What I bought - 5 March 2008

Not as many books this week as the past two, and no Grammar Guide, but I'm sure to court controversy in this post with the very first comic review, which contains a gargantuan SPOILER.  You've been warned!  Don't say I didn't warn you!  Plus: The best book on the market gets brutal, a flashback to a great few issues of the Caped Crusader, another fiercely independent comics creator returns, some excellent superhero comics, and Vertigo gives us two phenomenal titles!  What more could you want????  (Except an invitation to call me a moron not once, not twice, but thrice!  Yes, it's open season on Greg!)


Buffy the Vampire Slayer #12 by Drew Goddard (writer), Georges Jeanty (penciller), Andy Owens (inker), Michelle Madsen (colorist), and Richard Starkings and Comicraft's Jimmy (letterers).  $2.99, 21 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.





Okay, let's talk about Buffy ending up in bed with Satsu the hot Asian chick.  Won't that be fun?

I have not been reading this series, but someone at the comic book shoppe told me that it featured something dy-no-mite!, so I figured it wouldn't kill me to read it.  Therefore, I have no idea who Satsu is or what Buffy's relationship with her was before they ended up in bed.  So, take that into consideration here.

The only part of the book that deals with Buffy and Satsu's feelings, as opposed to everyone coming into Buffy's bedroom and reacting to finding them (which is pretty funny (perhaps too funny), especially Xander saying "My burning, beautiful eye") is on two pages.  The key point, perhaps, is Satsu saying to Buffy, "I know you didn't just ... turn gay all of a sudden ..."  Buffy says, "Right" before flipping out because she thinks her performance was poor.  It's not a badly written scene at all, and kind of captures the reactions of two people who have had sex for the first time and one person is more experienced than the other.  In the case of good old-fashioned sex, I don't know if Buffy is as experienced as Satsu, but in terms of hawt girl-on-girl action, Satsu definitely knows more.


So: the scene is written well.  But that's not what bothered me.  It didn't even bother me that Buffy was getting it on with a chick.  However, what bothered me is the idea that she would.  Again, let me remind you that I haven't been reading the series and only caught the television show intermittently, when my wife used to watch it.  Has Buffy EVER given any indication that she liked women?  Even when she was matching wits with Eliza Dushku, and every guy in America was hoping SMG and Dushku would stop all the fussin' and feudin' and just lock lips?  I don't know.  But Whedon makes it perfectly clear that Buffy is NOT a lesbian.  It's not worded particularly strongly, but it's fairly clear.  So, she's not a lesbian, but she just happens to have sex with a woman?  That insults my intelligence.

Why?  Well, let's look at it this way: Scott Summers wakes up next to Kurt Wagner and talks about what a wonderful night of sex they just had.  Immediately we know they're gay.  There's absolutely no question about it.  It's not a case of Scott just needing a shoulder to cry on because Emma went all evil on the X-Men again and the two just happened to have sex.  They're GAY!  Now, there's nothing wrong with that - let them be gay if they want to.  Let Buffy be gay if she wants to.  But it seems like Whedon is trying to have his cake and eat it too, not unlike a lot of male writers who think it would be cool for two hot chicks to hook up.  I don't know Whedon's stance on sexual orientation.  This scene is implying that he thinks it is indeed a "choice," and that Buffy and anyone else chooses to be heterosexual, but they can turn it on and off.  Perhaps he does think it's innate.  In which case, this scene becomes even more problematic.

My point is (and I do have one!) is that writers like to fantasize about two straight women having sex.  Hell, the porn industry is based on this!  Whedon claims this moment came about through the natural progression of the characters, but that's bullshit.  Straight women do not have sex with other women as a "natural progression."  Now, I know people like to talk about younger women "experimenting," but does anyone have any hard evidence for that?  Anecdotally, I have never met a straight woman who would even consider having sex with another woman.  Unless my wife is lying to me, she had opportunities to have sex with women, and she didn't ... because she's not gay.  So don't tell me that you know all these straight women who had sex with women in college just as a phase.  It's not that I disbelieve people who say that, I just treat it as an urban legend.  Straight women pretend to be interested in other women ... because they know men are pigs who will respond like slobbering dogs.  Just like, I would bet, Whedon is hoping men respond to this issue.

