What I bought - 4 April 2012

Those slightly heavy, slightly watery eyes are enough to make me realize that the drama between the two has not yet ended: he continues coming to this café every evening to see her, to open the old wound again, perhaps also to know who is walking her home this evening; and she comes to this café every evening perhaps deliberately to make him suffer, or perhaps hoping that the habit of suffering will become for him a habit like any other, that it will take on the flavor of the nothingness that has coated her mouth and her life for years. (Italo Calvino, from If on a winter's night a traveler)

Avengers Academy #28 ("Homecoming Part 2") by Christos Gage (writer), Karl Moline (penciler), Jim Fern (inker), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Oh, comics. You crack me up. I do like this issue, in which Gage decides to tease a fight between the Runaways and Avengers before he shows us, once again, that he's far too clever for that (let's contrast that with the BIG EVENT of this week, which promises nothing but fighting for 6 months). After an extended cameo by Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur (which Gage uses to foreshadow something), the two teams realize that they both care about Molly and Klara and try to figure out what to do about it. It's rather funny how quickly the tensions defuse, and Gage does a very nice job with the many personalities he needs to write.

But here's the funny thing. Humberto figures out that Nico might be able to cast a spell that lets the two teams "understand each other's point of view." So she does, and the two sides realize that they have more in common with each other than they thought. This cracked me up, because in the Marvel Universe, apparently one needs magic to have empathy. You know, in the real world people are empathetic all the time, and they don't have the benefit of a magic wand. I just love the fact that the two teams couldn't possibly understand what the others are going through unless they have the benefit of magic. Gage does a very nice job with it, but still.

I don't mean to pick on it too much, because it's still refreshing that Gage tries in every issue to work through the problems the kids encounter without resorting to superheroes beating on each other. It's a well written issue, and Moline does his usual solid job. His Molly still looks a bit ... off, but in general, he does a good job.

Magic. To quote Mettle: "Damn. I mean ... damn." God forbid they use their brains or hearts or anything!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Casanova: Avaritia #3 (of 4) ("Harm Reduction") by Matt Fraction (writer), Gabriel Bá (artist), Cris Peter (colorist), and Dustin K. Harbin (letterer). $4.99, 32 pgs, FC, Marvel/Icon.

It's been a while since an issue of Casanova came out, but it's one of those books that I really don't mind waiting for, because each issue is so breathtaking. Fraction does a nice job catching us up without interfering with the flow of the narrative - Casanova has always been a book that pauses for various reasons, so the blatant exposition in this issue doesn't feel out of place, and Fraction does it so obviously and quickly that it feels like it's just part of the hyper-real universe of Casanova Quinn. Kaito is back in this issue, for instance, and Fraction easily catches us up on his situation. He refers to Suki Boutique's failure to kill Luther Desmond Diamond without being too obnoxious about it. Plus, David X and Kubark Benday show up, which is always nice. Fraction packs so much content into this issue and this comic that I still can't believe that it's the same guy writing the mainstream Marvel books. He zips back and forth through time and space, and even though it's a bit dizzying, I think it's fairly easy to pick up the thread. I always fear that Fraction won't get be able to finish this epic, because he just crams so much into each issue, but I hope that's just how he plans it out.

Bá and Peter are stunning, as usual. Peter has been using a red base through this series, so when she deviates from it, it's more interesting. The greenish hospital room in which Cornelius is dying feels more sickly not only because of the color shift but because of its contrast to the reddishness of the rest of the book, and when Kaito flashes back to the reason he hates Casanova, Peter uses the blue palette in which "Gula" was originally colored, which helps it stand out much more and reminds long-time readers how superb that arc was. Bá's details are wonderful, especially during the attack on New York, and he gets to draw a lot of penises. So there's that!

