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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 14 December 2011

“Truth, Vinicius, dwells somewhere so high that the gods themselves cannot see it from the top of Olympus. To you, carissime, your Olympus seems higher still, and, standing there, you call to me, ‘Come, you will see such sights as you have not seen yet!’ I might. But I answer, ‘I do not have feet for the journey.’ And if you read this letter to the end, you will acknowledge, I think, that I am right.” (Henryk Sienkiewicz, from Quo Vadis)

Yeeeee-hawwwww! Oh no, it's a fastball special! He's on the rag (yes, I totally went there) A hook hand!  A HOOK HAND!!!!! I'm not entirely sure what that big ball of cash is - a wreath, maybe? I know this isn't supposed to be a cover, but it's still uninspiring Well, it might be ridiculously late, but at least the cover is spooky! The dude with the flame thrower cracks me up I'm not really sure why this image is being used as a cover for this issue It's about time! At least they fixed the trade dress! Who knew that motif was coming? Leonardo DiCaprio NOOOOOO! That's some good use of color there It never gets boring! At last! This looks groovy! Will this book make me like Satrapi???? Oh, Jubilee - what have they done to you?

Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X #4 (of 5) by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.

This is a strange issue of Atomic Robo, because there’s always one like it in each mini-series – an issue that isn’t quite as good as the others, but it’s hard to discern exactly why. Wegener’s art looks a little bit sketchier than it usually does, but not all the time, so that’s not it. It’s a fairly dense issue, so maybe it gets bogged down in the dialogue, but Clevinger’s dialogue is better than most, so I’m not sure that’s it, either. I wonder if, because much of the action takes place out on the highways of this fair land (Nebraska, to be specific), Wegener’s lack of background details hurts the book – he doesn’t want to photoshop stuff into the backgrounds, which is nice, but it also means a lot of the book looks like it’s being filmed in front of a blue screen. Maybe I’m just a dimwit and the fact that Clevinger explains both the weird wiring in the missing house in England AND how the bad guys were able to find Robo AND how Robo gets away from the bad guys was too much for my poor brain.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the issue, of course. I showed more than one panel below because I love the way Clevinger manages to get good comic timing into something that you can’t actually hear, and comics are quite good at showing the kind of humor he does below. Yes, it’s an old joke, but a good one. Wegener does keep the action flowing, and he gets to blow shit up, too, which is nice. As usual with Atomic Robo, the science at least sounds sound, whether it is or not. And it’s nice to get the explanations, even if they made me think, which is never a good idea.

Still … something’s off. It’s weird. This is why you read my reviews – for trenchant insight like that! I’m all about the specifics, people! Oh well – I’m sure the climax will be awesome. It’s Atomic Robo, after all!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yes, I know it's not ONE panel - it's my rule, and I can break it if I want to, and I wanted to show the whole joke, damn it!

Avengers Academy #23 (“Second Chances”) by Christos Gage (writer), Tom Raney (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Chris Eliopoulos (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Here’s yet another minor problem with having advertisements in your single issue comics, or at least putting ads in the middle of the story. So I’m reading this fine periodical, in which adult Reptil (who has somehow gotten into teenaged Reptil’s body) realizes he has to steer the course of events in a certain way even if that way gets people hurt (which he implies many, many times that it will). That means bringing a seemingly innocuous mutant back to the Academy and allowing him to prey on various heroes (because the innocuous mutant is, of course, not innocuous at all and might not even be a mutant). So I get to a page in which the young boy shows who he really is, and I honestly thought the issue was over because facing the page was an advertisement for Secret Avengers #21.1 (drawn by – we’re really calling him this? – “Patch” Zircher). Imagine my surprise when I turned the page and the story still had two more pages to go! I know, it’s a pleasant surprise, but it was a bit odd. Basically, I’m saying that ads suck. But I guess you knew that.

Gage reaches deep into the Marvel archives for his villain, and it’s cool enough. And I mean, I’m not too bright, but I always love how Marvel heroes simply start punching bad guys instead of finding out what’s going on. I guess it’s comics’ fault for making everyone so one-dimensional, so that even when the Purifiers are doing something good the Avengers think they’re doing something wrong and stop them, thereby ensuring (according to Reptil) their deaths, but it’s still annoying. It’s one of those plot points that, when you think about it, is infuriating, but as it’s just there to get the bad guy into the henhouse (so to speak), it’s more forgivable. I can’t remember if the solicits give this away, but Reptil is working for Kang, isn’t he? I mean, he has to be, right?

Gage also gives us a nice conversation between Julie Powers and Striker about sexuality, even though it does come off a bit too much like one of those NBC “The More You Know” PSAs from back in the day. The actual writing is heavy-handed, but what makes it nice is that we haven’t seen this very much in mainstream comics – gay characters are becoming more plentiful, but Gage takes it even further and acknowledges how fluid sexuality is when Julie mentions that even her gay friends want her to “pick a side.” While I could have lived without Striker’s admission that he was sexually abused as a child, at least Gage is clever enough to pull that trite backstory with a male character rather than a female, which is more usual. So it’s not the greatest piece of writing ever, but it’s good to get it out there. Remember, kids – homosexuals are people too!

I mean, honestly, who knew that?

Plus, I love the fact that X-23 has blades built into her shoes. She’s like a Fred Hembeck caricature, except that we’re supposed to take her seriously!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, Laura, you crazy kid, you!

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #14 (“Small Miracles”) by Sholly Fisch (writer), Rick Burchett (penciller), Dan Davis (inker), Guy Major (colorist), and Dezi Sienty (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

Speaking of PSAs, I often forget that, for all its awesomeness, B: TBATB is supposed to be a kids’ comic, so occasionally you get clunkers like this. That’s not to say this is a bad comic, because it’s not, it’s just far more geared toward teaching kids a lesson than being awesome, and when that happens, you get something that doesn’t quite leap off the page as many of these comics do. I’m sorry, but I’d much rather read about Crazy Quilt, Doctor Spectro, and the Rainbow Raider’s maniacal plan to ruin Christmas (see below) than re-learn the story of Chanukah. (I’m an atheist, so it has more to do with not wanting to re-learn any story that relies on mysticism and superstition rather than one than Chanukah specifically. I mean, yay Israelites and all, beating up on them Greeks!, but I’m not interested in the miracle of having enough oil to keep lights burning all the time. Sorry.) Rabbi Samuels does give us not a bad explanation of why God didn’t simply didn’t provide more oil instead of only as much to burn for eight days, but like most justifications of religious miracles, it sounds like, well, crap. Okay, I need to move on before I really piss some people off.

The point of the story is that Rory Regan doesn’t believe in miracles but then, as Ragman, he witnesses some everyday miracles for himself. He also shames Batman into paying attention to the slums of Gotham for a change, so that’s nice. But while Fisch does a decent job with the story, it’s difficult to get in all the complex social problems that exist in a big city in 20 pages, so it comes off as so very earnest, which comes off as a bit sappy. There’s certainly nothing wrong with writing a story that shows regular folk coming together to help a neighborhood, but it’s definitely not as much fun as Crazy Quilt, Doctor Spectro, and the Rainbow Raider trying to ruin Christmas. I’m just saying.

