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What I bought – 29 November 2007

by  in Comic News Comment
What I bought – 29 November 2007

This week: Dare I read the latest from the Miller/Lee team?  Dare I sing the praises of sex in comics?  Dare I condemn someone for trashing something I don’t even care about?  Dare I drop a book by a blogaxy darling?  Dare I spoil the ending of a mainstream superhero comic?  Dare I read Dan Dare?  Look below the fold to discover the answers!  (Okay, they’re all “yes.”  But read on anyway!)

Bad Planet #4 (of 6?) by Thomas Jane, Steve Niles, James Daly III, and Tim Bradstreet.  $2.99, Image/Raw Studios.

I’ve said this before with regard to this series, and I’ll say it again: As far as junk-food comics go, this is top-notch.  Daly and Bradstreet do a very nice job with the art, giving us believable scenes of alien spiders chomping on humans and weird aliens with electric axes who photosynthesize to live, while Jane and Niles are simply having a blast writing this.  One completely unnecessary page shows a cult worshipping their new alien overlords.  The leader says “Fear not!  The gods are great and wise and will not harm us!”  In the next panel, the spiders slaughter them.  It’s a pointless scene, but you get the sense that they put it in there just to show naked idiots getting decapitated.  And who can argue with that?  Plus, it ends with yet another alien vomiting up some sort of tentacle monster.  Gold!  It’s a ridiculous comic, but it is loads of fun.

All Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder #8 by Frank Miller, Jim Lee, and Scott Williams.  $2.99, DC.

You know, I hate to admit it, but I’m starting to enjoy this book.  It’s certainly not worth paying money for, but if you get a chance to read it without dropping 3 bucks, it’s becoming more and more insane every issue, which is saying something, certainly.  I mean, we get the Joker sleeping with an attorney who discovers that he’s the one who poisoned the city’s water supply but doesn’t seem especially put out by it, and then the Joker kills her.  Of course.  He then tells his accomplice to get rid of the body.  His accomplice, by the way, is that Nazi chick from The Dark Knight Returns with the swastikas tattooed on her breasts.  Oh, that wacky Frank Miller!  And then Batman and Dick Grayson bond – seriously – and then there’s an appearance by Hal Jordan, who’s “as dumb as a post” according to Batman, and Dick comes up with a costume and a name.  It’s gloriously ridiculous, but just as Batman realizes about Dick – “I’m starting to LIKE this little SNOT” – I think I’m starting to like this snotty comic.  Does that make me a bad person?

As always, we must look at quotes from the book.  You need no context!

Do you know what a psychopath is, Grayson?  I’m not sure you’re up to polysyllables.

You don’t even have a mask.  Christ, look at you.  You could pass for Little Nemo.

I mean, a costume is queer enough, but why a mask?

“Secret identity”?  How can I have a “secret identity” when everybody on Earth saw you kidnap me?  I mean, aren’t they kind of going to know who I am?

But I can’t THINK about that right now.  I’ve got a retarded DEMIGOD to take care of.

I’ve seen more intelligent HOCKEY PUCKS.  The clown makes oversized EGGBEATERS and MOUSE TRAPS and VACUUM CLEANERS — when he could set the whole WORLD straight with that RING.

You know you must read it! 

Plus, in the middle of the book there’s an editor’s note letting us know that they can’t print a bad guy’s response due to standards of decency.  That’s awesome, especially in this book, which ought to be called All Star Goddamned Batman.

Blue Beetle #21 by Justin Peniston and Andy Kuhn.  $2.99, DC.

I bought this even though Rogers didn’t write it, mostly for Andy Kuhn’s art, which is good.  This is a charming story, as it continues the nice trend we’ve seen in this comic, namely trying to figure out solutions to problems without fighting, as Jaime comes up against the Spectre and realizes he can’t defeat him.  The Spectre is killing convicts in the prison where Luis, the man who shot Jaime’s father, is imprisoned, and it’s only a matter of time, it seems, before the Spectre kills him.  So Jaime tries to figure out a way to stop the Spectre, but in the end, it’s not about stopping the Spectre, it’s about Jaime coming to terms with Luis as a person.  Peniston even ties it back into Jaime’s use of the Scarab to fight bad guys, which is a nice touch.  Another interesting issue of a very solid superhero comic.

Casanova #11 by Matt Fraction and Fábio Moon.  $1.99, Image.