I'm a bit angrier about this than I want to be, because it doesn't really matter.  Buffy can fuck four men and four women at the same time for all I care.  I'm just saying that you NEVER see two men end up in bed together unless it's been pretty well established that they're gay.  This smacks of a crass move by Whedon and Goddard, because they take such pains to point out that Buffy isn't gay.  They want the titillation of having Buffy do the nasty with a hot Asian chick (and how's that for a cliche?) but they don't want to alienate anyone too much.  Fuck that, gentlemen.  This scene is beneath everyone involved.  It doesn't matter how they spin it in upcoming issues.  It's still a stupid scene.

Go ahead: call me a moron.  I can take it.

Casanova #12 by Matt Fraction (writer), Fábio Moon (artist), and Sean Konot (letterer).  $1.99, 20 pgs, BWB, Image.

This issue is called "Fuck Shit Up," because that's precisely what Zephyr does in this issue: fuck shit up.  And man, it's brilliant and terrible and beautiful and tragic to behold.  Moon's art is dazzling in this issue, and Fraction, as he points out in the back matter, decided that holes in the air locks meant that no one could speak, so most of the killing is done in silence, which makes it even more frightening.  There's not much to say, because the issue is so sparse on plot, but it's still an astonishing piece of comic book art.  Man, this is a great book.  But what the hell was Cornelius thinking, rushing Zephyr like that?

Why isn't this book a top seller?  It makes me sad.

ClanDestine #2 (of 5) by Alan Davis (writer/penciller), Mark Farmer (inker), J. Brown (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer).  $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Alan Davis cares nought for the passage of time in the Marvel Universe!  If he wants to revisit the glory days of Excalibur, he's by God going to do it, and damn the torpedoes!

The story moves along, but as it's a mini-series, it's silly to talk about the long-term plot, which will be resolved (presumably) in issue #5, and whether it works or not will be apparent then.  We get to see where Newton spends most of his time, in the other dimension of which he is warlord, and it's a pretty groovy place where android babes wait on him, and we learn what happened to Albert to make him the withdrawn person who barely appeared in the original series.  And Kay dresses up like Rogue, for some reason.

But who cares?  It's absolutely stunning Davis art in service to an old-school superhero adventure story.  If you like superhero comics, there's no reason not to love this.  NO REASON!!!!

Comic Book Comics #1 by Fred van Lente (writer) and Ryan Dunlavey (artist).  $3.95, 40 pgs, BW, Evil Twin Comics.

Van Lente and Dunlavey brought us Action Philosophers!, which was one of the most fun books to come out in the past few years.  It was snappy and edumacational, and for nine issues, it was wonderful to read.  That ran its course, and now the two crazy creators have set their sights on the history of comic books!  It can't miss!

Well, it can, to a certain degree.  Van Lente and Dunlavey bring their typical wackiness to the book, Dunlavey doing a great job with the art, including visually showing how the comic strip and book evolved, which is why this is a nice medium to explore the history of the medium.  So we get Winsor McCay's innovative use of panels drawn as if McCay drew it, and when Jacob Kurtzberg decides to Anglicize his name to Jack Kirby (because back then, if you read a comic written or drawn by a Jew, some Jew could rub off on you, man!), it's a nice Kirby-esque moment.  Van Lente makes it entertaining, but the problem with this, as opposed to Action Philosophers!, is that the structure of the book works against it.  It gets a bit plodding, as it's difficult to keep the tone light when you're dealing with the history of such a complicated topic.  It's interesting to read, but by necessity, Van Lente is trying to keep it light, even when some of the topics demand more in-depth examination.  I haven't read Gerard Jones' Men of Tomorrow yet (I own it, but I haven't read it yet), but it seems like this kind of thing is more suited to something more than the comic-book form.

