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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 22 November 2006, plus some quick thoughts on the previous two weeks of comics

You people disappoint me.

Here I am, enjoying the first vacation my lovely wife and I could take in seven years, finally getting some down time away from the two beautiful yet demonically-possessed children, while back here at the humble blog, things were afoot.  Not only did Our Dread Lord and Master bring back a hack whose idea of humor is just slightly less funny than “pull my finger,” but in the same post, the debate began about which Greg we should kill off as a ratings stunt.  I have a feeling I would lose that debate pretty quickly.  Then, that very hack took solace in the fact that he wasn’t me.  Well, you can imagine my self esteem went right in the toilet when I read those posts, and I cried myself to sleep that night.  I leave for a few weeks of rest and relaxation and the good readers just turn on me like that.  It really shook my faith, I’ll tell you that much.

But now I’m back, and ready to subject you once again to my half-assed opinions, unsubstantiated rants, and knee-jerk reactions to your comments, no matter how much merit they have!  Bwah-ha-ha-ha!  For this week, I’m not going to review the comics I got from the two weeks I was away from comic book access.  (Speaking of which, I looked for a comic book that was either written for an Egyptian audience in Arabic or an American comic that had been translated into Arabic in a poorly-disguised hatchet job.  I found neither.  Egyptians are extremely good at selling crappy pyramid trinkets, nice linens, bottled water, and necklaces, but the market must not be there for comic books.)  Instead of reviews, I am going to have one quote from the books I bought which summarizes either the entire comic or my feelings toward it.  It’s up to you to decide whether they’re worth your while or not!  For this week’s books, obviously, I will be more copious.  And there were a bunch of books I bought, and I enjoyed them immensely.  Ah, it’s good to be back in a country where they appreciate brightly-colored flimsily-stapled pamphlets of people doing unspeakable things to other people!

The Boys #5 by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson.  $2.99, DC/Wildstorm.

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People have wondered why I bought the first four issues of The Boys when they were so very unpleasant, and this issue is why.  I wanted to see how the first story arc would play out, and with this issue, Ennis doesn’t quite justify the faith I have in him, but he does a lot to get to that point.  This is by far the best issue of the series so far, and if next issue, which promises horrific mayhem and ultra-violence, continues the upward arc, I may be on board with the series.

Ennis shows once again that he certainly knows how to write interesting characters when he’s not indulging in stereotypes.  Hughie meets Annie in the first few pages, and of course doesn’t realize that she is Starlight of The Seven, the new superheroine who doled out blowjobs to join the club.  They both talk about their new jobs and whether it’s worth it, and it’s a nice conversation even though they both (naturally) dance around the particulars.  Later, Hughie returns to the group and he and Butcher talk about the job, and Ennis once again indulges in his mad love for the United States, a love that, I think, only a foreigner can have (not that natives can’t love this place, but it’s a different kind of love).  This is a theme he returned to often in Preacher, and I hope he doesn’t get into it a lot in this book, but it’s nice to see here.

The main plot – the destruction of Teenage Kix – is nice, too, because Ennis reins it in a bit.  The Boys blackmail them into sacrificing one of them on their own before Butcher chooses for them, and it’s more restrained than what we’ve seen so far in the series, and therefore interesting.  The reaction of The Seven is also interesting, as the veterans know what’s going on while the newcomers don’t.  I’m a bit confused why Shout Out is the sacrificial lamb, because it appears that the only thing he’s “confessing” to is being gay.  Who cares?  Why is that such a big deal?

The end of the issue has Teenage Kix confronting the Boys, who are ready to kick their teenage superhero asses.  I’m sure next issue will bring us the patented Ennis super-violence, which may or may not be a good thing.  Ennis can do ridiculous violence humorously, but so far in this series, it’s been pretty joyless.  So we’ll see.  It’s the make-or-break issue for me, and if it continues like this one, that will be good.  For some reason I don’t trust that it will.

Daredevil #91 by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, and Stefano Gaudiano.  $2.99, Marvel.

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This is part 3 of 5, so there’s really not a lot to say.  We’ve had the set up, and it’s too early for the resolution, so although Brubaker is good enough to make it NOT feel like a treading-water issue, that’s essentially what it is.  It’s nice to see that Matt doesn’t fall for the femme fatale for too long – he figured out sometime between last issue and this issue that Lily was lying to him – and there’s some nice fight scenes, but not much moves the plot along.  Only at the end, when Lily decides to come clean with Matt and tell him who set him up, do we get some forward motion to the plot.  And even that’s a bit of a cheat, although I’m not too upset about it.  See, Matt narrates the final few words, after Lily tells him who is behind it all.  He says, “So she tells me what I want to know, and I can almost feel a knife twisting in my back.  And this time, I believe every word she says.”  It’s not really a cliffhanger in the way that, say, Dr. Doom appearing on the final page would be, but it’s obvious that Brubaker is withholding information from us, which always annoys me just a little.  It’s not enough to ruin it for me, it’s just a bit vexing.

Anyway, not much to say about this issue.  It’s a fine chapter, but it’s not going to change your mind either way about buying Daredevil.  The next two issues are set up well, however, and it will be interesting to see where Brubaker is going.

Enigma Cipher #1 (of 2) by Andrew Cosby, Michael Alan Nelson, and Greg Scott.  $6.99, Boom! Studios.

