What I bought – 27 April 2011

by  in Comic News Comment
What I bought – 27 April 2011

Vocabularies are crossing circles and loops. We are defined by the lines we choose to cross or to be defined by. (A. S. Byatt, from Possession)

No time for links today! No, Travis, not even one like this. Wait, what? D’oh! Okay, I’m serious. Not even for Jessica Alba’s thirtieth birthday today. Damn it!

Batman, Incorporated #5 (“Master Spy”) by Grant “You’ll accept that her stinger comes out of her helmet because I say you will, fanboys!” Morrison (writer), Yanick Paquette (penciller), Michel Lacombe (inker), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist), and Pat Brosseau (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

I don’t claim to be a smart person. I’m clever enough, I suppose – I can tie my shoes and navigate a motor vehicle and I won’t go see Fast Five even though I’m dying to know how the Japanese dude (he’s played by an actor of Korean descent, but wasn’t he Japanese in the movie?) who was Lucas Black’s mentor in Tokyo Drift is somehow alive in the fifth one – I mean, that just doesn’t make any sense unless both the fourth one and the fifth one take place, chronologically, before Tokyo Drift, right? What the crap?

Where was I? Oh, yeah – I’m not claiming I’m bright. I’m certainly not as bright as the God of All Comics, who writes comics that only the initiated – like Tim Callahan – can understand. But I get by, and when a Morrison comic comes out, I just hope that G-Mozz doesn’t go too Mensa on me and allows me to read his comics without making my brain hurt. Usually, I can. But what of Batman, Incorporated #5? Why does it vex me so?

Okay, kids, read along (a pretty big SPOILER ahead, by the way). On page 3, Dr. Dedalus is talking to some dude. I’ll just assume the dude showed up in the background of a panel of Batman #657 or something years ago and only David Uzumeri noticed it. Anyway, in Panels 2-4, Dr. Dedalus very clearly poisons the young man, and he falls backward down the steps. In Pane 5, Dr. Dedalus hands the young man, who is very much alive, a piece of paper. Now, later we find out that Dr. Dedalus is, well, not what he appears. So is this Dr. Dedalus imagining what’s going on? That seems so, given the shift in coloring that accompanies panels 3 and 4. But later, we see his fantasy come true, so who actually kills the younger dude? And, when we consider what we learn about the Dr. Dedalus on the island, how did he do any of it? How did the Island Dr. Dedalus know where to walk even if he wasn’t actually speaking? Whenever you read a Morrison comic, you’re aware that the GoAC walks a fine line between “I’ll let the audience discover this on their own” and “There’s nothing here that the audience can use to discover this on their own.” Is this an example of the latter? I call on the nerds among us to clarify!

Anyway, other than that, this is a fine issue. Cool art, good dialogue, interesting use of Batwoman and Azrael (wait – that’s not Azrael? the hell you say!), and a nice twist. As always, one day Morrison won’t write Batman anymore, and I can sit down and read the entire crazy mess and look for all the connections. That day is not today!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Detective Comics #876 (“Hungry City Part One of Three”) by Scott Snyder (writer), Jock (artist), David Baron (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

We finally get around to the “Giant Killer Whale in the Lobby” story that we were promised quite some time ago, and yes, it’s as cool as the recent Francavilla issues have been, which is nice. Jock’s first arc on the book was not bad, but Snyder got a little silly and superheroic at the end, which I hope this arc does not do. I mean, it’s a fine mystery – a young lady is discovered inside the belly of a killer whale which is itself left in the lobby of a Gotham bank that happens to be run by the daughter of Anthony Zucco, the gangster who killed Dick’s parents. We don’t need any silly superheroic stuff to make this a good story, do we?

Jock does some very nice work here, even though I don’t like his version of Dick. I don’t know why – he’s just a normal white dude with black hair, so it shouldn’t be that hard – but something about his Dick is weirdly off, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Both Dick and Gordon in the scene in the lab look like they’re about to cry (this is called “Claire Forlani Syndrome”), but at least Gordon looks like Gordon. Don’t ask me to explain it, because I can’t! But the rest of the book is drawn very well. Jock does his usual excellent job with full-page spreads, and the ending is nice and tense.

One last question: Shouldn’t Gordon just come right out and admit he knows who Batman is? I mean, I get that “Batman, Inc.” has allowed Dick to do detective work right in front of Gordon, but that scene is really pushing it. The fact that DC won’t allow Gordon to admit he knows seems to imply that Gordon is stupid, and Gordon isn’t stupid. I was chuckling throughout that scene because it’s soooooo obvious that Gordon knows, but God forbid DC lets a writer say that out loud. Jeebus.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Morning Glories #9 by Nick Spencer (writer), Joe Eisma (artist), Alex Sollazzo (colorist), and Johnny Lowe (letterer). $2.99, 26 pgs, FC, Image.