What about the confounded philosophers?  Doesn't philosophy demand something more in-depth?  Well, of course it does, but the way Van Lente and Dunlavey structured that book, they kept things on the surface while making us interested in reading more about each philosopher.  This book seems more ambitious, but it shouldn't be.  It should do the same kind of thing that Action Philosophers! did, and although it's similar, the crucial difference makes it a lesser book.  That's not to say that I think the book is a failure.  Van Lente does a nice job showing how one event leads into another, how things and people are connected, and some of the back-stabbing in the background of the comics industry.  I do have faith in the creators and want to read the book, but I hope that the next issue feels different.  This just doesn't have the pizazz that the first book did.  We'll see if it picks up next issue!

Detective Comics #842 by Peter Milligan (writer), Dustin Nguyen (penciller), Derek Fridolfs (inker), John Kalisz (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer).  $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

There was a time, back in the day, when a weird writer who had made his name in the United States taking over a Steve Ditko creation and basically shitting all over it wrote a handful of issues of one of DC's flagship characters.  Good times, I tell you.  He couldn't stay on the book, but he gave us a few of the weirdest issues that the Dark Knight Detective ever appeared in.  You think the God of All Comics is writing the Caped Crusader weirdly?  You haven't read about the hungry grass, man!

Then he was gone, finishing up Shade, The Changing Man, writing some unbelievably wacky mini-series for Vertigo, drifting off to Marvel to butcher an Elektra ongoing, launching a short-lived series for Vertigo that died too soon, launching another Vertigo series that lasted a bit longer but still died too soon, bringing us one of the most bizarre and excellent mutant books ever, getting the big gig writing Marvel's Merry Mutants and failing, and then coming back to DC.  He's written the Gotham Guardian recently, but this issue of Detective Comics recalls those glorious days of fifteen years ago or so, as Batman puts on ... the Suit of Sorrows!

Yes, the Suit of Sorrows.  Talia, for some reason, sends Batman a new suit of armor to wear in his unceasing battle against the forces of darkness.  And, because it's a Milligan comic, the armor is cursed.  Well, of course it is!  Finding out the key to the curse takes Batman to the French Alps to investigate a connection to the Order of St. Dumas.  That's right, the motherfucking Order of motherfucking St. Dumas, motherfuckers!  And, of course, there's an ancient secret, a mystery to solve, and a creepy serial killer.  Yes, it's goddamned awesome.  Oh, sure, the mystery is a bit obvious, but it's a one-and-done, and I have spoken before that it's tough to set up and solve a mystery in one issue, but other than that, it's awesome.  Milligan has been hit-and-miss since X-Statix ended, but the man can write an excellent Batman book when he wants to.

Damn.  This is really cool.  Oh, and Nguyen kicks all kinds of ass too.  Just so you know.

Dynamo 5 #11 by Jay Faerber (writer), Mahmud A. Asrar (artist), Ron Riley (colorist), and Charles Pritchett (letterer).  $3.50, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

Faerber does stuff that is somewhat unexpected, which keeps us on our toes, and that's why this and Noble Causes are so much fun.  This issue is set up like a fairly standard superhero plot - or plots, as the case may be: The kids head to Washington, D. C., to rescue Olivia's father, who has been taken hostage.  She has to spring a mob informer from jail and deliver him to the bad guys, and she's willing to do it, because what does she care about some minor mob informer?  Maddie doesn't want the kids going, but they tell her to stick it and help out, leaving her with Hector's mother.  The Dynamo 5 adventure is resolved in this issue, but not really the way we might expect.  Meanwhile, Maddie and Hector's mother, Jennifer, are back at HQ, debating the merits of allowing the kids to be superheroes.  An intruder shows up, and once again, a standard plot is turned on its ear by the way the characters act.  That is to say, they act the way we would expect them to act, not the way cardboard characters in superhero books act.  This leads right into next issue, where things don't look terribly good for our heroes.

I've said it before, but this is a fantastic superhero book, and it stems from Faerber understanding characters and what motivates them.  The way the Dynamo 5 kids react to the plight of Olivia's father, the way Maddie reacts to them, and the way Jennifer Chang reacts to the entire situation into which she's been dropped make perfect sense, and that drives the plot forward.  Nothing feels forced in this book, which is a big part of its charm.  Plus, Asrar, as usual, is stellar on art.

