Thursday, July 25, 2013

Comic shop comics: July 17-24

Classic Popeye #12 (IDW) The best part of this issue is probably the first story, in which the Sea Hag gets her gnarled hands on a magical flute that can control all of the birds of the earth, with which she plans to conquer the world. But not Hitchcock's Birds-style; instead she raises an army of millions of huge vultures, using them to kidnap farmers and force them to raise vulture food to feed more vultures (I'm not entirely sure the Sea Hag knows how vultures work).

Naturally, Popeye saves the world, and does so in part through an epic, mid-air 500 vulture battle, in which one tries carrying him off, he punches it out, another grabs him and continues carrying him and so on until he gets to her island base, he punches out the last vulture and falls hundreds of feet to the ground (Seriously kids; eat your vegetables—you'll be practically immortal).
I was a little surprised when, at the end, Wimpy tells Popeye to be sure and destroy the flute so it can't be put to evil use ever again, as I would have thought its ability to control all birds—particularly ducks—would have been of great interest to Wimpy.

The worst part was the advertisement on the back for the collected editions of this very comic book, which look so big and fat. Looking them up online, it looks like he get about 200 pages for $20 (at least through a particular online bookseller), so about the same page-to-price tag ratio as the comics, but in a sturdier, easier to store format.

So now I'm torn. I guess in the long run I'd prefer to own the trades, but, in the short run, I really enjoy reading this old-timey comic book in its comic book format.

Daredevil #28 (Marvel Entertainment) So here's that issue of Daredevil that came out a few weeks ago, but Diamond apparently shorted my shop on (this week, it's the Hawkeye annual that didn't show up, for whatever reason).

In this issue, the regular, superlative creative team of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez lean the narrative in a different direction, after the hero's epic, life-or-death battle with his archenemy that composed the last story arc and, to some degree, the last 27 issues or so.

Matt Murdock meets someone from his childhood who knows he's Daredevil, someone Murdock doesn't really want to help one bit, but who needs the help of a lawyer he can trust, as he's been falsely arrested for involvement with the Sons of the Serpent (before my time, but it gave Samnee the artists a chance to draw a flashback panel featuring Son of Satan, so that's cool with me).

In a nice little twist, Waid uses the opportunity to show a young, pre-secret origin superhero through the eyes of one of his antagonists, and we see that while Matt may not have deserved the violent bullying he got, he wasn't exactly a perfect, innocent angel, either (That's the sort of thing that's sort of at the core of Marvel characters, and that separates them from their DC counterparts—rather than paragons of good from day one, they tend to be emotional fuck-ups trying and usually or eventually doing the right thing; it's nice to see Waid conjure scenes where the reader can empathize with the bully and think, "Hey, maybe someone should slap that Murdock kid to shut him up," and nice to see how he and Samnee render that revelation when it hits adult Murdock).

Pages 16 and 17 are your bravura, show-stopping, only-in-comic scene, by the way, and props for an excellent surprising cliffhanger...the second most dramatic one I read this week.

FF #10 (Marvel) This is the pool party issue, the one with the best cover of any Fantastic Four comic that I can remember seeing on a comics rack with my own two eyes. This is a cover that sells a book all by itself, that you kinda wish you had a framed print of and that makes a powerful argument for the return of Marvel's old swimsuit specials.

Unfortunately, the artist responsible for that image is MIA on interiors, but at least Marvel got the excellent Joe Quinones to provide the fill-in art, and Laura Allred's still coloring, giving the book some further visual continuity with the previous, Mike Allred-drawn issues.

Quinones is an excellent artist who acquits himself quite well here (You may remember him from the Green Lantern strip in Wednesday Comics), and I like the way he manages a surprising historical likeness in a surprising guest-star, the slightly geeky, professorial look he gives plain clothes Ant-Man, and the mustache he gives Alex Power. Still, there are a lot of two-piece bathing suits in this issue, which translates to a lot of cheesecake and I prefer Mike Allred's cheesecake to that of many artists.

Matt Fraction has three different narrative strands going in this issue, each with a varying degree of a comedic component. The FF get invited to the penthouse pool of a very rich, influential man who has a proposal for them. Dragonman and the kids frolic in the pool, the grown-ups talk to the man and Bentley-23 makes a movie about his classmates Vil and Wu for a school assignment.

It is, as usual, pretty great comics.

Young Avengers #8 (Marvel) Too bad that Hawkeye annual didn't show up; if it had, I would have read an issue of all four of my favorite ongoing super-comics of the moment today, and it would have been a particularly great Wednesday evening.

In this issue, the team follows the Patriot-shaped monster thingee that captured Speed through a series of alternate dimensions, most of them horrible dystopian sorts of places, in which the young heroes find twisted mirror versions of themselves ("How many Earths did other yous make the capital of a new Kree Empire?" Kate shouts at Noh-Varr at one point; he seems to be behind more than one of those dystopias). The regular creative team of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton make it through a pretty remarkable amount of alternate dimensions, partly through a narrated montage, partly through a couple of scenes, in just 12 pages. As with the last two issues, the creators pack a lot of action into a short amount of space, making it seem and read bigger and longer than it actually was.

But, most importantly, Noh-Varr grows a beard.
Oh, and the last page? Pretty unexpected, and a pretty incredible cliffhanger. It's also a textbook example of how to splash pages should be used effectively as narrative devices. You either have to have a very big moment emphasized by the space you're devoting to it, or you have to have a lot of very detailed shit to show the reader; this is a case of the former.


Ben Morse said...

Good read, sir, but regular Daredevil colorist Javier Rodriguez drew that issue, not Chris Samnee. That you didn't notice is a testament to Javier's skill, methinks.

Anonymous said...

Naw, man, you bring the ducks.

Akilles said...

The great Donald duck artist drew an issue of DD?! Really!?
I can`t get rest of the series fast enough.

Caleb said...

D'oh! I kinda sorta fixed it. Thanks.