Thursday, August 25, 2005

What I bought - 24 August 2005

As the cries for a Zombie JLI go up all over the blogosphere (okay, maybe not all over, but certainly in the comments section of my last post), it's time once again to examine what I bought. A slow week, but not lacking in quality. No Infinite Crisis tie-ins in sight!

Daredevil #76 by Bendis, Maleev - you know the drill
$2.99, Marvel

Maleev has gotten stronger and stronger on the fight scenes in this comic, hasn't he? They used to be very static and staged-looking, but they're much more fluid these days. Good to see.

Okay, there are only four more issues of Bendis/Maleev on Daredevil (counting this one). Or is it five? Whatever, you know I'm going to be buying them, and I know many of you will be picking them up in trades. However ... this isn't a very good issue. That's surprising, as Bendis always seems to start things off better than he finishes them, but this is a BORING book. Ben Urich interviews Wilson Fisk and nobody says anything of any importance. Seriously. The whole thing lasts TEN pages (including Urich's car ride to Leavenworth) and could have been written in a page. Here's the gist:

Fisk: I want to tell you what I know about Murdock because you're a reporter and you'll publish it and then the feds will let me go.
Urich: Fuck yeah! This will get me a Pulitzer. Screw Murdock and everything he's ever done for me, including saving my life more than once. Whattaya got, Wilson old pal?

That's what happens. Foggy banters with Matt for a bit and then sees The Daily Bugle with Urich's exclusive. My question is: don't the denizens of the Marvel U. already know that Murdock is Daredevil? What the hell is Fatty going to tell them that they didn't find out in issue #26 (or whenever Bendis outed Murdock)? "Oh, Murdock is Daredevil ... and by the way, he dyes his hair red." WTF? Can't Bendis do better than this for his ultimate story?

He refers nicely to Elektra stabbing Urich, though. I mentioned that only to link to this, which is a Sign of the Apocalypse.¹

The Iron Ghost #3 by Chuck Dixon and Sergio Cariello
$2.99, Image

Brian mentioned that this is right in Dixon's wheelhouse, and it is. I've mentioned it before. That's why it's such a good read. There's nothing fancy about it. The mystery is slowly revealing itself, and Dixon nicely leaves some clues about the identity of the Ghost. Back in the day I ranted about lousy murder mysteries in comics, and I'm not about to say this is a good one, but at least Dixon is showing us that there are clues! I always question portraying soldiers bombing civilians as being wracked with guilt (I'm not saying they aren't, and I've never been in combat, so I don't know, it just seems like a standard cliché), but it's not shoved down our throats. This is just a very interesting, very nice-looking comic. It zips along and keeps everything humming. Search for the trade, young folk, search for the trade!

Jack Cross #1 by Mad Man Ellis and Gary Erskine
$2.50, DC

You know what's weird? This is a DC comic. Not a Vertigo comic, not a Wildstorm comic. A DC comic. What's going to happen when Jack Cross goes gunning for Batman? That will rock.

Anyway, anyone who is at all marginally interested in comics knows about this, because of Ellis. I will buy it, at least for the first four issues, but it pissed me off on some level. I think T. has infected me with his anti-liberalism more than I want. Damn you, T.!

Why did it piss me off? The premise sounds good: one guy who takes out terrorists because the U.S. government doesn't have the stones. Sounds like somebody Pat Robertson would really dig, right? Despite Ellis's usual liberal rantings (and I like his politics, but he does rant a lot), I figured this would be a comic in the grand tradition of such reactionary, kill-them-all-and-let-God-sort-them-out, bloodthirsty writers like Robert Ludlum. Mindless killing of bad guys for the cause. Nothing wrong with that, as long as it's done well.

Well, this is done well. But who are the bad guys? THE FUCKING CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY! I'm so sick of the bad guys being a clandestine splinter group within the U.S. government. You know why? It's boring. It's been done. I don't doubt that the CIA would love to whack anyone who disagrees with it, but I also doubt they go around doing it, and I am also tired of it. "Oooh, there's a rogue element in the U.S. government! How scary!" This goes back to this book existing in the DCU. Isn't fucking Checkmate a rogue element of the U.S. government? Why doesn't Cross go after them? I'd like it a lot more if he shot Maxwell Lord than Wonder Woman killing him.

Shit. It's such a neat idea, and Cross is sufficiently badass without being another bald black man, and the art doesn't suck (that's as far as I go in my appreciation for Erskine, whose art I don't warm up to very much). But Jesus, Warren. Kill some fucking terrorists. They don't even have to be Arabs. They could be rednecks from Oklahoma who want to blow up a federal building. Whatever.

