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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 6 January 2010

You don’t know exactly when you fall in love with someone, do you? There isn’t that sudden moment when the music stops and you look into one another’s eyes for the first time, or whatever. Well, maybe it’s like that for some people, but not me. I had a friend who told me she fell for a boy when she woke up in the morning and realized he didn’t snore. It doesn’t sound much, does it? Except it sounds true. (Julian Barnes, from Talking It Over)

Guns, boobs, and Nazis!  What's not to love? So much potential! Better singer: Bob or Superman? Tits, yes, but God, no dick, please!!!! Man, comics in the Fifties had a lot of words! Incest: Keep it in the family! Yes, Portland parking tickets actually look like that, I can unfortunately testify. Can you really destroy the House of Secrets? I must say, that's a cool cover. Where's it been?  I've missed it so!

New year, new decade, new features, new quotes, new totally random lyrics, new panels of awesome … same old crappy, half-assed reviews! Oh well – you can’t have everything!

FearlessDawn2Fearless Dawn #2 (of 4) by Steve Mannion (writer/artist/colorist) and Frank Forte (colorist). $2.95, 22 pgs, FC, Asylum Press.

I’m a bit disappointed by this issue of Fearless Dawn, because it looks a bit rushed. It’s a bit more cartoonish than the first issue, and while there’s nothing wrong with cartoonish per se, the first issue was more precise and Mannion’s cheescake art was really fun to look at. His story continues to be nothing to write home about, as Dawn and Number Seven escape the Nazis, fight them, get recaptured, and then get rescued by Dawn’s old nemesis-turned-best friend, Betty, and while it has plenty of energy, the fact that the art looks a bit sloppy doesn’t help. I think it’s intentional, because some parts of the book look finely delineated, like the first issue, while the more slapstick parts (and I use that term intentionally, even though the characters have been turned into monsters and are smashing Nazis) are more cartoonish. If it is intentional, I wish Mannion wouldn’t do it, because part of the joy of looking at his art is the marvelous detail he puts into things, and the cartoonish art robs it of that. Some of the pages – Betty’s first appearance, the plane attacking Helga von Krause and the General – are very well done, and I wonder if it’s not a coincidence that they’re full splash pages. This is still a goofy, fun, cheesecakey comic, and good guys killing Nazis is never a bad thing, but if the art is like this because it’s rushed, I wouldn’t mind waiting a little bit longer for issue #3 to come out (it’s due in March). The cover of that one features Dawn fighting what looks like a giant frog underwater, which ought to be fairly awesome, I reckon!

One panel of awesome:

I just love the gleeful evil looks on their faces!

I just love the gleeful evil looks on their faces!

Gigantic5Gigantic #5 (of 5) by Rick Remender (writer), Eric Nguyen (artist), John Cottrell (art assist), Matthew Wilson (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $3.50, 25 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Gigantic finally finishes, many months after issue #4, and it’s not really worth it. I was already on the fence about this, and I only got issue #5 because it was the final issue (I wouldn’t have sprung for an issue #5 and 6, in other words). It had such potential – a giant robot shows up on Earth, causes havoc, and then it’s revealed the Earth was created as part of a television program where fights are staged for the amusement of aliens. What a concept! Remender, however, never makes it work as more than a cool concept. We get a lot of fights, some attempts at pathos, and some obvious plotting. In this issue, Gigantic redeems himself, but we never care too much about him, so his redemption has very little impact. Remender, who is an extremely up-and-down writer, has made sudden death a crucial part of something like Fear Agent, but it works in that book. I’m not sure why. In this book, it feels really callous and somewhat sadistic. It’s odd.

Remender isn’t helped by Nguyen, who’s not a bad artist but has some problems in this issue. The blend of photo-reference and “regular” art doesn’t work too well, and while a fight between giant robots is naturally going to be a bit confused, but it’s still a bit of a mess. There’s no flow to it, and it often looks like the components of each panel were assembled separately and then placed into the panel, and it robs the book of any spontaneity and energy. A fight between giant robots should leap off the page, and it just doesn’t.

Remender isn’t a great writer but he can be good (we’ll see an example of a good Remender comic below!), but this is a misfire. The concept is cool, but it just doesn’t work. Too bad!

One panel of awesome:

You know, a comic that features a floating, green-skinned, bulbous-headed telepath chatting with a giant robot should have been better!

You know, a comic that features a floating, green-skinned, bulbous-headed telepath chatting with a giant robot should have been better!

GrimJackManxCat6GrimJack: The Manx Cat #6 (of 6) by John Ostrander (writer), Timothy Truman (artist), Lovern Kindzierski (colorist), and John Workman (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW.

