Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Weekly Haul: August 5th

Agents of Atlas #9 (Marvel Comics) Jeff Parker is joined by another new pencil artist, one Mr. Dan Panosian, whom I believe is the...fourth pencil artist, not counting the dude who did the back-up in #1? You know, it's awfully hard for a comic book to establish a strong individual identity when it looks completely different every month. I do like this Panosian character quite a bit though. A funny face here or there aside, he does pretty great work (the robot battle on page if a perfect piece of comics making, really), and I find him far preferable to Carlo Pagulayan, who does a lot of that photorealistic stuff I don't like. He'll do until Marvel hires Kevin Cannon to draw the series—he is the ideal M-11 artist!

On the story end, this issue features Jimmy's reunion with his ex-girlfriend, who also didn't age much since the 1950s, and also runs a huge criminal empire, has a killer robot and is advised by a talking dragon. What a coincidence!

Their encounter ends with the line, “Now for the first time in centuries the world will know Dragon Clan War.”

So, you know, pretty good comic.

All Winners Squad 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Marvel) I believe this should be all you need to know about this comic book:

Doom Patrol #1 (DC Comics) I went over DC's last few attempts at a Doom Patrol relaunch, and some of the factors associated with this one, over at Blog@ as part of my weekly "Twas the Night Before Wednesday" column yesterday, which brings us to the third Doom Patrol #1 of the decade. How is it? Well, I wouldn't bet too terribly much money on this series hitting #36, but it should definitely last until at least 2010.

Let's take the writing and art separately here, because, somewhat unfortunately, the two aspects exist quite separately from one another, as if writer Keith Giffen and artist Matthew Clark haven't quite become one just yet. At least not on the comics page; I have no idea how close they are in real life.

Giffen jumps right in with an action scene, in which a Doom Patrol consisting of thre three originals of Robotman, Elasti-Woman and Negative Man and two holdovers from the Byrne reboot, Nudge and Grunt (who, as a four-armed gorilla should be held over), plus a character named Dusty I've never heard of, are storming a mad scientist base in a fictional country. Information is communicated throughout via various sorts of cutesy add-ins, like clips of e-mails or green-on-black computer files that reminded me (negatively) of Greg Rucka using similar storytelling strategies during his OMAC Project miniseries.

I was a little surprised to see the set-up of the Doom Patrol changed so much from their last few appearances (in Geoff Johns' first "One Year Later" arc of Teen Titans, and last year's The Brave and The Bold #8), in part because that status quo seemed to be the safest premise with which to launch another attempt, given that the last two deviated pretty far from the original concept and didn't last long.

Here, the Doom Patrol is based on Oolong Island (from 52, which became a sovereign nation in another Giffen miniseries, 52 Aftermath: The Four Horseman, if I remember correctly), and serve as some sort of paramilitary strike-force.

This issue details one such mission and then, back on Oolong Island, Giffen employs the old mission debrief as characterization shortcut, with the surviving members of the mission being interviewed individually by a priest in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt going by the name Rocky. Is this the former Challenger of the Unknown Rocky Davis, who Brad Meltzer randomly made a priest in that re-named DC Universe: Last Will and Testament one-shot that was going to be a Final Crisis tie-in, until someone at DC apparently read it and realized that a good 50% of didn't mesh with the rest of FC? (Or, alternately, it is in continuity, but Darkseid's death caused continuity ripples. Whatever floats your boat) Let’s see, Wikipedia says it is the same guy!

So, overly complicated continuity? Check. Effort made to make it fit into the greater story of the DC Universe, even if it makes a reader feel like they're missing something? Check. What about terrible act of violence and/or gore, preferably with a young, female victim? I believe having Nudge completely liquified (save for her severed arms, of course) by helicopter machinegun fire checks that particular box.

Nice cliffhanger, though.

As for the art, Clark (inked by Livesay) is competent, which (somewhat sadly) makes him a decent enough artist for the current DC line. I didn't care for a majority of the character designs, as the characters all look like something between a paramilitary group (Negative Man's outfit, for example, could have been bought at an Outdoor Army Navy store) and Ultimate Doom Patrol. It's appropriate, given the fact that they are a paramilitary group, but that doesn't mean I have to think it looks cool. Dr. Caulder probably looks the worst (that vest!), but then he's most likely to change clothes between issues.

