Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
“No, she’s sincere enough – ain’t we all – but like the rest of us she doesn’t want to pay too high a price for it.” (George MacDonald Fraser, from Mr. American)
Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures #1 by Brian Clevinger (writer), Matt Speroni (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). Artists: “To Kill a Sparrow Part 1″ by Ryan Cody; “The Revenge of Dr. Dinosaur” by Yuko Oda; “City of Skulls” by Chris Houghton; “Leaping Metal Dragon Part 1″ by John Broglia; “Rocket Science is a Two-Edged Sword” by Joshua Ross. $2.75, 20 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.
Clevinger brings us a second Atomic Robo series, because why the hell not? If Marvel can ship 659 Avengers titles and Batman can support 439 comics, why not a second Atomic Robo book? Especially because it’s an anthology series, so Clevinger can do “stories” that are little more than jokes but not feel like he has to fit them into the main series-of-mini-series. The Dr. Dinosaur story in this one, for instance, is a 4-page joke – a funny one, sure, but it wouldn’t really fit into a larger story too well. Clevinger also decides to give us serials, with a story about the Sparrow (from volume 2) fightin’ Nazis (you can’t go wrong with that!) and that time Robo met Bruce Lee (it’s true!). I’m not entirely certain what’s going on in “City of Skulls,” but maybe Bill Reed, Robo aficionado, can explain it to me.
The stories are, unfortunately, all a bit short (except for the Dr. Dinosaur one, which is about the perfect length). That’s the problem when you cram 5 stories into 20 pages. But they do show Clevinger’s style very well, and they’re all entertaining, it’s just that the two six-parters feel very short because they can take a bit more time (being in six parts and all), while the last story, which is from a few years ago, is as much a joke as the Dr. Dinosaur one but feels less complete. That’s not to say this is a bad comic, but as is often the case with Atomic Robo, I want more!
None of the artists is as good as Scott Wegener, but they get the job done, I suppose. None of the work really stands out (Ross’s story looks the best, and that’s a few years old), but none of the artists is abysmal, either. Speroni colors the Bruce Lee story to look like a 1970s kung fu movie, which is cool, but nothing really leaps out in terms of art. They do their job, and that’s fine. I wish I could say more, but I can’t.
Clevinger really knows how to write these characters, though. I hope this series does well, because more Atomic Robo in the world is never, ever a bad thing. You know it’s true!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Well, holy shit, it’s the final issue of Choker. Templesmith admits blame on his web site, but given that McCool’s other mini-series, Memoir, is also really slow, I wonder. I like to think the fact that this won my coveted “Fell Award” this year is the reason it finally showed up, but after a 14-month (!!!!) break, it’s done! Yay!
Of course, it’s totally not worth the wait. I mean, it’s a good mini-series, and I would recommend that you get the trade, but it’s just a nice little horror story. All the shit hits the fan in this issue, and McCool does a fairly good job reminding us of some things that we might have forgotten, so it’s not like anyone who’s read the first 5 issues will be lost. Johnny Jackson narrates that his assistant is finally growing a pair, but so does Johnny himself (figuratively, of course), and that helps him out immensely. I can’t really write too much about this – it’s a good series, but it’s not great. If you like Templesmith’s art, it’s a fine comic, and McCool’s story is pretty good. And then …
The story ends with a “Next.” Seriously, gentlemen? I mean, this tells a complete story, so it doesn’t matter too much, but how do you like the stones on McCool and Templesmith, promising more after these 6 issues took two years to complete? That’s awesome. I’ll believe it when I see it!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
34 (28.3.12), 32 (22.2.12), 30 (18.1.12), 32 (16.11.11), 34 (12.10.11), 26 (14.9.11), 30 (10.8.11), ?? (5/6.11), 26 (27.4.11), 30 (16.3.11), 26 (23.2.11), 24 (19.1.11). What might these be? These are the page counts of the issues of Morning Glories in 2012 and 2011 and their dates of release. Since January 2011, 12 issues have come out, with only a break in December and July of 2011, and of the issues for which I have the information (I didn’t list the page numbers in my massive “return post” for May/June), the average number of pages is 29.5. And Joe Eisma has drawn every single page. Now, you may think Joe Eisma sucks, and that’s fine, but his artwork is fairly detailed, his faces need to show a lot of emotion, and while his backgrounds aren’t great, he actually draws most of the comic (or at least it looks like he does). Now, perhaps poor Joe Eisma is chained in a basement somewhere and Nick Spencer only opens the door occasionally to throw in some Capri Sun and Gouda cheese to sustain him, but when most artists who are actually working for companies that, you know, pay them yet they can’t complete 4 issues in a row … well, Joe Eisma could kick the shit out of them with one foot while he continues to draw. I mean, really. “I can’t draw 4 issues of 20 pages in a row! My hand hurts!” Eisma just scoffs, drinks his own urine (sometimes Spencer forgets the Capri Sun), takes another bite of cockroach (sometimes Spencer forgets the cheese), and works on!!!!!