Ostrander and Truman end their latest opus with: John Gaunt flying through Samurai Salamanders on a hoverbike, slaughtering as he goes (“Texas rules applied,” he narrates, “They needed killing.”); John Gaunt laying a smooch on Darlin’ Lil to break the spell the cat goddess (Mannachs) has over her; Lil fighting a monstrous creature who’s trying to stop them from reaching Mannachs; Mannachs using the horrors from Gaunt’s past to try to stop him, of which he’s having none (see below); Blackjac macking with Mannachs because he’s under her spell, and Gaunt making the inevitable “pussy” joke (and yeah, I laughed despite myself); Blackjac fighting Gaunt before Gaunt manages to snap him out of the spell; Mannachs torturing Bob the Lizard to make him sing, which makes people relive their deepest pain; Gaunt using the knives of St. John of Knives to wound Mannachs; and Gaunt using Bob’s song for an entirely different reason. Yes, this is the second comic book in the past year in which the climax comes down to an alien being singing. Who’da thunk it?

I know this was available on-line for free, but I really don’t mind paying for it when it’s this kick-ass. A letter writer wonders why Ostrander throws in so many wild ideas and then just moves on (the Samurai Salamanders, for instance), but I love that aspect of the comic – it’s one of the things we love about the God of All Comics, too, so why not here? Ostrander and Truman obviously have a blast doing this, and I’m certainly along for any other John Gaunt stories they want to tell!

One panel of awesome:

John Gaunt.  Fucking.  Hardcore.

John Gaunt. Fucking. Hardcore.

LastDaysAmericanCrime1The Last Days of American Crime #1 (of 3) by Rick Remender (writer), Greg Tocchini (artist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $4.99, 48 pgs, FC, Radical Comics.

Here’s our second Rick Remender book of the week, even though this came out a few weeks ago. The fine folk at Radical sent this along to me, so I’d like to thank them for that. I wrote about the short preview that Radical put out a while back, and that it seemed like a fairly decent heist story. And what do you know, it is!

Remender introduces us to Graham Bricke, a career criminal who has one last heist planned. It’s not the boring old reason that he wants to have one last score and then retire – he’s being forced to retire. The United States government is doing two things very soon – they are going to broadcast a signal that will make it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit a crime, and they’re getting rid of cash and switching to a credit card system. Graham wants to hack into the card system before it goes on-line, which will allow him and his cronies to have an unlimited supply of credit, and then flee to Canada. But he has only two weeks.

If we ignore the fuzzy science and the even fuzzier ethics and politics of this move (really, everyone is on board with removing everyone’s free will?), it’s a nifty story. Graham needs new partners quickly because his first one started talking about the job (Graham doesn’t like this), so he hooks up with a fairly psychotic killer and his safe-cracking girlfriend … who, just before her boyfriend showed up, took Graham into the bathroom and fucked the hell out of him. So there’s some tension, you betcha! And we find out more about Shelby that isn’t too charming, either. Oh, and the guy Graham’s first partner told is gunning for our “hero.” It’s just that kind of twisted heist story.

Remender does a pretty good job with it, too – perhaps he needs this kind of protagonist for his books to work. Graham is a scumbag, of course, but he’s still an interesting fellow who’s nice to his mother (seriously). In this moral morass of near-future Los Angeles, Graham’s the least jerky of all the people, so we’re sort of on his side. And if we get past the silly plot set-up, breaking into an impregnable vault with a couple of crazy people (Kevin and Shelby are certainly a bit loopy) is always a fun story. Remender seems to do this kind of thing well, so I’m interested to see where he’s going with it.

The real star of the book is Tocchini, who’s absolutely wonderful. He makes Los Angeles seedy but still captivating, and his character work is tremendous. The first conversation between Graham and Shelby, before she lures him into the bathroom, is beautifully flirty and dangerous, with each character hiding so much but still revealing some crucial things. Remender deserves some credit, but Tocchini’s excellent work makes the words deeper and more delicious. The sex scene manages to be pretty steamy (which, honestly, is tough to do in comics) but also pretty creepy (see below). Tocchini also excels with the wide-open scenes and the violence, which comes later in the book. Remender’s script works pretty well, but Tocchini really makes this a comic to check out.

I have some reservations about Shelby, but I’ll keep those on hold until issue #2. Maybe I’ll read it, if Gianluca sends it to me! Actually, if issue #2 shows up at my comics shoppe in February (I don’t know if they ordered one), I might have to get it. I like Tocchini’s art that much!

One panel of awesome:

This is probably the point when you stop the screwing and run far away from this chick!

This is probably the point when you stop the screwing and run far away from this chick!

MarvelBoyUranian1Marvel Boy: The Uranian #1 (of 3) (“Call me … The Uranian!”) by Jeff Parker (writer), Felix Ruiz (artist/letterer), and Val Staples (colorist). $3.99, 22 pgs + 17 pgs of 2 back-up stories, FC, Marvel.

