Friday, October 25, 2013

Comic shop comics: October 23

Adventures of Superman #6  (DC Comics) This issue of the digital-first, Legends of the Dark Knight-style Superman book is even more divorced from continuity than usual. It's essentially a(nother) new origin story for Superman, this one condensed into just 30 pages, and jumping around enough that it doesn't quite seem like writer J.T. Krul's treatment for a Superman reboot movie, but, certainly reads like it could have been derived from it.
Superman stops some alien invaders, goes to the Fortress of Solitude to talk to Hologram Dad and Phantom Zone Zod (the two ghostly Kryptonians arguing over Superman's head at one point), fights off Mongul, who is invading Earth personally (and, in his big fight scene against first the U.S. military and then Superman, acts like a more articulate yellow Hulk in a body-sock), meets Green Lantern Hal Jordan and then goes to Metropolis to get a job and get a name from Lois Lane.

It's not a bad origin, just sort of odd to see it at all, really. (In this telling, Batman and Green Lantern are both around and fairly well known before Superman is even called "Superman," and at one point Superman tells Hal that he's not the first Green Lantern he's ever met).

It's a great showcase for artist Marcus To, though. Beautifully colored by Ian Herring, To's art is as smooth, clean and kinetic as always. His is one of the best Monguls I've ever seen this side of Dave Gibbons, and I probably say this every time I talk about one of these, but nothing really makes one appreciate how great that Superman costume design in like reading a bunch of comics where Superman's wearing a different costume.

Daredevil #32 (Marvel Entertainment) As great as Chris Samnee's cover, of Daredevil standing between a mob of angry villagers and the (or "a"...?) Legion of Monsters is, I kind of which they would have downplayed the guest-stars on the cover, as Mark Waid and Samnee have a sort of surprise reveal of them within the story itself, and spent a decent amount of energy building up towards a reversal.

There's some fun commentary in here regarding race and monsters, fun enough that it more than made up for the uncomfortable weirdness of seeing Waid trying to use a Marvel Universe analogue to the George Zimmerman trial last issue. (This story's inclusion of the monsters alongside the white supremacist hate groups The Sons of the Serpent got me thinking about the nature of racism in the Marvel Universe though. I hope this doesn't sound like I'm trivializing something from the real world in the course of talking about comics, but I wonder if racism would exist, or exist to such an extent, in a world where there were so many mutants, aliens, monsters, androids and other humanoid species like the Atlanteans and so on. I would think the 616 KKK would have so many other people to hate and fear and fight that black folks would be relatively low on their list, given that black people are still, you know, people).

At any rate, I like the way Mark Waid writes Marvel characters. And I like the way Chris Samnee draws Marvel characters. So it was a pleasure to see them do not only Daredevil, but also Doctor Strange and the fearsome fivesome on the cover there this issue.

FF #13 (Marvel) I was about half-way through this issue before I remembered that Matt Fraction was no longer writing it, but that Lee Allred had taken over the book, working from Fraction's plot outlines or something like that (Lee Allred gets a script credit, and shares a story credit with Fraction).

In other words, this is just as good as when Fraction was the sole writer, and perhaps even better (That gag about Uatu's name that Bentley-23 made was a great one. Has no one made that joke before? It seems like a joke someone should have made by now).

In this issue, we find out whether or not the substitute Fantastic Four and the children of The Future Foundation were all terribly killed in that time/space portal accident last issue or not (they weren't), and we discover that Scott Lang had a brilliant-ish plan to remove them all from Doctor Doom's prying eyes  and find them a totally sweet headquarters (They're crashing at Uatu's place, which they've taken over by force using what is totally, definitely the Ultimate Nullifier).

Also, multiple, alternate versions of the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes (!!!) fight the kids of the FF. And it's just as rad as it sounds.

Young Avengers #11 (Marvel) Loki and Noh-Varr get new looks (the former's more radical than the latter's) as the team prepares for a frontal assault on Mother to save Hulking, and Prodigy uses the power of social media to  rally what looks to be damn near every single young superhero in the Marvel Universe to fend off an invasion from an extra-dimensional army (The reveal of that is maybe the most striking image in a comic book that remains full of great art by Jamie McKelvie, co-inker Mike Norton and extra co-inker Kris Anka.

I've grown a little tired of this plot-line (Note to comics writers, particularly Brian Azzarello: Story arcs of 12 issues or longer better be really, really, really exciting if they're gonna be that goddam long), but it seems to be coming to a head and, hopefully, the book will move on to something else soon. McKelvie and company's art is so good though that even when the Gillen's plotting and dialogue fails to completely engage me, the imagery more than compensates.

Zombie War #1 (IDW) According to Joe McCulloch, this is a reprinting of a 1991 effort originally published by FantaCo and Tundra, written by Kevin Eastman and Tom Skulan and drawn by Eastman and occasional TMNT collaborator and creator Eric Talbot. "Eastman and Talbot" were pretty much all I needed to know to want to check this out and, well, it's kind of horrible.

The plot, such as it is, involves an alien using Plan 9 From Outer Space—You know, raising an army of the undead to wipe out humanity. When the alien's ship is downed and he finds himself stranded on Earth among the mayhem he started, he's forced into an uneasy alliance with a female air force pilot, first seen in the nude the locker room.

Much of the story, which is a very fast, very fleet one, with the most of Earth conquered before this first of two issues is even half over, is communicated through news reports. It may have been originally released in 1991, but man, it sure reads like 1988.

On the other hand, Eastman and Talbot. I like the work of both artists as individuals and as a team—perhaps partly for nostalgic reasons, but mostly for aesthetic reasons—and it was great to see these panel-packed pages, with their rough, thickly-inked borders, the hand-lettered sound effects and dialogue bubbles fiercely carved into the paper, and the rough hewn lines of smoke clouds, vapor trails, gun shots and laser blasts (It seems that it's in color though. It really looks like it should be black and white. Or at least more black and white than it is. Here are a few pages of it, if you like).

Arriving so long ago, this predates the current Zombie Age of comics, and it's probably worth noting that Eastman and company's zombies are of a slightly different variety than the more commonplace. They still crave human flesh, and they are still pretty much super-strong, tearing off heads and limbs with ease (One even tears a whole human being in half, horizontally), but they're also capable of speech ("GOOD MORNING FUCKER!!" is the first zombie-spoken dialogue, and from there they go on to taunt opponents and one, wearing the helmet of a Roman warrior, even makes a speech to his zombie troops) and tool use.

I can't really recommend the comic to anyone who isn't already a fan of Eastman and/or Talbot's, as its fairly trashy and uninspired, even within the too-sizable genre of comics about zombies, but I sure liked looking at the pages. Far more than I enjoyed reading them.

Oh, and hey, there's a guy named "Chet" in this. What's with Eastman and the name Chet...? Some comics journalist somewhere should really get on that...


Aki Alaraatikka said...

Speaking of comics, do you know what you should check out? The latest, upcoming GI Joe/Transformers-crossover.

It`s by Tom Scioli.

SallyP said...

Arrgh! I completely forgot to get Daredevil!