THE PURGE! Part the First.


So last week was a great week for funnybooks. New stuff from David Lapham, Shaky Kane, Gillen & McKelvie, AND a new book from Bryan Lee O’Malley! I had a blast reading that shit over lunch on Wednesday. Good comics and a spicy chicken bowl! A little slice of funnybook heaven.

But that’s not what I’m gonna write about today. I tried, believe me. But my heart just wasn’t in it. Why? Well, because my funnybook brain is currently wrapped up in THE PURGE. Because I’ve hit that point in my comics-collecting career. That critical mass tipping point when I look at the short boxes piling up and think, “Great weeping Jesus, why do I have so much crap?!”

So it’s time. Time to pull the boxes out, open them up, and make some hard decisions. If I don’t think I’ll ever read a book again…

Andrews Hulk 38

Or if I’ve got a trade collection of it…

Jaime Whoa Nellie 3

Or if it’s gotten old enough that it’s gonna set off the unfortunate allergy I’ve developed to decaying newsprint…

Adventure Comics 347

…it’s gone. I’m selling. Cheap.

I’ve cleaned out the collection before, of course. I sold most anything I had of any great value back in the 90s, when everything was going for inflated prices. And I sold off a bunch of stuff to my Local Funnybook Emporium (Nostalgia Newsstand represent!) just a few years ago. But that was more of a weeding. Getting rid of the easy stuff. The stuff I’d outgrown. The stuff without any sentimental value. The utter crap I’d forgotten I had. But, now… Now I’ve just hit the point where I want the shit gone.

I’m shocking myself a bit with what I’m getting rid of. John Byrne’s Fantastic Four was thrown to the wolves without a second thought, and it’s probably the second-best run ever of my favorite spandex funnybook of all time (Lee and Kirby rule, of course, but Byrne’s a close second, especially in his first year). I kept Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!, but didn’t pause a minute in dumping Black Kiss. And I kind of gave Warren Ellis’ Stormwatch a pass at first, then yanked it once I stopped and asked myself why.

It’s that question I want to talk about today: Why? Why am I keeping some books and getting rid of others? Let’s start, since we’re already talking about it, with Stormwatch.

Stormwatch 37

I automatically kept it on first pass because… Well, because it’s Warren Ellis, a writer whose work I think well of, and because it’s a fondly-remembered bit of spandex storytelling that looms large in the genre’s history. Or at least, it looms large in my personal vision of that history. I mean, everyone credits Ellis’ The Authority with reshaping super hero storytelling in the 21st Century, and that’s certainly true. The “widescreen action” and “decompressed storytelling” (both terms Ellis himself coined) were lifted wholesale for Mark Millar’s The Ultimates, and that book changed corporate spandex philosophies for a decade (and counting). But that’s the flash. The surface. Under the hood is a story of messy interpersonal relationships, political subtext in a quasi-military setting, and the idea of people as weapons. That’s the important stuff, the stuff that makes the first Ultimates series better than 99% of its imitators, and THAT is lifted less from Authority than it is from Stormwatch.

Ellis did a better job with the high concept stuff than Millar did, of course. The dehumanizing aspect of People of Mass Destruction is explored far better with the Stormwatch introduction of Apollo and the Midnighter than it is with any of the various Super Soldier projects seen in Ultimates, and Ellis also manages a better sense of wonder with stuff like Sliding Albion, the Bleed, and the trip through comics history that is the 100-year life story of Jenny Sparks.

Jenny Sparks Eisner

(Seen here: a rather pointed political commentary on the 1940s, in the style of Will Eisner.)

That last bit is also pretty important, I think. I don’t remember if it was in Stormwatch or Alan Moore & Rick Veitch’s Supreme that I first ran across the idea of making flashback stories look like old comic book pages from the appropriate era, but it’s a technique I like, and that I’ve seen put to good use elsewhere. Jim Rugg used it to great effect, for instance, in both Street Angel and Afrodesiac, and anything that went into making those two books as good as they are is something I’m behind 100%.

So, yeah. Stormwatch. Enjoyable, cutting-edge super heroes from (gasp) nearly 20 years ago. The template from which modern spandex funnybooks has (to varying degrees of success) been copied. Good comics, any way you slice it. So why am I getting rid of it?

Sigh. Fondly as I remember those books (and hard as I worked to find the earliest issues when I discovered it about a year into the run)… I just can’t see myself ever reading it again. I might enjoy it if I did, of course, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen. There’s too many other books, and it’s not a work of such literary brilliance or sheer insane fun that I’m apt to revisit it. So it goes.

So does Matt Fraction’s Iron Man.

Iron Man 20

That was a book of considerable subtlety, I always thought (well… subtlety for a super hero comic, anyway. Let’s not get crazy here). Fraction wrote a complicated Tony Stark, a man of great ego, driven by uncontrollable urges and crushing guilt to do right by the world. If the threats weren’t always the most thrilling, that was okay, because the corporate espionage and drive for technological betterment was what the book was really about. But like a good many on-going series at the time, it sort of crashed on the rocks of the Fear Itself event, a story of horrible sacrifice and startling tragedy that reversed itself before it even ended. I know corporate spandex properties are all about creating the illusion of change rather than actual change, but my god… That book manifested its illusion and then rolled out the mirrors that created it before anyone even had a chance to applaud. The words “damp squib” come to mind. So do the words “wet blanket,” which is the affect it had on my enjoyment of Iron Man. There’s no way in hell I’m plowing through all that again, just to be disillusioned before it’s done. So I’m dumping it. Cheap.

It’s not all important books and interesting-but-ultimately-disappointing series I’m getting rid of, though. There’s also little gems in the mix, like all those Garth Ennis war comics I’ve got (entertaining to read once), Joe Casey and Nathan Fox’s gonzo spandex crime comic Zodiac (ditto), and a book I had completely forgotten about til I pulled it out of the box: Jason Aaron and Cam Stewart’s The Other Side.

Stewart Other Side 1

This was a little six-issue thing written early in Aaron’s career, looking at the Vietnam war from the perspective of two grunts, one American, the other a part of the Viet Cong. It’s searing stuff, the disillusionment of one soldier mirroring in reverse the increasing fanaticism of the other as they head toward inevitable confrontation. Aaron deftly captures both the ugliness of war, and the reasons men fight it, dealing simultaneously with the messy politics of that particular conflict. Cam Stewart’s also firing on all cylinders on this thing, turning in work that puts me a little in mind of ‘Nam-era Michael Golden. It might be my favorite Stewart art job, and I’ve liked pretty much everything the guy’s ever done.

