Thursday, July 21, 2005

What I bought - 20 July 2005

Because you care.

The Atheist #2 by Phil Hester and John McCrea
$3.50, Image/Desperado

This is mostly an expository issue, which is disappointing, because the first issue, I felt, balanced exposition and the creepiness that Hester is going for better than this. Nothing really creepy happens in this issue until the last couple of pages, when we get something that is somewhat creepy if only for the way the guy keeps inventory. The rest of the issue, while decent, is a LOT of talking. We couldn't cut away to some other creepy stuff? Would that have been too hard? The art is good, as usual, because it's McCrea, and the story gets pushed along and we learn a little more about our corpses, but I really hope this isn't going to be a Bendis-style "Let's take six issues to explain something technical" kind of thing. Remember back when you could say, "He was bitten by a radioactive spider" and all was explained? Good times.

Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities #4 by Eric Powell and Kyle Hotz
$2.99, Dark Horse

The nice thing about this and Powell's The Goon is that its unapologetically "tough-guy" writing. If that's not your thing, fine, and it sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't(for instance, this week's issue of that very same The Goon comic magazine), but that's what he does, damn it! In this and last issue, there was a little bit about why Billy the Kid is a little scaredey-cat, but it's just a distraction from the skewering of monsters and shooting of bad guys that we bought this comic for! Jeff Tinsle, the Miniature Boy, sums up Powell's philosophy perfectly when he beats on the chest in which Billy is locked: "I'm going to tell everyone that Billy the Kid is a big baby that let a prissy doctor man lock him in a box and also that you cried like a big baby!" Testify, Miniature Boy! This gets Billy up and going, and bad things happen to the prissy doctor man, you can be sure. There's kind of a feel-good ending with a feel-good explanation for why they really came to find Dr. Frankenstein, but at the end, Billy is telling tales of whorehouses, and all's right in the world.

This is simply a fun comic. Nothing ground-breaking, nothing revolutionary, not even much original. But it's fun. Check out the trade, if you're so inclined.

Captain Gravity and the Power of the Vril #4 by Joshua Dysart, Sal Velluto, and Bob Almond
$2.95, Penny-Farthing Press

I only mention this issue, which came out in April, because I somehow missed it when it came out and only got it yesterday. The guy at my comic shoppe went to San Diego this weekend, where apparently there was some small gathering of comic book professionals. He picked this up for me and got Velluto to sign it. So thanks, Mr. Velluto. You really should be checking this series out. Beautiful art + big adventure = GOOD!

Daredevil #75 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
$3.99, Marvel

I don't like to read reviews before I do mine, because I don't want to be unduly influenced, but I happened upon Kevin's review of Daredevil (it's down there, trust me) and just chuckled. It's too true.

Every time I think Bendis can get over this obnoxious dialogue that he is praised for and this tendency to "tell, don't show" everything, he pulls a Daredevil #75 on us. Ugh. Through the fight with the Jester, this is a gripping book, as DD's rather pathetic foe is possessed by that succubus thing that has been the focus of the book and this causes some trouble for ol' hornhead (I'm writing like Stan Lee!). Then we get a whole page with five panels and nothing but exposition. And not just a little exposition, either. I'd count the words on the page (nothing else happens on the page), except I don't think I can count that high. Murdock takes care of succubus-guy, and then it's back to the exposition. Gaaaaahhhhh!

The reason I was disappointed by this arc, even though the individual issues (up until now) weren't bad, was that this was supposed to be (I thought) and examination of what Matt was up to during the "missing year" in the run. When it quickly turned into a group of whiny crybabies (just like Billy the Kid - how meta of me to notice!) complaining about how safe Murdock made the streets and how they yearn for the days of Wilson Fisk and his crack whores, I thought, "Okay, this could be an interesting character study." Then it went all supernatural on us, and the wheels came off. Yes, the succubus was creepy. But again, it's over-explained, and in Daredevil's "realistic" world, shit like this doesn't fit anymore. Even Miller wisely didn't try to explain Elektra's resurrection all that much. It's a jarring non sequitur in an otherwise fine "noir crime drama" that is Daredevil. Enough with the freakin' ninjas! Street Angel should have put the kibosh on "serious" ninja stories for at least a few years.

