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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 22 and 29 July 2009

Two weeks of reviews! Normally I’d just skip last week’s haul, but what the hell. I’m sure the kids can look after themselves, right? I’ll try to keep the ones about last week’s books short, though. The operative word being “try.”

Atomic Robo: Shadow From Beyond Time #3 (of 5) (“At the Farm of Madness”) by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.

Science guns!

Not as laugh-out-loud funny as usual, but with some quality humorous lines (“New plan. Drive away forever.”). However, it’s still ridiculously entertaining, surprisingly touching, and Wegener, not surprisingly, draws the crap out of it. I hope you’re getting the trade if you’re not getting the single issues.

Battlefields: The Tankies #3 (of 3) by Garth Ennis (writer), Carlos Ezquerra (penciller), Hector Ezquerra (inker), Tony Aviña (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

Marvel and DC should use 'fook' to get around the parents!

I guess there’s not much to say about this. I like Ennis’s war comics, so I like this. It’s not as good as “Dear Billy,” but that’s okay. It does have a nice moment with a German talking to the Brits – Ennis does these kinds of things, with soldiers on different sides meeting and understanding the horror the war, very well – and it looks nice. It will be keen to see the new series next year.

Captain Britain and MI 13 #15 (“Vampire State: Conclusion”) by Paul Cornell (writer), Leonard Kirk (penciler), Jay Leisten (inker), Brian Reber (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Luckily, this frees up room on the schedule for another fucking Wolverine comic.

Well, thank God that’s over. Now you can all be happy buying yet another shitty Avengers or X-Men comic and not feel guilty about skipping this. Let’s hope Marvel never tries this shit again, because we all know well-written, well-drawn comics full of awesome moments, excellent characterization, brilliant plots and plot twists, and appearances by freakin’ Death’s Head can’t sell at all as they don’t star Wolverine. Now, if everyone can just stop buying Agents of Atlas, that would be super.

Fuck.

(Oh, I don’t mean you guys, who are generally pretty discerning about what you buy – even if you weren’t buying Captain Britain, you’re buying something like Kramer’s Ergot to make up for it. Let’s just blame … those mouthbreathers at the Jinxworld forums, okay? That’ll work!)

Detective Comics #855 (“Elegy Part 2: Misterioso”/”Pipeline Chapter One Part Two”) by Greg Rucka (writer), J. H. Williams III (artist, “Elegy”), Dave Stewart (colorist, “Elegy”), Todd Klein (letterer, “Elegy”), Cully Hamner (artist, “Pipeline”), Laura Martin (colorist, “Pipeline”), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer, “Pipeline”). $3.99, 30 pgs, FC, DC.

You know, if they were just going to give us a lesbian Batman, they should have had Bruce come out of the closet

I like how Williams manages to work what happens in the comic into the work of art of the cover. In a world where we get far too many freakin’ superhero pose covers, that’s pretty nice.

As with the last issue, the art is the reason to buy this book, as Williams does his usual unbelievable job. I don’t really have anything to say about his layouts and panels and the way he shifts styles throughout the book – Jog has probably already written all you need to know about the art, because he’s smarter than I am. But it’s a shame that Rucka isn’t stepping up his game a bit more – I read a tiny and short preview of Stumptown at San Diego, and in about five pages, Rucka was better than he’s been on two whole issues of this story. It’s not that either story is bad, it’s just that, like much of DC and Marvel’s output these days, it’s bland. Williams (and even Hamner) cover up most of the flaws, but it’s still kind of dull. Batwoman even comments how ridiculous it is to have a second villain in Gotham City who takes their schtick from Alice in Wonderland. So Rucka is even aware how ridiculous “Alice” is. Frankly, the idea of Alice in Wonderland as creeped-out drug trip has been done so much in comics that it’s a horrible cliché, so “Alice” is more idiotic than anything. I mean, I guess it wouldn’t be as “iconic,” but wouldn’t it be cool if a Bat-villain modeled themselves after … Kurtz in Heart of Darkness? Or Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (man, that guy is a tool)? Or the first Mrs. Rochester? Or Titus Andronicus from the Shakespeare play (man, that dude was nuts)? Or Warren Harding, the avatar of all that’s evil in American history? Come on, comic book writers, get creative!!!! Going straight to Lewis Carroll betrays a lack of imagination, if you ask me.

Anyway, you know how, at least 213 times a year, Batman has to reminisce about his parents getting killed?* Well, apparently we can’t have a Batwoman comic without our latest alternative-lifestyled heroine reminiscing about her origins either! Yay – she has some trauma in her past! That’s why I always liked Tim Drake before DC decided to start, you know, slaughtering his family – he just wanted to be Batman because he thought it was the right thing to do, not because he had some childhood trauma. Couldn’t our Indigo Girls-listening heroine been inspired by Bats to do the right thing? I guess not, and so we must cue the traumatic event from her childhood.