So, yeah. It’s good stuff. But the re-read I did when I stumbled across it is probably the last one I’ll ever do. And if I change my mind, I think it’s still available in trade.

So’s the last comic I wanted to discuss today, but this one… man. This one’s tough. REAL tough. The true Heart of Darkness in this Funnybook Purge: Hellblazer.

McKean Hellblazer 1

I’ve written about this series before, but the basics bear repeating. In its 25 years of publication, this book was never actively bad. Some runs were certainly better than others, of course, but I never picked up an issue that I didn’t think was at least pretty good.

Think about that. Twenty-five years of continuous monthly publication? With annuals, specials, and mini-series along the way? And NONE of it was bad? That’s an amazing track record. I can’t think of another book that can match it, in fact, except maybe Cerebus. But that was written and drawn by the same incredibly talented, incredibly driven, incredibly maddening guy for its entire history. Hellblazer, as a corporate property, didn’t have that luxury. What it did have, evidently, was a persistence of editorial vision sufficient to hire good people and let them run wild.

Or at least, run wild within the established Modern Horror boundaries that were the series’ stock in trade. Demons, angels, monsters, ghosts, serial killers, investment bankers, the British royal family… You name a horrifying menace, and this book stared it down the gullet. It’s a milestone in comics history, one of the first and best examples of genre comics written for an adult audience (and that’s truly an adult audience, not just an adolescent one that likes blood and boobs). As a fan of good genre, the graphic novel, horror, and of comics history in general, I should own the shit out of this series.

And as of right now, I still do. I’ve got the first 80-some-odd issues (the runs by Jamie Delano, Garth Ennis, and Eddie Campbell), with stops along the way for the better stuff that came after, and any anniversary issues that came along, too. I’ve never bought it for my bookshelf, because there’s just so much of it. But I love these books, and even if I might only ever read them again once or twice ever… I can’t imagine letting them go. Except…

In my enthusiasm for the funnybook classic that is Hellblazer, I decided to re-read the first issue. And I was diggin’ it, man. I felt the dark atmosphere of Thatcher’s London slowly creeping back up on me, thrilling and evil and bad, and then… My eyes started to water. I coughed. I sneezed. Shit! The damn book was printed on cheap-ass paper, and a quarter-century in a plastic bag had rendered it un-fucking-readable. So off for sale it goes.

Looks like I might be investing in a few trades, after all…

 

Aaaaand… I think that’s it for now. Next time: books I’m actually keeping! And why!

Hope to see you then.

 

A Post-Script: As I was perusing back issues of Garth Ennis & Jim McCrea’s transgressive-mainstream crime comic Hitman (which I’m also dumping, by the way, even though it kinda breaks my heart not to own the series that gave the world Bueno Excellente)…

McCrea Bueno Excellente

…I ran across something that struck me funny (well, okay, funnier…). There’s been much celebrating in fan circles about Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy. You know, the Jack-Kirby-created tree man who only says one thing:

I Am Groot

Which, yeah, sure, good joke. I laughed the first time I heard that about him. But the gag always sounded just a tiny bit familiar to me, and now I know why:

McCrea Baytor

Garth Ennis got to it first. Meet Groot’s comedy ancestor, the Demon King / Bartender (and Hitman supporting cast member) …BAYTOR!

I’m not sayin’ they ripped Ennis off here (you call it an homage if you’re smart)… But I am saying that Baytor’s way weirder, cooler, funnier, and more disgusting than Groot. Plus, he has all that lovely dental work…

Subtlety, Craft, and a Well-Intentioned Wrong Note: MIRACLEMANINREVIEWISGO!!!


So! After a rejuvenating, if unannounced, vacation, we’re back, and–

Ridgway Miracleman Wrong

Hold on there, big guy! Calm down! I know I’ve fallen behind a bit on my Miracleman retro reviews, but that’s no reason to shout. Because, hey! Look!

Miracleman 6-8, by Alan Moore, Alan Davis, and Chuck Austen

I’m back on the case! We’ve had three issues of this book ship in two months, and I’m feeling like a slacker. Granted, double-shipping a five-dollar comic might not be the best idea financially. I already know plenty of people (well, okay, two or three) who are trade-waiting on this book because of that cover price, and putting two of the things out in a month isn’t going to make them any more likely to take the single-issue plunge. It nearly made me abandon the book, too, even though I’ve really been digging the re-read. Of course, when the first hardcover collection came out, and it was 30 bucks for four issues… The five-dollar singles didn’t look quite so bad.

(Of course, the fact that Amazon can sell the thing for half that does make one wonder if Marvel’s losing money there or price-gouging everywhere else…)

As long as I’m criticizing the hardcover, though… It’s not a very nice package. I mean, if I’m paying 30 bucks for 115 pages of story backed up with 60 pages of sketches and pin-ups, I’d at least like a dust jacket, which this book does not have. It does have an Alan Davis cover, but while Davis’ work is always nice to look at…

Miracleman Hardcover

…this piece is a bit generic. And while the monthly book has shown a nice knack for graphic design (a knack mostly cribbed from the 1980s Eclipse release, granted), the back cover of this thing is, frankly, kinda butt-ugly:

Miracleman Back Cover

But enough about the fershlugginer hardcover. I came here to talk about the three most recent issues, so let’s get to work on that.

