What I bought - 28 November 2012

What theater do we have besides beauty contests? (Maxine Hong Kingston, from Tripmaster Monkey)

Batman Incorporated #5 ("Asylum") by Grant "Working in the DCnU has sucked my sense of whimsy away!" Morrison (writer), Chris Burnham (artist), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

The God of All Comics revisits the future of Batman #666, and the results are an odd tonal shift from the first issues of this series. Morrison's Batman work has always been on the "dark" side of the Comics Fun-O-Meter, but with Batman, Inc., he seems to be setting a tone of hope even though Talia's been doing horrible things. Now, I suppose, we're shifting further into the "bleak" range, and this is a strangely depressing issue, as everything goes to shit. I mean, it's not surprising the Future Batman can't stop things (if you don't know who Future Batman is, I'll just refer to him as that so as to not give anything away), but that's just Morrison going all nihilistic on us because he can. When shit really starts happening in the present, as it does at the end of the issue, then it seems like it's just piling on.

It's kind of hard to describe, because there's nothing really bad about this issue at all. Sure, it's bleak, but Morrison has done bleak before, and he's pretty good at it. And it's not like his Batman work hasn't been bleak before. I don't know if it's the relentless nature of this issue - Future Batman seems to get a ray of hope which turns to shit, and then, when we're back in the present, we immediately get a really depressing final page. I don't know why I'm feeling more bummed out by this issue than others, especially because one part involves a future that doesn't exist and the other is a fairly standard SHOCK! ending that might turn out to be nothing. I know I'm a terrible reviewer, because I can't articulate what it is about this issue. It just bummed me out, man.

But dang, Burnham's art is freakin' cool, isn't it? So many impressive details and such good storytelling, and Fairbairn's colors are superb. Maybe that's why it bums me out, because Burnham makes it all look so wonderfully horrific. I can live with Morrison's depressing stuff when it's drawn by Tony Daniel, because it doesn't look very good. But Burnham helps us believe Morrison's gut-wrenching script, and maybe that makes all the difference!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Chew #30 ("Space Cakes Part 5 of 5") by John Layman (writer/letterer), Rob Guillory (artist/colorist), and Taylor Wells (color assistant). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

Well, damn. Chew reaches its halfway point with an issue that really changes the game. It's very intense, as Toni prepares for her wedding (with a rather hilarious sequence at the beginning), but then the tone shifts darkly, and things just keep getting more and more disturbing. Layman has given us some horrific stuff in this comic before - Tony has, of course, been in a coma recently because he got beat up so badly - but this really gets bleak quickly. Unlike Batman, however, I don't feel as conflicted about it. I'm honestly not sure why. I like Chew more, but that's not it. I think it's because ever since this series began, I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. There's always been a dark undercurrent to this comic, and Layman hasn't been afraid to do horrible things to characters, so it's not like when shit. just. gets. real. that I'm all that surprised. What he's able to do in this comic, however, is keep the delicate balance between the serious and the humorous - even as the plot gets darker, characters are still cracking jokes, and he ends the issue with the pay-off of a long-running gag, which is awkward (deliberately) but well done, because there's often a lot of awkwardness in real life. Guillory himself keeps up the humorous tone, as the Easter eggs in the issue continue, with a fairly pertinent famous painting (which I won't mention) in the background when the book gets darker. Layman and Guillory have managed to make this comic so funny at times, but they've also done a very good job with the characters, so whenever something bad happens, it seems to hit harder.

I have one worry about the book going forward, but I won't discuss it for fear of spoiling this issue. Other than that, I cannot wait to see where the book goes. Dang, this is a good issue. It's definitely not where you want to start with Chew, but for long-time readers, it's something!

Oh, and who knew about Jim Mahfood? If you think about it, all the clues were there!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fatale #10 by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist), and Dave Stewart (colorist). $3.50, 26 pgs, FC, Image.