I hope so desperately that Casanova will get its 7 volumes, because it's so magnificent. You know you want to buy it! Do you really need to find out what happens in Batwing? I don't think so. Does Batwing have penises? I DON'T THINK SO!!!!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Chew #25 ("Major League Chew Part 5 of 5") by John Layman (writer/letterer), Rob Guillory (artist/colorist), and Taylor Wells (color assistant). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

Layman sent me a .pdf file of this, but with the convention this weekend, I just never got around to reviewing it. Oh well. It's Chew! It's good!

I'll tell you why Chew is so good. The first page shows a very large-breasted (comically so) elderly woman in a tight-fitting corset holding two Champagne flutes and trying to seduce someone. It's a hilarious image, and because we know who she's talking to, it's even funnier. The last page shows Colby's new partner, and given that the USDA partners its humans with animals, I think you can figure out who it is! Those two pages are superb, but the ones in between are danged good, too. Amelia Mintz decides to go hunting for Tony but gets stonewalled everywhere she turns. This leads to a panel Layman showed me a while ago, which flashes forward ... to the final issue of the series (#60). It's awesome. Amelia tracks down Tony and bad-asses her way into a confrontation with the bad guy, and Tony finally manages to do something in this arc, which leads to a hilariously gross panel. As usual, Layman (like Fraction) crams so much goodness into one issue it's hard to believe that people still read Green Arrow in larger numbers than this book. Really, readers? Sigh.

Guillory continues to dazzle, which isn't surprising. Amelia's "detective face" is wonderful, and the double-page spread in the middle of the issue is wonderful, with a swastika shaved into the head of a Nazi, a Jay and Silent Bob cameo, and a Statler and Waldorf cameo. Once again, Chew is probably the most fun comic to simply look at, either before or after you read Layman's words. Guillory is just having way too much fun on this book.

So there's another story arc in the books. Who knows what's coming next? Well, we know that in issue #27, Tony is in the hospital, but we'll just have to see what's going on in issue #26, leading up to that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Danger Club #1 (of 6) by Landry Q. Walker (writer), Eric Jones (artist), Michael Drake (colorist), Richard Starkings (letterer), and Jimmy Betancourt (letterer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

A few years ago, Landry Walker and Eric Jones were writing the "Johnny DC" Batman books, and they were responsible for some seriously great issues. Danger Club sounded a bit darker than those books, as the premise is that the superheroes went into space to fight "reality's ultimate evil" and never returned. Now their superpowered kids are alone to defend the planet. I thought the story sounded okay, and Walker and Jones had some credit with me, so I figured I'd give this a whirl.

I hate to say this, but I really didn't like this issue at all. I don't mind that it's not as heroic as their Batman work, although that's part of it. We quickly meet Kid Vigilante, Jack Fearless, the Magician, and Yoshimi, who flies a robot. They're the good guys. Kid Vigilante has gathered them to stop a guy named Apollo, who has decided that the rest of the superheroes need to worship him. Kid Vigilante and his gang stop him. Rather brutally, I should point out. Then they tell the people who were about to join Apollo that they need to stop the thing that their parents went out to stop. Presumably that will be the grand story of the series.

There's a lot of reasons why this issue makes me uncomfortable. I don't mind horrible violence in my comics, but the fact that all these kids are, well, kids makes it a bit more icky (as icky as drawings on a paper can be, I know). Don't get me wrong - the violence is horrific, and the "heroes" dish it out far more the people they're fighting. Even Apollo, who's super-strong and supposedly invulnerable, gets it worse than his main antagonist, Kid Vigilante. If Kid Vigilante is the hero of this story, he's not starting out well.

More than the fact that teenagers are brutalizing each other is the fact that Walker does nothing to build the characters. We have only the "hero's" version of the story, and who knows if he's really supposed to be the hero. This kind of story has no emotional resonance because we don't know the characters at all. Sure, Apollo acts like a jerk, but Kid Vigilante doesn't seem any better. We don't know if Apollo is a stone cold murderer, but we do know that Kid Vigilante is. We have no idea who any of these characters are, so even though we see Apollo acting like a jerk, we see it only briefly before Kid Vigilante comes in and acts even more like a jerk, and even more of a bully than Apollo was. There's no reason to like any of these characters, there's no reason to care about these characters, and there's no reason to think Kid Vigilante is any better than Apollo is. I know that the presence of a likable character isn't totally necessary, but in this case, I think the way Walker goes about this first issue is wrong. If you're going to have an "ultimate evil," you really should have someone fighting it that the reader can root for. After one issue, I'm kind of hoping the thing in space comes in and kills all of these rotten children.

