Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What I bought - 12 October 2005

Apparently some "event" comic came out today. I asked the guys at the store about it, but they didn't know anything. I guess it wasn't that important. If it was, I'd be reading about it all over the Internets, wouldn't I be?

So let's check out my purchases. The "good" comics, I like to call them.

Bonerest #4 by Matteo Casali and Giuseppe Camuncoli
$2.99, Image

Oops. Did I say my purchases were "good"? Scratch that, at least for this one. Why would I buy a Bad Comic Book, you ask? Well, it's the last issue of a three-part storyline, and I was hoping against hope that it would rescue the previous three issues, which had some intrigue but got bogged down in lousy dialogue and almost impenetrable allusions and mystery. I'm just not all that interested. This issue ends the "weird guy who claims he is offering everyone a path to redemption by doing nasty things to them" story and introduces (or continues) at least five new threads to the story, and it's just not that good. The art is neat, but it's not worth your money. Sorry, Bonerest - it hasn't been fun.

Ex Machina #15 by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister
$2.99, DC/Wildstorm

One of the top five titles out there gives us what we've all been waiting for: TITS!

Okay, maybe we haven't been waiting for it, but there's a funny scene involving women's breasts. I'm sure it will all make sense in the grand context of the story. Meanwhile, it's another two-parter from our creative team. Even if you don't like this comic, you have to admire the restraint and savage devotion to packing a lot into each issue. Mitch gets a phone call from his mother, who disappeared in 1999. He tracks her down using his abilities and discovers something about his family that isn't exactly pleasant. There's a flashback to his superhero days, as usual, which will tie in somehow, I'm sure, and there's the topless woman, who bares her breasts to protest her ticket for going topless, an unintended consequence of his law allowing women to breastfeed in public. There's a revelation about what Mitch's father did for a living and how it ties into the politics of the now. This continues to be a fascinating comic, as it continues to walk the fine line of talking heads and action well. Keep buying those trades, people!

Fables #42 by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Leialoha
$2.75, DC/Vertigo

Speaking of excellent comics, Fables fires up a new storyline. Not a whole lot happens, but it's still good. Sinbad arrives as an envoy from the Arabian fables, who are being pressed by the Adversary and want asylum in Fabletown. Of course, all the slaves in his retinue cause some problems, as does the fact that none of his people speak English and nobody in Fabletown speaks Arabic. Well, one person does, but it's not the best person they could let discuss things with Sinbad. Meanwhile, Mowgli, who set up the meeting, is still tracking Bigby, and things heat up in the Mayor's Office!

The really great thing about this title is, like all excellent comic series, that Willingham has a vision for the series and keeps its history in mind. There continue to be ramifications of actions from many issues ago, and there is a sense that the characters are changing and growing. It doesn't have to be this way all the time, of course, for a series to work, but it tends to make a series stronger. Good stuff, as usual.

Gødland #4 by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli
$2.99, Image

You're buying Gødland, right? All you people who worship at the altar of Kirby and the New Gods and early Fantastic Four and won't shut up about Kamandi are all buying Gødland, right? Because it you're not, stop talking about those other titles, because you obviously don't like Kirby. Hell, I don't even like Kirby as much as everyone else, and I love this series. Name me one series where you can read glorious dialogue like this:

Friedrich Nickelhead: Tell me, Eghad ... Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like a million bucks ... pre-inflation? Look who I'm talking to ... of course you haven't.

Eghad (who wears a tank top and Elton John glasses): Contact. Bilge Bay. Affirm.

Bask in the weirdness of it all! Bask, I say! We get two fight scenes in this book (one huge, the other not so much), we get our interlude with comics' weirdest villains, the aforementioned Friedrich Nickelhead and Basil Cronus' head, we get Discordia, and we get ... the Null Field Cube! "Anti-particles that form an empty tesseract. Hypercubic geometry at its finest." Would Discordia lie to you????

Bask in the weirdness!

The Goon 25¢ Edition by Eric Powell
$.25 (duh!), Dark Horse

I'm still not sold on The Goon - it's enjoyable and all, but when I read it, it feels like there's something missing. Maybe it's my soul. It's fun enough, and there's no reason, if you bought Countdown to Infinite Crapitude for 100 cents, to pass this up when it's 25 cents, but I'm not sure why I don't love it. Yes, the rubber chicken was funny. Yes, the fact that demons don't share cake is funny. Something is missing from my enjoyment of The Goon experience, though. It's weird.

You should all buy this, though. It's a freakin' quarter, people!

Gravity #5 by Sean McKeever and Mike Norton
$2.99, Marvel

A very nice mini-series comes to a satisfactory (for the most part) end, and you should all go buy the trade. We get the big showdown between Greg and Black Death, and I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying Greg wins. It's how he wins that's always the interesting thing in these stories, plus the extraneous stuff. Spider-Man shows up and gives Greg a bit of a lesson in relationships, and Greg figures some things out about his life. I wish he had either told Lauren about his secret identity or she figured it out by himself, but such is life. This is a nice superhero book that, I'm sure, nobody bought because it's not "dark." That's a shame. It's fun.

The Iron Ghost #4 by Chuck Dixon and Sergio Cariello
$2.99, Image

My subset theme of comics this week is "Nazis getting killed and why should we care?" It will carry over into the next purchase, as well. This nice mini-series continues, as two high-up Nazis are arrested and brought in for questioning. One of the accused gets a urologist as a questioner - use your imagination. The other gets the inspector (whose name escapes me), who is much nicer (he's kind of the hero, after all). Our Ghost friend shows up and havoc ensues.