For the past year or so, I’ve been trying to skip DC and Marvel’s mini-series. I know they’re going to be released in trade paperback, and they’ll probably be cheaper or at least just as much as single issues, and they won’t have advertisements. I don’t always follow that course, but I’ve been trying to do so. Marvel, however, has looked deep into my soul and figured out how to stymie me: Release three-issue mini-series! Why does this stymie me? Well, these series aren’t long enough to earn their own trade paperback, so they combine them in trades with other series I don’t want and then charge more than I would pay for the three issues. Consider probably their best mini-series last year (yes, I’m working on a best-of-the-year post; don’t rush me!): Joe Casey and Nathan Fox’s Zodiac. It was three issues for $4 a pop, which means $12 (thanks, multiplication skillz!) for the series. The trade collected those three issues, Lethal Legion #1-3, and Mr. Negative #1-3. Now, that’s nine issues for $25, which is a fine value, but it’s also six issues I had no interest in reading. So it was better for me, personally, to buy the single issues. And now Marvel has done it again! I’d probably buy this anyway, as it presumably has something to do with the Agents of Atlas, but I wonder when it’s in trade if it will be packaged with one or two other mini-series that I don’t care about. Who’s the clever one now, Marvel???? (Yeah, probably still not me. Oh well.)

And, to be fair, this is $3.99 for a 22-page story plus two Marvel Boy stories from the early 1950s, one drawn by Russ Heath and the other drawn by Bill Everett, so it’s a pretty nifty package. And, although it’s mostly set-up for how Bob Grayson came to Earth, decided against calling himself “The Uranian” and switched to “Marvel Boy” and therefore doesn’t kick too much ass in the story department (I’ll get back to the story, however), it’s almost worth getting it just for the art. Ruiz is phenomenal.

I’ll tell you a story (that’s why we’re here, aren’t we?). My wife and I have a habit when we watch television or movies (to be honest, we have several habits, among them discussing when a “Lumumba moment” occurs, but it’s not the time for that!). If we see a celebrity who resembles another celebrity but who isn’t as famous (or usually older) than that celebrity, the first one becomes a “low-rent” version of the second. You’ve done this too, I bet – who didn’t see Scream the first time and instantly think “Skeet Ulrich sure is a low-rent Johnny Depp”? Leelee Sobieski is a low-rent Helen Hunt, in another example. Anyway, this isn’t to disparage the less famous celebrity – they just haven’t been around as the more famous one and therefore can’t charge as much! So I hope Felix Ruiz (if, perhaps, he reads this) won’t take it as an insult when I say he’s a low-rent Bill Sienkiewicz. Because I flippin’ love Bill Sienkiewicz. Ruiz’s doesn’t look like Sienkiewicz’s today, as Sienkiewicz has become more and more experimental in recent years. Ruiz is more like Sienkiewicz on New Mutants or even later issues of Moon Knight, when he started to be a bit more wild in his style but wasn’t going full multimedia and collage-like, as he did in later years. Ruiz is a bit more cartoonish than Sienkiewicz, but that works fine for this slightly (just slightly) silly superhero story. I mean, Ruiz has to draw a bunch of robed people standing in a dome on Uranus, so we can’t take the book too seriously. But he’s up to the task, and he gives us a really nice two-page spread when Bob narrates his history. It’s dynamite stuff!

Parker has fun with this, too, which is nice. It’s basically a short fight showing us Bob’s technological marvels, some backstory about his origin, some xenophobia as the United States government reacts unfavorably to Bob, and the beginning of a story about Bob meeting a creator for Timely Comics, who wants to put Bob in a book and convinces him to change his name. It’s a fairly packed book, story-wise, but it’s a lot of set-up (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It’s a charming tale, full of references to Marvel Comics in the 1950s as well as a nifty reference to This Island Earth, the movie featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. I’m a bit puzzled about Bob’s age – from what he says about when he was born, it sounds like it was sometime during World War II, and in between he and his father went to Uranus. Now it’s 1950 and he’s a grown-up? Odd. Maybe he’s supposed to be a teenager, but the oldest he could possibly be is 17. It’s not that big a deal, but I thought Parker would address it with some kind of time-bending, comic-booky explanation. Oh well.

Anyway, this is a typically fun Parker comic with fantastic art. It’s all good!

One panel of awesome:

Apparently, superheroes in the 1950s had to say stuff like this!

Apparently, superheroes in the 1950s had to say stuff like this!

Starstruck5Starstruck #5 (of 13) (“Hugs and Kisses”/”A Friend in Deed”) by Elaine Lee (writer), Michael Wm. Kaluta (artist), Charles Vess (inker, “A Friend in Deed”), Lee Moyer (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $3.99, 26 pgs, FC, IDW.