But at least someone gets shot in the head! Good times. Man, I can’t wait for Stumptown to come out.

I will say that the final panel really looks silly, art-wise. Williams isn’t perfect, apparently. It’s so poorly-drawn that it looks goofy, and given the context, it’s not supposed to look goofy. It’s still better than the writing, so there’s that.

* It’s part of Bob Kane’s diabolical contract with DC! Look it up!

Elephantmen War Toys: Yvette (“Nightingale”) by Richard Starkings (writer), Moritat (artist), and Wright (colorist – Jason, probably, but it could be Gregory). $3.50, 29 pgs, FC, Image.

All the pragmatic resistance fighters expose their midriffs!

Starkings returns to Yvette, his protagonist from last year’s War Toys mini-series (which was brilliant, by the way) and shows what happened in between the panels in a crucial moment from that series. We get to see Yvette and how she began to change from a typical resistance fighter to someone who could actually hunt and kill elephantmen. This is a brutally harsh story, one that fits well into the mini-series, and Starkings does his usual excellent job giving us a character who is pushed to the brink and tries desperately to hold onto her humanity. It’s fascinating comparing Yvette’s transformation to the struggle of the liberated elephantmen to become more human in the “present” of the book. Just as Yvette needs to find her inner animal, so to speak, so Hip and his cronies need to find their inner human. It’s tragic watching Yvette become something else even as we realize that this will make her a more efficient enemy of the hybrids and perhaps allow her to help her fellow humans. We always feel for this kind of character in fiction, an outsider who does what needs to be done in order to help her fellows but loses something in the process, and Yvette is no exception. That Starkings does it so well in such a short time speaks, again, to his ability with these characters. Moritat’s art is staggering, and I should have asked him if he’s doing anything different with it. When he was the regular penciller on the book (and he’s going to be back soon, apparently), his lines were much crisper, which befitted the feel of a futuristic epic. His black-and-white work on War Toys was much rougher, however, and in this issue, which is colored, is also rougher. It feels like a war story, with Yvette trying to overcome the terror she feels as she desperately kills her enemies. It’s magnificent art, and it’s interesting to see the shift in style from Moritat.

As usual, I struggle to find new ways to praise this comic. But it’s richly deserved. And this is a one-shot (even though it ties into the mini-series), so you can get a good feel for the comic from just this one issue!

Gemini #4 (of 5) by Jay Faerber (writer), Jon Sommariva (artist/colorist), Fares Maese (colorist), E. Bola (colorist), Fco Plascencia (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $3.50, 26 pgs, FC, Image.

Yeah, I can't think of anything clever to write here.

Boy, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’m not sure I should even review this, because it’s been so long that those who were buying it may have given up and decided to wait for the trade. I certainly can’t fault them for that. It’s a pretty good issue, though, as Gemini fights Dynamo 5 and Faerber, like he’s been doing for most of this decade, twists the superhero cliché of two heroes fighting just enough to make it interesting – in this case, the kids from Dynamo 5 don’t know who Gemini is, but they quickly begin to figure it out because they listen to him and his former handler instead of just mindlessly fighting. Wow, imagine that!

I guess the final issue is on track for release, so that’s cool. Of course, you’re probably waiting for the trade, right?

Hellblazer #257 (“Hooked Part Two of Three: Temptation”) by Peter Milligan (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (layouter), Stefano Landini (finisher), Jamie Grant (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Man, John is ripped!

Dang, I love Phoebe. Milligan better not fuck with her!

Ignition City #4 (of 5) by Warren Ellis (writer), Gianluca Pagliarani (illustrater), Chris Dreier (inker), and Digikore Studios (colorist). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Avatar.

Coming soon: Criminal Toaster!

I’m really enjoying this series, as Ellis is really doing a nice job balancing the wackiness of pulp science with the mystery of what happened to Mary’s dad. Pagliarani shines in this issue, too, as Mary finishes her gunfight with the bad guys and we get more glimpses of the future, which is typically horrible. As this is the penultimate issue, Ellis gives us some answers, although he cheats and deliberately withholds the big secret – boo, Ellis! That’s okay, because Ellis has fun with Dr. Vukovic. Mary tells him his house smells weird, and he says “It smells of SCIENCE!” Then he calls the men who destroy his stuff “stupider than mud that’s been fucked by a donkey.” I’m not sure why getting fucked by a donkey makes mud stupider, but what the hell, right?

I suppose I’ll have to wait until the final issue comes out to see if Ellis pulls this whole thing off, but right now, it’s really going well. I just wish Ellis would make scads of money off of this so we didn’t get yet another Iron Man mini-series from him. Oh well.

