Thursday, September 29, 2005

What I bought - 28 September 2005

Lots of stuff this week! Three different themes! The themes are:

1. If you're not buying this, I can't help you;
2. Does Marvel even HAVE editors anymore?;
3. Warrenellis-palooza!

Here we go!

Action Philosophers! #1
Action Philosophers! #3
By Fred van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey
$2.95, Evil Twin Comics

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See, now, if you don't buy at least one of the three Action Philosophers! issues, then I can't help you. The first issue was just re-released, and issue #3 just hit the stands, and they are a blast. A BLAST, I tells ya! What more do you want out of a comic book? They are hilarious, and they are educational! We whine about the state of education in this country, and then Van Lente and Dunlavey tell us wonderful stuff like how Plato was a professional wrestler and how Nietzsche had a man-crush on Richard Wagner! You just don't get trivia like that from Villians United! This is one of the most fun series out there, and you are doing yourself a great disservice by not finding at least one issue. Go. NOW!

Black Panther #8 by Reginald Hudlin, David Yardin, and Jay Leisten
$2.99, Marvel

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Whoops. I forgot this was a crossover with X-Men, which I bought, so I missed it last week. It's all right. Black Panther fights the X-Men (big surprise!) and Storm gets naked, because goddesses don't wear clothes or something, and there's some guy running around stealing mutants' powers, and for some reason Logan is jonesing for Ororo, which is annoying. It's not the worst story, but it's not the best. It could be a lot worse, I suppose. However, it does point out, once again, that nobody's running the Marvel store.

Paul O'Brien pointed out some of these things last week, but I'll reiterate a bit. I don't read Black Panther, so I don't know how they have rewritten his history, but he makes a good point that there's no reason to reference continuity if you're going to get it wrong. If Marvel wants to ignore their history, that's fine. But if you're going to mention Genosha, at least get its history right. X-fans will know all about Dr. Moreau, the chief geneticist in Genosha, and the guy in this issue ain't him. And apparently the United Nations never gave the island to Magneto. Sigh. I thought the whole "giving the island to Magneto" story was stupid way back when, but it was a major storyline. Marvel doesn't care anymore. Just give up all continuity if you're going to do that, Marvel. Don't say you care about your company's history, because you don't. That's fine, just admit it.

Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her #1 by Richard K. Morgan, Sean Phillips, and Bill Sienkiewicz
$2.99, Marvel

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Wow. Check out the ass on Natasha. I'm glad we've moved past the days when mainstream comic book companies tried to sell their books with a little T-and-A.

I enjoyed the previous few Black Widow mini-series, so I have high hopes for this one. It's not bad. Sienkiewicz "finishing" is almost as good as Sienkiewicz penciling, and I like how it's telling a story but still tying into the previous minis. Yelena shows up, and she's a good contrast to Natasha, as she has embraced a pure capitalist lifestyle (even though she lives in Cuba). Marvel editors are nowhere to be seen again, as we'll see soon.

It's a good book. I like espionage-type stuff, and Natasha is such a neat character, so it's good to see her getting some books devoted to her. Now if she could only team up with Moon Knight ...

Captain Gravity and the Power of the Vril #6 by Joshua Dysart, Sal Velluto, and Bob Almond
$2.95, Penny-Farthing Press

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It's been a while since I was able to read an issue of this series, because of missing #4 and getting it later. So today I sat down and read the whole thing. Man, it's good. It's absolutely nothing revolutionary, but it is a totally fun read. Velluto's art is spectacular, and the pulpy story has plenty of action, nice character development, and just enough social tension to remind us that Joshua is black and wouldn't be accepted into normal society if people discovered he was a superhero. The story is very reliant on Indiana Jones, but that's okay, because Indiana Jones steals from old-school pulp anyway. We know all the principals will be okay and Captain Gravity will save the day, but it's a fun ride to get to how it's done. This has action, adventure, sci-fi, Nazis, sexual tension - what more could you ask for? It's coming out in trade paperback, so check it out.

Catwoman #47 by Will Pfeifer and Pete Woods
$2.50, DC

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Well, I'm four issues into Pfeifer and Woods' run, and I still haven't said to myself "Now this is something I can't wait to read!" Like Black Panther, it's not bad. Not great, but not bad. Pfeifer is moving the pieces into position for something presumably big, and you-know-who shows up at the end, and it's interesting enough, but I'm still waiting for the pay-off. That will probably decide it for me - how will Selina drive the bad guys out of the East End without losing her friends or her life? And is it just me, or do the spots on Cheetah look suspiciously like nipples? But it's okay, even though she's technically naked, because, you know, she's feline.

