What I bought - 6 May 2015

She took off her shoes. "My husband said he married me because he thought my feet beautiful. Did you ever hear of such a thing?"

I said to her, "I have heard of a man who married a girl because he heard her laugh beneath his window. And I have heard of a man who married a girl because she could dance a jig on a dinner plate and not break the plate and she was not a small girl. I know a man in County Monaghan who married a girl because she could not pronounce the letter r and he found that charming." (Frank Delaney, from Ireland)

Elephantmen #64 ("How Did it Get so Late so Soon?") by Carlos Pedro (artist), Axel Medellin (colorist), and Richard Starkings (writer/letterer). $3.99, 23 pgs, FC, Image.

Occasionally Starkings pulls out an issue like this, in which two characters talk to each other. In this case, it's Hip and Miki (with two pages to check in on Sahara and Obadiah), renewing their romance and talking about the events of the previous few issues and whether they should really be knocking boots given what's been going on. Starkings has gotten quite good at writing dialogue, so this comic works, and the fact that he has Hip watching David Lynch's Elephant Man while he and Miki talk is a nice touch. I love issues like this, and it's a nice caesura between the previous action and terrible consequences of it all and what looks like bad things a-coming, if the final page is to be believed. Pedro does solid work on the art - I don't like his Miki as much as when Medellin draws her, but that's just a minor thing - and Medellin's coloring shows how much influence a colorist can have, as the pencil work doesn't look too far from when Medellin does it, although we can still see the differences. I don't know what else to write about this issue - if you've been wondering if Starkings is really a good writer or just a good plotter, this should put that to rest, as he leads us through the conversation well and gets information he needs to into the story while making sure it still sounds naturalistic. That's a neat trick. Elephantmen continues to mosey along, and it continues to be a fascinating comic. That's always cool.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Wonder Woman '77 Special by by Wes Abbott (letterer), Marc Andreyko (writer), Jason Badower (artist, "Who Is Wonder Woman?"), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (colorist), Matt Haley (artist, "Disco Inferno"/"Who Is Wonder Woman?"), Drew Johnson (artist. "Disco Inferno"), Richard Ortiz (artist, "Disco Inferno"/"Who Is Wonder Woman?"), Jessica Chen (associate editor), and Jim Chadwick (editor). $7.99, 60 pgs, FC, DC. Wonder Woman and Dr. Psycho created by William Moulton Marston. Steve Trevor created by William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter. Julia and Vanessa Kapatelis created by George Pérez.

I thought DC was going to go with the Batman '66 model with Wonder Woman '77, in that they would do digital stories first and then release them in single issues in an ongoing-type series. But here we have two long stories, both by written by Marc Andreyko, and it doesn't seem like there's going to be anything else. That's too bad - it seems like Wonder Woman in the late 1970s would be fertile ground for a lot of tales, but maybe the digital stories just didn't sell well? How can DC even get a finger on that pulse so quickly? Whatever - nothing else from this universe has been solicited, so maybe DC is seeing how this does in sales. It's not like there's a rush to get more of these out - it doesn't have to be out before (sigh) "Divergence" or anything.

It's a shame the stories aren't better, though. They're not terrible, but beyond the Seventies trappings, they're fairly standard. In the first one, Silver Swan tries to kill a Soviet defector at a disco. In the second one, Dr. Psycho puts Diana in a world where she's not Wonder Woman, and she's not even Diana Prince. Yes, all stories have been told before and nothing is original, but Andreyko doesn't try very hard to put any kind of spin on things, which is too bad. All the weirdness in the stories comes from the art, and even that is fairly inconsistent, although Fajardo's colors do try to make up for that. Johnson pits Wonder Woman against roller derby Soviet assassins early in his chapter, and his rendition of Silver Swan and her back-up singers (she's the act at the disco) is superb. There are not-so-subtle hints at cocaine use at the disco, and it's nice that DC let it slide. Badower is the best at evoking Lynda Carter, but he also only does one chapter in his story. He also does a decent job with the Cathy Lee Crosby Wonder Woman who shows up in Dr. Psycho's psycho-drama. Fajardo's shiny, warm-toned color palette keeps the art looking at least somewhat standard throughout, but even that can't make up for the somewhat dull stories. It's too bad - you can kind of feel all sorts of weird stuff lurking around the edges of these stories, but Andreyko and even the artists never quite go whole hog. In Batman '66, the writers (usually Jeff Parker) and the artists tend to go a bit more nuts, and that makes the book wildly fun to read. This is just a superhero comic with some period touches, but there's nothing very special about it. It's a shame - I would have loved to see Andreyko really go nuts with the Seventies ethos, as the Seventies were, of course, the grooviest decade of the twentieth century.