Starstruck rolls merrily along, as some plot threads start to come together. We follow up on the family drama between Molly Medea and her evil stepsister Maggie from last issue with Maggie, now a ridiculously wealthy entrepreneur and icky daddy’s girl (that’s her on the cover, with her father, and see below for an even creepier panel!), getting Molly arrested and then getting her exiled to a truly horrible penal colony through nefarious means. Plus, in the back-up story, there’s a soapbox race. Well, a soapbox race with rockets.

As always, it’s tough to really express how keen this comic is. I mean, you should be getting it just to see Kaluta’s art and the fancy new colors, but Lee really put a lot of work into stuffing this universe full of interesting, devious, or wacky characters, and although the main plot still escapes me, each issue adds a bit to it and each issue is a fun little story on its own. Yes, it helps to have read the previous issues (this makes much more sense if you do), but if you haven’t, Lee does a nice job making sure we get the animosity between the sisters and giving us a nice tale of one sister’s battle against oppression. And the Galactic Girl Guide back-up stories are always a treat.

Also as always, I’m going to have to re-read these when they all come out, but I’m enjoying them in single issue form as well, because they’re packed with content and they actually take longer than your usual comic to read. It’s quite the treat!

One panel of totally creepy:

Yes, that's a father and daughter.  Yes, he's shirtless.  Yes, she was sitting on his lap.  Yes, he's sitting on a saddle with an extremely phallic horn.  No, you can't unsee this!

Yes, that's a father and daughter. Yes, he's shirtless. Yes, she was sitting on his lap. Yes, he's sitting on a saddle with an extremely phallic horn. No, you can't unsee this!

Stumptown2Stumptown #2 (“The Case of the Girl Who Took Her Shampoo but Left Her Mini Part Two”) by Greg Rucka (writer), Matthew Southworth (artist), and Lee Loughridge (colorist). $3.99, 34 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

I’m not sure if I’m allowed to review this book now that our own Kelly Thompson has adopted it and sung its praises, because I might have the incorrect chromosomes to do so! But ovaries be damned – I’m writing something about this!

Even though I no longer live in Portland, I feel it’s my job to let you know how Rucka is doing with the references to the Rose City in this comic. Dex, after being shot last issue under the St. Johns Bridge, ends up at Legacy Emanuel Hospital. I’m not sure if that’s the closest hospital to where she was shot, but it’s not too far, except I thought she was shot on the south side of the bridge, meaning she’d have to cross the river to get to North Portland and down to the hospital. If she was on the north side, it makes sense. But if she was on the south side, there’s probably something closer to downtown where she can go. When Dex goes downtown to identify her shooter, she’s at 1111 Southwest Second Avenue, and you can just see the towers (are they called towers?) of the Hawthorne Bridge in the background. When Isabel visits Dex, she mentions that she was going shopping at Tanasbourne and just stopped by the see Dex. Since Isabel lives on the coast, it’s not crazy to think she drove to Portland to go shopping and decided to make a side trip to see Dex, but Tanasbourne is way the hell out in Hillsboro, on the west side of town, and Dex lives in the close northeast side of town, a hearty trek from Isabel’s shopping excursion. But again, if she came all the way from the coast (it’s about two hours, if we make Lincoln City – which I believe has a casino – as a stand-in for “Coast City” in the book), what’s an out-of-the-way drive to visit Dex? Stumptown Coffee, to which Dex follows Oscar, actually exists, and this one looks suspiciously like the one at 128 Southwest Third, which puts it a bit far away from the Heathman Hotel, which is where Charlotte Suppa goes after Oscar drags her outside. The Heathman is at 1001 Southwest Broadway, so it’s a good four blocks west and nine blocks south of where Charlotte is. Even with Portland’s smaller blocks, that’s a hike. How does Charlotte get there? Perhaps Portland’s fantastic public transportation system took her there! It’s free downtown! Well, at least the light rail is – I guess the busses got too damned expensive, even for socialist-friendly Portland!