This might just be one more example of Caleb being old-fashioned, but I prefer the characters to resemble their classic looks. Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Aquaman...all DC's classic characters have been able to make their original costumes work (tweaks here and there over the years), I don't see why the Doom Patrol can't stick to their original costumes.

Like I said, Clark is competent, and his art therefore isn't bad per se, but it's not up my particular aesthetic alley, and not the sort of art that would keep me buying a book I wasn't particularly interested in reading.

All in all, I don't think I'd bother with Doom Patrol #2...were it not for the back-up.

That's The Metal Men, also by Giffen, with his JLI/Hero Squared writing partner J.M. DeMatteis and original JLI artist Kevin Maguire. This is a team that has become one on the comics page, by virtue of working together off and on for decades now. It doesn't come as any surprise at all that it's great. It's definitely "Bwa-ha-ha" in tone, with each of the Metal Men's personality flaws exploded a bit, and Doc Magnus getting sitcom-style grief from his neighbors. Maguire's Metal Men are a lot more human-looking than the post-52 ones we've seen by Duncan Rouleau, but Maguire's gift for facial expression and "acting" through his drawings makes him an absolutely perfect artist for the series.

This is much shorter than the lead feature but, ironically, feels and reads longer, and to include a lot more story. The two features are night and day. It's almost hard to believe that they share a writer.

I think I'll give the series at least another issue or two, or until DC announces what they'll be doing when it comes to collecting back-ups in trades (I assume they'll get their own, as I think there's a bigger trade market for Blue Beetle and Manhunter then there ever was a comic book market for them).

Oh wait, there's more. There's a four-page preview of the upcoming Magog series, which will also be written by Giffen, and feature art from the Howard Porter/John Dell team. There's this full-page image that fuctions as a "cover" for the preview:
It's pretty stupid-looking, but I actually like the guy in the upper left corner who seems to have jumped off a trampoline to go flying gun-first at Cable. There's a page with a bunch of vultures, a rotting ox corpse, Magog standing above pools of blood, and writer Keith Giffen's name spelled wrong in the credits box. Then there's a page with a panel showing a cart full of bloody, severed arms. Then there's a page with armless black slaves carrying heavy objects for Western-looking dudes while flies harass them. Then on the last page Cable threatens to kill a dude if he doesn't give him the information he wants. This looks...well, it doesn't look long for this earth, that's for sure.

Kimi Ni Todoke Vol. 1 (Viz) I was going to get Warren Ellis’ Frankenstein’s Vagina today, but my shop was all sold out, so I got this manga volume from last week instead. It’s product description on really sold it to me:

Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine...for a horror movie. With her jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor, she's often mistaken for Sadako, the haunting character from Ringu. Unbeknownst to but a few, behind her scary fa├žade is a very misunderstood teenager. Shy and pure of heart, she just wants to make friends. But when Kazehaya, the most popular boy in class, befriends her, she's sure to make more than just that--she's about to make some enemies too!

I haven’t read it yet (review later in the week, maybe here, maybe at Blog@, I guess you’ll just have to check both sites constantly!), but having flipped through it, I see that she does not wear her hair flipped over her head to cover her face, nor is she barefoot and soaking wet and wearing a nightgown. I think the product description on may have exaggerated slightly!

It does come with a sheet of stickers inside though, that’s cool:

Secret Six #12 (DC) Let's see, blood and boobs on the cover, Wonder Woman trying to beat information out someone even though she carries a magical lie detector on her hip, and Wonder Woman threatening to rip off Deadshot's dick. I think. Let me look up "castrati" just to be sure. (Hmm, actually the definition seems to refer to boys who are castrated before puberty, but it’s close enough to count). So yeah, Wonder Woman totally threatened to rip off his dick. Sheesh, Wonder Woman sure seems out of character here, I guess maybe Gail Simone doesn't have a very good handle on Wonder Wo--oh wait, she writes Wonder Woman doesn't she?