I don't know if we'll get any more Wonder Woman '77. I still think it's a great concept, but who knows if DC will do anything more with it. We shall see.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Cluster #4 by Ed Brisson (writer/letterer), Damian Couceiro (artist), Michael Garland (colorist), Cameron Chittock (assistant editor), and Eric Harburn (editor). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

I could have sworn this was supposed to be a four-issue mini-series, but in the latest Previews, issue #5 is solicited, so maybe the first issue sold well and it got "promoted" to an ongoing? Boom! did that with Lumberjanes, of course, but the way this ends, it doesn't seem like Brisson had any plans whatsoever to wrap this up in this issue - it's very open-ended, so if he changed it somehow, he and Couceiro did a good job on the fly. It just might be possible that I didn't realize it was an ongoing when it started, but then we have to consider the fact that I was wrong, and we shan't countenance that!!!!

Brisson, who can turn the screws on characters pretty well when he wants to, does so here, as we move briskly to the resolution of one plot thread that I thought might linger a while, so that's appreciated. Meanwhile, Samara's story takes its predictable turn, as we learn more about the reason she's on the prison planet - we already knew most of it, but Brisson adds a bit more detail, which is always nice. While I was thinking about this, I suppose it could work as a four-issue mini-series - the issue doesn't end neatly, but Brisson certainly could have left it there, with Samara's penance fulfilled to her satisfaction, in a twisted way. I'm glad it's not, but it could have. Brisson's a fairly bleak writer, so I wouldn't have put it past him. As I've been noting all along, there's nothing wildly subversive about this comic, but it's entertaining. Brisson has done some nice work with Samara, making her both more vulnerable than she presents herself but also fairly bad-ass, as she came to Midlothian that way and has only shown more of it since she arrived. Samara and Grace have a nice relationship, and that should continue to make the book interesting as Brisson moves on with the main plot.

Couceiro and Garland continue to do stellar work with the art, as Couceiro gets to draw some of the weird native flora of the planet and a couple of neat action scenes. He doesn't show the most violent scene in the book, but the way he does show most of it is well done, as we get the effect without the gore. Garland, who has been coloring the book with a lot of earth tones, continues with that, but it's impressive how big a range he gets with them, and he adds nice splashes of blues (Grace's hair, for instance) and greens to offset the preponderance of red-brown-oranges that he uses. It's remains a nice-looking comic, which is always good to see.

I've been enjoying Cluster, and I'm actually glad that it's continuing, at least for a while. I want to spend a bit more time with these characters on this world, so now I get to!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Über #24 by Digikore Studios (colorist), Daniel Gete (artist), Kieron Gillen (writer), and Kurt Hathaway (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Avatar.

Much like Starkings, Gillen takes this issue to catch us up, although he zips around to various characters, including Maria in Russia, who is of course both crazy and crazy-awesome. The bulk of the issue is about Leah, the giant, deformed girl that the British have created, and their attempts to get her to France so she can start killing things. In the back matter, Gillen notes that it was a bit strange to write an issue of Über with a lot of jokes in it, but he pulls it off pretty well - there's gallows humor everywhere you look, after all, and it's not like there haven't been comedic moments in war movies since forever. Gillen's humor is tinged with the horror of war, though, which is why it fits pretty well in this series - Maria is crazy, for instance, but she seems to know that she has to be mad to be in this war and in this situation, and then, of course, it becomes a "sane" response. Meanwhile, Leah is so gargantuan it would present problems in transport, and Gillen mines that pretty well. Even Duncan, the clueless and casually terrible bureaucrat, is funny because while he's very clueless, it's really not beyond the realm of possibility that he would think the way he does. So the humor doesn't come from nowhere, and Gillen does a nice job with it.

After the violence and Stephanie's underhandedness of the previous issue, this is nice issue to let us catch our breath, and it also gives Gillen a chance to do what he does best, which is work on characterization. We still get some plot development, which is nice, but it does take a back seat to Gillen showing us how scared Leah is even though she's tougher than anyone and how the other characters are reacting to the pressures of the new war they're fighting. It seems that Gillen is getting back to the violence next issue, which is fine, but it was nice to have this issue among it all.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Zero #16 ("The Black Thing, the Ugly Spirit") by Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), Ales Kot (writer), and Stathis Tsemberlidis (artist). $2.99, 25 pgs, FC, Image.