More than anything, these issues represent a transitional period for the series. In them, we see the last of the original Warrior material, the first stories written for Eclipse, and the debut of the series’ most notorious artist, Chuck Austen. Austen’s history in comics is a rocky one, and he didn’t get off to a good start here. Following artists as talented as Garry Leach and Alan Davis would be tough for anyone, granted, but Austen was particularly not up to the task. His work on the book’s not awful, by any stretch, but it’s also not particularly good. There’s a nice clean line to it, but at times it’s too clean. This is never more apparent than in the death of Evelyn Cream:

Austen Miracleman Cream

Heh. That may be the cleanest decapitation I’ve ever seen. The guillotine didn’t sever heads with such pristine precision. Bottom line, Austen was a poor choice. His work is competent, but stiff. It never sings, and this is a story that kind of calls for singing. But he may have been the best Eclipse had at the time; I remember feeling at the time like he was sort of a rising star at the company. So the choice was no doubt well-intentioned, even if the results were wanting.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Austen doesn’t show up til halfway through issue seven, and we’ve got quite a bit of story to cover before that. Which… Yes. The story. That’s as strong as ever, and continues to show both the strengths and weaknesses of the young Alan Moore. These issues focus mostly on the relationship (such as it is) between Miracleman and his mad scientist arch-enemy/creator, Dr. Emil Gargunza. John Ridgway pops in to illustrate a flashback chapter about a particularly outre fantasy Gargunza fed the sleeping Miracle Family when their advanced brains started to dream their way out from under his mind control software. Panicked, Gargunza runs a manual over-ride and ad-libs a dream sequence to get things back under control…

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

Heh. Interesting that he jumps to sex. Gargunza’s cold scientific detachment is concealing something rather more… heated, it seems. (Remember that. It’ll be important later.) But the reaction of Our Heroes is just as interesting. I’m especially impressed with how efficiently Moore’s developing Young Miracleman here. That “who wants to hit them?” line is a great throw-away gag, but it also establishes YM as a red-blooded example of British teen boyhood. (That’ll be important later, too.)

Maybe most interesting, though, is Miracleman’s reaction. I may have mined it for yucks earlier, but I really am kind of fascinated by it. He senses the trap, of course, but in the context of the rest of the series, you’ve gotta wonder how much he understands that the sexual content was just not right for the boy’s comic world he’s been living in. It doesn’t help, of course, that Gargunza’s own sexual fantasies are bleeding in here. It’s not all butterfly women and Indian princesses, after all. There’s a chick in a bondage mask sidling up to Miracleman, and… What the hell’s going on here?

Ridgway Miracleman Trilobites

Un. Wholesome. If Undead Trilobyte Woman doesn’t set off the alarm bells, I’m not sure what would.

(An aside: I love that Ridgway draws Kid Miracleman with dot eyes. That’s exactly how he was drawn in the old comics, and it’s a great detail for an artist with as realistic a style as Ridgway to have thrown in. It should be jarring, but it’s not, and that (once you notice it) makes for an even more surreal effect.)

Moving on from fantasy, we move into memory, as we get the Secret Origin of Dr. Gargunza. This is, for my money, Alan Davis’ finest moment on the strip. Called upon to illustrate something not just uncanny or godlike, but essentially un-Earthly, he delivers this pointillist masterpiece:

please, oh please... click to embiggen

please, oh please…
click to embiggen

This is the Qys ship that gives Gargunza the body-swapping technology he uses to create Our Heroes, and Davis’ rendering of it makes it seem both more and less real than everything around it, like an incursion perhaps from a higher dimensional plane, or at least something OTHER, something beyond human ken. When I talk about the art singing on this book, this is precisely the sort of thing I’m talking about. In fact… I said this was Davis’ best moment on Miracleman. But honestly, I think it’s my favorite Alan Davis work, period. He’s a classic funnybook artist with a smooth line, rock-solid basics, and a talent for psychedelia that rivals even guys like Jim Starlin. But this is the only occasion I can think of when I look at a Davis page and genuinely feel like I’m looking at something from beyond. That’s the sort of artistic experience I most crave, and he delivers it here in spades.

The picture above is a reproduction of Davis’ original art, something that every issue of these reprints has had, but which I haven’t discussed much before now. That’s mostly because I haven’t felt like any of these pages was all that interesting. But here, that’s far from true. The color work (good as it may be) takes something away from this piece:

embiggen and compare!

embiggen and compare!

The delicacy of the pencil shading gets lost in the color, as does the way the fine dot-work defines the shape of the ship without solid lines. There’s just no comparison, for my money, and I wish colorist Steve Oliff had taken a far lighter hand with it. So, for once, I’m glad they gave us the page again in the back matter.

We see the inside of the ship next, and that’s another fine sequence that reinforces my feeling that the ship is something beyond:

also embiggen

also embiggen

HP Lovecraft’s influence on Alan Moore is obvious, and this alien other that induces seizure and nausea in humans feels right out of the Lovecraft playbook. But I’m seeing another big influence here that may strike a bit closer to home:

Quatermass and the Pit

British sci-fi classic Quatermass and the Pit. It’s a film about the discovery of an alien spacecraft in the earth beneath London, a spacecraft that induces strange reactions in the people who find it, and which houses a malevolent alien consciousness responsible for demonic legend. The Qys pilot isn’t quite the insectoid monster of that film, but his horned appearance certainly brings it to mind. And Moore, always a student of genre, couldn’t help but to have seen it. Not saying that it’s derivative, mind you. Just an interesting tip of the hat.

This origin, by the way, was absolutely mind-blowing when it came out. By the time I read it, I’d already seen Moore’s reinvention of Swamp Thing, so I was well on-board for the “everything you know is a lie” reboot. But this came first, and it’s marvelous stuff. It draws on the spirit of the character’s original origin story (vast pseudo-science rendered as near-magic), maintains the sense of wonder while injecting a nasty dose of reality, and draws a direct link between the hero and his arch-enemy that makes the whole thing more dramatically satisfying. It’s the blueprint for every character revamp since, up to and including the much-lauded Marvel Movie Universe.

Too many of its imitators have missed the “maintaining the wonder” aspects of the work, of course, and the “nasty realities” they inject too often do nothing to enhance the dramatic potential of the original. That’s how imitation always goes, of course. The surface gets copied, and the underlying quality does not. But the next time somebody asks you why Miracleman is better than, say, The New 52… That’s a good place to start.

But moving right along…

Miracleman’s inevitable confrontation with Gargunza is a nice play on the themes of godhood that Moore’s been exploring in the series. We’ve seen Our Hero slip increasingly into the Johnny Bates mode of staying in the miracle-body, his rage at his wife’s kidnapping sparking fear and unease, and that pays off in the ease with which he takes out Garguna’s men.