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I continue to like the Boom! Studios books I actually buy (I know there are a bunch I don’t buy, but that’s neither here nor there), but Ross Ritchie, despite doing a fine job marketing his books, is doing a poor job getting them out on time, and that kills new publishers.  This was supposed to be a five-issue mini-series, the first issue of which was supposed to be out two months ago.  Now it’s a two-issue series, and although it’s extra-big, it’s still frustrating to wait.  It’s definitely worth the wait, because it’s a very good comic book, but when you’re trying to establish yourself in the comic book world, it’s tough to be behind a lot.  Maybe I should just shut up because Boom! is doing fine.  I’m just saying that it’s tough to build readership when your books are so late (and this is more of a problem with their ongoing titles, one of which I’ll get to below).

But enough of that!  What’s up with Enigma Cipher?  Why is there a dead dude on the cover?  Is that a weirdo code on those papers?  Well, those of you with even a passing knowledge of World War II knows that Enigma was the name of the Nazi code, which was broken early in the war and used by the Allies to find out what the bad guys were doing.  This story begins in the present, as a university professor discovered an encoded Enigma message and gives it to his students as a homework assignment to decrypt.  This, as it happens, is a tremendously bad idea, as the stereotypical Men In Black show up and slaughter the professor and all the students and everyone they happen to be hanging out with, with the exception of … a hot girl!  Casey Williams manages to escape, but she is, of course, the subject of a huge manhunt.  The cops don’t believe her, but after she is taken away by the State Department, Detective Merrick, the arresting officer, follows them and realizes she’s telling the truth, becoming a target in the process.  Nobody knows what the message says or why something that’s 60 years old is so dangerous people are willing to kill to keep it quiet.  It’s all very dramatic!!!!!

This is a fun comic.  It zips along, it’s mysterious, dramatic, and offers enough intrigue to keep our brains working even as we’re enjoying the body count rise.  I just finished reading Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, and it seems like Enigma was broken pretty easily, so why they make it sound so difficult to decrypt is beyond me, but that’s a minor thing.  (Cryptonomicon, by the way, is really freakin’ good, even though it ends about 100 pages before it should.  It just ends, inexplicably.  What’s up with that?)  Other than that, it’s a good comic.  Very enjoyable.  Yes, it’s seven dollars, and presumably issue #2 will also be seven dollars, but it’s all about the total cost, and a five-issue series will probably set you back the same amount, just spread out over more issues.  So take the plunge!  Let’s just hope issue #2 comes out in the next six months! 

Gødland #14 by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli.  $2.99, Image.

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Yet another book that I find difficult to talk about.  I mean, it’s so good every month, it gets boring talking about it.  It doesn’t get boring reading it, but how often can I say it’s excellent and you should read it?  One thing that bugs me about this is the continued comparisons to Lee and Kirby’s Fantastic Four.  There’s a quote from Entertainment Weekly on this month’s cover that reads, “Anyone who gets all misty about Lee & Kirby’s Fantastic Four will love Gødland!”  Well, you know what?  I don’t get all misty about Lee & Kirby’s Fantastic Four.  I mean, it’s all right, but nothing great.  I know that I am often horribly sacrilegious about old-school comics, but Gødland blows Lee and Kirby’s Fantastic Four away.  BLOWS IT AWAY!  Kiss my ass, old-school comics!  The Tormentor, at one point, says, “Every time I look at you … my rage grows.  You possess the body of my daughter, Discordia … yet your head is that of pathetic junkie, Basil Cronus …”  That’s better than anything Lee and Kirby ever put in Fantastic Four, and it’s just a throwaway summation line!  I like how we don’t pretend that, say, Nosferatu is the height of special effects, but we get all weepy about forty-year-old comics.  (For the record, Nosferatu is a pretty freakin’ cool movie, but the special effects are laughable.  That doesn’t mean, when I watch it, I don’t appreciate the sheer technological effort that went into it back in the early 1920s, but it still looks goofy.)

Anyway, Gødland is great comic book.  On its own merits.  Entertainment Weekly should write, “Even those people who think Lee & Kirby are overrated will enjoy Gødland!”

Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars #1-4 by Frank Beddor, Liz Cavalier, and Ben Templesmith.  $3.99, Image/Desperado.

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This isn’t the greatest mini-series, but it is pretty good.  If you like Templesmith’s art, which I do, it’s a blast.  The idea is a good one, too – Hatter Madigan comes to our world searching for Alyss, the princess of Wonderland, who is the last survivor of the royal family after her aunt massacres them to take over the kingdom.  He spends the series searching for Alyss and gets involved with all sorts of weird shit about people sucking imagination out of small children.  It plays out pretty well – the Hatter doesn’t want to get involved except to rescue the princess, but he finds out that he’s a decent fellow and does the right thing anyway.  Good job, Hatter!

It’s a very interesting comic book, hurt by the bizarre tone that Beddor and Cavalier take.  There is a lot of humor in this, and some of it is a bit off-kilter.  It’s not enough to ruin the series, but it’s a bit weird at times, especially in the first issue.  Humor is always good to relieve the tension, and especially to make sure that we don’t take it too seriously.  But it’s a bit weird here, and doesn’t really work.  Luckily, it doesn’t interfere too much, and the crazy monkeys in issue #2 are part of the story and are funny too.  See how that works?

