Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Comic shop comics: April 11

Daredevil #10.1 (Marvel Entertainment) I was surprised to find that this comic book was 20 pages long. If it's #10.1, shouldn't it only be two pages, or one-tenth the length of Daredevil #10...?

I'm afraid I just don't understand Marvel sometimes.

In order to accommodate the book's accelerated schedule, artist Khoi Pham is called upon to draw the issue, and the results are less than impressive. It's definitely the worst looking issue of the book's run so far, which is especially unfortunate given the fact that the superior quality of the art has been the book's strongest selling point.

Pham's art, colored by Javier Rodriguez, seems to be taking cues from the work of the book's previous artists Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera, but his character design seems awfully off, as his Matt Murdock/Daredevil is/are bigger, thicker and more hulking than in the previous ten issues, and there's a scratchy, indistinct flavor to his linework that seems a bit foreign in this book.

The scripting is still by Mark Waid, and it is still as tight as we've come to expect; some of the book feels a bit like filler, catching newer readers up to one of the book's ongoing plots in preparation for the upcoming three-book crossover "The Omega Effect," but there's at least one pretty neat zag where another plotter probably would have put a zig.

The treatment of a villain by the police, using the U.S. "stress" methods put upon terrorism suspects and "detainees", was fairly zeitgeisty.

I really dug the center of Martin's cover, although the credits and the white space that bears them sort of cut into the cool, colorful part of the design.

Oh, and by the way, look at this stupid thing:Is this Daredevil #10.1, or Daredevil #10.1.1...? Did Marvel publish it, or did Marvel.1 publish it? Who told Marvel decimal points were the hot, new thing among comics readers?! Why isn't this just the next issue of the series?!

Green Lantern #8 (DC Comics) This is definitely another issue of Green Lantern: A fun but dumb script, shocking violence (although I don't think DC counts it as violence if the blood pouring out of the victim as his skull is smashed repeatedly into the metal bars of a prison cell is blue instead of red), great pencil art by Doug Mahnke and inks by four different guys. The book is on autopilot, as it has been for a good long while now, but writer Geoff Johns at least plotted a decent course before putting the book on creative cruise control.

Saga #2 (Image Comics) This series is well-written, with a couple of quite strong characters in dramatic circumstances, and a couple of other interesting characters with their own set of quirks and problems in pursuit, but this series is worth it for artist Fiona Staples' designs alone.

Here she introduces a bounty hunter called The Stalk and, holy crap is she awesome looking—frightening, sexy, surprising and unlike any other design I can remember seeing anywhere else. There's also The Will's manager, a Sea Horse-man in a sports jacket seated behind a desk, a neat spaceship, and an even neater train/dragon/thing, in addition to the robot prince we met last issue.

The artwork is beautiful, and the world-building impressive, but the designs are all incredibly fresh and unexpected, and new ones come at such a quick pace that the simple act of flipping through the pages is exciting. There are few—too few—comics that are this exciting in this particular manner and, as I say, that designs work is in service of great art and a good story, making it a silver lining around a cloud of silver.

There are fewer pages this issue—22 instead of 44, the first issue was apparently double-sized for no extra cost—but it's still virtually ad-free, with the six pages of house ads for Image stuff following the letter column at the end of the book. And it's still $2.99, so while it's not at the same insanely high, how-could-you-not-buy-this value of the first issue, it's still of a much higher value than even DC and Marvel's $2.99 books, and free of commercial breaks.

If quality and value dictated direct market share, Image Comics would probably be the number one publisher by the end of the summer.

Saucer Country #2 (DC) Man, look at that cover! With the premise thoroughly introduced last issue—popular governor considering run for the presidency is abducted by aliens–this second issue draws the various characters closer together and employs the protagonist's belief in aliens and her own abduction as a motivating factor for her to win the presidency, rather than the liability it likely seems. That is, she's determined to become president to use that power against the aliens, and, with that, a pretty neat premise gets a little neater.