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

Then Moore turns that all on its head as Gargunza uses a post-hypnotic over-ride to turn the god back into the man, and sics Miracledog on him. I’ve always kind of liked Miracledog. He’s a perversely fun twist on the old “super-pet” idea: a monstrous dog with the same powers as Miracleman. Which, oh my god, would not be a good idea at ALL. Especially not if he’s loyal to your arch-enemy…

Anyway, Our Hero finds a solution to the problem as Mike Moran. This is a particularly interesting point in the story, if you’ve been following along: Moran is given a taste of what normal humans experience when they face him, and his response is bewilderment and terror. It’s Moran’s heroism and ingenuity that’s at the base of Miracleman’s, of course, so it shouldn’t be entirely surprising that he rises to the challenge. I’m not so sure that’s the lesson he takes from the experience, of course, but we’ll get there as the story continues.

Eventually, Moran turns back into Miracleman for the final confrontation. Chuck Austen has come onto the strip by this point, however, and it’s here that we really see the problem with his work: he strikes entirely the wrong tone. As you can see above, Alan Davis rendered Miracleman’s initial assault on Gargunza’s South American stronghold with a sort of cold fury, a godlike alien remove. But when Austen illustrates his second assault…

Austen Miracleman Gore

…well, that’s just creepy. It’s the smile. Our Hero’s been through some pretty savage shit in the jungle, granted, and the guys whose heads he’s pulping there are satisfyingly hateful Nazis (a far cry from the at least partially-sympathetic terrorists of issue one)… But, dude. DUDE. It just strikes the wrong tone. It makes Miracleman seem cruel, rather than righteously angry, and that’s an important balancing act the story’s pulling at this point. We need to be afraid that he’s going to turn out like Bates, but he doesn’t need to actually go there. And that expression, which he wears throughout this scene, pushes him over the line.

Granted, it’s pretty much exactly the same mistake many of the modern artists who’ve provided alternate covers for this reprint run have made. They go for the furrowed brow and malevolent grin, missing the character’s essential impassiveness completely. But it’s that godlike remove, that benevolent nobility inherent in him, that makes him hero and not anti-hero. It’s the difference between the Alan Moore school and the Frank Miller. I like both (at least, in the hands of the their originators), but you can’t cross them up. The results are, well… Wrong.

Does it ruin the story? Not really, no. Moore’s writing keeps it all together. And by the time Miracleman is kissing Gargunza goodbye in the stratosphere…

Austen Miracleman Kiss

…the story’s equilibrium has been reestablished.

Whew. Lots of ground covered here today, and I haven’t taken time for much overview. So let’s do a bit of that now. I’m not sure how many of the scripts here were written before Warrior went belly-up, and how many were written for Eclipse. But the heavy narration drops out of things almost entirely by issue eight. Not completely, mind you. There’s still a bit of it in the stuff with Miracledog, including an attempt at parallel narration in the confrontation between it and Moran that’s not entirely successful. Granted, that technique (where you have two different narrative threads running at the same time) seldom does work, unless the two play off each other pretty closely.

Moore gets a lot better at that later in his career; Watchmen is full of stuff like it, for instance, but that book’s obsession with crystalline structural technique is what honed Moore’s writing into the surgical instrument it often is today. Here, he’s not so hot at it. But, as we’ve noted before, even the Funnybook Shakespeare had to start somewhere. And reading Miracleman is a great way to see how he grew.

Grade: A-

Old Magic, Young Love, and a Giant Gorilla: FUNNYBOOKSINREVIEWAREGO!!!


This week’s funnybooks this week! And lookit me! Click-Baitin’ the fanboys by leading with a shiny bit of corporate spandex craziness!

New Avengers Annual 1, by Frank Barbiere and Marco Rudy

Rudy New Avengers Annual

I will be 100% brutally honest with you here: I bought this funnybook for the art. The art, and the promise of what looked like it might be a decent Dr. Strange solo story. Because, hey. I love Dr. Strange. He’s on my extremely short list of characters I’ll always read if they’re done even halfway decently, and frankly… That means I haven’t read too damn many Dr. Strange comics in the last 20 years. So even though this isn’t a proper Dr. Strange title… and even though I’ve never even heard of writer Frank Barbiere before… I saw this…

Rudy New Avengers Layout

…and had to give it a shot. That’s the work of artist Marco Rudy, who puts me in mind simultaneously of JH Williams and David Mack. The Williams influence is more obvious on that page, with its flowing layout and mixed media craziness. Line drawing, paint, and ink wash on the same page? Sure, why not?! And while we’re at it, let’s toss in some mad crosshatching on the final panel, just cause I like Bruce Jones so much!

And the whole damn issue looks like that! It’s nuts! I mean… Here’s the very next page:

Rudy New Avengers Layout 2

This is where the David Mack reference comes from, by the way. Check out those weird triangles, man! There are whole pages of those things in Kabuki! Of course, there’s also a Bill Sienkewicz thing going on in that bottom left panel, and even (weirdly) some Brian Bendis super-heavy chiaroscuro stuff, too. But he pulls it all together. Makes it work for page after stunning page.

It’s nice to see this sort of work coming from a major super hero publisher on a major super hero book. It’s risky, non-traditional, and awesome. Anyone doubting we’re in a new Golden Age can kiss my ass.

What’s that? The story? It’s pretty good, too. Dr. Strange goes to help these weird techno-mystics with a demon problem, and turns out to be far scarier than what they’re dealing with. It had something of the dangerous, mysterious feel of the early Strange material, and I like that. We also get a little backstory thing explaining the dark, dangerous new path Our Hero’s taking, which I didn’t really care about all that much. We’ve seen him learn this sort of lesson before, so the revisit wasn’t much a thrill for me. But if this had been the first time I’d run across it… and if I was 13 years old… I’d have eaten that shit up with a spoon.

So, hey! Not a bad Dr. Strange comic! If it was the launch of a new series, rather than an Avengers annual, I’d be tempted to pick up the next issue. As it is, though… Eh. This was fun, but I’m not climbing back into that mess again.

Grade: B

Stray Bullets: Killers 4, by David Lapham

Lapham Stray Bullets 4

So if I’d realized before this issue that Ginnie Applejack’s new boyfriend Eli was the same kid who got exposed to murderous violence by Spanish Scott back in issue one, I had completely forgotten it. But something tripped my memory this issue, and sent me scurrying back to see, and… D’oh! I am an idjit.

Anyway. Classic Stray Bullets this time out, a dysfunctional love story that threatens to destroy Eli’s life. Not that it’s a life worth much of anything, granted. His little sister’s just about the only good thing in it, and the only reason he hasn’t seen that before is because he’s so unbelievably good-hearted. Ginnie is too, I think, but she’s just messed up enough that she doesn’t always show it. Still, I couldn’t help but see a few parallels to Beth and Orson, and that’s not a relationship anyone should want to emulate. Of course, it’s the best one Ginnie ever saw growing up, so… Whoosh. Let’s just hope she doesn’t wind up as poisonous as her surrogate mother.

