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What I bought – 4 January 2007

by  in Comic News Comment
What I bought – 4 January 2007

Every January, I try to cull my titles.  By the end of the year, that’s in the trash, but I always begin with good intentions.  This month is a month to see what books just aren’t doing it for me anymore, and ditch ’em.  It’s also a time to be more selective with the new stuff I pick up.  Therefore, I didn’t buy Scalped this week.  Yes, it may be the greatest thing ever, but if it’s so great, I’ll just wait for the trade.  I still haven’t read The Other Side, so the jury in my mind is still out on Jason Aaron.  I also didn’t buy Jack of Fables (yes, I know it came out last week, but not out here in the benighted West), because as much as I enjoy the book, it’s just not thrilling me.  Another title that came out last week but which I didn’t get until this week is on the chopping block, too.  What could it be?

Of course, All Star Superman came out, so all was right in the world for a few minutes.  Let’s get ready to rumble!

Batman #661 by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake.  $2.99, DC.

I don’t really have a lot to say about this issue.  It’s lather, rinse, repeat.  If you’re buying it, you’re buying it for the four Ostrander/Mandrake issues.  If you’re not, you’re not.  It’s the third part of a four-issue story, so it’s not like you’re going to jump on board now.  It’s not a great story by any means, but it has beautiful art and a story that entertains.  Lots of people die, Batman cracks some skulls, Amina Franklin still has a secret about her brother, and next issue all will be revealed.  And there’s a Mexican stand-off, which is always fun to see (it worked in Enemy of the State, didn’t it????).  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this is not going to stand as a Batman story for the ages, but it’s an entertaining bash until the God of All Comics decides to turn in a script.

The Boys #7 by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson.  $2.99, DC/Wildstorm.

And so we reach the end of our first story arc, and I have to say I won’t be back for any more.  The Boys has gotten better since its atrocious first few issues, but this resolution to the first arc doesn’t leave me hopeful that it will be any more than Ennis coming up with clever ways to slaughter people and trying to tug on our heartstrings.  Did I just type that?  Yes, he tries to tug on our heartstrings in this issue, and although it’s effective in making us understand why Butcher hates the supers so much, it’s still just another way for Ennis to gross us out (don’t even ask about the hamster on the cover).  I get that Ennis hates superheroes.  Other writers who don’t like superheroes ignore them.  Couldn’t Ennis do the same thing?

There’s a lot that is ludicrous about this issue, including Hughie’s ability to punch clean through a human being.  Is Hughie a superperson?  I doubt it.  Yet he can punch right through someone’s gut.  Isn’t that really difficult?  Ah, fuck it – it’s Garth Ennis making fun of superheroes!!!!

I probably unfairly compare everything Ennis writes to Hitman, which is my favorite of his books.  Without going into too much, Hitman was also ridiculously violent and hated superheroes.  Tommy has superpowers, and he hardly ever uses them!  But Hitman, unlike The Boys, had a heart, and we cared about the characters even when they were doing horrible things.  And Ennis, that old softie, wrote one of the best Superman stories ever in the pages of Hitman, so he can’t hate superheroes all that much.  But The Boys is just ultra-violence for the sake of ultra-violence.  I can watch CNN and Fox News for that.

So that’s gone from my buying list.  Oh well.

All Star Superman #6 by Grant “Don’t Call Me Mate, Mate” Morrison, Frank Quitely, and Jamie Grant.  $2.99, DC.

The slowness of this title is offset somewhat by the fact that each issue has been better than almost anything out there, but it’s still bothersome.  The delay on this title, at least, seems to be Quitely’s fault, because I can’t believe this takes Morrison that long to write.  There’s nothing in this issue, at least, that would require a lot of brilliant planning – it’s simply good storytelling.  Quitely’s art is very good, too, and although there’s not a lot to it, Quitely at least actually draws everything in an issue, so even less detailed panels probably take him a while.  The fact that each issue is relatively self-contained helps, too.  There is the overarcing story about how Supes is going to die, but that’s been kind of a MacGuffin so far, as Morrison just wants to play with Superman.

There’s a lot to like in the issue, which has teenaged Clark fighting a “chronovore” – a creature that eats time – with the help of three different Supermen from the Superman Family that Morrison is so fond of.  His affection for DC One Million is weird – yes, he wrote it, and yes, it was pretty good, but it’s not like it’s the greatest thing ever, yet Morrison seems to treat it that way.  The twist at the end was nicely done and ties into the bigger storyline, and whenever Morrison writes something that is heartfelt, it immediately becomes better than his “I’m smarter and weirder than you’ll ever be, so lick my boots, dogs!” work, but something bugged me in the issue.  Possibly because I’m an idiot.

