Joe Rice Media Review 3/22/07

Now this was a damned varied week.  From content to style to genre to format, my comic purchases were all over the place.  And, thankfully, no weird middle-aged nerd fantasies about men in tights valiantly trying to resist the advances of young girls in tights.  I thought Peter David was the writer of that stuff . . .

Army @ Love . . .huh.  What the hell to say about you.  There's a wealth of interesting ideas going on here, all with lots of satirical potential.  From the libertinian Motivation and Morale tactics to keep soldiers happy to media saturation and God knows what else, I see loads of potential here.  But I don't know what to think yet, I really don't.  Maybe this is the sort of thing that requires more than an issue to really get.  I'll give it another at this point, but so far it might be, as Spurgeon put it, "like one of those things where you're more interested in how the hell such a concept made it into print than you are in the final result."  There's stuff of interest here, just have to see if it pans out.

Mineshaft #19 was a mixed bag for me, which, I suppose, is pretty stupidly obvious to say about an anthology of this sort.  It's a little heavy on 60s/70s style "underground comix) for my tastes, but that is strictly personal.  I've always seen the importance and the artistry behind them, I just don't care for them.  Of course, the Crumb sketches and short strips are worth the price alone for me.  Aaron Lange's piece about his grandfather (a former Nazi soldier who immigrated to America) is definitely interesting and Mary Fleener's strips are cute and fun.  The text pieces I couldn't get through, though, and the "Dirty Diana" comic did nothing for me.  Still, looking at Crumb's sketchbook, even a few pages, is worth seven bucks.  Goddam, that guy can draw.

For a more immediately engaging and fun satire, The Punisher Presents:  Barracuda is a lot of fun.  Were I a middle aged woman I might say it is a "hoot."  Parlov's art is just so nice on the eyes, with a seamless flow between more exaggerated cartooning and more traditional illustration.  The jokes, for me at least, hit at least 9 out of 10, and I'm genuinely interested in what our protagonist is up to.  And, come on, Reagan jokes!  We're all so busy crapping on Bush Jr. that we're forgetting what a shit his ideological father was.  Before this becomes a political post, let me just say this reminds me a bit of Fury's Punisher, in that it's a smart satire disguised in the clothes of a bawdy parody.  Hopefully since there are no mainstream Marvel characters present fans will both check this out and not get their panties in a wad.

The Spirit is good.  The art is frickin' beautiful, the pacing is tightly controlled and always perfect.  The dialogue is clever and charming without being too writerly.  The characters are fun action characters.  Burgas apparently feels there's nothing at stake.  What, like any superhero comic he reads has ANYthing at stake?  None of PAD's pet characters are going to die (get molested, maybe, yeah) because who would make random Star Trek references then?  Just seems like a pretty silly thing to complain about when it's part and parcel of the very genre:  no, they're not in any real danger.  The art is in the telling, not in the story told.  Anyway, effortlessly excellent pulp comics from a real master.

And Chaykin and Mignola's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser is great.  I'm not done with it, but they are great adaptations of great stories.  It's interesting to see such early Mignola work again.  It's easy to forget how much more abstract he's become, and how much stronger he is for it.  But the art is still very nice here.  To tell the truth, I think I'll go read more of it now.

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