The Middle Man #2 by Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Les McClaine
$2.95, Viper Comics

Hmmm. Four-issue mini-series, and the plot moves along slowly, and the scene with Wendy and her boyfriend CRACKED ME UP, but this is basically filler. Sigh. Four panels of Wendy quoting "Kung Fu Fighting" does not endear itself to me. The banter between Wendy and the Middle Man is fun, but doesn't tell us much that A) couldn't be done much more quickly; and B) we can't figure out for ourselves. That's part of the problem with slow-moving comic books (no, I'm not going to rant about decompression today) - they assume we're idiots. I'm not an idiot. I was reading this, and thinking, "I know all this. I know Wendy doesn't know all this, but she's a fictional character who should simply serve to tell a story." That's what bugs me. It doesn't matter if Wendy learns all this on-panel or off-panel. She doesn't exist! She could learn it all in between panels, for crying out loud! The scene at the end when the Middle Man is investigating the Mafia murders and Wendy shows up and decides to join is fine, because the banter is decent and the plot is moving along at the same time! What a freakin' concept.

This is a cute book. The idea is cool, the art is fine, and the characters are charming. I just wish writers didn't feel the need to turn their books into Clerks or Before Sunrise or Slackers occasionally.²

What Were They Thinking?! #1 by Keith Giffen, Mike Leib, and Wally Wood
$3.99, Boom! Studios

The joke is too obvious: What was I thinking? You've heard about this - Giffen takes an old Wood war comic and changes all the captions and dialogue and makes it funny. Well, it's not really that funny. Sure, there are some funny moments, but you know what this reminds me of? You're sitting around the bar on a weekend night with some buddies and you think of something bizarre and mildly funny and you announce it to the rest of your friends and because everyone is slightly inebriated you all think it's the funniest thing ever and you riff on it for a while and everyone guffaws loudly and you order more beer and then someone mentions that the Eagles are going to the Super Bowl this year and suddenly everyone is off on that topic and the most hilarious stuff you were discussing just seconds before is completely forgotten and when you wake up in the morning with a hangover next to a strange dude (!) you remember the funny stuff and think to yourself "That will be something funny to reminisce about, but it really wasn't that humorous - it was the beer that made it better" except Giffen and Lieb NEVER GOT SIDETRACKED BY FOOTBALL AND HAPPENED TO BE DRINKING AT A PUBLISHER'S OFFICE! So they pitched this and inexplicably it got published. Perhaps Ross Richie (Boom!'s publisher) was drinking with them.

Anyway, it's funny in that way. Definitely not anything to spend four dollars on. Buy some beer instead and remix your own comic book.

Boy, I'm angry this week, aren't I? I don't mean to be. I'm going to buy all four of these titles again, after all. I just wonder about the choices some of these people have made. Rip me a new one if you so desire!

¹ I stole the link from Mike Sterling, who always has his finger on the pulse of the Apocalypse.
² Do those references date me? Sorry.

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Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I totally agree about the Giffen book, Greg.

It is just a misuse of Giffen's skills.

The guy is an awesome thinker-upper, not an awesome dialogue-er.

8/25/2005 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

And I disagree about Daredevil. :) I thought the fight scene looked limp, but the Fisk/Urich sequence was well done (yes, it was faffy and overlong, but that's Bendis, innit?). But I haven't read an issue since Mack was drawing it, so I'm coming from a different perspective.

8/25/2005 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Yes, Kelvin, that is Bendis, but even if it doesn't advance the plot, it usually has some pop to it. This, I felt, didn't.

8/26/2005 12:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Spencer said...

At first, I was all mad at this issue of Daredevil because the story got printed about DD, which Mr. Ulrich would never have been a part of. This is the guy who told JJ Jameson that he knows DD's identity and he's not telling JJ what it is. And now its showing up in print? Doesn't make sense.

Which is why I realized I like this issue because it raises these questions in me that I must have answered. Its just a matter of whether or not Bendis can do it.

Rumor is this has something to do with Bendis's first year on the book. I would go back and read the trades, but someone's borrowing them.

As for Warren Ellis...what's his obsession with anti-terrorism? Is this some kind of attempt to cash in on America's paranoia of terrorists?

8/26/2005 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger Derek B. Haas said...

Regarding Ellis and terrorism, I think that he's just tapping into an element of modern global consciousness. He seems to pull a lot of things from current events and news stories, from general plot concepts to specific hypothetical/emerging technologies.

8/26/2005 04:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Kelson said...

Hmm, I didn't get the impression that Jack Cross was actually DCU, just under the DC imprint. I mean, 7 Soldiers is slightly tangent to the DCU, and Fallen Angel was non-DCU (although it could have been).

Though I will agree that it seems more like a Wildstorm Signature book than a DC book.

8/26/2005 10:49:00 PM  
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