Thursday, October 27, 2016

Comic shop comics: October 26th

Jughead #10 (Archie Comics) Jughead Jones and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch go on a date and it does not go well. This is mainly because Jughead isn't really interested in dating, and he had developed a crush on Sabrina when she was dressed like a giant hamburger (in the previous issue). But he also doesn't want to be a jerk and hurt her feelings, so he tries to awkwardly pretend not to be awkward about being on a date that he does not want to be on. Sabrina, as is her wont, attempts to salvage things via magic. And Archie attempts to help, making things even worse.

It ends, as only the most disastrous of dates could, with Sabrina flipping the table, and then seeking revenge against Jughead by a variety of curses that continually backfire.

It is the best.

Writer Ryan North gets Archie's cluelessness just so perfectly. Mark Waid is killing it on Archie, particularly with the teen drama stuff, but if Waid ever needs a break and/or they want to do a more comedy-focused Archie story, North is definitely the man for it. His alt-text-esque notes are particularly appreciated, as they allow for the underlining of Archie's cluelessness (The bit with the group message? Fantastic!).

At this point, Derek Charm has definitely cemented his status as my favorite of the rebooted Riverdale artists. His Salem is perhaps the best Salem ever, and if Sabrina should get her own title again, similar to these titles rather than the old-timey horror comic she's currently starring in whenever Archie actually publishes an issue of the apparently schedule-less book, Charm should definitely get to draw it. Or at least guest-draw all of the Salems. He looks both darling and evil at the exact same time.

Lumberjanes # (Boom Studios) Monster birds with a petrifying gaze are fought, and families are discussed, with Gorgon Ligo mentioning her several monstrous cousins–Pegasus, Cerberus, Ladon–and Diane getting a pretty good crude gag about the birth of Athena. Otherwise, a rather slow-moving issue, one that may prove to be the one in this arc that demonstrates the title's shagginess, in which stories are never quite as tight as they should be.


You know, it is not until I was writing that first sentence that I realized Lumberjanes would be pretty well-suited for adaptation into a tabletop role-playing game. Do people still play those in our post-computer age? The woods are full of monsters to encounter, you could design your own scout, your campaign party would essentially be your cabin-mates, experience points would earn you badges...Yeah, someone should get on that.

Prince of Cats (Image Comics) I haven't read this yet, but I did buy it at the shop today, so in the column it goes.

Saga #39 (Image Comics) I'm with The March's male head: I want to see how the monitor-faced Robots drink too, especially since the last few pages feature a dying robot who was asking for a bottle, and the last image to flash before his eyes/on his monitor was that of mother's milk.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #19 (DC Comics) So regularly do a I praise the work of Scooby Doo Team-Up artist Dario Brizuela, who always manages to marry the diverse aesthetic styles of first-generation Scooby-Doo cartoons with those of various DC super-characters of different eras and from different artists, that I suppose I should point out a particularly egregious art mistake in the opening gag of this latest issue.

As you can see above, he gave Scooby two pairs of forepaws, so that both Shaggy and Scooby have Scoob's forepaws. This makes Shaggy into a scary Scooby centaur rather than just having the bottom half of Scooby, and suggest some kind of scary, bent, six-limbed Scooby centaur as well, if the Scooby halves drawn in this panel were reunited.

This issue is a Halloween issue, and congratulations guys, it took you just four panels to completely horrify me.

While it's Zatanna who gets the cover, this is one of those issue's like the Deadman/Spectre/Phantom Stranger issue or the super-dogs issue where writer Sholly Fisch and Brizuela apparently just pick a category–magic-using DC comics characters–and stick as many of them in here as possible.

Go ahead; try to think of an obscure magic-user. Chances are they are in here. Ibis the Invincible? Please. Page six. One of "The Turban Triplets", as Zatanna calls he, Sargon the Sorcerer and El Carim (Sargon's comedy sidekick Max is there). The Warlock of Ys? Warlock The Wizard? Yes. They're all here. Hell, even chain-smoking, Vertigo emigree John Constantine gets alluded to. "You were right about them being snappy dressers," Fred cheerfully says after they've interviewed all of the magician heroes that could be fit in a montage, "Except that British guy in the rumpbled trenchcoat."

By the time that Fisch and Brizuela finish their run on this series, I fully expect that they will have included at least a cameo, namecheck or allusion to every single character in DC's massive character catalog.

As for the story this issue, Zatanna invites the gang to a show at the Mystery Mansion to help her find her missing (and still alive here, obviously) father Zatara, who went missing around the same time as several magical items of extreme potency. They interview every magic-using hero and every magic-using villain they can think of before ultimately solving the mystery. Before it's all over, Scobby trees Klarion The Witch Boy's familiar Teekl and dons the helm of Fate, Cerberus is fed Scooby Snacks (hey, this is the second appearance of Cerberus in a comic book in my short stack this week!) and the words "hypnotic monocle" are used as a punchline.

So, you know, an all-around great comic.

Sixpack and Dogwelder: Hard Travelin' Heroz #3 (DC) Well, seeing this issue show up this week was quite a bit sadder than usual, given the fact that the cover image is the work of the artist Steve Dillon, who collaborated with writer Garth Ennis on both Preacher and The Punisher and is reportedly responsible for the creation of Section Eight's most bizarre loser superhero, Dogwelder, the focal point of this miniseries. As you've likely already heard, Dillon passed away this week.