The Incredible Hercules #131 (“The Harrowing”) by Greg Pak (writer), Fred van Lente (writer), Ryan Stegman (penciler), Terry Pallot (inker), Raúl Treviño (colorist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Marvel really missed a chance to use the word 'frenemy' on the cover

Reasons why Simon Bowland should win an Eisner for lettering based solely on this issue:

1. When “mortal” Hercules hits “immortal” Hercules in the mouth, the sound effect is “jawcrack.”
2. When “our” Hercules kicks “their” Hercules in the gut, the sound effect is “crackajammatu.”
3. When “their” Hercules flies through a strangely familiar hellish landscape, the sound effect is “bosch.”
4. When “mortal” Hercules kicks back, the sound effect is “ardhisdoree.”
5. When “immortal” Hercules flies through the air into a boulder pushed by a certain Greek king and smashes it, the sound effect is “powdah.”
6. When said Greek king celebrates because his ordeal is over but then another boulder magically reappears, the sound effect is “sisy-poof.”
7. When “our” Hercules backhands “their” Hercules, the sound effect is “bichslapp.”
8. When “mortal” Hercules rips away a flaming wheel from some dude, the sound effect is “ixion.”
9. When “our” Hercules busts up the wheel, the sound effect is “splintuh.”

I get joy out of such strange things, don’t I? Seriously – give that man an Eisner!

The Life and Times of Savior 28 #4 (“Enemy Combatants”) by J. M. DeMatteis (writer), Mike Cavallaro (artist), Andrew Covalt (colorist), and Neil Uyetake (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW.

Who doesn't love that rat-faced dude?

You want a review? You got one!

The Lone Ranger #17 (“Resolve”) by Brett Matthews (writer), Sergio Cariello (artist), Marcelo Pinto (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

No, I don't know why he's watching a nuclear explosion on this cover.

I’m glad that Dynamite decided to stop releasing this book until an arc was done, because the delays between issues was really annoying, even though I’m much more willing to cut books like this some slack. I just hope they’re right and that we’ll get a few consecutive months with this title, which continues to be a very entertaining book. Matthews tells straightforward stories, Cariello illustrates them very well, and you can almost hear the theme music as you read. Even the brutal parts of the book – Cavendish is still hanging around, and doing horrible things – are not as awful and graphic as you might find in any random superhero comic these days, but they still have an impact. It’s refreshing to read a comic where the heroes do heroic things, the villain does evil things, and the woman isn’t simply waiting around for the hero to come home. Take a break from heroes tap-dancing on villains’ brains and check this out!

Madame Xanadu #13 (“Exodus Noir Part Three: Ware Not the Dead”) by Matt Wagner (writer), Michael Wm. Kaluta (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Did she really think she could get away with a lesbian affair in fifteenth-century Spain?  Really?

After reading the trade of the first ten issues (13 bucks for 10 issues – why would I buy single issues?) and the first three issues of this arc, I’m not sure if I’m ready to start buying this series once Kaluta leaves, but this is shaping up to be a fairly nice story. Wagner is giving us a nice pulp mystery with weird Moroccans and demon dogs and guest appearances by Wesley Dodds (Wagner, remember, wrote most of his adventures back when he had his own series) and terrible magic, plus the flashback to 1493, where Ms. Xanadu is still getting it on with a hot young redhead and the Inquisition is starting to think there’s something fishy about two hot women sharing a room. I mean, what could be weird about that?

It’s a sumptuously drawn book, to be sure, and the story fits Kaluta’s skills in a way that it might not Amy Reeder Hadley’s, so it’s a nice shift in the storytelling of Wagner. I’m still reserving judgment on it, obviously, until it’s finished, but so far it’s pretty good.

Northlanders #19 (“The Shield Maidens Part 2 of 2″) by Brian Wood (writer), Danijel Zezelj (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Chicks with swords!  What's not to love?

