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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 16 September 2009

“Stop hitting people with your Rex Harrison hat!”

Let’s check out a theme this week! Those are always fun!

Agents of Atlas #11 (“Terror of the Jade Claw Part III and the Final Issue for the Foreseeable Future Because it Didn’t Star Wolverine and God I Hate Consumers Sometimes”) by Jeff Parker (writer), Dan Panosian (artist), Gabriel Hardman (artist), Elizabeth Dismang (colorist), and Tom Orzechowski (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Really?  You bought Blackest Night and X-Men: Legacy Annual instead of this?  Really?

Okay, so maybe the title of the story isn’t quite as listed. I don’t know.

Agents of Atlas will be back, of course, as they fight the X-Men for two issues and then back up the Incredible Hercules for a time, and maybe that’s good enough for now. I don’t know if these back-up stories (in both DC and Marvel) will help the lesser-tier characters get more leeway, but it would be nice. I’m not sure why Marvel and DC are so eager to rush into an ongoing series anyway – the sales on the original Agents of Atlas mini-series apparently didn’t burn up the charts, so why not produce a couple more to see if the buzz grows? It would have helped to keep a regular artist around – this book had at least four artists draw this, from what I can recall.

I certainly don’t mind too much that the regular series bit this dust, even though this issue feels a bit rushed. I’m always happy to get 10-15 issues of a really good mainstream comic even though they bite the dust with stunning regularity. At least DC and Marvel try these things. I wish they gave them more time to build an audience, but at least they’re giving them some life. I mean, if the Big Two wanted things to sell like they did in comics’ heyday, EVERYTHING would be cancelled, so I guess the fact that they let some of these titles tell a nice story or two is okay. I guess. But what do I know? I’m still bitter that Major Bummer died an untimely death.

Does something explode in a fairly gross manner? Something explodes, but it’s not really gross. But that’s our theme this week!

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

Say, where is Howard?

The great thing about Atomic Robo, the comic, is that Clevinger is always pointing out the silliness of comic books while still wallowing gloriously in the silliness. Whether it’s pointing out that those giant ants couldn’t exist or that dinosaur shouldn’t be able to talk, Clevinger does a nice job deflating standard comic book clichés but still managing to make this a wonderful, pulpy comic book. Like this issue: How many times have we seen someone build a machine like those guys on the cover build (the dude on the left is named Louis; the dude on the right, sadly, doesn’t get a name) and no one thinks twice about it? Robo shows up and points out, logically, that it’s an evil computer. “Computers that are evil have all kinds of unnecessary ornamentation,” he says. “This thing’s venting steam!” Of course it’s evil! It’s funny because it’s true, as Homer Simpson might say. And Clevinger, of course, shows that it is, indeed, evil. Why won’t they listen to Robo?

This is the big finale to the big fight against the thing from outside the universe, so we find out what was going on at the end of last issue. It’s a twisty time-travel sort of thing, which means it makes my head hurt, but Clevinger, showing how good he is, makes it at least funny and somewhat plausible. And Tesla’s reaction is pretty awesome.

I don’t know if I can express how joyfully kooky this comic is. Clevinger and Wegener knock it out of the park every time, and it’s just one of those books where each issue is a slice of greatness. Long may Atomic Robo reign!

Does something explode in a fairly gross manner? Robo fights that thing from beyond space and time. He likes bombs and guns. You do the math! (Yes, math! In a comics post! You should never have skipped algebra to hang out in the smoking alley trying to get into that goth girl’s pants! Just because you listened to the Cure and had a Robert Smith haircut doesn’t mean she really liked you, you know! Sorry to burst your bubble. She was really into preppies. Man, those goth girls – always teasing you with those ripped fishnet stockings and that black lipstick!)

Batman and Robin #4 (“Revenge of the Red Hood Part One: Red Right Hand”) by Grant “Come on, this guy isn’t bad, right?” Morrison (writer), Philip Tan (penciller), Jonathan Glapion (inker), Pete Pantazis (colorist), and Patrick Brosseau (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

Why is the Green Hornet a bad guy?

Now, I know Tim Callahan a little bit. Not a lot, mind you, but I have met him face-to-face on two separate occasions, which is a bit of an anomaly out here in the wilds of the comics blogaxy in Internetland, and he’s a pretty cool guy who has a lot of interesting thoughts about comics. I do wish he would blog more often and turn his face away from the seductive wiles of Twitter, but if he’s comfortable with the Dark Side, so be it. I mention this because this year at San Diego, he told me that Philip Tan would be a drop-off from Frank Quitely on this title, an opinion shared by many around the comics blogosphere. Now that the product is here, I wonder if Tim is changing his mind. I’m not saying he needs to change his mind, but if he liked the art, would he step up and admit it? Because although I wasn’t as scared of Tan taking over as most, I will admit I thought the art wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is in this issue. It’s not quite as good as Quitely, but it’s very close. Yes, I just typed that. I’m totally serious.

