Thursday, June 30, 2005

What I bought - 29 June 2005

Billy The Kid's Old Timey Oddities #3 by Eric Powell and Kyle Hotz
$2.99, Dark Horse

As we hurtle toward the conclusion of this mini-series, Powell gives us some insight into why Billy is the way he is, someone gets brutally murdered (off-screen, but we see the results), and at the end, everyone is in a bit of a sticky wicket, and salvation appears to be coming from an unlikely source. I like that Dr. Frankenstein does not suffer the rudeness of his prisoner, Billy the Kid, although, as usual, it's an example of a villain leaving someone alive who will come back to haunt them. If you don't like Billy, Dr. Frank, just kill him! This is pure entertainment - nothing fancy or cute. It's a fun book. As usual, nice weird art by Hotz. And it's actually kind of creepy, which is nice to see in a comic book.

Elsinore #2 by Kenneth Lillie-Paetz and Brian Denham
$2.99, Alias

This issue was a little disappointing after last issue, mostly because I have no clue what is going on in the first seven pages. Is it taking place in the past, or the present? What connection does it have to the main story of the asylum or the new doctor? I assume (I hope) that these things will be explained - they do reference the events later, but I'm still confused. Greg dislikes confusion! (Which is kind of sad, because I often am.) Anyway, once we get back to the asylum, things get better. We learn a bit more about our "hero," Dr. Murchison, who acts a bit weird at certain places in the issue (I'd say "against his character," but we don't really know a whole lot about his character yet) and then gets involved with a female patient at the end, to his eternal regret. And we find out that things at the asylum are quite ... well, bizarre, I suppose. This is another somewhat creepy book, and I'm sticking around for a bit, because it's very nice to look at and it obviously has something on its mind. Please, creator-gentlemen, no more confusion! Confusion makes Greg's head hurt.

JLA: Classified #9 by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire, and Joseph Rubinstein
$2.99, DC


Well, now I'm mad. I was cruising along, too. Good stuff. Clear, concise reviews, all with the jaundiced eye of the true comic-book veteran. It was gold, baby, gold!

This issue is okay, but not as good as the ones preceding it. It felt too much like the latter issues of the earlier Justice League incarnation - the Wally Tortellini issues, to be precise, in which the slapstick threatened to overwhelm the nice comedy the guys had going. There are some very nice scenes in this issue - Mary Marvel talking to Guy (!), Ted talking to Bea, but it doesn't have the power of the earlier issues. The humor in this title (and in the old Justice League titles with these creators) worked best when it was character-driven, and not just the stupid situations the heroes found themselves in. Therefore, in this issue, Ralph getting turned on by his alternate universe wife and then trying to explain to Sue is funny, but giant G'Nort scratching the heroes away - not so much. Dr. Fate getting angry at Max is funny, but alternate universe Booster not knowing how to spell "Booster" - you get the idea. It's still a good read, just a bit disappointing. We get to see the team in action, and that was another thing that bothered me about the later issues of the original run - these guys could be formidable if they were allowed to be, but too often they weren't. I enjoyed this story, but I just think this particular issue was a bit too goofy.

Mr. T #1 by Chris Bunting, Neil Edwards, and Randy Emberlin
$3.50, APComics

In the comments of Brian's weekly look at what's coming out, Mr. Christopher Burton wrote that he would pity the fool who bought this. Well, I bought it, because then you won't have to. Trust me, this is not a good comic.

I wanted to like it, I did. It's right there on the cover - "1st Awesome Issue." Unfortunately, only two of those things are true. The art is nice, but the dialogue really drags this down. That and the fact that we only see T in full pose at the end of the book, when he makes a dramatic entrance. Come on, his name is the name of the freakin' book - we know he's in it, so show him earlier! He's always in shadows for the rest of the book, as if he has something dark and disturbing weighing on his soul. Well, apparently he does, but I never read any old Mr. T comics, so I don't know what it is (and no, I don't care). Here's some of the awful dialogue, just so you know I'm not simply being a jerk: "Poison like that gonna thrive in a tough 'hood like this," " 'Will you help?' '... I ... can't ...' "(that's three ellipses, two words), "A lot of friends, yeah. An' a lot of enemies ..." (work those ellipses, T!) I'd do more, but you get the idea. And on page 18, T talks to someone with black dialogue boxes. We think it's the doctor, but I don't think it is. What the hell? And there's an "interlude" with a snotty clerk at a comic book shoppe that doesn't seem to belong in this book.* This, my discerning friends, is not a good book.

* What's the deal with comic book creators treating their fan base like shit? We have this issue and the first issue of GLA in the recent past (and don't even get me started on Wanted). I mean, George Lucas doesn't go around insulting the crazies who worship him, and I don't hear Brad Pitt saying that anyone who goes to see Mr. and Mrs. Smith is an idiot (I'll say it, but he doesn't). What's up with comic book creators?

Planetary #23 by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday
$2.99, DC/Wildstorm

Every few months an issue of Planetary comes out and reminds us all why we fell in love with Ellis in the first place and what a shame it is that Cassaday is slumming on an X-book (I haven't read it and I know it is generally well-liked, but face it: he's slumming). Holy crap, this is a good comic. We get the Secret Origin of the Drummer, we get more hints about Elijah, we get some indications of tension within Planetary, and we get a cool flashback to the rescue of the Drummer from the clutches of the Four. Jakita kicks some guy's guts out. And Ellis, glorious bastard that he is, makes his partner in crime draw a bunch of children's head exploding. What a glorious sight it is. In a world of political correctness, sensitivity to everyone's feelings, a world where Sue Dibny can be raped and killed by another woman (the second part, not the first) and when animals and children routinely survive stuff in entertainment that no one could possibly survive (that dog in Independence Day would have been fucking fried!), Ellis kills a bunch of kids. Beautiful.* We also learn that Elijah may have plans for Ambrose Chase. Yes, he's dead, but when did that stop comic book heroes? This is a wonderful comic book, and you really ought to be reading it, at least in trade paperback format. It's a masterpiece (not necessarily this issue, but the whole run).

