Friday, August 15, 2014

Comic shop comics: August 13

Batman Eternal #19 (DC Comics) Artist Emanuel Simeoni joins script-writer Tim Seeley and the regular writing team for this issue. His is a rather detailed style with a lot of gritty texture to it, and patches of black ink. I like it okay, but, in general, the less detailed the style, the better it tends to look with some of these New 52 costumes (Batgirl in particular looks pretty dumb in her black and gold suit of armor, although I do like the way Simeoni plays with the shape of her cape).

Various storylines get touched on this issue, none of which involve the swarm of demons we saw exiting Arkham an issue or two ago.

First, Batgirl, Batwoman and Red Hood pursue their perp, who has the ability to make people see what he wants them to see, and thus played a part in Gordon's frame-up. Second, Batman, Bard and Croc seek...whatever's going on underground. I'm not sure if its meant to be related to the goings-on under Arkham or not, but as it is supernatural and underground, I'm assuming so. The Ten-Eyed Man is here too, having previously appeared beneath Arkham; I don't know if it's just the style of the two artists to have drawn him so far or what, but his is a pretty dull design. He doesn't even have eyes in his fingers!

Thirdly, there's a prison riot in Blackgate between Penguin and Falcone factions, which gives James Gordon the opportunity to be a hero. And, finally, there's a page devoted to Red Robin and Harper Row, the former of whom seems to be agreeing to train the latter.

It's been over four months now, and I still really like having a decent Batman comic book to read. The quality vacillates, obviously, but even at it's absolute worst, Batman Eternal has remained pretty good. I know it doesn't help DC achieve its stated branding goal of publishing 52 titles a month (this is still only one title, even if they publish it four times a month), but I think this makes a lot more sense than publishing Batwing, Batman: The Dark Knight and a Red Robin title, too. Hell, I'd be all for them canceling a few more books—Red Robin's version of Teen Titans, Red Hood and The Outlaws—to make room for other, better books in "The New 52," and giving those characters a place here in a Gotham weekly (Reds Robin and Hood that is, not, like, Raven and Wonder Girl and Starfire and so on).

The New 52: Futures End: #15 (DC) Still reading! Pencil artist Sot Eaton and inker Drew Geraci join the four writers of this book, which features six issues of the masked and pretty much definitely not Clark Kent Superman and Lois Lane, five pages of Hawkman and Amethyst flirting in an alien jail while Frankenstein has a nightmare (he dreamt he read Futures End #0, I think), some Grifter/Deathstroke stuff (which oddly fails to mention that the last time we saw Deathstroke, he had blood pouring out of a wound caused by an arrow sticking out of his throat; I don't know if the dude has Wolverine-healing powers in the New 52 or not, and this is my fifteenth issue of the series), a bit about how super-escape artists Mister Miracle has been super-escaping (a little), and a brief check-in with Constantine (who I actually forgot was in this series, it's been so long) and his unidentifiable-to-me hangers-on, and that robot that's painted like Parasite and who tore off some limbs.

It's...still on my pull-list, which is about the best I can say about it. I find it kind of confounding that they're doing a new, New 52 version of 52 and setting the whole thing in a this-doesn't-count possible future that will never come to pass. Given that many of these characters are pulled from canceled or somewhat fringe books, it's not hard to imagine the same cast being used in a story of similar scale and size in the present, "real" DC Universe.

It will be interesting to see what DC's line looks like next month, when (almost) all of their titles are set in this possible future for the space of one issue.

SpongeBob Comics #35 (United Plankton Pictures) The big story here is the continuing, multi-part, Jerry Ordway-drawn epic pitting Mermaid Man against Viro Reganto, the first story-arc in the gag anthology-format book. Well, it retains it's anthology feel, as each issue has been made up of a bunch of short gag stories, with just the one story—"Showdown at the Shady Shoals" by Derek Drymon and Ordway—continuing from issue to issue.

This issue contains the fourth chapter of "Showdown," and it is set mostly in the present, at which point Mermaid Man and Vigo Reganto are both old, and drawn in the style of the SpongeBob cartoon (by Drymon). Ordway has been drawing the "flashback" portions, which here applies only to the opening page, two figures and several panels of a talking sea cucumber (In fact, the credits for the story list Ordway and responsible for the pencils and inks for "flashbacks and sea cucumbers").

The rest of the book consists of offerings from many of the regular contributors. Maris Wicks' educational "Flosam and Jetsam" feature on ocean facts stars the "tardigrade" or "water bear," the scariest-looking motherfucking creature in the whole fucking world; those things make Aye-Ayes look like kitty cats (Wicks manages to make the look cute though, which is nice, as I wouldn't have been able to read a whole page full of realistic water bears, but is maybe doing readers a disservice too, as they won't realize that the water bear is a horrifying hell beast, by which I mean if you die and go to hell, you will find bear-sized water bears everywhere. I'm sure of it. I know we shouldn't judge books by their covers, but I must make an exception for the tardigrades).

There's also your regular page of a James Kochalka weirdness, a Joey Weiser-written, Rob Leigh-drawn one-note one-pager that actually made me laugh, and two longer stories, one by David DeGrand and the other by artist Scott Roberts and writer Chuck Dixon, who I coulda sworn was just complaining about being unable to find work because no one will hire conservatives or some such.

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