SPOILERS, maybe? Man, I try not to spoil things, but then it’s so hard to write anything about these issues! Forgive me!

Ah, twins. The plot device of the intellectually dishonest and imaginatively bankrupt. Seriously. I don’t have a problem with this particular issue as it fits into the overall series, but using twins in fiction pisses me off, because like a lot of things in fiction, they’re never like real twins, they’re simply carbon copies of each other. I can deal with the fact that one twin might forget who he is, especially having spent so much time at a school that seems to exist only to destroy kids psychologically, but that’s only because I’m along for the ride with this comic, so I’ll cut it some slack. But the idea of twins in fiction annoys me, because twins aren’t that uncommon, so why wouldn’t a writer try to portray them realistically? I’ve known three sets of twins fairly well in my life. One pair are two of my best friends in the world, and ever since they were about 8 years old, it’s been pretty easy to tell them apart. I know that the people from Morning Glory Academy have never met the twins so they wouldn’t know, but my point is that even though my two friends lived together and liked a lot of the same things, they also dressed differently and had different hair cuts, so it was easy to tell them apart. Why should one of the twins in this comic, separated from his brother, look so much like him? Why wouldn’t one of them have longer hair or a bit of facial hair? The reason I’m not too angry is because it seems like Spencer might be setting something up where one twin is trying to look like the other, so he’s crafted his look to be as close to his brother as possible. That would be fine. But twins are distinct human beings, and fiction writers often seem to think they’re the same person, split somehow in two. Even the other sets of twins I’ve known, who were much closer to each other, were distinct, and even though I didn’t see them that often, I could still tell them apart. I do hope Spencer is doing something sinister with Jun and Hisao, because then at least I could deal with this a bit better.

So why does Miss Daramount deny one of them entry into the school? I know everyone there has the same birthday, but do the twins have different birthdays because the lateness of one of them meant one was born at a few minutes before midnight and the other was born a few minutes after, meaning they have different birthdays? That seems to be the implication, but is that correct? If so, why does the other twin eventually get in? I’m puzzled. Once again, I need clarification! (Boy, I’m needy today, aren’t I?)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Scalped #48 (“You Gotta Sin to Get Saved Part Four of Five: Are You Honest Enough to Live Outside the Law?”) by Jason Aaron (writer), R. M. Guéra (artist), Giulia Brusco (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Boy, Dashiell is kind of a douchebag, isn’t he? I mean, he’s always been kind of a douchebag, but it’s really evident in this book. Poor Officer Falls Down. What will he do?

As usual, there’s not a lot to write about Scalped because it’s so damned good. What I find fascinating is that through it all, Dash has remained an FBI agent – whenever Aaron gives us a scenario where we think he’ll be tempted to ditch the bureau and go over to the dark side, he reminds us that as much as Dash hates Agent Nitz, he hates Red Crow just as much. It doesn’t really make him a healthy person psychologically, but it’s interesting that he resists the bullshit that Red Crow is selling. It’s also very interesting that Red Crow honestly seems to trust Dash – this issue doesn’t feel like a test, it feels like Red Crow really does want Dash to become a bigger part of the business, so I imagine that Red Crow is in for a nasty surprise (unless he actually does suspect Dash, but I don’t think he does). Aaron continues to do fascinating things with these characters – there are no heroes anywhere to be seen, and whenever someone does something a bit noble, they turn around and remind us what shitheels they can be too. It keeps us on our toes, but it also helps immerse us even more in this world and realize how no one has a good way out. Hence, you know, the spider web motif.

Yeah, Guéra and Brusco kill it on this issue. Dang.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Uncanny X-Men #536 (“Breaking Point Part Two”) by Kieron Gillen (writer), Terry Dodson (penciler), Rachel Dodson (inker), Justin Ponsor (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $3.99, 21 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Kitty looks stupid Kitty looks stupid Kitty looks stupid!!!!!

Okay, I’m done. Let’s move on. Um, SPOILERS, sort of? I’m sorry, people! I’m keeping it as vague as possible!

You know, I’m not a big fan of this kind of “twist.” I mean, I like to see everyone’s better angels dictate policy, but at the same time, couldn’t everyone pretty much see this coming? I mean, really, Magneto? Really? Why are people so stupid? Let’s say the X-Men have been doing this kind of thing for 15 years, Marvel time. We could even push it to 20 if we want to make the original class in their mid-30s by now. Shouldn’t they maybe have learned a little bit about trust and the lack of it for some people? I’m just saying. After a while it goes from Admiration That The Mutants Don’t Treat Others The Way They Themselves Have Been Treated to Holy Shit Are They Fucking Stupid To Allow This To Happen Again?!?!?!?