Okay, it's not much, but piece by piece we are getting a sense of what's going on, if not who the killer is. The army is not happy that they have been assigned to carry out missions that involve killing civilians (and, to be fair, the army was one of the last groups to get on board with Hitler). The police are just trying to do their jobs in a city gone to hell. The interesting theme of this book is what do you do when your society has collapsed? Should you turn to chaos, or should you try to maintain a semblance of that society? Berlin in 1945 was not a place anyone wanted to be, but certain people keep marching on, because it's the right thing to do. We don't necessarily have sympathy for the characters, since they're Nazis or at least gave tacit support to the Nazi regime, but we are fascinated by how these people react in a situation almost beyond our imagination. As Josef Meier says, "I wonder how [American] resolve would survive if New York looked as Berlin does now." Because it's Dixon, I'm sure that's a not-so-subtle shout-out to New Yorkers surviving after 9/11, but it's also a question we don't have to answer. 9/11 was one day. This is constant.

Anyway, it's intriguing. Things are moving along. Get the trade when it arrives.

The Keep #1 by F. Paul Wilson and Matthew Smith
$3.99, IDW

Speaking of Nazis getting killed, we have The Keep. In contrast to The Iron Ghost, this story takes place near the beginning of the war (April 1941) when it still looked like Germany might win. There are Nazis at a mysterious castle in Romania, and they're getting killed. Why do we care?

Well, if you ignore the Nazis, it's a nice creepy horror story. An old man is the caretaker of the keep, and he tells the Nazis that they musn't disturb the crosses that are set into the stones of the building. Of course, because they're evil Nazis, they are greedy for gold, so they start digging. This unleashes some kind of ancient evil that kills them. Go, Ancient Evil! Kill those Nazis good!

I like this book, and no, I haven't read the novel on which its based. I'm just wondering why Wilson set this during World War II with Nazis, because I just don't care that they're all getting killed. It's certainly spooky, and I'll pick up the next issue just to see what's going on, but are there any sympathetic characters?

The Middleman #3 by Javier Grillo-Marxbuach and Les McClaine
$2.95, Viper Comics

Another fun book. Come on, it has a gangster monkey in it!

That's not enough for you? And you say I have no soul? Well, we get more fun banter between The Middleman and Wendy, as Wendy tries to get information out of her mysterious partner. And The Middleman kicks ass. Oh yes, much kicking. And milk drinking. And art snobbery!

Oh, the craziness that will ensue next issue! The wacky monkey bashing that will occur! I kind of wish Wendy hadn't put her cotton shirt through the heat cycle in the washing machine, because it shrunk. Poor girl - now she's showing off her midriff all the time. Oh well. What a fun book - go find it now at fine comic shoppes everywhere!

Of Bitter Souls #3 by Chuck Satterlee and Norm Breyfogle
$2.99, Speakeasy/Relative Comics

This title continues to be intriguing, although I'm still making up my mind about it. We get another origin of our four mysterious heroes, and that's the best part of the book. The story in the present deals with the famous New Orleans serial killer known as The Axeman, and it's kind of dull. The backstory is better. Breyfogle's art continues to be the draw for me, but the story is interesting enough right now for me to keep it. After the origin stories are done, we'll see where it goes. That will make or break it for me.

Ultimate X-Men #64 by Brian K. Vaughan, Stuart Immonen, and Wade von Grawbadger
$2.50, Marvel

Hey, look! It's a meeting between two superteams and they fight over a misunderstanding while the real object of both their missions slips through! That's never happened before!

Okay, it might have happened once or twice. In this issue, the Ultimates and the X-Men are trying to stop Alex and Jean-Paul from getting into the Triskelion so they can't rescue Lorna. Instead of talking about it, they fight! Whoo-hoo!

This is Vaughan's penultimate issue, and it's a fun superhero bash. Yes, the two teams act stupid, but in a world where we can accept people with fabulous powers, we can accept that their brains might not work like our more rational ones. And the fight is a good one, so that's okay. But something bad happens to Dazzler. Boo!

This run of Vaughan's is really a good one. I'm very keen to see what happens next issue, with Magneto busting out of prison, Warren and Alison in trouble, the X-Men versus the Ultimates - it's all hitting the fan, people!

Man, that's a bunch of books. And not one having anything to do with a certain book in which a superhero based on an endangered bird that lives in California appears to get killed. How's that for my restraint?

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Blogger Bill Reed said...

Ex Machina? Lame. I'm 98% sure there is a "dumb law" that states women are allowed to walk around topless in New York City all they want. So much for realism! ;)

And I've looked at Godland, and I tell you this: Faux Kirby is no Kirby. It doesn't capture the magic, at all.

10/12/2005 09:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Colin said...

Ex Machina. Ooh the arcs finished fromt he last one? excellent i can pick it up now

On Infinite Crisis. Why miss out on the comics social event of the year, even if you hate it, it's always fun to bitch about it later. And if they're going to make batman read like Batman Gotham adventures after this, more power to them!

10/13/2005 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Following up on Bill Reed's comment, the quoted dialogue from Gødland is more than a little baffling in this context, precisely because it bears absolutely NO resemblance to anything whatsoever by Kirby. What was your point again? I've known the artist as a fellow Kirby fan for many years and I credit his enthusiasm, at least...but the writing and the total package entirely miss the mark, if it's meant to appeal to anyone who likes Kirby and has actually seen his work.

10/13/2005 05:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cannot believe you like Ultimate X-Men. Magneto's bizarre reaction to Polaris rejecting him and calling her an "overweight harlot"? (and then hitting her with a tray?) Stupid, overwraught, and cartoonish. A complete disappointment.

10/13/2005 08:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

Having not read the novel but knowing some of the details, the Nazis in The Keep eventually force a Jewish bookkeeper- I think it's the guy we see in Hungary- to assist them in investigating the murders, and he's the ostensible protagonist.

10/14/2005 11:45:00 AM  
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