EXCL. PREVIEW: "Avatar: Smoke & Shadow" TPB Threatens the Fire Nation
“Without the right sound, writing is worthless.” Laney gazed at the cream-colored wall. “He fired me, you know. One day there was an Italian novel and I couldn’t read Italian, so he let me go from the job of reading. Joyce fired me from the job for which I was not paid.” (Roger Kahn, from The Boys of Summer)
Avengers Academy #38 (“Crosstown Rivals”) by Christos Gage (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Cory Hamscher (inker), Rick Ketcham (inker), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.
Eins. I love that cover. I love it because unlike a lot of homages, which take the image, change it to fit the comic, but usually keep the tone of the cover, this one takes a deadly serious cover and completely upends it to make it light-hearted. Well done, Giuseppe Camuncoli!
Dos. Speaking of cover artists, Marvel has been doing this on AA for a while (but not necessarily on their other books) – putting the cover artists in the credits before the letterer. Way to piss all over Joe Caramagna’s contribution, Marvel!
Trzy. This is a phenomenal issue. You’ll recall (because I go on about it so fucking much) that I believe DC and Marvel comics should take a breath every once in a while, and lo and motherfucking behold, Gage gives us one after the tense drama of “Final Exam.” The cover promises a flag football game, and that’s exactly what we get. We don’t get a surprise attack by a villain, or a cliffhanger where Mettle reveals he’s really a Dire Wraith. It’s just an issue about a football game, although the game tends to get lost in the shuffle. And it’s fucking hilarious. I could have picked ten panels to feature as the “Airwolf” one, because Gage gets so many funny things into this issue. I have never used the Doop translator before, but I had to because the White Tiger said it was “obscene” (it wasn’t, but who knew that about Doop?). There’s just a lot of very funny exchanges in this book, and it’s perfectly in character – most of the characters are teenagers, who enjoy busting on each other, and the “grown-up” superheroes include Iceman and Hawkeye, who aren’t all that mature, and Wolverine, who enjoys beer (although I doubt he drinks Molson – have some self-respect, Logan!). Gage does manage to get some nice “serious” moments into the book, as when Kitty talks to Veil about her lack of powers or when Finesse comes clean with X-23 about what happened to Jeremy, and it’s that mix that makes the book so refreshing. I don’t know if people who haven’t been reading Avengers Academy would enjoy this comic, but if you’re looking for an issue that isn’t all doom-‘n’-gloom (because Jeebus knows we’ve seen far too much of that from the Big Two recently), check this out. It’s excellent.
Pedwar. Good job scheduling, Marvel. This issue, of course, takes place after AvX ends, but AvX technically hasn’t ended yet in the “real” world. Well done! How a comic with 28 writers and 44 artists could be late (these numbers may be exaggerated) is beyond me. Marvel: It didn’t work going the “Let’s wait for Steve McNiven” route, it didn’t work going to the “Let’s hire every writer and artist we can think of so they can all work at the same time” route. And yet – I’m sure they’ll have another godawful crossover next summer! Whoo!
Cinco. It’s the Return of the Grammar Cop! I don’t expect a mouth-breather like Gambit to know any different, but he says “show her you take her serious.” Of course, it’s “seriously.” Adverbs are awesome!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Detective Comics #13 (“Duck and Cover”/”IQ Test”) by John Layman (writer), Jason Fabok (artist, “Duck”), Andy Clarke (artist, “Test”), Jeromy Cox (colorist, “Duck”), Blond (colorist, “Test”), Jared K. Fletcher (letterer, “Duck”), and Dezi Sienty (letterer, “Test”). $3.99, 28 pgs, FC, DC.
T’ááłá’í. I wasn’t planning on getting Layman’s run on Detective until it came out in trade, but I figured I’d check out the first issue. As I mentioned last week, I’ve heard quite a bit about this run, none of which I’m allowed to share. Layman has some cool ideas, though, and this a pretty good first issue. Layman does a nice job jumping back and forth in time to set up the plot, which involves the Penguin trying to kill Bruce Wayne. There’s also – wait for it – detective work in this comic, as Batman figures out what the bad guys are up to and why they’re doing it. I thought it was a single-issue story (one that nevertheless fits into a longer arc, much like what Layman has done often on Chew), but it ends on a decent cliffhanger, and I’m curious about how our hero will get out of the pickle he’s in. Layman writes the back-up story, too, and he gives us a quick eight-pager that ties into the first story nicely. There’s a lot to like about this issue.