Where Quitely shines is in his inventive page design, something that Tan apes a bit and, while he’s not quite on par with Quitely, he does a nice job mixing things up with regard to the design. The second and third pages, where Lightning Bug runs from the Red Hood and leaps between buildings, is laid out very well, with the gap between the buildings bisecting the splash page and the smaller panels scattered along the edges. Similarly, when the Red Hood crashes the hoods’ meeting and slaughters them is nicely done. The biggest problem with the art layouts is on the credits page and on the final page, where the position and the way the Red Hood and Scarlet are drawn are very weird and awkward. But Tan does a good job with the art, and on some pages there’s a bit of a Tom Mandrake vibe, and I like Tom Mandrake. So there. I’m not as concerned with the art now, even if I’d rather see Quitely or Cameron Stewart doing it. But that’s not Tan’s fault. Those dudes are seriously good.

As for the actual story, it’s a testament to the God of All Comics that he can make a dull plot like someone taking Batman’s schtick up a notch (killing bad guys instead of incarcerating them) and giving it some zazz. Of course, he came up with the plot, so maybe we shouldn’t let him off the hook too much. As usual in superhero comics, it’s all about the details, and the creepy author and the Red Hood’s conversation with Scarlett, for instance, make this a decent read, even if it feels stale. Whenever you put plot in superhero comics above everything else, you’re going to hit some dull spots. Witness a couple of Marvel books below this, one of which hinges on the depiction of a character and overcomes a (deliberately) goofy plot, while the other hinges on a plot and therefore feels a wee bit stale (even though I still like it). Whenever Morrison puts words that don’t have much to do with the overall plot in his characters’ mouths, we get neat stuff. But acknowledging that the plot is a bit shopworn (“But mostly … I guess this is about the revenge of one crazy man in a mask … on another crazy man in a mask”) doesn’t make it less shopworn.

Still, it’s a good, solid superhero comic. And Tan is better than I expected, which is neat. (Not surprisingly, I’ve been reading negative reactions to Tan’s art across the Wide World of the Web. Only one I’ve read so far as done any kind of analysis of why it’s bad, preferring instead to wax nostalgic about Quitely. I certainly don’t mind people preferring Quitely to Tan, but it would be nice if they gave some reasons. End rant. I promise.)

Does something explode in a fairly gross manner? Why, yes! Lightning Bug’s neck counts, right?

Beasts of Burden #1 (“The Gathering Storm”) by Evan Dorkin (writer), Jill Thompson (artist), and Jason Arthur (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Poor Fluffy!

I’m fairly certain I’ve never read anything by Evan Dorkin before. I know I have to turn in my “Indy Comics Nerd” card for admitting that, but that’s the way it is. But now I have! Can I have my card back?

I mentioned that I saw Thompson’s pages for this entire issue at San Diego, and I was totally jazzed to check out the first issue, because her paintings were, typically, fan-freakin’-tastic. She does an amazing job with the animals, making them real animals even as they’re speaking to each other. The frogs that fall from the sky, for instance, are really keen-looking, but of course they remain frogs, who are slightly icky, setting up the crisis that develops later in the issue. Thompson does a wonderful job with the battle in the forest, showing how, well, animalistic these animals really are. It’s an unsettling comic visually for two reasons: the darkness of the subject matter is contrasted nicely with the gorgeous surroundings; and Thompson makes the animals so real (and often cute) that when they turn vicious, as they must, it’s disturbing. You could get this book based on the art alone and not be disappointed.

I missed the first few appearances of these characters, but Dorkin does a nice job introducing them all and alluding to the previous stories without making it necessary to go back and check them. This is a nifty one-and-done issue, so if you want to give it a try without committing to the entire mini-series, you can. Dorkin does set up the rest of the series nicely, but it’s still a complete story in its own right. It’s a terrifically weird and creepy story, too, with a nice touch of tragedy and a good climax in which … well, the characters win, but do they really? Maybe something weirder is going on around Burden Hill …

This is a very good first issue, because it introduces the characters well, introduces their situation well, has a disturbing plot that resolves in this issue but also sets up the rest of the mini-series, and features Jill Thompson’s art. If you had any brains at all, you would have seen the listing of Jill Thompson as artist and immediately shut off your computer and run out and bought this! And you have brains, right? I know you do!