Anyway, I'll be back next month. This wasn't bad enough for me to drop the title. Maleev's art is fabulous, and I want to read the conclusion to Bendis's epic. Am I a sucker?

Defenders #1 by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire
$2.99, Marvel

More of the same. If you like it, you'll like it. If you don't, you won't.

I'm sorry, but it's true. I like it. I like the art, I like the iconoclasm, I like the bickering, I like the Silver Surfer finding true bliss among bikini-clad Cali girls on boards (I mean, who wouldn't?). I like the insecure Dread Dormammu. I like the fact that Dr. Strange doesn't know if "Wong" is his first or last name. Yes, it's silly. So what? Giffen, DeMatteis, and Maguire are like Mystery Science Theater 3000 - they write things we have all thought! When you read Dr. Strange comic books, you should be howling along when he says anything relating to the crimson bands of Cyttorak! You know what's coming with this. Giffen et al. might not take these guys seriously, but this is executed with galaxies more craft than Miller and Lee put into that fancy toilet paper last week.

Detective #808 by David Lapham, Ramon Bachs, and Nathan Massengill
$2.99, DC

Paul O'Brien has pointed out that the idea of Robin is stupid. Well, sure it is, but so is the idea of a man who dresses up like a bat to fight crime. The point is to make Robin work in the context of the story, and I think Lapham has done it pretty well in this story, despite its almost unflagging depressing tone. Robin is guarding the Ventriloquist, who is the only man who knows the people behind the weird crap that's been going on in Gotham. Batman is off doing his undercover thing in the bad neighborhood, so Robin is guarding the Ventriloquist. And that stupid puppet of his. Meanwhile, Frank Ivers, who last month took a bullet when he realized his partner had been co-opted, wakes up and is, well, a little paranoid. He causes a scene in the hospital, which causes the eerie bad guys to show up, which means Robin has to rescue him. It's a nicely done progression, and shows that Robin can be used well if the writer knows what he's doing. Tim realizes at the end that he needs someone he can trust, so he calls Gordon. Yay, Gordon!

Meanwhile, Bruce is undercover, and something strange happens to him: he gives up. It's a powerful scene, and one that I've been ruminating about since I read it, in conjunction with the Batman movie that I finally saw last weekend and other stuff. So, that's a whole 'nother post.

This is the last issue of "City of Crime" for a few months, as DC stops publishing quality stories and gears up for Infinite Crapitude. Oh, wait a minute, it has a different name? Actually, Detective will feature something linked to the last big crap-over they did, "War Games." Sigh. I'll see you in September, Detective.

Ex Machina #13 by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister
$2.99, DC/Wildstorm

See, now, some people might object to the coincidences that run rampant through this book. Of course Mitchell Hundred gets picked for the jury! Of course it's a civil case that has a direct impact on his job as mayor! Of course there's a loony Gulf War vet who flips out and wants Mitch to try to repair his "machine," meaning his body. It's a freaking comic book! Actually, it's literature, and coincidences are the very stuff of literature! Go read freakin' Great Expectations if you don't believe me! (Be sure to take lots of speed before you do, however.)

The point is, Vaughan wants to explore two issues in this book - Hundred's work as the mayor, and his powers, which he doesn't quite understand. 13 issues in, and he's done both admirably well, without ever sacrificing action. We get some action in this issue, as the low-rent Rocketeer who has apparently stolen some of Mitch's tech gets shot by cops but gets away. The mystery deepens! There's a lot going on in this book, and it would be a shame for you to not read it because "it's about politics." First of all, that's a lousy excuse, and second of all, it's about a lot more than that. And Tony Harris's art is beautiful and he's managed to go 13 issues in a row!

