Thursday, October 06, 2005

What I bought - 5 October 2005

This week's theme is "grim-and-gritty." Man, if it weren't 93 degrees and sunny while I was reading these, I might have had to reach for the whiskey and the sleeping pills, because Holy Crap! I bought some depressing stuff this week. So let's move on!

Batman: Gotham County Line #1 by Steve Niles and Scott Hampton
$5.99, DC

 Posted by Picasa
Steve Niles is probably the perfect writer for this project. I can just see the bigwigs at DC: "Hey, we want to do a zombie Batman story. Who can we get?" Chorus: "STEVE NILES!"

It's a nice kind of Batman story - creepy and disturbing and incongruous - Bats goes to the suburbs! Unfortunately, these are creepy kinds of suburbs - it would have been cooler if Bats had been strolling down the streets of Perfectville, U.S.A. in broad daylight, and then had to deal with zombies! Oh well.

Despite that, this is the kind of story they should be doing in the regular Batman titles - no supervillains, some detective work, and an uncomfortable feeling while you're reading it. This is not something that is fun to read, but it is interesting. The crimes are bizarre and icky, and just when we think the story is over (well, not really, since it's part one of three), things get even weirder (the zombies and all). What's going on? Hell, I don't know. This is a neat book that won't make you happy. It's still good.

But the backpack, Bruce? Stupid. He should have just ridden a Schwinn with a banana seat, for crying out loud!

Detective #812 by David Lapham, Ramon Bachs, and Nathan Massengill
$2.50, DC

 Posted by Picasa
Lapham's epic continues, and despite the ugly cover, it's still an excellent read. Yes, it's depressing, and yes, it's gloomy, but it's delving into Bruce's psyche in a way that few writers have done before. This is a Bruce that has fears, and, more than that, is paralyzed by them. This is a Batman that uses the costume not to face his fears, but to mask them and ignore them. It's not something you often see in a "superhero" comic - the hero is supposed to conquer his fear, but Batman doesn't really, he just puts on the costume and becomes something different. Bruce is a scared little nancy-boy; Batman is big tough manly man.

The rest of the story is moving along nicely and coming full circle. The creepy Body is still around, Robin and Gordon defend the hospital, and more weirdness ensues. Lapham's story has two issues left, and I'm looking forward to the resolution. This is a classic in the making.

Elk's Run Bumper Edition (issues #1-3) by Joshua Fialkov and Noel Tuazon
$7.99, Speakeasy/Hoarse and Buggy

 Posted by Picasa
Okay, so people like Guy have been lauding Elk's Run for months, and the first three issues are finally readily available, in this compendium edition (with an incongruous cover by Darwyn Cooke). You're out of excuses, people! This is a good comic. It's interesting, different (okay, it sort of rips off The Village, but not really), nice to look at, compelling, and eerie. What is going on in Elk's Run, West Virginia? Strange things! The adults don't let anyone leave, because they want to build a utopian society. Of course, things go wrong. Don't they always?

The strength of this comic lies in the characters. Yes, John Sr. and Sarah do horrible things (especially John in Vietnam), but they aren't pure evil. John Jr. wants to get out of the town, but he also wants to stay, as long as he can have a normal life (meaning, he wants to date girls!). There is a power structure in the town, and it appears quite fascist, but these are people who want something better for their kids, and this is the only way they can think of to do it. It's these kinds of characters that make the book more interesting than just a "rebellious youth" story.

Apparently about 6 issues of each of the first three issues were sold, so do yourself a favor and buy this collection. Why should good comics die while the latest Claremont-Bachalo abomination sells big-time? WHY?????