Does something explode in a fairly gross manner? Most assuredly! And it’s strangely beautiful. Such is the power of Ms. Thompson! (Who, by the way, gave the best acceptance speech at the Eisners. She’s talented and hilarious!)

Ex Machina #45 (“Pro-Life Part One”) by Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Tony Harris (artist), JD Mettler (colorist), Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Wildstorm.

Check out the symbolism on that cover!

The wheels are in motion. The BIG! PLOT! is dull (yeah, I’m harping on that this week), but that’s not the point, of course. The point is that Mitch will, presumably, find out what exactly is going on with this alien thing. Vaughan does some nice things in this issue – he shows, once again, how difficult politics are to navigate, even when, like Mitch, you’re not worried about re-election; and he starts tying earlier story arcs into the main arc more than usual, which is neat. Other than that, it’s business as usual on Ex Machina, which means it’s a good story and it shore looks purty!

There’s a bit of a preview for the last issue of Planetary in the back, and as it involves time travel, it made my head hurt a little bit. I’ll probably address this more when the actual issue comes out, but Ellis brings up a problem with time travel that, weirdly enough, was recently discussed in the Penn State alumni magazine (which my parents get, so I was reading it at their house in June). It’s the zeitgeist, man! Oh, and I CANNOT FREAKING WAIT FOR THE LAST ISSUE OF PLANETARY!!!!! I just thought I should point that out.

Does something explode in a fairly gross manner? Surprisingly, no. There’s some blood and violence, but nothing going BOOM! and spraying guts everywhere.

Fables #88 (“Witches Chapter Two: Totenkinder”) by Bill Willingham (writer), Mark Buckingham (penciller), Steve Leialoha (inker), Andrew Pepoy (inker), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Poor Bufkin!  No respect for the monkey!

I really like that cover. I think it’s the word balloons that aren’t actually on the page. I don’t know why I like that. But I do. Don’t judge me with your dead eyes!

Frau Totenkinder finishes her knitting, and if that doesn’t scare you, it should. As usual with this book, something as innocuous as an old woman (who is, after all, a witch) finishing her knitting is loaded with portent, both for the other Fables and for her herself. Basically, this issue is her transforming from the old woman sitting around into … something else. Something not quite as grandmotherly. It’s one of those issues of Fables that is extremely fun to read, mainly because threads from earlier in the book are still weaving their way through it and because there’s a sense of great evil lurking around every corner. Willingham’s track record on this book with regard to resolving his arcs is decent if not spectacular, but the way he builds to those resolutions is usually very good, and this is just one example. Buckingham, as usual, is wonderful – Totenkinder’s look as she disappears is haunting. And Baba Yaga is still hanging around being a nuisance.

Very cool issue, as most of them are.

Does something explode in a fairly gross manner? Not really, although Baba Yaga’s weapon explodes, sort of, and slices and dices some demon things. I guess we’ll count that!

The Lone Ranger #18 (“Resolve Part Two”) by Brett Matthews (writer), Sergio Cariello (artist), Marcelo Pinto (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

Why would anyone get the black and white version of this cover?

As usual with this title, it’s difficult to review an individual issue. Matthews has done such a nice job with getting the slow rhythm of a Western down that this is “decompressed” to the extreme, but only in the sense that The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is decompressed (to use a movie I saw recently) – that is, the violence on the frontier was often short and brutal and somewhat out-of-nowhere, and in between, there was a lot of riding. So in individual issues of this title, very often not a lot happens, but Matthews is often more concerned about one scene illuminating the moral fiber of the characters, or allowing Cariello to draw bleak scenes of the American West. In this issue, the plot moves along slowly (the Lone Ranger framed for murder!) but three scenes in particular are what Matthews is trying to get across: the sheriff wants to arrest our heroes but shows that he’s a decent man because he gives them a chance to view the victim and explain what happened; there’s love in the air between John and, well, his sister-in-law (Linda?); and Cavendish buys weapons and makes an unusual statement when he tests a Gatling gun. It’s small moments like this that Matthews is going for, and he just allows the plot to take care of itself. I imagine that makes it read better in trade format, but I do like buying those singles, don’t I? Still, Matthews and Cariello are doing their typical good job, and even though this takes its time coming out (another example of decompression?), it’s a marvelous comic book.

Does something explode in a fairly gross manner? Cavendish doesn’t test the Gatling gun on animals or humans, so no.

