Thursday, October 09, 2014

Comic shop comics: October 8

Batgirl #35 (DC Comics) I'll have a lot to say about this book somewhere else on the Internet. In brief? I love the new costume. I love Cameron Stewart's cover. Babs Tarr's art is the best thing to happen to Batgirl since Yvonne Craig. When they first announced this new creative team and direction, I thought it sounded exactly like what 2011's Batgirl #1 should have been. Now, having read the issue, I'm convinced of that fact.

Batman Eternal #27 (DC) Congratulations to Tim Seeley, for scripting a Batman comic where Batman says the line, "Hhn. 'Pole dancing classes.'"

Plot-wise, this issue has a little bit of (almost) everything, with connections being drawn between several different sub-plots. There's an awful lot of Batman and Catwoman, a bit of Killer Croc, a bit of Arkham's haunted, a very little bit of Batgirl (who sure seems like an entirely different character here then in her own book, which I read just before this) and The Spoiler.

Also, The Flamingo appears, as someone trying to collect a bounty on Spoiler, and she somehow manages to evade him long enough for Batman to run him down. Either The Flamingo isn't as bad-ass as originally presented, or Spoiler's kinda too competent.

Javier Garron provides the art. It's okay, but I really didn't like the way he drew Catwoman's whip during her big fight scene at the opening; it doesn't seem to move right at all.

Also, Dr. Leslie Tompkins still has dark hair? Is there no one in the New 52 DCU over the age of 35 now...?

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 (Archie Comics) This is the first issue of the latest Sabrina, The Teenage Witch comic from Archie, launched as a kinda sorta companion series to Afterlife With Archie. Like Afterlife, it's written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and has very rich, very textured, very realistic artwork, with stylized coloring, both provided by Robert Hack.

Hack's work doesn't look much like Francesco Francavilla's at all, having much greater detail and a still higher degree of realism, but, like Francavilla's, it's of very high quality and will look shockingly different to anyone expecting to see Archie Comics-style art in this, an Archie Comic.

As with Afterlife, Aguirre-Sacasa is working in a horror mode for adults here and, somewhat surprisingly, he's set his story in the past, hopping, skipping and jumping from shortly after Sabrina's birth in 1951 to her starting high school in 1964.

I'm not sure how much I like it yet, as there's certainly some adjustment that comes with such a radical new style and take on the character (the last Sabrina comics I read were the recent digest collections of Tania del Rio's manga-style Sabrina comics).

The book is certainly an interesting package, featuring a rather weird Flowers In The Attic-style gatefold cover, a 25-page Sabrina story, what appears to be the first three-pages of a Betty and Veronica horror story (unless that's a sub-plot that will crossover into the Sabrina feature; it's a bit unclear), and a reprint of the very first Sabrina story, written by George Gladir and drawn by Dan Decarlo and Rudy Lapick, which is a five-page long intro to the character (The plan, according to a brief editorial by Aguirre-Sacasa, is to include a classic Sabrina strip in the back of each issues).
Damn, could DeCarlo every draw ladies...

Earth 2: Worlds End #1 (DC) My local comic shop owner stuck one of these in my box this week, because it connects to Futures End, which has been part of my pull-file. As I mentioned last week, I feel a little conflicted about the book, based on the fact that I haven't much enjoyed Earth 2 since its launch (and even less so after the writers changed), and the way it was being sold in one of those advertorial things in the backs of DC Comics made it sound deeply unpleasant. That, and I'm already reading two DC weeklies. Three might be more than I can handle.

Well, having read the first issue, by too many creators to even mention, I'm still conflicted about the book. That is, in large part, because there's relatively little to it. The first—let me count here—20 or so pages of the book's 37 story pages (a great value at $2.99, honestly) simply recap the entirety of everything that's happened in Earth 2 so far, with many dots being retroactively connected to make it seem a bit less random and haphazard then it did the first time through.

Steppenwolf invaded a parallel Earth on behalf of Apokolips, that world's heroes gave their lives repelling the invasion and then a new generation of heroes—a random mixture of New 52 versions of Golden Age heroes and characters like Aquawoman and Lois Lane's-consciousness-in-an-android-Red Tornado's-body—rose up to defend the world. When Apokolips attacked once more, they were joined by still more new heroes, including legacy versions of the dead Batman and Superman.

After the lengthy but efficient recap/retelling, the story starts moving into new territory, with Power Girl and Huntress confronting Superman II, Batman II and Red Loisnado and another threat from Apokolips returning to the twice-invaded, war-ruined Earth.

There are eight different artsits working atop Scott McDaniel's breakdowns, and I could hardly tell who drew what or even when the artists changed, so overall the art is really quite even despite all the chefs in this particular kitchen.