Girls #3 by Jonathan and Joshua Luna
$2.99, Image

Sigh. This took a whole issue? Seriously? Here's what happens:

Neighbors bitch about Ethan's behavior.
Ethan, Wes, and that girl (no, not Marlo Thomas! - I just can't remember her name) get beat up by the naked chicks who hatched last issue. (Yes, I wrote "hatched." It's comics, man!)
Merv, Ethan's idiotic friend, comes to the rescue.
Merv blows up Ethan's house.
Rednecks are still watching from the woods.

I keep threatening to take a mini-series and explain how long it really should be - how six issues should be two. There's nothing terribly wrong with Girls - Ethan gets a tiny bit more likeable this issue, although he's still an ass - but it suffers from "writing for the trade"-itis. Take that as you will.

The Goon # 13 by Eric Powell
$2.99, Dark Horse

Okay, after finally buying an issue of The Goon (#12) and really liking it, I pick up #13 with confidence, and ... eh.

If you don't like the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire collaborations because they're too full of themselves, I don't know how you can like this issue of The Goon. It seems like Powell is trying too hard with this issue, like he wants us to know the Goon is a tough guy. It leads to some funny moments, like when he first enters the cell block, but generally, you just want to say, "We get it! He's tough!" There are some funny moments, but again, it feels like Powell is showing us how funny he is. The art, as usual, is very nice, but it's generally a disappointing issue. And Powell shows us in the letters column that he's a complete asshole. It won't make me boycott him, like my by-now-world-famous Mark Millar boycott, but it's worth mentioning.

And the back cover of this comic magazine was on the coffee table when I spilled some root beer last night, so the back cover is a tiny bit messed up. How will I get it slabbed now? Oh, the horror! It's no longer "mint"!

Questions, comments, angry tirades! I welcome them all!

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Blogger David said...

I sometimes think that Bendis should follow his idol, Mamet, into the theatre, just because he loves writing dialogue so much.

I liked the idea of exploring the fallout of Daredevil's actions, but the realism mixed with the ninja-magic-demon stuff really doesn't work, and instead of coming off as epic, it just falls flat as nothing has been really explained (unless there was more to the dialogue; I don't think I could bear to read it again so soon...) and we the reader are left with a partially successful story, albeit with some lovely moody artwork.

However, like you, I'll be back for the next story, as Bendis & Maleev are too good a combination to ignore...

7/22/2005 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Hey, David's back. How cool.

7/22/2005 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Always wait to finish my Buzzscope reviews before seeing what you've got to say...

I actually liked how Hester handled The Atheist #2. Expository, yes, but he introduces an interesting new character and lays out a more solid foundation for his premise. Whereas the first issue was intriguing, this one was engaging. I daresay it's one of the best comics Image is publishing right now!

Finally got a hold of Captain Gravity #1, thanks to Penny-Farthing reprinting it, and give it props on Buzzscope this week, along with a nod to you for recommending it. I can finally finish reading #3-5 now!

Daredevil #75's ending was bit of a letdown, especially since it was my first arc, after being curious about Bendis' run for awhile. Kind of confirmed one of the more frequent criticisms I've seen of him, that he can't really do endings too well. I agree that the whole sucubbus thing didn't work, kind of like the Nightmare on Elm Street sequel (4? 5?) where they explain Freddy Kreuger's background and it falls flat.

I really feel like I'm only buying Girls because the internet has convinced me that the Luna Brothers are these great talents, 'cause I'm just not seeing the appeal. It's an interesting plot, but all of the characters are unlikable idiots and the dialogue sounds like something for a rejected WB pilot. Damn internet!

Defenders was fun, but damn if the seams aren't starting to show on the Giffen/DeMatteis formula.

Ex Machina is back on track, and I've been curious about both
Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities and The Goon. Will keep an eye out for the trades.

7/25/2005 12:23:00 AM  

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