M.O.D.O.K. Reign Delay by Ryan Dunlavey (writer/artist/colorist/letterer). $3.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

First Erie, then ... the world!

When this appeared in Previews, I smiled a big fanboy smile and waited eagerly for this week. I mean, come on – Dunlavey, famed for Action Philosophers!, doing a M.O.D.O.K. story in which he moves back in with his parents in Erie, PA? How can that not be awesome?

Well, it can’t. Not be awesome, that is, as this is quite awesome. The only thing that gets my goat slightly is that Marvel is charging 4 dollars for this, and the story is only 20 pages. There are two text pages about how awesome M.O.D.O.K. is, but let’s face it – we’ve just read 20 pages with glorious Dunlavey art (in full color!) about how awesome M.O.D.O.K. is, so do we really need someone writing about it? Marvel should have lowered the price on this (especially as it showed up first on-line) or added more material to justify the cover price. This is one of those “fool-me-once” things – I willingly plunked down 4 bucks for this, but next time Marvel does something like this, I really will have to consider my purchase more carefully. The nice thing is that Dunlavey really packs this story with very funny scenes, and it actually feels meatier than your standard Marvel/DC fare, so I didn’t feel ripped off. But it’s a slippery slope, Marvel!

Anyway, in terms of funny, this is. M.O.D.O.K. wants to get into Norman Osborn’s Cabal, so Osborn sends him to Erie to clean things up. Hilarity ensues when M.O.D.O.K. (aka “George”) is invited to his high school reunion. Before you can say “Grosse Pointe Blank,” M.O.D.O.K. is getting bullied by the same guys who did it in high school, fighting Box of Alpha Flight, and yelling at people at the mall. It’s, you know, funny. I don’t really know how to explain how funny it is without ruining the jokes, but it is. In the first panel, Osborn’s answering machine message tells people to make it quick because he has “28 cameo appearances this month.” Box (the Madison Jeffries version, that is) is “Kitchener, Ontario’s greatest super hero!” and his wife gets him to fight M.O.D.O.K. by claiming he said that the Maple Leafs suck. For example. Despite Jeffries’ rather sad state (hiring himself out to make ends meet) that doesn’t jive with his current appearances in Hank McCoy’s little X-club, Dunlavey even makes this “in-continuity” by referencing Fred van Lente’s M.O.D.O.K.’s 11 mini-series. If you care about things like that. Oh, and Erie is not “the mistake on the lake.” Everyone knows that’s Cleveland. Erie’s rather nice, actually.

It’s funny, is what I’m saying. And Dunlavey is a really good artist. And I’m disturbingly turned on by Jeffries’ hot wife. Oh, did I type that last part? Never mind that bit.

Does something explode in a fairly gross manner? No, but there’s a lot of brain blasting.

Poe #3 (of 4) by J. Barton Mitchell (writer), Dean Kotz (artist), Digikore Studios (colorist), James Dashiell (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

Now with pendulum action!

Mitchell moves everything along, bringing in more and more tropes from Poe’s fictional work, which isn’t as annoying as you might expect. It’s kind of clever, actually. We’ve moved past the “Poe tries to figure things out” portion of the book and on to the “Poe tries to stop the bad guy” portion, which is fine but less moody than the first issue-and-a-half. Kotz’s art is good, but this book is really, really dark, and it’s pretty annoying. I mean, sure, it takes place at night in a pit with no good lighting, but just because the scene is dark to the participants doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to see everything. Or maybe my eyesight is really horrible. I’m old, remember. And those years in the monastery copying ancient texts didn’t help. Plus I think I got diphtheria there. No wonder I’m always cranky.

Does something explode in a fairly gross manner? Sadly, no. Or maybe it did and I didn’t see it!

Unthinkable #5 (of 5) by Mark Sable (writer), Julian Totino Tedesco (artist), Juan Manuel Tumburús (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

This entire mini-series should have been about the Chinese jumping to tilt the world off its axis

I’ve said it all along, this is a really weird mini-series. It seemed to zoom along, slow down very briefly in issue #3, and then suddenly speed up again to finish. Sable really tried to pack a lot into this series, and I wonder if it might have been better served by six issues, but then I think there really wasn’t enough for six issues and maybe he could have cut some of the stuff and still had enough to get into five (or even four) issues. It’s very weird. I mean, Alan Ripley thwarts the bad guys in this issue, but Sable leaves some things hanging in case he gets a sequel, so he pulls everything together nicely, but it still feels weird. Things speed to the climax, and then speed through the climax, and in between panels the entire group, at one point, changes into hazmat suits without, apparently, any significant time passing, and it’s all very rushed. It bugs me, because Sable seems to have this issue with his writing – his last mini-series, Fearless, suffered from the same problem with pacing. He does some things very well – the ideas in this series are marvelous, and he obviously keeps a lot of balls in the air competently – but then he doesn’t seem to be able to make things fit in the space allotted. I’d really like to see him get better, because he writes some interesting things.

