Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What I bought - 1 February 2006

What the hell is going on? The attitude of the publishers toward their comics-buying public really chaps my hide. Chaps my hide, I say! I'm so sick of writing for the trade. Does anyone even care about ongoing titles anymore? I bought eight floppies this week. FOUR were mini-series in the middle of the series, so I didn't read them. ONE was the final issue of a mini-series, so I read it. THREE were ongoing titles, and one was one that I only bought because I pre-ordered it and felt a responsibility to buy it. I've ranted about this before, but I just don't get it. Let's take Batman & the Monster Men, which I bought but didn't read. It's an excellent book, and I encourage you all to buy it. Let's say, when we all heard about it and our nipples got hard because it's Matt Wagner writing and drawing Batman, a character he was freakin' born to write and draw, we sat down and said, "Well, even though my nipples are hard because Matt Wagner is writing and drawing Batman, a character he was freakin' born to write and draw, I'm still going to wait for the trade because there might be nifty character sketches in the back or some such shit." So no one on the planet buys the individual issues. Does DC put the kibosh on the inevitable trade paperback? I don't know. I'm just wondering. I do know that I'm just tired of the six-issue arc. One of the beautiful things about comics is their never-ending serial nature. Again, I have ranted against this before, but long-running storylines are so nice when they reach fruition. I'm fucking sick of six-issue arcs! Grrrr.

So. What did I buy?

Beowulf #6 by Brian Augustyn and Attila Adorjany
$2.99, Speakeasy
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I only bought this because I ordered it a while ago. I wouldn't have otherwise, but I'm pretty sure my store ordered just the one copy, for little old me, so I would have felt bad if I left them on the hook for, what, the $1.50 it cost them to order it? I should have told them I wasn't buying their shoddy merchandise!

I mentioned this when the last issue of Beowulf came out. It's not a horrible book, and I liked the art on the first few issues, but Adorjany's does nothing for me - it's ugly and poorly executed and just not good. Sorry, Attila! This issue feels rushed, as if Augustyn was trying to wrap everything up - I don't know if Speakeasy's problems mean that Beowulf is done (the issue ends with "The End," so it could mean that, or it could mean that we've just finished up one six-issue arc, and you know how I feel about that), but it feels like Augustyn just threw a lot of stuff in there that doesn't really work and just quickly moves everything to its conclusion. Blah.

I'm pretty sure this is my last issue, because I don't think I've ordered another one. Yay, me! I saved three dollars!

Hard Time #3 by Steve Gerber, Mary Skrenes, Brian Hurtt, and Steve Bird
$2.50, DC
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Is this so hard? Maybe Gerber and Skrenes are setting me up for a six-issue arc, but it doesn't feel like it. This is a busy comic, but we can keep up easily and the stories are compelling on their own, even though we can feel them slowly coalescing at some point in the future. Maybe this will kill the book - we need clearly defined six-issue arcs! the public cries - but I, for one, am appreciative. We begin with Ethan sending his energy being out to find the granddaughter of his cell-mate, with whom he shared a kiss, presumably in "Season One." The Khe-Chara tracks her down and overhears her talking to a friend, and Ethan thinks she's propositioning the guy. We know better (don't we?), but Ethan reacts like any teenager would, and decides she's not the one for him. Then, abruptly, the comic switches to Cindy and Cutter, who begin a fairly weird relationship, plus we find out what may be a reason why Ethan gets ill whenever Cutter is around. There's a lot going on.

Despite the various stories, we're never lost. Gerber and Skrenes give us a first page that recaps enough of what has come before so that we get into the story. There's absolutely no action in this book, but the plot moves forward, and whenever Cutter is on the scene, there's a sense of menace, because we're waiting for him to earn his reputation. The most disturbing scene happens at the end, when he pierces Cindy's ears, not because of what happens, but because of what we're anticipating. This tension is built very nicely by Gerber and Skrenes, and it's what makes Hard Time such a nice read. The writers are playing on our knowledge of prison clichés, and they're doing it well. They might fall into the trap of stereotypes eventually, but right now, they are keeping things fresh and new enough and they make Hard Time a very nice read. And the art is good, too - I know Cronin likes it, and that should be good enough for you, lemmings!

