BIG APPLE CON AND THE REVIEWS IT INSPIRED
Last week's column turned out to be really popular. So popular, in fact, that I'll probably do it again sometime soon. I may even make it a regular feature - once a month or something. We'll see...
Saturday was the Big Apple Con. I was in attendance. Got to meet faithful Pipeline reader Ben Herman there at last. It was like a mini-Savage Dragon lettercolumn convention. =) And I have to thank the intrepid Joe Torcivia to getting my butt out to the event and shepharding me through the city. (And hello, also, to Mike who actually liked Godzilla. The boy's sick in the head, I tell ya.) The Warner Brothers store is always fun to visit, even moreso when one has a gift certificate to burn.
For those of you who may not remember, my overall opinion of the last Big Apple Con I went to in January was not terribly enthusiastic. No, I'm being too diplomatic. It wasn't all that great an event for me.
This one was better. It wasn't perfect, but it was better. For one, the T&A was slightly tuned down. GWAR wasn't in attendance. And it seemed like an actual COMIC BOOK show. That's what I want to go to. Unfortunately, the cheapie bins weren't as plentiful or as easy to get to as I would have liked. There were three dealers who had quarter bins or 50 cent bins in three separate sections. One was located on a corner with boxes on his table and on the floor, making it impossible to access all the stuff without tripping over anyone. And all of that could only occur when you COULD get to the bins. The crowd, at least, was plentiful.
Speaking of which, I don't know what to blame it on. Musty comics. Poorly circulated air. It being the basement of an old church. But the place stunk. The second I walked in the door I smelled it. You know that old saw about comics fans sleeping in bath tubs to save money? I'm beginning to really believe it. Maybe I'm being harsh. There were some open doors leading out and a couple of fans blowing fresh air in, so at least they tried.
I did pick up some nice finds, including a couple more HULK books to fill in the gaps there, a couple Giffen JUSTICE LEAGUE books, a SUICIDE SQUAD, the final issue I needed to complete my run of James Robinson's FIREARM series from Malibu, and my BIG FIND: A 1980 Disney comic adaptation of the movie THE BLACK HOLE. The movie is one I've always kept an eye out for at video stores. (I believe I just heard where it's coming out later this summer or in the fall, at last.) But now I can relive those cherished childhood memories of the movie through the art of Dan Spiegle. I also found J. Michael Straczynski's issue of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, a show he used to write for before his glory days on BABYLON 5. I also finished off the John Romita run of IRON MAN with "Armor Wars II", Warren Ellis' THOR TPB, "Worldengine," and a couple more things at low prices. (I canna resist a bargain. Uncle $crooge would be proud.)
I also found the time this week to catch up on some letterhacking and have written about a dozen letters. I was surprised when I looked back on the list and noticed an overwhelming majority of them were Marvel comics, everything from THUNDERBOLTS to X-MEN. So I should probably share my thoughts on some of those, eh?
THUNDERBOLTS #16 was a big disappointment for me, the first issue of the series that this has happened with. Mark Bagley's art was fine. Kurt Busiek, though, failed to deliver. The issue is essentially a fight scene between the Great Lakes Avengers, now calling themselves the Lightning Rods, and the Thunderbolts. It's tedious. The Lightning Rods should be played strictly for laughs, or at least along the lines of Giffen's Justice League. Here they were and they weren't, depending on the situation. (Either that or the humor just didn't work for me all that well.) The rest of the issue is most likely set-up for future storylines. It's necessary, but it doesn't make it any easier to read when shoe-horned in here.
WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #625 was a terrific issue, though.
William Van Horn goes all out for "Mummery's the Word," a story in which Donald Duck begins to spout Shakespearian English after being conked on the head. Given WVH's normal inclinations, this is the perfect story for him. There is also a pair of classic Carl Barks stories which are done rather well, and an excellent Mickey Mouse story written by David Gerstein. Gerstein knows Mickey Mouse inside and out and makes him an actually interesting character, not the corporate mascot Disney has made him out to be.
UNCLE $CROOGE #310 starts off with a bang -- Don Rosa's "The Triple
Distelfink," the story of Gladstone Gander's good luck. I don't want to ruin any of it, but it's another great one. It has all the usual Rosa hallmarks -- running gags, tight pacing, hilarity, continuity, etc. The real standout of this issue was a story called "A Sticky Story" which drives Donald crazy throught the streets of Duckburg trying to clean up a mess he's made. I don't want to give anything more than that away, but it's the type of story you'd expect Van Horn to be doing. It stands on its own quite nicely, with the art of Francisco Rodriguez Peinado and the story by Per Erik Hedman and Gary Gabner. The rest of the issue is pretty good, too, as is the letter in the back by some guy named De Blieck.
I also got to read the first three issues of NEVADA back-to-back-to-back. This is the excellent, though wacky, new series from Vertigo focusing on a Vegas showgirl and her pet ostrich and their crazy adventure through town during a series of murders involving the slicing of bodies in half. It's recommended for mature readers for good reason. Nevada, the main character, is a person you can easily get to know and like and feel sympathy for, as are her friends. I have no idea what's going on exactly -- but hald the fun is in finding out, right?
By the way, the final issue of this mini-series is going to be reproduced directly from Phil Winslade's pencils, as will the next NEVADA mini-series, apparently. This could be interesting. I like the concept. I love to look at original pencil art. It's often quit interesting and can show a depth pure black and white can not. (This isn't a rant against inkers. It's just the nature of the beast.) I just wonder how odd the lettering might look over top of it. It looks strange enough over painted art as with Alex Ross' stuff. How strange will John Workman's excellently-inked lettering look over pencilled stuff?
Read GEN 13 #28 and #29. It's plain stuff. There's nothing terribly exciting going on. Even with new writer John Arcudi and new artist Gary Frank, it's just not all that interesting. It's boring. Frank seems to be resting on his laurels, relying on a lot of closeups and few backgrounds.
Frank Miller's 300 #1: Bought it, read it, loved it. Can't wait for the next issue.
UNCANNY X-MEN #358 is mostly a waste. I'm not a big Bishop fan, so I couldn't care less about what happens to him. Add to that the fact that you won't fully know until you pick up some new mini-series or series in December. I'm not buying it. I'm just glad it won't waste space in the main title. The story is a well-enough-executed science-fiction story, and Chris Bachalo adds a couple of nice touches to it, but it's still not all that exciting.
Joe Kelly's X-MEN #77 doesn't have all that involving a plot -- he's setting up for more stuff. But he does keep the character interesting and separate, unique and identifiable. German Garcia's pencils look pretty darn good when inked by Art Thibert.
YOUNG HEROES IN LOVE has been cancelled. A moment of silence, please. I'll miss the series. It was something completely different and a lot of fun to read, to boot. I suppose we should just be grateful to DC for giving it a chance to begin with. Also lost are MAJOR BUMMER, ADVENTURES IN THE DCU, and CHASE. I've only ever read the middle title of those three, and it didn't do much for me, sad to say. It would have made a nice entry-level book for kids to read.
OK, that's enough. I'll be back with more reviews next week, and maybe some commentary, too, and some reader reaction to last week's column.
In the meantime, take care of yourself. And each other. Go pick a fight and win it.