The big find on this series is Tedesco on art. Like Minck Oosterveer on The Unknown, he’s quite the find. Good job, Boom!

Does something explode in a fairly gross manner? I’m going to count the immune systems of a few people as a “yes.”

The Veil #3 (“Evil”) by El Torres (writer) and Gabriel Hernandez (artist). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, IDW.

They're running out of anagrams for titles of each issue!

Dang, I love that cover. Cool use of negative space.

Anyway, Chris Luna discovers what’s really going on in Crooksville, and while it’s somewhat a standard horror plot, the way Torres and Hernandez present it is really well done. I’ve mentioned this with regard to the other issues of this series, but it’s hard in comics to get the “shock value” of horror movies, which don’t scare as much as they surprise you with things leaping into the frame from out of the frame. Hernandez instead works hard to make the images he puts on the page, which never move, really creepy, and therefore this stays with us longer. And he does a nice job building the sense of dread that Chris feels as she gradually figures out what’s going on. Torres doesn’t do anything too surprising with the story, but we do get an interesting twist at the end that takes our expectations and subverts them just a bit. We think we know what happened to certain characters, but it’s possible something completely different and far more disturbing is happening. It’s also neat that Torres hasn’t been afraid to show Chris as someone who really doesn’t have her shit together, even though she’s the heroine. We’d expect her not to have her shit together, but if this were a crappy horror movie, her weaknesses would be briefly mentioned and then ignored. Here, it’s part of her life, and she struggles with it all the time.

This continues to be a really cool comic. Check it out if you see it on the shelves!

Does something explode in a fairly gross manner? I don’t know if “explode” is the right word, but there’s quite a bit of blood on a few pages.

Vengeance of the Moon Knight #1 (“Shock and Awe Chapter 1″) by Gregg Hurwitz (writer), Jerome Opeña (penciler), Dan Brown (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer). $3.99, 24 pgs (plus a 24-pg reprint of Moon Knight #1 from 1980), FC, Marvel.

What's the over/under on how many issues this lasts?

So this is technically the FIFTH volume of an ongoing series starring Moon Knight, plus the two mini-series that Doug Moench wrote in the late Nineties. Someone at Marvel reeeeeaaaaaallllllllly likes the character, I suppose. I swear, I’m not the person who keeps greenlighting these! I’m not entirely sure why the previous series got cancelled – it just ended earlier this year, and this story simply follows that one rather logically, so I guess the lure of a new number one was too much for Marvel to resist!!!!!

And I hate to stir up a shitstorm surrounding an Alex Ross cover, but I do enjoy where your eye is drawn in that cover. I asked my wife about it, and she went right to it, too, so it’s not just me being scared I’m suddenly going to like Neil Patrick Harris and Right Said Fred all of a sudden if I stare too long at that cover! I just wonder if the people who pose for Ross know they’re going to be … featured … so prominently when they show up on a cover.

So we get a continuation of the theme of the previous series – namely, that Moon Knight is a bit bonkers. Except that didn’t work commercially (even if I thought it worked very well artistically), so Hurwitz pulls back on it a bit while still teasing it. But it’s hard to suss out what Hurwitz is doing otherwise with this particular issue. If I’m hopeful, he’s satirizing the notion of superheroes quite subtly, playing this as straight-as-he-can superheroing while mocking the entire notion of both Osborn’s corporate superheroes and really, the entire notion of pervert-suits as something healthy. While we’ve seen that before, ad infinitum, Hurwitz does it rather well, and it’s never a theme that gets too old. That is, if I’m hopeful and that’s what Hurwitz is doing. I’ve never actually read anything by Hurwitz (prose or comicky), so I don’t know anything about his take on superheroes. Because if he’s playing it straight, it’s kind of odd. Moon Knight narrates as if he’s a whiny teenager, desperate to be taken seriously and thinking the only way he can be is by making a big splash in New York. There’s something charmingly smug about Moonie’s New York-centric narration as he wings his way through Times Square, which is why I’m somewhat hopeful. And the idea that talk radio would debate Moon Knight so vigorously, despite what he did in the last series, is kind of goofy as well … unless it’s deliberate. You see the conundrum? The fact that Mr. Knight is still certifiable (even though he claims not to be) is what makes me hopeful. But we’ll see.