The story from issue to issue is a bit disjointed, too.  Beddor is writing a novel (or series of novels) about the “real” adventures of Wonderland (I assume it was published in September, like the adverts said), and I don’t know if this is just a comic book adaptation of the novel, but if it is, it feels like it’s missing some sections.  It’s nothing that I can put my finger on, but there are parts that feel like they could be developed a bit more.  Magda Pushikin, for instance, the reporter who follows Hatter around, is a big of a mystery.  And who are those women who keep showing up in shards of glass and mirrors and reflective water?

These are bothersome points, but not enough to mess up my enjoyment of the series as a whole.  It has Templesmith’s typically manic art, a good idea behind it, and lots of cool stuff.  It’s taken a long time for the four issues to come out, but maybe the trade won’t take so long!

Jack of Fables #5 by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, Tony Akins, and Andrew Pepoy.  $2.99, DC/Vertigo.

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See, I really have to cut back on the number of titles I buy, and I’m trying to decide about certain ones, and Jack of Fables is on the block.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.  This issue features the wrap-up of the first story, as Jack escapes Revise’s farm, figures out that there’s a traitor to the cause by using the dumbest reasoning imaginable, we see Humpty Dumpty and Sam in action, and all is well.  Jack’s narration, always the highlight of the book, is raucous and hilarious, including his final snarky rejoinder to anyone who thought the book was a rip-off of The Prisoner (that’s the right television show, right? ’cause I never watched it).  And there promises to be many adventures to come.

So why is it on the block?  I’m not entirely sure.  There are some books I just love, and some that I admire without really loving.  I enjoy reading this, but I don’t look forward to reading it, like I do its mother ship, Fables.  Now that the first story is done, I can assess it next month, and see if I want to continue.  You can’t go wrong if you buy this book, because it doesn’t have many flaws.  I just don’t love it.

Noble Causes #25 by Jay Faerber and a bunch of artists.  $4.99, Image.

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Speaking of books I love, Noble Causes, as you may know, has been faltering recently until last issue, which was a good comeback.  Now comes the 25th issue, which means a big-sized extravanganza with lots of guest artists (including Fran Bueno, the original artist on the ongoing, which just reminds me how much I don’t like Bosco’s art, although it’s a tiny bit better on the few pages he draws in this issue), as Liz, who was trying to help Race get his powers back, is thrown forward through time and somehow gains Race’s speed powers in the process.  It allows Faerber to show us the future of the family and what might happen, if he decides to continue the series for the next 100 years or so.  The family members she meets keep dropping hints about what happened between her and Race, but they don’t say what it is, which is quite maddening for both Liz and the audience.  At one point she gets to meet the president, and it’s somewhat surprising who the president is, but she does learn about her future, even though Doc Noble keeps saying it will mess up – say it with me – the space-time continuum!  Luckily for all concerned, when she finally does return to her own time, her knowledge of the future is no longer a factor.  But that’s all I’m going to say!

This is a fine “jumping-on” point (I hate that term) for people, not because it’s at all clear what’s going on (it’s a soap opera, after all, so you just have to jump in with both feet and hope for the best – even I didn’t recognize everyone in the issue, and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to), but because it doesn’t really continue a story from the previous issues, and Liz’s situation is explained pretty succinctly in the issue itself.  And if you happen to be a new reader, Liz’s problem at the end will help, in future issues, bring you up to speed (presumably).

It’s a fun issue that shows us how important the Nobles (and Liz) are.  We get a good sense of the universe they occupy, and Liz’s place in it.  A fine place to pick up this excellent series.

Planetary Brigade: Origins #1 (of 3) by Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis, and Julia Bax.  $3.99, Boom! Studios.

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Hey, look!  It’s another really late book from Boom!  Yay!

I shouldn’t harp on this too much, because at least the books actually come out (yes, I’m thinking of dozens of Image titles that briefly appear for one or two issues before disappearing without a trace).  But this is a three-issue mini-series, the second of which was solicited for this month.  When will it show up?  I enjoy this new superhero universe that Giffen and DeMatteis are creating, with Hero Squared, then Planetary Brigade, and now this, but couldn’t they concentrate on getting one title out on a regular basis, and then worry about spin-offs?

Anyway, this is another one of those books that’s basically review-proof.  It’s Giffen and DeMatteis doing superheroes, so therefore you know exactly what you’re going to get going in, and if you like that sort of thing (and I do), you’ll enjoy it, and it you don’t, you won’t.  I mean, there’s a Hulk-like origin sequence, lots of insults, some wry observations on the zaniness of superheroes in general, and the scene from the cover, which is reprinted inside with many more very funny stereotypical phrases about quitting a team that doesn’t exist yet.  It’s all done with a knowing wink to the conventions of the genre, and although Giffen and DeMatteis have mined this vein over and over, it’s still funny.  Look, you keep seeing Christopher Guest mockumentaries, don’t you?  Well, you should.  Even though you know that Fred Willard will be a friendly doofus and Eugene Levy will be an earnest doofus and Catherine O’Hara will be a semi-talented doofus and Parker Posey will be a shrill doofus and Michael McKean will be a gay doofus, you still see the movies!

Let’s hope we get three issues within a year.  That would be nice.

Sam Noir: Samurai Detective #1-3 by Manny Trembley and Eric A. Anderson.  $2.99, Image.