* I don't condone killing actual children at all. The children Ellis kills are drawings! Did anyone really think "Sue Dibny" was a real person? It doesn't matter that all those "children" "died." If the story calls for it, kill 'em!

Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight #3 by that bald MOTU (Master of the Universe) and Simone Bianchi

Once again, I will attempt my "I don't need to read the book to do a stinkin' review" review, since I didn't read this.

Justin learns some more things about the Sheeda. Tiny Sheeda warriors attack him (okay, I cheated and looked at the cover). That weird chick from issue #1 shows up and drops more hints in Morrison-esque language. There are vague references to the other Seven Soldiers. The horse will play an important role in the final issue. I looked at the last page. Yuck.

How'd I do?

The Surrogates #1 by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele
$2.95, Top Shelf Productions

This is a strong first issue of a five-issue mini-series, and I recommend checking it out. The concept is neat: in 2054, people use robots into which they download their consciousnesses, and then they can be whomever they choose. So a fat construction worker can score with hot babes, and those same hot babes can have the consciousness of a guy (take that, fat construction worker!). In the middle of this is a masked figure who can generate electricity from his hands, who fries the two robots and brings the police in. It's police procedural time!

But it's a good police procedural. There's a lot of parallels to our own time, and although a text piece at the end makes it clear that there are a lot of benefits to having a surrogate, what is the cost to our humanity? Not everyone likes the idea of surrogates, either - are they plotting something? The cops investigating the crime use surrogates, as well. It's a nice little mystery with some interesting social commentary thrown in. The art is rough but good, and the story hums along. Check it out.

X-Men #172 by Peter Milligan, Salvador Larroca, and Danny Miki with Allen Martinez
$2.50, Marvel

It was Brian who suggested that Foxx is Mystique, and while that wasn't too big a leap, you have to give it up to him. I'm not really giving away too big a mystery, since Foxx was only introduced last issue. I like this issue, because it doesn't have any huge threat for the X-Men to fight, and deals with the thing that always makes the X-Men great: interpersonal relationships. Gambit is tormented by not being able to hit it wit Rogue. Emma is trying to help them telepathically. Rogue gives Gambit permission to sleep with "Foxx." Gambit's students are upset because "Foxx" is upsetting the delicate balance in the group. Mystique offers to sleep with Gambit because she doesn't want to see her "daughter" (Rogue) upset. It's all very interesting. I like the fact that we're seeing these people interact on a human level and that some of the tensions in the group are being addressed. One small point: in Uncanny X-Men #350 (I think) Gambit and Rogue do hook up, because Rogue's powers are being dampened. It's a stupid story from a stupid time in X-Men history, but still - someone should have mentioned it, right?

I'm gradually gaining confidence in Milligan's run on this book. He even is laying the foundation for a long-term mystery, as we still don't know quite what happened up in space with Golgotha. The art, as usual, is fantastic. Wasn't that nice of Larroca to provide us all with a full-page shot of Mystique in leather?

Anyway, Blogger sucks. Just so you know.

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Blogger Nik said...

That's why I usually write my posts in advance on a text file on my desktop, I lost a few posts that way when I first started. Argh!

6/30/2005 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Hey, if you sleep with your spouse's alternate universe counterpart, is it really cheating?

7/01/2005 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher Burton said...

Hey, if you sleep with your spouse's alternate universe counterpart, is it really cheating?

That probably depends on the spouse. Some of them are down with the open alternate universe marriage thing.

Greg, was there a scene in Mr. T where they had to knock him out to get him on a plane. That might make the book worth looking at.

7/01/2005 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Chris: Alas, no. You're right - that might have made the book worth it. That and an A-Team reference.

7/01/2005 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous GreyGlobe said...

The Milligan X-Men run is horrible! How many issues have already elapsed and NOTHING has happened. It's a bunch of mopey, whiny mutants gossiping like sixth graders. Ugh!

Eric Powell is the most overrated comic writer working today. Billy the Kid and the Goon are products of a man that is just a frustrated frat boy at heart. I've noticed that over the years, anytime a comic writer has a hard-talking, boozing, womanizing main character that defies "conventional" comic book behavior, that writer suddenly becomes the IT guy. Don't believe me? Here are a few names to consider...Ennis and Millar. It takes no talent to write an unlikeable, adolescent minded character. Billy the Kid etc...(I can't even type out the name of the comic because it's too silly) throws every character it can from every genre-horror, western, suspense- so therefore it must be an entertaining work! I actually was suckered by the first issue along with The Goon for awhile until I realised that they were written by a grade schooler with a dirty mouth. Honestly though, a grade schooler would have more heart in his work than the crap Mr. Powell puts out.

I also really need to get myself on this board so that my superior opinions can be the main topics instead of buried at the end of a column like this. Seriously, most everyone on here whines and whines about their purchases. Lighten up people! It's only comics!

7/04/2005 12:20:00 AM  
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