Wood, as he always does with these arcs, starts off with violence and uses it to examine other aspects of society and culture, in a way that’s kind of sneaky but much appreciated. Like the two-issue story about Lindisfarne, this story has an element of the pagan culture of the Norse clashing with the Christian culture of the Saxons, but it also gives us a glimpse into the way women were viewed in this era. It’s interesting that Grettr, one of the Viking women, is familiar enough with Christianity that she can make value judgments about it (whether she’s right or not is inconsequential – ninth-century Christian culture was far more complex than she thinks, or indeed could be discussed in a 22-page comic book, but that’s neither here nor there, really), as it implies that the Norse women, at least, were more involved in their world than we might expect. We’ve seen this throughout the series, and Wood makes it explicit in this story. It’s also interesting that later, Grettr narrates that they are spinsters, and “well-regarded,” implying that Norse women weren’t quite as “independent” as they’d like to think – what if they had been younger and still marriageable? Would they have been able to live independently? Quite a few Christian widows were able to live as Grettr, Lif, and Thyra could. What’s nice about this series is that Wood, for all his seemingly black-and-white pronouncements, is usually much more subtle when it comes right down to it. History is far more subtle than we like to think, and Wood gives us both the big, bloody battles and the more interesting societal forces working upon these characters.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t get lots of people getting killed, and Zezelj does a magnificent job with that, along with McCaig, who changes colors to highlight the battle. The full page of the ocean across which the ladies must swim is beautiful, evoking the fear that even those accustomed to the water have of it.

As always, this book is very good if you don’t know the history, but knowing it makes things a bit more ironic. At one point, Thyra tells a priest, “We own nearly this whole island … only your sickly king in Wessex remains.” The king at this time was Æthelred, and while he was a lousy king, his death in 871 paved the way for his brother Alfred, the only English monarch called “the Great,” who was quite good at beating the Danes later in his career. I know people like Bill Reed don’t care about this, but I think it’s neat.

Phonogram: The Singles Club #4 (of 7) (“Konichiwa Bitches”/”Roses”/”Theory and Practice”) by Kieron Gillen (writer), Jamie McKelvie (artist/letterer), and Matthew Wilson (colorist). “Roses” by Kieron Gillen (writer), David LaFuente (artist), and Christina Strain (colorist); “Theory and Practice” by Kieron Gillen (writer) and Charity Larrison (artist). $3.50, 27 pgs, FC, Image.

You know, Blondie's 'Atomic' doesn't really have a good shouting spot, but it's a cool moment.

If I were to tell you that this entire comic book (well, the main story) features a six-panel grid with the same two people in said panels for 13 of its 16 pages, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s boring. If I tell you it’s not, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Alan Moore wrote it and it’s all about the power of sex magic, and it’s not possible that the art could be any good. Well, my friends, in my increasingly futile attempts to remain objective about Phonogram, I can tell you this is not only written brilliantly, but drawn wonderfully as well. Gillen gives us Seth Bingo and Silent Girl (who talks quite a bit in this issue) DJing at the club where the book occurs, and the dialogue is astonishing. It’s simply Seth griping about the musical tastes of everyone in the room and Silent Girl undermining him, and it builds to a double-page spread that summarizes pretty much what this mini-series is about. As the middle issue of the series, it provides the fulcrum of Gillen’s theme, and he gets there so naturally that we excuse and even embrace the bombastic and wee bit pretentious idea that he’s toying with. And if you think McKelvie can’t draw the same two people standing at a turntable set for almost the entire issue, well, you’ve never read a McKelvie comic before. Just looking at the way Seth and Silent Girl interact in this book is wonderful, and you can do it without the dialogue and know exactly what each is feeling. The two pages where Silent Girl breaks out Blondie’s “Atomic” are masterful – Seth is determined to pump the party up, and his face is set to do just that. When Silent Girl gets the disc out, we get the holy light of Blondie bathing the two (literally) and Seth must look away while Silent Girl, who’s wearing protective goggles (seriously), gazes in wonder upon the glory of the disc. When the track starts playing, they both affect disinterest until the music starts, and then they sing along, building to a glorious shout of “Atomic!” It’s this kind of attention to detail that makes both the writing and art on Phonogram such a joy to look at. McKelvie does this throughout, and as usual, I’m not sure how these two gentlemen manage to create such brilliant stories in 16 short pages, but I’m certainly glad they do.

Power Girl #3 (“Gorilla Warfare”) by Justin Gray (writer), Jimmy Palmiotti (writer), Amanda Conner (artist), Paul Mounts (colorist), and John J. Hill (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

Okay, it's a good drawing, but not as gleefully insane as Adam Hughes' cover for the first issue.  Come on, Ms. Conner!

As I mentioned, I’m going to buy the next two issues based on Palmiotti’s recommendation (and the final pages that set up the next issue look pretty keen), but I wish the first three had been better. This issue is somewhat anticlimactic, and when your star is reduced to a supporting role in her own book, that’s not good. I guess DC editorial wanted the JSA in this to tie it to that book a bit, but let’s hope PG gets to go solo next issue. And it would be nice if the bad guys, who have been fighting female heroes for decades, wouldn’t fall back on the “fragile and weak-minded female” cliché. As we saw in this arc, Ultra-Humanite was allied with a strong and totally evil woman, so even if he doesn’t respect women, would he really think they’re fragile and weak-minded? I don’t know why that bugged me, but it did. Oh well. You know who’s awesome? Amanda Conner, that’s who. But you already knew that.

