Thursday, July 07, 2005

What I bought - 7 July 2005

Maybe I was in a bad mood over the tragedy in London, or maybe I'm getting cranky in my old age, but a lot of what I bought today was not good. I'm going to judge the comics today on one (1) criterion: Does Stuff Happen? I'm sick of stuff not happening in comics. Sick. Of. It.

Batman: Dark Detective #5 by Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin
$2.99, DC

Does Stuff Happen? Well, let's look. 22 pages for your standard comic book, right? NINE (9) pages of this are the Joker talking to Silver St. Cloud. Now, it's not the worst dialogue in the world, but we've heard it all before. The Joker's insane, he needs Batman alive because they're nemeses, blah blah blah. THREE (3) pages are Evan Gregory telling Bruce Wayne that Silver has been kidnapped. WTF? THREE (3) pages are Batman trying to find out where the Joker's hideout is. He doesn't do this with, you know, actual detective work, just strongarms underworld thugs. Ooh, we've never seen that before. FOUR (4) pages are Batman confronting Two-Face (and his "bad" clone, which means he's on Batman's side - yes, the clone rears its ridiculous head again) to get Joker's address. If you didn't go to public school in the United States, you have figured out that there are only THREE (3) pages left! Well, it's actually four, because I rounded up, but on those FOUR pages, stuff happens. Batman takes out Scarecrow. I didn't say it was good stuff, but stuff happens. Six issues? Give me a break.

Bone Rest #1 by Matteo Casali and Giuseppe Camuncoli
$2.95, Image

Does Stuff Happen? Well, yes, but much of it is incoherent and well, weird - and not a good weird. I suppose Satan is in the book, although who the hell knows, and there's the strange-looking dude on the cover, who enters our world in an alley through an Emergency Exit of apparently a sentient building, and he immediately does stuff. He has sex, he insults a dead girl's poetry, he beats up a guy who looks a little like him, he argues and then pees on the aforementioned sentient building. The bad guy is kind of creepy, but he dies. I'm not sure what the flying fuck is going on in this book. I wanted to like it, but I don't. Anyone care to explain why I should care about it? I have ordered issue number 2, but that, I think, will be it, unless it's freakin' Watchmen.

The Intimates #9 by Joe Casey, Scott Iwahashi, and Sandra Hope
$2.99, Image

Does Stuff Happen? Shit, even Casey succumbs to the disease this month, as Destra and Punchy hit the road to find out what is in the food at the Seminary. That's it. They don't actually find out what is in the food at the Seminary, because that would be, you know, fucking progress. Instead they find out that there is actually something weird in the food at the Seminary, but the dude who tells them this can't tell them any more. The subplots with Duke and Empty Vee are advanced, barely, and the most interesting thing about this issue is the fact that Kefong is the subject of a strange little short story in the crawls at the bottom of the page. I like the crawls at the bottom of the page (unlike a lot of people, apparently), but when it's the most interesting thing in the issue, that's a problem. Does Stuff Happen? Nothing that couldn't have been told in five pages. I like Casey's writing in general, but shit.

Matador #3 by Devin Grayson and Brian Steelfreeze
$2.99, DC/Wildstorm

Does Stuff Happen? Well, the damned curse of the six-issue built for the damned trade strikes again, as nothing much happens. Isabel gets laid - good for her. She happens to fuck the married DA, so when he shows up at her disciplinary hearing the next day, she doesn't even get suspended. That's it. She has sex, talks to her partner, goes to the hearing. There's an explosion at the end, but it's just a tease for next issue. It's pretty to look at, but 23 pages for that? Yuck.

Finally, THREE mini-series came to an end today. They are Catwoman: When In Rome; Ocean; The Twilight Experiment. Guess which one I liked best? The one where STUFF FUCKING HAPPENED!

First, Catwoman by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
$3.50, DC

Well, I told you to stop buying this when, I think, issue 3 came out, so if you bought the rest, you have only yourself to blame. I bought it because I'm stupid. I know T. hates Loeb, but his stuff with Sale is usually pretty decent, but this is crap. Just crap. Does Stuff Happen? Well, Selina kicks the crap out of the Cheetah and Scarecrow, but it's a boring fight and she's done quickly. Then she finds out that she MAY be Carmine Falcone's daughter. God forbid DC allow anything to be definite! I mean, they knew at the beginning they weren't going to allow Loeb to say anything definite about Selina's father, so why even cocktease us? No, stuff does not happen. And it's the final issue, so you would think stuff would happen. You would think incorrectly!