Burchett’s art is cool as usual, though. He draws a nifty Ragman.

Remember, kids: Corporations are evil and will always hire thugs to drive people out of their homes instead of using something legal like eminent domain!

I mean, that's the American Way, innit?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Those dastards!

Batwoman #4 (“Hydrology Part 4: Estuary”) by J. H. Williams III (writer/artist), W. Haden Blackman (writer), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!!!!!! (Including the Airwolf panel!)

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!!!!!! (Including the Airwolf panel!)

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!!!!!! (Including the Airwolf panel!)

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!!!!!! (Including the Airwolf panel!)

Okay, let’s move on.

Yes, yes, the two reviews I’ve read of this book gush about it. Gush gush gush. Look at how Williams puts the panels into Batwoman’s cape when she visits that dude in his apartment! Look at the way he incorporates the name of the story into the smoke drifting around Flamebird! Look at how incredibly bad-ass Cameron Chase is! Well, sure. But am I the only one who didn’t love this issue? Consider:

Is Flamebird a Refrigerated Woman? According to Gail Simone (who originally came up with the term), a WiR is simply a female superhero who has been killed, raped, or depowered in an unsettling way. When she clarified herself, she mentioned that while male superheroes tend to die nobly, female superheroes tend to die for “shock value” – usually to shock the male character, who finds her. I guess later iterations of the concept have gone with this – a WiR is a female character whose only purpose is to die so that the male character can avenge her. That’s not what Simone originally came up with, but because superheroes tend to die a lot, there had to be a refinement of the concept along the lines of her second thought. So: Is Flamebird a WiR?

Bette isn’t dead, of course, although she still could die. So far in this series, she doesn’t seem to have much point. In fact, several people (me included) have wondered when exactly she is going to be dispatched, because we have come to recognize extraneous characters in comics whose only purpose is to die. It seems as if her brutal beating in this issue is simply for “shock value.” While Williams and Blackman show Chase exploiting her fragile state, it also seems as if the beating is only to cause Kate, who has treated Bette shabbily in some ways, to feel guilty and go medieval on someone. Plus, the fact that the beating was administered at the exact moment that Kate was getting freaky (I’ll get to that) will fuel her guilt, surely. So do we let Williams off the hook because the character who will seek revenge is female? Do we let him off the hook because he has some very strong female characters in the book, so if he kills one off, he has a few to spare? I know that everything is all about context, but does context override this concern? I’m not offering answers, by the way. I didn’t like Bette’s treatment because it was so very obvious, not because I think it’s falling into a trope. At least with the original WiR, Alex DeWitt, it was somewhat of a shock (whether that has “value” is a judgment call). With Bette, Williams might as well have stamped a big “DOA” on her forehead.

Then there’s the sex scene. While Bette is getting beaten, Kate and Maggie Sawyer are getting all Sapphic on us. Williams, naturally, draws this wonderfully – Bette’s scenes are in radiant color with stronger lines, while interspersed throughout the page are panels of Kate and Maggie, in total soft focus, black and white, looking like Jon J. Muth drew them. Williams and Blackman lay on the double entredres thickly – Bette says “Now, here we go! This is more like it!” just as Maggie moves off-panel toward Kate’s nether regions, and the dialogue balloon actually overlaps the panel where it happens. This continues: The bad guy says “I’ll show ya what happens to cocky little bitches” as Maggie goes to work, and we see Kate lying back, holding Maggie’s hand on her own abdomen while Maggie’s face is nowhere to be seen; Bette says “I’m the real deal” as Kate grabs the headboard and arches her back, presumably because Maggie found a handy place down there; the bad guy says “Yer a tasty piece of sweets. An’ I’m gonna have a SLICE!” as Kate writhes; the bad guy says “An’ aren’t you a juicy one …” as Kate writhes some more and Bette’s blood actually arcs across the panel in which Kate is enjoying herself; Kate has an orgasm at the precise moment that Bette crashes to the ground, shedding copious amounts of blood. Okay, it’s about as subtle as a Skinemax soft core movie, but what’s fascinating is that DC allowed it. Batwoman is rated “T+,” meaning it’s appropriate for people 16 years or older, and I think that’s fair. But it’s very rare that we see actual sex in mainstream superhero books. We see occasional foreplay, we see post-fucking lounging around in bed, but we rarely see actual in media coitu. I have no problem with it – I think mainstream superhero comics would be better served by being a bit more sex-filled, but I wonder if DC allowed this because it’s two women. Are we still titillated by lesbians but think male sexuality is a bit too ugly for mainstream comics? Will we ever see a scene like this in a mainstream superhero book between two men? I wonder.

Anyway, it’s a pretty good issue after we get past the silly first few pages. Williams, it appears from the scene where Kate leaps out the apartment window, is the last person who still thinks Anton Furst designed Gotham’s buildings (I loved that storyline, as unbelievably ridiculous as it was), which is nice to see. And Chase is pretty bad-ass. But I’m all about the controversy here, people! And remember: lesbians are awesome because they’re willing to get freaky with each other but we all know they’re just looking for a real man!

I mean, that's just SCIENCE!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Well, that's just not very nice

Blue Estate #8 (“State of Shock”) by Victor Kalvachev (story/artist/colorist), Kosta Yanev (story), Andrew Osborne (scripter), Nathan Fox (artist), Toby Cypress (artist), Andrew Robinson (artist), and Peter Nguyen (artist). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

At this point, when Kalvachev and Osborne have brought all the pieces together and, last issue, blew things up a bit, the creators are just having a blast. Yes, certain characters have died, but now the survivors are trying to figure out just what the hell happened. Did the Italians order a hit and accidentally piss of the Russians? is Tony going to nut up and off his old man? What’s going on with the money? And hey – we’re back to the scene in issue #1 that started this whole crazy thing off in the first place! Yay! It is, as usual, a crazy blast of noir goodness, although I don’t love the art – I think it’s Nguyen’s – on the pages where Rachel calls Billy. Kalvachev does what he can with the coloring, which keeps everything consistent, but the art on these pages looks a bit too soft and computerized – the other artists have harder lines and stronger inks, and these few pages don’t look as good. Oh well – Blue Estate continues to be a wacky, fun, violent comic (I mean, there are three Russians with giant pistols stuck in their Speedos, and that’s all they’re wearing), and that’s something we can all enjoy, right? No PSAs needed!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Everyone loves the Hoff!

Cyclops #7 (of eight) (“The Warrior Part One”) by Matz (writer/translator), Gaël De Mayere (artist), Edward Gauvin (translator), and Marshall Dillon (letterer). $3.95, 20 pgs, FC, Archaia.

