Thursday, April 21, 2005

What I bought - 20 April 2005

It took me a little longer this week to read my books, because there were a crapload of them and I've not had a good two days (see here if you want to know why). But I managed to get through them, and some made me say "Yay!" and none of those were written by someone with the initials "G.M." I will try to keep it short, because I'm still grumpy and, like I said, there were a lot.

Atomika #2 by Andrew Dabb and Sal Abbinanti
$2.99, Speakeasy Comics

This is better than the first issue. Nice Glenn Fabry cover, more Bret Blevins-esque art inside, and Atomika kicks ass. The bad guys are a tad silly, but it's still an interesting book. A superhero book, unfortunately, because it doesn't have to be. This may get more interesting if Dabb and Abbinanti explore communism, the religion of technology, and oppression and what it does to the human soul. Or they could be conventional and make it a superhero book, in which case I won't read it very long. So far, so good.

Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities #1 by Eric Powell and Kyle Hotz
$2.99, Dark Horse

I don't read The Goon. Yes, I suck. No need to point it out to me. So I thought I'd give this a try. It's good. Even if it gets sucky, it's only four issues, so there's no reason not to try it, unless you're spending your hard-earned ducats on finding out whether or not Hulkling is gay. Kelley Jones-like art from Hotz. Billy the Kid and a bunch of freaks. Frankenstein. Fun stuff. Find. Purchase.

Beowulf #1 by Brian Augustyn and Dub (I wish I was kidding)
$2.99, Speakeasy

Hmmm. I wish this was better, because the premise is pretty cool. Beowulf still stalks the earth, helping people when necessary, waiting for something big to happen. Superheroes are mistrusted, and the government wants to shut them down. Hilarity ensues. Okay, maybe not. But it's a good enough idea, but this issue feels way to rushed. I wonder if the Powerhouse thing had lasted a little longer, or the beginning sequence with the girl ... Anyway, it's fine, but nothing to make you go crazy with lust.

Catwoman: When In Rome #5 by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
$3.50, DC

When issue #4 came out, I told you all to stop buying it. I hope you listened. This is getting closer and closer to "suck" territory, which is depressing when you consider the talent involved. There's just nothing here that is really any good. Why am I buying it? Because I'm a sucker, I guess, and to warn you! It's just ... dull. Blah. Stupid. Why does anyone try to make the Riddler a serious villain? He's goofy - deal with it. Even when Milligan made him a serious villain in that Batman story years ago, all the other characters commented on how weird it was. It's like trying to make Mr. Mxyzptlk a serious villain ... oh, wait a minute. Well, Loeb ain't Alan Moore, I'll tell you that much. Don't buy this. Dear God, don't buy it!

Ex Machina #10 by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister
$2.99, DC/Wildstorm

Holy crap, this is a good book. A great ending to the story, more interesting politics, absolutely beautiful art by Harris, creepiness, romance (both gay and straight!), a fat woman not played for laughs (a complete rarity in comics!) - it's all good. Go buy it.

The Iron Ghost #1 by Chuck Dixon and Sergio Cariello
$2.95, Image

Dixon is a hack, but he's an occasionally enjoyable hack, and the last thing I read by him was the cut-short-too-soon El Cazador, which I really liked, so I thought I'd give him a chance. This a cool book. Some weird dude dressed like the Shadow, except with a glowing red monocle, is killing Nazis in Berlin at the end of World War II. No one knows what's going on, but some Nazi She-Wolf (not named Elsa, but Lisa - close enough) is apparently part of some conspiracy. Shocking! Good art, interesting premise, plenty of action and intrigue - a nice start. We'll see how long it lasts.

JLA: Classified #6 by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire, and Joe Rubinstein
$2.99, DC

After last issue, which was a little to smug for me (although I still liked it), this issue is brilliant. Etrigan's rhymes didn't make me want to throw up in my mouth (I HATE the rhymes, by the way), the jokes aren't in the way of the story, Bea is awesome (I love Bea), the idea of working in a fast food restaurant in Hell is the perfect punishment, because apparently working in a fast food restaurant on Earth is as close to Hell as we can get, and three characters are presented perfectly and with respect - Sue and Ted, obviously, are still alive, and this Maxwell Lord could never be an evil mastermind - he probably can't tie his shoes. The most surprising thing about the issue is that these guys made me actually like Guy Gardner. I still think he's a jerk, but I liked him in the story, and that's something that I don't think has ever happened before. Wow. This is an excellent comic.

Klarion #1 by Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving
$2.99, DC

Am I burned out on Morrison? Is there just so much you can take before you throw up your hands and say, "Enough!"? Is that it? There's nothing wrong, per se, with Klarion, it's just that, like others around the blogaxy, I'm starting to wonder if he's just writing this stuff in his sleep because he's so good at it. Yes, he's clever. Yes, he has re-worked Solomon Grundy's origin, and it's kind of neat. Yes, he's dropping references to the lost colony of Roanoke, even though "Croatoan" doesn't mean what he apparently wants us to believe it means. Yes, the idea isn't the most original thing in the world, which doesn't matter because it's all in how it's executed. In the greatest Grant Morrison stories (Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Marvel Boy, early X-Men, some JLA, We3, even the somewhat overrated Arkham Asylum), there's a sense of the humanity behind the wacky ideas. So far in Seven Soldiers, it's a little lacking. Great ideas, but a bit hollow. Like The Filth!

