DEADBOY DETECTIVES #1
Direct from the pages of SANDMAN come the Deadboy Detectives in their own four-issue mini-series. This one is written by Ed Brubaker, and drawn by Bryan Talbot with Steve Leialoha.
These characters are completely new to me. SANDMAN never did anything for me, so I didn't read their original appearances. Brubaker does a good job in explaining the concept of the characters without getting too mechanical about it. The "origin" sequence, as a matter of fact, doesn't happen until a few pages into the issue. It's not a story point until it needs to be for the purposes of the story. This keeps everything moving along at a decent clip.
To sum it up pretty quickly, Charles Rowland and Edwin Paine are two children ghosts who spend their time amongst the living. Most adults don't see them since they ignore children and don't believe in ghosts. But other children and those more familiar with the world of magic can see and interact with them.
As a way of keeping themselves busy, they've become detectives by studying old movies and novels as reference material. They're a slight bit competitive, and when a comely woman arrives at their treehouse address looking for help in a murder case, the race is on to impress her.
Brubaker does an excellent job with the accents of the British children. He doesn't use any British slang. It's their language choices that make them sound like authentic British school-kids. Or, at least, it makes them sound like the kind of British children you might see on some BBC reruns on PBS. It's not forced at all and it's not American English with a couple of different word choices.
Bryan Talbot's art is easy to follow and well designed. I don't have too many problems there, aside from the attempt to make the children seem more ghostly by blanking out their eyes. It seems to come and go throughout the issue, diminishing the effect somewhat.
It may not be everyone's cup of tea (if you'll pardon the unfortunate British reference), but I'm glad I gave this one a shot. It's a nice read, evenly paced and intelligently written.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK #29
I've read one issue of this series since Peter David left. I have little interest in the Hulk as anyone else's character. The one exception I made was for the issue Erik Larsen wrote. If Larsen were to ever get the series, it would be the only chance of me coming back as a regular reader.
That said, and because this was a slow week, I read through this week's issue just to see what the book is like these days. It seems Bruce Banner is morphing into various different versions of the Hulk these days. He is being helped in his effort to control it by Doctor Leonard Samson (as always) and his lovely lady associate, Dr. Angela Lipscombe, who Banner also has had eyes for.
Fabian Nicieza is the guest writer for this issue. It's a head case issue, one that is entirely spent analyzing Bruce Banner's mind. And then Samson's. And Lipscombe's. Nicieza's sense of humor is written all over this issue, and he gets some really funny asides thrown in. They don't undercut the point of the issue, at all. There's some complicated relationships going on here that he has to sort through, all with the help of the protagonist, Animus. It's a quick read, thanks to an economy of words and – thank goodness – a lack of long psychological explanations.
Kyle Hotz pencils and Eric Powell inks. It's done in a style that reminds me either of Sam Kieth or Kelley Jones. Very moody, very dark. In any case, it's drawn well and isn't hard to look at.
In the end, it's an interesting take on the character with a strong set of creators in control. Since they're only listed as fill-ins, though, who knows when that might change again. It's a solid issue, but your life will still be complete if you never read it.
This week's issue is an Our Worlds At War tie-in, but takes place after the events in this week's YOUNG JUSTICE: OWAW one-shot and next week's ACTION COMICS #780. Whoops. In all honesty, the tie-in to the Superman book is minimal, so you'll be OK without it. The one panel of conversation about the YJ book, though, might be considered firm spoiler territory. You've been warned.
Joe Kelly once again teams with Eddy Berganza to write this story. The first half of the issue moves nicely and is really funny. Kelly and Berganza continue to pack in the jokes, with references to AKIRA, Colorforms, and "Saving Private Ryan" getting the most laughter. (The AKIRA one is really good.) The first half is also the slower half, as Superboy deals with the clone of Guardian. The personal interaction is interesting.
It's the second half of the book when the plot starts to take control of the book that things get a little muddy. That's the point at which all the one-liners and pop culture references start to annoy, rather than entertain. And the one page devoted to the song on the figurative River Styx was the height of this poor judgment.
Carlo Barberi is the fill-in artist, fresh from IMPULSE. He does a good job on the issue. If you like his Ramos-like style, you'll like what he gives you here. It doesn't show any sign of being a rush job to beat the deadline.
ARGH! MY EYES! MAKE IT STOP!
This cover is the single best "Just Say No" advertisement I could come up with.
THE PAST MONTH AT BONGO COMICS
SIMPSONS COMICS PRESENTS BART SIMPSON #4 leads off with a Lisa Simpson story, follows by a Bart Simpson story (that could easily be considered a Maggie story), and ends with a Milhouse tale. So where does Bart fit into all of this? Well, he is in all the stories, at least.
The first story, "Who Wants To Win A Pocketful of Quarters" puts Lisa Simpson on Springfield's most popular educational game show as a means of proving to Bart how smart she is. Story and layouts are by CBR's own Scott Shaw!, with finishing touches put on by Mike Worley. It's a fairly straightforward story with some nice bits of comic format humor. My favorite is Ralph Wiggum asking the water cooler, "So whose voices do you hear in your head?"
"Quantum Cold" is a short breeze of a story that only lasts six pages and feels truncated at that. Maggie gets in trouble and Bart needs to fix things. Professor Frink's appearance is the highlight of the piece. CBR's own Gail Simone writes this one, with art by Dan DeCarlo and Jason Ho.
Finally, Scott Shaw! returns with a semi-autobiographical tale of Milhouse and his plans to defeat the bully, Nelson, with the wonders of judo. I think this one is my favorite of the stories in this issue, in part because it's something many could relate to, but also because of the nice twist at the end. Plus, at eight pages, it doesn't feel forced or longer than necessary. There's a good amount of gags and the cast of characters remains limited throughout.
SIMPSONS COMICS #58 features a 21-page story written by James Bates in which Homer decides to run for Mayor of Springfield against Mayor Quimby. Why? Well, Quimby's support is down and polls say he is in danger of losing, despite running unopposed. In a last ditch effort to save his campaign, he institutes Blue Laws. Homer, upset that he can't drink beer on Sundays, runs against him. From there, all sorts of dirty politics ensues, including Moe the Bartender, Fat Tony the Mobster, and Reverend Lovejoy. It doesn't get too deep, but it's a quirky little farce.
It does read like an episode of the series, including a somewhat roundabout way of getting to the main plot from the start. Lots of supporting characters are seen. Artist Oscar Gonzalez Loyo doesn't take the cheap way out, either. There are plenty of backgrounds, lots of good staging, and the characters stay on model throughout.
This one is the pick of the Simpsons comics for the month.
Special thanks, as always, to Master Librarian John over at Dewey's Comic City in Madison, NJ.
More than 225 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.
This year, you can still catch me at the Chicago Comicon (i.e. WizardWorld) and the San Diego Comicon (i.e. the Comic Con International: San Diego). I'm also tentatively scheduled for a day at the Small Press Expo in Maryland this September.