Heh. Listen to me. A Dork Forty review of Stray Bullets is less a review than it is me having a one-sided conversation with people who know the whole series by heart. If you don’t fall into that category, though…

…Well, if you don’t call into that category, I can’t imagine why you’re still reading this…

…But thank you for your patience.

If you don’t know the whole series by heart, you should still read this book. You don’t need to know jack about Beth and Orson to enjoy it. It’s a great story that can stand on its own, about two young people with messed up lives finding each other. And a gun. So check it out. You won’t read a better character-driven funnybook this week. Or most others, for that matter…

Grade: A

 

Trees 2, by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard

Howard Trees 2

This second issue didn’t go where I expected it to. Rather than revisiting the international cast he introduced last time, Ellis instead expands it, showing us more people in more regions, including some Greek Nazis and the economist president of Mogadishu. The one setpiece from the first issue he does return to is the Arctic research station, where mysterious black poppies have begun to sprout in the shadow of the Tree, taking root even in the metal shell of an exploratory robot.

I’m okay with that. It opens the scope of the book even wider, giving it a truly global perspective that I like quite a bit, while still giving us some characters to hold onto in the Arctic research team. This is not to say that it’s a warm book. It’s not. It’s a sociological science fiction sort of thing, interested more in what the Trees are doing to humans on the large scale than it is in interpersonal relationships. That’s a sort of take you don’t see much in funnybooks, but it’s one I welcome. At least when it’s as well done as this.

Grade: B+

 

Mind MGMT 23, by Matt Kindt

Kindt Mind MGMT 23

To use the funnybook vernacular, this is the ALL OUT ACTION ISSUE! In which EVERYTHING CHANGES FOREVER! And A MIND MANAGER… DIES!!!

Several of them die, actually. Major characters, too. All joking aside, it really does change the whole course of the series, to the point that I’m not sure where it’s going to go next. But not in a Game of Thrones style “did he really just hose the storyline that badly for shock value?” kind of way. More in a “Oh shit, he’s been foreshadowing this for months” kind of way. Which is much better, as far as I’m concerned. But don’t get me started down that path, please. Let’s stick to the funnybook at hand.

One of this book’s hallmarks has been Kindt’s narrative experimentation, but he really toned that down this month. With a story as explosive as this one, that was probably for the best. Even still, there’s a nice bit that comes up in the showdown between Meru and the Eraser. As the Eraser tries to wipe parts of Meru’s memory, she has these blackouts, and…

Kindt Eraser

I like that. A fistfight with pieces missing. It’s a device Kindt returns to several times over the back half of the issue, to great effect. Great effect that I’m not going to spoil, of course, but great effect nonetheless. Poignant, even.

So! Another fine issue of what might just be my current favorite on-going series. Can’t wait to see where it goes next.

Grade: A

 

The Goon: One for the Road, by Eric Powell

Lotsa changes coming for The Goon. It’ll be relaunching as a series of mini-series starting next month, and with that change in publishing philosophy comes a change in focus back to more serious stuff along the lines of “Return of Labrazio” or “Chinatown.” But, before that happens, Eric Powell decided to give us one more fun comedic romp with a single-issue tribute to Jack Davis.

Davis Goon

Davis is an EC Comics and Mad Magazine veteran, able to do horror and comedy equally well, so it’s only fitting that Powell acknowledge his debt to the man. The result is the usual Goon comedy anarchy, a flimsy story that runs completely off the rails as it degenerates into celebrity caricature and giant gorillas. Which, hey! Great! It’s not Powell’s best, or funniest, but I got my tree-fitty’s worth of yucks and purty drawings out of it, so who cares?

Grade: B

 

Manhattan Projects 21, by Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Browne

Y’know, just when I think this blackly comedic science farce can’t get any more bizarre, it goes and gives us…

Well, shit. I can’t tell you what it gives us without SPOILING the hell out of it. So let’s put the rest of this thing… after the jump: Continue reading

Sexy God Tales: FUNNYBOOKSINREVIEWAREGO!!


New week! New funnybooks! New blatherings! Let’s go there now, shall we?

The Wicked and the Divine 1, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

The thing I like best about the work of Gillen and McKelvie is the way it pushes the envelope of mainstream funnybook storytelling, while never being anything less than 100% accessible for a general audience. That was true of Phonogram (especially the brilliant second volume, Singles Club), and it was even true of Young Avengers (maybe the only “teen hero” comic ever that actually captured what it feels like to be part of a youth movement). Both those books told their stories in sometimes wildly inventive ways, while never losing sight of an audience of readers who don’t have a lifetime of funnybook reading under their belts. And it looks like The Wicked and the Divine is set to follow suit:

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

That’s just the cover, of course, but I like its willingness to play with text and image. It promises something with a grand design sense, and the insides of the book deliver. There’s a circle diagram thing that echoes the work of Jonathan Hickman (a rare example of this team copying rather than innovating), some stuff with numbers, and a nice pop-art style use of Benday dots when something happens that steps outside of reality, and into the realm of funnybook super powers.

(No, I’m not going to tell you what that thing is! The book just came out yesterday, and– What? Oh, come on! You can’t possibly– Oh, alright fine. You don’t have to get abusive about it. A guy’s head explodes, okay? A guy’s head explodes in a riot of garish color and funnybook dots. There! Are you satisfied now? Geez…)

They don’t go overboard with the technical pyrotechnics here, though, and that’s probably wise. This first issue’s got a lot of heavy lifting to do in regards to the story, and so too much play with the storytelling tools might confuse matters.

What? What’s the book about? Oh. Well, it’s set in a world that’s pretty much our world, except that, once a century, 12 gods are incarnated in human form. They inspire and guide and offer ecstatic religious experiences…

embiggen the ecstasy

embiggen the ecstasy!