Livewires #3 by Adam Warren and Rick Mays
$2.99, Marvel

A good mini-series, a funny Sentinel moment, the beginning of the greater story behind the scenes (yawn, another vast conspiracy - we'll see how Warren pulls it off), but this issue crystallizes why I don't like manga. It's too much like kiddie porn. Social Butterfly looks like she's about thirteen, and she's wearing very tiny clothes and grinding against some dude for most of the issue. A lot of manga is like that, even when the girls are supposed to be older - they all look like thirteen-year-olds. Am I wrong? Anyway, still a fun series.

The Question #6 by Rick Veitch and Tommy Lee Edwards
$2.99, DC

It's the last issue, so if you haven't been buying this, why would you start? Pick up the trade if you haven't been - it's neat. Beautiful, beautiful art, a neat story, an appearance by Superman that doesn't make me throw up in my mouth (apparently, I do that a lot), unrequited love, and a "shocking" twist (that was interesting, but not really that shocking, because it's not like it's going to change the comics landscape as we know it). A good comic.

Small Gods #8 by Jason Rand and Juan Ferreyra
$2.95, Image

More good stuff. This is such a nice comic book - nothing spectacular, just good storytelling, good art, interesting concepts, action, romance, and character development. And hot chicks! Where's the love for the hot chicks? Guy wants to pick this up in trade paperback. As far as I know, Guy, the first four issues have been collected or they're about to be. So there you go.

Trigger #5 by Jason Hall and John Watkiss
$2.99, DC/Vertigo

Apparently this book is already cancelled, so who the hell cares?

X-Men #169 by Peter Milligan, Salvador Larroca, and Danny Miki with Allen Martinez
$2.25, Marvel

Wow. This is the kind of stuff I was hoping Milligan would bring to the X-Men. Creepy stuff, as Golgotha goes to work on destroying our favorite mutants' minds. Lots of angst is brought to the surface, and although it's a teeny bit disappointing that the X-Men aren't affected more long-term, it's still a squeamish, locked-in-a-haunted-house kind of issue, which is very cool. Very neat. Better art from Larroca, too - not as dark. Me like.

There you go. Rip as you will. Some very good comics this week. And I resisted OMAC! Don't validate DC killing Blue Beetle and turning Maxwell Lord into, shit, I don't know, Lex Luthor! I have also bought a bunch o' trade paperbacks in the past two weeks (beside Nil: A Land Beyond Belief, which you really should purchase), so this weekend I might have to go over those.


Blogger chasdom said...

Got 4 floppies this week, all of which you listed: Livewires, JLA Classified, Question, and Trigger. Plus a few trades, but I'll set those aside.

I think Livewires is excellent. I'm not sure what you mean about the visual depiction of Social Butterfly. 13-year olds aren't filled out like that. Is the fact that she's cartoony = young? I think Stem Cell is meant to be 12 or 13, but the rest I think are meant to be much older, at least 17. Anyway, I get a rush from reading this book, like nothing else on the stands. I hope it does well.

Speaking of teenagers, what Violet does in Trigger, that's much more disturbing. Of course, it would be better if the book was actually readable. John Watkiss (and his colorist) killed what looked like a pretty cool Jason Hall story with his incomprehensible storytelling and distracting stylings. I mean, I LIKE his style in theory, but when I get frustrated that I can't tell what's going, or I'm thrown out of the story by some inconsistent rendering, it just doesn't work.

JLA Classified is ok, good for a few laughs, but nowhere near as the original 80's run. I'm just glad Maguire's back, he's still one of my favorite artists. The last page was a shock.

Need to reread #1-5 before I read Question #6. This final issue is really going to tell whether I'm sold on this new version of the character or not.

Flipped through the Speakeasy books. What's supposed to grab me about these? They just seem to lie there.

Billy the Kid - Wait For The Trade. And you really should be buying Goon. TPB Volume 3 was the best yet.

Catwoman - Boy, I have not heard anything about this book. Just dull, huh? Well, it was WFTT, but it won't be high on my list now.

Ex Machina - WFTT. Vol 1 was pretty good.

Iron Ghost - you already said Dixon is a hack. More importantly to me, he's a plot-driven hack, and I need way more characterization than he provides even when he's at his best.

Klarion - What is that I hear? Morrison burn out spreading across the internet this week? Bleah, the faster the backlash against Mr. "All Ideas and No Execution" the better.

Small Gods - I have TPB Vol 1, haven't read it yet.

X-Men - no interest.