Rapture #3 (of 6) by Taki Soma (storier/layouter), Michael Avon Oeming (artist), Val Staples (colorist), and Thomas Mauer (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Young kids killing people = scary!

You know who else is awesome? Val Staples. Okay, discerning readers have probably already figured that out, but he doesn’t get to cut loose all that much on the Brubillips books (Criminal and Incognito), so it’s occasionally hard to see why he’s so good. But here, he turns Soma and Oeming’s odd post-apocalyptic superhero/horror epic (Geoff Johns should read this to see superhero horror done right) into a truly bizzare and almost surreal comic, with too-bright colors on some pages, too many magentas and blues on others, almost sickening reds on some pages – none of it should work, really, but Staples chooses just the right hues to make this a horrifying yet richly textured superhero comic that nevertheless unsettles us. Soma and Oeming do some gore, sure (not as much as a certain space cop/zombie story), but when they do, it’s fairly shocking, and Staples’s bright red blood against the red brick makes the whole scene even more disturbing than the buckets of black blood being spilled elsewhere. I’m sorry to keep bringing up that comic, but Soma and Oeming do a very good job showing the gore judiciously, and Staples’s coloring makes it feel worse than William Hand shooting himself in the head, even if that was more graphic. This is an odd yet very effective comic, and part of it is due to Staples. Celebrate the colorist!

Secret Warriors #6 by Brian Michael Bendis (storier), Jonathan Hickman (storier/scripter), Stefano Caselli (artist), Daniele Rudoni (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

It looks like they're keeping this cover design, which, you know, sucks.

So I’m reading this, trying to decide if I want to keep buying it or not, because the superpowered people just aren’t that interesting so far, and most of this issue is those same superpowered people beating up other superpowered people and who cares about that, really? but then Nick Fury turns to Dum Dum Dugan and tells him he has one month until they get serious and Dugan responds, “You give me a month and I’ll deliver to you the baddest bunch of evil bastards this world has ever seen. I’ll give you Howling Commandos ready to bark at the moon and bite at the sun. Nick, you give me a month and I’ll raise a damn army” and I had to stop myself from saying aloud, “HELL FUCKING YEAH!!!!!” So yeah, as long as Hickman does that and maybe, just maybe, kills off all the superpowered people in the next few issues, I’ll be on board. Sheesh, I may even start buying Fantastic Four based on that page.

Unknown Soldier #10 (“Easy Kill Chapter Three”) by Joshua Dysart (writer), Alberto Ponticelli (artist), Oscar Celestini (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Why did they cut down this excellent cover drawing?

Once again, Dysart manages to get some socio-political commentary into his book, which is nice to see as he’s not being so terribly overt about it like he was early on. Moses’s rant comes from the character and what he’s been through, and it’s a shocking moment because we thought Dysart was going one way with the story, and now suddenly it’s back to where it started, which means trouble. Because the politics comes from Moses’s guilt (which it does, as he does something horrible early in the book for which he can’t atone), it’s more forceful. It also comes from his “programming,” for lack of a better word, and is a violent manifestation of something he discusses calmly with his wife earlier in the book (in a dream sequence, that is). So it works very well within the book.

I don’t know if this book is doing well or not, but I hope it is, because every issue is getting better, and that’s always good to see. I’m curious to see where Dysart is going with this.

And I can’t help it, but Moses’s dream of himself at the opera (which is different from the one where he talks with his wife) didn’t work as well because when I saw the red bull, I thought of this movie, which we own on DVD and which my younger daughter likes quite a bit. So I chuckled at a point in the book where I probably shouldn’t have. But that’s really my problem, isn’t it?

Wasteland #25 (“Planet Caravan”) by Antony Johnston (writer), Christopher Mitten (artist/painter), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $5.99, 44 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

In the post-apocalyptic world, all women shall have pointy nipples!

When the Big Two claim something is “double-sized,” they tend to lie, as we’ve often seen. However, this comic is 44 pages of solid story! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Joey Q and Danny D!

If you’ve never read an issue of Wasteland, despite this being six dollars, it’s not a bad place to start. Johnston steps back from the regular story to give us a tale from a decade earlier, in which one of our main characters (Michael) has dealings with one of our minor characters (Sultan Ameer). It’s a story that shows why the two men don’t really like each other, and it gives us a very nice background of the world Johnston has built. And you don’t have to know all the various people and the way they relate to each other, as they don’t appear.