I’ve been disappointed by some comics recently, and Cyclops is really high on that list, possibly even higher than Morrison’s Action Comics (mainly because Morrison and mainstream superhero comics have been hit-or-miss for some time). Matz and Jacamon were really good on The Killer, after all, so the idea of them doing corporate soldiers in a dystopian future seemed like a slam-dunk. Even before Jacamon stopped doing the art, the story had become far too conventional – the corporation is evil, it creates conflicts just so it can send its soldiers there and make some money, the hero they created grows a conscience – and after he left, De Mayere has never really captured the look of the series as well as Jacamon did. De Mayere isn’t terrible, but his more cartoony look doesn’t really fit the tone of the series. Now, of course, Doug is trying to fight back against the corporation, and we’ll see how that goes. What made The Killer interesting is that Matz and Jacamon took a fairly standard idea – an assassin trying to get out of the game – and made it far more philosophical than you might expect. With Cyclops, the idea of all this conflict being televised and what that does to the viewing public is far more interesting than the battle between Doug and the evil corporation, but Matz hasn’t gone far enough into that (to be fair, most entertainment that sets this premise up – think The Running Man or Death Race 2000 (the “good” one) or its execrable “re-imagining” – doesn’t do enough with it, either), and it makes the actual comic rather boring.

I’m still going to get the last issue – I pre-ordered it, after all, and I don’t want to hang my retailer out to dry – but I don’t have high hopes for it. After the first two issues, I thought Cyclops would be something really cool. It turns out it’s just something that Tony Scott would direct and probably chuck a bunch of money at Matt Damon to star in. Entertaining, sure, but not something you’d go out of your way to experience.

(You’ll notice the hardest-working man in comics this week shows up for the first time in this review. We’ll see him again, quite a lot!)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Wow, who knew he'd come back to bite you in the ass?

Memoir #5 (of 6) by Ben McCool (writer), Nikki Cook (artist), and Tom B. Long (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, BW, Image.

Hey, it’s an issue of Memoir! Honestly, who the hell knows what’s going on anymore? I mean, once issue #6 comes out, I suppose I’ll have to give these a quick re-read to see how it all fits together, but the gaps between issues mean that I only vaguely remember the connections. We do learn some things in this issue, and some of the sinister cabal behind the events in Lowesville are revealed, but for a single issue, this is just a chance to see Cook’s oddball artwork and hope McCool can pull it all together.

But, hey – at least it’s coming out. I wonder how Choker is doing?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Aren't all forests?

Operation: Broken Wings, 1936 #2 (of 3) by Herik Hanna (writer), Trevor Hairsine (artist), Sébastien Lamirand (colorist), Edward Gauvin (translator), and Deron Bennett (letterer). $3.99, 19 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

The major completes his latest mission in England, but when he returns to Germany, the Gestapo wants to ask him some questions about the murder in the first issue. So, naturally, he starts killing them. He escapes in a Volkswagen (a prototype, as this comic takes place a year before the VW officially began production), gets on a plane, and jumps out over the Black Forest, but not before beating up an American boxer and an old lady (it all makes perfect sense in context, trust me). It’s a exciting if quick read, and Hairsine does his usual solid job with the art. As usual with these foreign albums that Boom! is reprinting as three-issue mini-series, it seems like there’s no way Hanna can wrap up the story in one issue, but considering this is already completed and someone out there (I’m looking at you, Pedro!) knows how it ends, I guess it’s a moot point, right? Anyway, I’ll get into the reproduction of European artwork below, when we see the second foreign mini-series that Boom! is reprinting!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Man, they have extreme ways of dealing with rats and cockroaches!

Pigs #4 (“Sixteen”) by Nate Cosby (writer), Ben McCool (writer), Breno Tamura (artist), Will Sliney (artist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), Donna Gregory (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

As I wrote last time out, I’m still not sold on Pigs, but this issue is as good as the first one, which has been the best of the series so far, so that’s good. It’s good mainly because Cosby and McCool return to the bombshell-dropping that they did in the first issue. I also like the fact that Felix calls out the rest of his team, who have been acting all bad-ass when they don’t really have any idea what they’re doing (well, except for Viktor, who might, but he’s a loose cannon anyway). So this is a tense issue that ends with another nice bombshell (not as impressive as the first issue’s, but not bad). It also features Sliney doing art on the flashbacks, which, while I’m sure it’s to give Tamura a break, is a good idea because of the subtle shift in the way the book looks. I like this idea for artists, and as long as it’s consistently done (meaning, Tamura does the “present day” and a different artist does the flashbacks), I think it’s cool. Sliney is a bit less messy than Tamura, so his art helps evoke a more clear-cut time period, when Felix was a kid and things seemed to make more sense (they didn’t, of course, but they seemed to). In the “present,” of course, nothing makes sense.

I’m still cautiously optimistic about Pigs. Cosby and McCool appear to balance the action with the slower moments, and I like that they’re not afraid to give away the entire game at the end of this issue but trust that getting to that point will be interesting. I’m at least curious to see where they go from here!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Well, it would have worked on me!

The Secret History #17 (“Operation Kadesh”) by Jean-Pierre Pécau (writer), Igor Kordey (artist), Chris Chuckry (colorist), Edward Gauvin (translator), and Marshall Dillon (letterer). $5.95, 54 pgs, FC, Archaia.

The Secret History continues to come out rather sporadically, and while I don’t really mind, the fact that Pécau is now referencing things that occur in the spin-off mini-series, Games of Chance, is a bit vexing, because who knows when that will come out? I enjoy the series, but its wonky schedule means that these are much better when read all at once. That’s why the nice hardcovers that Archaia puts out are nifty, and why their decision to do that with Games of Chance rather than doing single issues is a good one. Now they just have to release it!

Anyway, we’re in the 1950s now, and Hungary is rebelling, and the Egyptians are nationalizing the Suez Canal, and of course, everything is being manipulated. It’s an entertaining book, Kordey’s art is good, and I honestly don’t know when the remaining five issues will come out (not to mention the “Arcanes” section in the beginning of the issue, which appears to be an entire separate series). I do hope Archaia will release this entire epic, because it’s certainly worth reading. It’s just hard to keep up when so many months fall in between single issues.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Well, that doesn't look pleasant at all

Seven Warriors #2 (of 3) by Michaël Galli (writer), Francis Manapul (artist), Christelle Moulart (colorist), Edward Gauvin (translator), and Deron Bennett (letterer). $3.99, 20 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

Much like Operation: Broken Wings above, I don’t love the reproduction of European comics as single issues that are the same size as American comics. Both Hairsine and Manapul’s artwork really deserves a larger stage, and I assume in France they got it, while here it’s reduced and therefore somewhat lessened. Plus, I’ve noticed that European comics (and this is a broad generalization, so feel free to tell me to shut my ignorant pie hole) don’t go for big ol’ splash pages as much as American superhero comics, and while that’s not a bad thing at all (it actually forces creators to work a little harder), sometimes, it would be nice to see a big ol’ splash page. Consider the Airwolf panel below: Yevan (the redheaded warrior) sets the Byzantine dromon on fire and leaps off, and the panel is crammed onto the page and partially obscured by panels above it showing Yevan diving off and setting the fire as she leaps. If anything deserved a big ol’ splash page, it’s a galley exploding in flames as a chick warrior leaps to safety. Manapul’s art, as I mentioned last time, isn’t as good as his current work on DC’s books, but it’s still pretty kinetic, and the way the book is laid out and the way the pages are reproduced help lessen the impact of some rather dynamic line work. It really is too bad.

