Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Comic Quotes Should Be Good for the week of 11/23

On the side of this blog are a lot of fine blogs where folks talk about comic books. Each week I pick out ten cool quotes about comics from those blogs during the past comic week. I cannot promise that my picks will be thorough, or even the best quotes. They are just quotes that made me laugh or smile or say, "Good line." Please note that the folks who write on this here blog (Comics Should Be Good) are excluded, as it strikes me as a bit too self-serving to quote any of them here. But be assured that I think they are all quite good!

Let's begin!

Thanksiving was during this comic week, so I hope that does not interfere with folks delivering the goods!

The Big Hurt himself, David Welsh, and his nice, concise review of Rick Geary's Treasury of Victorian Murder series, Rick Geary’s latest entry in the Treasury of Victorian Murder series (NBM Comics Lit),
The Murder of Abraham Lincoln, might be the best I’ve read so far. In spite of the familiarity of this particular chapter of history, it’s still very engrossing reading. By translating these events into a graphic novel using his specific gifts as a storyteller, Geary demonstrates that any material can seem fresh in a new medium.

“Part III: Good Friday” is a particularly strong illustration of this. Geary ticks off the events of the day, alternating between domesticity with the Lincolns and conspiracy with John Wilkes Booth. Against all likelihood, the sequence ends up being wonderfully suspenseful, quickly cutting between concurrent events. The combination of inventiveness and detail in these books always impresses me, and this is no exception, but The Murder of Abraham Lincoln achieves an even higher level of pathos than usual.
Your pal, and mine, Joltin'Johnny Bacardi, does us all a grand service and reviews a few comics from Oni and Slave Labor Press. I am just running one of the reviews, the one he did for Rex Libris, by James Turner,
REX LIBRIS #2: I found the first issue of this almost too clever for its own good fantasy series waaaay too text-heavy and talky, but this one dials down the verbiage and lets the story breathe, and it's the better for it, managing to be kinda clever in places and occasionally amusing to boot. If you recall from last time, Rex is a sort of uber-dimensional Library Policeman, who deals with threats from within and without. It's all played for laughs, kinda like The Tick in its goofy anything-can-happen attitude. Rex gets a couple of supporting cast members this time out- a sexy-librarian type Spetsnatz-trained assistant, and a chatterbox bird. The stiff, angular, exaggerated art is still a problem- it looks like Fred Hembeck inked by Picasso, and while I like both of these guys separately together it just looks odd. Still, this is a step in the right direction. (Slave Labor) B+
The great white hope, David Campbell, points out some problems with Denny O'Neil's Iron Man in his review of Iron Man #160,
Writer Denny O’Neil’s run on Iron Man was full of hilariously mismatched hero-villain fights – Iron Man was always going up against somebody who had no chance against him. I heard that O’Neil was more interested in chronicling Tony Stark’s descent into alcoholic hell than in who Iron Man was fighting each month, and I can believe it. O’Neil had Iron Man – who is like, a nuclear powered killing machine – go head-to-head against jokers like Vibro, The Brothers Grimm, The Fucking Termite*, and The Serpent Squad, among others. These match-ups did not make for gripping comic book battles.

In this issue Iron Man fights Anaconda, Death Adder, and Black Mamba – The Serpent Squad! Fortunately for the villains, Iron Man also has to fight Denny O’Neil, who crafts the plot in such a way that our hero actually has a hard time against the loser villains. If I were writing the book – that’s right, if I jumped in the Wayback Machine, traveled back to the year 1982, kidnapped and replaced Denny O’Neil, and then wrote Iron Man – I would have Stark wipe The Serpent Squad out in two panels, and then we’d move on to something more challenging, like Iron Man vs Runaway Stagecoach.
The Sultan of Swat, Mike Sterling, gives us a look at Superman in The Computer Masters of Metropolis,
As I noted previously, Luthor's motivation for causing a ruckus at the fair is because his inventions were not allowed to be displayed. Using your typical comic book logic, Superman figures that Luthor will make his initial strike against the fair at the exhibits were his inventions would have been presented, had they been allowed in. He remembers that the Daily Planet ran a story on Luthor's threats against the fair some time back, but can't remember the details on which specific exhibit was the one that did the rejecting. He tries to call the Daily Planet for the info, but gets a busy signal on what is apparently the Planet's single phone line. So, Superman, who couldn't remember the details of a story involving his arch-nemesis, remembers the home phone number of Whiz Kid Alec, and calls to ask him to use his amazing computer powers to access the Daily Planet's online archives.