What is the photograph that Kal Kent, the Superman from A.D. 853,500, is holding?  He mentions that the photo is proof that the chronovore is in Smallville, and young Clark muses that Lana Lang saves the universe with the picture.  Is it the same one she took a few pages before?  That would make sense, but how would that alert them to the monster’s presence?  It can’t be because of the old man who passes the window, because he’s gone by the time she takes it.  Am I stupid?

Anyway, I don’t think this is the greatest comic in creation, like others here at the blog.  However, in response to Greg Hatcher’s questions about this book, I like it because it feels like a Superman book should be.  I don’t care about the Silver Age crap, because I don’t like the Silver Age comics all that much.  This Superman is quietly heroic, never calling attention to himself yet always doing the right thing.  Perhaps this can’t be sustained for ten or fifteen years, but right now it doesn’t have to.  It’s a Superman who is a hero, and although the Silver Age stuff is done with a touch of irony, the nobility of Superman is played straight.  And it’s nice to see.

Uncanny X-Men #482 by Ed Brubaker, Billy Tan, and Danny Miki with Allen Martinez.  $2.99, Marvel.

As we head down the home stretch of Brubaker’s initial mega-epic on Uncanny X-Men, I’m getting more disillusioned with it.  Again, it’s not that it’s bad, it’s just kind of boring.  I read Daredevil and Criminal and know that Brubaker can write really cutting-edge stuff, and I suppose Marvel told him not to mess with one of their flagship titles that much, or it could be that he just doesn’t do superheroes that well, and that’s how he’s writing the X-Men.  I guess he has turned Captain America into a spy thriller instead of a superhero book (from what I’ve read of it he has, anyway), and here he’s going for space opera, which, as many of us have pointed out, is not a terribly good fit for the X-Men, and it simply slides into standard superhero stuff.  Which isn’t the worst thing, but it certainly could be better.  No, I’m not dropping it yet, because I am interested to see how this all shakes out, but after this, Uncanny will be on a short leash.

The most annoying thing about this issue is, as usual, Darwin.  I haven’t liked him since the beginning of the story, and he hasn’t gotten any better.  I just don’t like a mutant who can simply do anything, unless he’s a bad guy and gets taken down hard, like Proteus long ago.  I mean, can’t we have mutants with one specific power anymore?  Darwin’s mutant gene is the SUPEREXCELLENTMUTANTGENE, which makes it easy for Brubaker to write something, because Darwin can simply do anything he wants and make it all better.  It’s annoying.  At least other mutants find things that their powers simply can’t affect, but not SUPEREXCELLENTMUTANT Darwin.  And when he’s dragging Xavier past the big scene with all the Shi’ar, what does he see that makes him say, “No … That’s not possible …”  D’Ken and Vulcan haven’t shown up yet, and why would the appearance of D’Ken have such an effect on him?  I’m sure I missed something, so can someone enlighten me?

You can call me a hypocrite for not dropping this book when it’s only okay, and that’s okay.  It’s my money, after all.  I’m just reserving judgment on it until the whole story is done.  It’s just a shame it’s 12 issues long, although the pacing is one thing I don’t have a problem with.

* Oh, and at one point, Corsair tells Alex, who’s on his left, to watch his right flank, whereupon Alex shoots left.  I just thought that was funny.

MINI-SERIES I BOUGHT BUT DID NOT READ.

Bullet Points #3 (of 5) by J. Michael Straczynski and Tommy Lee Edwards.  $2.99, Marvel.

You know, I liked the first issue, but I have no idea if this is going to be any good or not.  I think it will be worth it just to see Edwards’ art.

The Other Side #4 (of 5) by Jason Aaron and Cameron Stewart. $2.99, DC/Vertigo.

Another series that I’m not sure will be any good, even though I enjoyed the first issue.  That’s bizarre.  Something like Agents of Atlas, I know I’m going to love.  But this … I’m not sure.

X Isle #4 (of 5) by Andrew Cosby, Michael A. Nelson, and Greg Scott.  $2.99, Boom! Studios.

Moving toward its inexorable conclusion!  Kevin unfairly makes fun of comic book shoppe retailers, who he implies will not stock Boom! Studios books, even though they’ll stock anything that you ask them for, and as long as it sells, they don’t care who publishes it!  Why should they stock it if you don’t ask for it?

So it’s kind of a small week, especially with the mini-series coming out that I don’t read.  But that’s what happens when you try to limit your purchases! 

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