What a glorious comic.  It’s full of sex, like the earlier issues in this “album” have been, but as Fraction points out in his end notes, this issue marks the shift from sex to death, and we see it clearly here, and it’s as tragic as you might expect.  And then we get one of the more hilarious info-dumps you’re going to see.  It’s an amazing comic, and the panel at the bottom of page 11, where Zephyr completes her mission while Kubark completes his, is brilliant.  Moon is on top of his game, Fraction is giving us an excellent story, and it’s all for 2 dollars.  This comic should be a top seller.  (I know it won’t ever be, but it should be.)

Dan Dare #1 (of 7) by Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine.  $2.99, Virgin.

I was mostly disappointed by this, because it’s kind of a Star Blazers knockoff but doesn’t feature Derek Wildstar (who totally kicks ass, man!).  I mean, I have no doubt that Ennis can do a space war story as effectively as he can do a regular war story, and Erskine’s art, which was strangely lifeless the last time I saw it (on Jack Cross), is fine, but this first issue is weirdly boring.  Ennis spends the entire issue setting up a fairly standard plot, and there doesn’t seem to be anything interesting about it at all.  It’s just the old-timer who is long retired coming back because his country needs him to fight an indomitable enemy that no one else can defeat.  Hey, didn’t I see this in the second Rambo movie?  Will Dan Dare get as excellent a speech as Sly gets at the end of that movie:

Rambo: I want … what they want … what every other guy … who came over here and spilled his guts … and gave everything he had … wants!  For our country … to love us … as much as we … love it!  That’s what I want!

Trautman: How will you live, John?

Rambo: Day by day.

I get chills, I tells ya!  How can Garth Ennis top that?  Answer: he can’t.  That’s not the only reason I won’t be back, however.  This just isn’t all that interesting.

Daredevil #102 by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, and Stefano Gaudiano.  $2.99, Marvel.

We’re never sure what we’re going to get with individual issues of Daredevil, as Brubaker is writing for the trade (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and occasionally his single issues lag a bit.  This is one of them, as it feels like what is important about this issue could have been handled in about half the space.  What’s important: Foggy gets Milla released into Matt’s custody, the Hood is making his move on Mr. Fear’s operations, and Larry Cranston somehow planned for Milla to get released because it’s all part of his sinister plan.  The issue moves the plot forward well enough, but even during the fight with the Enforcers and Wrecker and Razor Fist (I know it’s been asked before, but how does Razor Fist go to the bathroom?), it feels a bit slow.  Oh well.  It’s not like it’s meant to be read as a single issue anyway, and usually Brubaker comes back from these kinds of issues with something very good, so we’ll see what happens next time. 

Doc Frankenstein #6 by the Wachowski Brothers and Steve Skroce.  $3.50, Burlyman Entertainment.

“The Blasphemous Never-Before-Told Origin Story of God” sounds like a can’t-miss idea, but like a lot of comic book writers who bring an irreverant take on God into their books, the Wachowskis seem to be far too pleased with themselves to really make it funny or good.  They hew pretty closely to the Old Testament and the Nativity Story, simply adding in some profane language and highlighting some of the more unsavory aspects of the God of the Israelites.  It’s not particularly clever nor humorous, not because I’m offended by it (I don’t believe in God, so I don’t care), but because it’s something we’ve seen in Savage Dragon and Preacher (do any others come to mind?) and it wasn’t all that funny there, but at least it was marginally original.  It’s too easy to make fun of God, and it comes across as a bunch of smug people acting all superior to the superstitious idiots who do believe in it (before you get all mad at me, I don’t think they’re superstitious idiots; that’s what I imagine the writers saying to themselves – “those superstitious idiots – we’ll show them!”).  I don’t know if the Wachowskis are smug about it, but that’s what the tone of the issue is.  The rest of the issue is just the frame around which to hang the tale, so it doesn’t really save the issue.  There is, however, a dodo (yes, the extinct bird) who acts like Sherlock Holmes.  It still doesn’t save the issue.

Faker #5 (of 6) by Mike Carey and Jock.  $2.99, DC/Vertigo.

I’m going to finish this comic, because it’s entertaining, but it’s not as good as what I thought it would be, mainly because Carey has turned it into some kind of government experimental conspiracy thing, which we’ve all seen before.  Putting it on a college campus made me think it would be more of a psychological drama, but it’s a fairly standard thriller.  I mean, it’s a nicely-done thriller, but it doesn’t rise above its genre.  It makes me curious why the main characters are students in the first place.  Early on, the college setting seemed important.  But it doesn’t appear to be.  Maybe the final issue will clear some things up.