Nicola Scott kicks her usual amount of ass. Having just read Simone's Wonder Woman for the first time in a long while last week, I was somewhat taken aback at how good Scott's Wondy was here; she seems to depict her even better than the regular Wonder Woman artist (I especially liked her two finger take down of Deadshot, and the panel drawn from Jeanette's point of view).

Wednesday Comics #5 (DC) I hope these don’t end up being worth money some day because, as you can see, I’ve been using mine as bath towels, and that particular issue is no longer mint condition.

Batman: They jumped right over last week’s cliffhanger. Did Batman bang that broad or not? James Robinson would have told us!

Kamandi: The average weight of a gorilla is somewhere between 220 and 450 pounds. Those poor, poor horses!

Superman: Remember when Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely famously told Superman’s origin in just four panels and eight words in All-Star Superman #1? Well John Arcudi and Lee Bermejo take a break from Superman being sad to re-tell his origin in seven gigantic panels, using the better part of a 14-by-20-inch page to do it.

Also, did you know that Superman was an ugly fucking baby? It’s true:

Gross! He looks like he's half pig. He’s lucky the Kents didn’t smash him with a shovel, thinking him some sort of hideous alien homunculus.

Deadman: That demon thing with his giant blue eyeballs on his shoulders? That thing is awesome.

Green Lantern: In this week’s installment, Hal Jordan gets super-pissed at his friend Dill when the latter insists on staying in on a Friday night and reading books instead of wanting to go out with him drinking and banging broads.

Metamorpho: Hell yes.

Teen Titans: Wednesday Comics editor Mark Chiarello, who is officially My Favorite Person this summer, revealed in an interview with CBR that he has two, one-page strips ready to go in the advent of someone or two someones missing a deadline (I imagine they are in a glass case in his office, marked “In Case of Deadline Miss-age,” with a little metal mallet dangling from a chain in front of it).

What are these strips? The Creeper and Plastic Man. And who are they buy?

Chiarello says he’d rather not share. “I don’t want fans to go, ‘Ah, man. You got so-and-so to do this and we’re never going to see it,’” he said. That means “so-and-so” must be someone with fans, and is also probably someone pretty damn awesome, considering the roster on this thing.

Well, I’m off to pack my blowgun, darts, sleeping poison, and straightjacket for a trip to New York City to see if I can find Mr. Berganza, and perhaps get him to miss a deadline on he and Sean Galloway’s strip, so I can get a Plas or Creeper one instead.

As far as the actual comic, it still sucks. I like the two-panel sequence where the narrator is talking about how metahumans suck because “they have abilities beyond humans. But it’s not something the earned or merit,” which features Robin, the only member of the Teen Titans who isn’t metahuman, doesn’t have abilities beyond humans, and did earn his position of Batman’s apprentice through merit.

Here’s the first one, in which Robin cops a feel off of big brother Nightwing’s ex-girlfriend:

Strange Adventures: Goddammit, I love that dog design! And the plant life, and he fruit!

Supergirl: Supergirl saves the plane with no help from her Superpets, whom she decides need to see a doctor. A super-vet? Have you ever tried putting a cat in a carrier to go to the vet? Can you imagine putting a cat with Superman’s powers into a carrier?

I love the dude in the background of panel 10; Amanda Conner draws great background guys.

Metal Men: Whatever title Dan DiDio is going to be taking over later this year, I hope Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan are drawing it. There’s no reason this art team shouldn’t have all the work they could possibly stand at DC.

Wonder Woman: Priscilla Rich! Better, easier-to-read coloring! Diana sleeping in the nude!

Sgt. Rock: The Nazis take a break from torturing Rock to go get some equipment with which to better torture him. You know, if virtually anyone other than Joe Kubert were drawing this…

Flash Comics: This is the Flash-iest comic I’ve read in a long, long, long, long, long time.

The Demon/Catwoman: Eh, there’s some more rhyming. That’s something.