Mitten’s art, however, is why this book is so stunning. The book has always been in black and white, and while that works well for the post-apocalyptic landscape in which the book takes place, the painted colors in this book are amazing. Mitten does a magnificent job using various shades of tan, which sounds boring but really gives the book a “desert” look (believe me, if you move to the desert, you’ll be amazed at how many different shades of tan there are) and also makes the brighter colors (when they occur) pop wonderfully. When night falls in the desert, Mitten gives us gorgeous yet slightly creepy purples and blues, so that the landscape itself looks bruised. It’s a harsh world these characters inhabit, and while Mitten usually shows this through the starkness of the landscape, in this book he’s able to do it through the coloring. And there are a couple of double-paged spreads that are brilliant. Johnston’s story is solid (as usual), but Mitten’s art is staggering.

Johnston told me the book is back on track, which is nice. I don’t mind waiting for issues that deliver, as this does, but I like the book so much that I really want to read the next issue. Man, I don’t know how some people wait for the trade on some comics.

We Kill Monsters #1 (of 6) by Christopher Leone (writer), Laura Harkcom (storier), Brian Churilla (penciller/inker), Hilary Barta (inker), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). $3.50, 32 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.

I love covers where you're looking out of something's mouth.  That's just how I roll.

The folk at the Red 5 booth gave this to me for free at San Diego, so I figured the swell thing to do is review it, right? I wasn’t going to order it based on the preview I read, because it seemed okay but nothing great. If I read good things about it, I could always get the trade, right?

Well, I’m still of that opinion. I actually like it more than I thought it would, because Leone does a nice job establishing the characters of Jake and Drew, two mechanic brothers who accidentally get caught up in monster-killing. While we think Drew is a bit of an idiot for choosing his brother over a girl, Leone does a nice job showing why he does so. Churilla does a good job with the action, which takes up quite a lot of the issue. Drew and Jake get attacked by a monster, kill it, and then get chased by another when they drag the corpse of the first one home. Along the way Jake gets injured, but some strange monster brain juice heals him – well, it then turns his arm into a monster arm, so maybe “heal” isn’t the right word. Of course, they soon discover that one of the monsters was pregnant, so there will be more of them!

It’s a pretty good first issue, establishing the characters, giving them a reason to do the things they do, and setting up the rest of the series. Leone keeps the monsters’ origin a secret, of course, because Drew and Jake don’t have time to figure that out right now. Churilla has a good solid line, and his style helps create a “real”-looking world that helps us accept the presence of a big three-eyed monster or two. I’m still pretty sure I’m going to wait for the trade, unless I happen to see the second issue and like what I see, but this is a solid debut.

Wednesday Comics #3-4 (of 12) by many. $3.99, 15 pgs, FC, DC.

Is that really a barn door? I wonder how USA Today feels about the dog's bunghole?

Let’s review these all using one, count it, ONE word for each story, okay?

Batman (Azzarello, Risso, Robins, Mulvihill): Skeevy!1

Kamandi (Gibbons, Sook): Valiant!

Superman (Arcudi, Bermejo, Ciardo, Lopez): Emo-tastic!

Deadman (Bullock, Heuck, Stewart): Awesome!

Green Lantern (Busiek, Quinones, Brosseau): Kennedy-esque!

Metamorpho (Gaiman, Allred, Allred, Piekos): Mysterious!

Teen Titans (Berganza, Galloway, Napolitano): Vexing!

Strange Adventures (Pope, Villarrubia): Pulptacular!

Supergirl (Palmiotti, Conner, Mounts, Hill): Goofy!

Metal Men (DiDio, Garcia-Lopez, Nowlan, Lopez, Mulvihill): Good?2

Wonder Woman (Caldwell): Skippable!

Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. (Kubert, Kubert): Decompressed!

Flash Comics (Kerschl, Fletcher, Leigh, McCaig): Headache-inducing!3

The Demon and Catwoman (Simonson, Steelfreeze, Wands): Rhymeless!

Hawkman (Baker): Aqua-diss!

1 Because of Bruce coming onto the widow, don’t you know. Ewwwww.
2 I’m not questioning that it’s good, I’m questioning that I don’t know how a Didio-written story is good.
3 Because of the time travel. Dang, I hate time travel stories.

As this is two weeks’ worth of books, let’s get two totally random lyrics!

1.
“You say your protection
Is proof of your affection
If I need security
I’ll keep a gun on me
Don’t barter with me
Don’t barter with me

Little sacrifices
Go straight to heaven
But hunting season’s over
This is the twentieth century
Don’t barter with me”

2.
“Let’s go outside to a dark place
Where the kitty cat hides
Put on your fake wings
Give the moon a ride
When you’re lonely for the angel inside

Three-thirty in the morning is too easy for you
But when it comes without a warning
What are you gonna do this time?”

The only clue I will give you is that, in accordance with Seth Bingo’s rules, “female vocalists only.” Although I doubt if he’d approve of the selection.