Alec, despite his smart mouth, is a good kid, and does Superman's bidding, calling up the Daily Planet stories in question on his home TRS-80 Color Computer:

Once he gets the information he needs, six or seven hours later, he and fellow Whiz Kid Shanna manage to get the info to Wonder Woman, who rescues Superman, then they capture Luthor (who was going to blow up the computer and electronics exhibit, surprise, surprise), and we've all learned a little something about the importance of computers. Specifically, the TRS-80 Color Computer, the pinnacle of home computing achievement.
The Iron Horse himself, Jog, helps me out by giving a great review of a book I never got around to reviewing myself (sorry, folks!), Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #1,
This particular plot pulls off the impressive trick of fitting in perfectly with the Sheeda’s backstory and accompanying themes, while still feeling like a slightly weary stock plot rolled out to fill time as the project hits issue #20. The execution seems weirdly tossed-off, from one character’s half-sniggering death scene (“I love you. In a totally doomed way that you’ll never forget.”) to the utterly bizarre background locale of ‘Excalibur Fantasy Butterfly World,’ which has an awesome name but... what is it? A butterfly supply store? A butterfly-themed fantasy/comics shop? I get the 'bad maturity v. good maturity'/'Sheeda-as-evil-butterflies' metaphor, but this is just awkwardly positioned, as if Morrison just liked the name and decided to roll with it for better or worse.

Still, there’s something to be said for a high school outcast story that ends with no forgiveness, no understanding, only the realization that some situations are so irrevocably poisoned that one can only burn down the school and move on. Doug Mahnke (veteran of a lot of DCU properties but still best known to me as the primary artist for The Mask) provides some decently grotesque visuals; his talents with the humorously vile are well-utilized on this subject matter, with our awful high school antagonist serving as a particular standout. There’s still a long way to go with this title, and I expect matters will level out soon.
I do not agree, per se, but Say Hey Sean Maher sure gives She Hulk a good pimping (oh no, I should not have said that aloud, or else Greg Horn might get ideas!),
You know what book really returned to form last week? She-Hulk.

Fuckin' She-Hulk? Are you damaged?

Well, yeah, but we've been over that already. Seriously, writer Dan Slott's done something pretty special with the b-list hero, as folks remember from the twelve-issue run he did last year. The "Season II"-style relaunch didn't wow me quite as I'd built it up in my mind, but issue #2, released just last Wednesday, is exactly what I remember loving about this series.

Awesome Andy on a secret mission. A relationship between She-Hulk and Hawkeye that actually addresses both characters' specific personalities and how those might interact. Vaudevillian "who's on first?"-type jokes. Character-revealing sex talk. A really clever, rich time travel story, complete with paradox. Moral quandries and emotional reactions (Jen's single tear was a great moment). Giant spidery robot. Crazy giant arrows that confuse me a bit (do they expand after Hawkeye shoots 'em?). Tough choices and tricky consequences. A bang-up cliffhanger ending leaving me super-hungry for the next issue.

All this in 22 pages. All drawn by the amazing Juan Bobillo, who continues to build a style and visual voice for the book that makes it completely unique on the comics racks.

God damn, this is good comics. I laughed, I cried, I cheered.
This is only a taste of a much larger look at Brave & The Bold by Hammerin' H (who REALLY needs to give me a name other than H!!!), but I am sure it will lead to you wanting to click on his name to read the whole thing,
Zany Haney.

That’s the best way to describe the 1968 The Brave and the Bold tales in my collection. And what one scene best captures these stories? No, it's not Batgirl climbing out of the cockpit of her plane to stand on the wing trying to put Batman in a liplock (although, that scene is a close second). Here's the winner. Batman draws a mustache on the Mona Lisa.

For my money, it’s the dark knight’s finest moment. Ever.