Wasn’t that fun? Aren’t you glad you have me to squire you around the city like that? Where else in the comics blogaxy will you get service like that? NOWHERE, say I! Of course, just like issue #1, Rucka’s and Southworth’s verisimilitude doesn’t mean dick if the story and art sucks, but that’s just not possible, is it? After getting shot at the end of last issue, Dex ends up in the ER, flirts with the doctor rather nicely (it’s always fun when people flirt in comics, because they do it in real life!) and a friend of hers from the police department shows up. Dex explains the situation, runs home to get her brother ready for work, goes back downtown to look at mug shots, gets yelled at by a cop with whom she obviously has a history (Rucka does a nice job showing Dex going too far in the heat of anger and then suddenly realizing she’s gone too far, even though it’s too late), and then gets a visit from Isabel, the daughter of the mobster Dex visited last issue. Isabel and her brother Oscar are involved in something with the missing girl, Charlotte, and Rucka does a nice job showing how Dex strings everything together and ends up with an interesting conclusion (yes, she finds Charlotte, but I won’t say what’s going on when she does). Rucka has a good feel for the monotony of a private investigator’s life – Dex sits in her car a lot in this issue waiting for people to do something, and while you might think that’s boring, it’s only at the very end, and comes after several well-written conversations she has with the principals of the case. What you call boring I call slowly building tension, and it works nicely. Southworth continues to add a nice layer of grit to this noirish tale, and unlike Nguyen in Gigantic, Southworth does a nice job blending photo references with his own work. Only in a couple of places does it look out of place – the parking tickets Dex gets, a Google page – and those are so small it doesn’t matter. Southworth writes a bit about his process at the end of the book, and it’s pretty neat reading. I love stuff like that.

So Stumptown continues to be very good, and this issue should make Kelly as happy as the first one did. And if Kelly’s happy, that’s all that really matters, right?

One panel of awesome:

Aw, look at them flirting in the ER like that!  How cute!

Aw, look at them flirting in the ER like that! How cute!

SuicideSquad67Suicide Squad #67 (“Danse Macabre Part 1″) by Gail Simone (writer), John Ostrander (writer), Jim Calafiore (artist), Jason Wright (colorist), and Steve Wands (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

I was worried when I opened Suicide Squad #67, the only one of DC’s “next issues of cancelled series that tie in with Blackest Night” issues I’m going to buy. I was prepared for dead villains coming back and being all icky, but just seeing the Fiddler leading a bunch of dead guys on the second and third pages made me cringe a little. Yes, I know Blackest Night is the KEWLEST MOTHERFUCKING COMIC EVAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!, but it’s just not my thing, so I was wary about this even though it ties into Secret Six and has Ostrander returning to write characters he kills on (pun intended, I guess). And I’m still worried about the end, at which all the old villains who died during Ostrander’s run on Suicide Squad rise (I assume it’s all of them; it’s been years since I read the book and the only one I remember is Ravan) and form “The Homicide Squad” (yuck), but in between, we get a really good Suicide Squad versus Secret Six story. Amanda Waller is using a crappy assassin for Squad missions (“crappy” in that she’s not a completely ruthless killer, and isn’t it cool that even though the title was cancelled, the Squad still goes on missions?) and she wants Deadshot back. So she sets a trap, concocts a mission for the Six, and lures them to Belle Reve. Where she gets Deadshot back! Yay!

This is a “fun” issue, not that horrible killers fighting each other is fun, but because Simone and Ostrander do such a nice job with the characters themselves. The most recent issue of Secret Six, which brought Black Alice onto the team, was weirdly off, but in this issue, everything is back to crackling energy, and I love it. I mean, Bane acts like a mean older brother when Liana comes to take Scandal on a date, and it’s hilarious all around (and I love Scandal’s reaction to Liana’s motorcycle). Deadshot’s reactions to the way Amanda gets him to Belle Reve and what he finds there works very well, and the pages where he discovers it’s a trap are excellent. Black Alice narrates a bit, and that works well too, and of course, Rag Doll is completely hilarious. Sample quote: “I don’t like to hurt children. Well, yes, in fact, I do, but may I suggest that you put away your little ukelele or whatever it is and go home, darling?” Dang, I love Rag Doll. Everything clicks, and I’m glad this is less about dead villains kicking ass and more like a classic issue of Suicide Squad. Of course, we can’t keep the Homicide Squad away for too much longer, but at least in this issue they don’t do anything! And of course, much like that issue of Secret Six that featured Deadshot and Richard Craemer a few months ago, this makes me miss Suicide Squad even more. Dang, what a great series.

Oh, and Jim Calafiore draws this. Poor Bill Reed!

One panel of awesome:

Those two really need to get a room!

Those two really need to get a room!

SweetTooth5Sweet Tooth #5 (“Out of the Deep Woods Conclusion”) by Jeff Lemire (writer/artist), José Villarrubia (colorist), and Pat Brosseau (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Well, I was giving Sweet Tooth until the end of the first story arc to decide whether I want to keep buying it, and here we are at the end of the first story arc, and I won’t keep buying it. I keep waiting for it to become really interesting, and it just … doesn’t. The ending of this arc is really the only place it could go unless Lemire wanted to keep Gus and Jepperd on the road longer, but since he doesn’t, this is kind of how it has to end. It’s not a terrible book by any means, but I imagine it will read much better in trade format, because Lemire seems to be going for a very slow burn here. There’s nothing wrong with that (I just wrote that Rucka seems to be doing that in Stumptown, and I like that book), but when, as I’ve been writing, nothing happens that we can’t completely see coming, it gets a little tiresome. There’s nothing in this book so far that can even be called “characterization,” because both Gus and Jepperd remain somewhat blank slates at the end of this arc, and even though, in Jepperd’s case, he does stuff, what he does is very predictable. I know at the end of this Lemire is going for something deep inside Jepperd that will be explored eventually (at least that’s what it feels like), but I’m just not connecting with it or the rest of the book. There’s that connection we have to have with any form of entertainment for it to work, and if it’s not there, it doesn’t matter how well it’s put together. I don’t think Lemire has figured out how to pace a monthly comic, and that’s on him, but even if that wasn’t in evidence, I’m just not feeling much for this comic. As I wrote last time, I really want to like this. I just don’t.

