Wednesday, April 06, 2005

What I bought - 6 April 2005

I'm in a posting frenzy today - I've already written stuff on my two other blogs, and now it's time for this one! (Yes, that was a shameless plug. And yes, I contribute to three blogs and I'm unemployed. On the other hand, I have a beautiful wife, and beautiful daughter, and have no desire to look at anime porn. A fair trade-off, I think.)

Anyway, it was a pretty good day for the monthly pamphlets, which so many other contributors here scorn (trade paperbacks! bah!). I'm kind of a mainstream whore today, but some indies pop up, including our first book:

Barbarossa and the Lost Corsairs #1 by Brian Augustyn, H.S. Park, and Y.C. Jang
$3.50, Kandora Publishing

Kandora is trying to make a splash with four new titles in four months, and this is their initial offering. Yes, it's a pirate comic (the first of two I bought this week, actually). But you shouldn't hold that against it. It's a fun book.

Hizir Barbarossa was an actual historical personage, although I'm sure Augustyn will take many liberties with his story. This tale begins in 1511, long before he became an admiral in the Ottoman navy and a sub-sultan of Suleiman the Magnificent. It's nice to see Augustyn plumb the actual pirate past with this story, because it allows him to portray Muslims in a positive light (Barbarossa was Muslim) and show that one man's pirate is another's adventurer. It also allows him to invent stuff, since a lot from 500 years ago has been lost, and who's to say Barbarossa and his crew didn't sail into another world, like they do here?

Like I said, it's a fun book. Barbarossa goes to Italy to kidnap Count Rudolfo's daughter, the wild and beautiful Julia. He does this simply because Rudolfo claimed he couldn't. Julia, of course, is independent and well versed in sword fighting, because God forbid a female character isn't as strong and independent as a male, even in a historical context where she almost certainly would be. (Sorry - that's a little pet peeve of mine. In order to make the two leads equal, creators - not just comics creators, as Catherine Zeta-Jones shows in that Zorro movie, to cite one example - must make the female completely anachronistic. Of course, when it comes right down to it, the male character almost always must save the female character anyway.) She wants to ditch her comfortable life and take off with the dashing pirate who comes in through her window. Count Rudolfo, of course, doesn't take kindly to this, and the entire issue is taken up with the big chase. Something strange happens at the end, and the pirate ship and one other ship chasing it are swept into what looks like another dimension, where monsters lurk in the water. Fun stuff.

The art is serviceable - that's not really an insult, since it's decent but nothing spectacular. It tells the story. The dialogue is twenty-first century all the way, but that's okay too - it doesn't really distract from the story. The publisher statement at the end of the book is nice, too - we'll see if Kandora keeps its pledge to increase its page count while keeping the price the same. They have three other titles coming out, and Kenneth Choi, the publisher, says they are devoted to "story driven genre comics." It's fun stuff.

Detective #805 by David Lapham, Ramon Bachs, and Nathan Massengill
$2.99, DC

Speaking of fun comics, well, Detective ain't one of them. However, it's quickly becoming one of the most brilliant examinations of Batman ever. Yes, I said ever. Five issues in, and Lapham continues to weave a tale that gets weirder and darker and more mysterious. Who are the guys attacking Batman? What happened to Elliot? How are Mr. Freeze, the Penguin, and everything else connected? What role does Gotham City have in all of this (remember Milligan's three-issue Riddle story? the city is alive, after all!)? It's a puzzler, all right.

This is as bleak as comics gets. It's no fun at all, but that's okay. Lapham knows that sometimes we like Batman this bleak - I wouldn't want it all the time, but for twelve issues, it works. This issue also brings another, more subtle theme of this opus to the surface. At one point, the omniscient narrator opines, "Secret Keepers. How much he hates them." Yeah, Bruce, we don't know anyone like that, do we? I want to see if this self-loathing Batman is starting to exhibit will have ramifications down the line.

The back-up story is pretty funny, as well. A good comic. Read it and feel good you don't live in Gotham City!

