On the story end, this issue features Jimmy's reunion with his ex-girlfriend, who also didn't age much since the 1950s, and also runs a huge criminal empire, has a killer robot and is advised by a talking dragon. What a coincidence!
Their encounter ends with the line, “Now for the first time in centuries the world will know Dragon Clan War.”
So, you know, pretty good comic.
All Winners Squad 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Marvel) I believe this should be all you need to know about this comic book:
Doom Patrol #1 (DC Comics) I went over DC's last few attempts at a Doom Patrol relaunch, and some of the factors associated with this one, over at Blog@ as part of my weekly "Twas the Night Before Wednesday" column yesterday, which brings us to the third Doom Patrol #1 of the decade. How is it? Well, I wouldn't bet too terribly much money on this series hitting #36, but it should definitely last until at least 2010.
Let's take the writing and art separately here, because, somewhat unfortunately, the two aspects exist quite separately from one another, as if writer Keith Giffen and artist Matthew Clark haven't quite become one just yet. At least not on the comics page; I have no idea how close they are in real life.
Giffen jumps right in with an action scene, in which a Doom Patrol consisting of thre three originals of Robotman, Elasti-Woman and Negative Man and two holdovers from the Byrne reboot, Nudge and Grunt (who, as a four-armed gorilla should be held over), plus a character named Dusty I've never heard of, are storming a mad scientist base in a fictional country. Information is communicated throughout via various sorts of cutesy add-ins, like clips of e-mails or green-on-black computer files that reminded me (negatively) of Greg Rucka using similar storytelling strategies during his OMAC Project miniseries.
I was a little surprised to see the set-up of the Doom Patrol changed so much from their last few appearances (in Geoff Johns' first "One Year Later" arc of Teen Titans, and last year's The Brave and The Bold #8), in part because that status quo seemed to be the safest premise with which to launch another attempt, given that the last two deviated pretty far from the original concept and didn't last long.
Here, the Doom Patrol is based on Oolong Island (from 52, which became a sovereign nation in another Giffen miniseries, 52 Aftermath: The Four Horseman, if I remember correctly), and serve as some sort of paramilitary strike-force.
This issue details one such mission and then, back on Oolong Island, Giffen employs the old mission debrief as characterization shortcut, with the surviving members of the mission being interviewed individually by a priest in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt going by the name Rocky. Is this the former Challenger of the Unknown Rocky Davis, who Brad Meltzer randomly made a priest in that re-named DC Universe: Last Will and Testament one-shot that was going to be a Final Crisis tie-in, until someone at DC apparently read it and realized that a good 50% of didn't mesh with the rest of FC? (Or, alternately, it is in continuity, but Darkseid's death caused continuity ripples. Whatever floats your boat) Let’s see, Wikipedia says it is the same guy!
So, overly complicated continuity? Check. Effort made to make it fit into the greater story of the DC Universe, even if it makes a reader feel like they're missing something? Check. What about terrible act of violence and/or gore, preferably with a young, female victim? I believe having Nudge completely liquified (save for her severed arms, of course) by helicopter machinegun fire checks that particular box.
Nice cliffhanger, though.
As for the art, Clark (inked by Livesay) is competent, which (somewhat sadly) makes him a decent enough artist for the current DC line. I didn't care for a majority of the character designs, as the characters all look like something between a paramilitary group (Negative Man's outfit, for example, could have been bought at an Outdoor Army Navy store) and Ultimate Doom Patrol. It's appropriate, given the fact that they are a paramilitary group, but that doesn't mean I have to think it looks cool. Dr. Caulder probably looks the worst (that vest!), but then he's most likely to change clothes between issues.
This might just be one more example of Caleb being old-fashioned, but I prefer the characters to resemble their classic looks. Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Aquaman...all DC's classic characters have been able to make their original costumes work (tweaks here and there over the years), I don't see why the Doom Patrol can't stick to their original costumes.