With Noble Causes returning in a few weeks and Faerber's new mini-series, Gemini, coming in May (there's a preview in the back of this book, and although I still don't love the art, it's a nice teaser), it's a good time to be a fan of superheroes, Faerber-style.  The dude is hitting on all cylinders right now.

Echo #1 by Terry Moore (writer/artist).  $3.50, 22 pgs, BW, Abstract Studio.

First Jeff Smith, now Terry Moore, next Dave Sim - it's strange, the conjunction of creators of long-running and widely-beloved and well-respected independent series all returning with new stuff in a short period of time.  It's pretty cool, actually.  So what's the deal with this?

Well, first of all, Moore's art is excellent.  The action scenes, which begin the book, are tense, and Moore builds the excitement nicely until the big climax, which is a nuclear explosion over the desert.  This leads to the second section of the book, which introduces our main character, Julie, who's out in the desert photographing the flora and is therefore directly underneath the explosion.  Oh dear.  It seems the military is experimenting with a new kind of battle suit that, when it explodes, rains on the desert in small, putty-like balls that, according to the scientist working on the project, have turned each ball into a nuclear bomb.  Unfortunately, hundreds of these balls fell on Julie and stuck to her, and by the end of the book, something strange is happening to our heroine.  Moore illustrates the second half of the book in a fairly understated manner, considering what's happened, and it helps ground the book after the slam-bang beginning.

The story is certainly interesting, but like Rasl last week, it's a lot of set-up, and considering the fact that it's $3.50, it's a bit slow to get started.  Moore gives us plenty of information about Julie - she's getting divorced, she's in credit card debt - and introduces plenty of characters, but it still feels like it needed a bigger bang to get going.  There's something to be said for starting the story in the middle, or maybe even with the explosion, to give us more of what happens to Julie at the end.  We experience some of her horror, but then the book ends before we see what's going on.  It's a good comic, but I wonder if it's worth getting the individual issues.  I know this is a concern for independent books, so I would encourage you to buy it to support Moore's endeavors, but I hope the individual issues are worth the expense, especially when it's pretty much guaranteed to get collected.

It's a monthly book (at least the next issue page proclaims "Next month"), so if Moore can keep up a monthly schedule, the pace might not matter too much.  Slow pacing is okay if the book comes out frequently.  It's only 50 cents more than your regular comic, and it's worth seeing a creator working on something he loves.  Give this a try!

Moon Knight #16 by Mike Benson (writer), Charlie Huston (plotter), Mark Texeira (artist), Javier Saltares (layouts), Dan Brown (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer).  $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Moon Knight continues to shine, as Benson's first arc on the book continues.  Marc is still on his downward spiral, and he sucks Ray, his new pilot, into his maelstrom of violence.  The final pages of this book are, if possible, even more visceral than it's been, not because the violence is so shocking (it's not), but because of the way it unfolds.  (Although, I will say that Marc's narration about not killing people is somewhat strange, given how this series began with his battle with Bushman.)  But the rest of the book is great, too, as Carson Knowles shows that he's as crazy as Marc is, but in some subtler ways.  The way Benson shows him casually committing murder, then considering turning himself in until some mysterious stranger convinces him not to, then chatting amiably with Marlene, is riveting.  This comic keeps getting better.

And I enjoyed the Brett Favre reference, because Benson couldn't have known that this would come out two days after he retired.  Maybe Favre wants to get a good steak after his long, overrated career!  (Yeah, I said it.  Call me a moron for the second time today, if you must.  But it's totally true, and deep down, we all know it.)

Justice League: The New Frontier Special #1 by Darwyn Cooke (writer/artist on "Superman and Batman in a Fight to the Finish"), David Bullock (penciller, "Dragstrip Riot"), Michael Cho (inker, "Dragstrip Riot"), J. Bone (artist, "Wonder Woman and Black Canary Fight a Gender War"), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Jared Fletcher (letterer).  $4.99, 47 pgs, FC, DC.

I was a bit disappointed that Cooke didn't draw this entire thing, but the other two artists draw in the same style, so I can deal with it.  It would have been nice, however.

