Thursday, January 24, 2013
Comic Shop Comics: January 9-23
Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray pull back from their on-going plot gathering various female super-characters against the invading, female verison of Brainiac and her cadre of female super-villains in order to introduce Power Girl, who is the Ame-Comiverse's Superman.
I like this version of Power Girl's costume okay, even the weird chain which seems randomly attached to part of her cape and the small of her back, which fascinated me (What's it attached to, exactly? Why is it even there?) It's super-busy, but super-busy in an anime fantasy, science fiction-y kind of way. The glove flares, for example, look kinda sorta like butterfly wings attached to her wrists. I thought those were cool. Overall, her too-busy costume looks better here than the too-busy costume she wears in the New 52-iverse.
The back-up story involves Wimpy braining a man with a rock in order to steal a sandwich from him (luckily, the man is a bank robber, otherwise Wimpy would seem even more evil than, um, he usually does), and there's a prose story that is actually pretty funny and, as Mike Sterling pointed out the week of release, actually worth reading.
Anyway, what the hell was I talking about?
Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have the new Doctor Spider-Man fight Daredevil, before having them team-up to fight the villainous Stilt-Man, who I was fairly certain was killed off in the recent past.
It's surprisingly funny, right up until that last page which, ugh, not really something I want to read about in Daredevil frankly (I don't want to say it doesn't belong in superhero comics at all, it's just that I feel like it's been in enough superhero comics at this point that it doesn't sound all that interesting to me, but I guess we'll see where Waid goes with it).
Samnee's art is pretty incredible, as always. The new Stilt-Man suit allows him to telescope his arms as well as his legs, and Samnee captures their shooting movement in an effective and exciting manner.
I also like the little touches he uses to show us this is a new, secretly evil Spider-Man, including thicker, more lens-like eyes on his mask (which I think are meant to suggest, Doc Ock's glasses, and weren't an innovation of Samnee's), and pointy, claw-like fingers.
Daredevil remains very, very good super-comics.
And yet FF is so many times better than Fantastic Four, and it's not just the art. Yes, Mark Bagley is a better than average drawer of modern super-comics, whereas Mike Allred is the whole, total, superlative package—great designer, great storyteller, great renderer, possessing a style perfectly suited for the House That Jack Built (And, particularly, the characters that Jack created and drew).
It's also Fraction's writing. Fantastic Four reads like an assignment, like work, like something he has to do. He's come up with a temporary premise, but the action and actions are still fairly boiler plate for the franchise, and well within the established range of mediocre Fantastic Four comics. The characters are all written just as they are "supposed" to be written—World's smartest man Reed Richards is an emotionally clueless douchebag who doesn't realize what a jerk he is, Sue is an uber-competent bad-ass grizzly mom still over-compensating for the way Stan Lee wrote her in the 1960s, etc.
With FF though, Fraction seems to be having fun, and allowing his collaborator to have lots of fun too.
In this issue, the battle-damaged Johnny Storm of the future explains to the substitute Four how his teammates were all killed—it involved Doom The Annihilating Conqueror, a composite villain made by three Marvel villains with matching color schemes—and Ant-Man tries to convince Darla to come back to the team, presenting a compelling case. The action sequence mainly involves her fighting the Yancy Street Gang in her towel.
There are a couple of showy but effectively done scenes in here, including a chase down a hotel stairwell, and a really great splash page. It's only three issues in, so I suppose it's a little early to declare this the best super-comic going right now (and it's got a lot of competition, including at least one other Fraction-written book), but as I was reading it, I sure thought it was.
Also? I kind of want to go to a Darla Deering concert now:
In this issue Geoff Johns finishes up Simon Baz's origin story arc—or at least the first sub-arc of his origin arc—as Baz ties up some of his earthbound business, finds his Lantern and gets a teacher in the form of Green Lantern B'dg, the more realistically-proportioned space squirrel who replaced Ch'p in the Corps.
I think Johns has done a pretty fine job introducing Baz and, with Doug Mahnke and company, making him an appealing and cool-looking enough character that I'm actually interested in him (more interested than I am in Hal Jordan, of course), and, when I saw a note in here saying the story was going to continue into an issue of Green Lantern Corps, I actually wanted to maybe buy and read that issue, which shouldn't be a remarkable thing at all, of course, but interconnectivity (or, that is, appealing interconnectivity) isn't something I've found in the New 52 thus far.