Like I said, Clark is competent, and his art therefore isn't bad per se, but it's not up my particular aesthetic alley, and not the sort of art that would keep me buying a book I wasn't particularly interested in reading.
All in all, I don't think I'd bother with Doom Patrol #2...were it not for the back-up.
That's The Metal Men, also by Giffen, with his JLI/Hero Squared writing partner J.M. DeMatteis and original JLI artist Kevin Maguire. This is a team that has become one on the comics page, by virtue of working together off and on for decades now. It doesn't come as any surprise at all that it's great. It's definitely "Bwa-ha-ha" in tone, with each of the Metal Men's personality flaws exploded a bit, and Doc Magnus getting sitcom-style grief from his neighbors. Maguire's Metal Men are a lot more human-looking than the post-52 ones we've seen by Duncan Rouleau, but Maguire's gift for facial expression and "acting" through his drawings makes him an absolutely perfect artist for the series.
This is much shorter than the lead feature but, ironically, feels and reads longer, and to include a lot more story. The two features are night and day. It's almost hard to believe that they share a writer.
I think I'll give the series at least another issue or two, or until DC announces what they'll be doing when it comes to collecting back-ups in trades (I assume they'll get their own, as I think there's a bigger trade market for Blue Beetle and Manhunter then there ever was a comic book market for them).
Oh wait, there's more. There's a four-page preview of the upcoming Magog series, which will also be written by Giffen, and feature art from the Howard Porter/John Dell team. There's this full-page image that fuctions as a "cover" for the preview:
It's pretty stupid-looking, but I actually like the guy in the upper left corner who seems to have jumped off a trampoline to go flying gun-first at Cable. There's a page with a bunch of vultures, a rotting ox corpse, Magog standing above pools of blood, and writer Keith Giffen's name spelled wrong in the credits box. Then there's a page with a panel showing a cart full of bloody, severed arms. Then there's a page with armless black slaves carrying heavy objects for Western-looking dudes while flies harass them. Then on the last page Cable threatens to kill a dude if he doesn't give him the information he wants. This looks...well, it doesn't look long for this earth, that's for sure.
Kimi Ni Todoke Vol. 1 (Viz) I was going to get Warren Ellis’ Frankenstein’s Vagina today, but my shop was all sold out, so I got this manga volume from last week instead. It’s product description on Amazon.com really sold it to me:
Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine...for a horror movie. With her jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor, she's often mistaken for Sadako, the haunting character from Ringu. Unbeknownst to but a few, behind her scary façade is a very misunderstood teenager. Shy and pure of heart, she just wants to make friends. But when Kazehaya, the most popular boy in class, befriends her, she's sure to make more than just that--she's about to make some enemies too!
I haven’t read it yet (review later in the week, maybe here, maybe at Blog@, I guess you’ll just have to check both sites constantly!), but having flipped through it, I see that she does not wear her hair flipped over her head to cover her face, nor is she barefoot and soaking wet and wearing a nightgown. I think the product description on Amazon.com may have exaggerated slightly!
It does come with a sheet of stickers inside though, that’s cool:
Secret Six #12 (DC) Let's see, blood and boobs on the cover, Wonder Woman trying to beat information out someone even though she carries a magical lie detector on her hip, and Wonder Woman threatening to rip off Deadshot's dick. I think. Let me look up "castrati" just to be sure. (Hmm, actually the definition seems to refer to boys who are castrated before puberty, but it’s close enough to count). So yeah, Wonder Woman totally threatened to rip off his dick. Sheesh, Wonder Woman sure seems out of character here, I guess maybe Gail Simone doesn't have a very good handle on Wonder Wo--oh wait, she writes Wonder Woman doesn't she?
Nicola Scott kicks her usual amount of ass. Having just read Simone's Wonder Woman for the first time in a long while last week, I was somewhat taken aback at how good Scott's Wondy was here; she seems to depict her even better than the regular Wonder Woman artist (I especially liked her two finger take down of Deadshot, and the panel drawn from Jeanette's point of view).