Man, these issues are raw this week, aren't they? Well, they are if you do them in alphabetical order, and the third consecutive one gives us some really gut-wrenching scenes, as the second arc of Fatale comes to an end. As you can probably guess with a pulp/noir comic written by Brubaker, some serious shit goes down and not everyone survives. Miles and his friend, Rat, get what Josephine asked them to get, but in the meantime, all the bad guys head to Josephine's house to get her. Oh dear. It's another brutal confrontation, and there's a good thing and a bad thing about it. The good thing is that it's nice that Josephine get pissed off and does something about it (see below), but the bad thing is that it seems the bad guys are awfully stupid about Josephine even though they seem to know what her deal is. I mean, come on, bad guys! Anyway, Brubaker wraps that sucker up and checks in on Nick, whose life is going to shit a bit. Oh dear. Such is life when you're a dude in a noir story - your life is going to go to shit!

Phillips and Stewart are brilliant as usual - Phillips seems to be using a slightly thinner line for some stuff, which helps contrast the more "innocent" parts of the book (as much as anything in the book is innocent) from the more evil parts. Stewart does a nice job keeping the book dark until he needs to light things up, which helps make the lit parts more lurid and stark. It's not surprising that the book looks great, of course, because these dudes know what they're doing!

So we have two arcs under our belts. Fatale continues to be an interesting mash-up of a gritty criminal drama and a weird monster tale. I'm enjoying it immensely - probably not quite as much as Criminal, but more than Incognito (which is still pretty good, of course). So there's that.

(I do have a question that I'm going to try to phrase without giving too much away. Are we to assume that Miles lacks a certain skill? It seems like he'd be able to extricate himself from a fix if he had a certain skill that a lot of people have, unless I missed something else that causes him to find it difficult to extricate himself from said fix. Am I missing something? Am I being too obtuse? Let me know!)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

FF #1 ("Parts of a Hole") by Matt Fraction (writer), Michael Allred (artist), Laura Allred (colorist), and Clayton Cowles (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel NOW!

Fraction's companion title to Fantastic Four launches with Reed and his cohorts trying to convince Ant-Man, She-Hulk, and Medusa to be a team for four minutes while Reed and the rest of them go off to other dimensions. Reed calculates that they will be gone for four minutes. Obviously, there's no way in hell that the Fantastic Four will only be gone four minutes, so already we know that something will go horribly wrong in Dimensions X, ð, and Σ, which makes Reed's decision to not tell his family why he's really going - Scott Lang figures it out pretty quickly, by the way - even dumber. Unless Fraction is going to write this as the most avant-garde comic EVER, and the next 11 issues will last four minutes, with the substitute Four sitting around the kitchen table drinking beer. Each panel will represent one second of time!!!!!! So if Scott wants to say something to Jennifer, it will take him the entire issue to get a sentence out. I would buy the shit out of that series.

Anyway, it's an okay issue. I mean, I'm already prejudiced against this entire idea, and when Sue says something like "Well, you're a parent [she's talking to Medusa]. You know what it's like to have your heart running around outside of your body all the time," I want to scream at this drawing of a fictional character, "You're a terrible mother, Sue, so shut the fuck up!!!!!", but that's a me problem. It's a "gathering the team" issue, which means Fraction again gets to write Johnny as not only childish, but as just about the stupidest person on the planet - I mean, really, Fraction. What the fuck? I'll spoil it for you, because it doesn't really matter - Johnny is so busy banging Darla that he forgets he's supposed to recruit her, even after he checks his calendar. Now, his calendar doesn't help because he was probably so busy gazing at himself in a mirror that he doesn't write anything helpful on his calendar, but still - he's dumber than a box of rocks in this comic, and so after three pages of Fraction writing him over two different comics (THREE PAGES!), we get a completely self-obsessed moron. I mean, it's impressive how quickly Fraction has established that he's an idiot. Usually it takes a writer an issue or two and far more pages to do that!