I wish it well. I was so jazzed to see the double-page spread early in the book where Gus passes out while Jepperd fights the bad guys, because it was so marvelously designed. If more of the book had been like that, maybe it would have been more thrilling. But unlike our next post-Apocalyptic comic that took a while to hit its stride, I don’t see too many signs of progress that this is going to. I’m kind of sad that I don’t dig this more. C’est la vie, I guess.

One panel of awesome:

He's not an ass-kicker for nothing!

He's not an ass-kicker for nothing!

Wasteland27Wasteland #27 (“The Enemy”) by Antony Johnston (writer), Christopher Mitten (artist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.50, 24 pgs, BW, Oni Press.

Speaking of post-Apocalyptic comics that took a while to hit their strides, another issue of Wasteland finally comes out (the last one showed up in September). I know issue #25 took a lot out of the creators, but I do hope they get back to a decent schedule, because this is such a good comic and such a dense one that a few months away makes me forget things, even though Johnston handily provides a recap in each issue. There’s still a lot going on, and it’s hard to keep up!

However, the way Johnston has been structuring this latest arc is interesting, because he’s focusing on one character in each issue and taking them through the six months following the Sand-Eaters’ attack on Newbegin. This time it’s Jakob, Abi’s adopted son, who helped win the battle and therefore was accepted into Newbegin’s society. He becomes a cop in Newbegin and tries to keep the other cops off of the Sunners, who are a persecuted minority in the city. This brings him into conflict with Golden Voice, the Sun-Singer, who is plotting revolution. It’s a fairly standard plot, of course, with all the trappings of the world Johnston and Mitten have created, but Johnston tells it well, with Jakob torn between his loyalties to his fellow cops and to the people he came from. Meanwhile, Johnston is telling a bigger story of the threat to Newbegin, which the other watchmen think comes from the Sunners – Jakob, of course, has his doubts. It’s a nice complex tale, drawn with his usual excellence by Mitten, and I’m really happy to see the book return.

Now, of course, it has to come back sooner than five months! Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

One panel of awesome:

I just love the detail Mitten puts into this world

I just love the detail Mitten puts into this world

And … that’s the week. I hope you weren’t expecting something to do with Siege. I mean, really. Anyway, since totally random lyrics have been fun, I thought I’d do another music thing, but nothing you have to guess. Just another peek into my tortured and twisted psyche! Come on, it’s not that bad! Here are … The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “Misty Mountain Hop” – Led Zeppelin (1971)
2. “Ocean Size” – Jane’s Addiction (1988)
3. “Be My Girl – Sally” – The Police (1978)
4. “Bring the Noise” – Public Enemy (1987)
5. “All Fur Coat & No Knickers” – Chumbawamba (2008)
6. “Way I’ve Been” – Australian Crawl (1980)
7. “Personal Jesus” – Depeche Mode (1989)
8. “Where It’s At” – Beck (1996)
9. “Fight The Power” – Public Enemy (1989)
10. “Kickstart My Heart” – Motley Crue (1989)

Mock as you must! Now, let’s get some totally random lyrics. Two weeks ago I had what I thought was an easy one, “Reflections” by The Supremes. Oh well. Let’s see how you do with these!

“At the Patton Hotel I spent lots of time there
That’s where we decided this is where we wanted to be
And down the road on Jefferson you’ll find Steamer’s close by
If you see Mark and Steve Breen
Tell ‘em Jeff and I both said ‘hi’

But we were younger then never knowing then
That she would take us as her own
And make us part of her life
Highway to the sun we had so much fun
I can’t wait to get there and tell ‘em that I miss my second home”

Get excited! It’s a new year of comics awesomeness!

24 Comments

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 7, 2010 at 9:05 pm

It should be noted that DC is “really” using the Blackest Night special issues as a regular issue of the various related titles, rather like Marvel did with “The List” one-shots.

