Weekly Comic Book Discussion 11/3/2005

Just getting it started. Decent batch this week.

I picked up the new Lullaby ongoing, which is Fables-like in concept, but plays totally differently.

Bulleteer #1: In some of the previous 7 Soldiers material. Morrison’s taken a look at z-grade superheroes, super-wannabes, and even hinted at superhero fetishists. This one dives right into what would be a very real community in any place where superheroes operate openly.

I mean, I worked ione summer in a radiation lab. And when I came upon a spider that somehow got into the lab, I didn’t exactly try to shoo it away.

Anyway, a bit too much cheesecake here, but still a very nice read.

Jonah Hex #1: Wow. That’s a badass. That’s a badass and a half. While I like my Superheroes relatively noble, I like my gunslingers BAD ASS. Liked it so much I also grabbed the Showcase book.

Justice #2: I like Ross’ take on the Riddler. Too bad he didn’t actually use him being the Riddler and just gave us an extended chase scene. I’d drop this thing, but it makes a nice treat since it’s spread out so much.

Outsiders #30: Sabbac uses the seven deadly sins on the Outsiders. Penis ensues. Hilarous as usual.

Firestorm #19: Jason’s back the absorbing others to form Firestorm. Other heroes are freaked by him seemingly having conversations with himself. I liked it. Warning: It has spoilers for next month’s Outsiders. By the way, I want that Green Lantern shirt that Jason was wearing.

JSA #79: Good, not great. Stargirl gets a couple of great lines and a new costume that I’m ambivalent about.

Superman/Shazam: First Thunder #1: Love Winnick’s writing. Hate the art. Not sure its’ worth $3.50 an issue, but I’ll pick it up when I have spare cash.

Wildsiderz #2 - I don’t want to like this book. The characters are cliche, the dialogue lame, and the art quality’s all over the place (sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes it looks like mediocre fanart), but…I can’t help it. There’s something about it that just makes me like it. And not just the cheerleader with the cat powers and the fact that I have a real weakness for girls with way too many freckles. But, for a genius, Styler is rather an idiot…Yes, yes…the best answer to someone trying to kill you and steal your research which will help ease the suffering of millions is not to seek out protection, or to follow through on your plan to use it to become a superhero, it’s to destroy the research! Dumbass.

Robotech - Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #2 (OK, this is from last week, but I only just got around to reading it.) Either I need to reread Sentinels, or the fact that Dr Lang is there is something of a continuity error…I’m pretty sure he’s already dead by this point in the game. And, again, the art’s ranging from pretty brilliant (although none of the characters look like themselves - even granting 10, 20 years of aging, Rick shouldn’t look like that) to ‘mediocre fan-art’ level. Beyond that, though, I have no complaints…but I’m a Robotech fanboy, and pretty easy to please that way.

From new books for 10-26-05:

(Spoilers in white text, run cursor over the line to read.)

It’s been a while since we’ve had such a good week for comics, … but then, I’m pretty critical. On a recent Millarworld thread, someone made the argument that it’s easy to discuss the writing, but hard to describe what you like about the art. I’m sorry, but that just isn’t so. For instance, I just love JH Williams inking. It’s the way he mixes delicate line work with black masses here. Can’t wait to see what comes next. And Jose Villarubia make very nice selective use of the simplest color elements to accentuate the blows in the beating that opens the fourth part of “Made in England” in Desolation Jones #4, something which successfully sets the tone for the story that follows. (It also reminds me of Bill Sienkiewicz’s great ink and color on that “music” issue of Moon Knight he did some years back. The one where the art conveyed the beat and tempo of varied styles of music as Marc Spector pursued his prey through NYC’s west side club scene that night.) Warren Ellis keeps the story pretty entertaining: introducing a new member of the spy community and throwing in a lot nice fast moving action, and intriguing twists. The fact that Angela Nigh set Paula (and by extension, the goon) on Jones suddenly makes her #1 on the hit parade of suspects, and to cap it all off, sister Jessica gets in on the act. Whatever’s really going on here, it clearly hinges on what’s gotta’ be some twisted shit between the members of Jones’ employer’s family. When the smoke clears, it’s bound to be ugly, like Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss ugly. Fun stuff all the same. 8/10.