I was also a bit disappointed with the stories.  The second one, "Dragstrip Riot," features Robin and Kid Flash, and is pretty good.  Robin and Flash team up to save President Kennedy's life, and the plot against him is ingenious and the way they team up is clever.  It's a good example of two heroes initially butting heads, but not in a ridiculous way, and then forming a team when, as Robin puts it, "neither one of us had the tools to swing [the rescue] alone."  That's what makes a good team-up: the heroes unable to do something by themselves and using their unique skills to thwart the bad guy.

However, the two other stories aren't as good.  Cooke's art in the first one is fine, and J. Bone's in the third one, despite Wonder Woman looking a bit zaftig, is okay.  In the first story, Superman is deputized by Eisenhower himself to go after Batman, and it reads far too much like a retread of The Dark Knight Returns.  There's really nothing you can do with a Superman-Batman fight anymore, because Batman will always be smarter than Superman and will always have Kryptonite, so there's nothing terribly interesting about it.  The ending is nicer, because of the way the fight is resolved, but it's not enough to rescue a rather dull retelling of something we've seen far too often.  The third story is more problematic, and I'm sure I'm going to get killed yet again for my take on it.  I get that it's largely tongue-in-cheek, as Wonder Woman decides to visit a "Playboy" club and teach the men that they shouldn't oppress women.  There are some nice touches, like the fact that Bruce Wayne is at the club, as is Gloria Steinem, who gets some ideas from Diana, but I'm not entirely sure what I'm supposed to feel about the story.  Wonder Woman is an object of ridicule in the story, from the very first panel when Dinah tells her she needs to get a massage and relax.  At the club, Diana grabs Jayne Mansfield, who was going to jump out of a cake, and gets in, popping out to deliver a speech about treating women equally, which the men do not appreciate.  When they throw their glasses at her, she beats the crap out of them.  One guy does try to set her on fire, but prior to that, the men aren't really doing anything wrong - I know they throw their glasses at her, but still.  It's a weird story, because Diana is spreading a good message, and the end, with Steinem writing down what she says and what happened at the club, means that the women will get the message, but the way it's presented, with Wonder Woman acting so strident that we can't take her seriously, especially when she acts so irrationally - she wants to spread a message of "love and equality," as she herself says, but flies off the handle in an instant.  I'm taking it too seriously, I know, and I should just enjoy the fact that Wonder Woman kicks stupid male ass!  Go, WW!  But I can't, because it seems like the message is lost in the silliness.

Okay, for the third time, go ahead and call me a moron.  That's fine.

Northlanders #4 by Brian Wood (writer), Davide Gianfelice (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer).  $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

There's not a lot to say about this issue, as it's the middle of the opening story arc.  Sven's war against Gorm settles down a bit because winter sets in, and this allows Gorm's right-hand man, Hakkar, to dispatch a spy to Constantinople to dig up what he can on Sven.  We learn that Sven needs the treasure to return, and we also find out that Hakkar, like Sven, is as ruthless as they come.  It's a typically gorgeous-looking comic, as Gianfelice does a wonderful job with winter in the Orkneys and gives us a taste of the Mediterranean world as well, with a flashback to Sven and his woman.  The story zips along, with more death and tragedy, and this issue, like the others in this series so far, is excellent.  It's rapidly becoming one of my favorites.

Pax Romana #2 (of 4) by Jonathan Hickman (writer/artist).  $3.50, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

I have read a few negative reviews of the first issue of this series, as well as Hickman's previous mini-series, The Nightly News.  The one reviewer I read said that Hickman's use of a "transcript" style in the middle of the comic, where he simply has the names of characters and what they say with absolutely no pictorial accompaniment, stops the comic dead in its tracks.  I admit, the biggest problem with this style is that we don't really have any sense of the characters, so if someone says something contentious, we don't know if that's "in character" or not.  But that's not the point.  Hickman, so far, has shown that he's fairly polemical and even pedantic in his writings, and this fits in with what he's trying to accomplish.  These transcripts are simply to put forth an argument about things Hickman wants to argue about - it doesn't matter who's talking, really.  The military leader of the time-traveling expedition, Nicholas Chase, seized control of the entire kit and kaboodle last issue in a bit of a coup, and now he's debating with the rest of the leaders.  Hickman wants us to ask ourselves how we would change a culture if we had the chance, especially in regard to slavery, which was common in the 4th century and didn't necessarily carry the stigma it would later acquire.  As I've repeatedly said with regard to Hickman's books, it's not that he occasionally fails, it's that he's ambitious enough to try crazy things, and most of the time he succeeds.  When he fails (if you think he does), you can at least admire that he's trying something different.