Spencer checks in on Jade and Ike, who are sitting the Plato Cave waiting for Casey to “disappear.” And they talk. That’s about it, although we do get some flashbacks to Jade’s former life and the issue ends with another look at Ike’s father, but this is basically two people talking. It’s actually a fascinating conversation, as it both moves the plot along and gives us a lot of insight into the two characters. Jade, of course, has tried to commit suicide in the past, and even though Ike is a complete douchebag to her, he’s also right about a lot of what he gleans about her. Meanwhile, we also get a glimpse into the future that we’ve seen before, or maybe it’s a parallel reality, or … you know what? It’s too trippy to get into. This is certainly not an issue that you’re just going to pick up randomly and enjoy (well, maybe you will), but it does show that Morning Glories is still one of the better comics currently out there.
Let’s raise a glass to Joe Eisma for his yeomanlike work, although perhaps it would be better to take that glass, fill it with water, and mail it to Eisma’s cellar. That might be a nicer idea.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Two years ago, when Carol’s pregnancy first came up, I speculated that “Carol, it seems to me, would have an abortion without even telling Dash (who we presume is the father; is Carol even married anymore?) – she doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would think twice about it. So this isn’t even a dramatic plot point.” I am frankly astonished that it worked out that way, because I’m usually so very wrong about stuff like this. But I wonder, with regards to this issue, why Red Crow is so angry at Dash. I mean, I know why he’s angry at Dash – it’s the same kind of thing in entertainment where a man cheats on his wife and the wife gets mad at the other woman, not the husband – but I do hope he’s mad at Carol, too. That would be refreshing.
Anyway, it’s the final story arc of Scalped. It’s awesome. People get shot in the head. Dash still can’t escape his past. Red Crow gets saved. Who’s the dude with the eye patch? Is it the kid, you know, what’s-his-name? Man, I’m old.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
And now, because I only bought four (4) single issues, I thought I’d have some fun with … Mini-Reviews of Comics I Haven’t Actually Read! Whoo-hoo!
Aquaman #7 (DC). Hey, look, Geoff Johns is introducing a female, Persian superhero with a pretty cool energy sword thingy. Man, he’s really devoted to making DC less about white American(-ish) males and reflective of the great number of cultures around the world! Way to go, Geoff Johns! Oh, wait … oh, Manta kills her on page 8. Carry on! Maybe the white, American(-ish) male can avenge her death!
Avengers vs. X-Men #0 (Marvel). Wait, is the Vision crying? CRYING? There’s not crying in superheroics! Jesus, BMB and FC, are you really referencing a 40-year-old story in this issue? Fuck you and your fucking nostalgia porn.
Batman: The Dark Knight #7 (DC). I don’t know if this has been made more obvious over the course of the intervening issues, but I fucking called the reveal in issue #1, motherfuckers! Okay, it was an obvious reveal, but still. Remember, their are two default settings for women in Bruce Wayne’s life: EVIL or DEAD. It’s the Silver St. Cloud rule (because she is the obvious exception).
Captain America and Bucky #628 (Marvel). Damn, Francesco Francavilla can color a comic book, can’t he?
Teen Titans #7 (DC). I gotta say, that’s a lot of in-your-face crotch on the splash page of this comic. All comics need more crotch!!!!!
While I was in the comic book store this morning looking at these various comics I didn’t read, a young woman came in asking about Wonder Woman merchandise. She ended up buying issue #7, and if I were a bolder man, I would have given her my e-mail address and told her that if she had any thoughts about it, should could feel free to get in touch with me so I could post it on this blog. I kind of wish I had, even though that might have been a bit creepy. Fortune favors the bold (and creepy)! Alas, whether she thinks Amazons raping and then killing men and then giving away the male babies that come out of those rapes is “edgy” and “awesome” and “well in line with the misogynistic culture that spawned the original myths” or whether she thinks it’s a bit nauseating … we’ll never know!!!!!
Black Charity by Bal Speer (writer/artist). $19.95, 96 pgs, FC, Archaia.
In the first few pages of this, one character sticks a bag of dog poo-poo in another character’s face (the latter wouldn’t clean up his own dog’s mess). Now that’s a way to begin a comic!
Colleen Doran doesn’t get enough credit for being, you know, good, does she?
The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service volume 12 by Eiji Otsuka (writer) and Housai Yamazaki (artist). $11.99, 222 pgs, BW, Dark Horse.