Meanwhile, like Jill Thompson above, Opeña’s art is almost worth the price of admission. I guess we’ll never know how the Big Two shift creative teams, but Opeña was apparently taken off of Punisher to work on this, even though I have to assume Castle is a bit higher on the Marvel pecking order than Spector (or Lockley, as he’s apparently still calling himself). So did Opeña lobby for it because he loves the character so much? Or did Marvel decide that he’s a big enough artist now that they really want to give this book a push? I’m not sure, but he blows the doors off on this, in what is really two extended action scenes, one in broad daylight and one at night. The one that opens the book, where MK thwarts a robbery, is a ballet of violence and verve, with the highlight being Moon Knight surfing on a van (which gets back to Hurwitz’s intentions, as it’s almost too giddy to be taken seriously). Opeña gives us one beautiful panel after another, culminating in two splash pages summing up the first issue: Moon Knight destroying property to announce his presence with authority and the appearance of the Sentry at the end to challenge him. He’s having a grand time drawing this, you can tell, and even though Marvel breaks up his symphony with advert pages (how annoying!), it’s still a wonderful-looking comic. Who knows how long Opeña will last on the title; who knows how long the title itself will last?

As long-time readers know, I’m a big fan of the character, and I want his series to sell. However, I want them to be good, too, which is often mutually exclusive to a book’s position on the sales chart. I thought the last Moon Knight series was excellent, and although I’m uncertain about Hurwitz’s ultimate intentions (if he turns MK into just another superhero, this will get boring), I’m happy that he’s back. We shall see, won’t we?

(Oh, and the cover price is almost worth it for the reprint of Moon Knight #1 from 30 years ago in the back. That particular issue isn’t the best of the series, but it’s neat seeing Sienkiewicz’s art before he became, you know, BILL SIENKIEWICZ – he’s obviously ripping off Neal Adams, but he’s also channeling Frank Miller’s early Daredevil stuff. It’s interesting to consider how different and unique Miller and Sienkiewicz became when you consider how much they both were patterning themselves after Adams.)

Does something explode in a fairly gross manner? No. This is in marked contrast to the previous Moon Knight series, where things seemed to get gross quite often!

Wednesday Comics #11 (of 12). $3.99, 15 pgs, FC, DC.

I told you the women in Deadman were not to be trusted!

I ought to have more thoughts about this, but I’ll save them for next week, when the grand experiment comes to an end. I will say that Fletcher’s page design on the Flash strip is just amazing, and as neat as Baker’s computerized art was early on, it’s looking sloppier and sloppier as we go along. What’s up with that?

X-Factor #48 (“The Cortex Equation”) by Peter David (writer), Valentine de Landro (penciler), Pat Davidson (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Longshot does not actually appear in this comic.

I don’t know if you guys have heard this, but David recently confirmed that the book is being relaunched with issue #200. Meh. I don’t really care, but the book did go on hiatus for some years, plus there was that four-issue (underrated, in my mind) X-Factor mini-series that came out back in the Jemas days that had those non-mutant government agents doing their thing which won’t count in the numbering. Whatever.

David continues to tie everything together in anticipation of issue #50, with a revelation about the big, bad villain behind everything and a funny Doctor Doom moment and Shatterstar showing up at an opportune moment. There’s a bunch going on, naturally, and it’s fine and dandy. And it’s kind of interesting to see De Landro pencil an entire issue. Wait? An artist doing the entire issue of an issue of X-Factor? Holy crap!

Oh, and David wants to forget the 2009 Mets season. Even if my beloved Phillies don’t win the World Series again this year, they’ve still had a better season than the Mets. Suck it, Mets!!!!!

Does something explode in a fairly gross manner? Surprisingly, yes. It’s not too gross, but it’s still fairly gross for a mainstream Marvel comic, even if it is rated “T+.”

So that’s the week. Wegener, Thompson, Harris, Buckingham, Cariello, Dunlavey, Tedesco, Hernandez, Opeña, Risso, Sook, Bullock, Allred, Pope, Conner, Garcia-Lopez, Kubert, Fletcher – dang, some good art this week! Let’s hit the totally random lyrics!

“That thunder in your heart
At night when you’re kneeling in the dark
It says you’re never gonna leave her
But there’s this angel in her eyes
That tells such desperate lies
And all you want to do is believe her”

Let’s bring it home where we began:

“This is a Pershing missile, Chip!”
“Chet. My name is Chet. And I didn’t think it was a whale’s dick, honey!”