The state of the art credits remain a complete mess, as this issue is delivered by Mahnke and the regular Green Lantern Inkers Coprs; as usual, it also mostly looks very, very strong until near the end, where there are a few obviously rushed pages that obviously look like the work of different people.
It's good stuff. The main problem I had with the series was writer Jamie S. Rich's too-effective homage to Bronze Age comics storytelling, made more interminable still by Bendis Age decompression. That is, the first story arc was a 20, maybe 40-page story stretched out over five issues.
This is a done-in-one, checking in on Mr. Gum, who is touring outerspace with The Atomics (the band, not the superhero team), which means cameos for Madman and Red Rocket 7.
Rich writes Mr. Gum as an off-brand JLA version of Plastic Man, the horny Jim Carey take that Grant Morrison suggested and all the other writers writing JLA spin-offs in the late 90s made more annoying still.
It's been a long time since I read those Allred Atomics comics, but I don't remember Mr. Gum acting anything like that, nor do I remember his powers working exactly like JLA Plas' (That is, instead of just stretching, he can radically change shape, which he does to punctuate his jokes and dialogue with visual puns or stresses).
I do like that he stumbles into the sort of obvious political/sociological metaphor situation involving alien races that Superman, Green Lantern or the Justice League of America might have encountered in the old days, but, rather than wisely solving all the problems, Gum is essentially like, "Eh, fuck these fucked-up people" and leaves. (Poor form on never giving the waitress a name though, Rich!).
If I remember an first or second issue editorial correctly, Rich's plan was to follow each full story-arc with a one-shot interlude drawn by a different guest artist. If this one's indicative, then regardless of how much one may or may not like those story arc's, this is probably a title still worth keeping an eye on.
And man, Allred has been killing it with these pin-up style covers.
The second is "Batman: The Movie," by Adnrew Dabb and Giorio Pontrelli, which imagines a Batman movie being made within the DC Universe, where it would be more like, I don't know, Oliver Stone's W than Chistopher Nolan's Dark Knight Rises. I've seen so many stories about this very thing (more than one being enough), that the premise seemed tired, even if the creators do a decent enough job with it. The Joker and out-of-costume Harley Quinn attack, the real Batman intervenes, et cetera. I liked how the movie Batman's costume looked like a mix of Norm Breyfogle and Kelley Jones Bat-costumes. Pontrelli is really a hell of an artist, so if the function of these digital-first shorts are try-outs for future, higher-profile gigs, I think he's certainly earned a bigger and better gigs at DC.
Finally, Jonathan Larsen an Tan Eng Huat present a story in which Two-Face tries a radical brain surgery to cut out half of himself. An okay enough idea for a throwaway short like this (I was actually relieved to see a villain other than The Joker in one of these Legends stories), although Eng Huat's more-conventional-but-still-quirky line work is the most interesting aspect of the story by far.
This title really feels like some sort of comics equivalent to snack food for me. You know how sometimes you feel like something sweet, so you eat something that's not particularly delicious or good for you, but nevertheless fulfills a vague craving? That's this book: It fulfills my occasional craving to read Batman comics I haven't read already, without having to commit to 40-part Joker or owl crossovers, wonky New 52 continuity or whatever.
There are a lot of fun, little moments in this issue, mainly involving clever, quippy dialogue and artist Fiona Staples' always-inspired design work. I like the way Gwendolyn dresses, I like her ship that looks like a piece of giant mechanical fruit with a propellor. I like the weird-ass muscle Sextillon hires (in fantasy and in reality) and I was especially happy to see The Stalk again, if only briefly.
This is a really good comic, with really great design work and world-building buttressing it.
This issue explores the fairy and false memory aspects of UFOlogy and abductee psychology, making for some intense drama and heavy subject matter, while also letting guest artists Mirko Colak and Adrea Mutti draw primary-colored, Tinkerbell-sized fairies and, in one scene, fairies fighting Greys.
I guess this book never found its audience, which is a shame, as I'm pretty certain there is an audience. It reads quite well in trade, I imagine, but isn't too terribly well-suited to the serial format. At least, in my experience, I found it kind of gets lost among all the superheroes and cartoon characters in the rest of my weekly stacks of comics, but is more satisfying in big, uninterrupted chunks.
Is it weird that I still have no idea who that guy who crawled out of the earth and ate a dude's brain is, even though he's been around for like four issues now, and is apparently a character from mythology I can't place?
No weirder than the fact that Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang have cast the late Wesley Willis as a demi-god in the cast of their Wonder Woman comic.