Another art team making great use of simple line and blocks of color is John Paul Leon and Dave Stewart in their work on Brett Lewis’s complex, yet very human Wintermen miniseries, which has all the density and compassion for human weakness one finds in Howard Chaykin’s best work, like the indie title American Flagg! and the Twilight miniseries he did for DC. Leon and Stewart do a great job making you feel the different characters emotions and feelings, despite the spare quality of Leon’s line. This is great stuff, but it’s so intricate, I won’t even begin to try to summarize the plot at this point, but I have to say that I love the way Lewis managed to bring most of “Red-11” together this issue: Kalenov the Militiaman, Nikki the gangster, Nina the Bodyguard, Drost the Soldier,… each with their own distinctive voice. (I’m dying to meet the Siberian.) If you aren’t already doing so, read it sometime, backtracking for past issues, or getting it in trade (boy, I hope this comes out in trade – it deserves every chance it can to get an audience. “Long live the Wintermen”, the post-Soviet Russian Watchmen! 9/10.

The first thing I thought when I took a good look at the cover of Morrison, Paquette and Bair’s cover for Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #1 is that someone (1) has finally noticed the real reason we all fell in love with Angie Spica, Ph.d, The Authority’s Engineer, and (2) manage to improve on her design (at least in a “nudge-nudge, wink-wing” way that will appeal to fanboys everywhere). This has to be one of the most self-consciously sexy books on the racks. Looking at Yanick Paquette and Michael Bair’s Alix Harrower, one wonders how her husband Lance (don’t you hate those old school names?) kept his mind on his work. One also wonders when Paquette’s work began to look so much like Chris Sprouses (again, it might be the thin line approach Bair chose for the inking, which is quite a change from the finishes he applied to Rags Morales pencils on Hawkman and Identity Crisis. One thing is for sure, it certainly provides a great showcase for Alex Sinclair’s colors.) But enough about the art,… simple as it is, Grant Morrison’s story is fun from start to finish here, and I like the fact that, when given “a lemon” of a situation, his Alix Harrower decides to “make lemonade”, but how will she pay the rent playing superhero?
Great start. 8/10.

Garth Ennis is doing a great job of making his Punisher Max stories (which could be simple as all hell) satisfyingly complex. My favorite development this issue was Officers Miller’s and Parker’s disgust with being used to advance Stu Westin’s and Capt. Tom Price’s smear campaign, and their willingness to do something about it. Hope they live long enough to join in on the orgy of destruction to come. I actually find myself praying Jen Cooke doesn’t mess it up either, but we know she will. (I really hope Ennis didn’t intentionally name this character after the former Millarworld administrator.) Not sure I care for Scott Koblish’s thin line finishes over Fernandez’ pencils here: some line variation would be nice. This, well this just looks like tracing. 7/10.

It’s more than Steve Dillon’s pencils. Daniel Way is definitely channeling Garth Ennis’ story style here, and while I didn’t think too much of the way the Supreme Power: Nighthawk storyline started, it’s become a pretty cool example of what an Ennis Batman story would be like. Despite myself I’m enjoying it, and I gotta’ say I love the way Way writes the Governor, the Mayor, Ass’t Commissioner Stratt, and his version of the Joker. I’m looking forward to some bloodshed soon. 7/10.

“All Hell Breaks Loose”, the second part of the “Unoriginal Sins” story arc in Outsiders #30 decent enough start to the Outsiders sojourn in space. My only complaint, once again, is the art. Raney brought a perversity to the Fearsome Five that I miss here. I couldn’t help but imagine how he’d handle the orgy scene. Nice to see Katana slice and dice again. 6/10.

“Warriors, Part 7” in Ultimate Spiderman #85 was a decent enough conclusion to a so-so arc. There was a nice surprise at issues end (truly, the only thing of consequence that happened this issue, least for Ult. Parker’s future). 6/10.

Palimotti and Gray’s “Giving the Devil His Due”, the start of their Jonah Hex miniseries, comes graced with a Frank Quitely cover that reminds me very much of Moebius/Jean Girard’s early work on the Lt. Blueberry series. The story (or stories) are fine, reminding me of Marvel’s old western stories, though they are a might bloodier than the sanitized stuff I read in the sixties. What really stands out this issue is the big change in Luke Ross’ art (I’ve liked Ross’ work since his long run on Dark Horse Comics defunct Ghost title in the ‘80’s). I cannot tell whether Ross is adopting elements of John Cassaday’s (Planetary, Astonishing X-Men) or the look of the finished pages is a result of computer “inking”, but given the panel layout, I’d say it was a conscious choice. Looks good. Cassaday may vcry well become, in time, one of the more influential artists to emerge over the last decade. 6/10.

That’s it for this week: anyone else?

Tengu, Dr. Lang was a major player in Sentinels.

Picked up Firestorm because of the Crisis tie-in - that’s just what they want me to do, I think. The book is still a “meh.” Continuing with Outsiders for now because of Crisis, but will drop it like a hot potato shortly. Powers was solid this week, as usual.