…and then, two years later, they die. But in the meantime (in their current 21st-Century incarnations, anyway), they live like pop stars, with all the money and fame and groupies that entails. This first issue is told from the perspective of one of those groupies, a young woman named Laura, who seems all about Amaterasu at the beginning, but who gets awfully chummy with Lucifer later in the issue. Laura’s a great “point-of-view” character. Or at least, I guess she is. I normally hate point-of-view characters with a passion undying. But Laura’s okay, so I figure she must be great. She feels real, anyway, like nearly all Gillen/McKelvie characters, and that’s enough to carry her.

And that’s all I’m giving you on this book. It’s a fine start to an intriguing premise, with mystery and comedy and an honest to god cliffhanger ending that makes me wanna come back for more. They say this one’s a proper on-going series, in fact, so I’ve got the feeling that I’ll be coming back for a LOT more as the months wear on.

Grade: A-

Sex Criminals 6, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

So with this issue, I realize that Sex Criminals is really, to some extent, a metaphor for love.

(I realize this because Jon all but tells me that in his narration. But, still. REVELATION!)

So if the first five issues were all about the mad, crazy, pulsating rush of New Love, then the story starting with this issue seems to be all about coming down from that, realizing that, holy shit, you love someone, and figuring out how to work that into your daily routine. For Jon, that means dealing with his shit: he’s a little bit crazy, and and he needs to get right for Suzie. That means going back on his meds, and offers the opportunity for some entertaining discussion of the pros and cons of anti-depressants. On the one hand, they leave Jon feeling like this:

embiggen the no-dick!

embiggen the no-dick!

But on the other, they keep him from descending into situations like this:

(He does not, at this point, have the CancerAIDS.)

(He does not, at this point, have the CancerAIDS.)

As with everything else this book has dealt with from day one, it’s funny and touching and real, but with just enough sardonic wit to keep the whole thing from reading like a fucking Afterschool Special. So, high marks.

Oh, yeah. There’s also some more stuff with the Sex Police, and Kegel-Face, and all that. Just in case you worried that the book was going to stop being about people with magic orgasms just because Our Heroes were settling down into a normal relationship…

Grade: A

 

Thor, God of Thunder 22 & 23, by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic

God, this book is dumb.

God, this book is awesome.

God.

God-DAMN, even.

(If you’ll pardon the blasphemy.)

I was gonna say more, but… really… This is a book that gives you troll-punching, environmentalism, pointlessly evil corporations… and ALL-BLACK the NECRO-THOR!

embiggen the awesomeness!

embiggen the awesomeness!

And that pretty much says it all.

Grade: B+

 

Fatale 23, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Only one more issue to go, and my favorite Brubaker/Phillips collaboration to date will be over. I’ll miss it like hell. But in the meantime…

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

As the cover sort of implies, this issue, Fatale goes COSMIC. And it does so through an issue-long psychic sex act that would put Carlos Castaneda to shame. It’s an act of astonishing intimacy, Josephine using her deliciously ill-defined abilities to not just show Nicolas who she is, but to allow him to experience her life first-hand. He literally becomes her at various key points in her life, points that we previously haven’t seen: the moment she became what she is, and her disastrous attempt to raise a son. That second one’s a real missing puzzle piece slotting into place. It explains a lot about the life we’ve seen her living as we’ve touched base with her over the decades, a life of seclusion that I had just chalked up to her not wanting to deal with the unwanted attentions of men. But, oooh man. It’s so much more than that.

The first one’s the really exciting one for me, though, touching as it does on the high weirdness at the series’ core. And, since the image of that I wanna share with you is a bit NSFW (and SPOILERY besides)… I think I’ll just tuck it safely away after the jump… Continue reading

Pretty Good, But Still Worth Reading: It’s the Attack of the Bs!


They’re a day old, but still… It’s THIS WEEK’S COMICS THIS WEEK!!

That’s Because You’re a Robot, by David Quantick and Shaky Kane

It took only three words to convince me to buy this comic: New. Shaky. Kane.

Kane’s work is always a pleasure. Warped-lens pop culture fun from the depths of the creative unconscious. This particular example won me over with its premise alone: “Two cops: one of them is a robot. Only they don’t know which!”

The result is bizarro action-adventure sitcom, a series of high-powered cop show clichés rendered ridiculous by Our Heroes’ continuous arguments over which one of them is a robot. The joke shouldn’t be able to sustain itself over the course of an entire funnybook, but it does, somehow getting funnier the farther you go into the story. In part, that’s due to the distraction of the strange future setting, populated with mutants and hover cars and random collections of villains that seem to have been pulled out of a child’s toy box.

I like the leprechaun. (click to embiggen)

I like the leprechaun.
(click to embiggen)

That feeling of a child at play is a favorite theme of Kane’s, it seems. It’s the whole point of his book Monster Truck, and it’s even revealed as the final truth at the end of the second Bulletproof Coffin series. And though it doesn’t seem to be the literal truth of things here, I couldn’t escape the thought. All the vehicles seem crazily toyetic, and the city is filled with billboards that look like trading cards and ads from old funnybooks. It’s a cool aesthetic for a cool comic.

I’m not saying that this thing’s a masterpiece, understand. It’s not even Kane’s best work. But it is funny, entertaining throw-away funnybooks, and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

Grade: B+

 

United States of Murder Inc 2, by Bendis and Oeming

A marked improvement. Yes, this second issue of the new Bendis / Oeming joint is a marked improvement over the first, and that’s a good thing. This issue is lean and focused, and the story is by far the better for it. There’s little of the empty posturing bullshit of the first issue, and more a sense of who the characters are. There’s also some fascinating background on this alternate history we’re getting here, including the inciting incident, the moment where history diverged from what we know.

I’m not going to tell you what that moment is, of course, because that would be kind of a dick move only 24 hours after this thing hit the stands. But it’s big. Really big. Enormous, even. And I dig it.

I’m also a fan of the way Bendis is playing with the big revelation from the end of issue one: by pushing it completely to the side. It’s a nice storytelling gambit. He turns the world of Our Hero, Valentine Gallo, completely upside-down, then has Valentine reject the twist outright. I doubt it’s going to be as easy to escape the truth as he thinks, of course, but Bendis sends him into complete denial before he even has a chance to hear the details, thus leaving his most tantalizing plot hanging out there while he fills us in on how the world came to be the way it is. Which would be frustrating if the backstory wasn’t as good as it is. But it’s good. It’s real good, so I don’t mind waiting.