Also, the Homicide Squad characters are: The Fiddler (killed in Villains United #1), Ravan (killed in Suicide Squad #47), Manticore (one killed in Squad #2, one in #20), Shrike (killed in Squad #25), Sting (killed in Secret Six (current series) #4), Psi (killed Doom Patrol/Suicide Squad Special #1), Adam Cray (killed in Squad #62), and I ave no idea who one of the blonde woman is. (It isn’t Mindboggler, and there aren’t many other dead females from either group to pick from.)

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 7, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Huh, I bought NONE of the above.

Boy, did I ever SAVE money! ;-)

Well, you just suck, don’t you, Tom? :)

Thanks, Omar. I suppose I could have looked them up, but I didn’t feel like it. And how are they relating to the titles when those titles don’t exist anymore? What goes with what? It blows my mind, man!!!!!

Hey, Greg. I live in Portland, and I’m a little confused by your sense of direction….the bridges span the west and east sides, not north to south. Dex was shot on the east side of the river, and Emanuel is also on the east side. So it does make sense, at least to me. Downtown is on the west side. Good Samaritan hospital is over there, but further away from the “scene.” You’re not far off with you’re other geographical quibbles, though. I’m enjoying “Stumptown” too much to worry about it much, anyway. :)

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 7, 2010 at 10:35 pm

No, no, Greg, I’m saying that these are “actually” extra issues of current ongoing DC books. Suicide Squad #67 is pretty clearly an issue of Secret Six, for example, to the point that the story is titles as “part one” of an arc in the Secret Six ongoing. In that regard, they’re like a less-clearly labeled version of Marvel’s The List one-shots, which similarly amounted to extra issues of various titles.

seeing that mounted head on the cover of Sweet Tooth, it reminds me of the character from the Sandman. The clone of the gay elf…did it do that for anyone else?

So then what is Weird Western tales an issue of?
Sure, Jonah Hex, except that Hex is all set in the past and stuff…
Eh, whatever. It sucked anyways.

So Grant Morriso… I mean The Writer isn’t in the Black Lantern Homicide Squad? I can’t decide if that’s a shame or a relief.

That fearless down cover looks like a swipe from Kyle Baker’s Special Forces.

Starstruck is pretty frickin’ great. Mike Kaluta’s artwork is gorgeous, and not much like anything else out there.

Moment of creepy: well, this is backstory! The teenage girl will grow up to be the series’ major villain. And the story bounces around in time quite a bit, so we get to see how the Maggie / Daddy relationship turns out thirty years or so down the line. (Not so great for Daddy, let’s say.)

Nobody seems to be paying much attention to this series, which is a damn shame, because it’s great. People get excited about Suicide Squad and Grimjack, and that’s fine — those comics are great, I love them — but if I could only revive one series from the 1980s, this would be it.

Doug M.

Farrell: Yeah, I know, but the St. Johns Bridge, while technically going east to west, is much more “north and south,” and that’s what I meant. If you say Dex was shot on the east side (the North Portland side), then I’ll bow to your superior wisdom!

“For the past year or so, I’ve been trying to skip DC and Marvel’s mini-series. I know they’re going to be released in trade paperback, and they’ll probably be cheaper or at least just as much as single issues, and they won’t have advertisements. I don’t always follow that course, but I’ve been trying to do so. Marvel, however, has looked deep into my soul and figured out how to stymie me: Release three-issue mini-series! Why does this stymie me? Well, these series aren’t long enough to earn their own trade paperback, so they combine them in trades with other series I don’t want and then charge more than I would pay for the three issues.”

Wow, really? That would just lead to me not buying any of them, then. I’m really not a fan of Marvel or DC padding their collections with extra stuff just to sell us more. Although I’ll admit falling into the exact same trap with Neil Gaiman’s two-part Batman story.

First of all Greg, I wish everyone was as concerned with my happiness as you are, my life would be freaking sweet. But anyway, you’re right, I loved this issue, it was equally as strong as number 1, and worth the wait. So I am happy…for a minute at least.

As for you staying away from it because I claimed it, I think you actually wrote about #1 before I did, so if anyone claimed it first it was you, and I came in and wrote about it anyway like a jerk :) I’m sure I will continue to write about the series at later points, but I’m not writing about it this week (hell, if I did we’d have to rename my comic ‘Obsessed Rucka Fan’ or something), so I’m definitely glad you wrote about it. Next to Detective it’s the best book I’m buying right now. It deserves the attention.

I think I’m with you on Sweet Tooth. Everything about it seems like something I’d love, but I just can’t get excited about it.

Your Suicide Squad #67 review is dead on as well. I’ve been staying out of the blackest night stuff except for when it’s unavoidable, but I’m really glad I got this issue. It felt like a Secret Six issue and it really worked – it was also, as you mentioned, pretty much hilarious.

um, comic = column up there.

“But if she was on the south side, there’s probably something closer to downtown where she can go.”

Dex was shot in Cathedral park which was on the North side (St. Johns neighborhood) of the river. People here in Portland refer to it as the East side, even though the river is actually running East/West in this particular place.