Fell #2 by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith
$1.99, Image

 Posted by Picasa
And then there's Fell. After reading about a serial killer who steals the eyes of his victims, an invasion of Gotham City by something weird, and a town in which people who try to leave get run over by cars, I was looking for something light-hearted. Luckily, here comes Warren Ellis, the master of happy happy joy joy! Yay, Warren! In this issue of Fell, our hero Richard investigates the murder of a pregnant woman whose fetus was cut from her body while she was still alive (she died of shock). The coroner drops a tomato slice in the corpse, and he fishes it out and eats it. Richard Fell finds out that someone is stealing the babies to make good luck talismen. Now that's a heartwarming and uplifting tale! Go, Warren!

It's a disturbing story, mostly because of the references to Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge regime, from which Ellis draws some of his plot points. Ellis likes reminding us that humans are capable of a lot more horror than fiction writers can imagine. Thanks, Warren, for bringing us down like that.

Two dollars. A good value. Despite the gloom, it ends on a happy note. See? Ellis wants us all to be smiling!

Supreme Power: Nighthawk #1-2 by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon
$2.99, Marvel

 Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa
Okay, so I missed the first issue when it came out. I'm going to buy the two mini-series that lead into the relaunch of the title, so when issue two came out, I searched around and found the first issue. If I was looking for relief from the gloom of the other comics I bought, well, I won't find it here. These are some depressing comic books. I mean, Nighthawk is a Batman character, so how could it not be?

The thing that annoys me about comics like this, and I'm going to spoil something small here for the fans, is that they are unwilling to go all the way. Because I am evil, whenever kids or dogs are threatened in movies, I say "This movie gets five stars if they kill the kids (or dogs)." It's not that I'm bloodthirsty, it's just that filmmakers will never kill kids or dogs, and putting them in jeopardy is just a way to make us feel tension, even though we know nothing's going to happen. So in issue #2 of this series, Nighthawk pulls a crack baby out of the toilet. The kid was in the toilet head first, mind you. A bit of mouth-to-mouth respiration, and the kid LIVES! See? It's not a depressing comic! Ignore the dozens of other corpses, because they're drug users, you know, so they deserve it. The kid's head was underwater in a toilet! Better not even put the kid in that situation, in my opinion, because we know Nighthawk will save him, no matter how improbable it is.

Anyway, of all the depressing comics I read this week, these two were the weakest. This will probably be my guilty purchase for the next few months, because I know I'm going to buy the series (I can't leave my completist instincts totally behind), but it's not really that good. It's certainly not as good as the main title.

So there you have it. I did look around for cheery stuff, I promise! But it all looked like crap. So I might as well read good depressing stuff than crappy happy stuff, right?

Read More

7 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

Good call on the reviews this week, tho I will disagree about Gotham County Line. I thought that for 6 bucks there wasn't a lot going on here, and what was going on didn't make much sense, particularly the Foreshadowing Theme up front with Bruce wondering about the afterlife and all that.

Other than that, I agreed with all the other reviews here, and I'm also of the opinion that Fell simply cannot be pimped enough.

10/06/2005 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

You're right, Chris, and for someone who usually complains about the content-versus-price thing, I dropped the ball on it. For 6 bucks, it's a little thin. Even though I liked it, I thought it would work a little better as a standard 3-dollar comic. Still, I would recommend it.

10/06/2005 05:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex 'W' said...

Dude, you should have bought this week's Punisher. A personal account of the eastern european sex-slave trade and a guy getting his eyes gouged out. That would've picked you right up.

10/06/2005 07:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

This is what you get for not getting Polly & the Pirates.

10/06/2005 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Yeah, The Village is itself a oops-Night's-in-court-again ripoff of the kids' book Running Out of Time, so...

10/07/2005 01:23:00 AM  
Blogger joncormier said...

Good call on the Batman books. I wasn't sure how I felt about them but I think you hit the nail on the head.

Even if you hate them, pick up Fantastic Four and Iron Man: Big in Japan to get some bright colours back in your life.

10/07/2005 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Spencer Carnage said...

Marvel Monsters: Devil Dinosaur # 1 is the perfect remedy for the Nitty Gritty Comic Book Blues.

10/07/2005 04:38:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home