Recent Dorkiness

So Many Comics, So Little Time…

Haven't hit the ol' funnybook reviews in a bit, so here's a quick snapshot of the best (and worst) stuff I've read in the last couple-three weeks, judged under our brandy-new star rating system! Which means that, yes, once again... FUNNYBOOKSINREVIEWAREGO!!!! Wonder Woman #10, by Brian Azzarello, Tony Akins, and Kano This book continues to be imminently... okay. It's more than passable in terms of plot and character, and the art is a couple steps above the sort of thing you typically see on mainstream spandex comics. (Except when it's by Cliff Chiang, in which case it's head and shoulders above typical.) Azzarello's scripts are often a bit strident for my taste, though, with characters making a few too many impassioned declarations of who and what they are...

Yes, dear. Thank you.

So it's not bad at all, but “not bad” does not often get me to open my wallet. The book's concept and design are what keep me coming back, the way Azzarello is interpreting the Greek gods, and the way Chiang's making them look. I do believe that I'll be switching over to digital on this book next month, though. Much as I like the ideas, I doubt I'll ever want to re-read the actual comics, and if Chiang's not going to be drawing every issue, there's really nothing to make me want them taking up space in my house. Three Stars Casanova: Avaritia IV, by Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba The third Casanova series has wrapped up in fine form, delivering on the epic, psychedelic promise of everything that's come before. Events move at light speed and then push past it, characters and plotlines coming unraveled as reality starts to break down around them. Even the colors shift out of sync as Cas drives his trans-dimensional time hot rod (Trans-dimensional! Time! Hot Rod!) into the infinite. Casanova is, of course, maybe the perfect funnybook for me, an exploration of identity and purpose in the guise of a super-spy adventure comic, wrapped up in literally all of the coolest genre tropes of the last century. But this final issue was still quite an accomplishment, I think, satisfying me as a serial reader, but still leaving me with the nagging feeling that I'll get more out of it if I go back and re-read the whole thing now that it's done. I really can't ask more from a funnybook than that. Five Stars Secret #2, by Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Bodenheim This book is really rather superb, with efficient, refined storytelling and a good use of the medium. My favorite trick this issue is a nice use of spot color in the opening flashback sequence. The action is black and white overall, but with particularly intense moments or objects rendered in red. That's put to ominous use here... ...and far less subtle (though far more SPOILERY) use in the picture you'll see... after the jump:

And, you know, I still don’t think I’ve ruined this scene’s impact…

 Story-wise, as the severed finger might tell you, this is a pretty harsh book, a story of crime and industrial espionage with good pacing and believable characters that Hickman takes his time fleshing out in this issue. While it’s not paradigm-shifting or anything, it is maybe the best example of realist funnybook storytelling on the market today, so… If you like that sort of thing… GIT YOU SOME!

Four Stars

Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #5 (of 6), by David Hine and Shaky Kane

This issue of the ever-innovative Bulletproof Coffin brings us images from the ultra-violent (and, of course, utterly fictional) Hateful Dead trading card set of the 1960s. The Hateful Dead are the series’ time-lost platoon of Vietnam soldiers transformed into angry zombies courtesy a glowing fragment of Planet Hate, a world so venomous that it turned into a giant skull and blew up, showering the universe with Hate Comets that spread terror and violence wherever they fall.

(!!!)

That concept is so ridiculously brilliant that it might carry the issue all by itself. But, inspired by the Mars Attacks cards of the 1950s, Hine and Kane go out of their way to offend. Each page “reproduces” one card, getting gorier and more transgressive as you go (the cover is incredibly tame by the standards of what’s inside). By the time you arrive at the [SPOILER] dog-headed atrocity at the end, your senses have been well and truly violated. Only in the most loving and entertaining manner possible, of course. But violated nonetheless.

Hot damn, but I love this comic.

Five Stars

The Boys 67, by Garth Ennis and Russ Braun

The sense of impending doom has been thick in this book for quite some time, but now that we’re into the final story arc… Ouch. Butcher continues to work out his mysterious end-game this issue, but even he can’t keep everything secret once he gives his troops a little down-time. In fact, I’m wondering if he really even wants to…

So, yes. Another ridiculously positive review for The Boys. What else is new around here? Well, there is one more thing I wanted to share. As you may be aware, this book has in part featured Garth Ennis doing numerous piss-takes (some would say vicious character assassinations) on mainstream corporate super hero characters. Everyone from Batman to the X-Men to the Legion of freaking Superheroes has gotten the Boys treatment over the years. Even Stan (the Man) Lee has a sleazy doppelganger in the person of The Legend, publisher of the comic books that serve as propaganda/PR for the series’ real-world super heroes. Well, click to embiggen the picture to your right if you wanna see Ennis use the Legend to address contract administration and the question of authorship at early Marvel…

Four Stars

Defenders #7, by Matt Fraction and Terry & Rachel Dodson

Defenders is awesome. Don’t believe me? Just check out what happens in this issue: The Black Cat steals a Satan Claw, Our Heroes trip out big-time on some Wakandan Soul Juice, and John Aman reveals that [SPOILER] he has one of King Solomon’s Frogs!

