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Joe Rice Media Review 4/19/07

For those three or four people still reading what I write here after I made fun of Harlan Ellison, welcome.  I hope at least one of you is female so you can repopulate the world that is my readership after this dreadful catastrophe.  I have always believed my readers are of good stock, so we shall soon breed a race of super nerds, able to ridicule and praise things on the internet with the power of 100 normal nerds.  Either that or we will kind of awkwardly look at each other and never make the first move.  WHICH SHALL IT BE, FOLKS?

OK, I’ve tried a couple times, but I can’t really force my way through Army@Love.  That could very easily be my own problem.  I would love someone to, in the replies here, explain why this is a good book.  I feel like it’s a very smart book, but the art’s semi-sloppiness combined with the textual overload really makes it a tough sell for me.  I can’t recommend it.  Some one else do it for me!

DMZ, on the other hand, seems to be covering slightly similar ground but in a much more appealing package.  A new storyarc starts this issue, with a wonderful Brian Wood cover.  Seems like this might be your classic Rashomon-style “multiple-view” story, as Matty interviews various folks involved in what seems to be the worst massacre in the war so far.  Guest artist Nathan Fox handles the flashback sequences.  I like his work a LOT.  It’s got a wonderful Paul Pope influence, except with an even stronger cinematic manga streak than said comics sex god.  Jeremy Cox also does a great job with the colors, with the muted greys of the flashback occasionally punctuated with bright warm colors.  This is a great chance to try this book.

I was recently talking about how it’s often harder to write about monthly superhero comics than less-frequent indie cousins.  What do you say about a book that’s probably consistently bad or good and just one part of an ongoing story?  Well, I have the same problem with Love and Rockets.  It’s great, yeah.  I really don’t know what else to say about it.  Jaime’s story about Frogmouth keeps going and develops interesting twists.  I’m still not sure what’s going on in Julio’s Day but it looks nice.  And Emanon was an awesome wordless short bit I really enjoyed.  One of comics’ greatest ongoing treasures.  You have to heart it.

I really think I missed an issue of Ex Machina.  Did I?  I really think I did.  I don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.  What’s this future guy doing?  Did the blackout start last issue?  I need to find the previous issue before I judge this, because I can’t imagine it would suddenly get so confusing.

The Spirit continues to be a wonderfully-drawn entertainment.  With an incredibly creepy birdlove sequence.  Was Mr. Carrion like this in the old Eisner bits?  Yeek!  But in a good way.  By the end of the story, Carrion comes off pretty well, in spite of himself.  This was more of a spotlight for him than anything else.  And, of course, a neat, one-off story.  And it made me hungry for pork and beans.  God, pork is good.  Some funny bits and the art is drool-worthy, but it’s not going to change your life.  It doesn’t need to.

Well, as I said, my delight at the previous issue of Mighty Avengers dwelled largely in the interesting use of thought balloons.  Otherwise, it was just an above-average superhero comic.  This second issue falls more squarely in the latter category.  The balloons are played with a bit, as are Iron Man technical caption narration.  There are some funny little bits throughout the issue, but not enough to finish distracting me from Cho’s ridiculous boobified artwork.  I’m not quite quitting the book; I’ll give it another issue or two, but this isn’t anywhere nearly as fun as New Avengers this time.  I can see how traditionalists might like it more, though.

Oh, and this week I read Garage Band, by Gipi.  I don’t think I’ve seen a work in any medium that quite captures the manic, fraternal (not as in khaki shorts and Dave Matthews ballcaps) feel of being in a band when you’re a teenager.  The book is paces kind of like an EP, in a way, with the chapters kind of feeling like songs.  There are touches of deep trouble in the boys’ lives, but, like a good song, you are left with impressions you can extrapolate in your own way.  The art is loose and expressive, and the book itself is a light delight.  Well worth your time and money.

I also got The Last Sane Cowboy and Other Stories by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey.  And before I review it I should note that Merl is an old friend of mine I’ve known for some 11 years or so now.  I’ve never reviewed something by a friend before and I’m honestly a bit uncomfortable to do so.  If I give it a bad review, I’m a bad friend.  If I give it a good review, I might look like it’s only because they are my friend.  But thankfully, Merl’s work is beyond that stuff.  First off, his art isn’t for me, really, but it’s stiff posed nature is a part of the process.  It adds to the disquieting, unsettling dreamstate of the work.  And the stories themselves are wonderful streams of subconscious that wind their way through your brain and make you feel kind of funny.  And they ARE funny.  A lot of modern-day surrealists either try to hard to be funny and fail or just take themselves too seriously.  But Merl’s got an easy way with it, and reading his work often feels like listening to a great story while heavily intoxicated with a good friend and a weird guy you both met at the bar.  Merlin gives you a reason to read AIT books now that Wood and Fraction are gone.  Do try it.

16 Comments

Well, I’m a traditionalist, and I think Mighty Avengers blows. Although I’ll cop to a lot of that being fanboy resistance against “Ultron: Now With Tits!”