Anyway, the warriors are joined by Izza, the girl Aksamon was forced to leave behind last issue but who figured out a way to leave the palace (and who was apparently the one getting nekkid with Aksamon at the beginning of issue #1, although it’s unclear why this is so important beyond the fact that they like doing the nasty with each other), more warriors die, and the queen’s weird “drug the warriors so Aksamon can get one of them pregnant” ploy from the first issue isn’t mentioned. We’ll see what happens with that next issue. As I wrote above, it seems like there’s far too much going on to wrap things up next issue, but we’ll see, won’t we? This just hums along, a nice sand-and-sword epic, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say after it’s all completed.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

That doesn't seem nice, setting their boat on fire like that

Severed #5 (of 7) (“The Road Beckons”) by Scott Snyder (writer), Scott Tuft (writer), Attila Futaki (artist), Greg Guilhaumond (colorist), and Fonografiks (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

Severed is kind of pissing me off. I wrote about Jack’s seeming idiocy and that I could forgive it because the book is set in 1916 and times were different and kids were a bit more naïve and the dangers of traveling around with strangers wasn’t as well known. In this issue, however, he discovers that the “Salesman” is not only a monster, he probably had something to do with Sam’s disappearance (which I’m still not calling a “death” until I get proof). Now, maybe next issue he’ll try to get away, but the fact that Jack is either as monstrous as the Salesman or just too stupid to live is pissing me off.

Then, I get to the letters page, which contains no letters but a text piece by the creators. They write that they got a letter from someone who, when he was a kid, was lured into a building by a stranger, blindfolded, spun around while the stranger laughed at him, then released. The creators then point out that while Severed is fictitious, it’s “grounded in reality.” They write that the “horrors in this book happen daily on our city streets and our country roads” and that they’re “sensitive to the real horrors in this world.” I don’t know why this pisses me off. I feel bad for the letter writer who was psychologically tortured the way he wrote, but I’m not sure why the creators wrote this piece. Severed doesn’t have anything to do with the real world, as much as they’d like to think so. It takes place almost 100 years ago, when the world was very different than it is now. The Salesman is much more of a creature out of a horror film than we see when predators are revealed today. (Without opening too big a can of worms, one thing that’s come out about the Jerry Sandusky case is how “normal” child predators appear – they’re not freaky like the Salesman, they’re people who can be very charming and loving around children – and adults – in order to gain their trust. Sure, crazy people like the Salesman exist, but they’re not as common as the Jerry Sandusky type – keeping in mind, as always, that Sandusky hasn’t actually been convicted of a crime yet.) The text piece seems, to me, unnecessarily scary, because while there are scary people in the world, the idea that child-killers are lurking around every corner seems awfully sensationalistic to me. It’s like the pro-gun folk saying that everyone needs to own a gun because you can shoot all the people who are constantly breaking into your house to rape your womenfolk. I’ve lived for 40 years on this planet and have never once needed a gun. That’s not to say I think people shouldn’t own guns, but where do these pro-gun people live that slavering knuckle-draggers (probably Democrats, to boot!) are always breaking in to their houses? And if we’re talking about child predators, perhaps a comic book geared toward entertaining people with crazy horror isn’t the best place to deal with it?

Your opinion may vary, of course, but that’s my take from this issue. At this point, I’m kind of hoping that Snyder and Tuft go all 1950s EC Comics on us and Jack does get killed and eaten, and then the Salesman addresses the audience and tells them that’s what fucking happens when you trust crazy old gentlemen. I mean, really, Jack. He probably should have watched more NBC television!

When your ride starts scalping people, maybe it's time to RUN, MOTHERFUCKER!

Rating:

One totally Airwolf panel:

Charming!

S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 (“All Together Now”) by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Dustin Weaver (artist), Sonia Oback (colorist), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), Christina Strain (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Some people (you know who you are!) might think that this comic is lazy because Hickman and Weaver give us three different three-page scenarios in which the exact same thing happens with slightly different dialogue and different backgrounds (because our heroes go to three different futures, don’t you know). I am not one of them, because I think it’s awesome. I mean, sure, it might give Weaver a tiny break, but the dude still had to draw the backgrounds, and I just dig the way Hickman’s mind works sometimes. The fact that the same thing is happening across three different timelines is pretty danged cool, and the fact that the battle overlaps the different timelines is neat-o, too (despite those pages being Weaver’s sloppiest). Hickman finally (sort-of) ties this more into mainstream Marvel continuity with two glorious pages of our heroes moving into the future and passing through the Marvel Age of Heroes, and Weaver does a nice job with that, too. While this series is turning into another “Punch out the bad guy” kind of thing, which isn’t all that fun, Hickman and Weaver continue to understand that spectacle goes a long way, and this issue is chockers with spectacle. It’s certainly not as deep as some of Hickman’s work, but it’s a blast to read. That goes a long way sometimes!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Then what the hell good are you?

Zorro Rides Again #6 (of 12) by Matt Wagner (writer), Esteve Polls (artist), Alejandro Sanchez (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

Zorro, not surprisingly, gets his revenge on the man who killed his father, and guess what? “There is nothing dignified about revenge,” Diego tells his father’s tombstone. Heavy, man! However, Wagner brings this section of the mini-series to a close with Diego’s revenge, his parting from his honey, Lolita, who returns to Spain with her father, and a new nemesis for our hero, whose “origin” seems silly but works within the context of the story (as most hero/villain beginnings do). It’s nice to see Wagner pushing things forward – most stories of heroes, of course, remain static because they need to, but while Dynamite could easily reset this entire thing, we get the sense with this Zorro that it’s moving toward something big, and I hope Wagner does that. Of course, it might just turn out to be an entertaining story of Diego battling his (new) arch-nemesis, and that would be fine, too. I hope not, but as long as it’s well done, I can’t complain.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Wait - are those Occupy Wall Street people?

20th Century Boys volume 18 by Naoki Urasawa (writer/artist). $12.99, 206 pgs, BW, Viz Media.

Does anyone know how many volumes this is supposed to be? I’m impressed it’s managed to remain so interesting for so long.

Killing Pickman by Jason E. Becker (writer), Jon Rea (artist), and Matt Talbot (additional lettering and coloring). $24.95, 140 pgs, FC, Archaia.