BOOM!

Fraction is really bringing it on this book, updating Steve Gerber’s original tone for the series with precisely the kind of quirky, weird, off-center fun I like best. Like, for instance, bringing Jack Kirby’s 1970s run on Black Panther back into continuity with those damn frogs! Unlike Wonder Woman, this is a case of high concept combining with good execution to entertain me greatly. While it’s far from the best thing on the market, it’s fun. And easily my favorite thing Marvel’s putting out right now.

That said, I have considered picking it up digitally. Because, honestly, as much fun as this is, I doubt I’ll ever come back to it. But the art is nice, and I do balk at paying Marvel prices for ephemeral content. Which is to say… For four bucks, I want a physical object that won’t go away if Comixology goes out of business. So for now, I’m sticking with print on this one.

Four Stars

Supergirl #9, by Michael Green, Michael Johnson, and Mahmud Asrar

But speaking of digital comics… It’s Supergirl! I already buy this one on the Cheap Bastard Plan (one month later for one dollar less), but after the last couple of issues I think I’m finally done. It was a fun read when Supergirl was dealing with ridiculous funnybook people who talked and acted like ridiculous funnybook people, but now she’s interacting with regular people who talk and act like regular people, and… woof. All the fun anger and bombast has been replaced with angst and tin-eared dialogue that sounds very little like actual speech. I found myself skipping over whole word balloons, just trying to get past it and find out how the story was going to turn out, and that’s just not something I need to be spending money on. Not even Cheap Bastard money.

The cover is very nice, though, so I’ve left it extra-big for your enjoyment. Click to embiggen, and thank me in the morning.

Two Stars

Fury: My War Gone By #3, by Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov

Garth Ennis has been known, from time to time, to idealize soldiers. This is by far not the same thing as idealizing war, however, as we see in this issue. And the rest of this is 100% SPOILER, so… Don’t read it unless you like that sort of thing… Facing impossible odds in French Indochina, Fury… does not do the impossible. His side loses, badly, Fury himself only surviving thanks to the accidents of battle. Spending the last quarter of the issue in a concussed haze, he is in the end sent stumbling home through the jungle with a broken gun, allowed to live only so that he can deliver a message to his superiors: don’t fuck with the Vietcong.

It’s an ugly, unromantic ending to what could easily have been a typical exercise in teeth-grinding manliness, and I love it for that all the more. Can’t wait to see where Ennis takes it next.

Four Stars

Glory #27, by Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell

Keatinge and Campbell have been playing an interesting game with this book. On the one hand, they’ve presented us with Glory the wounded hero, weakened and in hiding from the forces of her evil father, the king of monsters. But at the same time, they’ve been telling us that Glory is incredibly dangerous, a weapon of hideous destructive potential and a threat to all that live. Both of these things may very well be true, but our sympathies have remained with Glory nonetheless.

Which makes it really interesting this issue, when we finally get a good look at the armies of Glory’s father. While they’re certainly monstrous, Campbell has rendered them less as a terrifying force of pure evil and more as a rag-tag, mismatched group of hideously lovable Muppets. I wouldn’t call them “cute,” exactly, but… Well, here:

I’ll grant you, he’s a little creepy. But more My Neighbor Totoro than HR Giger. And here’s a whole bunch of them:

click to embiggen

Some nice creepers in there, too (that giant baby head is nightmare-fuelly, in particular). But look at those square-headed robots! Those things are freaking adorable! And what about that pinkish hyper-snail thing? You know, the one getting its throat cut? Does that look like a minion of unstoppable evil to you? No! It looks like it’s a weird-ass thing with low combat potential that joined a desperate battle to save the universe from destruction! Like some kind of slimy Ewok or something! Or at the very least, in comparison to what Glory’s doing to them…

Ya know that’s gotta hurt!

…they seem fairly benign.

I think that’s a conscious choice, too. Campbell is more than capable of delivering super-scary evil monsters. But going with a more cartoony design aesthetic here moves us just a little bit further away from Glory’s side, further muddying the waters. Which is precisely the sort of thing that makes this book so very interesting. Not five-star interesting, I don’t think, but still a respectable…

Four Stars

About Mark Brett (408 Articles)
Shaved Yeti. Alien. Writer of stuff. Read my fiction at http://reportsfromthefieldblog.wordpress.com/. Read my thoughts on comic books and other dork culture ephemera at https://dorkforty.wordpress.com/.

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