I’m getting used to the simpler style Oeming’s using on the book, as well. I don’t like it as much as the more fully-rendered stuff he does on Powers, but the simpler art gives him leeway to play with shapes. He seems to be shooting for a looser, more graphic approach. I’m just not sure he’s entirely got it down just yet.

I’m also not sure about Taki Soma’s color choices. I see what she’s shooting for, I think: it’s an attempt to give the settings and characters distinct looks through bold, single-color rendering. It doesn’t pop the way it should, though. While I appreciate the richness of the colors, they all seem to be either too bright or too dark, leaving some things weirdly day-glo and others so murky you can barely see them. I wanted to show you an example, a page with purples so deep the blacks got lost in them, but my scanner apparently isn’t capable of capturing it. Every scan I did wound up looking better than the printed page, which wouldn’t really make my point very well.

I hate to crap on the work, because it’s obvious a lot of thought was put into it. But when the best-looking pages in the comic are the black & white flashbacks…

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

That says something unflattering about the colors.

Still, though. A strong second issue of a series I’m now looking forward to a little bit more than I was a month ago. Hope it continues to grow.

Grade: B+

 

FBP 11, by Simon Oliver and Robbi Rodriguez

I don’t think I’ve talked about this blue-collar sci-fi series in a while, but it rumbles on as before: reliably entertaining and strange, if nothing that sets my world on fire. It does feature yet another in a series of really great Nathan Fox covers, though…

click to embiggen the delicate breakfasty goodness!

click to embiggen the delicate breakfasty goodness!

…and I must admit to being belatedly impressed with the way Oliver’s telling this story. There were two plot threads running earlier, both taking place in the same town, but certain details just didn’t seem to jibe. I had actually written it off as either sloppy writing or poor reading on my part, but I hadn’t bothered to go back and figure out which (again… much as I like the book, it doesn’t excite me enough to dig back that way). But this issue, I suddenly realized what was happening: half of our cast is in a simulated “quantum reality” generated by their own subconscious. So of course some of the details don’t add up. Nicely-done, Mr. Oliver! In the future, I will make the effort to re-read. Seems that it may be rewarding, after all.

Story-wise, the corporate conspiracy plotline continues to unfold. It’s great liberal paranoia stuff, with special interests manipulating events (and politicians) to undermine a perfectly good public service so they can take it over and make money at it. Granted, all it takes is a close look at things like the real-world corporate prison lobby, or the world of private school voucher systems, to see that Oliver’s not fantasizing all that wildly here. But it’s still fun reading, if you’re a suspicious bastard like me.

Grade: B

 

She-Hulk 1-5, by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido, and Ron Wimberly

Decided to finally give this book a try a couple of weeks ago, and was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t a big fan of the one Charles Soule comic I’d read before this (an issue of his Swamp Thing run), and something about the premise of this book told me that I’d find it entirely too cute.

(First rule of the nerd farm: Can’t abide cute.)

But man o man, do I love me some Javier Pulido art, so… I got bored one day, went down to the funnybook store, thumbed through the first issue just to look at the pictures, and… Well. Nothing in that made me want to hurt somebody at all. Huh. The humor’s got a little edge to it. It’s flip, but not vacuous. It offers a comedic take on the characters without making them look like fools for cheap laughs. And, mah god, the pictures. The pretty pretty pictures.

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

So, yeah. Wow. I like this book. I don’t love it. It’s still not really my kinda thing. In fact, it’s exactly the sort of thing I generally don’t like. But it’s the sort of thing I generally don’t like, done really well. And that makes it a curiosity to me. Three dollars’ worth of throw-away wonderment. And, as I’ve said already tonight… There ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

Grade: B

Stylish, Scary Adolescent Thrills: FUNNYBOOKSINREVIEWAREGO!!!


So here’s something a little different: funnybooks reviewed the day they came out! That’s right, it’s TODAY’S COMICS TODAY!

Moon Knight 4, by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

As I think I’ve said before, this book’s all about very stylish done-in-ones. Every issue is centered around a single idea, motif, or visual. You get in, you get out, you enjoy yourself a little pop culture bonbon. Though I hesitate to use candy metaphors in relation to this particular issue, because it’s really all about… fungus. Dreams and fungus.

Moon Knight is contacted by a sleep researcher whose patients are all winding up in the hospital due to a dream they’re all having. The same dream, every one of them. So Moon Knight solves the mystery by… going to sleep. The solution he finds, frankly, doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny (which may be why Ellis deals with it so briefly, on the last page). But that’s okay, because the mystery itself is not the point. No, the point is–

click to embiggen

SKULL.
(click to embiggen)

Woot! The point is stuff like THAT! Once Our Hero’s in the dream, Declan Shalvey is given the chance to just cut wide the hell open, with page after page of stunning surreality. That’s not even the best one. But, hey. This just came out today, so I thought I’d maybe not give up the money shot for once. Go buy the damn thing and read it for yourself.

As with the previous issues, this one is slight. It reads quickly, even if you take the time to really pore over Shalvey’s art the way you ought to. And I’m just fine with that. Story is not the only reason to read a funnybook, after all. There’s the pretty pictures, too, and this issue serves those really well.

Grade: A-

 

Caliban 1-3, by Garth Ennis and Facundo Percio

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

Can’t remember if I’ve talked about this book before, so I’ll just handle all three issues together (even though 3 is the one that came out today). It’s Garth Ennis doing space horror and, unsurprisingly, doing it pretty well.

The premise is simple: an Earth ship drops out of warp space unexpectedly, and finds itself interlocked with an alien vessel, the two craft fused together at a molecular level after attempting to occupy the same space at the same time. The first issue is all about the spatial horror of that situation: this wall is yours, that one’s not, and if you go through this hatch over here, you find yourself walking on the outside of your own ship. It’s incredibly disorienting, and leads to some panic setting in.

But that’s nothing compared to the biological horror lurking deeper in the alien craft. There’s some kind of preservative pods with all manner of dead creatures in them, and one of the crew seems to have been taken over by an alien intelligence who’s deeply interested in stress-testing the human body. And it’s an Ennis comic, so you can imagine how ugly that gets…

It’s not his best work, by far. There’s a tad too much exposition, and the relationships he’s exploring between various crew members aren’t as natural, as human, as they should be. That’s a surprise coming from a writer whose greatest strength is writing believable humans you care about, even when those humans are cartoon sociopaths (good on ya, Billy Butcher!). It feels a little like Ennis Goes Hollywood, to be honest. I could see this being made into a minor space horror hit in the style of Alien (except not as good).