Hack/Slash #6 by Tim Seeley, Fernando Pinto, and Stefano Caselli.  $3.50, Devil’s Due.

As a single issue, this comic is a lot of fun, although it’s largely inconsequential.  It succeeds or fails largely on whether you find the satire of Archie Comics amusing, and I did.  Seeley sends Cassie and her big cohort Vlad to a town called Haverhill, which looks suspiciously like Riverdale.  There they hope to find a guy who dresses like a priest and bashes in the heads of those who “sin,” which basically means teenagers having pre-marital sex.  In Haverhill, Cassie and Vlad suddenly find themselves looking like people from an Archie comic, and there’s a goofy hero who inexplicably gets two dates for the same dance, his rich friend who is scheming against him, and their big doofus friend.  It’s quite humorous, and Seeley does a nice job fitting the psychopath into the story without “breaking character,” so to speak, as Father Wrath (as the bad guy calls himself) gets into the dance in standard sitcom fashion.  Of course, someone’s head does get bashed in, but that just highlights the weirdness.  It’s actually a bit more subtle and deep than it looks, with the theme of sexual repression running through it.  Sure, the priest becoming a “sodomite” is a bit done to death, but it’s a throwaway part of the book, so I can forgive it.  I’m still not sure if I want to start buying this title, but this is a nifty issue.

Madman Atomic Comics #5 by Mike Allred.  $2.99, Image.

This is the last issue of Madman Atomic Comics that I’m going to buy.  It’s not that I don’t like parts of it.  Allred’s art is staggering, and the main reason I would keep reading, if I was going to.  But the story just isn’t that interesting.  For a few issues, nothing happened, and Allred’s not a good enough writer to make “nothing” worthwhile.  Now the plot has kicked in, and it’s not terribly interesting.  There’s a threat to the universe and Frank and his allies the Atomics have to save it by defeating the bad guy.  I know that this is the plot of dozens of comics, but as usual, it’s all in the execution, and this comic just isn’t exciting or emotionally moving or different enough.  It almost feels like Allred is making fun of the plot as it unfolds, because it’s just such a standard plot, but I don’t know if that’s true.  The comic is kind of sterile, as if Allred, who created these characters after all, has no emotional interest in them.  It’s bizarre.  And not to my liking.  Oh well!

X-Men #205 by Mike Carey, Chris Bachalo, and Tim Townsend.  $2.99, Marvel.

I guess I’m going to SPOIL this, although it’s really not that shocking.  So look away if you don’t want to know!

I’m a bit ambivalent about this.  I forgot to mention last time about what Jamie and Layla find in the future – mutant internment camps.  Really?  Again?  Anyway, that’s where the issue begins, but it’s just a reminder about that part of the story and we don’t return there, as I’m sure it will be dealt with in X-Factor.  But it needed to be said!

Anyway, the reason I’m ambivalent about it is because the entire issue is basically big-ass fights, as the X-Men battle the Marauders, the New X-Men battle Deathstrike, and then the Sentinels get taken over and start fighting the X-Men who stayed behind in the mansion.  And then, at the end, we learn that Cable took the baby.  Cable’s still alive?  Get out!  The fights themselves are pretty cool – Carey has shown that he can really make the battles feel important, even though we know no one will die (probably; and if they do, they’ll come back).  Bachalo does a decent job with the action, although his Sentinel looks like it’s on steroids.  There are a few “Holy Shit!” moments, which is all you really ask for from a superhero fight.  But it doesn’t move the overall plot forward all that much, and I wonder if they (the writers and editors of the crossover) just decided that it would be X amount of issues long and figured they would pad it when it lagged.  It’s a nice-looking comic with a few nice moments, but it’s kind of pointless.  Does this crossover need to be as long as it is?  Why?

Sigh.  You may think I was angry about comics this week.  It’s not exactly that.  Maybe I was burned out after reading Wizard and the prospect of reading some mainstream superhero stuff didn’t excite me.  Maybe it’s because Casanova was the only book that really thrilled me, although I liked some others.  Maybe it was because so many of the comics I read were in the middle of story arcs, so they were unsatisfying.  I don’t know.  Talk amongst yourselves.

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