Saturday, September 21, 2013

Comic shop comics: September 11-19

Batman '66 #3 (DC Comics) Joe Quinones Draws Batman Month continues! Just a few days ago I wrote a bit about Batman: Black and White #1, which contained a short story in the Batman: The Animated Series universe by Quinones and Maris Wicks, and the latest issue of the Jeff Parker-written Batman '66 opens with a story drawn by Quinones (and colored by Wicks) set in the Batman TV show universe.

This story also features Harley Quinn, but not quite so prominently. When a new villain calling himself The Red Hood begins wreaking havoc, demanding that The Joker be released to him in Gotham Cemetery, Batman and Robin venture into The Arkham Institute for the Criminally Insane, where they met by "Dr. Quinn, the new psychiatric specialist for the deep-security ward," a blond woman in a red dress with diamond-shaped earrings and a subtle diamond pattern on her red dress. It's an Easter Egg of a cameo, but I believe that marks the debut in of the character in the Batman '66-iverse, at least outside the realm of fan-fiction.

This is also the first Joker story in the book's run so far, and Quinones—like Mike Allred on the cover—goes full Romero, with mustache visible through the white make-up and all.

One particularly neat aspect of this series is how fresh and new the 47-year-old show's take on Batman seems, at least to someone like me, who hasn't seen any episodes of it since grade-school. For example, there's a scene where the Dynamic Duo walks down the hall at Arkham, and sees various villains in glass-walled cells, and I only recognized half of them (and one of those was Egghead).

I found the plotting on this one rather clever, with just a touch of comic book science to get it over, but, frankly, it was seeing Quinones cut loose with these very particular versions of the characters that was best part of this story (And having read this, the aforementioned Batman: Black and White story and a Chad Hardin-drawn story all this week, I kinda wish DC tapped Quinones for the Harley Quinn monthly over Hardin, although, to be fair, Hardin drew one of the best-looking comics DC released as part of this week's round of Villains Month issues).

The second story is drawn by Sandy Jarrell in a very rough, very loose style (the roughest and loosest of any of the stories from this series so far, anyway) and features Batman and Robin escaping from an inescapable death trap concoted by Egghead.

The main pleasure of this story, at least for me, was hearing the late, great Vincent Price's voice in my head, pronouncing all of the many egg puns.

 Classic Popeye #14 (IDW) The lead story in this latest issue of IDW's reprinting of the old Bud Sagendorf Popeye comics (I believe with this one they finish up the year 1950) feels more like a Popeye cartoon than any of the previous ones, in that it throws Popeye and Olive into a weird new milieu that is good enough for a single story of gags, although it is missing Bluto abducting Olive.

Somewhere out west, Popeye has bought a railroad (?), and Olive is his first and only customer. He faces many complications, including a cringe-inducing Native American stereotype ("Ugh!" is right, man) and train robbers (I did like the bits where Popeye, who eventually has to pull the car himself when the engine breaks down, refers to himself repeatedly as a train to the train robbers, as in "The train has already comed!!" and so on).

The rest of the stories share an Old West-like setting: Popeye buy a five-dollar race horse that won't wake up and appears to be dead save for the fact that it's snoring, Popeye and Olive try to scare Swee'pea from playing around an old abandoned mine by dressing up a ghosts and, finally, Wimpy and a cow participate in a gold rush that ends badly for one of them (Remarkably, it's not the cow, who Wimpy does not eat before story's end).

Daredevil #31 (Marvel Entertainment) In this issue, Mark Waid includes an allusion to the George Zimmerman trial, and it's about as uncomfortable as any time one of the Big Two try to allude to something in the real world by fictionalizing it, resulting in a half-assed,  timid-seeming use of an often powerful event.

I wish they wouldn't do this. Go all the way with it, or don't even bother, I say (This problem's not unique to super-comics; I've noticed it in Law & Order repeats as well).

The particular's of this case are these, in Matt Murdock's words, provided by Waid:
The Bainwood case has had the whole nation riveted--and sharply divided--for months.