Supreme Power: Nighthawk #6 (of 6) by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon
$2.99, Marvel
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I really hope you all listened to me, people, and didn't buy this. My long national nightmare is over, because this series is. This is so bad I may not buy the new Squadron Supreme series when it comes out, even though Way isn't writing that. This may be the first thing by Way I've read. He's kind of a hot shot around Marvel, and I can't figure it out. This is a nasty piece of comic literature. Nothing to recommend it at all. Don't buy the trade! Or if you have more money than you know what to do with, buy it, shred it, and send it back to Marvel. Blech.

X-Factor #3 by Peter David, Ryan Sook, Dennis Calero, and Wade von Grawbadger
$2.99, Marvel
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Another reason why ongoing titles are nice. Peter David gets it. Like I said last week, I get why some people don't like him, but he knows how to throw a lot of plotlines into one issue of a comic and keep them going for a long time - further than six issues, at least. In this book, we get Madrox and Siryn investigating the murder from last issue, which may have something to do with the rival company we saw last issue. Meanwhile, Rictor, Guido, and Rahne get caught up in a riot in Mutant Town, stemming out of the events of Decimation. Apparently "real" humans are beating up depowered mutants because they can now, and our friends in X-Factor don't take kindly to that. Meanwhile, an employee of Singularity, that same company that is messing with Madrox and Siryn, sends a guy into X-Factor's HQ to kill someone, but they get the wrong person. Layla Miller reveals a bit more about herself, and it's not all good. I was hoping David would do something with her, and he is, which is nice. And Monet strips while singing along to Right Said Fred.

There's a lot to like about X-Factor. It doesn't feel like everything is going to be wrapped up in four, five, or six issues, and even if it eventually is, I can deal with it because each issue adds important items to the overall book. That's why ongoing titles are so good, because they don't feel the pressure to wrap everything up. David might wrap up some of his plots next issue, but he might let them boil for a while.

So. Hard Time and X-Factor. Good books. Go buy them.

Mini-series I bought but didn't read.
 Posted by PicasaMatt Wagner. Pretty art. Monsters. Cool.

 Posted by PicasaCan you face "The Terror From Within"? Well, I certainly can't, so I'll wait until next issue when things might be less terrifying.

 Posted by PicasaI'm sure I'll like this, and all the other mini-series of this maxi-series. But I flipped through it and I saw, briefly: superheroes sitting around a table with "normal" folk, like they did it all the time; references to old-school heroes; a reference to a vast conspiracy; people in brightly-colored costumes talking tough. Sigh. Is it me, or is this all a little familiar?

 Posted by PicasaThat's a cool cover. I like how the Wildstorm logo is slanted along with the title logo. Keen. You should buy this, you know. Chuck Dixon war comic. Purty Mahnke art. What's not to like?

Maybe I'll be less riled next week. Knowing me, maybe not.

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Blogger Chad said...

All of Seven Soldiers has been a little underwhelming for me. Each series starts off with a great issue and then kinda gets ho-hum about halfway through the second issue. But I had insanely high expectations, so maybe I'm just feeling let down because of that.

2/02/2006 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Peter David is definitely one of the guys who gets the long-running serial format. His run on Hulk and Supergirl is basically a How-To on it, with satifying single issues and long-running plotlines being developed over long periods of time before resolution, and frequently followed by interesting status-quo changes in the book.

I, too, am sick of the 6-issue arcs, and 12-issue creative runs that seem more geared toward artificially boosting sales or "placeholding" until the next creative team rather than building a long-term direction/plan for the title.

2/02/2006 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Lyle said...

My disappointment with Seven Soldiers came when I finished a couple of the minis and didn't end up feeling like I got a complete story, but an extended teaser for the final bookend. I was so disappointed I haven't bothered to pick up the final issues of the other minis I was reading (Zatanna and Klarion, I think).