I’m always shocked by how quickly each issue of the Spirit comes out after the last one. And then I realise, It’s because its ON TIME.

I thought the newest DMZ was excellent as well, but I really think Army@Love is a superior work. I’ll happily recommend it. Here’s why:

The art’s “semi-sloppiness” is not sloppiness at all. It’s the idiosyncratic style of the great Rick Veitch.

Rick Veitch is a major creator. He not only worked on Miracleman and Supreme, but the guy gave us “The One,” “Abraxas” and the King Hell Heroica Books. So, if anything, he deserves a look for more than an issue or two.

Army@Love continues the satire in issue #2, but it also expands the backstory and starts to develop the characters. I don’t know exactly where Veitch is headed with the overall plot, but I’m willing to patiently find out because it’s been a savagely entertaining ride so far. And as good as DMZ was this week, it has never truly suprised me–each story develops about the way I’d expect, even if it’s well done. Army@Love doesn’t have that feel. It has the potential to head in any direction–the capacity to truly suprise.

So, yeah, I recommend you read it for at least the first six issues. And Joe, if you can’t get through a book, shouldn’t you put it aside and then reread it later. As a teacher, do you tell your students to give up if they can’t get through a reading assignment?

L & R. We’re probably going to have to wait ’till it’s finished to really grock Julio’s day. I’m always impressed by the pure scope of Beto’s writing, though. It’s not “Something happense then something else happens” in the space of a few days. It’s almost like he’s writing history.

Rick Veitch is a major creator. He not only worked on Miracleman and Supreme, but the guy gave us “The One,” “Abraxas” and the King Hell Heroica Books. So, if anything, he deserves a look for more than an issue or two.

I really can’t get behind this idea at all. I think it sends the wrong message to support writers because of their past work, regardless of your enjoyment of their current work.

Mainly, that of, “By all means, coast!”

Chris Claremont’s gotten years of work based on what he wrote in the eighties. And I don’t think that’s been a good thing.

Uh-oh. I hope Claremont doesn’t start a thread about me being a carwreck of a person now.

Mighty Avengers was a disappointment. Issue 1 was great but yeah nothing really happened in this issue other then the Avengers finding out Ultron is back (which we kind of knew already). And the recruitment flashbacks were kind of dull too. I felt like we could have skipped them. There didn’t seem to be anything new we needed to know. I won’t drop it but it needs to pick up the pace.

Writers shouldn’t coast, Apodaca, you’re right. But if someone has produced great work in the past (great work that has frequently been challenging and difficult in small doses) then they deserve a bit more attention than someone with a poor track record. In other words, it might turn out to be crap, but let’s give him a few more issues to get a feel for this work.

And Claremont, even at his best, was merely a good superhero soap opera writer. Veitch, at his best, is clearly a few levels above that.

I hope at least one of you is female so you can repopulate the world that is my readership after this dreadful catastrophe.

Repopulate your readership, sure, anytime. Unfortunately, I…uh…fear I am unworthy to be the progenitor of ‘super-nerds’, on account of not being able to tell a Claremont from a Veitch among other things. (Although I have roughly gathered that Claremont must’ve been working on X-Men during some of my favourite storylines…also, that that doesn’t exactly help my nerd cred along.)

PORK AND BEANS!

I too am shocked by how on-time this book is, and I’m loving the hell out of it. If All-Star Superman were this consistent (even sticking to its bi-monthly schedule), then I’d love it that much more, although I love it a ton anyways.

Anywho, Spirit rocks.

Anybody who makes fun of Harlan Ellison is a friend of mine.

Hey, I’m fine with any Harlan Ellison disdain. That guy’s an asshole.

Anyway, I’m totally with you on DMZ; Nathan Fox was really good, and the coloring was awesome. I love the way the characters’ faces got all bright when they were huffing paint.

As for Army@Love, I’m digging it, but I’m a big fan of Rick Veitch, and I can understand if his style of weirdness and satire is not for you. I think he’s working on building a large cast of varied characters, so the book’s kind of still in the introduction stage.

For Ex Machina, yes, the blackout started last issue when the future guy showed up. So if you missed that, I can understand you being lost.

Yeah, I think I missed that. Dang.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

April 21, 2007 at 4:52 am

Well, I’m a traditionalist, and I think Mighty Avengers blows. Although I’ll cop to a lot of that being fanboy resistance against “Ultron: Now With Tits!”

I’m willing to lay down money that Bendis will spend more issues to tell a smaller scoped, less memorable story than Busiek did with Ultron Unlimited – and yet Marvel will still let him carry on his merry way.
(Which is fair enough if he’s bringing in the cash, but it just shits me when they talk about their books being the ‘best they’ve ever been’).

DMZ was great… the colors on Fox’z pages were AMAZING.

Like, breathtakingly subtle and beautiful.

Is every column going to take shots at Harlan Ellison from now on? Cuz, if so, it’ll get awfully boring here.

That wasn’t a shot at Harlan Ellison! It was a mention of a previous shot and the dreadful consequences thereof.

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