So while I think the concept of the comic is idiotic, Fraction does a decent job with it. The team recruits people, Scott Lang resists until Reed, like the douchebag he is, actually uses Scott's daughter's death to guilt him into babysitting the rest of the FF kids for four minutes while Reed, like the douchebag he is, takes his own children to another dimension, which won't be fucking dangerous at all. I mean, really, Reed? Fuck you and the fucking horse you rode in on. But Fraction does a nice job with the various kids of the Future Foundation selling the benefits of the babysitting gig to Scott, so that's fun. And it's always nice to see Allred's art. I don't love Allred as much as some, but I do love the fact that he gets work on superhero comics, because he's such a quirky artist and he always makes superheroes look as weird as they should.

Finally, notice when the next issues are out. Fantastic Four #2 is coming out on the 12th of December. Issue #1 came out on 14 November. That means Marvel is not double-shipping it because it's a companion title to FF, so they figure every two weeks, we'll get one of these books (I assume; in December FF #2 is coming out on the 19th, presumably because there's another "skip week" on the 26th because of some holiday celebrating a dude who was killed for being a socialist). That's not a bad plan at all. However, with regard to Fantastic Four, Marvel is employing one of the few artists - Bagley - who could actually keep up with a twice-monthly schedule. Is Marvel giving a break to their slow artists, or are they flogging them to get books out twice a month until they collapse and they have to call in lesser talent? Don't answer that! I don't get what's going on in the heads of Joey Q. and Axel A. I guess they know what they're ... sorry, I couldn't even make it through that statement.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Morning Glories #23 by Nick Spencer (writer), Joe Eisma (artist), Alex Sollazzo (colorist), and Johnny Lowe (letterer). $2.99, 28 pgs, FC, Image.

I mentioned this last time, but it's still true - it's getting difficult to actually review an issue of Morning Glories properly, because it's firmly into "It's all part of Spencer's Grand Scheme" kind of thing, and so what am I going to say? Stuff happens, people are killed, old characters reappear, some mysteries are answered and others are just deepened, and we just move along. The biggest problem I've always had with the comic is just that it's so big and so convoluted that I'm not really sure where everything and everyone fits in, and now that Spencer has enlarged the cast, it's even harder to keep track. Maybe when we reach issue #25 or 30 I'll go back and re-read the whole thing, which should give me a better handle on what Spencer is doing. The book does seem to go through cycles, though - the first 6 or so issues were weird and mysterious and weren't as good as they could have been, but then Spencer seemed to hit his stride for about 10-12 issues or so, and now he's introduced more characters, and we're kind of back to the weird and mysterious but not quite as good phase. If the book keeps going through cycles like that, I might get sick of it. I don't mind that Spencer wants to keep expanding his universe, but I'm not sure if the way he's doing it is working. We're in a slight holding pattern right now with regard to the forward momentum of the book, and I'm hoping Spencer pulls out of it soon.

And yes, this issue is 28 pages of story, all nicely drawn by Eisma. I can't stop stressing how impressive his work is on this book, not only from an artistic standpoint (again, Eisma is a pretty good artist, even though he's not great yet), but also from the speed with which he works. Artists at Marvel and DC tend to be a bit more technically accomplished than Eisma is, but there's still no excuse for him to be able to do stuff like this pretty much monthly while artists at Marvel and DC can barely finish three issues in a row.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Tower Chronicles: Geisthawk volume 2 by Matt Wagner (writer), Simon Bisley (penciler), Rodney Ramos (inker), Ryan Brown (colorist), and Sean Konot (letterer). $7.99, 68 pgs, FC, Legendary Comics.

The second "volume" of this odd duck of a comic arrives (it's obviously meant as a movie pitch, but with Wagner and Bisley on it, it certainly works as a comic), and it's better than the first one - I guess Wagner could concentrate a bit more on the evil organization running the world behind the scenes and its vendetta against John Tower, our hero, and that focuses things somewhat. He still fights a few odd beasties and Nazis (which is a pretty cool mission, because I thought Wagner was going one way with it - Hitler is involved - but then goes a nice opposite way), but the main part of the book concerns the big evil organization setting a trap for him using their contacts inside the Vatican. So while there still aren't a ton of surprises in this comic - it's a mysterious dude killing strange creatures, and there's an evil organization that doesn't like him - it's still entertaining. And it has Bisley artwork, which means that even if Wagner slips into the banal just a bit, Bisley is there to make it look bizarre and crazy, which is nice. He gives us some tremendous creatures and spooky shit, and even though I don't love the fact that Brown's coloring makes Bisley's faces far too soft, when Bisley draws Tower in action against the monsters in the book, it's really impressive.