Zero has a few issues left, so Kot might still save it, but it's going down a road that isn't terribly interesting, and it's a shame. Kot used William Burroughs in issue #15, and it worked pretty well, but he's still using him (and Allen Ginsburg, which at least ties back to an earlier issue), and the novelty has worn off, especially because this issue is all about fathers and sons, which is quite possibly the most hackneyed idea in the history of fiction. That's not to say it can't work, of course (Starman, one of the best comics of the 1990s if not ever, is largely about that relationship), but it's tricky, and Kot does absolutely nothing original with it. "Oh, boo-hoo, I killed my wife because I'm a man and I just can't help myself and women are so pure and wonderful and men just fuck it up and pass it on to their sons and the cycle begins again!!!" Blech. Kot has come up with a weird and interesting take on the spy comic, and as it winds up, he's indulging in these tired tropes? Burroughs isn't interesting enough to star in two consecutive issues, especially when the theme boils down to "Men are evil and there's nothing they can do about it." You know who's evil? People are. This week I have been dealing (somewhat tangentially, but still) with a woman who has made terrible choices for thirty years and exploits others' feelings for her to continue to get away with shit. She might not be actively evil like the rapist in this issue, but she's certainly doing evil things and she knows it. Edward Zero was a far more interesting character when he wasn't crying because his dad never loved him. I just hope that in the final two issues, William Burroughs fucks right off and we get back to the interesting Edward Zero. That would be nice.

Oh, and the art is just okay. I assume we're not supposed to be able to tell Burroughs and Zero apart too well, but who knows. I do think Stathis Tsemberlidis is quite possibly the greatest name in the history of humanity, so that's something.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Wicked + the Divine #10 by Clayton Cowles (letterer), Kieron Gillen (writer), Jamie McKelvie (artist), Matthew Wilson (colorist), and Chrissy Williams (editor). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

One reason Gillen is one of my favorite current writers (the God of All Comics still reigns supreme, but KG is probably next on the list) is because, as I've noted before, he writes the way I like to write (without being anywhere near as good as he is) and he writes the way I like to read. There's a scene where Cassandra explains things to the audience and they don't get it, and she doesn't understand why they don't get it. Laura does, though, and she comforts Cass. It's not the absolutely most original scene, and even in the context of the issue, it takes a back seat to the major drama going on, but Gillen writes it beautifully, with great honesty and pathos, and McKelvie and Wilson are superb with the way the two characters talk to each other as well. The major plot of the issue deals with Baphomet and his rage, but that scene is the powerful heart of the issue. And Gillen does those kinds of scenes a lot, and he usually does them very, very well.

So yeah. Your tastes might be completely different from mine, and that's cool, but those are the kinds of scenes that make me love stories and especially comics. So it's no wonder I like this comic!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Descender #3 ("Tin Stars Part 3") by Jeff Lemire (writer), Dustin Nguyen (artist), and Steve Wands (letterer). $2.99, 21 pgs, FC, Image.

So TIM-21 is Robot Jesus? Yeah, I can get behind that.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

No Mercy #2 by Alex de Campi (writer), Jenn Manley Lee (colorist), and Carla Speed McNeil (artist). $2.99, 25 pgs, FC, Image.

I'm not sure how long de Campi plans to do this series, as she's running out of cast members in the second issue, so who knows who's going to be left by, say, issue #4. In the cast list at the beginning of the book, five people are already blocked out, and one of the characters who is still shown manages to be unconscious the entire issue and then, to add huge insult to injury, to get eaten by coyotes in this issue. Yeah, that has to suck. So 6 of the 15 blocks are now black, and that attrition rate is pretty damned high, even with the bus accident in issue #1 taking most of the toll. I mean, two other people are threatened by coyotes in this issue, while another one gets bitten and might get rabies, because why not, so things aren't looking very good for our cast. Oh, and one idiot American puts the fire out because he's an idiot. And an American. Damned stupid Americans.

McNeil shifts easily between horror and utter cuteness - Tiffani dreams of big-eyed kittens to make the fear go away, and only a few pages later a character gets ripped apart by coyotes. The entire issue takes place at night, which means it's very black and orange (from the fire) and very poorly lit, which is a bit annoying. It's not as annoying as it would be in a movie, but it's still frustrating. Lee does earn her money, though, as her shading is tremendous - she's always aware of where the fire is in any panel, so we get some very neat shading as the characters move around. I am looking forward to the next day, though, although who knows if anyone will survive the night.

I'm not in love with No Mercy (yet), but it's a solid fear-filled comic. My biggest problem with both issues is that I don't really care if all of these characters get eaten by coyotes. They aren't terribly sympathetic, so for now, I'm rooting for the wild dogs. I don't know if that's really what de Campi wants.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Scaffold by V A Graham and J A Eisenhower. $15.00, 59 pgs, BW, Hic and Hoc Publications.

Man, this looks really cool.

Money spent this week: $41.34. YTD: $2188.92.


I don't have much to write about other than comics, so I apologize. It's been a more annoying week than usual, and I might be without the Internet for the weekend, so if you happen to have a question about any of these comics, I might not be able to answer. We'll see. We need a faster ISP, and it might take a few days to get it up and running. Why, I don't know. I'm not a smart person, after all.

I hope everyone has a nice weekend, and don't forget that next week Mad Max: Fury Road opens. If all y'all don't see it on Friday at the latest, I shall be very disappointed in you. Don't make me come over there!

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