At last, Archaia gets this sucker out. It was one of the series they launched before their implosion, and while some of the others from those days are out in hardcover, this one remained non-existent even after it was solicited. So Archaia resolicited it, and now here it is! I enjoyed the first two issues quite a lot, so I’m looking forward to reading the entire thing!

Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim (writer/artist). $16.99, 90 pgs, BW, First Second Books.

This is a reprinted comic from a decade ago, before anyone knew who Derek Kirk Kim was. Now that he’s an international superstar, First Second is re-releasing this. Yay!

The Sigh by Marjane Satrapi (writer/artist). $10.95, 56 pgs, FC, Archaia.

Satrapi gives us a children’s book with mostly text and some pictures. I’ll be interested to read this. Back in the day, I called Persepolis 2 “asparagus” – good for you but not terribly pleasant – but I’d really like to like Satrapi’s work!

Wolverine and Jubilee: Curse of the Mutants by Kathyn Immonen (writer), Phil Noto (artist/colorist), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist), John Rauch (colorist), and Clayton Cowles (letterer). $14.99, 111 pgs, FC, Marvel.

When I write the X-Men and use Jubilee (because she’s awesome!), I will retcon her vampire days, Bobby Ewing-style. Just see if I don’t! Also, this book contains Jubilee’s first appearance from issue #244 in 1989. Issues #244 and 245 of Uncanny X-Men were humorous comics, and the debate at the store on Wednesday was if that was the last time the main X-books didn’t take themselves so goldanged seriously. We decided there was an issue of X-Men around, what, #7 or so where the X-babies showed up, and that was probably the last time. Considering that issue came out in 1992 or thereabouts, that’s kind of sad. Can you think of any since then in the main books where there was just wacky shit going on?

People are always dying, but here are some that might be notable to you: Joe Simon has died at 98. This isn’t so much a tragedy – the dude was 98! – as it is interesting, mainly because Simon is so very important in comics history, and coming so soon after Jerry Robinson’s death, it’s a reminder that there are so few creators left from the “Golden Age,” especially such high-profile ones as Simon (and yes, you’re forgiven for thinking “I didn’t even know he was still alive!”). Simon, of course, co-created Captain America, but he’s important for a lot of other reasons, too (which I’m not going into here – ask Mark Evanier about Simon and I’m sure he’ll talk – or write – for hours). More shocking is Eduardo Barreto’s death at 57, only because he was pretty young. Barreto was a consummate professional – his work wasn’t flashy, but he was a masterful storyteller and a very good draftsman. My two favorite Barreto comics are Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography, a phenomenal one-shot from 1989, and Union Station, the 2009 graphic novel he did with Ande Parks. Many people cite his work on Batman #520, the one-shot about Harvey Bullock’s date with Charlotte the nurse, and while the artwork is fantastic, it’s a bit too maudlin for me. Barreto was someone who never quite became a superstar in the States (he could have be swarmed whenever he stepped outside in Uruguay, for all I know), but who deserved a bigger audience.

On the not-comics front, Christopher Hitchens has died of pneumonia (as a complication of esophageal cancer at 62). Hitchens is, of course, a notable atheist, and I wonder if he’s right now being chucked into hell while shaking his fist and shouting “I regret nothing!!!!” as God and St. Peter laugh at him. I imagine that’s what would happen if he found out he was wrong – Hitchens seemed like an acerbic kind of guy who would never admit that he was wrong, even in the face of God Herself.

My daughter had her winter concert this week, and as I’m sure you never get tired of seeing how cute my kids are, here she is moments before we left the house to go to the concert:

Ready to sing!

While we were at the concert, Mia got to sit on Mommy’s lap, and it made her very happy:

She has Mommy all to herself!

It was a nice time, and all the kids did really well. As usual, I was more peeved at the audience than anyone else. Audiences today are shitty, and while I get annoyed with it at the movies (THEY CAN’T HEAR YOU WHEN YOU CHEER, MOUTH-BREATHERS!!!!), I get downright angry about it at live events. The kids not shutting up were bad enough, although it would be nice if their parents exercised some control over them … if they could exercise some control over themselves, which they couldn’t. Jeebus, people, shut the fuck up occasionally. The kids are all on stage, ready to sing, and all these people in the audience are buzzing and not letting them start (the kids sing in grades, so they had to move off the stage while others came onto the stage). On more than one occasion, the teacher just started playing the piano to get things going, or the audience never would have shut the fuck up. Audiences have been getting worse for years – I remember going to see the opera – the opera! – in Portland 15 years ago on opening night and people walked out the moment it was finished without applauding – but when you’re ignoring kids who go to the school your kid attends who are trying to sing, you suck. SHUT THE FUCK UP, PEOPLE!!!!!

Let’s check out the The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “We Care A Lot”Faith No More (1986) “About the wars you’re fighting, gee that looks like fun”
2. “Ausländer”Living Colour (1993)1 “Everything that I want, isn’t it everything that you’ve got?”
3. “Anytime”Journey (1978) “Give me all of your sunshine, a spark is all I need”
4. “Arc Of The Curve”Fish (2007) “It takes everything I have not to call you on the phone”
5. “Behind The Lines”Genesis (1980) “I’m looking right through you and your heart is empty”
6. “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)”Arcade Fire (2004) “Growing up in some strange storm, nobody’s cold, nobody’s warm”
7. “Golden Age” – Midnight Oil (2002) “See freedom’s silhouette increase, it’s time to claim that sweet release”
8. “Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground”White Stripes (2001) “Every breath that is in your lungs is a tiny little gift to me”
9. “Sparkle That Shines” – Straitjacket Fits (1989) “What will we feel when everyone feels no pain?”
10. “The First Time”U2 (1993) “I spend my whole time running; he spends his running after me”

1 Stain is out of print? What nonsense is this? Dang, it’s an awesome album.

No one got the Totally Random Movie Quote last week – it was from Earth Girls are Easy, the very weird but very funny 1988 movie starring Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans, Julie Brown, Michael McKean, Charles Rocket, and Larry Linville. Holy crap, with an all-star cast like that, how did this not become a classic? Let’s check out another TRMQ:

“I suppose a smaller-caliber pistol would have to fire baby teeth.”

Ooooh, that’s a tough one, ain’t it? Well, maybe not. You scalawags might enjoy the weird stuff!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. Sorry I’m so late with this sucker – I’ve been busy with real-world stuff. You remember the real world, don’t you, Internetters? Yeah, it’s been busy. But it’s here, so enjoy it!

38 Comments

The Wolverine and Jubilee cover cracks me up, because like on almost every movie poster, the names end up over the wrong person.

If you had never seen a comic before, you’d be wondering why that tough guy had such a silly name.

