Thursday, May 19, 2016
Comic Shop Comics: May 18th
Jughead and his allies (well, friends) have their final showdown against suspicious new principal Stanger, and all is re-set back to the status quo by the final page, but not before many jokes are told.
Perhaps the best of them is that Dilton demonstrates his "greatest ability," and no, it isn't anything the least bit science-y, as you might expect (Zdarsky offers an editorial box underscoring his own gag, noting that "This is now canon x infinity." The power of a writer!).
Henderson's rendering of a slow clap in six-panels is pretty awesome too, though.
If you haven't been reading Jughead monthly–and you really should have been–don't miss the trade collection of these six issues. It's every bit as fun and funny as, say, Howard The Duck (which Zdarsky writes) or The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (which Henderson draws).
Etta, who has assigner herself the task of coming up with a costume for her friend Diana, who has just done her first superheroics in Man's World and has been dubbed Wonder Woman, eventually figures it out in a moment of inspiration. Writer/artist Renae De Liz has obviously figured it out as well. If she has had any difficulty figuring out Wonder Woman, it certainly isn't evident in the comic that has resulted.
Diana and Etta are now on the frontlines in France, and when Diana gets a lead on The Duke of Deception, she puts her mother's gifts on, tapping in to their attendant powers to confront The Duke and his undead Nazi soldiers.
The previous issue included mentions of characters from the wider DC Universe–Perry White, John and Martha Kent, Plastic Man–and here we get another, stronger one that puts Wonder Woman squarely in a shared universe of superheroes, even if it's simply a single line of dialogue that does so.
When Diana flies back from her battle to find a concerned Etta waiting for her, Etta convinces her that she's "a superhero...like those people in that Justice Society of America I keep hearing about!"
While I won't go so far as to say De Liz's Wonder Woman origin story has been perfect, it's probably just about tied with Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette's Earth One original graphic novel for the best post-Marston Wonder Woman comic. I have no idea if De Liz wants to do more Wonder Woman comics for DC in the future, and if she does, if she will want to just continue telling tales of Golden Age Wonder Woman like this, but if she decided to follow up The Legend of Wonder Woman with Wonder Woman and The Justice Society of America, well, you wouldn't hear me complaining about it.
Of course, it likely benefits from the fact that Giffen has reinvented the baby stars of the old gag comics as private investigators whose clientele consists entirely of members of the Justice League, so after working for Batman and Superman in the first two installments, it is now Wonder Woman's turn. She wants them to investigate the monster she almost married in the Silver Age, who has suddenly resurfaced and is set to potentially embarrass her. It's probably the weakest of the three Sugar & Spike strips to date, as it revolves almost entirely around the fact that Sugar is a terrible person, and her punching bag Spike gets more abuse than usual (including apparently getting kicked in the genitals by his evil partner), and spends a little too much of the story ogling Wonder Woman.
Finally, there's Len Wein, Yildiray Cinar and Trevor Scott's Metal Men feature, which includes mechanical guest-stars Robotman and Red Tornado. Once the Metal Men defeat Tornado, we get to see his new, New 52 costume, and it might actually be an improvement over his past costumes. He's more of a black tornado than a red one, with a black cape and a black pair of pants, with a red head, torso and boots, and some yellow highlights. I kinda dig it, and it's not often that one finds a New 52 redesign that actually improves upon a pre-Flashpoint design.
For a good example, check out the cover, where the great Kevin Nowlan draws all these classic DC characters in their current incarnations, and the result is mainly to make one wish he was drawing them in their "real" forms.
Breaking out the calculator, the Lumberjanes monthly costs an already-too-damn-much 18 cents-per-page, while the Special costs a wallet-wrecking 20 cents-per-page. I sure hope this book is bought primarily by grown-ups to read themselves or to give to little kids, and not by little kids spending their own allowance or anything...
There are two stories in this issue, one a somewhat over-sized, 32-page story written by Jen Wang, who provides one of the book's two covers (the one above) and drawn by Christine Norrie. It's a well-written and rather beautifully-drawn, but ultimately trivial story that could have fairly easily slotted into the regular monthly, rather than earning a special. It's published size is, obviously, too big for one issue and too short for two issues, but it could rather easily have been trimmed or lengthened accordingly. It opens with a full-page splash, and the individual pages are lighter on panels than the average Lumberjanes story; many pages have just 2-4 panels on them, and the story sequence at the heart of Wang's tale could easily be made longer, as it seems unfortunately truncated (it also rather awkwardly and obviously avoids using the words "murder" or "cannibalism," despite being about a cannibalistic murderer).
It's well written and wonderfully drawn, but there's nothing to it really, not even a really good gag.
The eight-page back-up, written by Kelly Thompson and drawn by Savanna Ganucheau has that, at least. Ripley totally saves Jen's life by answering the riddle of a sphinx and earning a wish, in a fun, fleet story that Ripley herself tells to the rest of the Roanoke cabin. Despite the lack of space, Thompson seems to capture the zaniness of the characters and concepts better than Wang.
The letters in this back-up, by a "Mad Rupert," are pretty cool. I generally dislike when comics characters get distinct styles of dialogue balloons, but I've never seen dialogue balloons like those given to the sphinx in this story.
All in all, it's a pretty okay extra serving of Lumberjanes, and it is interesting to see what different creators choose to do with the characters and concepts, but man, it's hard to say it's worth that crazy-high price tag...