Hawkman: Hawkman manages to land the plane on an island. And, if I remember the early interviews about the project correctly, the island in question is the most awesome island upon which a plane can crash in the DC Universe.

Back-page ad: Hey, I guess Robot Chicken’s month is up. This week there’s an ad for the BBC’s Robin Hood. Has anyone watched that? Is it good? I’ve seen some previews on Primeval DVDs, and it looks potentially good. Advise me someone, advise me.


Anonymous said...

You say that the Doom Patrol issue had overly-complicated continuity? I think this is another example of you looking to complain about something just to complain because all of the stuff you mentioned continuity-wise are totally unnecessary for someone to understand the book. You don't need to know who the priest is or the Doom Patrol's history - all of that stuff isn't even mentioned within the issue.

Anyways, I agree Meltzer's Last Will and Testament was a total fuck-up on DC's part but it definitely is in continuity because it's ramifications are shown in Outsiders.

I also agree about the costume changes - they were totally unnecessary. And I don't even mind costume changes - heck I like Aquaman's 90s hook and beard look a lot better then his classic look. Matthew Clark isn't great with costume decision - remember the Katana redesign he did? Ugly.

Mr. Iciper said...

Well, it's a good thing your willpower held up after all. Justice League: Cry for Justice #2 was a joke. 'Nuff said about that.

And, yes, "Last Will and Testament" is actually in continuity...Peter Tomasi tried (and failed) to address the whole Geo-Force/Deathstroke rivalry in one of his issues on the "The Outsiders" title.

Earlofthercs said...

BBCs Robin Hood isn't awful, and can be fun to watch the buckle swashing, but tis not great either and I wouldn’t bother chasing it unless you're a Robin Hood fan in general.

Good points: Sheriff's general over the top camp evilness. Lots of good escape sequences. Little' John is badass. Alan a’ dale and Will Scarlet both feature prominently with Alan as a jack-ass, and Will as robin's most competent man, just like in the original stories for once. And no Friar Tuck nonsense.

Bad points: sheriffs/ guy of Gisborne men are so ineffectual that they then have to go out of their way to repeatedly explain why Robin doesn’t just kill the sheriff, which gets pretty old pretty quickly. In a misguided attempt at feminism they try to make Marian into Robin's near-equal combat-wise which removes allot of potential danger/tension. Then they bring in an `awesome’ super-intelligent Muslim girl to be the teams medical officer to try and distance Robin's dedication to King Richard from King Richard's dedication to killing Muslims I guess (I don’t deny that the Islamic civilisation was far more advanced than England/Europe medically/mathematically/scientifically speaking at the time until the repeated crusades kinda messed there shit up, but it feels forced to try and amend terrible acts of history by introducing a token new character into an existing story-engine) . And, Muche (robin's mans servant) approaches final season of Monkey Pigsy/Sandy/Horse level of cowardly whininess.

And of course there's the Smallville problem (never any real sense of risk for the main character, since we know Clark grows up to be Superman) which also effects the show Merlin to an even greater extent.

I think that’s the pertinent information.

Mariano Abrach said...

I was kind of hoping you picked up Justice League... I'm sure that one would be a very funny review haha

LurkerWithout said...

When you're working on getting Plas in to replace the crappy Titans story, see if you can do something about changing Arcudi's god-awful Superman story for the Creeper...

I've read enough Hellboy related books to know Arcudi can be better than this...

Jeremy said...

I wasn't expecting much from Doom Patrol after reading the preview, and unfortunately it looks like I was right. Can anyone actually explain what's going on in that opening scene? How did the purple monster things go from being below floor level to popping out of the ceiling?

And Magog looks just...geez, that looks awful.

Medraut said...


I have been enjoying BBC's Robin Hood (having seen the first two series), although I agree with most of what you said about it.

However, I don't feel it has the Smallville problem. Some of the major characters, including unexpected ones, are killed during the by the end of Series Two.

Series Three (which hasn't been shown in the US yet) supposedly has even more of a rotating cast and has at least one death that would seem to be a show ender.

Jeff said...