Classic. CLASSIC!!!!!

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As soon as I saw “…where Tan really shines is his inventive page-layout” I had to skip the rest of the reviews and tell you how wrong you are. While Tan expressed the quieter moments fine, the action really fell apart. Like during the chase scene with that villain jumping through the window; one big panel with the goofy layouts to the side? The eye didn’t flow from one panel to another like it should when confronted with a zig-zagging layout like that. It took me longer to figure out what was happening. And then when he fell out of the building, did the car blow up 5 from under him before he hit it? Did the explosion from the car launch him into the air? Did a building blow up while he was falling? Because there was a building that was on fire while he was falling. When did that happen? Why did the cop cars blow up? I’m only through the first 8 pages. The first page and the double pager first showing Red Hood and Scarlet were great and exhibited a dark mood and didn’t have to resort to the jumbled mess that his action scenes did to achieve it.
So while there are definitely worse artists out there, I have a feeling that I’ll remember this as the low point in Morrison’s B&R series and not because Cameron and Quitely are impossible to top, but because Tan just wasn’t up to it.

‘shes the one’ bruce springsteen.

track 6 off born to run(which by the way is way is the greatest album ever made). check out the live version from the 75 hammersmith odeaon concert.

and will AOA going to Hercules push it up to $4?

“This is one of those “fool-me-once” things – I willingly plunked down 4 bucks for this, but next time Marvel does something like this, I really will have to consider my purchase more carefully.”

Right on, Greg. Marvel’s $4 cover price on darn-near everything is not cool, nor is it cool for everyone to just bend their heads down a little lower, mumble quietly and then fork over the cash.

Because of work and illness I haven’t even picked up my comics this week. But I AM reviewing Batman and Robin #4 for CBR, so you will get to see whether or not I have learned to stop worrying and love Philip Tan. (Though from the preview pages, the art looks pretty garish, so I doubt it. Still, I won’t judge until I read the whole comic.)

Yeah, I’m bummed that ATLAS is going on hiatus, but on the other hand, ATLAS as a back up in Incredible Hercules means that there will be a comic that I will love more than any comic in years. There’s something to that.

I actually got MODOCK for I believe $0.99 from DCBS. I had no idea the cover price was so high. Sad about AoA but at least they will continue in some form (unlike Exiles or Captain Britain). Perhaps Marvel is just buying time until Disney forkes over some money to prop up sime lower selling books??

You have nothing to worry about. It is biologically impossible for any human being to like Right Said Fred.

Geezola …. 8 count ‘em 8 comics on your list that I should be receiving no later than Monday & maybe even tomorrow (knock wood — this is my first shipment using Priority instead of Media Mail, which has taken anywhere from 3 days to something like 2 weeks in the past …) from HeavyInk: Agents of Atlas, Modok, Wednesday Comics, Unthinkable, Atomic Robo, Beasts of Burden, Poe & The Veil. I think that means you have either really good taste or really bad taste.

Since we’re talking about Dunleavey, does anyone know if there’ll every be more Comic Book Comics?

And, on a kind of related subject (the Van Lente connection), I never knew AoA was going to be a back-up in Hercules. But now that I do I’m quite chuffed about it. I’ve heard lots of good things about the comic, and Herc is one of my favourite monthlies.

You have nothing to worry about. It is biologically impossible for any human being to like Right Said Fred.

And similarly to dislike Neil Patrick Harris.

Sorry, Dunlavey.

Actually, I think I may go download some Right Said Fred.

I highly recommend the earlier Beasts of Burden appearances in the “Dark Horse Book of…” anthology series. Each story snippet was fantastic, and one of them made me cry like a baby as a pet owner. I can’t wait to get the first full length issue.

Joe: Yeah, I knew that would be a controversial statement. I thought the pages 2-3 spread was nicely done; no problem following it at all. I agree that the exploding car was a bit confusing, but only because of the cause, not because of the way the art flowed. It gets back to how much is Morrison – did he give vague instructions about things blowing up or did he just let Tan go nuts? I don’t know. I didn’t say it was GREAT art, just a lot better than I thought it would be.

I forgot you were sick, Tim. And working hard. It’s like you care about kids’ education or something!!!!!

Of course, I already like Neil Patrick Harris. Ross’s cover designs are already working!!!!!!

“She’s the One” is my favorite Springsteen song. I know that makes me weird.

I haven’t seen any Comic Book Comics listed in Previews recently. Dunlavey reads the blog occasionally, so maybe he can come by and give us an update. I would imagine he likes working for actual money, so it might just be on the back burner for a while.