Daredevil #77 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
$2.99, Marvel

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Remember what I said about nobody minding the store at Marvel? I'm going to assume that Marvel wants the comics-buying public to buy every Marvel comic. That's why they publish them, after all. But that would make me believe that someone AT Marvel is actually reading the comics before they are published. Ah, I have too much faith ...

What the hell am I talking about? Well, in Black Widow, distributed this week, Nick Fury is in charge of SHIELD. In Daredevil, also distributed this week, Nick Fury is NOT in charge of SHIELD. This turn of events is explained to ... Natasha Romanov. Excellent. I assume it has something to do with Secret Wars, but I don't really care. It's a minor point, but couldn't someone have told Richard K. Morgan that Fury isn't in charge? Gah.

Anyway, there's lots of talking in this issue. LOTS. OF. TALKING. Once again, we get Marvel ignoring history - not only Miller's "Born Again," but Chichester's "The Fall of the Kingpin." That's fine, I suppose, but at least acknowledge that you don't care about continuity. Elektra shows up. Of course.

I don't want you to think I didn't like the issue. It's just that I have made my bed to buy Daredevil in monthly format, and occasionally you get an issue like this, that makes you bang your head against the wall because very little happens. Still, a classic run on the title is coming to an end. Brubaker and Lark? Maybe.

Defenders #3 by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire
$2.99, Marvel

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I'm in a whining mood, aren't I? Even though I like the books I bought this week (for the most part), I have issues with them. Most of the issues are nit-picky, but the point has to be made, because the companies have created this culture, and they keep hold of it like grim death. So I have to call them on it. Don't I?

What the hell am I talking about? Well, I dig this book. It's funny, and the fact that Umar has a more voracious sexual appetite than the Hulk was VERY funny. And the fact that Bruce can't turn back into the Hulk because he's too ... well, relaxed - that's good stuff. And the alternate Earth stuff - I'm always down with that. But ... I don't like that Doctor Strange and Namor are suddenly Oscar Madison and Felix Unger. It's so out of character. It bugs me. I mean, it's funny, and I like how they point out how stupid he usually sounds, but still - it's Doctor Strange! That's his schtick!

The Gift #13 by Raven Gregory and Rich Bonk
$2.99, Image

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I was going to drop this title, but my comics shoppe ordered it for me, and I feel kind of bad because Gregory sent me an e-mail thanking me for promoting his title. I'm a sucker. Actually, I still would have dropped it if my shoppe hadn't gotten it for me. It's not that it's a bad book, but it's just not wowing me. The art is still 1993-era Image, which is not a good thing, and Gregory is exploring some intriguing ideas, like school bullying (that's not a slam - it really is a neat idea), but it's just not doing it for me. Bullies pick on the wrong guy. Bullies find out what happens when they pick on somebody with demonic powers. Stupid bullies!

I wish Gregory hadn't put a disclaimer at the beginning denying promoting school violence. We know, Mr. Gregory. It's fiction. It's unfortunate that in today's society, we need disclaimers like this.

Jack Cross #2 by Warren Ellis and Gary Erskine
$2.50, DC

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It's the beginning of Theme #3: Warrenellis-palooza!

I don't like Jack Cross. At least, not yet. The way I see it, there is good Warren Ellis and not-so-good Warren Ellis ("Bad" Warren Ellis is still better than most, after all). In "good" Warren Ellis, there is heart. Lazarus Churchyard, "Change or Die," The Authority, Transmetropolitan, Scars, Orbiter, the second issue of Desolation Jones - all of these have heart, a sense that there is good in the world, despite all the crap, and people can find it and make something better. Sure, a lot of nasty crap happens, but people are trying to overcome it, and Ellis shows his sentimental side without being too schmaltzy. The not-as-good Ellis retains the nasty stuff just for the sake of being nasty - Ocean, unfortunately, falls into this category, as does the third issue of Desolation Jones, and Ruins (among others - this ain't a bibliography!).

Jack Cross is just nasty. Maybe it will change, but it's just mean-spirited. Jack, I know, is supposed to be a jerk, but that doesn't mean I have to read about him. I'm on board for two more issues, but I don't know if I'll keep it up or not. I mean, Ellis writes a lot of good crap. So why should I buy this? So I can watch Jack shoot prisoners in the head and check out lovingly detailed artwork of bullets entering foreheads? No thanks.