Kaksi. Layman told me he’s writing this as an all-ages comic. That may sound strange, given the apparent directive from On High at DC that all their comics must use the “Grim-‘n’-Gritty Wheel” (as the 3 Chicks call it) to determine story lines, but it’s interesting once you stop to check out this issue that it is indeed “all-ages” – well, maybe not for three-year-olds, but you get the idea. One character is shot dead, but all we see is the gun going off and then his (rather bloodless) corpse on the ground. There’s a little blood, but it comes from the mouths and noses of bad guys when Batman punches them, and there’s not a lot of it. One of the characters is wearing a red mask, so when Batman punches him, it looks like a lot of blood, but it’s his mask shattering. This is a very “old-school” kind of Batman comic, in that there’s plenty of punching but nothing all that horrific. It’s just a bad guy doing dastardly things and Batman trying to stop him. It’s remarkably refreshing. (Yes, I called two consecutive comics “refreshing.” When was the last time you could say that about two Big Two comics that came out in the same week?)
Tre. Jason Fabok is channeling Gary Frank in this issue, which isn’t a criticism. It’s fairly standard superhero art – it doesn’t elevate the story, but it doesn’t hurt it at all. There’s not a ton of interesting page layouts, and Fabok’s heavy inks and Cox’s thick brushes make up for Fabok’s biggest deficiency, which is facial expressions. He seems to have a fairly limited range of faces, most showing some kind of anger, which I guess is fine for a serious character like Batman, but I wonder how he’ll handle Poison Ivy and her seductiveness next issue. Will she be an angry vixen? Andy Clarke has a much better range of expressions in his short story than Fabok does. But I saw Fabok’s artwork on that annual he did earlier in the summer and wasn’t impressed, so I’m pleasantly surprised by his work here. I don’t love the monocle on the Penguin, though. It never looks right, because nobody – Fabok included – draws the Penguin using muscles to keep it in. It just floats there, in front of his eye. It’s oddly distracting.
ЧеTыре. Comic book creators aren’t unionized, are they? I wonder because Layman really likes lettering his own comics, but Jared K. Fletcher and Dezi Sienty, both “stable” letterers at DC, do this one. I forgot to ask Layman if he was lettering this and, if not, why not. Perhaps it’s a time constraint, as he already does letter two other books. But I wonder if DC even allowed him the option. This seems like a very “closed shop” kind of choice. I don’t have anything against Fletcher or Sienty, but it’s curious.
Lima. Grammar Cop! This is just a typo, but when Ogilvy is talking about his first job, his boss’ name is spelled “Peguin.” That’s some fine, fine editing by the folk at DC!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Egy. Fatale only took a month off, but it seems like longer, doesn’t it? Why is that? It’s not something that I’m champing at the bit to read – I enjoy it quite a bit, certainly, but it hasn’t grabbed me yet like certain other comics and made me want to read it NOW! But when it came out this week, I thought, “Where the heck has this been?” Then I checked, and issue #7 came out in the middle of August. Weird. Maybe I miss it more than I think I do!
To. I like how Brubaker pulls together the “present” sections and the “past” sections. I always like seeing the same scene from different perspectives, Rashomon-style, so that was neat. Plus, Brubaker reminds us that this isn’t just a noir tale, as we get some science-fictiony stuff in this issue. Mash-ups are the bomb, yo!
Hiru. Phillips kills it on this issue, as usual. I love the more “simplistic” style he employs when Nick is remembering his childhood, and I love how the woman turns into a monster when she’s about to pummel Nick, because it’s unclear if she’s really a monster or if he’s just imagining it. The sci-fi panel kicks much ass, too.
