tang member. Saw it comin'.

Jayunderscorezero: According to the indicia, that IS Jack of Fables #8. I looked at my shopping list for the last week of January and saw #7 on that, which is the only one I haven't reviewed.

3/02/2007 5:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris, I think you'd be interested in this book which can be ordered through the most recent Previews:

by Norvell Page
Two complete novels in one volume of the adventures of the mysterious masked crime fighter known as The Spider, hunted by the underworld and the police alike. In the first story, the Spider battles an army of giant robots that has New York City under siege. This story was the inspiration for the major motion picture Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. In the second story, the Spider battles a criminal mastermind threatens the entire northeast with thousands of poison-fanged vampire bats. Will the Spider stop this dreaded Vampire King before thousands die horribly?
SC, 7x10, 316pgs, B&W, $15.00

3/02/2007 7:00 PM

Blogger Mike Haseloff said...

John Stuart Mill has text boobs for eyes.

3/02/2007 11:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Probably it is common knowledge; it's just that I live under a rock. (Or rather, among other things, I don't read Previews.) Ah, well.

3/02/2007 11:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris-Ireally,really want to read the Platinum Studios screed-here,I'll even give you internet cookies. With Sprinkles.

3/03/2007 2:22 AM

Blogger Casey Malone said...

I really, really disliked this issue of Daredevil, especially since so much of it's focus was on catching the reader up that Brubaker completely mishandled Milla's character.

She's a complicated woman, but Brubaker essentially boiled her down to "The cop's wife" who "likes bad boys." As she's one of my favorite new characters in the book (one who'll hopefully stick around, unlike Matt's past girlfriends), I was quite disappointed.

3/03/2007 3:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right Chris, it does say #8. Sorry, my mistake.

However it does still have a big #9 on the cover of the solicitation on the DC/Vertigo website. The part of my brain that deals with numbers has officially just died.

3/03/2007 3:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"52 week 43: didn't see THAT one coming"

Me neither, Chris. I think that's been my favorite moment of the series so far. Certainly the most unexpected.

3/04/2007 12:04 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

I was actually being sarcastic with that one, Darth Krzystof, I thought it was pretty well telegraphed.

Uh, unless you were being sarcastic just now, in which case: "I know. It was SOOOO unexpected."

3/04/2007 12:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to hear 1) why you don't like Star Wars and 2) an explanation for why World War Hulk: Frontline is a Good Idea.
Also, now that Supernova's identity has been revealed, Lex's denouement has come and gone and, uhm, "someone" has gone rogue, I'm placing bets that the next Huge Freakin' Twist of 52 is that--this is going to sound strange, but bear with me--the bumbling "Clar Kent" we met in Week Ten is actually... SUPERMAN! And, due to the ripples of Infinite Crisis doing something to someone... he can now FLY!
You may now order eight copies each of the following weeks.

3/05/2007 7:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a little sad to not see you talk about the X-Factor issue.

Where you at Chris?

3/06/2007 3:01 PM

Blogger Jon Hex said...

I think Sobek is the last of the Four Horsemen unleashed by Egg Fu. They never showed what Yurrd, The Hunger Lord looked like, and Sobek kept talking about being hungry.

3/06/2007 7:51 PM


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