Great Lakes Avengers #1 by Dan Slott, Paul Pelletier, and Rick Magyar
$2.99, Marvel

GLA came out at the perfect time, didn't it? After the big downer from DC last week, all comics fans should run out and buy a light-hearted book with Squirrel Girl, of all people (I own no comics with her, and didn't know she existed until a few months ago - thank you, Comics Blogaxy!). However, this isn't quite as light-hearted as it may seem - it's fun, but it deals with a man who tries to commit suicide several times in the issue after killing his father (inadvertently, but still) and the death of another character - I won't give it away, even though none of these characters is, I don't know, Hawkeye. So it's not all fun and games, although it is funny. Especially the first page. It's a pretty good issue from the team that brought you the last, what, seven issues of She-Hulk (no, I didn't buy the individual issues - see, I like trades as much as the next guy!), and although I don't like Pelletier's art as much as I liked Juan Bobillo's, it's pretty good. And how cool if Leather Boy had stayed in the group!

I don't know - is this really worth 3 dollars? I think I'll get the next issue, and it's only four issues, so I might be on the hook for the whole thing, but I'll see about next issue.

The Incredible Hulk #80 by Peter David, Lee Weeks, and Tom Palmer
$2.99, Marvel

Boy, this is a fun issue. Okay, I'm still not on board with the Bruce Banner as a teenager and being haunted by the Hulk thing, but the stuff happening in the present is fun. What's that old, scary, Marvel bad guy in the last panel on page 3? Help me out, people - I'm not as up on my Marvel history as I should be! Lots of more intriguing stuff here, as General Ross does something nasty, Gwen and Ripley find out some unpleasant things, Wolverine and Kang show up (David is throwing everything but the kitchen sink into this arc), and Bruce figures some things out (or does he?). The David sense of humor is in fine form, too. Here's Kang: "You think matters of the space-time continuum catastrophe are a mere game?" To which Bruce responds: "So help me, if you say 'space-time continuum' one more time, I'm going to ram that mask so far up your rectum, your bowel movements will be in the shape of your face." Bwah-ha-ha-ha! Then he looks Kang in the face and dares him to say it. Bwah-ha-ha! There's a really cool twist at the end, too. I wasn't sure about this book after David's first issue, but it's getting better each month. Next month: the big secret revealed (or maybe not)!

The Intimates #6 by Joe Casey, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Sandra Hope
$2.99, Wildstorm

Wow. This is a neat issue. It's all about Sykes, the silent student whose head is in a bubble, and although we don't learn everything there is to know about him, we learn quite a bit, and it's pretty disturbing. The first four issues of this title were decent but a little too self-important, but the last two have been excellent. Casey keeps everything moving and dancing around, never letting us get a clear fix on what's going on in Sykes' head, but planting enough information that we know things will get disturbing if the title lasts. Camuncoli's art has improved a lot, too. The pages with Kefong and what has happened in the "real" world (the world of the Seminary) are brilliant. Next issue is "the last day of the school year," and I hope that doesn't mean this title is getting cancelled. It's just getting really good.

Sea of Red #1 by Rick Remender, Kieron Dwyer, and "Salgood Sam" (ha, ha, ha)
$2.95, Image

It's the second pirate comic this week! Holy cow, can you stand the bounty? This is probably the higher-profile book, but it's not as good. It's a vampire/pirate book, which has interesting possibilities, but I'm not ready to declare it worthy of your hard-earned dollars! The art is excellent - more for the red shades that are prevalent than the pencils, although they are nice - but there's something missing. It may be because after Scurvy Dogs, it's tough for me to read actual pirate lingo without busting out laughing. Captain Blackthroat (blech - bad name) even calls his crew "scurvy dogs"! It's a pretty good first issue, and promises to be intriguing, and I'm getting it for a few months (because of pre-orders), but we'll see. We shall see.

The Twilight Experiment #3 by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Juan Santacruz
$2.99, Wildstorm

What can I say about this? We've had three issues out of five (I think) and I like it. If you don't, oh well. But it is good superhero stuff, with some weird science thrown in, a family drama (well, two, I suppose) and a good bad guy. The art is crisp and pretty, and the characters are well done. It's not revolutionary comics, but it's damned fine storytelling. So buy it!