Foa. I didn’t see any grammar/spelling mistakes. I mean, I guess I’ve lost the battle of “damned” being the correct usage instead of “damn,” so I’m going to leave the “goddamn” alone. But I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to like it!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Legends of the Dark Knight #1. “___ ______ ___ __” by Damon Lindelof (writer), Jeff Lemire (artist), José Villarrubia (colorist), and Saida Temofonte (letterer); “All of the Above” by Jonathan Larsen (writer), J.G. Jones (artist), Paul Mounts (colorist), and Saida Temofonte (letterer); “The Crime Never Committed” by Tom Taylor (writer), Nicola Scott (penciller), Wayne Faucher (inker), Allen Passalaqua (colorist), and Saida Temofonte (letterer). $3.99, 30 pgs, FC, DC.
Satu. This issue collects three digital issues seeing print for the first time. I have no idea where you could have read these originally – I’m so un-tech-savvy that my wife, who got an iPad a month ago, already knows how to do more with it than I know with the one I’ve had for well over a year. I have one (1) app on my iPad, and it’s only because I needed it for something to do with work. So I just wait until DC gets around to publishing shit on real paper, or I don’t read it. I just don’t like reading comics on a device! Well, yet. Maybe I’ll evolve.
Ni. This is another four-dollar book which I don’t feel too bad paying four dollars for, because it’s longer than 20 (or 22) pages. Plus, the talent is really good, so that’s something. I will still blanch at paying four bucks for a 20-page comic (I mean, come on!), but if DC (or Marvel) increases the page count and gives us good talent, why wouldn’t I buy something like this?
Niswi. The first story, the name of which I can’t reveal (it gives away the twist), is excellent. First of all, Lemire’s art is really good – I thought of Paul Pope when I saw that Airwolf panel, and even though Lemire’s unique character and face design is different from Pope’s, his costumed Batman is certainly reminiscent of it. Meanwhile, Lindelof gives us my favorite new character – Complete Asshole Batman! I mean, Batman is always a bit arrogant, but Lindelof goes nuts with it (this is early in his career, so it’s forgivable), and let me tell you, Complete Asshole Batman is funny as hell. I dare you not to laugh at his Hal Jordan burn. This is a seriously awesome Batman story, and it’s only 10 pages long.
Mbohapy. I don’t know if DC asked their writers to come up with variations on Complete Asshole Batman, because Larsen kind of gives us one in the second story. Obviously, the big draw for this 10-pager is Jones’ art, but Larsen gives us a nice Batman, too, one who’s not quite as much of an asshole as the first story Batman is, but still, one who has a grand old time taunting Amazo. The android attacks Batman, who’s alone on the JLA satellite, and Batman basically messes with him just so he can prove to his superpowered peers how fucking cool he is. I mean, we all know Batman is fucking cool, but it’s fun that some writers let him think that. It’s a clever story marred only by the use of Bat-Shark Repellant [sic]*. I mean, I like Bat-Shark Repellant as much as the next guy (the next guy being Cronin, of course), but that doesn’t mean it’s not stupid, and the “real” Batman – meaning every version EXCEPT the Adam West one – looks stupid carrying it around. But it’s still a fun story.
* Apparently you’re allowed to spell “repellent” with an “a” before the “nt.” I don’t like it, but I won’t count it against Larsen or letterer Temofonte.
Wŭ. Nicola Scott has the unenviable task of following Lemire and Jones, but she’s a good artist, so it’s not too bad. I don’t know if she did this quickly (I assume it’s old and not interfering with her current work), or if it’s because it’s digital (I don’t know how she usually works), or if it’s Faucher’s influence, but this looks slicker than her art usually looks. It’s certainly not bad, but it is a bit different. Meanwhile, Taylor eases back on Complete Asshole Batman and gives us Good Citizen Batman, the kind that doesn’t want people to commit crimes. It’s actually quite a good story, and it features … I assume that’s Tim Drake as Robin? It’s certainly not Damian, because this Robin isn’t a dick. I like how Robin (Tim?) does the talking, because even if Batman is being magnanimous in this story, BATMAN DOESN’T TALK TO PEONS! Much like Complete Asshole Batman, I really dig Good Citizen Batman – he’s just trying to look out for his peeps, man! Plus, I always like stories that reference his origin without being too obvious about it, and this one does (so does Lindelof’s, in a different way). We all know his origin, so let us make the connection, writers!