Wednesday Comics #5 (DC) I hope these don’t end up being worth money some day because, as you can see, I’ve been using mine as bath towels, and that particular issue is no longer mint condition.
Batman: They jumped right over last week’s cliffhanger. Did Batman bang that broad or not? James Robinson would have told us!
Kamandi: The average weight of a gorilla is somewhere between 220 and 450 pounds. Those poor, poor horses!
Superman: Remember when Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely famously told Superman’s origin in just four panels and eight words in All-Star Superman #1? Well John Arcudi and Lee Bermejo take a break from Superman being sad to re-tell his origin in seven gigantic panels, using the better part of a 14-by-20-inch page to do it.
Also, did you know that Superman was an ugly fucking baby? It’s true:
Gross! He looks like he's half pig. He’s lucky the Kents didn’t smash him with a shovel, thinking him some sort of hideous alien homunculus.
Deadman: That demon thing with his giant blue eyeballs on his shoulders? That thing is awesome.
Green Lantern: In this week’s installment, Hal Jordan gets super-pissed at his friend Dill when the latter insists on staying in on a Friday night and reading books instead of wanting to go out with him drinking and banging broads.
Metamorpho: Hell yes.
Teen Titans: Wednesday Comics editor Mark Chiarello, who is officially My Favorite Person this summer, revealed in an interview with CBR that he has two, one-page strips ready to go in the advent of someone or two someones missing a deadline (I imagine they are in a glass case in his office, marked “In Case of Deadline Miss-age,” with a little metal mallet dangling from a chain in front of it).
What are these strips? The Creeper and Plastic Man. And who are they buy?
Chiarello says he’d rather not share. “I don’t want fans to go, ‘Ah, man. You got so-and-so to do this and we’re never going to see it,’” he said. That means “so-and-so” must be someone with fans, and is also probably someone pretty damn awesome, considering the roster on this thing.
Well, I’m off to pack my blowgun, darts, sleeping poison, and straightjacket for a trip to New York City to see if I can find Mr. Berganza, and perhaps get him to miss a deadline on he and Sean Galloway’s strip, so I can get a Plas or Creeper one instead.
As far as the actual comic, it still sucks. I like the two-panel sequence where the narrator is talking about how metahumans suck because “they have abilities beyond humans. But it’s not something the earned or merit,” which features Robin, the only member of the Teen Titans who isn’t metahuman, doesn’t have abilities beyond humans, and did earn his position of Batman’s apprentice through merit.
Here’s the first one, in which Robin cops a feel off of big brother Nightwing’s ex-girlfriend:
Strange Adventures: Goddammit, I love that dog design! And the plant life, and he fruit!
Supergirl: Supergirl saves the plane with no help from her Superpets, whom she decides need to see a doctor. A super-vet? Have you ever tried putting a cat in a carrier to go to the vet? Can you imagine putting a cat with Superman’s powers into a carrier?
I love the dude in the background of panel 10; Amanda Conner draws great background guys.
Metal Men: Whatever title Dan DiDio is going to be taking over later this year, I hope Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan are drawing it. There’s no reason this art team shouldn’t have all the work they could possibly stand at DC.
Wonder Woman: Priscilla Rich! Better, easier-to-read coloring! Diana sleeping in the nude!
Sgt. Rock: The Nazis take a break from torturing Rock to go get some equipment with which to better torture him. You know, if virtually anyone other than Joe Kubert were drawing this…
Flash Comics: This is the Flash-iest comic I’ve read in a long, long, long, long, long time.
The Demon/Catwoman: Eh, there’s some more rhyming. That’s something.
Hawkman: Hawkman manages to land the plane on an island. And, if I remember the early interviews about the project correctly, the island in question is the most awesome island upon which a plane can crash in the DC Universe.
Back-page ad: Hey, I guess Robot Chicken’s month is up. This week there’s an ad for the BBC’s Robin Hood. Has anyone watched that? Is it good? I’ve seen some previews on Primeval DVDs, and it looks potentially good. Advise me someone, advise me.