MORE REVIEWS (I JUST CAN'T HELP MYSELF)
Welcome to yet another mid-week edition of Pipeline (dubbed "PCR Extra"), in which I vent my excess energy by writing even more reviews than I need to.
"The Usual Gang of Idiots" draw up YOUNG JUSTICE #27: Peter David, Todd Nauck, and Lary Stucker. (Colors are from the brush of Jason Wright and the letters drip off the pen of Ken Lopez. I know Lopez is a regular on the book, but I can't vouch for Wright at this point.)
For those of us who are baseball fans, first and foremost, this is a silly, but fun, issue. For those who think that this book has gone too far and is over-indulgent in its silliness, this book is just going to be more of the same for you.
The only annoying part of the issue for me is Peter David's choice to cut off the story just before the grand conclusion. I don't think this is a two-part story. I think he's going to do the same thing he's done in a couple of other recent issues, where the end of one issue's story takes up half the next issue, and the next major story picks up from there. There's something unnatural feeling about this. I like to either have a story that's complete in one issue, or that is a legitimate two-parter. I get the feeling here that the conclusion to this storyline will just be spilling over into the first few pages of the next issue, just to get out of the way for the next story. Heck, the coming attractions at the end have the YJ team headed to Apokolips next. That doesn't sound like a ninth inning to me, so it seems that we're going to see the pattern repeat. (But it will, at least, keep Li'l Lobo on the team for another issue, so who's to complain?)
I'm sure this will work well in a trade paperback collection, but reading it from month to month is a bit distracting. It's also questionable if we'll see a collection of these issues. The first YJ trade just came out now, a couple of years after the issues first came out. While this series seems ripe for collection, we'll just have to let time be the deciding factor. The NIGHTWING trades are coming out slowly but surely, and a couple of years after the fact.
I have no idea how much DAREDEVIL/SPIDER-MAN #1 cost me. The price isn't on the cover. Weird. The only other thing you should be wary about is the continuity. This story clearly takes place after the events of the current, and yet-to-be-concluded, storyline in the DAREDEVIL title. There's a major spoiler regarding Kingpin in this issue that might ruin the conclusion of David Mack's storyline. You've been warned.
Either way, this is a good first issue, and should help to establish Phil Winslade as a big time artist in comics today. He's always sorta hung out on the fringes. His work with Steve Gerber on NEVADA a couple of years ago was really well done, but I don't think that one sold blockbusters. (It was a fun, weird, surreal story, though.) This might be his highest profile book so far, and he does a great job with it. He doesn't hold back on drawing cityscapes in the backgrounds of Spider-Man or Daredevil swinging or running throughout the city. I'm a little wary of Tom Palmer's inks here. He does a great job with his heavy inking hand over John Byrne's work on X-MEN: THE HIDDEN YEARS. Here, however, I wonder if it's not a bit much. A thinner line might help out even more. Steve Leialoha's line from NEVADA might be preferable. I'll see. It might grow on me.
Paul Jenkins writes a good script, although one a little heavy-handed in the captioning sometimes. It's all written with a purpose, and helps to show how smart both Spider and DD can be, but sometimes it just needlessly slows down the comic. On the other hand, if that just gives you time to soak in more of the art, maybe it's worth it. Don't worry about it, though: It's still nowhere near the level of Chris Claremont's prose.
DORK COVENANT: THE COLLECTED DORK TOWER, Volume 1 collects the first six issues of John Kovalic's superb humor title. You can look at my review of the series here, but it bears repeating. DORK TOWER is a knock out funny comic revolving around gaming, comics, conventions, science fiction, dating, and more. While primarily a title for gamers - many of the strips are often reprints from gaming magazines - you don't need to know the first thing about gaming to "get it" here. It's well worth reading, and now you can start from the beginning, not that there's much in the way of continuity to worry about.
THE PUNISHER/PAINKILLER JANE is a Marvel Knights one-shot special from the pen of Garth Ennis, drawn by Joe Jusko, Dave Ross, and Joe Rubenstein.
I'll go with the art first, since that's what appealed to me enough to give this book a chance. Rubenstein is credited with the "wash." If you remember the early issues of BLACK PANTHER, you'll remember the pseudo-painted look that title had. It came from the then-new process where the artist would gray-wash the issues, and then the colorists would paint over that. The "wash" process is basically painting the pages in black and white, to simplify things just a bit. This allows for the colorists to step in afterwards, drop in some color, and make the book look like it's painted. It adds a wonderful dimensionality to the pages, and I think just looks nice.
Garth Ennis' story is simple and straightforward, but works in a weird and slightly frightening way. Painkiller Jane is basically a female Punisher with the added power of invincibility. When she runs across Punisher one night, she falls in love immediately and begins stalking him. The rest of the tale is an eerie story of love gone mad. You just have to laugh at how absurd (in a good way) the story is. You should have an evil chuckle under your breath as you're reading this, or you're just not going to get it.
NIGHTWING #51 is an off-format book. This isn't another issue of NIGHTWING fighting the bad guys, not that I have anything against that.
Kieron Dwyer handles art duties here, despite what the cover says. (The "regular" and soon to be departing team of Greg Land and Drew Geraci are credited on the cover.) This one's called "Tad's Story" and is a look at the life and times of Tad Ryerstad, the boy who would become NiteWing. It's a haunting, chilling tale, and something that's completely different from anything I think I've ever read that Chuck Dixon has written.
This one is just a bit difficult to read, to tell you the truth. I don't mean that in a bad way. I just mean that Tad's story stays far away from every cliché and obvious assumption that you could make. He comes from a broken home but there's not that single event that shaped him like most comic book characters lay claim to. He's got a skewed sense of right and wrong, to be sure, but he doesn't cotton well to white supremacist groups. That would be the quickest and simplest way for Dixon to pander with this story. He takes things to a slightly more complicated level, where he doesn't join up with them because of politics and their lack of action.
The book is written in a first person narrative, from Tad's point of view. It's from his journal, and is filled with signs of a poor education. The sentences are not poetic. (In that way, they're remarkably like this column! ;-) They are halting, stilted, written without much use for contractions and plenty of misspellings.
Give this issue a shot, even if you've never read the book before. You can get into it without the load of continuity looming over you. It's not that dense.
I was skeptical, to say the least, when JMS said last month that the artistic problems plaguing RISING STARS would be over with the eleventh issue. Changing an inker and colorist seemed to be just putting a new coat of paint on a poorly designed wall. That eleventh issue came out last week and I'll be darned if it isn't the easiest issue of the series to read in some time. The colors are bright enough where you can tell the difference between the characters and their shadows. The panels aren't all muddy messes. It's tough to tell how much difference the change in inkers made. There's definitely a difference in certain parts of the books, but since the coloring always obscured the art, I don't know if I can make a valid comparison. I can say, however, that I still have some basic issues with Christian Zanier's art, as a whole.
It's just a shame they didn't fix this 6 or 8 issues ago. RISING STARS may have had the potential to be the next WATCHMEN, but its confusing and distracting art ruined any chances it had.
The word is "electoral", not "electorial." Trust me. It's in the Constitution.
Also, for the one millionth time, it's "I couldn't care less" and not "I could care less."
Others may be all for this "living language" excuse crap, but I prefer that our language evolve due to reasons other than intellectual laziness and that words not mysteriously change meaning because people refuse to bother using them properly.
Speaking of that - the anniversary of your birth is a "birthday" and not a "bufday" and a "vote" is a thing you can see light through in a county in Florida and not up to the discretion of "mischievous" counters there.
Please come back tomorrow, though, for a look at a bunch of recent Batman books. There's a lot of storytelling with a young Robin in it lately…