The title of this miniseries seems less and less apropos as it proceeds, as Sixpack and Dogwelder are joined by their surviving teammates–El Bueno, Guts and Baytor–as well as Ennis and artist Russ Braun's peculiar version of a rebooted, superhero universe John Connstantine (Who rides atop a flying surfboard, wears a space helmet and carries a ray gun labeled "The Hellblazer." So maybe "Section Eight: Hard Travelin' Heroz" or "Section Eight: The Dogwelder Saga" or "Section Eight: The Magnificent Six or Seven" would have been a better title?

At any rate, in this issue, Dogwelder II–recently given the power of speech in maybe the most disturbing way possible–tries to check in on his family, and it does not go well. From there, Constantine takes the team to the pyramids of Egypt where they quite naturally have to fight mummies. This leads to Sixpack smashing a bottle, brandishing the jagged edge and shouting, "Come on, mummy*******!", which, providing the asterisks are there in place of the letters F,U,C,K,E,R and S, is something I have a hard time believing no one ever thought of before.

This is the second Constantine appearance of the week among the books I purchased and, like the first, it's a particularly oddball one.

Wonder Woman #9 (DC) Not content to re-introduce his Sasha Bordeaux, no matter how confusing the character and her continuity might be a good three reboots or so since she was first introduced as Bruce Wayne's bodyguard, Greg Rucka also reintroduces his Veronica Cale character from the pages of his first run on Wonder Woman.

There's nothing wrong with that per se, I suppose, but it seems a little...uninspired, I guess. I want to see new characters, or fresh takes on old, classic ones, I suppose, rather than Rucka recycling his personal favorite creations. (Cale wasn't that great a character the first time around, either; she's basically a blond Lex Luthor who opposes Wonder Woman instead of Superman, but maybe we'll get something different from her this go-round).

After last month's fill-in starring a pre-Cheetah Barbara Minerva, this issue is part of "The Lies" story arc, which means it is set in the present and drawn by Liam Sharp. Wonder Woman, Steve and Barbara are all back in the U.S. after their African adventure, and enjoying some downtime of sorts as sub-plots move forward. Steve and Diana rekindle their romance–she's not pregnant though, despite the posing on the cover that evokes that of pregnancy announcement photo.

Speaking of that cover, it's Sharp, although there's such a Gary Frank-ness about it, I had to double check. The wall made out of a robot lady doesn't really get explained in the interior of the comic at all, but the symbol on the monitor is relevant. Finally, I know it's different, but Steve's tattoo is close enough to the symbol of the Rebel Alliance in the Star Wars-iverse that I keep thinking that's what it is when I glance at it, and have to keep reminding myself that Steve Trevor is not, in fact, a huge Star Wars nerd, and that is the symbol of his team or whatever.

Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special #1 (DC) This 74-page, $7.99 special contains a strange mix of short stories, pin-ups, page-filling content and what amounts to an ad...I got the sense that it was, in part, assembled out of leftover stories that never got used in Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman before that anthology series was sadly, tragically canceled. I enjoyed much of it nevertheless, and would definitely recommend it to any fans of the characters, or perhaps as a sort of sampler platter for someone interested in the character, but not sure where to go or start with her.

First, the filler. There's a six-page "interview" with Wonder Woman conducted by Lois Lane, and printed in enormous font, with a couple of spot illustrations by Liam Sharp. The first "photo" is a giant one not of Wonder Woman, but of Lois, as, like, no magazine in the world ever does. This is all "Transcribed" by Greg Rucka. It is immediately followed by a two-page, five-panel "story" written and drawn by Sharp that is, well, there's not much to it.

There's a six-page preview from Jill Thompson's Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, which shows off Thompson's art nicely, but is otherwise little more than an ad fro a graphic novel.

And then there's a four-page sequence devoted to Brian Bolland's work as a cover artist on a previous volume of the title. There's a paragraph of introduction followed by four small reproductions of four favorite covers, and then three pages showing "rarely seen, unused pencil studies" for covers that were never published.

Next, the pin-ups, some of which, it occurs to me now, could have been images originally solicited as covers for Sensation. These are by Jenny Frison, Yanick Paquette, Claire Roe, Phil Jimenez, Marco Takara and Annie Wu.

The stories are kind of all over the place. The shortest is something between a double-page spread pin-up and a comic; that's regular DC Comics Bombshells writer Marguerite Bennett and early Bombshells artist Marguerite Sauvage, which tells Wonder Woman's origin story beneath an image of the Bombshell Wonder Woman (this origin is probably technically hers, but since Bombshell Wonder Woman is basically just Golden Age Wonder Woman in a different outfit, it works as a Wonder Woman origin in general).

As for the others, there's an eight-pager drawn and co-written by Rafael Albuquerque telling a WWII-era story equating the character to Joan of Arc; there's a great four-pager by Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl in which Wonder Woman takes on a poacher; an eight-pager written by Mairghread Scott and darwn by Riley Rossmo in which a very big, muscular version of the character battles Giganta; a neat three-page story by Fabio Moon in which a few Wonder Woman fans watch their hero take on a three-headed dragon; an eight-page story written and drawn by The Legend of Wonder Woman's Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon set in that particular continuity (introducing a cool new version of Red Panzer); a kinda dumb six-page story in which Rebirth Wonder Woman and a peculiar version of Etta (Rebirth era, but with different hair) visit an Ikea dialogue which is more about Ikea jokes than anything else; and, finally, a neat, kinda sorta Wonder Woman/Superman team-up in which Wonder Woman helps fight a new version of Titano and meets new, little girl superhero The Sensational Star-Blossom. That one is also eight pages long, and it is written by Gail Simone and drawn by Colleen Doran.

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