Thursday, August 04, 2005

What I bought - 3 August 2005

I was so close to coming in under ten dollars this week. So close. I don't count the new GrimJack trade paperback, only the floppies. By the way, go buy the new GrimJack trade paperback - it's awesome. Boy, you want to talk excellent "compressed" storytelling ... (As a chorus of "NO"s drown me out)

Let's look at comics' sad stepchild, the monthly pamphlets, shall we?

Common Foe #2 by Keith Giffen, Shannon Denton, and Jean-Jacques Dzialowski
$3.50, Image/Desperado

Following along in my vein for the past few weeks, does stuff happen in this issue? Well, not a whole lot, but after the first issue's fast pace, it's nice to calm down a bit. The first issue had Germans and Americans fighting alongside each other during World War Two against some demon-like things, and in this issue, we continue the flashback to see how they got together. We get some characterization of the soldiers, and the issue slowly builds toward something unpleasant. The nice thing about this issue is the building of tension. We know the demon-like things are coming, we know from where they're coming (even if we don't know what, precisely, they are), we even know when they'll arrive (we're pretty sure it will cap off the issue), but Giffen and Denton still do a nice job of building the tension, so when the explosive moment arrives (and it is explosive, in a particularly nasty way), it makes us stop and catch our breath. It's a nice job.

I still can't distinguish between all the characters. That's probably laziness on my part. The art is very nice, and the dialogue feels real. I wonder how Giffen and Denton will keep up the tension for the next three issues (it's a five-issue mini), but I will return to find out.

The Intimates #10 by Joe Casey, Scott Iwahashi, Carlos D'Anda, and Sandra Hope
$2.99, DC/Wildstorm

The Intimates' summer vacation continues, and a little more stuff happens, but Casey makes it a little more explicit this issue why stuff has not happened. He points out that summer vacation is the greatest time in the world precisely because stuff does not happen, and it's a time for kids to relax and discover what they're all about on their own time. He ties in the info scrolls at the bottom of the pages to the main theme of the issue and of this "summer interlude" in the book, and makes what I see as a meta-comment on the way comics are written (I can say he makes this comment because I'm such a nifty comic book reader, and because this "compressed/decompressed" dichotomy is still on my mind). Casey apparently sees these "summer" issues as a chance to catch our breath and kind of let the characters do their own thing. He makes the point that during summer, time seems to simultaneously slow down and speed up, and while he makes this point, the story of Destra and Punchy investigating the food at the Seminary takes a violent turn and the story slows down immeasurably. It's another interesting storytelling device, and it adds another level textually to the issue.

Casey has become one of the best writers at making a story while commenting on the ideas presented in the story and the ideas of comic books in general. The nice thing about Casey is that he doesn't act like he's better than the art form, and he wants to bring us all in on the joke. This is a nice issue of an apparently poorly-selling book. The cool thing about Casey is he doesn't care. He's not going to stop doing these kinds of thought-provoking comics.

Matador #4 by Devin Grayson and Brian Steelfreeze
$2.99, DC/Wildstorm

Grayson obviously read my complaints last month, because this issue a lot more happens. Isn't that how it works? Basically, this issue is a chance for crooked cops to show up and attack the "noble" criminal. Isabel is caught in the middle. The Matador shows up at the end, again.

The biggest problem I have with this book is that Isabel isn't an actor as much as she is a reactor. I'm not sure if we should be rooting for her or not - she seems remarkably ineffectual. I was hoping this book would be more about her quest for this mysterious assassin, and it still might be, but I don't know how she can be an active character in the quest because she's been such a doorknob for four issues. Everything happens to her in this book - she doesn't happen to anything, if you know what I'm saying. I don't want her to be a typical comic-book "masculine" female - all kick-ass and tough-guy - but it's kind of strange how much of a wuss she is.

It's as pretty as ever, and I do like the turn it takes in the second part. The trade will probably be worth it.

Trigger #8 by Jason Hall and John Watkiss
$2.99, DC/Vertigo

It's the last issue, so who really cares, right? The interesting thing is that Hall and Watkiss have no interest in wrapping up the series. It feels like a story from the middle of an arc. Kind of nice.