2/02/2006 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Deceptor said...

Nice to see that there's someone else in the universe who's buying Hard Time-- I discovered in TPB form (at my local library, of all places!) a while back while it was in defunct status, and have been following "Season Two" (dumb name if you ask me, but the series itself is so good that I'll forgive it) with much joy. It's nice to something good get a chance to continue.

2/02/2006 05:53:00 PM  
Anonymous The "No 'There' There" Alex Freakin' W. said...

I am still loving Seven Soldiers, but it has its flaws...

The minis aren't that great on their own. The more of it you're reading I think, the better it is, and really this should have been stressed more at the start.

The scheduling must've given someone an aneurysm. It's the best they can do, but there's so much to follow that you always approach each issue not being able to remember what happened in the previous one.

Morrison often writes work that needs several readings to really absorb, and I think this is no exception. I'll read it through to the end, and then I'll re-read it and I'm sure it'll be more than worth it. I've re-read a couple of the completed minis so far and they're exponentially better than the first time I read them.

2/02/2006 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Yeah, but Seven Soliders is supposed to be a pain in the ass to follow; That's its charm. But, in general, I like Morrison's stuff better when he's being cranky and difficult.

And Bulleteer was... well, not like anything I've ever read before, and I've read a hell of a lot. It's ALL in the diaoluge, though, not so much the set-up or the plot.

2/02/2006 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Which is why I'm saving them to read all at once ... I still have only read the zero issue, the first two Shining Knight issues, the first Guardian, Klarion, and Zatanna. Then I stopped and will read them all in April.

2/02/2006 10:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

I've been enjoying the individual minis more than the overall story as a whole, to be honest. Klarion, The Guardian, and Frankenstein have all featured great done-in-one stories only tangentially related to the overall arc (or sometimes not related at all), while the Sheeda plot is pretty stale stuff. Evil elves? An ancient menace returning to threaten the present? This was lame fantasy cliche even before it was lame scifi cliche. Tired as the arc itself is, though, there are lots of enjoyable bits inbetween. I even kind of like Mister Miracle, even though it does read like Ultimate* Fourth World. Aside from Zatanna, which ended as such lukewarm gibberish I halfway suspect editorial interference involving Infinite Goddamn Crisis, the minis have been holding up pretty well. Subway pirates? Come on! I don't need lame-ass evil butterfly people to appreciate that.

(*read: "boring")

2/03/2006 01:25:00 AM  
Blogger Bastarður Víkinga said...

"Does anyone even care about ongoing titles anymore?"

In an ironic twist of fate, Warren Ellis.

- Viking Bastard

2/03/2006 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger Edward Liu said...

It's kind of hard to say whether or not Beowulf is ending or not, since it feels that way for nearly everything Speakeasy publishes these days. However, I ended up pre-ordering up to about the same point and feel almost exactly the same as you: the series started strong and degenerated into unreadable mush with disturbing speed.

I do remember that Brian Augustyn and Speakeasy announced that he was leaving the title a while ago, with issue #6 I think. "Creative differences" was the reason cited, but given how much I've liked Augustyn's work in the past and how little I liked this book by the end, I wonder if he was "Ruse"d akin to how Mark Waid was, only slightly less public about it. It didn't help to discover that Beowulf and The Grimoire were a shared universe for no very good reason.

2/03/2006 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

And, MAN, Hard Time was creepy. I'll buy anything Steve Gerber writes out of loyalty, but I probably would have dropped the book in the first season if anyone else was scriptin'.

But I am totally enjoying the heck out of season two. No boring introduction, just straight up awesomeness.

2/03/2006 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

"In an ironic twist of fate, Warren Ellis."

I think it's more unlikely that the guy who helped spearhead the write for the trade movement has been doing single issue stuff like Fell, Aparat, and Global Frequency.

2/03/2006 10:19:00 PM  

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