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When I reviewed the first issue, I counted the clichés.  But that didn’t stop my enjoyment of it!  So now that it’s over, we can continue to count the clichés.  On second thought, however, we probably shouldn’t, because we’d be here all day.  But guess what?  This is a wild mini-series, it’s very fun, and highly enjoyable.  And it’s partly because of the clichés that it achieves this manic energy.  I’ll explain.

As you can tell from the title, this is a blending of a noir-ish detective and a samurai, which is, let’s face it, a great concept.  Sam is hired to track a beautiful woman, whom he falls in love with, but who is killed by hired goons when she comes to plead for his case.  He gets a name from one of the punks (before he eviscerates him) and goes to get revenge.  Many corpses later, he reaches his destination, but finds out that he has been set up by someone who wants revenge on the man he was going to kill.  So instead of killing that guy, he goes to exact his revenge on the person behind it all.  And the corpses continue to pile up.

The fun thing about the book is that the creators (Trembley drew it, but I don’t know if both he and Anderson wrote it, or if it’s just Anderson) are relentless in piling up the clichés, to the extent that just when we think they can’t give us another one, they do, and it feels like they do it just for the sheer hell of it.  They are doing it all knowingly, and it becomes a surreal reading experience, as we are just along for the ride as the stereotypes, like the corpses, pile up.  It would probably (I’d say definitely, but there might be exceptions) not work in a piece of “serious” fiction, but noir tales and samurai tales are so fixed in our minds and so ripe with stereotypes that Trembley and Anderson don’t even try to subvert them – they simply cram the three issues with everything we expect to see, and then make it entertaining.  Sam, as narrator, gets all the good lines (“But until then, fightin’ these guys is like fightin’ your fat grandma.  Don’t ask me how I know that” and “Generally, dames are my soft spot.  As it turns out, soft spots are a great place to stick a sword.”), and he lets nothing get in the way of a hard-bitten quip or his quest for revenge – not even fat receptionists who sound the alarm (which is why he makes the joke about soft spots – he just had to kill her!).  Even the end is laden with clichés, as he completes his mission but still has more people to kill.  The work of a samurai detective is never done!

Trembley’s art adds to the series very nicely.  I’ve never seen it before (if it’s anywhere to be seen), but it’s absolutely stunning.  He uses the black-and-white of the book to full advantage, as Sam works in shadows to strike unmercifully, but despite the darkness, we are never confused as to what’s going on.  It’s gorgeous to look at, and Trembley shows that he can handle both brutal violence and beautiful quiet scenes with equal aplomb.  It’s really a wonderful book to stare at as you read, making it feel longer than it actually is (in a good way).

It’s certainly not a great series, but it is a highly enjoyable one.  There are, quite literally, no surprises at all – the entire series hinges on us knowing what’s going to happen, but enjoying it enough and laughing along with Sam as he spouts the hard-boiled dialogue he has to.  There is an awful lot of killing, but that’s okay – what’s a noir samurai tale without buckets of blood?  It’s a very fun series, and I recommend it a lot.

Samurai: Heaven and Earth Vol. 2 #1 by Ron Marz and Luke Ross.  $2.99, Dark Horse. 

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Speaking of samurai, last year, when the first mini-series ended and pissed me right the fuck off (“to be continued” my ass!), I feared that we would never see the sequel (and apparently this is a “trilogy,” which annoys me for no good reason) because Ross went on to Jonah Hex and I figured DC would never let him go.  But he’s back!  Whoo-hoo!  And look at the freakin’ gorgeous cover.  The whole book is like that, with the highlight a double-paged spread of Shiro slicing some big dude’s neck with his sword.  It’s tremendous.

Meanwhile, Marz brings us up to speed quickly with a recap on the inside cover and a few choice words throughout the text.  A lot of people here at the blog seem to really loathe Marz, but he has done a good job on this title, and he does a good job setting up the rest of the series.  Shiro forces the slave trader who took Yoshiko from China to help him find her, even though that will lead to bloodshed soon enough.  And Don Miguel, fearing Shiro’s wrath (even though he claims he’s dead) takes Yoshiko to the Americas.  Where, of course, Shiro will follow.

It’s a fine tale, and considering the first volume was on of the better mini-series of last year, you might want to consider picking this book up.  I look forward to reading the rest of it, because there’s no reason to think it won’t be as good as the first series.

7 Brothers #2 by Garth Ennis and Jeevan Kang.  $2.99, Virgin Comics.

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It’s interesting – the first page of the issue has a recap of the last issue, and it includes several things that were not divulged in that issue.  Oh well – at least we’re up to speed!

This is the second Ennis book I bought this week, and as I’ve observed before, it’s remarkable to read two different books by the same writer in one week.  Ennis continues to be restrained, despite the presence of a Chinese man holding an eyeball with chopsticks.  Rachel, the woman who brought the seven men together last issue, explains that they are, in fact, brothers (sort of), all descended from one man, the apprentice of a great and evil sorcerer who traveled with the Chinese treasure fleet in the fifteenth century in order to figure out how to gain – you guessed it – ultimate power.  The apprentice realized he couldn’t stop the sorcerer himself, so he had sex with seven different women to make sure his progeny would be able to stop the sorcerer in the future.  How’s that for a pick-up line?  Has anyone tried it?  “Hey, baby, my sorcerer master is evil and is trying to take over the world, and the only way I can stop him is if we get busy.  Whattaya say?”