This is really a fascinating comic.  Chase and his legions have the firepower to recreate the world, and Chase even says that he will destroy anyone who stands in the way of "humanity's progress."  He eliminated the man sent back with them because that man was not ambitious enough.  Interestingly enough, in Constantine, Chase has found a man who is as ambitious as he is, but lacked the means to remake the world.  Hickman is begging the question: If you had the power to change humanity for the better, would you do it, and at what cost?  That is a bold notion that's been done before in superhero comics, but rarely with such thought behind it (the time travel aspect has been done before, too, in books like Harry Turtledove's The Guns of the South, for example).  Hickman understands that Chase and his army are not unlike superheroes to the Romans, and therefore they have to take this burden on themselves.  Hickman isn't doing something completely original, but unlike many superhero comics that have trod this ground, we already know Chase succeeds.  It remains to be seen what it costs him.

At least, that's the way I look at it.  I've been wrong before.

Uncanny X-Men #496 by Ed Brubaker (writer), Mike Choi (artist), Sonia Oback (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer).  $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I will say this - I like Choi's art a lot more in this issue than last.  It seems a bit softer and naturalistic.  Maybe I've just gotten used to it.

Anyway, I want to point out that I don't really have a big problem with Brubaker spoiling Astonishing X-Men, especially if everyone ran it by Whedon first.  I just found it interesting that Marvel has given up on trying to keep Astonishing under wraps because it's so far behind schedule.  It's their biggest seller, but they just don't care anymore.  Good job, Marvel!

What I like about Brubaker on this book, especially recently (when he's not wrapped up in crossovers), is that he's trying a couple of things.  One, he's writing stories that aren't necessarily "mutant-centric," which is always nice to see.  I have no problem with the X-books concentrating on mutant issues, but it's also nice when they simply fight bad guys, whether the bad guys are trying to eliminate all mutants or not.  The weird 1969 thing that's going on in San Francisco will probably turn out to be some kind of mutant, but it's unusual right now, and I appreciate it.  Plus, the story line with Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus in Russia isn't completely "mutant-centric."  This leads to my second point, which is how Brubaker seems to be trying to integrate the book a little bit more into the Marvel Universe.  The Marvel books are at their best when we're aware they all occur in the same space at (about) the same time, and the fact that Brubaker drops Gaiman's Eternal into a panel (I guess it could have been Choi, too, but it doesn't matter) is nice, as is the reference to the Red Room.  I don't want all the Marvel books to constantly reference every other Marvel book, but it's still good to see.  I don't care if the X-books are part of "Secret Invasion," but why wouldn't the Skrulls infiltrate the mutants, too?

I'm with this book until #500, at least.  I wasn't sure about it post-crossover, but the last two issues have been pretty good.  If Marvel lets Brubaker do his thing, there's no reason why this can't be a very good comic.

The Vinyl Underground #6 by Si Spencer (writer), Simon Gane (penciller), Cameron Stewart (inker), Guy Major (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer).  $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Brian was raving about this book recently, and while I absolutely loathed the first issue, I figured it might have gotten better, so I picked up the first issue of the "new case."  Did it get any better?

Well, yes, but it's still not for me, I think.  The main characters aren't quite as obnoxiously hipper-than-thou as they were in the first issue, but they still don't feel like real people to me.  It is a fairly interesting case - a girl is left at William Blake's tomb, posed like an illustration for his poem "Little Girl Lost," with the words "magic marker" written on her forehead.  There are, of course, many more girls stashed somewhere, each with a word written on their forehead.  So I might read a few more issues, because this one doesn't repel me like the first issue did.