"Gross! He looks like he's half pig. He’s lucky the Kents didn’t smash him with a shovel, thinking him some sort of hideous alien homunculus."


Thank you, you made my day!

Chris said...

I watched a couple shows before I gave it up. The show wasn't bad, I just didn't feel like the Robin Hood story is one that's well served through episodic television.

Jason Quinones said...

agents of atlas-now with more side boob! haha!

digging the funny pics of you using and abusing the wednesday comics! (i still have to sound out that word EVERY SINGLE TIME i type it...WED - NES - DAY)

probably a fright to every fanboy who are more prone to vaccuum seal their comics to protect them from the elements.

JohnF said...

Honestly? Cry For Justice isn't that bad. Yes, there's a couple of clunky exchanges, but it's solid otherwise. The art is extraordinary, and the story needs a little more time to develop. The clunky dialogue is definitely bad, but not unforgivably so. Even at his best, James Robinson can have the occasional snatch of dialogue that rings false. I'm about as big a Starman fan as you'll find, but there were a few conversations that Jack had about viewmasters that came across as contrived and precious.

Bookwormwithanattitude said...

On Secret Six: As for Gail's Secret Six, Wondy does think her friend just died. So either

A.) She is REALLY REALLY upset (and I know when I'm upset, I always threaten to castrate people. No, really.)

B.) Something is really wrong with her, since Artemis is clearly not dead at all Might be mind control or something similar, otherwise why would Wonder Woman think an alive person is dead?

Caleb said...

I think this is another example of you looking to complain about something just to complain...

I'm always looking to complain about something. It's my raison d' etre.

Anyways, I agree Meltzer's Last Will and Testament was a total fuck-up on DC's part but it definitely is in continuity because it's ramifications are shown in Outsiders.

Yeah, I think it's just in a really gray area. I understood from the solicits that Outsiders was following up on the Geo-Force/Deathstroke thing (Did it also explain why Geo-Force thought Deathstroke was responsible for Terra's death? Since it was since revealed that Team Titan Terra was his sister, and Black Adam killed her in World War III?), which makes it about 50% in continuity. Almost all of the little vignettes with the characters and their loved ones couldn't have happened though (Superman was in the future, Batman was thought dead by Tim and Dick, Green Lantern was in space jail, etc) and none of the characters new about the impendng Anti-Life Equation attack.

My theory is that DC realized this too, as they changed the title from Final Crisis: Last Will... to DC Universe: Last Will...

I never checked to see if it was collected with the other Final Crisis stuff though...

Justice League: Cry for Justice #2 was a joke. 'Nuff said about that.

I'm really, really, really looking forward to the trade from the library some day.


Damn, that was a thorough reply. Thanks for all the info. I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for a DVD at the libraries.

...see if you can do something about changing Arcudi's god-awful Superman story for the Creeper...

I have a theory that if Jeffrey Brown were drawing the Superman story scripted just as it is, it would actually be hilarious.

agents of atlas-now with more side boob!

That would make a pretty good blurb on the cover, actually.

Might be mind control or something similar, otherwise why would Wonder Woman think an alive person is dead?

I wondered about that too, as the Six seemed awfully quick (or quicker than usual, I guess) to turn on each other over the job. Like, Catman trying to gut Scandal, for example. Maybe the thing in the basement is making everyone on the island more evil or something? I guess we'll find out.

LurkerWithout said...

I have a theory that if Jeffrey Brown were drawing the Superman story scripted just as it is, it would actually be hilarious.

Oh man, that would be perfect...

Urban Barbarian said...

Thanks for kind words! I'm glad you dug the art! I might be doing an Agents of Atlas One Shot and hopefully I'll nail the characters! Thanks!

Earlofthercs said...

No worries, Caleb, sorry if it was a little too thorough! (Spoilers). I was a big Robin Hood fan going into the show, so, I possibly cared a little too much. You understand.

A hero, you're right, although it kinda feels like they were killing characters because they became aware of the issue rather than for inbuilt storytelling reasons.

Or maybe actors just quit.

Im assuming a reason for wondy's behavior too.

And chalk me up as another negative viewholder on CfJ.