Thursday, February 18, 2016

Comic Shop Comics: February 18th

Archie #6 (Archie Comics) Please allow me to once more voice my complaint about the variants adorning the two Archie series to have been "rebooted," Archie and Jughead. The cover I received was a perfectly great one by Derek Charm, showing off the entire cast of this issue (plus Kevin Keller, I think?). BUT! There was also a Marguerite Sauvage cover, which I only know because each issue of the series features a "cover gallery" showing you all the covers you could have gotten but didn't.

Again, the Charm cover is nice (so is is the Veronica Fish one), but man, why would anyone want anything other than a Sauvage cover, when there is the option of a Sauvage cover? I've said this before, but I'll repeat it here too, because I'm nothing if not repetitive. Comics that offer variants on a monthly basis generally convince me to not buy them serially/monthly, but instead wait for the trade collections, as the trades generally collect all of the covers, and then I need not worry about a Marguerite Sauvage-drawn Vernoica cover of Archie-shaped hole in my life, you know?

I'm not sure if Archie will collect all the variants when it finally makes it into trade–that may prove difficult, since the first issue did have several thousand different variants, but every working comics professional, at least by my count–so I'll stick with the monthlies of this and Jughead for now, but hey, something to keep in mind, People Who Publish Archie And Probably Don't Care What I Think Or Say Or Do.

This issue of Archie is, somewhat ironically, rather Archie-less, as he gets knocked out by a softball to the back of the head on page three, and doesn't really come out of it until page 19. Who fills all those other pages? Well, a boy shows interest in Betty, and Betty seems to be interested in him too, based on the little heart interior artist Fish draws when they meet (I don't know if Sayid Ali is a new character, or a reintroduced version of an old character; do any more experienced Archie readers know?), Reggie makes multiple moves on Veronica, and tries to ingratiate himself with Hiram Lodge. And there's even a pretty great Smithers/Reggie scene.

As writer Mark Waid usually manages on whatever he's writing, this issue demonstrates his skill at presenting stories that stand perfectly well on their own, with each issue more-or-less complete unto itself, while simultaneously advancing a more long-term plot.

Whatever one might feel about these characters and this publisher, there's really nothing negative one could say about the craft put into their construction: Archie is just all-around great comics.

Batman & Robin Eternal #20 (DC Comics) It's week's like this one–very light weeks, when there are hardly any comics on my pull-list–that I appreciate weekly series. Even if they're not always that good, and Batman & Robin Eternal usually isn't very good (although still head, shoulders and torso above Futures End), it's always there for you.

This is an extra fight-y issue, concluding the battle St. Hadrian's school for girls in England, secret base of super-spy agency Spyral. Mother released a viral mind control thingamajig that made all the kids want to kill all the adults, and the only way to effectively counter it was to expose oneself to Scarecrow fear gas. That didn't work on Harper Row so well last issue, as while the gas countered the kill virus, it made her want to kill Cassandra Cain, who she just learned was responsible for murdering her mom.

So the fighting. Harper vs. Cassandra and Red Hood (still not sure how Harper lasts ten seconds against Cass; maybe the fear gas is giving her adrenal powers...?), David Cain vs. The Lady Who Is Not The Huntress, Nightwing vs. Poppy, Red Robin and Dr. Netz (and supporting characters from the pages of Grayson) vs. mobs of students.

This issue, scripted by Tim Seeley from the James Tynion and Scott Snyder plot, has at least one interesting idea, in revealing how exactly Bertinelli planned to use Spyral's own orbital mind-control satellite (I'm not sure how that would work, given the fact that there were would still be electronic and written records, though; re-setting Grayson's secret identity, and Superman's while they're at it, are two big question marks that DC's writers and editors will have to find some incredibly creative solutions to in the near-ish future). There are also two steps forward in the plotting, one more interesting than the other. First, The Orphan makes off with Harper and Cassandra after the pair are rendered unconscious. Second, Damian and Goliath arrive, marking the first appearance of "the real Robin" in the pages of this series.

Damian generally makes any story he's in more interesting.

The art in this issue is by Roge Antonio and Geraldo Borges, and it's mostly legible without being very good. There are some basic, storytelling continuity errors, at least in terms of causation, where I would find myself noticing that, say, suddenly there was water all over the place, and then flipping back to see when the sprinkler system turned on and why, and so on.

Lumberjanes #23 (Boom Studios) Say, has Lumberjanes ever had a cover that accurately reflected the story inside it? I'm not sure, because this is another book that seems to have more than one cover every month, but I can't recall the last time that I brought home an issue and found the cover had anything at all to do with the interiors. Even the story arc featuring the mermaids; several of those issues had mer-people on the covers, but they were completely different mer-people than the ones on the insides of the book.


Anyway, this issue continues the Shannon Waters and Kat Leyh-written, Carey Pietsch-drawn story arc about Seafarin' Karen, The Selkies and Whatever Is Up With The Water. It appears that the problems the two-sides of the shape-changing cold war weren't caused by either side, but has something to do with that weird, dinosaur-filled dimension that the Bear Lady seems to be able to come and go from.

There is therefore a bit of movement on the Seriously, What's Up With These Woods? mega-plot, but just a step or two.

As with most of the last 15 or so issues of the series, this one is perfectly well put-together, but not exactly a knock-your-socks-off kinda comic. There's nothing wrong with its craft, and it's fun to read, it's just not, like, a book I feel like jumping up and down after reading, or forcing into the hands of random passersby the way I do some other monthly comics, you know?

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