Thursday, November 22, 2012

Comic shop comics: November 21

Daredevil #20 (Marvel Entertainment) While I'm not a big fan of decadence, depravity and shock-tactic scenes in my superhero comics in general, credit where credit is due: Mark Waid writes, and artist Chris Samnee executes, a doozy of one in this issue, and it's creative enough in conception and staging that not only was I truly shocked, I was surprised and impressed to (It's a hell of a use of a splash-page, and the two preceding pages worth of panels leading up to it are perfect; I went back and reread the sequence just to check for imperfections, but came up empty).

Not sure I understood the first few panels of the next page, but then, the super-science is murky enough that I couldn't tell you how it worked anyway.

There's one more issue to go in this story arc, and I'm rather eager to see it, as there's a reveal in this issue that makes it clear that what I thought was happening—because the villain told me it was happening—isn't actually happening, so I want to see what's really happening.

Anyway: This really great book remains really great.

Hawkeye #4 (Marvel) Three. That is the answer to the question "How many consecutive issues can artist David Aja, a huge part of the reason this book is worth reading, draw before needing a fill in?"

The fill-in artist is Javier Pulido, and you could hardly ask for a better one, although it's worth noting that Pulido's presence has altered the look and feel of the book fairly dramatically, as he provides much bigger panels and less elaborate layouts calling for fewer panels. The leads look awfully off-model, but that is largely the fault of Marvel not having models any more, and thus the Hawkeyes won't look like themselves whenever someone other than Aja draws them (and to nitpick, there's an action scene in which a couple of people try to pick Clint Barton's pocket while he's inside the backseat of a cab that doesn't really work; I had to slow down and reread it and think about it for a long while, and I still couldn't get it to visually make sense in my head).

This is also the first story that isn't a strict done-in-one, although it does have something of a beginning, middle and an end of it's's just that the ending is itself a cliffhanger.

This is also also the first story that seems to take into account events from another Marvel book, which I assume is Secret Avengers, but it could very well be that writer Matt Fraction is inventing something that seems like it took place in another book, simply because we didn't see it take place in this book and that, in fact, it wasn't something that took place in a published comic book.

I don't know; I don't really get it. The maguffin is a VHS tape (hey, didn't I read a similar story in the also-edited-by-Stephen-Wacker Daredevil a few months back? Involving a flashback and Stilt-Man?) of Hawkeye "committing the assassination of the world's most wanted criminal terrorist," and, I don't know, "assassination" and "criminal terrorist" don't really go together. I mean, the President of the United States of America kills criminal terrorists and/or anyone nearby them pretty much constantly with robot death planes, and no one seems to consider that "assassination," nor does anyone in the U.S. seem particular embarrassed about it. So I'm not sure why an Avenger doing it with a bow and arrow is such a big deal. Maybe they'll get to that next issue...

Oh. Also: Wolverine. That dudes an Avenger, and he stabs dudes to death with greater frequency then I update my blog.

It Girl! and The Atomics #4 (Image Comics) A bold choice on Mike Allred's part to use an image of It Girl tweaking her own nipple on the cover of this issue.

Well, what began as a semi-charming impression of Silver Age/Bronze Age super-comics has grown to be more and more tedious with each passing issue. In this one, we get writer Jamie S. Rich calling back to plot points from a previous series (like, more than a decade previous...?) from a different publisher featuring these characters, answering questions no body asked and finding connections to the past instead of forging a future like a 1970s Roy Thomas.

The only thing about the book that's not nostalgic...? The story arc is taking forever; this is the fourth chapter of a story that should take about two issues, tops, to tell, and there's a fifth on the way, and there aren't even really any sub-plots to justify the amount of time it's taking to tell (It Girl's sister has an evil duplicate, created when she was brought back to life during the Oni Comics series).

This is definitely my last issue of the series, although if what was said in earlier issues regarding guest artists like Chynna Clugston doing one-shots between story-arcs, I suppose I'll be back every once in a while for those.

Smurf Soup (Papercutz) I bought this at the comic shop this week too, even though it's been out for a while. There are three stories within, two of which deal with soup. The other one features the second instance I've seen in the series of the Smurfs taking Gargamel down in straight hand-to-hand combat. It's not quite as scary as the first one, in which they used their bare hands, but it's still pretty scary, as this time they are armed with such makeshift weaponry as Smurf-sized pitchforks, rolling pins and hammers (Gargamel fed 'em a potion that transformed them variously, if you're wondering why so many of 'em look so weird).

Also, I'm not sure which song I find more annoying: The cartoon Smurfs' high-pitched "La la la la la la", or the comics Smurfs' lyrically redundant "It's the Smurf smurf smurf who goes smurf smurf smurf"....

Wonder Woman #14 (DC Comics) In the latest issue of one of NPR's choices for best "Under the Radar" books of the year (Yeah, it's just too bad The New 52 didn't attract more attention, isn't it...?), regular artist Cliff Chiang is MIA, and even the usual fill-in artist Tony Akins is reduced to just doing lay-outs, which Dan Green and Rick Burchett finish.

Wonder Woman is a rather rare book in that even the fill-in art tends to be exceptional; here, the fill-in artists for the fill-in artist provide higher-quality work than the regular artists for the vast majority of DC books. (Honestly, I wouldn't mind Burchett finishing Akin every month, even though I do like Chiang's art quite a bit. In a perfect world, Burchett would be illustrating a well-written DC superhero book on an ongoing basis but, alas, ours is not a perfect world).

Perhaps the most noteworthy event of this issue, aside from the change in artists, is that we get the first good look at the New 52 versions of two Jack Kirby creations, Orion (who appeared briefly in silhouette for a few panels a few issues ago) who, I am happy to report, is not the mysterious giant who ate the dude's brain last issue (that dude, by the way, has, like, no penis; no wonder he's so irritable).
The Orion re-design, which I assume comes courtesy of Chiang, is a nice one, and several hundred times better than many of the New 52 costume reboots, but it also looks a lot like a case of change for change's sake; it's not superior to Kirby's, but more of a lateral change, the big innovation seemingly being a flip-up visor that gives his mask a more knight-like quality, and changing his suit from spandex to something that looks like padded armor (His flying harness thingee doesn't appear; I'm eager to see that). He's also handsome, which is a pretty big change from Kirby's conception, but perhaps he's using an off-panel Mother Box to make him look handsome.

Highfather appears on-panel, but in silhouette, with only his hair, beard, eyes and teeth showing. The space they move in is empty, and features only a few "props;" a door, a map of earth, some floating screens with rows of blue, vertical lines blipping like hospital heart monitors on them. It's a very subdued look for the usually bombastic world of the New Gods, but it is, after all, just a peek.


Akilles said...

Whoah. Highfather is afraid. Wonder what`s gonna happen.

Michael Hoskin said...

Orion & Highfather hanging out on the sets of 24? Bold decision.