And I sure hope zany and Haney rhyme. Or I’m going to look stupid. Again.
I think the Crime Dog, Chris Tamarri, is spot on with his review of Liz Prince's Will You Still Love Me If I Wet The Bed?,
One of the most interesting elements of Wet the Bed is its relationship to the truth. Now obviously, I don't know Prince personally, nor do I know anything about her and her boyfriend other than what's on the page. When I talk about the truth, I mean verisimilitude, how Prince's report stands up against the monolithic, subconscious Way Relationships Go. Observed in the particular, each little moment feels true, a story that only one of two people could tell. But step back and it feels as though there are connections missing. It's as if it was a portrait of someone using only their most attractive features, and leaving their flaws blank; it's not untrue, but it's arguably inaccurate.

This is particularly curious because of the sorts of things Prince chooses to include. When I talk about the Way Relationships Go, I mean the commonalities that show up over again, irrespective of partners, where I go "Guess what she did yesterday…" and then you're all like "I know how that goes." But there are unique particulars in between those, the pieces of character alchemy that could only have been the result of the combination of two people. Wet the Bed is nothing but those moments, which is notable in that it's something you couldn't find elsewhere, but difficult in that it precludes any sort of empathy. It's particularly exemplary that there's a lot of reference to the physical--Liz Prince must really like her boobs--even, curiously, some scatology scattered about (so to speak). It drives home that idea that the book's about--couldn't possibly be about anyone but--Liz and Kevin.

So should Liz Prince be praised for being so unselfconsciously honest, or be criticized for creating a book and a pair of "characters" with which the reader couldn't possibly identify? Both are fair, and I'd be hard-pressed to say which attitude ultimately stands taller. I suppose that Wet the Bed is just one of those books: you'll like it, if you like this sort of thing. As for me, I found it to be the uncommon example of a book that's more admirable than enjoyable.
The Rocket, Kurt Addams, gives a nice review to Daniel Zettwoch's Schematic Comics,
I bought this on a whim based on a recommendation from Jog and it may have been the best four dollars I spent on a comic this month. It’s a semi-autobiographical book by Daniel Zettwoch, containing a series of comic shorts, many of which have appeared in other places, although it’s unlikely you‘ve seen any of them.

Each piece has a unique charm to it that will likely resonate differently for everyone. “The Secret Society of Six Mile Lane” and “The Disappearing Man of Hill Behan” were entirely different in tone and theme and yet each struck a chord from my own past. That’s really the key to enjoying the book as the author draws extensively on his childhood for most of the stories. I’d guess most of us can find some common ground with Zettwoch, but even if you can’t the foundation was probably laid for you in any one of a hundred books, television shows or movies, and you should enjoy the humor and basic humanity of the stories.

The book itself is what I guess is called “pamphlet” sized -- essentially 8 ½ x 11 folded over -- with a thick cardstock cover. On my copy the ink from the front cover bled over to the inside, which somehow added to the character of the book. You can order your own copy here. (They take PayPal!) And if you’re lucky you’ll even get a little note from the author himself:

Bet you never got that from Brian Bendis.
Finally, the Georgia Peach, Chris Sims, gives us a nice bullet review of Batgirl #70 (among some other quick reviews of the week's books),
My thanks goes out to Anderson Gabrych, who keeps Batgirl enjoyable with very few missteps along the way. Unfortunately, I think this was one of them. Mr. Freeze seemd a little bit out of character, and to be honest, I'm never a fan of somebody busting onto the scene and shouting their new super-villain name for everyone to hear. Still, Pop Mhan's art fits the book like a kevlar/spandex bodysuit, and it's still not a bad read.
That's it for this week! Thanks for giving me so much to work with, folks! Hope you had a good Thanksiving, as well!

Read More


Anonymous Jacob Munford said...

Good god, was that issue of Batgirl terrible.

11/30/2005 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Mo Soar said...

I like SHe-Hulk and am enjoying the relaunch, but the Horn covers annoy the hell out of me. This does seems to be the era of covers which are only marginally related to interiors (and which often feature characters not actually IN the book), but Horn's covers are just so out-of-place for the rest of the book - completely different in style, theme and tone from the interior.

I'd heard Marvel was going to give She-Hulk a bit of a push on relaunch and apparently the entirety of that push is : "give the fanboys cheesecake covers!"

Bah, again.

11/30/2005 01:15:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home