I liked Catwoman #4, but isn’t it amazing how much strong artwork can elevate a story? I mean… after reading this comic I imagined this exact same story drawn by an uninspired artist, someone who might not spin gold out of what sure FELT like an empty shock-value grab. Combining the sex scene with the scene mentioned in the spoilers looked undeniably great because J. H. Williams III rocks, he made it sing, but the scene itself was an entirely unpleasant business. And Cameron Chase’s behavior towards Flamebird was badass, I guess, but also reprehensible… and at least to me it was Chase’s first real step towards becoming a villain in this story, and not just an antagonist.

About the possibility of seeing a male homosexual sex scene in a mainstream comic: it won’t happen for a while yet. This scene only made it to print because there’s a market for “lipstick lesbianism” between non-threatening gorgeous women. Between homosexual males I don’t think Marvel or DC would dare go beyond fully-clothed chaste kissing (IIRC Marvel already published one such scene, between Wiccan and Hulkling). Anything beyond that would attract howls of outrage across a threatened fandom, and probably get blasted on TV as a danger to all children everywhere. Maybe someday that will change, after all there was a time when lesbian sex on a mainstream DC comic would’ve been inconceivable too. The times they are a-changin’.

ThatGuyWhoSaysStuff

December 16, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Love your work here. But hate the concept of Women in Refrigerators. I wish comics criticism was rid of this all too convenient phrase that Gail Simone has cursed us with. The point was made back then, it doesn’t need to be brought up every single time that something happens to a character that happens to be a woman. Is the story good? That’s what matters. The cheap sensationalism of killing off a supporting character usually leads to bad stories, but if the stories are good, who cares if it is technically a WIR situation?

Zorro’s advice about revenge and dignity doesn’t rate a “The More You Know”? Because I could’ve actually USED advice like that, back in the day…

I don’t agree with everything you said about Batwoman, but Stain by Living Colour is an amazing fucking album. Influential on alot of musicians, all but forgotten by the general public.

TRMQ – eXistenZ? It’s been years, and I can’t recall that line, but how many movies have guns that fire teeth?

(Not enough, I say.)

You, my dear sir, are an idiot. If you don’t wish to remain an idiot, please read Wolverine and the X-Men to find an X-comic that seems to have forgotten the meaning of serious. Or sense, in some ways. Shame, too, apparently.

Just read it. It definitely adresses your remark, and is a great and imaginative comic. Everything we want from comics, really (either that or I’m a lifelong X-fan who can’t believe I’m followin and so far enjoying four of their ongoings)

RE: Avengers Academy

Striker having been abused as a child was established a while back. I’m not sure whether you knew that but your review reads like you thought this was the first time he’s mentioned it.

I see your point about characters jumping to conclusions – especially those scenes where someone keeps saying things like “But you don’t unders-OOF!” and “It’s not what it looks li-UNH!” as someone else pounds on them, as if having those last few phonemes cut off make the sentence (which was specifically written with the intent that the reader would be able to tell what’s being said) unintelligible, or the heroes have forgotten every other time they misinterpretted a situation – but I’m not sure this issue was the best example. Expecting the Avengers to see the Purifiers shooting at a kid in the street and not immediately try to help the kid is like suggesting that police showing up at the sight of a KKK lynching should take a moment to get both sides of the argument.

For that matter, going back to look it over, the only Avengers who actually attack the Purifiers are Quicksilver, the militant mutant superspeedster who’s be wildly out of character to slow down long enough to figure out whether the young mutant really should die, and Reptil, who actually does know what’s going on. Hawkeye just jams one of their guns and Tigra grabs and disarms one after he’d already started shooting at her. Hank Pym just stands around doing nothing.

Mutt: Yeah, I’m not sure why it’s so hard not to screw up a cover like that. I mean, does Wolverine really need to be on that side?

HammerHeart: You’re probably right about the male thing. You’re also right that things are changing, even though it’s really slow. So maybe in 50 years we’ll be ready for a scene like this with two men!

ThatGuy: I wrote that I didn’t like the story because it’s obvious, but I agree with you, of course. My point is: Will Williams and Blackman get a pass because of the situation? Should they? I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s useless to think about it.

Sorry, Greg. You’re right – it’s totally PSA-worthy!

Rob: It is indeed eXistenZ. Dang, what a wacky movie.

Orlando: Well, I don’t want to be an idiot, and I’ll get around to reading it eventually. It’s still not one of the main books (Uncanny or adjectiveless X-Men, at least until Mike Carey decided to wander off on his own). There have been plenty of oddball X-stories in the past twenty years – Milligan wrote a lot of them – but not in the main titles, and not where it’s just one issue of things being goofy. But I will read the mini-series and trust your contention that it doesn’t take itself too seriously!

ZZZ: Now that you mention it, I do remember Striker bringing that up. My bad. This is the first time he’s talked about it extensively since then, right? But yeah, I should have remembered that.

I also concede your point about the issue not being the best example of what I was talking about with regard to the good guys jumping to conclusions, but it’s still one that needs to be made, consarnit! Don’t bring your logic here, sir!

Unless they’ve done something weird with her, X-23 doesn’t have blades built into her shoes, she has one blade in each foot and two in each hand.

@ThatGuyWhoSaysStuff
Questioning Batwoman in regards to Women in Refrigerators seems fair game to me. Batwoman as a book seems to get a fair bit of praise from people that jump on WiF situations, but Greg isn’t the only person I’ve seen whose been saying that they expect Bette to die in some shock value tragedy, because she doesn’t seem to have much of any other purpose in the book except to meet some terrible fate. (I haven’t kept up with Batwoman myself enough to judge.)

Love the Hembeck name check in re X23. Ha!

Re your note about Joe Simon — I’ve been wondering who the oldest still living Golden Age comics creator is now, then. Is George Tuska still with us? Jeez, I guess Stan Lee is probably one of the oldest now, then. Him and Joe Kubert.

Based on your description of Batwoman, it would seem that if Flamebird does die, it will be “used against” Kate — she’s having hot sex when she “should” be out assisting Flamebird with crime fightification, so OHHH, how horrible she is for doing so!

OK, I’m-a buying Batwoman in trade….

I got the first 2 Wolverine and Jubilee issues, and rather liked them. Good stuff, and the text pages were funny stuff.

Ich bin ein auslander! That IS a good album. Heard it years ago from a local library.

And aw, what a cute family Greg has. You lucky lucky man. (and that’s not sarcastic, really)

George Tuska died a year or so ago, I believe.

Rob is correct that Tuska is no longer with us, according to the wikipedia. He died in Oct 2009.

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

December 17, 2011 at 2:56 am

Russ Heath, Dick Ayers, Nick Cardy, John Severin, Marie Severin and Carmine Infantino are very much alive.

@Greg Burgas
Wolverine and the X-Men is not a mini. I thought Marvel is trying to make it a flagship title along Uncanny.
The comic is by Aaron and, I think, it is quite similair to his Astonishing Spiderman and Wolverine.
In other words, it is as comicsy as comics can get.
Pure fun, man!
So when the trade comes, please do repent your sins.