Emanuel is the closest hospital to this location and is probably one of the best hospitals in the city for gunshot wounds. Unless she had specifically instructed the ambulance driver to take her to a different hospital, she would have definitely ended up at Emanuel.

Hi Greg,

I’ll definitely send you a copy of The Last Days of American Crime #2 when it comes out. Also, what issues of Hercules: The Knives of Kush do you still need? It’s a five issue miniseries with the last issue on sale this week.

The totally random lyrics this week have me totally stumped. Impressed by your playlist, though. New-ish Chumbawamba, huh? Interesting…I only know their 90s hits period. PE is in pretty constant rotation for me.

Anyway, few things this brought up for me this week. I’ve never read any Grimjack, but am recently remembering how much I love Ostrander (the Squad stuff in Secret Six, including this week, and I also recently read and quite enjoyed his “Grotesk” arc on Batman from a few years back) – is this mini still online gratis? Is it an okay place to start for the uninitiated?

Speaking of the gang from Belle Reve, Suicide Squad 67 is the only “next issue of a canceled series” that I’m going to buy, too. And I think it’s a smart issue from a marketing perspective. Sure, it’s Secret Six #16.5, but this will probably get picked up by more people than a book with that title and no “Blackest Night” dress would. I’m still not sure I’m on board with Black Alice as a Six-er, though. I think I see where Simone is going with the character based on her monologue here about breaking people out of prison not being what she signed up for, but something about her age or power base or something just doesn’t flow with the group or the book for me. Not going to get me to stop buying the series, just sayin’…

I really liked Last Days of American Crime‘s writing and art. Remender is almost always “miss” for me, but I’m a sucker for a new twist on a crime story. The background noise about public unrest due to the uncovering of the anti-crime satellite broadcast, as well as evidence of this US’s government’s disregard for the Constitution provided by the snuffing of the reporters who broke the story was enough for my suspension-of-disbelief-ometer regarding the set-up. And the whole first meeting of Graham and Shelby is one of the most deliciously twisted noir set-ups I’ve ever read. I’m curious what folks think of Radical’s new publishing model of less frequent releases in the format-formerly-known-as-prestige?

As I think we’ve gone back and forth on before, Lemire’s work on Sweet Tooth works for me on a more emotional, visceral level than it does for you (or Kelly, apparently). I agree that I haven’t been shocked by the plot turns, but given that there’s not much new under the sun, I’m willing to go with that for something well executed. For the most part, Lemire has me rooting for the world to just not completely destroy Gus. That may not be a really sophisticated storytelling feat, but it’s worth my $3 a month.

Thanks as always for the reviews, man. Happy new year to you and yours!

My favorite part of the GrimJack story was the Ninja mimes.

That’s a great list of songs, Greg! The first two alone make me want to put you on my will!
But I have no idea what a Chumbawamba is, and I’ll kill it if I see one on the street!

By the way, the last issue of Hercules: The Knives of Kush came out this week. I checked that mini series (and the previous one) because of you and really enjoyed it. Thanks a lot!

Kelly: I wasn’t going to mention that I reviewed issue #1 before you, but feel free! You did a much better write-up than I did, however!

garbonzo: I should have realized she was shot on the “north” side of the bridge in Cathedral Park, as the “south” side doesn’t really have a lot of flat area for the bad guys to park and drag her to the river, does it? I just chalk it up to the scene being dark and me not living in Portland since 2001. Oh well!

s1rude: After the “Tubthumping” period, Chumbawamba went back to more folksy music with angrier lyrics. Good stuff!

Dude: Chumbawamba is an anarchist-y band who had a big hit in 1997 with “Tubthumping.” And I’m glad you liked the Hercules mini-series. I’m always nervous when people pick up stuff based on my reviews!

Well, then the fact that I started reading Wasteland, The Anchor, Days Missing, Beasts of Burden (and some that I’m probably forgetting) because of your recomendations will probably give you a heart attack :-)

>>New-ish Chumbawamba, huh? Interesting…I only know their 90s hits period.

I find their pre-”Tubthumping” stuff to be downright excellent, btw — SHHH (three albums before TUBTHUMPER) is one of my favorite LPs from the ’90s. I saw them on a lark (all I knew them by was ’87′s NEVER MIND THE BALLOTS) in Memphis in the fall of ’92, supporting SHHH, & was blown away.

The other albums during that general period — SLAP! (1990), ANARCHY (1994) & SWINGING WITH RAYMOND (1995) I would recommend highly as well.

Why does “The Last Days Of American Crime” remind me of “Selina’s Big Score”, without Selina?

Generic Lad: Maybe because a lot of heist stories are similar? I mean, I enjoy them, but they do tend to be similar to each other.

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