The first page opens with a look at The Multiverse, by the way (Hey look, there's Bizarro World! And is that Solaris, the tyrant sun?), and, connecting the imagery to other goings on in other books, it seems like this is more than likely going to be the story of Earth-2's destruction, leading to Earth-2 refugees fleeing to Earth-New 52, with the forces of Apokolips right behind them...which is what happened in the "past" of The New 52: Futures End, most of which is set five years in the future.

Which is to say this will likely prove to be an "important" book. Given the page count and price-point and the fact that it's not terrible, this firstc issue is therefore probably worth a look from most DC fans.

The New 52: Futures End #23 (DC) There's a scene in this issue where the giant Brainiac monster grips Black Adam in his huge fist and is squeezing him, and Ray "The Atom" Palmer loads his team into their space ship and tells Adam they need a distraction.

Adam responds by shouting "Shazam!" over and over again, each time summoning a bolt of lightning to shock Brainiac's hand.

Question: Shouldn't he revert to human form every time he says "Shazam!"...? And get killed while human? Why doesn't he change at all? How does he survive? The universe needs rules, man! It needs order. And superhero universes? They need it even more than ours!

What else happens in this issue?

Oh, Sergeant Rock appears, and he's now outfitted with a cyborg monocle wired directly into his brain. Tim Drake puts on his new superhero costume, a red baseball cap, to stalk his ex-girlfriend Madison, who randomly decides to have coffee with Ron Raymond, who previously drunkenly hit on her (I guess she's gonna be half of the female Firestorm that appears in that six-page Futures End ad in the back of all this week's DC comics...?) and, in the future's future, Brother Eye introduces Mr. Terrific to a new version of Batman that is so stupid that it actually comes around again to be awesome.

Whatever this issue's weaknesses, they are all forgiven in light of the opening page, in which the characters are all introduced with little boxes next to them, listing their names and something about them.

For example, "BLACK ADAM: Magical Ancient Egyptian War God" or "FRANKENSTEIN: Undead Agent of Vengeance."

Hawkman's box reads simply, perfectly, "HAWKMAN: Winged A-hole."

Yes, that is Hawkman exactly. That should have been the name of his comic book instead of The Savage Hawkman; Hawkman: Winged A-Hole.

SpongeBob Comics #37 (United Plankton Pictures) This may be the weirdest issue of SpongeBob to date, which, I realize, is really saying something. This issue's several stories all riff on the idea of dreams. Some them are genuinely funny—I like, for example, how underwear appear on the always pants-less Squidward when his is suddenly removed—but I think it's Ulises Farinas' art that really makes this such a particularly bizarre issue. Behold:
Then you've got particularly distinctive art from Theo Ellsworth, Bob Flynn and cover artist Andy Rementer, plus contributions from more regular fixtures like Jacob Chabot (drawing the only story in this issue that's in a traditional, straight SpongeBob-style), James Kochalka, Dave DeGrand and Maris Wicks, who draws the cutest damn parasites you ever did see.

Transformers Vs. G.I. Joe #3 (IDW)I don't even have the words for this anymore. "Decepticobra! The Unholy Alliance!" strikes the U.S.S. Flagg, right in the midst of a General Hawk's funeral. "Serpentress" is riding atop Laserbeak. Starscream has a fucking eye-patch with a Cobra symbol on it!

On Cybertron—specifically, within the moving, slithering, living Autobot city of Metroplex—Grimlock, king of the Autobots, tells his captive Joes that "Grimlock no have mercy. Grimlock have Sharkticons!" and the then drops them into a pit full of Sharkticons!
One might think Clutch holding one's jaws open while doing the splits, which makes the sound effect "VAN DAMME!!!" and then throwing a grenade into it is the coolest way to kill a Sharkticon imaginable, but, on the very same page, Jinx kills three of them "PABOOM!!!" by simlutaneously throwing three explosives into three open mouths.

My favorite Joe ever gets killed...maybe? But that blow is softened on the next page, upon which Tom Scioli draws Lady Jaye with her shirt with only like the bottom button actually buttoned!
And then Decepticobranecropolis! Crimson Guards! A map! Megatron's face reflected in Destro's shiny metal face, while Destro file cards rap about him!
And Wheenjack is vivisected by the Joes! And the word "Jawn" is used, but you'll have to read the four pages of story commentary to figure it out! And then Quick Kick tries to block an Energon grenade with his nunchucks! And the Joes and Autobots totally all kill each other! And there's still another page after that!


(Hey, IDW, feel free to use that as a pull-quote on your trade collection of this series. "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" —J. Caleb Mozzocco, Every Day Is Like Wednesday).

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