Jones does a nice job with the art, though, although that means it's very bloody. There is that.

With mini-series, I do like to read the entire thing, especially if it's from a smaller publisher. I already pre-ordered issue #2, but I'm really on the fence about continuing after that, even if it's only 6 issues long. I have some thinking to do!

Rating: ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fatale #4 by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist), and Dave Stewart (colorist). $3.50, 27 pgs, FC, Image.

Speaking of violent comics, Fatale is fairly violent, but unlike Danger Club, it's a noir tale full of moral gray areas, so I don't mind it as much. It's really a difference in tone, plus, perhaps surprisingly, this issue of Fatale is FAR less violent than Danger Club. Even the horrible thing that happened to Hank's wife is never shown, which makes our imagination work even more to picture what horrors befell her and their unborn child.

So the machinations continue, as Hank is released from police custody because there's no evidence against him, Walt gets a lead in his case, the mobster gets a visit from the freaky people, and we find out that Walt can see some things that no one else can. It's a creepy issue that leads up to Hank perhaps getting some answers (next issue, that is) and other things kind of coming together. I'm sure Brubaker will throw some kind of road block in front of him, but that's part of the fun!

I could write more about Phillips and his work, but I think I'll take the month off from that. He and Stewart are good. Duh!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Kirby: Genesis #6 ("Myth & Legend (and a Wanderer)") by Kurt Busiek (writer), Jack Herbert (artist), Alex Ross (artist), Vinicius Andrade (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

I'm not sure if Kirby: Genesis is supposed to be a mini-series or an ongoing, but next issue promises that the climactic confrontation is beginning, so who knows. Maybe there will be one climactic confrontation and then we'll all move on to the next build-up! Anyway, Busiek knows how to do big-time superheroes, and this continues to be a fun read. He goes back and forth between the big fight in northern Canada, which is full of superpowered beings smashing each other, and Kirby's journey in the phantom continent, where the Primals are being dicks to him and leaving him behind even though he woke them up. God-like beings are total tools, man! Busiek could write this kind of thing in his sleep, honestly, and it's really Herbert who's doing some stellar work on this book. He has to draw many, many characters, and he does it all wonderfully, channeling the King without outright aping him. His page layouts are nicely varied, from standard rectangular panels to tilted panels that speed the action forward. He and Andrade make the book pop, which is what a book starring Kirby Kreations ought to do. I honestly don't know if Busiek is speeding toward a conclusion of the series, but I like this series far more than I thought I would. We all need some old-school superheroics in our lives, after all!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Thunderbolts #172 ("Like Lightning Part 1 of 3") by Jeff Parker (writer), Declan Shalvey (artist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), Jordan Bellaire (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Two issues ago, the Thunderbolts finished wandering around the past and returned to the "present," which means a few years before our time, as the original Thunderbolts had just gotten started. It's not a bad way to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the book, which is pretty impressive, all things considered. So in this issue we get O. T.s versus the new blood, and the members who are still around try to stay out of the way so they don't get recognized. Of course, that plan goes out the window by the end of the book, but it was a nice try!

Parker has some fun with the time traveling - the future Boomerang inadvertently gets the past Boomerang arrested, for instance - and he shows how clever the old Thunderbolts were when they find the new Thunderbolts. It turns into a big fight issue, which isn't surprising, but it's fun to see how Parker squares them off against each other. Shalvey really isn't the right artist to draw the spandex 1990s-ness of the old Thunderbolts, and he's much better once the two sides start fighting. It's a nice way to begin the arc, because you know all the shit is going to hit the fan.

