I Bought a bunch of comics yesterday! (Now with the Order #3!)

Well, by my standards. Now I want to talk about them. That's either an invitation or a warning, depending on your perspective. I'm hoping it's the former, but I respect your opinion if it's the latter. Batman #668- If I did a "Best of the Week", this would be it for me. I don't know whether it's just JH Williams's art being so damn great or if Grant Morrison's scripts have been this sharp the whole time and Andy Kubert (or is it Adam? I always confuse them; why couldn't Joe have named his kids more distinctively different names, like Tadhg or Pol? ), but this three issue storyline has been head and shoulders above anything Morrison's done since taking over the ongoing title (that I know of; I skipped the prose issue).  

Williams' virtuoso work on the art and a lot of great little touches from Morrison (I love that Batman was respectful to the Club of Heroes members, despite the fact that they're meant to be low rent knock offs of him) make the fact that we're dipping in to crossover territory next month even more painful. I'm not a mystery buff (the Gregs fill that position around here), and while I found the reveals a little anti-climatic, I still thought it worked. I even liked the irony of one of the villains' confessions as to why he was going on a killing spree, given Batman's secret identity. Hopefully future, Williams-less, issues will be able to live up to this standard. It'll be hard to put up with another group of uneven to mediocre issues after this three issue slice of modern superhero nirvana. 

Yeah, so I kind of like that book. I'm also really grooving on the psychic pain I probably caused T. (or Johnny Triangles, or whatever he's calling himself these days) by enthusiastically praising a Morrison comic. Mmm, delicious psychic pain. That schadenfreud aside, the rest of the books I picked up were nothing to sneeze at either. 

Immortal Iron Fist 8,9, and Annual- I'd been meaning to give this series a try, given how much fun people like Chris Simms make it out sound, and the fact that Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction are my two favorite non-bald Scotsman writers in comics right now. It lived up to my expectations. 

While the regular issues, the first two of a new story arc, were good, the Annual was especially enjoyable. It used the two main conceits that set the series apart from the pack (well, that and it's a kung fu fight comic instead of straight spandex), different artists for flashback scenes and the idea that Iron Fist is a legacy hero, to great effect. The story positions Danny Rand's predecessor as a pulp adventure hero, complete with a thinly veiled Mandrake the Magician in his posse. The most impressive part of the story, to me, is that it reads so well in tandem with the current story arc, while also working as a nice piece of work for anyone who just wants some pulp infused kung fu thrills with pretty art for their $4. Annuals died out for awhile because they had become pointless filler, so it's nice to see one of the new wave of them do such a great job of tying in to the ongoing while still serving as a nice, extended sampler of the book for people jumping on board. 

Getting back to the art; boy, is this book pretty. While I have no problem with Howard Chaykin's current art style on the present day pages, other than the fact that it isn't American Flagg, Dan Brerton and Jelena Djurdjevic's work on the flashback scenes (which makes up the bulk of the issue) completely outshined him here. It's really not fair; while Chaykin gets a respectable amount of kicking to draw, it just can't compare to Brerton's beautiful, painted art, that's perfect for the pulp tinged scenes, and Djurdjevic's slick, richly colored work later in the story. 

The latest issue of the ongoing feature a fight between Iron First and a guy named Fat Cobra, who's basically E. Honda and Ryu from Street Fighter's bastard son, and that's pretty much all you need to know. If you're an aficionado of kicks to the face, adventure comics, or Fraction and/or Brubaker, you would do well to pick this up. If you're not, I really don't want to know you. 

Criminal #9- It's still moving along nicely. I'm starting to think that this story arc would read better in trade form (or at least in one big chunk) that is in serial format, but the combination of Brubaker and Phillips's magical creative synergy and the cool backmatter (despite the fact that I'm about as far from a noir or movie buff as you can get from someone who digs this book, so some of the stuff goes right over my head) make it hard to pass up. It's always nice to see a new issue in the shop, especially with those striking covers, even if I have the sneaking suspicion that I'm the only person buying it at my shop (there's only one issue on the rack, usually). 

Casanova #9- Just got this in. It's still the most concentrated blast of manic pop culture awesomeness in the world, and the reason why I'm glad that Warren Ellis created the slimline format. As good as Fell is (hopefully we'll see more of it soon), this book is perfect for it. 

Much like Brubaker's Captain America, it's still rolling right along, despite the total absence of the lead character, what with the interesting supporting cast carrying the book and his absence reverberating through everything without being crushing. Although I'm behind on my Cap reading, I have to believe this book is objectively better, because its supporting cast includes an android best described as MODAM done right, grownup Johnny Quest channeling Andy Warhol, and, as Fraction himself puts it in the backmatter, a woman dressed like "Lara Croft: Camp Counselor." I'll take this motley crew over gritty Bucky and Sharon Carter any day. Even if I'm gonna break down and buy that damn omnibus eventually. Also, while I still prefer Gabriel Ba's work on the first volume and in its seemingly spiritual cousin, the Umbrella Academy, Fabio Moon's blue tinged art work is starting to grow on me. The book also features some of the most fun, irreverent story telling asides this side of Scott Pilgrim, but without the old person scaring use of video game references, so that's a plus too. If you haven't tried this yet, for god's sake, please do; it's only $2! 

The Order #3- Even more Fraction! This time it's his enjoyable teambook collaboration with Barry Kitson. I'm still digging this book, and it's interesting mixture of X-Statix, West Coast Avengers, and Strikeforce Morituri. This issue isn't as strong as the first two, but it does feature rampaging zombie hobos (or zobos, as all the cool kids call them), and that's all you need. Well, at least all I need. It's a fun team book, but I can only reccomend this issue as part of an enjoyable whole, instead of being an excellent standalone story in itself. It does set up a moral dilemma for the character who gets the spotlight this issue, Calamity, which winds up being a more exciting cliffhanger than the team charging off to stomp the Zobos, so that's certainly something refreshing. Pick up the first three issues or wait for the trade if you want to jump on to this series; I'd say it's worth it.

The Spirit #10- This issue doesn't quite live up to the last one, one of the high water marks of Darwyn Cooke's soon to wrap run on the book, but it was still a cute little story. Despite the Spirit being a total anachronism in a story that heavily features barely veiled YouTube and Fox News parodies, this is the kind of story Will Eisner did back in the day, complete with opportunistic femme fatale Ginger Coffee. She's no P'Gell, but she's still a decent addition to the ranks of wicked women in the Spirit's back catalogue, especially because she's so oblivious to how awful she is. I feel like Cooke gets his point about how awful the mainstream media is these days without spending too much time on his soap box, but your mileage may vary. I'm kind of hoping that Bill O'Reilly's portrayal here pisses him off enough to take shots at the book, because hey, free publicity! Although even he would have to recognize the irony that would be involved there; you'd think. You might be wrong, but you'd think. Anyway, a multiple personality disorder afflicted Rosie O'Donnell/Rush Limbaugh murders his Cooke-ized avatar at the end, and for my money, that's quality entertainment. Also, Cooke finds a way to kill of the Ann Coulter and still be more flattering to her than he was in a one page strip in his issue of Solo. 

Oh shit, that was a spoiler a couple sentences back, wasn't it? Forget I said anything! At least I didn't ruin the surprise appearance of a Voltron composed of Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, and Ted Koppel that has a huge fight with a 50 foot tall Rupert Murdoch for the heart and soul of America.* That would have been plain cruel. 

*That didn't happen.****But it should have. Cooke, or anyone reading this who can draw; make it happen. 


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