The failure of this series makes me wonder about the idea of writing for the trade. I'm sorry, but it's on my mind! This is a very dense world that the creators have fashioned, and I wonder if they tried to do too much with the initial story arc. Of course, it lasted six issues, and I would be angry if DC told them it had to fit in a nice trade paperback format, because of course we'll never see that particular trade. In this futuristic, dystopic world, we need action to draw us in instead of explanations on all the inner workings of said world. Yes, the first arc featured assassins and death and sex, but it felt too clinical, like Hall and Watkiss were simply showing a documentary on this world. That should have come later. This book wasn't visceral enough, I think, and the six-issue first arc contributed to that - the pacing was SLOW, and probably bored a lot of people who would be willing to try something different. Issue #7 was actually a little more fast-paced, but by then it was too late.

I'm not saying that Trigger deserved to live because it's the greatest thing ever. It was decent, but I won't mourn its passing. I just wonder if the way DC and Marvel do business these days contributed to its demise. If anyone knows, let me know.

Wow, no Marvel and no DC mainstream. This is what happens when you fire up the crossover machine. Either you get everything or nothing, and financially, I can't handle everything. So screw 'em! I'm not missing anything, am I? Really?

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Blogger Mo Soar said...

This issue of Matador left me with a great big "ehhhhhh." Izzy is starting to annoy me to no end - and the scene with her hugging the crime boss on the boat? Where did that come from? Last I saw, they had a semi-adversarial relationship. Granted, Izzy seems to have a semi-adversarial relationship with most of the police department, too (and that was BEFORE the dirty cops showed up). More Matador, less Izzy, I say.

And the point of her father and the crime boss telling the same stupid joke escaped me - it was probably supposed to show that the line between jovial family man and small business owner and jovial ruthless crime boss is not so very great as we like to think, but I don't think we quite got there.

My favs for the week: Top Ten: The Forty Niners and, believe it or not, Fantastic Four: House of M . It's silly, it's amusing, it's nicely drawn and it's a great deal of fun to be rooting for DOOM, of all people, even after he shows you what an evil person he is.

8/04/2005 08:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Dizzy said...

The Intimates is poorly selling?
Damn it.. This happens to just about any Casey-book and the boards seemed to love this comic. I guess it's true that the 'net is not the comic-buying public. Hopefully sales are enough to keep this one going for a while.

8/05/2005 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Dizzy: according to Heidi McDonald, Intimates is selling poorly. Such is life. Maybe Godland will sell well.

Mo: I might buy Top Ten. I don't know. Maybe when it comes out in softcover. I'm sure it's good, but I just didn't feel like getting it.

8/05/2005 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger Mo Soar said...

Monthly sales "guesstimates" from "The Pulse"
11/04: The Intimates #1 -- 31,578
12/04: The Intimates #2 -- 20,443 (-35.3%)
01/05: The Intimates #3 -- 16,375 (-19.9%)
02/05: The Intimates #4 -- 14,468 (-11.7%)
03/05: The Intimates #5 -- 12,755 (-11.8%)
04/05: The Intimates #6 -- 11,527 (- 9.6%)
05/05: The Intimates #7 -- 10,689 (- 7.3%)

8/05/2005 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Mo has the answers. I guess it will be cancelled soon, with numbers like that.

8/05/2005 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger P'La Jarvinen said...

Brian, its time to get your Kolchak Tales Special. I noticed you mentioned it a few posts back and I would be interested to see someone else' point of view. Been waiting for the long release since the talks first came about to have Peter David do this one with Kirk almost 1 1/2 yrs ago. Between the company publishing schedule and waiting for the script, and finalizing the inker details it seemed like the release date would never come.
Partial or not, I have to say it was a fun read, and I'm looking forward to having the printed copy in hand.

8/05/2005 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger zilla said...

yeah i only dropped about 10 bucks this week too... terrible. it's been like trying to squeeze blood from a stone the last 2 weeks. NA was ok but that's seriously the only book i bought (of 3) that i enjoyed really. luckily i've got a mile-high stack of trades to get me through the dry times...

8/05/2005 09:38:00 PM  
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