Of course, the sorcerer – the Son of Hell – isn’t dead, and he returns in this issue to wreak his havoc once more!  So the stage is set for a showdown!  Naturally.

This is a very interesting book that although hews pretty closely to your standard “evil-guy-want-to-take-over-the-world-and-only-a-gritty-band-of-loners-can-stop-him” story, the fact that it’s rooted in a historical setting and that it has a nice Chinese vibe going for it means that it is more interesting than it might be otherwise.  And Kang’s art continues to be very nice.  He does a good job with the magical scenes, but he’s also good with eyeballs!

This is, I believe, a mini-series, but I’m not sure how many issues it is.  I’ll figure it out eventually.  But it’s certainly worth a look.

Turistas: The Other Side of Paradise by Eric Lieb, Kris Oprisko, and Fabian Slongo.  $3.99, IDW.

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I have started seeing commercials for this movie, and it doesn’t make me want to see it.  Nor did this comic book, which is pretty disappointing.  The idea isn’t new – stupid American tourists stumble into dark and evil places that are off the map and get killed for their troubles – but it could be a darkly humorous kind of thing.  This book has two stories, one of which goes for the darkly humorous thing but fails at it, and the other of which is played straight and doesn’t work.  It’s a shame.

The first story is about a fat slob who goes to Thailand and hooks up with a prostitute who sticks by him even though his wallet gets stolen.  She keeps telling him that he can pay up eventually, and he thinks it’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to him.  Of course, if you know anything about urban legends, one night she puts something in his drink and gets her payment – guess what it might be!  The second story involves a young couple who visit a village and take a photo, which their guide warned them against.  The villagers chase them, hit the guy on the head, and kidnap his wife.  The guy gets a machete and hacks his way back to his wife, where he learns that their guide might not have been the greatest guy to trust.

There’s really nothing to like about either story.  Everyone is a stereotype, and the book manages to be offensive to pretty much everyone.  I just got back from Egypt, and the worst tourists were not the ugly Americans, but the French.  Seriously.  I have never seen Americans acting the way they are portrayed in popular culture, and the guides and others we met told us how much they enjoyed dealing with Americans and how much they did not enjoy dealing with the French.  Sorry to offend any French people out there, but I’m just calling it like I see it.  The people in this book are stupid – astronomically so – and vulgar and just dreadful.  There is no cheery piling on of clichés like in Sam Noir; this is just a drudging litany of idiocy that not only doesn’t entertain, it actually repels.  Blech.

Avoid this at all cost!  And while you’re at it, skip the movie, too.  Go see the new Christopher Guest mockumentary instead!

X-Factor #13 by Peter David and Pablo Raimondi.  $2.99, Marvel.

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I own the X-Factor issue (#87?) that first brought us a therapy session with Leonard Samson, but I don’t really remember it.  It’s probably been 15 years since I read the damned thing.  Therefore, if this issue reflects that one at all, I don’t know it.  I’m just pointing out that it’s a good issue on its own, and any resemblance to that issue is for the geeks to fight over!

David zips through the team (and Pietro) in a few pages, delving into their psyches and trying to figure out what makes them tick.  He’s very good at this sort of thing – examining the dynamic of a team and why they act the way they do – and we get a few revelations, but nothing all that stunning.  David has done a nice job with Monet, who has always been a favorite of mine.  (When I write Uncanny X-Men – come on, Joey Q, you know it’s inevitable! – Monet will be on my team, and we’ll have to call it the Uncanny X-Women because the team will be all-female.)  We get a bit more about Monet than we have before, and it’s nice to see.  Perhaps now she’ll get more publicity.  Rictor is an interesting case, too, and David even makes Rahne interesting (I’ve never been a big fan of Rahne – “Ohhh, I’m Catholic, so every feeling I have is impure – woe is me!”).  It’s a nice reset issue after the Tryp saga, and gives us a nice sense of the chaotic nature of the team.

A minor quibble is the use of Leonard Samson.  I’m not quite sure why his identity is concealed until the end.  Everyone knows it’s Leonard Samson – Joey Q’s alternate cover even features him! – so there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for hiding him.  It’s weird.

Oh, and Raimondi takes over on art, I hope for a while.  His art is unspectacular, but it’s nice and clean and gets the job done.  It works well for the book, and I hope he’s on board for a while.

Another nice issue, without a lot of the David snottiness that some people do not enjoy.  David can do these kinds of issues well, and this is a good example.  Good place to start, if you haven’t been reading.

The last two weeks’ comics:

Action Philosophers! It’s All Greek to You! (issue #7) by Fred van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey.  $2.95, Evil Twin Comics.

“The one can never be divided into its separate parts, such as elements or primary and lesser causes!  Likewise, nothing ever changes!  Not even this comic book story!  It will just go on and on and on and -“ 

Astro City: The Dark Age Book Two #1 by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson.  $2.99, DC/Wildstorm.

“He hits people in the mouth with a halo with a steel core.”

Batman #658 by Grant “Rugby is for Wankers!” Morrison, Andy Kubert, and Jesse Delperdang.  $2.99, DC.

“See?  I can be useful!”

Bullet Points #1 (of 5) by J. Michael Straczynski and Tommy Lee Edwards.  $2.99, Marvel.

“So.  Where do I sign up?”

Catwoman #61 by Will Pfeifer, David López, and Alvaro López.  $2.99, DC.

“Sorry, Bobby.  You’re like a cop with a day to go ’til retirement.”