JLA: Classified #12 by Ellis, again, and Jackson Guice
$2.99, DC

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Let's continue the Ellis-palooza!

Boy, that's an ugly cover. I mean, really ugly. Let's move on.

Writers have little annoying tics that occasionally get in the way of good storytelling. It's fine to put it in the books if it sort of fits in, like Vaughan in Ex Machina, but sometimes it bugs me. Ellis's fixation with sci-fi is okay, but in this issue it gets in the way, but only briefly. Shut up, J'onn. We know how you got to Earth.

Anyway, the story picks up, as we get an explanation for the weird puzzle pieces the gang found last issue. Luthor is unctuous as usual, and Ellis uses him to indulge in some pointed commentary about the current Administration. I have no problem with that. I'm not entirely sure why Barbara flashes back to when the Joker shot her, but it's brief so I'll let it pass. This is nice, superhero storytelling - the heroes act heroic, the threat is big and scary, Ellis gets to throw in some of his mad ideas, and the devil chooses to manifest in Las Vegas. Bwah. Ha. Ha.

Silent Dragon #3 by Andy Diggle and Leinil Francis Yu
$2.99, DC/Wildstorm

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Here's another one: if you're not buying this, I can't help you. Okay, I'm sure there are wait-for-the-traders out there, and that's fine, but if you're not planning on getting the trade, I question your sanity. Do you object to the absolutely stunning artwork? Do you not enjoy the balls-to-the-wall action? Are you grumpy about the forbidden love story, which adds a nice touch of sadness and yearning to the proceedings? Is the neat futuristic-with-a-touch-of-the-past trappings of a 21st-century shogun trying to conquer Japan uninteresting to you? I want to know!

This is a cool book. That is my testimony.

Ultimate Secret #3 by Yeah, that guy again, Tom Raney, and Scott Hanna
$2.99, Marvel

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And what rough comic book, its hour come at last, slouches toward the comic shoppe to be born?

Holy freakin' Mother of All That's Holy, it's an issue of Ultimate Secret! You know, screw Steve McNiven and his Quitely-esque speed - Raney is an excellent artist. The last issue of Ellis-palooza is right in Warren's wheelhouse - cyberpunk sci-fi! So our heroes get to sit around and spout off about the Fermi Paradox - oooh, check it out! Thor gets to talk about beer and Iron Man gets to make passes at Sue Storm. It's a decent issue, although it's unbelievably slow - there's a two-page spread of a space shuttle taking off. Not a two-page spread of every hero in the Marvel Universe fighting an alliance of Kree, Skrull, and the Brood, but a two-page spread of a space shuttle taking off. Sigh. It's kind of an annoying issue because everyone talks like they're in a sitcom - if Bendis goes too far with his "realistic" dialogue, in this Ellis goes too far with his "everyone is so goddamned witty" dialogue. It's like the cast of Friends decided to save the world. Still, this is interesting enough that I want to read more, and I'll get the final mini-series to see how our intrepid heroes defeat Gah Lak Tus (blech). And Hawkeye has great lines, including his snark about Captain America dissing France. Take that, Millar!

Man, that's a lot of comics. A lot of good ones, too. Just promise me you'll track down ONE issue of Action Philosophers! Put down that House of M Wolverine crossover and spend your bucks on a glorious black-and-white comic starring Carl Jung!

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Blogger Michael said...

I already own issue 2. So nyah.

9/30/2005 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

You're excused then, Michael. Good job.

9/30/2005 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Chuck T. said...

I've only been reading the issues in the stores, but wasn't the Yelena Black Widow set on fire in New Avengers?
The first Black Widow series was good, but I think these (and maybe that new Moon Knight) are kind of on their own, continuity-wise. Not quite regular Marvel, not Ultimate, more of a pick-and-choose.

9/30/2005 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Indeed, the Blonde Black Widow got set alight in New Avengers and was subsequently recruited by mysterious shadowy villains.

Yup, I've been getting Action Philosophers; I studied philosophy at university, so I couldn't resist really.

And yeah, lots of Ellis technobabble in JLA:C, but gosh that was the most creey/badass version of the Martian Bloke that I've ever seen!

9/30/2005 02:20:00 PM  

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