Anyway, good dialogue kind of overwhelmed by the sheer stupidity of the characters. But I likes me some good dialogue!

Is that Forge, by the way? If I appeal to nerd knowledge three times in one post, do I need to turn in my nerd card because I’m just not cutting it? Noooooooo!!!!! If I can keep it, I swear I’ll watch Doctor Who while I tape a photograph of Karen Gillan to my Wookie statue and pretend she’s sitting right next to me! I SWEAR!!!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Warlord of Mars #6 by Arvid Nelson (writer), Lui Antonio (artist), Adriano Lucas (colorist), and Troy Peteri (letterer). $3.99, 23 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

I’m not quite sure what to say about this issue. I mean, Nelson moves the plot along, and John Carter and Dejah Thoris profess their love for each other, and we learn that not all Green Martians are heartless bastards, but it’s not like it’s the greatest comic in the world. I enjoy it for the sheer plotting of it all – Nelson isn’t doing the best job with characterization (his work with Dejah Thoris is better on her spin-off mini-series, for instance), but it’s just a fun adventure story that zips along nicely. I’m still mystified how Dejah Thoris keeps those golden nipple covers on, but that’s just part of the silliness! As always with this, I can’t really recommend Warlord of Mars, because it’s not all that good, but I do enjoy watching the adventure unfold.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Bulletproof Coffin by David Hine (writer), Shaky Kane (artist), Richard Starkings (letterer), and Jimmy Betancourt (letterer). $17.99, 197 pgs, FC, Image.

I’ve never read a bad word about this. Will I be the first to trash it? I sure hope not.

Invincible volume 14: The Viltrumite War by Robert Kirkman (writer), Ryan Ottley (penciler/inker), Cliff Rathburn (inker), Fco Plascencia (colorist), Sheila Saldana (color assistant), Ivan Plascencia (color assistant), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $19.99, 202 pgs, FC, Image.

The fact that this collection isn’t named after a cheesy 1980s/1990s sitcom kind of depresses me. Kirkman can’t have run out, right? I mean, I get that it’s all important and shit, but still. Anyway, this might be the last Invincible volume I get. It’s not that the book is bad, but it does feel like Kirkman is running low on ideas. We’ll see. I might get the collections just because Ottley is so motherfucking good.

Here is The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “Arc of the Curve” – Fish (2007) “If love is blind then I will never see again”
2. “All That Was Said” – Hamell on Trial (2003) “How can we change what has begun?”
3. “Tomorrow Comes a Day Too Soon” – Flogging Molly (2004) “But wake the gods, it’s Judgement Day”
4. “Electric Love” – Cinderella (1990) “And if the world should stop turning our love would be alive”
5. “Many Too Many” – Genesis (1978) “You set me on a firmly laid and simple course, then removed the road”
6. “Unpindownable” – Chumbawamba (2008) “I grew feet so I could crawl out of the sea”
7. “I Want to Go Home” – James (2008) “Kissing is forbidden, biting leaves marks”
8. “So This Is Love?” – Van Halen (1981) “A man needs love to live, I’m the living proof”
9. “Blister in the Sun” – Violent Femmes (1983) “Big hands, I know you’re the one”
10. “Throw Me Out” – Marillion (2008) “I tore apart my oldest friend”

Anyway, it’s a big weekend across the pond. Just remember, Britishers, this is your new overlord:

You better start being nicer to her! (Many more here.)

As some of you may know, I’m leaving my humble abode to head east to the wilds of Pennsylvania for a bit while my daughter enters a clinic to help her with her stubborn refusal to eat properly. I leave on Saturday morning and may have to stay there for as long as two months, depending on the program and how well she takes to it. The clinic is not too far from my parents’ house, so I decided to stay with them instead of on-site – so for a time, I will be a total stereotypical comics nerd, although I won’t actually be in the basement. I decided to put my weekly comics buying on hold rather than go to the shop near my parents’ house – my retailer here will simply hold onto my books and I’ll have a big ol’ stack when I get back. So my weekly reviews are going on hiatus for a while. I have a bunch of collections and graphic novels to review, plus I just got this month’s Previews, so I’m not going to stop posting (yes, I hear the collective “DAMN IT!” from the peanut gallery), but I’m not doing weekly reviews for a month or two. I’m already bummed that I won’t get to read Mouse Guard or Atomic Robo next week, but I’ll get them when I get back!

Have a nice day, everyone!