I don't know - this is a strange thing, but it's enjoyable. You get a nice, thick package for eight bucks, and both Wagner and Bisley are very good comics creators, so even though you never quite lose the feeling that this is just a creation so that Legendary can cast Gerard Butler as John Tower and make a chunk of money on the movie, it's still fun to read.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Wasteland #41 ("Sleeping Satellite") by Antony Johnston (writer), Russel Roehling (artist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.99, 23 pgs, BW, Oni Press.

This is a strange issue of Wasteland, as Johnston wraps things up from the previous issue very quickly and moves on. It felt like Abi and Michael would be hanging around Thomas and Diana a bit longer, but they don't. It's not a bad issue, of course, but I guess I assumed (yes, I know what happens when you assume!) that when Thomas and Diana were introduced, they'd play a bigger part in the comic. They still might, of course, but not next issue, at least!

Johnston does add some important points to the "Wasteland" mythos this issue, so there is that. Diana gets injured, and in order to heal her, Abi has to come clean with Thomas, who then is forced to come clean with her. Every so often, when you're writing a comic like this, you need to do some world-building, and this issue is a bit more of that, even though Johnston does give us an exciting chase early on, which is nice. He also hints at the problem with finding the place Abi and Michael are searching for, which I hope doesn't mean they won't find it. I think it's fairly important for the book to get to A-Ree-Yass-I, and I hope Abi and Michael's difficulties are just temporary.

Roehling continues to do a nice job with the artwork - the first two pages are a flashback, and they looks painted, which helps set them off well against the rest of the book, and the chase sequence is very well done. As I mentioned last issue, I do hope the book has a regular artist again, because Roehling is pretty darned good.

I forget how many issues Johnston is planning for Wasteland - I think it's around 60, but I haven't spoken to him recently about it. It continues to be a gripping and fascinating comic, and I always look forward to it!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Witch Doctor: Mal Practice #1 (of 6) by Brandon Seifert (writer/letterer), Lukas Ketner (artist), and Andy Troy (colorist). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image/Skybound.

Witch Doctor was one of the best comics of last year, so it's great that Seifert and Ketner are back with a new mini-series. If you happened to miss the series the first time around, it's about a doctor who deals with supernatural cases, assisted by a strange girl who's possessed by demons (well, I can't remember if she's exactly "possessed," but close enough) and a paramedic, who acts as our point of view character, because he's pretty much normal. Dr. Vincent Morrow is definitely not normal - he's like a jerky version of Gregory House - but he certainly knows what he's doing. Which is why the beginning of this new mini-series is so interesting - Morrow is seduced one night and then has no idea what happened. He eventually does figure it out, but Seifert wisely cracks Morrow's façade enough early on so that even when he does figure stuff out, he's still not confident about what's going on. Plus, he does a really interesting job with "Penny Dreadful," who works for Morrow only tenuously, and Seifert shows what happens when maybe she doesn't want to anymore and why. It's pretty keen.

Ketner is a very good artist, especially on this book, which requires a lot of creepiness. His Penny Dreadful is tremendous, and the creature that attacks Morrow is horrific, especially because Ketner is also good at drawing the hot woman who seduces Morrow. This is a beautiful comic - Ketner's quirky art and Troy's excellent colors help make Seifert's weird scripts even better. There's a panel where Penny Dreadful turns and looks at the reader that is terrifying - Ketner's pose is wonderful, and Troy keeps it dark enough that we can imagine it being a lot worse. The way Morrow reacts is great, too, as he realizes that maybe he's lost control of Penny, and that's not a good thing. It's a really cool page.

Go check out Witch Doctor. It's a groovy book!

