Hey. Weird to be back. I bought some comic books. Most of them were good. In the next paragraphs I will attempt to describe why they were or were not good. I will also attempt to do so better than the other lame-asses at this blog. I mean, seriously, Cronin. What were you thinking? I know the loss of me, Alex, Teel, and the Grammar Police was tough on you. But, really? These guys? It’s like Mayberry RFD, or, more topically, the Detroit League. Here’s hoping I can class this place up a bit again.
Ultimate Fantastic Four is, for once, good. Instead of issues dedicated to extrapolations of one panel of Lee and Kirby’s work, we get actual OK LET’S GO FULL FORCE storytelling. The Ferry art helps. I think I missed an issue somehow . . .in fact I’m rather certain of it. But this is good writing so it doesn’t matter (other than a pang of regret for missing what was most likely another good issue). Carey comes out and admits that Thanos is nothing but a crappy Darkseid rip, but, in doing so, frees him to be an INTERESTING Darkseid rip. It’s really tough doing Kirby work. Kirby was a creator, not a revamper. So revisiting his work usually seems false. That isn’t what he’d do, after all. You’ve got books out there like Godland that just make you wish that the real Kirby was doing something more interesting. But this story and Morrison’s Seven Soldiers finally seem to be taking the torch from the King and doing more than a measly tribute. Good stuff.
A Paul Pope cover is enough to get me to buy most things, including, Joe Rice Is Stupid And Ugly (forthcoming from Peter David and Ethan Van Scriver). But on a great comics like The Escapists? With a Wolfmother allusion? DING DING DING! Vaughn’s story continues to really interestingly straddle the divide between indie comics, superhero comics, and even romance comics, taking the best from each and somehow making the bizarre hybrid work. And work really well. Comics-within-comics usually suck even more than most comics do. But the damnedest thing I realized reading this: I not only care about the actual characters of this book, but I care about the fictional characters they’re writing and drawing. Outstanding. That last page? Ugh! It hurts! Good stuff.
Sometimes I think to myself, Hey, extremely handsome, charming guy, remember how great Jack Staff was? And then I’ll reply, Yeah, it was pretty awesome–just like your ass. Then I’ll go on, Maybe the new color version isn’t as good . . .sometimes I put off reading it. And just as I’m about to agree with myself the comic comes out and is all, “Shut up, you nitwit! I frakkin ROCK!” And it’s right. Where else do you see Alan Moore eating a demon and getting high off it? Where else do Nazi superheroes get bittersweet respect? Where else is Paul damn Grist working these days? Remember how great it was in the black and white days? It’s just as good–maybe better.
For some reason, I got White Tiger. I guess I wondered what this supposed great children’s author would do. Well, she’s not Lemony Snicket, so I’m not exactly familiar with her work. But if it’s anything like this, I won’t be reading it to any of my students. Jesus Christ, what a lame comic. OK, you’ve got this Latina former FBI agent who inherits her uncles magic kung fu medallions. She’s fighting a Cobra dude, some Yakuza and Russian mafia. And she’s got a pretty good costume. This should be easy. It isn’t. We get forced jokes, a photo-realistic tribute to one of Manhattan’s crappier diners, uninteresting flashbacks, and I’m really left wondering who this book is written for. It isn’t for Pierce’s audience or for “fresh female readers” as its too drenched in nerd puzzle pieces. It isn’t for superhero nerds (other than completists) because it’s doing nothing that a hundred other crappy superhero books haven’t done. It’s a nice David Mack cover, yeah . . .but everything else from the hum-drum beginning to the weird appearance of Spider-man just reeks with “second-rate hackery.” That three dollars could have fed some homeless dude, or at least helped him buy some hooch.
I also got the first Popeye trade from Fantagraphics. God, it’s beautiful. When corporate comics are dominated by utter hack artists (check out crossovers and 52s and miniseries and just about anything not drawn by Frank Quitely for examples), it’s almost painful to look at how EASY it can be to be great. Segar frakking KILLED. Can’t wait to get into this.
I’d like to conclude this re-introductory edition of the Joe Rice Media Review with a letter.
Dear Absolute New Frontier,
Baby, have I told you how beautiful you are? I mean, I know I have. I know a lot of people have. But I want to say it again. You’re beautiful. God, you really are. When I hold you in my arms, I know parts of me that are asleep without you. You make me forget the troubles of my day . . .or, even better, enjoy them. You remind me what life is really about. I love you baby. I love you so much. Tonight, I’m going to cover the bed with rose petals–I know you like rose petals. I’m going to rub some oil on your beautiful casing. I’ll rub it in deep, baby. Maybe I’ll nibble at your corners. I know you like that. I do, too. We’ll lay there together, exploring each other as only two in love can. I’ll kiss you. I’ll make gentle, caring love to you. You’ll tweak my anus a bit. Just a bit. It will be beautiful, baby. But not as beautiful as you are. I love you. Come to me.