I don’t know if I like Satrapi’s work in full color. I’m happy to see her return to any kind of printed work, but I was disappointed when I found out The Sigh was an illustrated prose book instead of a full on comic.

1: B:TB&tB – Was the color yellow? that would truly be diabolical….

2: Avengers Academy – for some reason, reading that panel, I heard it in my head in the voice of Mandy from The Grim adventures of Billy & Mandy

3: commentary on Severed – There appears to be a correlation between knowing someone is unarmed, and choosing them for a victim, in preference to going after someone known to own guns and be able to use them. That is, when the perp is actually coherent enough to think that part through. And, since a lot of home intrusions in rural areas (and to a lesser extent, suburbia) these days are perpetrated by scumbags the victim knows, or has let into their house at some time, living a life where you don’t go about bragging about your stuff, and not having drug-using friends, significantly reduces your need to own a gun for personal protection.
I actually lived in a town with 8-10 thousand people, and slept with open windows (and occasionally just the screen door between me and the street), right up until 8 years ago. Since I moved to a semi-rural area (houses and trailers typically on 1-3 acre lots), that has become less and less an option. I can’t say I know anyone locally that didn’t have a friend or relative, if not themselves, have to deal with crank-heads or pill-poppers attempting to gain access to their personal property – with or without anyone home (moral of the story, if you have guns, keep them in a gun safe when not carrying them, unless they are a non-functional wall display).

4: Zorro – BTW, said town in #3 was the infamous Corbin, KY, and the kluckers were all good ol’ boy Southern Democrats (so democrat that they even voted for Obama, figuring it was a ploy to Biden in the office via someone martyring BO, since Biden had always been abysmally unelectable in all previous primary runs). The soldiers on their horses remind more of the KKK of the late 1800s than any police sent in against Occupiers (especially when you consider how the Spanish and the elites born in their colonies looked down on those of mostly native blood – even (if not especially) well to do ones).

Billy: Thanks. I should have known they were in her feet, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a comic that features X-23 in a prominent role ever, so I wasn’t sure.

Cich: Yeah, duh. I had the trade of Wolverine and Jubilee on the brain and glossed right over the fact that Orlando was talking about the new series. You’re right – it is a new flagship title, and I’ve heard good things about it, so I’m looking forward to reading the trade when it shows it.

Julian: I was too, frankly. Although I like that it’s all-ages, because I can read it with my daughter, which should be fun.

I’ve had some issues with Batwoman in the past, such as how almost every issue of this run shows her undressing at some point, but it’s been mostly dismissed as tasteful. Well, I didn’t really find Kate having hot lesbian sex while Flamebird gets brutally beaten very tasteful at all, but it doesn’t seem like there’s much dissension in the ranks about that, either.

I sort of feel alone in that I’m not enjoying this Batwoman run anywhere near as much as I liked Elegy, and I feel like Batwoman is definitely reeling from the lack of Rucka. I’m starting to feel like Williams could draw an issue where all that happens is Kate sorts through her trash can and it would get “5/5, a perfect story” from all the comic sites as long as it had panels inside her cape and at least one page using a batsymbol motif.

@Greg:

Appreciated reading your thoughts on the WiR thing for Batwoman. I brought the same discussion point up to Sue in email. Sue and I seem to disagree, but like you I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.

The intercutting between the sex and “death” in Batwoman didn’t bother me much…maybe just because I think those two things are very related and thus make for interesting parallels.

I agree with you that it’s unlikely we’ll see gay males engaged in such obvious sexual acts in comics anytime soon (which is a shame) and I don’t disagree that the fact that it’s two hot chicks fuels a lot of it “being okay” and people being into it…which is unfortunate. But I can only say that it’s got to be baby steps, right? I know some gay women who read and love Batwoman and I can only imagine that they’re delighted to be represented and see their characters having normal adult relationships without censorship…regardless of the terms and conditions present that are allowing them to have that.

Oh, absolutely. Forward movement for the wrong reasons is still forward movement!

Journey into Mystery might have been the best thing I read this week. Fun story.

I’m not sure if you found this answer already, but 20th Century Boys is 24 volumes. The first 22 go by the title “20th Century Boys” and the last two are called “21st Century Boys.”

Thanks for the reviews! I always enjoy reading them.

@Kelly Thompson: There was a gay sex scene between two men in an issue of Scalped. It was Shunka and a guy whose name I forget. I know it’s from Vertigo and not mainstream, but Scalped is still a pretty high-profile comic (and like you said, baby steps).

Why are we waiting for Flamebird’s exit…? Should Batwoman not have her own Robin?

Nat: I’m certainly not down on the writing as much as you are, but I see what you mean. I think the writing has gotten better with each issue, in fact. Any problems I had with this issue were more of the general plot variety, not necessarily the writing.

Kelly: Sounds like a discussion on a podcast! And you’re right about the sex and violence thing – I know you recall our chat about Celluloid – but I thought it was a bit over-the-top. I don’t think the dialogue needed to be that spot-on, in other words.

jjc: I’m looking forward to reading the trade of JiM, because I keep hearing good things about it!

Julia: Thanks for the information. I’m glad you enjoy the reviews!

Other Chris: I have no problem with Flamebird at all. I think it’s fairly obvious, though, that the way she’s been written, she’s being set up for a fall. That’s different from a reader not liking her. Williams could easily rehabilitate her, of course, and make her more interesting, but ever since she’s been in the book, neither Rucka nor Williams has made her all that crucial a character … except as a sacrificial lamb.

ah…yet another titan down….sigh DC’s teen bloodlust continues….I hope it wasn’t just a death for death’s sake….

X-23′s foot blades have already been established in her past appearances in New X-Men Academy and Wolverine books…..

As a Jubilee fan, I can’t tell you how much I hate her “Twilighting” but the mini was quite good with the Logan / Jubilee interplay.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

December 17, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I was interested in checking out Avengers Academy, but I’m not sure I care to read a member of Power Pack talking about their sex life.
Why does no one else grow old in comics except for characters who are kids?

I disagree with you so much about Morrison’s current superhero work, Greg. I think this happened every time Morrison hasongoins – people get bored, and say he’s lost it, or hit rough patches.
Then, once the work is finished and collected, and people re-read it, or he’s doing another ongoing, people start talking about how good he used to be on that book. It happend with JLA, it happened with X-Men – I bet the Brits were saying it during in Animal Man and Doom Patrol.
People should just try and enjoy it whilst it’s coming out – he’ll make it all work, and it will be great.

As for the Batwoman issue… Kinda glad I dropped the book. Sounds a little too 80′s – are you sure it’s not by Don McGregor and Mrarshall Rogers? Or a Joe Esterhaus script?
I’m sure Willams sells it with the art, but it sounds like something everyone would be screaming aout if it wasn’t from him. Like something from Suicide Squad, or Villains For Hire – those sleazy comics that want to be a “serious/kewl” take on Secret Six.
Or maybe I’m just prudish with superheroes and sex today!

