Thursday, August 13, 2015

Comic Shop Comics: August 12

All-Star Section Eight #3 (DC Comics) I was thinking about that old "you can't go home again" saying while reading this particular issue of Garth Ennis and John McCrea's kinda sorta Hitman revival, and I found myself trying to recall the last time I enjoyed a comic by a reunited creative team working on the title or character (or, here, milieu) that I know them best for as much as this. I think the DC Retroactive: Batman–The'90s special by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle was the last time, and as strong as that particular comic was, as much as it pushed by nostalgia button, it wasn't as strong as this book, which has ambitions beyond simple nostalgia, even if those ambitions aren't exactly...what's a good word here?...pure.

There are two major story threads in this particular issue, which is set entirely in Noonan's Sleazy Bar. The first involves J'onn J'onnz, The Martian Manhunter willingly, even happily joining Section Eight, thus completing leader Sixpack's designated roster requirements of eight heroes (Well, eight "heroes"). While the parodies of Batman and Green Lantern in the previous issues required them to be written out of character for the sake of the gags, Ennis and McCrea play J'onn almost completely straight. The fact that he's willing to join Section 8, and the fact that Sixpack is still unsure, thinking maybe he should hold out for a "real hero," is parody enough (Although there is a roundabout flatulence gag involving J'onn). Poor, poor J'onn: Screwed over by the New 52-boot and booted out of the Justice League, is this how far he's fallen?

The other thread involves Bueno Excellente, who fights evil with "the power of perversion," and the unseen "suitor" for Guts' affections heard but not seen last issue. Here we see him and, as expected, he ain't pretty. In fact, that whole thread is pretty disgusting, although what exactly transpires between Bueno Excellente and his rival is kept off-panel ("Bueno and this tapeworm guy are having a perve-off," The Grapplah says of their duel). To convey the full horror of it, McCrea only draws the look on J'onn's face when he sees it, and the reaction shot is framed by the most horrible string of sound effects I've ever seen in a comic book (There are 14 in all; two of the least disgusting in this context are probably "Envelop," "Cup" and "Inappropriately Touch").

What J'onn sees is enough to send him hurtling through the roof of Noonan's and up into outer space like a terrified comet.

I hate J'onn's New 52 redesign, particularly since DC seemed to have finally gotten to a pretty good place with him, design-wise, during Brightest Day, and while McCrea draws the new, dumb costume fairly well, he does weird things with J'onn's particularly weird-shaped head (I've never understood DC's need to keep tinkering with the shape of J'onn's head over the last decade or so).

Ennis writes two bravura scenes for McCrea, though. In the first the Justice League and many of their allies discuss the return of Section 8 on their satellite base. There's 18 heroes total, including Justice League Dark and a Doom Patrol (Do they exist in this form?), and there are some pretty fun bits in it. I particularly liked Hal referring to his one-time successor as "Karl Rayner," and Ennis's dialogue for Constantine:
In the other, Sixpack imagines Section Eight taking on (and taking down) about a dozen of the DC Universe's worst villains. If you've ever wanted to see Bizarro and Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man with dead dogs welded to their faces, well, DC has a comic for you...!

DC Comics: Bombshells #1 (DC) If Section Eight didn't come out this week, this would have been my favorite comic of the week. Instead, it's my second favorite, although this is one I would unreservedly recommend to just about anyone. Even if you're not terribly interested in DC's superheroines, Margeurite Sauvage's luminous art is worth the price of admission alone. I gushed reviewed this issue for Robot 6 this week, if you'd like to hear me talk about it in greater detail (and see some images from it).

Gotham Academy #9 (DC) Detective Club vs. a werewolf in gym shorts. This issue was much more coherent than the last few, which is a pretty good sign, and hopefully the beginning of a coherency trend. There was still a bit left to be desired in terms of storytelling, particularly in the timing department, and Hugo Strange seemed incredibly out of place here, but that may just be because I was so surprised. Repurposing Professor Milo and Bookworm as Gotham Academy faculty is one thing, but Strange is a pretty big fish in Batman's rogues gallery, and I guess I'm surprised that he showed up here, as I would have assumed he would have been one of the first villains the regular Batman writers would have wanted to use after the New 52-boot.

Providence #3 (Avatar Press) The Shadow Over Innsmouth issue, I guess. There was a lot in this one that felt like allusions and references that I should be catching, but wasn't. Is someone annotating this series online? I should note that even though I felt like I was missing stuff, it still works as is.

SpongeBob Comics #47 (United Plankton Pictures) The cover story, by Corey Barba, makes interesting use of texture, using digital art know-how to make the fishsticks, and the unfrozen cave-fish in particular, have that formerly frozen food breading texture. This issue seemed particularly stuffed, but that may have been because of the sheer number of shorter stories. There are eight stories in all, with Barba's cover story and Scott Roberts' story occupying 10 pages a piece and book-ending six super-short gag comics, ranging from one to two pages apiece.


SallyP said...

There were indeed some VERY funny bits in Section Eight, but I also agree that it is hard to catch that same old lightning in the bottle, when creators reunite. As a whole it was a bit of a mess...but the smaller parts...were hilarious.

I like Gotham Academy a lot, but I do have trouble sometimes keeping it straight, because I'm still not completely sure who all these people even are.

Saint Godard said...

They're pretty exhaustive annotations. Issue three should be up next week, I expect.