Sitta. What kind of weird shop is DiDio running over there at 1700 Broadway? DC claims they haven’t done a reboot, but then they completely rework their continuity so it’s clearly a reboot, even editing their trade paperbacks to make sure Tim Drake was never Robin (seriously, Double-you Tee Eff, DC?), but then they publish this sucker, which clearly contradicts whatever clusterfuck is going on in the “real” DCnU. I mean, unless that kid in the last story is Dick Grayson or Jason Todd, it’s clear that Tim Drake was Robin. I guess DC can get away with it because no one ever calls him by name, so I suppose it could be Dick. Meanwhile, in the second story, we see a Justice League that features a Superman wearing red shorts, contains Booster Gold, Martian Manhunter, and Power Girl. Plus, they’re on a satellite. Well done, DC! Sheesh.
Hefet. Grammar cop! First, someone at DC spelled José Villarrubia’s name wrong in the credits. They use only one “r.” Okay, they forgot the accent on the “e,” too, but the misspelling of his last name is really shoddy. Really, DC? I mean, how about you treat your creators with the common courtesy of spelling their names right. It can’t be that hard.
Meanwhile, on Page 1, we get “I’d lay in bed at night …” Look, it’s not that difficult to get the difference between “lie” and “lay” correct, yet people get it wrong all the time. Batman is not narrating in the past tense: “I lay in bed last night” – he’s using the conditional mood, meaning he’s saying “I would lay …” which is incorrect. Before you get all over me for being pedantic, what if Lindelof had had Batman thinking “I would runned along the rooftop …”? Would you be willing to forgive his ignorance? Of course not. “Lay” is WRONG. This isn’t a question of splitting an infinitive (which is idiotic in English – go ahead and split them!) or ending a clause with a preposition (another stupid rule) – this is using the wrong fucking word. If Lindelof had written “I’d chair in bed at night …”, would that be okay? No. Because that would be the wrong fucking word. Just because “lay” is the past tense of “lie” doesn’t excuse someone not taking 30 seconds to look up the difference. Especially people who get paid to write words.
Meanwhile (yes, another “meanwhile”!), Alfred correctly corrects Bruce when Bruce uses “infers” instead of “implies” (although Bruce ought to know better – he’s a smart dude), but when Bruce says “You and the grammar,” Alfred says, “The grammar and I, sir.” That’s an incorrect correction. “You and the grammar” is perfectly fine, because Bruce is talking about the second person – Alfred. If we took Alfred’s correction, Bruce would simply say, “The grammar and you.” So Alfred is dumb, too. Man.
Sheva. Man, Nicola Scott drew the crazy security guard as Matt Wagner. What does she have against Wagner?
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
A few years ago, Giallongo sent me some of his mini-comics, and they were quite good. I’m glad he has a chance to reach a larger audience with this book. Giallongo is a good artist, and his work looks even better with the high-end production values of a First Second comic.
Sailor Twain or The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel (writer/artist). $24.99, 399 pgs, BW, First Second Books.
John Irving’s quote on the front of this book actually lauds its “erotically charged drawings.” Now, there are naked mermaids in this book, but I’ve flipped through it, and Siegel’s style is not what you think of when you think “erotically charged.” It’s good work, certainly, but it’s a bit cartoony. I’ll have to see if it’s really that erotic!
So I guess there was a debate last night. I didn’t watch it. I haven’t even read anything about it yet. I will, though. Comics reviews are more important!!!!
I have never watched Doctor Who, but I know who Karen Gillan is. She’s leaving (left?) the show, and here are some .gifs to celebrate (mourn?).
Speaking of redheads, here are many more attractive ones. You’re welcome, Travis.
Wait, they’re making another Die Hard?