(I don't know why it's subtitled "Mal Practice." Why two words? I'm sure we'll find out, but right now, it seems odd. But maybe that's just me!)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service volume 13 by Eiji Otsuka (writer), Housui Yamazaki (artist), and Toshifumi Yoshida (translator). $12.99, 191 pgs, BW, Dark Horse.

Yay, my favorite manga! Two volumes in one year! It's a Festivus Miracle!


I don't have much that's not comics-related this week, although Suzanne Venker's article about "The War on Men" has been making the rounds. Stephen Colbert ripped it to shreds, and Venker has tried to "explain" what she really meant. I love articles that generalizes men and women and any other group of people. They never get you in trouble! I'm not sure what Venker's point is - that men can't change? That women shouldn't change because men can't change? That all men should work and all women should raise kids? I don't know - she doesn't seem to know, either. I would like to point out that I haven't worked in about seven years, and I have no interest in doing so. I'm not threatened by my wife's ability to make money in the least. I mean, why would I be? I get to sit on my ass for a good portion of the day blogging while she's out dealing with assholes and idiots! Yay, feminism!

I also got the results of my physical this week. I always find it interesting to go to the doctor. I'm probably 70 pounds overweight and I have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, but I'm fairly healthy. It's kind of strange, because I never get sick (well, except for colds) and I don't have weird diseases. I just need to lose weight. Yeah, that sucks. I can lose weight, but man, I'm lazy. It's so much easier to sit on my ass and blog!

Anyway, let's get to the Ten Most Recent Songs on My iPod (Which Is Always on Shuffle):

1. "Paper Doll" - P.M. Dawn (1991) "Life surrounds what's presumed as wise; it wouldn't be wise until the fist uncurls"2. "You Cause As Much Sorrow" - Sinéad O'Connor (1990) "It's too late for prevention, but I don't think it's too late for the cure"3. "Drunken Boat" - Pogues (1993) "We squared off on a dockside with a coupled hundred Finns and we dallied in the 'dilly and we stoaked ourselves in gin"14. "Know By Now" - People in Planes (2008) "Is there blood in your system, are there stones in your heart?"5. "Last" - Nine Inch Nails (1992) "Dress up this rotten carcass just to make it look alive"6. "Beautiful" - Marillion (1995) "Don't have to be the same, don't have to be this way" 7. "Beat Me Up" - Mary's Danish (1991) "Tomorrow you tell me that you love me, but it don't mean a thing"8. "Sign "☮" the Times" - Prince (1987) "Some say a man ain't happy unless a man truly dies" 9. "No Kid" - Urban Dance Squad (1989) "Absorbing the words, it's absurd; people go with the crowd like a herd"210. "Solid Gold" - Eagles of Death Metal (2006) "We are the stars of your real teen dream"3

1 I've mentioned this before, but I'll mention it again: This might be my favorite Pogues song, which is surprising considering that MacGowan didn't sing on it. But damn, it's awesome.

2 My iPod works in mysterious ways. I don't have too many Urban Dance Squad songs on it, and now it spits out two at about the same time in the week two weeks in a row. Hmmmm ....

3 Eagles of Death Metal just came up at my comics store yesterday. The owner and another dude were talking about the various bands they've seen live recently, and the owner mentioned Eagles of Death Metal. The other dude hadn't heard of them, but a quick Internet search convinced him he needs to check them out. I do agree with him, though, that it's a bad name, because it's certainly not "death metal," and both fans of that genre and not-fans of that genre might be a bit confused. Eagles of Death Metal makes great frickin' videos, though.

What say we check out some Totally Random Lyrics?

"Not long now 'til the ultimate experimentHe's breaking all the rulesHe wants to cure all matter of imbalanceIn this world of foolsHe locks the door and looks around nervouslyHe knows there's no one thereHe drinks it down and waits for some reactionTo all his work and care"

Come on, that has to be an easy one, right? I can't be the only one who loves this song, right????

Have a nice day, everyone! I hope you have a grand weekend - I'll be cleaning up leaves for some of it, so that sucks, but I guess it's a fair trade for sitting on my ass all day!

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