Checkmate #8 by Greg Rucka and Jesus Saiz.  $2.99, DC.

“You will fall before Kobra!”

Fables #55 by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Andrew Pepoy, and Inaki Miranda. $2.99, DC/Vertigo.

“Since no one has stopped us to indicate we aren’t headed in the correct direction, it’s obvious we are.”

Midnight Sun #2 (of 5) by Ben Towle. SLG.

“Why do you stare?  Should I be darning your American socks – or tending your children?  I am here for same as you: for work.  I finish with radio when I finish … and until then you can just wait.”

Squadron Supreme #7 by J. Michael Straczynski, Gary Frank, and Jon Sibal.  $2.99, Marvel.

We … were just about to kick your sorry white ass.  Punk.”

Ultimate X-Men #76 by Robert Kirkman and Ben Oliver.  $2.99, Marvel.

“This place sucks.”

MINI-SERIES I BOUGHT BUT DID NOT READ.

Union Jack #3 (of 4) by Christos N. Gage, Mike Perkins, and Andrew Hennessy.  $2.99, Marvel.

11-22-2006 09;26;12PM.JPG

Batman and the Monster Men #4 (of 6) by Matt Wagner.  $3.50, DC.

The Damned #2 (of 5) by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt.  $3.50, Oni Press.

Omega Men #2 (of 6) by Anderson Gabrych and Henry Flint.  $2.99, DC.

Phonogram #3 (of 6) by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.  $3.50, Image.

Rex Libris #6 by James Turner.  $2.95, SLG.

I was going to read the first five issues before I left on vacation, but I didn’t get a chance.  I will read them over the Thanksgiving weekend, I swear.

It’s good to be back.  I missed all the questions about my sanity because of the books I enjoy.  But you people wouldn’t do that, would you?????

28 Comments

It’s great to have you back Greg, you have been missed! We always look forward to your reviews and find them accurate and insightful.

Don’t worry about what those other guys said, we love you.

Ah, I was kidding, AC. Joe is quite funny, actually. And if anyone comes for me when I inevitably lose the debate, I’ll sic my kids on them! That’ll learn ‘em!

It’s good that you’re back! :)

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 24, 2006 at 3:17 am

“I just finished reading Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, and it seems like Enigma was broken pretty easily, so why they make it sound so difficult to decrypt is beyond me, but that’s a minor thing.”

The Allies only managed to crack the german version when books of code and the encryption equipment were rescued from a sinking U-boat.
If it takes a book of codes, and some of the encryption material to crack it, then it probably wasn’t that easy.
The Germans were so confident in it, that they didn’t suspect the Allies had cracked it for a long time after they did.
(Oh, and it was the English who recoverd the ‘rosetta stones’ needed to crack it – that film, U-571, is a load of crap!)

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 24, 2006 at 3:35 am

“I have never seen Americans acting the way they are portrayed in popular culture, and the guides and others we met told us how much they enjoyed dealing with Americans and how much they did not enjoy dealing with the French. ”

Oh, you guys can be as bad and worse than portrayed.

Also, not to say they are liars, but guides tend to love whoever they are talking to the most – if I was there I’d bet it would have been Australians.
Wether this is due to ease of conversation or hope for a tip, I don’t know, but it’s just the way it goes.

Don’t know about french tourists specifically, but I’ve found young european tourists to either be some of the best people you’ll meet, or someone you have to be physically restrained from killing due to their sheer arrogance/annoyingness.
Hint: Never contradict them with facts – it only makes the situation worse.

Man, I am SOOOOO not impressed by your smacking of the Lee-Kirby FF run and of your “old-school comics” ass-kicking! Hey! Wake up! These 2 guys started an empire on this title that became a STANDARD; Kirby innovated with scientific concept after concept during a DECADE! Without slagging Godland at all, let’s have this conversation in 10 years, just to see if Godland gets to be a standard with great sci-fi concepts as did FF; no need to bash on something to promote your point; that is sooooo “20th century old-school debating”…

Boomtuber – I’m just a bit tired of the comparisons. Yes, Godland is reminiscent of the Lee/Kirby FF, but I, for one, am not the hugest fan of it, and I still enjoy Godland. It just seems like everyone who loves Godland thinks that you CAN’T like it unless you get all slobbery over the Fantastic Four, and that’s just silly.

FGJ – Of course Americans can be as bad as portrayed. I’m just sick of the stereotype, because on the last two international trips I’ve taken, the Americans were the best behaved and least slovenly in dress. I’m sure the stereotype was once true, but it’s frustrating that it still holds, because other nationalities are trying their best to emulate it. These French people weren’t young, either – they were middle-aged or older. And the Russians were pretty bad, too. To bring it back to a lousy comic, Turistas simply perpetuates the stereotype in order to tell a bad story, and that’s lazy storytelling. That’s why the comic is bad. We could debate the behavior of ACTUAL tourists for days, I’m sure.

Dear Boomtuber,
you missed Greg’s point by miles, you appear to have a massive chip on your shoulder regarding Lee and Kirby and – just my personal opinion – you come across as a bit of an idiot.

Great reviews. Oh,and just FYI, I think the reason Samson’s identity is concealed throughout the issue of X-Factor is for those fanboys who do distinctly remember the old issue/reread it to get prepper for this one, as in that issue Samson’s identity was an actual surprise held off until the penultimate page of the issue.