Man, it’s good to be back. Now I just have to read a ton of comics!

34 Comments

You know, lots of people think that Warren G. Harding was the worst president, but everybody forgets that Grover Cleveland used to chop up prostitutes on the White House lawn. Non-consecutively.

And I do know who Aethelred and Alfred are! I took a Medieval Lit class. I did not enjoy it, because I couldn’t be arsed to learn middle English, but that’s me, baby!

I’ve also decided to stop feeling bad for not understanding Phonogram. Wake me up when they do a Neil Diamond issue.

And I love time travel stories, and am never confused by them. Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey. Suck it, Burgas!

I like that you’re trying to give colorists love. Also, I’m thinking we should start a petition to get Bowland an Eisner nomination. Or get one of us on the panel. I’m thinking that would take some kind of Oceans 11 style plot.

“You know, lots of people think that Warren G. Harding was the worst president, but everybody forgets that Grover Cleveland used to chop up prostitutes on the White House lawn. Non-consecutively.”

I was only a (very lazy) history minor, but I seem to remember that there was still some debate between historians as to whether those prostitutes were actually double agents for the lizard people or whether Cleaveland was just possessed by the time traveling ghost of Jack the Ripper. Or maybe that’s a pitch I dreamed up in a history lecture after reading Tales From the Bully Pulpit. Anyway, get your facts straight, Reed!

“Wake me up when they do a Neil Diamond issue.”

I think the Earth ending will do that for you, but I do like the cut of your jib. That said, I did like the first Phonogram trade despite generally not giving a shit about Britpop. Was that your problem? All the Britpop?

Okay, I really need to write a movie script about Grover Cleave-land, the only President to serve non-consecutive terms and murder a bunch of horny teenagers with his giant meat cleaver.

You guys are weird.

That’s okay about Phonogram, Bill, we know you’re soulless anyway!

Man, a lot of presidents were evil. Who knew?

“You guys are weird.”

When Grover Cleave-land becomes a franchise, you will choke on those words. Well, about me. Bill’s pretty weird. I find my comments completely sensible and rational.

I actually like Britpop, by which I mean Pulp is one of my favorite bands. Are they Britpop? I know that one Phonogram cover is an homage to This Is Hardcore. That’s all I got. That’s about the hipsteriest I get. That, and my love of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Or is it not cool to like that anymore? Am I only allowed to like things ironically? I like a lot of things unabashedly.

Anyway, I figure that dude just writes in whatever sound effects the writers tell him too, you know? And don’t some artists draw their own sound effects? I guess computers killed that. All I know is I gotta get me some Hercules trades.

Also: Neil Diamond’s sequins are totally part of some magic spell. For serious. You’ll see when I write my epic Neil Diamond: Crimefighter! comic where he goes around hitting criminals with a guitar, El Kabong-style, and faces off against his nemeses, Neil Simian, the Gorilla Guitarist, and Argh Deathfunkel, Cyborg Assassin.

(Oh, I don’t mean you guys, who are generally pretty discerning about what you buy – even if you weren’t buying Captain Britain, you’re buying something like Kramer’s Ergot to make up for it. Let’s just blame … those mouthbreathers at the Jinxworld forums, okay? That’ll work!)

What about people like me buying both Captain Britain and massively disappointed and Avengers? Or is this just and either/or situation?

Hey, if you buy them both, Joe, more power to you!

Bill: Well, I hope whoever did those sound effects gets a special Eisner for Awesomeness.

And I love Neil Diamond. Maybe one day I’ll use him for totally random lyrics, and you’ll be all over it!

The Demon may not be rhyming, but he *is* speaking in blank verse. And I’d include a wiki link to what that is if I knew how.

And screw all you haters, I love Wednesday Comics Wonder Woman.

I felt like a fanboy when DH showed up in Captain Britain. One small caveat is I always preferred the original green-bodied version….but I haven’t enjoyed a guest/cameo appearance as much in a comic since….well…..ever!

Thank you Mr Cornell!

I’ve bought every issue of Phonogram so far purely because of the art. It’s just beautiful stuff but I can’t love it as much as you, Greg. The characters in the series represent exactly the type of douchebag music-snob that I loath. Also, in this issue the Pixies are mentioned in the back text in glowing terms. I seem to remember that you called them a shitty band once. Comments?:-)

Another “Fuck Yeah” moment in Secret Warriors was the “recoil” one-liner 2 issues back. And I agree that the Warriors should fuck off and let Fury have his solo series

Michael: He’s speaking in iambic pentameter, isn’t he? At least some of the time.