I will say that Morrison is a stone-cold idiot.  Someone leaves a girl at William Blake's grave, posed like a girl in a Blake poem, and he thinks it's a coincidence?  Isn't this guy supposed to be some kind of investigator?  Sheesh.  Oh well.  If the final page is any indication, he'll soon change his mind.

So, this isn't a great comic, but it's gotten better in a short time.  If you were put off by the awful first issue as much as I was, this is a good place to revisit it and see if it's more to your liking.

Young Liars #1 by David Lapham (writer/artist), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer).  $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Speaking of first issues, David Lapham brings us his new title, and it's pretty frickin' awesome.  I have never read Stray Bullets (yes, I know I should!), and it's too bad, as Lapham explains, that economic necessity keeps him from it, but I absolutely loved his 12-issue epic "City of Crime" in Detective Comics and enjoyed Silverfish, even if it wasn't anything special.  But this book is crazy fun, intense from the first to last page, introducing all the principal characters while still keeping its foot on the accelerator.  There's one glaring problem, which I'll get to, but for the most part, this is a really fun ride.

The story begins today, actually (7 March 2008), as we meet Danny Noonan (it's a common enough name, I suppose, but I should point out that the main character in Caddyshack was also named Danny Noonan), who left his home in Texas at 20 to make it big in New York.  He's been in town, we learn, for a year, and has pretty much given up on his guitar dreams.  But he doesn't mind, because he's madly in love wtih Sadie Dawkins (not Sadie Hawkins, mind you), a slightly nutty young lady who has a bullet lodged in her brain and believes that's she invulnerable (and might be, as a nice hint in the issue shows).  Around these two swirl a usual bunch of people you would expect to find in the Manhattan club scene, including a transvestite, an anorexic waitress, a groupie, and a slumming rich kid.  One of the problems with stories starring people like this is that they don't really seem to like each other all that much, yet they still hang out together.  It's odd, but Lapham makes it work because of the sheer speed with which we hurtle through the story, mostly because Sadie seems to be going, as the cover promises, "a thousand miles an hour."

There's more than a few conflicts swirling through this comic, but the two main ones are 1) The night Sadie was shot, someone in the group "sold her out," and when she finds out who, she's going to kill that person; and 2) Danny loves Sadie but hasn't told her yet, which seems about right for this kind of relationship.  There's also a desperate desire for money that permeates the book, which is somewhat interesting; Sadie herself appears purely without desire for it, but there's a reason: her father is rich.  It's easy to be unconcerned about money when you have access to a lot of it.  The other characters, however, aren't so lucky, and this theme seems like it will be rather important in the scheme of things, especially as Sadie's father would like her to come home.

It's Sadie's father that I don't particularly like.  He's the owner of a chain of supermarkets, so he's filthy rich.  He's also a bit depraved, and this is what I don't like.  I'm a bit tired of filthy rich businessmen in comics not only being evil (I imagine to get that filthy rich, you have to be a little evil, so that's fine), but also completely depraved.  Lloyd Browning wears boxer shorts and an Evel Knievel helmet and apparently indulges in orgies with unusual-looking women.  He's looking for Sadie because she knows something and it's not going to be pleasant, but I don't like the way Browning is portrayed.  I know he's going to be suitably vile, but he's still a goofy villain, and it's kind of tiring.  We're getting a lot of these kind of bad guys in comics, and it's as if comics writers aren't happy with making businessmen evil, they have to make them freaks as well.  Browning would be a lot more frightening if he weren't such a joke.  Unfortunately, it looks like he's going to be a big part of the comic, and that's frustrating.  The characters that Danny hang out with are so much more interesting, but we need a villain, so we're stuck with Lloyd Browning.

Browning only shows up on two pages, and the rest of the book is so good that I can overlook it for now.  I'm very curious to see what's going on with this book, and I encourage you all to pick it up and check it out.  Lapham knocks it almost out of the park - let's call it a triple and an error that allows him to score!

That's all we have this week, friends and neighbors.  Will anyone have the cajones to take me up on my offers to call me a moron?????

Detective Comics #994

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