Yo Greg. I was wondering what the hell happened to “What I Bought” — and it turns out you were kickin’ it in Egypt. What the hell!?! You dare to take your first vacation sans kids in seven years while leaving your loyal readers dangling at home?! Sheesh. Now we now how we rate!

But really: Missed ya! Welcome back.

“For Your Consideration,” the new Christopher Guest film isn’t a mockumentary. It isn’t very good either. I saw a preview screening of it a few weeks ago, and it’s by far the weakest film he’s ever made. There’s a few standout scenes, but generally the film suffers from too many characters and not enough time devoted to any of them. To be fair, it’s probably still much better than Turistas will end up being, though.

I think it’s pretty funny how everyone seemed to have missed Greg saying, “I am going to Egypt.” :)

I wasn’t going to mention that, Brian …

I dunno, I think I would probably be enjoying the current DD arc better had I not just read a two-part story from O’Neil/Mazzuchelli’s run that had Matt hightail it to Europe to solve the murder of a loved one. That fact that they could do it in 2 issues, not six, really drives home the fact that this issue was “treading-water”. And the climax to that story literally had DD treading water!

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 25, 2006 at 6:08 am

“I think it’s pretty funny how everyone seemed to have missed Greg saying, “I am going to Egypt.””

I thought it was some sort of Morrison/Vertigo meta-speak about the issue of the mini Greg reviewed from the quarter bin the other week.
I figured he was going to drop some acid, spread the books out, get naked and take the trip – so to speak.
I was impressed he was willing to go there for our reading entertainment.
Now to find out he just went overseas, and didn’t even behave badly or rudely… it just breaks my heart.

Great comments, minor question, which could be a minor nitpick if I’m right: isn’t Rahne Sinclair Scots Presbyterian Calvinist, not Catholic? Not that this would excuse any writer over-indulging in depictions of perpetual guilt in her that she’s actually been shown to have outgrown…

And, in either case, I don’t think that’s what PAD was really doing here: Rahne wasn’t expressing a feeling that she’ll be damned for having violent thoughts or impulses, but rather for having seen a vision of her future in which she *acted* on them, (SPOILER STOP), killing her closest friends. Seems that “Oh, spit. I’m bound for hellfire if that’s true.” is a pretty reasonable reaction for anyone with a generally religious mindset of any denomination concerned with issues of sin, salvation, and damnation.

That’s a good point, George, and if you’re right, I’m surprised no one ripped me a new one for it. I could have sworn Rahne was Catholic. Can we get a ruling? And you make a good point about why she’s whining, but it’s not the specific reason for her thinking she’s going to hell that bugs me, it’s just her fatalistic attitude about EVERYTHING. I know it’s been hammered into her (whether it’s a Catholic upbringing or a Protestant one – those Scots are pretty hard core!), but hasn’t she been out in the world long enough to stop bemoaning every little thing?

Greg, I’m surprised you’ve only had one angry commenter complaining about your dismissal of Lee/Kirby FF. When I read that, I thought, “Man, Greg’s going to get it in the comments for this one.” Usually a big, ridiculous controversy starts when you dare to state an opinion. Anyway, I disagree with you about that, but it’s obviously a matter of taste. I’ve been reading some of those early FF stories (see my blog for some comments), and they’re some of the most fun comics I’ve ever read. I especially love the dialogue Lee wrote for the Thing, with lines like “He didn’t recognize my face, kiddo – It’s my lovable personality that shines out like a beacon!” or “Brother, your chamber-sweepin’ days are over!” And Kirby sure drew some beautiful art back then. That said, I love Godland, but I don’t think it’s that much like FF. Maybe in the relationship between Adam and his sisters, but the art and storylines are more reminiscent of Kirby’s later stuff, like Captain Victory or his New Gods stories. I don’t really expect Entertainment Weekly to be especially knowledgeable about comics, so that quote’s not a big deal, and hey, if you get a positive quote like that, why not put it on the cover?

I couldn’t cite exact issues, but I’ve been following Rahne Sinclair since the original New Mutants series– yes, she is Fundamentalist Presbyterian. She was also raised by an abusive priest who tried to kill her, and she’s still only 19, which goes a long way to explaining why her religious issues keep hanging around. As for being out in the world enough to overcome that, the answer is both yes and no. It’s been 6 years (or 5, depending on timelines) since she joined the New Mutants, which really isn’t that long for her. Plus, every time she’s in a secure place where she could get comfortable and start coping, something changes to kick her out of it. But I could write a whole essay on that point, so I’ll stop now. :-)

That said, I’m annoyed with her therapy session, because I would have liked to see it touch on certain other issues; namely, the brief “affair” with a 16-year-old student that got her kicked out of Xavier’s Academy over in New Xmen.

Dear Markus, read that line again and again and tell me I miss the point:

“I don’t get all misty about Lee & Kirby’s Fantastic Four. I mean, it’s all right, but nothing great. (…) Gødland blows Lee and Kirby’s Fantastic Four away. BLOWS IT AWAY! Kiss my ass, old-school comics!”

“LEE & KIRBY’S FF: IT’S ALL RIGHT’ BUT NOTHING GREAT” !?!?!?!?!?!