I had never heard of Beasts of Burden before so I looked on Dark Horse comics for something about them and good news: they have 3 of their 4 earlier appearances online! Unfortunately it looks like darkhorse.com is down right now so I can’t link to it directly.

I disagree about Tan’s art. His page layouts are awful. There were quite a few pages I found really confusing because the panel layouts made no sense, or because there was just enough overlap that two pages looked like a spread but weren’t. There were a number of places where he chose to use very odd perspective, and while there’s nothing wrong with odd perspective per se, there is a problem when it makes the art hard to read, which it was in this case. In addition, he used too much black in too many places, obscuring a lot of details and making the art even harder to read (and I’m a guy who loves heavy use of black ink in comics!).

Tan’s only got two more issues, right? I can put up with that, but if he’s on for much longer than that I’m giving him one more issue to improve, and if he doesn’t I’m dropping it. I don’t need to spend as much time as I did trying to figure out which panel comes next when I’m reading.

There you go, a thoughtful critique of why I didn’t like Tan’s art, and up until this sentence, not one mention of Quitely.

Gotta remember to pick up the Veil trade.

Agents of Atlas, Cable, Guardians of the Galaxy… a lot of Marvel books are having rotating art teams. That´s really annoying.

“Why are you such a wanker, Chet?”
“Because I get off on it!”

Unthinkable was pretty damn good. I loved the art especially. I still think the final issue suffered by not giving more sympathy/credence to Steven’s reasons for his actions. That’s kind of glossed over in the final push to the end. A little weak. Otherwise, a really good read.

Thanks, Tekende! That’s all I ask for!

Chad: Yeah, that’s part of why the book feels rushed. I just don’t know what Sable could have done differently.

Well, another issue or tighter pacing up to this point could have helped. Even just devoting a little bit of time to Alan and Steven talking more… I don’t know.

Also, I answered your challenge regarding Tan’s art (in my way): http://graphicontent.blogspot.com/2009/09/i-bought-comics-september-16-2009.html

Good stuff, sir! I disagree with your comment about the first page, ignored the bird (no, it doesn’t say good things about Tan’s art, but it doesn’t detract either), and thought Lightning Bug was ugly because he was, you know, getting shot through the neck. It does seem that a lot of people ignore problems in the script because it’s what’s-his-name, and that when he’s paired with a good artist (like Quitely), the problems in his scripts get covered up somewhat. Everyone is focusing on the art in this issue while ignoring the kind-of paint-by-numbers script. That’s not Tan’s fault. Sure, he could have jazzed it up, but it’s still not his fault!

Like I said, I think this issue relied on subtle nuane between characters at times… which is a flaw in Morrison’s writing as I’m not sure he knows exactly what he wants either. How are we to take Grayson’s body language in the party scene? I couldn’t tell what Morrison and Tan were going for really — in the art or writing, honestly. I liked Morrison’s dialogue in the Red Hood/Scarlet scene, but Tan’s art (his choice of angles a lot of the time) brought it down.

Darkhorse.com is back up. Here’s a link to the ecomic of the older Beasts of Burden stories http://www.darkhorse.com/Features/eComics/1090/Beasts-of-Burden

Very cool, sir. Thanks!

While nothing makes me happier than thinking “Opena on Moon Knight” I really wonder what the hell is going on. It’s like they plucked Punisher #1 for ideas on how to make MK sell sometime during the Benson run.

Y’know, I own a Right Said Fred single with something like 7 mixes of “I’m Too Sexy.” Also their (only?) CD. Bought ‘em both used for pennies on the dollar, of course, but still … still, my taste in music is infinitely awesomer than yours & just about anyone else’s here. Amazing, isn’t it?

Luckily, the “Batman and Robin” #4 Philip Tan is not the Philip Tan of the mid-to-late “Final Crisis: Revelations,” but, well, the art’s still not all that good. My CBR review: http://tinyurl.com/l5kqx7

I will say that Fletcher’s page design on the Flash strip is just amazing

…Fletcher – dang, some good art this week!

Brenden Fletcher is the co-writer of the Flash strip, Greg. Karl Kerschl, who also co-writes, is the artist, so credit for the page layout should probably go to him.

Whoops, my bad. I could have sworn Fletcher was drawing it. Sorry, Misters Kerschl and Fletcher!

You can tell them apart in this simple way: Kerschl draws the hell out of anything. Fletcher doesn’t draw.

Ah, I see. That’s a good way to do it!

No Moon Knight hate, Tim? You’re slipping!

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