The defendant is an enetitled society harpy with a long and recorded history of bigotry.

She stands accused of following and shooting a "suspicious-looking" Black teenager in her building-- --who, as it turned out, was an honor-student tutor visiting a neighbor's kid.

Her team has been exemplary. They've guilt their strategy around self-defense, exploiting the fact that there were no witnesses but there were clear signs of a struggle.
I'm somewhat sympathetic to Waid in this case as he needed to fictionalize the Zimmerman trial to use it in his comic, as it's set in New York City, not Florida, and he did need a case revolving around inflamed racial tensions and the legal system, as this is part of an ongoing plot about a Ku Klux Klan-meets-Hydra Marvel Universe hate group Sons of the Serpent infiltrating New York City's legal system.

But it still doesn't feel right, and reads uncomfortably and weird.

That aside, this is, as always, exemplary super-comics making. I was a little bummed the interiors didn't match up to the cover at all; while The Jester (never heard of him) was name-dropped within the pages a few times, he doesn't appear on-panel, and certainly not as elaborately as he does on Samnee's neat-o cover.

Oh yeah, this issue also contains some of my favorite panels in forever. Reed Richards may have The Thing to lift his huge, scientific gizmos for him, who does Hank "Ant-Man" Pym have to do the heavy-lifting around his lab?
Oh, you know, just some giant ants.

I do hope Samnee's next assignment for Marvel is an Ant-Man ongoing series.


SpongeBob Comics #24 (United Plankton Pictures) A ten-page Graham Annable story, a silent four-page Corey Barba story, a two-page Aaron Renier-drawn story, one page of James Kochalka comic strips and a one-page science strip by Maris Wicks about sand dollars.* That's a bunch of contributions by a bunch of great cartoonists, and I didn't even mention the ten-page story written by Scott Roberts and drawn by Vince Deporter that is closest in style and tone to the cartoon show this comic anthology is based on.

The first 2/3 of Kochalka's strip (above) is maybe the funniest thing I can remember reading from Kochalka in this series. The punchline is completely superfluous; I love the way he plays with time in those first four panels.

*When I interviewed Wicks about Primates, I learned her day-job was in an educational capacity at an aquarium, and ever since I've really wanted her to do someday do some sort of semi-autobiographical-ish comic about that, as a cartoonist/aquarium docent or whatever sounds like a pretty fascinating subject for a comic. If you ask me. Which you didn't. But I'm volunteering. It's what I do here.


Ray "!!" Tomczak said...

Are those really giant ants? Or is Hank shrunk down to ant size and standing in a miniature lab?

Akilles said...

Jester appeared in Civil war. You apparently forgot that. He died.
But since he has a legacy (four, if I`m not mistaken), it should be easy for A Jester to appear.

Caleb said...


I re-read the scene those panels are from after your comment, and Pym mentions his ability to shrink and grow ants in it, but as he's currently building an artificial kidney, he's probably shrunk himself (and the ants) in those panels, but left the ants larger than himself. So...I don't know...?

There is a scene later where he DEFINITELY grows an aunt to giant size though, as we see it fly through a flock of pigeons, accidentally kicking one of 'em with its gigantic leg.


Yes, he died at Gettysburg, right?

JohnF said...

I really don't get the whole idea behind Batman '66. Is it just something people read for irony's sake? The TV show was godawful, it was wooden, it was camp, and it was nothing like Batman's supposed to be. Why then is there now a comic based on this totally-off-base TV show?
Why not just turn AfterM*A*S*H into a comic so we can irony-read it?

Akilles said...

Dunno. Haven`t read Civil war, and don`t wanna. I just read that he did, from some artcle. Maybe one of your stream of consciousness reviews of a CW-issue.

Christopher Milan said...

I really appreciated Waid's take on Trayvon Martin. He exaggerates Trayvon being innocent to highlight the fact that Zimmerman was always going to be found not guilty. Murdoch knows that the guy is going to be found not guilty, he understands why, and is okay with it since reasonable doubt is a cornerstone of our judicial system. Ever the idealist.