One thing though: Crop circles are bullshit, Paul Cornell. I'll suspend disbelief that all this other 20th century folklore might be real—and the address of the fact that the governor's aliens look exactly like movie aliens was rather deftly handled—but I draw the line at crop circles. They are bullshit I say, bullshit...!!!

Otherwise, yes, I like this comic. I will read #3, too.

Tiny Titans #50 (DC) My reorder of this issue, which originally came out on but sold out at my shop, finally appeared today. This is, of course, the last issue of the relatively long-running series—especially for a DC kids book!—and it was therefore pretty bittersweet reading it.

This is probably the most creatively consistent of the comics I've been reading the last few years—again, 50 issues by the exact same creative team, delivering the same level of quality with very little fluctuation in either direction—and it's become probably my favorite read each month, a unique blend of old-school, all-ages gag comic books ala Little Lulu, only featuring cuter versions of various DC super-characters.

As the "real" DC Universe grew increasingly darker and more violent over the past decade or so, it was a welcome reminder of how fun and funny various aspects of that particular mythology, setting and characters could be, and once the DCU was rebooted entirely into the so-so New 52iverse last fall, it remained a little oasis of the DC Universe I was so fond of.

While this particular title is ending, Art Baltazar's delightful art, and he and Franco's take on popular DC characters isn't going away—they will be moving into a new title, Superman Family Adventures.

Accordingly, they take this opportunity to transition between the two titles. In a running gag this issue, Beast Boy decides to "relaunch" himself as the new Superman to impress his crush Terra, and when he gets in trouble, Superman rescues him. In keeping with Tiny Titans' treatment of the grown-up heroes, Superman is only shown from the shoulders down for his first few panels, before the "camera" is dramatically pulled back to show his entire head, and Superman enters the panels in full for the first time.

He's somewhat instrumental in providing a conclusion for the story, too, as Beast Boy's super-stunt finally wins Terra's affection, Superman asks the Tiny Titans to come train to be superheroes with him in the Fortress of Solitude, and he asks Jimmy Olsen to take a group photo of him with the kids. Additionally, Tiny Superboy and Tiny Supergirl get new costumes, which reflect the ones they'll be wearing in the new title.

I'm pretty bummed that this is the last issue of the series, but as bummed as I am, I'm equally excited to read Superman Family Adventures every month (and there's a five-page preview of what that series is gonna be like in the back of this issue), and I am fairly certain the Tiny Titans will return in one format or another—they do all but promise another crossover with Archie Comics in this issue after all.

Aw Yeah and adieu Tiny Titans...until we meet again.


Anthony Strand said...

If I can ask, why do you draw the line at crop circles?

In your posts about Mothman and other legendary creatures, you seem pretty convinced that that stuff all exists. So why not crop circles?

(I only ask because I'm genuinely curious. I'm someone who has never considered the possibility that any of those things are real.)

Jorell Rivera said...

I hope the Tiny Titans realize they're gonna be stuck at the Fortress for about twelve years learning about all the known galaxies and human history and junk.

Saga's awesome. I love the character designs, but one of the other things that make the book really good is the snappy dialogue. It helps to ground the book in some sort of reality.

Caleb said...


Crop circles have been repeatedly proven to be hoaxed or faked, and quite easy to do so (Or, at least, a lot more easily made than some would have you believe).

I mean, I suppose it's possible that human beings make them AND aliens make some of them, but it seems more likely that if many are man-made, they all are.

As for Mothman, I think he's "real," but I don't think he's real in the same way, that, say...well, I don't think there's an undiscovered species of Mothmen living in West Virginia or anything.

I think something started that particular story, and while hoaxing and mass hysteria likely played a part, there was something that started it. The original story is just sooooo weird I have a hard time believing it was completely invented.

I don't know...

I don't believe in Bigfoot as a real animal anymore, although I think he's awesome (I think the era of cellphone cameras will ultimately lay Bigfoot to rest).

I think aliens are possible and likely exist as some form of idea, but I don't think Gray aliens visit earth and abduct people. Although that may be mostly hope, as I have a phobia about that (Which will be discussed in an upcoming, self-published comic soon, I promise!)

Anthony Strand said...

Ah. Thanks for the response!