I’ve watched most of the new television shows I’m going to watch (I DVRed 666 Park Avenue, just for kicks, but haven’t watched it yet), and it seems like this year is pretty lame. I watched the first episode of Revolution and found it pretty bland and dumb. Yet it’s a huge hit. Ben and Kate is okay, but I don’t get the appeal of Nat Faxon. He seems like a doofus, which I guess is the point. Also, precocious kids make my teeth ache. The girl in the show is five years old, but the actor playing her is seven. I guess they thought she wasn’t precocious enough to play a seven-year-old, but she looks like a genius as a five-year-old! Vegas is perfectly fine – I like Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis, so I’ll give it some time to really take off (and good for networks to back off on trying to make Jason O’Mara a leading man – the dude has gone 0-for-2 in shows the last few years, so it’s nice that he can let Quaid and Chiklis carry the show and he can just hang around smoldering). I liked Elementary, but I had some issues with it. I can’t remember if it was Greg Hatcher on Facebook who complained that it was “just another cop show” – I think it was him, but it could have been someone else. Anyway, of course it’s just another cop show – I’m not sure what anyone expected. Jonny Lee Miller is fine, but I think they’re trying to humanize Holmes a bit too much, and Lucy Liu is okay, too, although I don’t think Watson would get bent out of shape as much as she does. My wife says it’s the first time she hasn’t been annoyed by Liu, so there’s that, I guess. I’ll watch it for a while and see if the characters get better, but it’s perfectly fine. I do wish they would try to use actual Conan Doyle cases with modern twists, like the British show. That would be neat. Last Resort is another ridiculous show, but unlike Revolution, it has Andre Braugher, so I like it more (Revolution has Giancarlo Esposito, but I hear that after the premiere, he hasn’t been in it enough). That’s about it for new shows that I’ve been interested in. I’m going to watch Nashville and I’ll probably check out Arrow (I mean, come on – look at those abs!) As for the shows I’m already watching … the one I might have to give up on is Bones. I’ve always liked it, but since Emily Deschanel had her kid the show has gone downhill. They’ve always made a big deal about what a horrible mother she would be, and suddenly she’s super-mom? Plus, the kid is in the mix too often. Hodgins and Angela had a kid and you hardly ever hear about it. That’s how it should be. I’ll still watch, but perhaps not for much longer.
Finally, here is the most 1980s photograph in history. The commentary about the picture is much better than the picture itself!
My iPod is back, so let’s check out the Ten Most Recent Songs it played:
1. “Anytime” – Journey (1978) “Give me all of your sunshine, a spark is all I need”
2. “Be Aggressive” – Faith No More (1992) “Reach down my throat you filthy bird that’s all I need”
3. “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” – Neutral Milk Hotel (1998) “Now how I remember you, how I would push my fingers through your mouth to make those muscles move”
4. “The Boys of Summer” – Don Henley (1984) “I never will forget those nights, I wonder if it was a dream”1
5. “Compliments of Your Waitress” – Chumbawamba (2008) “The dignity of labour, it never rang true to me”
6. “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” – They Might Be Giants (1990) “Why did Constantinople get the works? that’s nobody’s business but the Turks”
7. “Build a House and Burn it Down” – Horse Flies (2008) “Touch the sun and let it go”
8. “Wonderous Stories” – Yes (1977) “Drifting I turned on upstream bound for my forgiver”2
9. “Carry On” – Fun. (2012) “Lay your clothes down on the floor, close the door, hold the phone, show me how no one’s ever gonna stop us now”3
10. “Institutionalized” – Suicidal Tendencies (1983) “All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me”4
1 It’s a strange coincidence that the quote is from a book of the same name of the song that showed up on my iPod. Spoooooooky!
2 Hey, this song was where the Totally Random Lyrics were from two weeks ago! No one got it – come on, people, it’s Seventies Yes!!!!
3 Nate Ruess with the correct use of “lay”! Whoo-hoo!
4 Poor Mike!
How about some Totally Random Lyrics?
“Walking back to you
Is the hardest thing that I can do
That I can do for you … for you
I’ll be your plastic toy
I’ll be your plastic toy …
Another easy one, right? RIGHT?
Have a grand day, everyone! Will I buy more comics next week? NO MAN CAN SAY!
(Oh, and while I’m not writing too much about sports these days, this .gif from last week’s Eagles-Giants game is awesome.)
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