This is my favoritest manga series going, and I’m so, so, so, so, so glad to see it return. I love the writing, the weird horror, the artwork, and the characters. Ao Sasaki is one of my absolute favoritest characters in comics, but the others are cool, too. I love love love Kurosagi. In the back, it is pointed out that it doesn’t sell very well and they’ve needed to cut some costs to keep printing the series, and I blame each and every one of you for not buying it. Put down that 7th issue of Blackhawks, for crying out loud! Who cares if Frank Cho managed to draw an entire issue of some idiotic Marvel event that no one will remember the second after they read final issue (and which, as I point out above, features a damned robot crying)? Go read The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service! If it dies, it will just come back to haunt you anyway!!!!!
Hot damn, Juan Doe’s art on this book is cool. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen his interior work, and I don’t remember it being this cool. Plus, this book stars Elsa Bloodstone, and I never pass up a chance to show you what the covers of her last solo series looked like!
Rohan at the Louvre by Hirohiko Araki (writer/artist). $19.99, 122 pgs, FC, NBM.
I’ve been enjoying these collaborations between the Louvre and NBM to publish these comics based in the museum, and this is the latest, about a mangaka who travels to the Louvre and hears of a cursed painting. Yeah, that won’t end well.
Arcana comics usually don’t interest me, but this one is about a strange organization that sets up shop in the titular town and then weird things start happening, which sounds at least interesting. The artwork is better than you usually see with Arcana books, and DePasquale has been working in the industry for a while, so presumably he knows how to put a comic together. We’ll see!
The world continues to be weird, and I say Thank FSM for that! You might recall, not too long ago, that we all thought the search for the World’s Greatest Headline was over because of “Man Eats Cocaine from Brother’s Butt, Dies.” That still is, I think, the Champion, but we do have another contender: “Man in a sombrero wearing a boxing glove jumps on Sacramento cop car and shouts his name.” His own name, that is. The first story is still better because this second dude was obviously inebriated, but his name is Jesse James (well, Jesse James Thomas), and one hopes he left off the surname when he yelled it.
Speaking of weird, have you seen Rick Santorum’s new campaign commercial? I almost can’t believe it was seriously released by Santorum’s campaign, but I guess it was. It sounds like a complete parody, but it’s not. Talk about weird. I know he’s not going to win the nomination, but I would love it if he did. That would be an autumn to remember!
Continuing with the weird, here’s a video of Alicia Silverstone pre-chewing and spitting food into her son’s mouth. Words fail me. Silverstone has a web site where she writes about living in harmony with nature. Apparently that means naming your kid “Bear Blu” and treating him like he’s a baby bird. Man, what would we do without celebrities?
In weird movie news, Harmony Korine, who’s still probably most famous for writing the execrable Larry Clark movie Kids, is directing a new movie called Spring Breakers, which stars … Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens … and James Franco, master of all that’s bizarre. Sometimes the world makes very, very little sense.
Moving on from weird to despicable, Arizona House Bill 2036 passed the Senate, which means it needs to go back to the House for final approval before going to the governor (or as we ought to call her, Crazy Cranky Finger-Wagger Lady). This is the bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, which a few states have already adopted. It’s another way to chip away at women’s rights (it was sponsored by a woman, it must be noted), and it’s probably not the most egregious one out there (it may be; I don’t know), but part of it cracked me up; according to that story in the paper, it would “set up several new requirements: Clinics must post signs saying it is against the law to coerce a woman into having an abortion …”
This is awesome. I suppose Republicans, who voted almost unanimously for this bill, would scream if the government interfered with the right of people to coerce women to NOT to have an abortion, as you will find screaming and crying at any clinic that provides abortions. No, we can’t take away those people’s rights! But women wanting an abortion? They’re all harlots anyway, right?
One Republican voted against the bill. She’s not against restricting abortions in general, but she didn’t like the bill. According to her, the sign requirement vexed her, as Republicans recently “voted down a bill that would have required restaurants to post signs related to food allergies because they said it was an unnecessary government mandate but supported the sign requirements in HB 2036.” I know Democrats are hypocrites too, but I just love it when shit like this happens. Politics make me feel like I need a shower, man. On the other hand, the Senate voted against House Bill 2625, which is amazing considering that Republicans dominate the Senate. It’s not completely dead, but it will have to be reworked. I’m still fairly amazed that in a country where anywhere from 70 to 85% of the population identifies itself as Christian, many politicians feel that religion is under attack, but whatever. The sponsor of this bill swears she’ll be back with a better version, so stay tuned!
I always get caught up reading Cracked.com, and I found 5 Ways Modern Men are Trained to Hate Women fairly interesting in light of Kelly’s recent columns. It doesn’t excuse men and it’s a bit insulting that it implies men are fairly mindless, but it is something to think about.
Of course, while I was reading that, I came across stuff like this, the best of which is “grief bacon” (everyone needs some grief bacon now and then!), although I’m sure some people would accuse me of being a “pilkunnussija.” Foreign words are awesome.