But, still. It’s an exciting story with some great horror elements and inventive sci-fi concepts in the bargain. In the realm of Good Writers’ Slush Piles Seeing Print (the specialty of publisher Avatar Press), it’s damn fine.

Grade: B

Iron Fist 3, by Kaare Andrews

I want to like this book, I really do. Kaare Andrews’ story is charming in its po-faced grittiness, and he even knows how to have a little fun in the mix. He’s turning in a spot-on update of early Frank Miller, in both story and art, and I want to eat that shit up with a spoon just like I did when I was twelve and having my mind completely freaking BLOWN by Daredevil. But a whole lotta funnybooks have passed under these eyes since then, and… whoosh. Sometimes this book’s just a little too over-heated, a little too adolescent, for my taste. When Danny Rand starts going on and on about how his rage and his hate are driving him, and how all he’s ever wanted is vengeance, and how he is DEATH to everyone around him… I just have to roll my eyes a little.

Of course, on the other hand… Continue reading

The Dangers of Reading in Public, and Other Stories: FUNNYBOOKSINREVIEWAREGO!!!


Lots and lots of good funnybooks to talk about from the last two weeks. Tonight, though, I’m just gonna cover three of them…

East of West 12, by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta

Last week, I mentioned that this comic caused a bit of a stir when I read it over lunch. See, there’s this Hibachi joint up the block from my Local Funnybook Emporium (Nostalgia Newsstand, represent!), and I often head up there for lunch after picking up my weekly haul. It’s a counter service kinda place. You put your order in at the counter, go sit down, and they call your number when your (delicious, delicious) food is done. And they’re pretty damn quick. So I had time to sit, pick out my lunchtime reading, and open it. Then they called my number, so I got up to get my Spicy Chicken Bowl, without even really looking at the artwork I’d left lying exposed on the table.

When I turned around to head back to my seat, I noticed that a guy had walked past and stopped dead in his tracks, staring at my funnybook. Thinking I was about to be the victim of theft, I hastened back. The guy noticed me making a surly beeline in his direction, and promptly scurried off back to his seat, looking a bit sheepish but muttering something to his dining companion about “some sick shit.” I was confused, but once I sat back down, I saw what he was looking at, and…

ahem

ahem

Heh. Yeeah. Well, it IS a striking image, I must admit. Go on ahead and embiggen it. You know you wanna.

What’s that? Is the comic any good? Well, yes actually. How could it not be, after that opening? That’s not just some very, very strange BDSM going on there, though. I mean, it is, but… It’s also a plot point. A plot point I’m not going to spoil, mind you, but I didn’t want you to think that Jonathan Hickman had suddenly gone in for some Garth Ennis style shock-for-shock’s-sake stuff here. Not that this would be a bad thing, of course, but it’s not quite Hickman’s style. His shocks are always part of his grand tapestry, and this one’s no different.

But I’m not answering your question. Is it any good? Yes, decidedly so. Not that you’d know it from that opening, but the story’s built around a meeting of the heads of the various nations of America. So it’s a bunch of high-strung extremist bastards sitting around a table for most of the issue. Lots of nine-panel pages of talking heads. But it’s no less exciting for that. In fact, I was riveted throughout. Then something unexpected happens, and shit gets really crazy.

So that’s a fine installment, and one that helps to further define the world it’s taking place in. Plus, you know, a scene that you may or may not want to read in public….

Grade: A-

 

Trees 1, by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard

Howard Trees 1

This one kind of caught me off-guard. I keep my eye on any new Warren Ellis projects, and I remember hearing that this was coming out, but it had evidently slipped my mind. And I had no earthly idea what it was about. But the title intrigued me, and it was coming from Image, whose track record with writers I like is pretty damn stellar these last few years. So of course I got it, and…

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

Hmm. Intriguing. So it’s ten years after an alien invasion of the Earth, but not a shooty-killy-kicksplodey kind of invasion. No, these aliens… Well, they stand there like trees, not even acknowledging our existence. Even when one of them spills toxic goo out over anyone dumb enough to live in its shadow, it’s nothing personal. They’re just… taking a dump or something, and we’re the microbes living in their toilet. So far beneath them that we don’t even understand what they’re doing.

It’s the cold, indifferent universe of a Lovecraft story, embodied in these giant towers. They’ve come from above, they’re all over the world, and we apparently don’t know the first thing about what they really are. So we call them Trees, and in the ten years since they arrived, we’ve gotten used to them. They are the new normal.

Ellis and Howard introduce us to the problem of the Trees in a series of vignettes set all over the world. We open in Rio, as you can see above, then move on to New York, the Arctic, and China.

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

Love that panel for any number of reasons (Jason Howard’s excellent shading and linework high among them), but I’m showing it to you here in large part because of the way it depicts the Trees. Specifically, you never see the top of them. In every panel they appear in, even long shots like this one, they just go up out of sight, either disappearing into clouds, or all the way out the top of the panel. That goes a long way toward getting across how massive the things are, and how ominous, how mysterious. The visual alone makes me want to come back for more, and that’s good comics.

Warren Ellis is turning in good work here, too, solid writing that demonstrates the changes the Trees have wrought on society by way of character. There’s some exposition, of course, but it feels like a natural part of the scene, rather than a bald info-dump. He’s also not falling back on the easy “Ellisisms,” the bastardy flash and patter, that tell me he’s coasting. Sometimes, his glibness covers a story that doesn’t quite work. But when he’s not relying on that for appeal, it usually signals that he’s got a strong story to tell.

It’s not perfect. I don’t yet care much about the characters he’s using to reveal the world, for instance, and it leaves the book feeling just a tad sterile. But overall it feels like he’s putting some effort into this one, and when Ellis really tries, he’s almost always compelling.

Grade: B+

Powers Bureau 10, by Bendis and Oeming

Oeming Powers 10

I gave the last issue of this book so very much crap for the kinda bullshitty super-fight it featured that I feel obliged to point out, right up front, that this one’s far, far better. The best Powers comic I’ve read in a good long while. A series highpoint. Maybe even a bit of a classic.

What’s so good about it? Well… I don’t wanna spoil it, so…

Ah, hell. Yes, I do. But I’ll do it after the jump, in case you want to remain pure…

Continue reading