Seven Soldiers : Bulleteer - This is the most traditional of the Seven Soldiers books so far. And I really like Grant Morrison when he tries to be traditional. I adore his run on JLA and this is the most like that, so far.
JSA** - I kinda like where this is going, but the 5th/6th dimension stuff feels weak to me. The battle between Nabu and Mordru promises to be excellent though. Loved WildCat’s solid punch.

Charles Burns’ Black Hole – I’m about halfway through with this. Burns has really accomplished something here – it’s hard to describe, but he creates mood so powerfully, he’s got you in the palm of his hand. It’s a huge big book for $25, which is something like a 45% discount off the single issue prices. Everybody, just go buy this.

Fell #2 – Ellis also does a great job with mood in this issue. Last month I decide I wasn’t much of a Templesmith fan, and I’m still not sure about his figure work, but I realize now that he’s doing great storytelling; you really understand how things are playing out. And the story: Smoke babies – jesus! My barber escaped the Killing Fields when he was about 12. His story is astounding (his mom packed him up and decided to leave when they found out that his father had not been slaughtered by the government as they thought, but instead was a general in the army and had taken another wife and family), but it’s hard for me to relate to it – the worst day of my life was when I got a D+ in Developmental Psych.

Captain Atom #1 – This first issue is a bit by the numbers, but i sets things up nicely, and Captain Atom, a charater I haven’t had much use for, is delineated well enough that I’m starting to like him. I loved Pfeiffer’s H-E-R-O, although it dragged a bit in the middle. I think he may benefit from the limited space in the miniseries format.


So, I do need to reread it, then.

I’d say Bulleteer shares that title with Guardian. Depends if you think Subway Pirates are really are that much less traditional than superhero fetishists, I suppose . :slight_smile:

Speaking of 7S, did Zatanna #4 never come out, or did I just miss it?

It did.

I would disagree on Guardian - though it and Zatanna would probably be my second-tier so far. Bulleteer is almost formulaic in its adherence to Superhero genre convention. Guardian’s got the guy working for a newspaper … for pay. And then there are the subway pirates as major features - whereas the superhero fetishists in Bulleteer are sort of a background element.

My only purchase this week was JSA. Excellent traditional super-hero fare.

[spoiler]If this is intended as part of an Infinite Crisis tie-in, then I’ll bet Jakeem’s mind got crossed with Johnny Thunder of Earth-1, who was evil.

Alternatively, Perhaps there was a little of the Ulta-Humanite still in Johnny Thunder when he died and merged with the Thunderbolt, and when the Spectre forced Jakeem and Johnny Thunderbolt into the pen together, Ultra had the opportunity to leap into Jakeem’s mind.[/spoiler]

So I need to pick up the Stealing Thunder TPB. I’ve been meaning to anyway.

What is this about? I’ve heard about it for years, but nobody ever really describes it. I admit I hate Charles Burns’ art (I find it creepy and ugly and unsettling to look at), but I’d be curious to know what makes you recommend it.

Darn. Now I have to track it down.

I call Guardian “traditional” since the Kirby influence is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Take out some of the more explict violence and drug references, and this could have come out of “Jimmy Olsen”.

“Creepy and unsettling” is a pretty good description of Black Hole. Ugly? Heck no. I can’t really tell you what it’s about, because part of the thing’s brilliance is how Burns husbands information, letting you in on what’s happening drip by drip. Or rather I could tell you what it’s about, but it would ruin the experience. It’s a slow-building horror book about kids growing up in the '70’s, but it’s incredibly immersive.


Superman #223 - Not bad. Good commentary on the relationship between Supergirl and Superman; insight as to Supergirl’s reaction to Wonder Woman’s killing of Max Lord; some amusing tidbits; and minor spoilers, I suspect, for the next issue of Supergirl.

Pick of the Week :

Marvel Team-Up #14 - Spider-Man crosses over with Invincible, from Image. Written by Invincible’s usual writer. Funny. As. Hell. Especially when Invince meets the New Avengers.

Other Pick of the Week:

Twisted Toyfare Theatre Volume 6.

Zatanna #4 was pushed back to November 23. Word is that it had to be rewritten to make it consistent with events in Infinite Crisis.

Ah. okay. Yeah, I had heard that 7 Soldiers would tie-in somehow. The rumor I’d heard was that it all takes place during the skip year.

What? I could’ve sworn I read it… maybe I’m hallucinating. Oh well. Maybe the ending of #3 just seemed every bit as conclusive and satisfying as the other #4’s so far…