4/21/2005 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Yeah, I picked up the TPB this week - think it collects the first six issues - but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I did read Atomika #2 last night and I have to say that if I hadn't interviewed Dabb about the damn thing before it came out, I'd probably drop it ASAP. But I'm curious. The premise seemed so interesting but so far, it's just not working for me. And I hate, H.A.T.E., the art, especially when it's so drastically different in style and tone from the first two covers its sported. I'm liking The Grimoire a lot better than Atomika, but that one's got some storytelling issues, too, similar to what you've said here about Beowulf. Maybe I need to join the rest of the comics blogiverse and start lobbying for an industry job, because it's obvious there's a dire need for editors that can, you know, edit!

4/22/2005 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Well, I've been substituting at some middle schools recently (and high schools), and I'll tell you, 13-year-olds are unfortunately filled out like Social Butterfly is. It's a combination, I think, of padding and hormones in the food - kids are hitting puberty a lot younger today, and they also wear clothes that make them look a lot older. I don't think it's the cartoony aspect of it, at least not the whole thing. It's just that the manga style, it seems, has a "fresh" kind of look to it - very clean and unmarred, so I think "young." It's a problem with me, I guess. And yes, what Violet does is much more disturbing, but that's a Vertigo book and Carter at least comments on it. Oh, and 17-year-olds bumping and grinding like Social Butterfly in an "all-ages" book like Livewires doesn't make me feel any better. I do have one daughter and another on the way, after all, and I fear the teenage years.

I didn't mention the last page of JLA: Classified because it was a shock. And a good one.

I can deal with good plot-driven stuff for a while, and if Dixon can keep up the pure pulpiness of the Iron Ghost, I'll stick around for a while. Yes, character development is good, but sometimes, all plot is cool.

Let us know what you think of Small Gods, Guy!

4/22/2005 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

I never understand when people post comic book reviews saying that a Jeph Loeb comic sucks. ALL Jeph Loeb comics suck, it's like writing an article saying the sky's blue or that John Kerry's a stiff douche.

If it was a somewhat comprehensible good story by Jeph Loeb THAT would have been something worth writing about, although the chances of that happening are like Haley's comet appearing two weeks in a row.

4/22/2005 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Okay, Mr. T (sorry, just slipped out). Here's what I like by Loeb: Challengers of the Unknown, the first two Batman Halloween specials, The Long Halloween, some of Dark Victory, Superman: For All Seasons, and most of Daredevil: Yellow. I didn't like the Spider-Man thing or the Hulk thing or, of course, Hush. That's just off the top of my head. Most of what I like by him is in collaboration with Sale, which is why I'm SO disappointed with Catwoman.

4/22/2005 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I liked Loeb's most recent arc on Superman/Batman.



4/22/2005 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

Here's what I read of Loeb:
*X-Force (sucked!)
*Cable (sucked harder!)
*Superman (sucked like a power vacuum!)
*Superman/Batman (incredibly bad, every single issue I perused, especially that bad Milleresque pulp dialogue that DC writers love using in caption narrations these days (see Countdown))
*Our Worlds at War (sucked more than the cast or an orgy porno)
*FF (okay, I know he didn't plot it but instead just scripted the dialogue, but the dialogue is what sucked).

For some reason, all the stuff by Loeb that supposedly doesn't suck was done with Sale, and I haven't read it. My guess is that he writes Marvel-style and Sale does most of the storytelling himself.

Admittedly I didn't read the latest arc of Superman/Batman, but I still know it sucked? How, you may ask? I used my Jeph Loeb evaluation flowchart.


STEP 1) Was said Jeph Loeb story written by Jeph Loeb? If so, go to STEP 2. If not, go to STEP 3.

STEP 2) It sucked.

STEP 3) If it's not written by Jeph Loeb, why the hell are you using this flowchart?

4/22/2005 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

T, here is a fairy tale that I told here, and I will repeat it for you now.

Once upon a time, there lived three Superman/Batman storylines. #1-6, 8-13, and #14-18.

#1-6 had a house made of straw, and it was getting ready to be a good storyline, when the Bad Story Wolf came up to the house and said, "Little storyline, little storyline, let me in!" #1-6 replied, "Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin!" So the Bad Story Wolf huffed, and puffed, and blew down the house of #1-6, leaving it to be a terrible story.

Next the Bad Story Wolf went to the home of #8-13, which was made of sticks. The Bad Story Wolf exclaimed, "Little storyline, little storyline, let me in!" #8-13 replied, "Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin!" So the Bad Story Wolf huffed, and puffed, and blew down the house of #8-13, leaving it to be a terrible story.

Finally, the Bad Story Wolf came to the home of #14-18, which was made out of brick. The Bad Story Wolf shouted, Little storyline, little storyline, let me in!" #14-18 replied, "Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin!" So the Bad Story Wolf huffed, and puffed, and blew....but the house wouldn't blow down!

The Bad Story Wolf then tried to sneak in through the chimney, but the pig had left a boiling kettle in the fireplace, and the Bad Story Wolf ended up boiling to death!

So that is the story of why Superman/Batman #14-18 was good, and the others were not.

And that makes as much sense to me as Jeph Loeb just all of a sudden writing cool comics.

4/23/2005 01:18:00 AM  

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