So, I mentioned that I was going to see The Hunger Games last weekend. It was … meh. Jennifer Lawrence can act blah blah blah Lenny Kravitz with gold eyelashes blah blah blah Woody Harrelson playing himself blah blah blah Why does Elizabeth Banks look like she stepped out of Wonderland? blah blah blah Jesus, Josh Hutcherson, would it kill you to act a little? blah blah blah. It was fine, I guess, but maybe I’m just not into movies as much as I used to be (I mean, I want to see Prometheus, but who knows if I will, right?). Maybe the book explained how sacrificing children of the people who rebelled against you is supposed to heal the country, but to me, it’s a motherfucking recipe for rebellion, which apparently happens in the next two books. Whatever – I’m sure Donald Sutherland is far smarter than I am (and honestly, the best part of the movie was Wes Bentley’s FUTURE BEARD!!!!). But I did find the reactions to the movie interesting, especially the vast number of fans of Twitter who were angry that the actor who played Rue was black. Oh, racism – you’re so much fun! Listen, Rue had maybe 10 minutes of screen time, and her race was pretty much inconsequential with regard to the story. It just didn’t matter what race she was. Plus, according to the book, she’s described as “dark,” but people are still getting bent out of shape that they didn’t cast a blonde Swede in the role. Jesus, people, grow the fuck up. Of course, according to this angry dude, part of the problem is that they haven’t grown up. I love a good rant!
Now that I’ve thoroughly driven you away, let’s check out The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):
1. “You’re Gone” – Marillion (2004) “And I wait ’til midnight tolls, two souls almost touching in the dark”
2. “Sit Down” – James (1991) “I believe this wave will bear my weight so let it flow”
3. “Lorelei” – Styx (1975) “She brightens every lonely night, no one’s quite the same”1
4. “Stone in Love” – Journey (1981) “Burnin’ love comes once in a lifetime”2
5. “The Man Who Told Everything” – Doves (2000) “And I feel like I’m losing my head, I didn’t mean to stay”
6. “Serrated Edge” – Dead Milkmen (1985) “Yeah, Charles Nelson Reilly, he’s our man, he can’t heal the sick with the touch of his hand”
7. “Railroad Steel” – Georgia Satellites (1986) “I’m just two tire tracks disappearin’ in the pourin’ rain”3
8. “I Will Walk on Water” – Marillion (1992) “What we have here is bigger than fear”
9. “Scapegoat” – Chumbawamba (1997) “This island is big enough for every castaway, but most of us are looking ’round for someone else to blame”
10. “That Phone” – Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (2010) “You’ll feel the cold, cold air underneath your clothes creeping in from the door I left open, baby”
1 I love the 1970s, because this song isn’t about something vague like “I’ll love you forever and ever” or something traditional like “Let’s get married,” it’s about Lorelei and the singer shacking up. “Yeah, we’ll live together, but if it doesn’t work out, oh well.” The Seventies were awesome, man.
2 If it comes more than once, it’s probably time to consult your doctor.
3 If I ever want to piss my wife off, I just have to play the Georgia Satellites. She hates them so much! Now, you might totally agree with her, but it’s actually fun to see how angry she gets when she hears them. It’s not quite as funny as when she sees Steven Seagal, who I think makes her eyes actually bleed, but it’s close! (Seriously, Steven Seagal has a new show premiering this week, and she couldn’t even look at the commercial.)
So this weekend I will be in Seattle at the convention, so my monthly trip through Previews will be pushed back a few days, but I’m making up for it by having a Very Special Guest go over the selections for me. You won’t want to miss it! I’m going to the great Northwest, of course, because Mr. Hatcher, Ms. Harris, and I are, in fact, plotting to take over the blog from the East Coast Liberal Elite cadre … wait, did I type that out loud? Whoops – forget I wrote anything, people! Anyway, I’m really looking forward to the trip – it’s been over a decade since I was in Seattle, and it’s an awesome city. I’m having dinner with someone I haven’t seen in 18 years, and I actually get to meet Mr. Hatcher, which ought to be fun. Plus, who doesn’t love the rain? I hope everyone has a nice weekend, and remember: Next week is a nice one: Casanova #3, Chew #25, Fatale #4, some other cool stuff, and … Flex Mentallo!!!! Whoo-hoo! Plus, it’s a good week for television: I haven’t watched Mad Men yet, but it’s back, and motherfucking Game of Thrones is back on Sunday. And, in case you missed it, there’s a new series of Whitechapel on BBC America this week. It might not be as good as Sherlock or Luther, but it’s still pretty damned good. Oh, those crazy Brits and their TV shows!
Okay, I’ll shut up now. See what happens when I don’t have a lot of comics to review? My mind goes to some crazy places!!!!
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