Zatanna #1 by Grant Morrison, Ryan Sook, and Mick Gray
$2.99, DC

Ah, Seven Soldiers. Damn Tim O'Neill for making me think about Morrison's magnum opus (his take on it was on Monday - I don't know how to link to it, because I'm an idiot). Now, we have Zatanna, a pretty cool character who is also now twisted into that debacle we all call Identity Crisis. Sigh. It sounds like Morrison has a bit of an issue with Alan Moore, so he set out to prove he could write Promethea as well as Moore could, damnit! Well, this isn't as good as Promethea. It's not bad, but I don't think I can take TWO comics writers who want to prove they're freakin' Aleister Crowley!

Okay, so I was a bit disappointed with this. I liked it better than The Manhattan Guardian, but not as much as Shining Knight. How's that for a recommendation? It's just so much blather, and when I read the line, "Locust armies with tiny riders," I just thought to myself, "Oh my, Morrison's at it again." And I don't want to feel that way, because he is so good! I'm also waiting for the public outcry over the death of Terry Thirteen, damnit! There is some nice stuff - Zatanna's ideal man is a monster she set free to destroy the world? Good stuff!

It's also becoming clear to me what these minis are about, and it would be nice if Morrison concentrated more on the human aspects of the characters. Yes, they're second-rate heroes, but more than that, they feel they are second-rate human beings. Justin feels unappreciated in Camelot, What's-his-name (the Guardian - sorry, I can't remember because I suck) feels like a failure because he can't provide for his family, and Zatanna is lonely and rejected because she can't get a man. Human drama. Let's hope it doesn't get overshadowed by the wackiness, which, truth be told, does get a little - dare I say it? - boring.

So there it is. Rip as you will!

16 Comments:

Blogger Pól Rua said...

See how I see Leather Boy in GLA and make no mention of Doctor Leather?
You admire my restraint.

4/07/2005 12:56:00 AM  
Blogger Tim O'Neil said...

That was exactly what I was going for... exercising the right to be wacky is fine and good, but without the strong backbone of human interest it just seems callow.

And it's one "L" dammit!

4/07/2005 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Sorry, Tim. One 'L' it shall be. Still - damn you!

4/07/2005 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Stefan said...

I love Lapham's work but I can't get into his DC run because of that presentation of Batman. I was never a fan of it.

4/07/2005 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Barbarossa looks interesting. (Preview links are so important!) Didn't notice it at Midtown yesterday, but I just added it to my pull list. I picked up Sea of Red and liked it, but not so much that I'd pick up the next issue. The corny pirate talk was a little off-putting. (Is that the same as others' complaints about the anachronistic Black Panther dialogue?)

Did you get Power Pack by any chance? Best All Ages thing Marvel's done in...well, ages. Loved it! And not just from a nostalgic perspective.

4/07/2005 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Guy: Yeah, I saw your discussion with Sean Maher about Power Pack. Now I'm intrigued ...

4/07/2005 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Whoops. Stephen Maher. I suck.

4/07/2005 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger chasdom said...

My eight comics can beat up your eight comics:

ROUND 1:
True Story, Swear to God #13
vs.
Barbasomething

Rule #1: Pirates Blow. TSSTG is an excellent narrative that I can get lost in every time.
WINNER: ME!

ROUND 2:
Deadshot #5 (of 5)
vs
Stray Detective Bullets

Tec is probably better crime fiction. But it will also get TPB'd, which Deadshot won't. So Deadshot was a better choice for the week.
WINNER: ME! (with major caveats and possible cheating)

ROUND 3:
Strange #5 (of 6)
vs
The depressing life story of Mr. Immortal

I read GLA in the store, and it confirmed to me that without Juan Bobillo, Dan Slott is dull dull dull. So I bought Strange because... uh, I own the first 4 issues. Crap.
WINNER: DRAW!

ROUND 4:
Shanna #3 (of 7)
vs
Hulk, the reunion movie

Legend has it, once upon a time, PAD's Hulk was new and fresh. Also, Todd McFarlane drew comics. I have a hard time believing either of these legends. And I just read Madrox, which blew, so I am in no mood to be charitable to PAD. On the other hand, Shanna is for my friend the Frank Cho fan, so I can't defend that either.
WINNER: DRAW!

ROUND 5:
The Comics Journal #267
vs
Incontinent Comics

The first couple issues of Casey's latest project were a boring mess. And TCJ has tons o' great essays on a Master of Comics. I am wasting words here, everyone already knows the outcome.
WINNER: ME!

