Thursday, November 02, 2017

Comic Shop Comics: November 1st

Archie #25 (Archie Comics) Oh hey, 25 issues already! Archie sure has burned through artists, but Mark Waid is still there and still writing. I'm sort of surprised they didn't do something over-sized or extra-big for this issue, given it's a "milestone" number, but then, there is a significant development in terms of Archie and Betty's current situation, and a sitcom misunderstanding that should lead to some serious Betty vs. Veronica drama in the near future.

This issue's cover, or at least the particular cover I got, is by interior artist Audrey Mok, and it is one of my favorite covers of any that have appeared on the previous 24 issues.

Batman #34 (DC Comics) Almost as if in apology for a nine-panel lay-out with about a dozen lines of dialogue in it, this issue immediately follows that opening page with four pages of splash panels where one would do. The opening, nine-panel page has Batman and Catwoman exchanging convincing screwball comedy-style banter about whether or not something is a lot, the focus tight on their faces so we can't quite see what they are talking about (as if we would have forgotten where they were or what they were doing last issue), and then it opens up to a splash page featuring the pair back-to-back, surrounded by ninjas (only about five, which does not seem like a lot), which is itself facing another splash page showing the exact same scene from the other side (and only revealing about four more ninjas), and then we get a double-page splash, revealing they are surrounded by close to 20 ninjas. That's four pages, where one or two would have done, and they're not even terribly effective, given how tight the "camera" is on the characters, who appear in medium shot. One imagines a single long shot focusing on the crowd of ninjas would have conveyed their numbers more effectively.

So the issue gets off on a weird, frustrating foot. The newly engaged Batman and Catwoman, the latter wearing his Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice desert nightmare outfit, have violated a Justice League/United Nations treaty that keeps Talia Al Ghul imprisoned in a forbidden desert city, no one going in or out. As to why they were going there, it appeared in the last issue that it had something to do with their marriage, but in reality it has to do with that weird Catwoman-killed-scores-of-people tidbit from King's "I Am Suicide." The man is pretty damn good at the long-term plotting, really; "The War of Jokes and Riddles" seems like a fluke so far in his 35-ish issue run.

This mainly means fighting assassins with swords for 20 pages, without the benefit of weapons of their own. They then face Talia herself. Meanwhile, Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne arrive at the gates of the city, where Superman is waiting to warn them off. And that's the issue. I guess a few more things might have happened if a full one-fifth of it wasn't devoted to what could have been a single-panel reveal.

Joelle Jones' art remains superior. This is, at least in my estimation, the best Batman has looked since the "Rebirth" relaunch. (I know that means she's only competing against like four or five other artists tops, but still). I like that Jordie Bellaire gives Talia such a richly dark coloration to her skin (I don't know who her mom is supposed to be anymore, but her dad was originally born in an ancient, now lost to history country somewhere in the Middle East; nevertheless, they have always been portrayed as just as fair skin as the Bruce Wayne, of Scottish extraction).

I'm not entirely sure why Dick and Damian show up in plain clothes rather than costume--it would be weird if anyone saw Batman's adult, adopted son and his 13-year-old biological sun waiting around on the steps of a ruined city in a Middle Eastern desert, wouldn't it?--but other than the book's annoying pacing and paper-wasting, this was a pretty fine installment.

I'm going to be sorry to see Jones go, as I assume she will have to eventually given the book's twice-monthly pace, but it would be great if she could take David Finch's spot in the artists' rotation...

Bombshells United #5 (DC) This is, finally, the conclusion to the first story arc in writer Margeurite Bennett's retitled and slightly re-formatted DC Comics Bombshells. At five 20-page issues, featuring two 10-page chapters apiece, this arc probably went on an issue or two chapters longer, as Bennett seemed to reach a resolution of sorts before introducing a final force for the good guys to fight--and then immediately dispatch in the same way they flipped Clayface in an earlier issue.

In that respect, then, the story arc felt a little shaggier than necessary, and the division of the issues into smaller units still can make a long storyline seem longer still. I don't know; maybe Bombshells United will read better in trade? Maybe DC Comics Bombshells did too, but I never knew because I was reading it in single issue format...?

Ultimately, this was something of a meditation on a handful of metaphors, something Bennett seems increasingly fond of the longer she writes these characters in this particular setting. The adherence to a founding principal of Wonder Woman--the transforming enemies into allies, rather than just beating them up and/or slaying them constantly, was welcome, as was the pretty tacit acknowledgement, even awareness by the characters themselves that this series is set in an alternate timeline within the DC Multiverse, and it is an alternate history that departs sharply from our own.

As per usual, different artists draw different chapters: Siya Oum draws the first, while Marcelo DiChiara draws the second (a thing that I fully expected to happen does indeed finally happen in that chapter, but not in a way I expected it to or would have imagined, which is, often, the most one can expect from genre narratives).

Shame on artist Emanuela Lupacchino for her cover--featuring Bombshell Wonder Woman executing a full broke-back pose in the act of punching out Clayface--and on editors Kristy Quinn and Jessica Chen for missing it. It's not a hard formula to recognize: Whole Butt + Both Boobs = Do Not Publish.

Nightwing #32 (DC) It's As writer Tim Seeley winds down his run on the "Rebirth" volume of Nightwing, he's continuing to tie everything from the previous arcs together in a way that reveals a well-planned series plot. Much of this issue is devoted to revisiting Raptor's origin story, as he unreliably narrated it to Nightwin in the first story arc, now with Nighwing correcting it in a more objective fashion that makes Raptor seem like the bad guy he's always been.

Two things that really this issue.

First, Seeley writes an self-professed "anarchist" character a lot better than James Tynion has been writing Anarky in the pages of Detective; neither writer has neither character dropping the names of philosophers and political texts into dialogue the way Anarky's co-creator Alan Grant did, but Seeley's Raptor is a lot more convincing than Tynion's Anarky, which seems a bit off (Like, anarchy is Anarky's whole thing, right?).

Second, I don't like Orca, The Whale Woman's dorsal fin being atop her head like that. It It should probably be placed a little more dorsally, right...? Still, I'm glad we've seen so much of Orca, The Whale Woman of late!

1 comment:

Brian said...

“I like that Jordie Bellaire gives Talia such a richly dark coloration to her skin (I don't know who her mom is supposed to be anymore, but her dad was originally born in an ancient, now lost to history country somewhere in the Middle East; nevertheless, they have always been portrayed as just as fair skin as the Bruce Wayne, of Scottish extraction).“

In the Denny O’Neil days, it was heavily suggested a few times that Ra’s met Talia’s mother at Woodstock (and was drawn as such in one of the GNs). Last I saw, during Morrison’s run, the idea of a music festival remained, but it was drawn in the flashbacks to look like Live-Aid. In each case, Talia’s mother was a blonde-haired white American.