Dude: The funny thing is, I hate a lot of the characters in Phonogram. I don’t know how Gillen is making them so compelling when, if I met most of them in the real world, I’d loathe them like you do. And a lot of the music references go way over my head, so the ones I do get don’t bother me too much. If Gillen wants to like the Pixies, that’s cool. I never get bent out of shape if people like something I think blows.

I thought that too when Gillen talked about The Smiths last issue as a “seminal band”. God, I hate them so much that the hate was almost transfered to the writer. But I can’t argue with his tastes and the love he feels for the series is clearly felt on his work so you gotta respect that

Plus he’s doing a great job with Beta Ray Bill which automatically makes him a good guy on my book!

“Quite a few Christian widows were able to live as Grettr, Lif, and Thyra could.”

Names, Greg, I want their names.

b

Let’s see, Brian, there was …

Oh, sure, like I can give you names! As I’m sure you know, sources for the ninth century are pretty awful, but there’s evidence that, beyond life in a cloister (which came with its own freedoms and problems), rich widows could often resist the influence of the powerful men and live on their own (of course, if you were poor, you were pretty much screwed whether you were a woman or a man). Several law codes in, say, Merovingian France obliquely refer to stuff like this. Of course, according to the Norse traditions, MORE women in the pagan culture could live like the three women in your story, but it wasn’t impossible in the Christian world, just a bit harder.

Blank verse *is* unrhymed iambic pentameter.

Having recently acquired that hardcover of Kirby’s Demon, I have to say I love the Wednesday Comics version. Sure, Etrigan doesn’t rhyme all the time — but he didn’t when written by Kirby, either. Just once in a while, like at the last statement of this recent’s week.

I gotta say, though, going from Blood to Etrigan without doing a “Gone, gone the form of man” sequence? It feels hollow, somehow.

Sure, ‘rich’ being a crucial factor, but the Church was forever trying to devise ways of separating people from their money, and women, as second class citizens in the eyes of pretty much everyone, were easy targets.

b

“Also: Neil Diamond’s sequins are totally part of some magic spell. For serious. You’ll see when I write my epic Neil Diamond: Crimefighter! comic where he goes around hitting criminals with a guitar, El Kabong-style, and faces off against his nemeses, Neil Simian, the Gorilla Guitarist, and Argh Deathfunkel, Cyborg Assassin.”

Your hypothetical Neil Diamond comic sounds a lot like my hypothetical Honky Tonk Man comic, except I you replaced my ’80s WWF themed apes with music ones. So, GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

That’s true, Brian. I would argue that ninth-century Christianity (Christianity up until the early 13th century, in fact) was often very close to its pagan roots and definitely not as organized as it would be under the high medieval and Renaissance popes, so there was a bit more freedom for all. But yeah, the fact that the Church was more organized and despotic than anything the Vikings had meant that they were more able to exploit the common folk, and women in particular.

I haven’t read Hellblazer yet, but it’s on my list to pick up, eventually.

Does anyone think Milligan makes poor decisions when killing off characters? For example, I’m reading Shade, the Changing Man right now. He killed off Kathy in issue 50, and the comic really suffers until about issue 60 or so.

I recently read the X-Force series he did with Allred. I thought the series started out with a bang. Great look at superhero comics. Then he kills Coach, and it takes about 8-10 issues to recover. As a side note, one of the best things about the Milligan/Allred X-Force issues is the letters page. It’s hilarious reading whiny comic fans crying about the new direction.

Anyway, just a thought on Milligan. Does anyone else share this opinion?

Wow, I totally forgot the Coach character ever existed.

I need to reread X-Force. And X-Statix.

Oh wow, I completely missed all those Hercules sound-effects, that’s brilliant! Eisner, definitely.

“That’s why I always liked Tim Drake before DC decided to start, you know, slaughtering his family – he just wanted to be Batman because he thought it was the right thing to do, not because he had some childhood trauma.”

Well, that’s the thing – when Dixon (and David, although he didn’t touch on this aspect of the character as much) was writing him, he always made sure to emphasize that *Tim didn’t want to be Batman.* He was perfectly happy “putting his shift in as Robin” and then moving on.

Of course, then Johns and DiDido get involved with their “well, there’s no point to being an (ex-)sidekick if you’re not going to replace your mentor” kick (see also: Impulse turning into Kid Flash, the desire to kill off Nightwing), and we’ve got the beginnings of the mess the character’s currently in, with his entire supporting cast killed off to add teh angst.

Random Stranger

August 2, 2009 at 7:14 am

A Harding-themed Batman villain could finally return Gotham to a state of villaincy.

[...] Comic Book Resources Still ridiculously entertaining, surprisingly touching, and Wegener, not surprisingly, draws the crap out of it. I hope you’re getting the trade if you’re not getting the single issues. [...]

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