ROUND 6:
Anywhere but Here
vs
More Frickin Pirate Comics

Rule #1 is in effect, but Salgood Sam is a damn fine artist. The first few pages of this Japanese gag cartoon book are not impressing me. I want neither.
WINNER: DRAW!

ROUND 7:
Comics Cavalcade Archives Vol 1 HC
vs
Yet another DC Palmiotti/Gray project.
Actually, your book looks pretty good, I didn't realize it was up to #3 already, or I would have checked it out earlier. And I didn't win the lottery this week, so CCA stayed on the shelf.
WINNER: you.

ROUND 8:
Blue (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
vs
Grant Morrison's Promethea

Mmmm... fishnets. No! I will not be distracted! After the first chapter, Blue is shaping up to be an excellent book. A sad thoughtful story set in an all-girls school in Japan. My store got it this week, despite it not being on the Diamond shipping list. Highly recommended. And oh, yeah, at risk of causing the comic blogosphere to explode: I loathe all Grant Morrison comics.
WINNER: ME!

4-1-3! And completely impartial too!

4/07/2005 03:47:00 PM  
Anonymous GreyGlobe said...

Never heard of Squirrel Girl? What? She's a classic! I strongly urge you to run out and purchase Marvel Super Heroes volume 3, number 8 where she tries to become Iron Man's sidekick. She doesn't succeed in that quest, but she does help defeat Dr. Doom! How many heroes can say that? Ok, all of them can at one point or another, but still! Squirrel Girl! I think we all may have discovered the next Wolverine of comics.

4/07/2005 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

Yeah, Squirrel Girl has pretty much been a running joke of internet comics message boards...

But, dammit, now Zatanna's out, once again I haven't ordered it, and now I might have to wait for the trade on it (and I never got a copy of Guardian #1! Blast). Bah.

4/07/2005 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Chasdom: Well, that's why this is America! As long as you were impartial, that's all that counts.

Pirate comics RULE!

4/07/2005 06:20:00 PM  
Anonymous GreyGlobe said...

My Comics can REALLY beat up your comics.

Pick up Action Philosophers #1 out this week featuring a great cover of Plato, yes that Plato, in a wrestling ring. If the cover doesn't grab you, then the interesting stories involving some great historical thinkers should. The art is a bit crude, but it is compensated for nicely by how clever it is in telling the story. History wrapped up in a fun superheroic package, what more could you want?

4/07/2005 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Yeah, I have to get the Action Philosophers. I pre-ordered the All-Sex issue!

4/07/2005 09:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Curran said...

"And oh, yeah, at risk of causing the comic blogosphere to explode: I loathe all Grant Morrison comics."

Blogosphere seems okay, but it was certainly irresposible of you to risk such a thing. Don't ever do it again. (See, this is where I miss Alex being here, even if I only showed up, vulture like, after he left; he would have told chasdom how stupid he was for hating Grant's comics. I just can't muster that kind of thing.)

As far as opinions that won't cause possible cumblogstion go, I have to say I liked Zatanna, with the caveat that I haven't read much Promethea, so I couldn't draw that much of a comparison between the two. I liked how Morrison handled the dimension hopping, the set up for Zatanna's road trip is interesting (if a bit tacked on), and the appearence of Gimmix and the whole concept of a B-List superhero support group was great (gave me an idea for a post).

As far as my running 7 Soldiers appreciation tally goes, I liked it more than Shining Knight and less than Guardian, but the zero issue is still the pinacle of the story. 4/32s of the way through, mind you... Also, you have me interested in that Action Philosophers comic now.

4/08/2005 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I love the " We've had three issues out of five (I think) and I like it. If you don't, oh well." line...hehe.

And yes, Twilight Experiment DOES look very nicely drawn.

Speaking of nicely drawn, both Hulk and Zatanna look awesome, and yet only Sook is the "hot" artist...odd.

DC, listen to me (and Tadhg)!!! Dave Gibbons and Lee Weeks on Batman!!!

4/10/2005 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger cheng said...

What do you know LOTRO Gold. And do you want to know? You can get Lord Of The Rings Gold here. And welcome to our website, here you can play games, and you will buy LOTRO Gold to play game. And it is very interesting.Do you want a try, come and view our website, and you will learn much about cheap Lord Of The Rings Gold. Come and join with us. We are waiting for your coming.

3/25/2009 11:08:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home