As for the Secret History sporadic publication, maybe that’s a good thing as I’m sure Igor Kordey drawing what 48 pages a month, might be a bit overkill for him. Plus at $5.95 (us) per issue, can be a bit draining on the wallet, eh?

As for The S.H.I.E.L.D. # 4, being lazy? Hell’s bells, Mr. Burgas. Didn’t you read # 3? There were practically NO dialogue! Just flipped through the issue in 30 seconds! Damn, now THAT’s lazy!

I haven’t picked up the Batwoman issue yet, but flipping thru it and seeing the juxtoposition of sex/violence really bugged me. It is its own played out trope, and I fear is going to one of the small steps that is going to take this–up to now–great book into cliche territory.

At its base, the scene imparts the wrong message: that love and expression of it (hetero or otherwise) is wrong and will lead to harm because you were a bad person for having it. This has been used in comics before to negate having to show heroes having healthy normal love lives. Adding it to a backstory in this century is formulaic. If we want realistic character and we want them to mirror and teach to our culture, then I’d say it’s time the medium were allowed to illustrate how a healthy person/relationship happens. That’d be heroic!

(perfectly happy to celebrate if I’m wrong in where this is heading)

@Greg: Indeed it did make for good podcast discussion fodder (read: another Batfight!)

Re: The sex scene/intercutting – the visuals didn’t bother me, but I did think the writing was a bit over the top and unnecessary. Yeah, the writing pushed it a direction I didn’t love…but it’s still on the line for me enough that it worked.

@The Dude: Yeah, I’m behind on Scalped, but that doesn’t surprise me. I should have clarified that I meant more “mainstream stuff”.

Greg,

I have just read this now. Operation: Whatever (its actual name should be “Kaiser’s Inheritance”) indeed concludes next issue. It was a one-shot in France, part of the excellent “The Heist” series (a series of one-shots centered around, yes, heists). And it’s a very nice conclusion. It’s perhaps the best euro comic on your current pull list.

And yes, the european artists avoid splash pages like the plague. European albuns have a VERY limited page count, so each panel has to count for something! For a bit of historical background, the current format was developed during World War II. Before that, those books were B&W and had a lot of pages, much like big mangas, but paper restrictions made publishers have to reduce the number of pages (the pre-war Tintin stories were reformated to fit in about half the number of pages they had before!) and throw in some color to make up for it.

So the traditional french-belgian comic albums have few pages (“few” meaning 44 to 64 pages, which is a lot compared to US comic books…), large format and many panels per page. And now you know!

Anyway, Operation: Whatever DOES end on a splash page, so there are some exceptions…

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

daniel the demon cleaner

December 19, 2011 at 4:14 am

I should have clarified that I meant more “mainstream stuff”.

There was a scene in Garth Ennis’ Punisher Max where a CIA agent fellated a Mafia boss. I mean, they don’t really show anything, except for one guy dropping to his knees and the other one having an orgasm face, so I don’t know, does that count?

Ed (A Different One)

December 19, 2011 at 7:55 am

Argh – I’m late to the party again. Whenever this column goes up late (and by late, I mean after 5:30 on Friday), i never seem to circle back around to it until the following week (I mean, there’s no point wasting time on the internet unless you’re at work, right?). Anyway, just glad to see it’s arrived although most of the salient, intelligent points have been made already (yeah, like I ever make them anyway).

Oh, and Greg, not hating on the lateness – I completely understand. How you get a weekly column out with two young kids and all the other “real world” stuff going (on top of the holiday madenss which is currently kicking into high gear) is just amazing to me. Much respect.

That being said, now that the initial enthusiam of having a new Batwoman title with JHWIII on art is waning, I find myself starting to slowly, but steadily, lose interest in the comic every week. On someone’s else’s column last week I mentioned how I’m down to only 1 title remaining on my pull list from the New 52 – Action Comics. However, I completely forgot I still have this one on my pull list too. That’s not a good sign though – that I’ve been so un-interested in it lately that i don’t even remember it’s on my pull list. The art is gorgeous and soaking that in from month to month has been keeping me on the title, but I don’t know. I think I’m going to give Batwoman and Action each one more week and decide from there. They just seem like they should be better than they are (and I agree that on Batwoman, we’re starting to discern Rucka’s noticeable absence).

On a final note, even though I’m insanely partial to my own impossibly cute seven year old daughter, I have to say that your daughters are right up there with their ability to overload the cuteness meter Greg. It’s good to see they’re doing so well (and I take it that Mia is doing OK on the health front?). Nothing makes me want to take up arms and declare war on an unfair universe like a sick little girl.

Pedro (and daniel): I don’t count Scalped and PunisherMax. “Mature” readers books aren’t mainstream superhero comics. I do find it interesting that the two examples don’t have much to do with romance. Shunka’s certainly doesn’t, and while I didn’t read the Ennis story, I can’t believe it does. Can’t two dudes have some nice sex?

FGJ: I stuck with Morrison’s Batman through some of the rougher issues because I knew that, when read all at once, they would work, but it’s not that Action is bad, it’s just been boring. That’s why I got tired of it.

Pedro B: Thanks for the information. I certainly like the lack of splash pages over the overuse of them, but it’s too bad that the artists can’t cut loose every once in a while. I’m thinking of Sean Phillips’ oddball splash in that “7 Psychopaths” comic with Hitler’s pregnant mistress or whatever the hell was going on in that panel. If used sparingly, they’re extremely effective, and I know Manapul can do very nice ones. Can there be no balance?!?!?!?

And I knew you were the one to call out in the post! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!!!

Ed: Well, it does help that I don’t have a job! Plus, ignoring the kids is really easy! :)

I’m curious to see how Batwoman does once Reeder comes on. I really like Reeder’s art, but I wonder if the flaws in the writing will be more obvious. I’m more on board, it seems, than you are, because I do look forward to Williams’ art and I think the story has been solid if not spectacular. But we’ll see.

Mia’s doing as well as usual, I suppose. Normal annoyances (eating continues to be a problem), but she’s doing better cognitively – using more words and sentences, that sort of thing. So that’s nice. Thanks for asking!

Greg, it’s not like there NEVER was splash pages on eurocomics, but they are used VERY sparingly.

For example, when showing Tintin’s moon rocket for the first time, Hergé did so in a (very beautiful) splash page. Which gained a lot in effectiveness considering how rare they are in Tintin!

Greg: Thank you. Batwoman bugged me for all the same ways, plus the universal trend toward torture porn (regardless of gender) in superhero comics generally. And look at the cover for an upcoming issue on Amy Reeder’s blog, it’s safe to say, hook dude is getting a beating, so I think the WiR question stands.

The contrast between the sex and violence was cheap and tacky. It’s precisely the sort of thing decried as hackwork when it’s done in Catwoman, because it is. I’m happy to see a gay relationship in comics; I just hope it’s actually more than just titillation and an actual relationship.

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