Ocean #6 by Warren Ellis, Chris Sprouse, and Karl Story
$3.99, DC/Wildstorm

Does Stuff Happen? Well, we get a bunch of extra pages for stuff not to happen! This took months to make? Really? It feels like Ellis could write this in a good afternoon. And as much as I like Sprouse's art, it's not like it's Todd McFarlane with billions of extra lines - that's one of the things I like about it. So Samuel L. Jackson kills all the bad guys, so stuff sort of happens. But he just shoots them, so it's not like it's the most ingenious thing ever. And it takes 21 pages to kill them all! But wait! there's more! 19 pages to kill the things in the Europan ice and return to Earth. Now, I thought those things in the Europan ice were pretty stinkin' cool, and if you have pretty stinkin' cool things show up in an earlier issue, it would help if they did pretty stinkin' nasty evil things in the final issue (I think Chekhov said that). But these stinkin' cool things? Ooh, they open their eyes before being obliterated! Wow. Ellis has bitched about people online snarking about his precious work, and I say - tough shit. When you make us wait months for your precious work and then give us these cool ideas and don't do shit with them, you deserve it. Ellis is one of the best comic book writers out there, but this ... It started off so cool, and just leaves us hanging. Maybe if Ellis spent less time showing Kane dropping a fucking coffee cup in issue #1 (if you'll recall, I mentioned it took something like four pages to show it) then we could have seen more of the nasty things under the Europan ice. Shit.

The Twilight Experiment #6 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Juan Santacruz
$2.99, DC/Wildstorm

Does Stuff Happen? Well, holy shit, more than in the other books! Sure, it has its share of useless dialogue (who cares about Rene's mother, seriously?), but it's got a nifty fight scene that includes dialogue that propels the story along (good God, what a concept) and sets up the final solution to the problem. Sure, the Righteous's death could have been handled differently, and the epilogue is too long (it's SIX (6) pages long; it could have been three), but stuff happens. It's not a perfect book, but it's a good, old-fashioned superhero yarn, and the creators don't forget that.

Sorry for the anger. "Good, old-fashioned superhero yarn" seems to be a string of dirty words around comicdom these days. I mean, come on, people - you're writing superhero stuff. It's not great literature. I love it, but it's not great literature! Sigh. Here at Comics Should Be Good, I feel like I'm letting you down because nothing I read this week is really that good. But if you haven't been to the local comics shoppe yet, let this be a warning to you.

Next week I'll be less angry. Probably.

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Blogger Chad said...

As for Ocean- Ellis wrote the entire series before he even turned it in. The delays were all on Sprouse's part.

Beyond that I have nothing to say for I have yet to read it.

7/08/2005 05:42:00 AM  
Blogger Harvey Jerkwater said...

To quote the greatest movie ever made, Black Belt Jones, "Preach on, brother Pinky, preach on!"

Stuff happening: good. Stuff not happening: not good. I'm a plot-hungry reader, yo.

7/08/2005 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

Sometimes I don't mind if nothing happens in a comic, as long as the story is good enough for me not to notice.

Sounds like these were pretty dull, though.

7/08/2005 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I also don't mind if nothing happens in a comic. Some of the best comics I've ever read have people talking. I'm just sick of stuff not happening all the time and in every book. And again - it's superhero stuff. They should be blowing stuff up. It's all about balance, and things seem out of balance these days - to the dull side, which is really bad.

7/08/2005 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

It IS interesting to note that when a comic is ALL-action and NO dialogue, that people really don't seem to complain about it.

Don't you think that should be telling the companies something?

All-Action - Very few complaints.

All-Dialogue - A good deal of complaints.

7/08/2005 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Mo Soar said...

BONEREST, is, I believe suffering from a very bad translation from the original (Italian?) into English - hence the slipped tenses, the Yoda-esque bad guy and the recently resurrected guy who has perfect command of both invective and slang.

I like the grafitti on the wall as the way the "higher power" or whatever communicates with him, and the little odd riff on everyone noticing he has no mouth, yet can eat, speak and (presumably) kiss.

MATADOR - wasting the first several pages showing us Isabel's joyless affair in detail was, I think, a mistake. The IA hearing is odd in pacing, very jerky -- she's in trouble! Wait, no she's not! Wait, yes she is! No, apparently not; we're in the parking lot not and she's been cleared. Huh? Then all the action is crammed into the last several pages, where Matador seemingly rescues her from the car bomb meant for her that her partner's father knew about. I want more Matador next issue.

OCEAN - I gave up reading these real-time at issue #3. I've been buying them, just tucking them away to read them all at once. Except I seem to have defeated my own clever plan, as I now can't find #4, even though I have 1-2-3-5-6. Gah.

7/08/2005 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Mo - I forgot about the Italian translation. Not the greatest excuse, but not the worst one, either. I'm like you - I give it a few issues to see what happens. I want to like Bone Rest, I really do!

7/09/2005 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

regarding Ocean... Samuel L. Jackson? i don't think so. He's totally modelled after Avery Brooks. if you don't believe me, just look at the cover of issue #4. Proof positive.

7/09/2005 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...


Definitely Avery Brooks.

Which isn't exactly an IMPROVEMENT (as I'm not a fan of this whole "make character look like actors" shtick), but that is who he is modeled after.

7/09/2005 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Samuel L. is more badass than Mr. Brooks. But yeah, he's modeled after Brooks. And Samuel L. has become my shorthand to refer to any of Ellis's "bald black character who kicks much ass."

7/09/2005 06:13:00 PM  
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