This is the last story arc before the name change, and I don't know how much Parker is going to shake up the status quo. All bets are off, I suppose, which might make this a bit intriguing. Parker claimed he wasn't tearing down too much, but I imagine that with such a divide, he might be tempted. We shall see!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

American Barbarian by Tom Scioli (writer/artist). $19.95, 251 pgs, FC, AdHouse Books.

I know I could have read this on-line, but that's no fun, is it? It looks, naturally, superb, and although I have to slot it into line, I'm really dying to read it. I must be strong!

Cold War: The Damocles Contract by John Byrne (writer/artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Neil Uyetake (letterer). $19.99, 90 pgs, FC, IDW.

I thought about picking this up in single issues, but I knew it would be collected, so why bother, right? I am still not one of those people who used to like Byrne and now loathes him - I think he's still doing interesting work even if it's not quite as great as in his heyday - and I'm curious to see what this is like.

Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe Edition by Grant "Only my dazzling power could have made this happen!" Morrison, Frank Quitely (artist), Peter Doherty (colorist), and Ellie De Ville (letterer). $22.99, 97 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Yes, it's good. Honestly, I'm not a fan of the recoloring - it's far less Pop Art now, and I still don't understand the need to make comics look "realistic" through coloring these days (I still don't like the recoloring on The Killing Joke). The story is still superb and Quitely's pencil work is still amazing, but the book loses something in the recoloring. Tom McCraw did a wonderful job on it, and I don't know if Doherty was told to dial it down or if that was his choice. Whichever it was, it was the wrong choice. Oh well. (Below, the original is on the left and the new version is on the right. That's PROGRESS, y'all!)

The Girl Who Owned a City by O. T. Nelson (writer), Dan Jolley (adapter), Joëlle Jones (artist), and Jenn Manley Lee (colorist). $9.95, 126 pgs, FC, Lerner Publishing Group.

This novel originally came out in 1975, and for some reason, Lerner decided to turn it into a graphic novel (there's no text in the book). It's a YA novel, so maybe I won't like it, but it sounds intriguing and I loves me some Jones art, so I got it. We'll see!


My retailer sent me a picture of himself a while back that I forgot to post. He also sent it to Tony Millionaire, who posted it on his blog. Further proof that comics people are slightly out of step with the real world. My retailer is a weird dude.

I didn't have much of a chance to scour the Internet this week, so let's just get right to The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. "Androgynous" - Replacements (1984) "Mirror image, see no damage, see no evil at all"12. "Cream" - Prince (1991) "You're filthy cute and baby you know it"3. "Hire a Bird" - Think Tree (1989) "And you lift your eye to the deep blue sky: The only way out is up"4. "She's Got a Way" - Billy Joel (1971) "A million dreams of love surround her everywhere"5. "Sayonara" - Pogues (1990) "This was our happy ever after, so motherfucker kiss the ground"6. "Under Cover of Darkness" - Living Colour (1990) "The safest sex is when it's not skin to skin"7. "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" - White Stripes (2001) "Every breath that is in your lungs is a tiny little gift to me"8. "Holland, 1945" - Neutral Milk Hotel (1998) "But now we must pack up every piece of the life we used to love"9. "Where Will I Be" - Emmylou Harris (1998) "Don't waste your heart, don't blister your heels running in the dark" 10. "Living After Midnight" - Judas Priest (1980) "I come alive in the neon light"2

1 This is the only Replacements song I've ever liked. I don't see the fuss about them, honestly. And can anyone tell me why their nickname is the Mats? THAT MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER!!!!!

2 My daughters dig this song, especially Mia. She likes to rock anyway, so she'll take any excuse to do so!

Sorry for the lack of crazy linking this week. While I don't really have to post anything on this blog, I do enjoy it, so I'm trying to finish my Previews post and I hope that tomorrow I'll have a bunch of reviews of stuff I bought in Seattle last weekend. A blogger's work is never done! Have a nice day, everyone!

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