WOW!! HELLOOOO??? Excuse me, but compared to THAT, I don’t feel like the idiot in this discussion; I’m just wonderin’ how come this guy gets to write a column on CBR! I mean, come on guys, get a sense of history and perspective here; the comments regarding Lee’s scripting compared to that of a contemporary scripter lacks credibility; you can’t compare something that was written some 40-odd years ago (and don’t forget there was a thing called “Comics code authority”, the censor of the days) with the flavor-of-the-month and write that it BLOWS AWAY Lee & Kirby’s FF just like that; I mean the guy has to be kidding! It’s like comparing athletes of different time periods, it just won’t stand; society and sensibilities are different, and I am expecting more coming from a critic, and certainly expecting a sense of historical perspective; if not, read some more, and not just comics, then. I haven’t read Godland, so I am not pronouncing myself on it per se and do not want to knock it off. Mr. Burgas has the right to not be a fan of old FF, or old-school comics, I have no problem with that; call me an idiot all you want, but writing what he did the way he did it was certainly not a sign of cultural maturity….

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 26, 2006 at 12:25 am

“WOW!! HELLOOOO??? Excuse me, but compared to THAT, I don’t feel like the idiot in this discussion; I’m just wonderin’ how come this guy gets to write a column on CBR!”

I think it’s his glowing personality.

Also CSBG isn’t CBR.

“I am expecting more coming from a critic, and certainly expecting a sense of historical perspective;”

He is a reviewer, not a critic.

“Mr. Burgas has the right to not be a fan of old FF, or old-school comics, I have no problem with that; call me an idiot all you want, but writing what he did the way he did it was certainly not a sign of cultural maturity….”

Not being a big fan of books written for kids 50 years ago… are you sure he’s lacking maturity?
Maybe, I mean where would Abraham Lincolns mother have been without kids books written before she was born?

There we go! That’s the kind of complaint I was waiting for. Boomtuber fills the breach when nobody else stepped up!

By the way, what the hell is cultural maturity? It sounds fancy, but it’s one of those meaningless terms that you can use to sound intelligent while insulting someone. Here, I’ll make one up. Greg, you have no societal logic! Take that!

Matt: I made no complaint: what I debate about is the uproar of this outrageous and unfounded affirmation; I mean come on, where’s the beef in “Gødland blows Lee and Kirby’s Fantastic Four away. BLOWS IT AWAY! Kiss my ass, old-school comics!” ?? If one wants to challenge the largely accepted notion of L&K’s “world’s greatest comic magazine” FF run, one has to do better than claiming “OK but not great”; he better have arguments. I mean, I can just feel sorry for a “reviewer” who writes such an assumption…

Like I said, Stan (with Jack & Steve; yes I know, prehistoric days…) built an empire on wordy and complex vocabulary & storytelling that revolutionized the genre; he was a fan of Shakespeare in the ’60’s; he used to write a dozen wordy comics a month for about 10 years, while finding his voice, maintaining a consistency and developing a crisp delineation of dozens of characters that keep selling to this day; this ground-breaking house-style in the world of comics is a printing-machine money these days; Lee & Kirby are sometines labeled as the Lennon & McCartney of comics; I mean, dismissing it like our “reviewer” does, I wonder how come I ‘m the only one reacting…!

As for my choice of words that did an impression on you, I’m flattered, but don’t read too much in it, it’s just a lack-of-a-better term; so scratch the cultural part of it…

FGJ: I don’t mind “reviewer” instead of critic; though I don’t find it to be diminishing to Mr. Burgas, but if it be your wish, then I comply.

Also, may I suggest you ask for art history books at Christmas, just so you know about the existing world prior to the year 2000…

It’s scary, but it’s worth it!

my second daughter is named after monet…we couldnt think of any cool names and i just happend to have gen-x on hand at the time so ..pow we named her after “m”

the only reason i never buy image or boom or any of those smaller companies other than the big 2 is because i hate thier output..(not subject matter but time wise)..so many times id get in to a story and the company went belly up
( like with ruse and crossgen errr!!)or the books would be so late id totaly forget by the time they did come out.so i gave up…now godland ..from what i can see…is coming out good and on time i just might buy the tades…but for the most part i dont buy new comapnies because i feel in the end its a waste…i think that might be an issue others might have when looking at the smaller companies…thiers no consistantsy(sp??) over time..so i dont even bother.

gabesummers

Yeah, Gabe, that’s certainly a problem when dealing with smaller companies, and Image has been a big-time offender in that regard. However, I usually just think that if something is good, however little we get of it is fine. I just re-read my six meager issues of El Cazador from CrossGen and even though the story is incomplete, what we do have is very enjoyable.

Godland and Noble Causes are two examples (along with Invincible, although I buy that in trades) of comics from Image coming out consistently on time. And they’re good comics.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 28, 2006 at 12:48 am

“FGJ: I don’t mind “reviewer” instead of critic; though I don’t find it to be diminishing to Mr. Burgas, but if it be your wish, then I comply.”

Steven Grant wrote a column defining the two quite recently.
Different things altogether.
It’s not demeaning to Greg, he does write reviews, rather than critiques.

“Also, may I suggest you ask for art history books at Christmas, just so you know about the existing world prior to the year 2000…

It’s scary, but it’s worth it!”

Greg, like me, doesn’t care much for the early FF.
They were books written for kids half a century ago.
What’s so suprising about someone not liking it?
They have dated really, really poorly.

It’s not demeaning to Greg, he does write reviews, rather than critiques.

Absolutely. It’s a fairly important distinction.

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