Thursday, February 16, 2006

What I bought - 15 February 2006

A calm day in comics. Nothing earth-shattering, but some decent stuff. Go buy Essential Moon Knight. Now that's some cool stuff!

And, in case you're inclined to skip this post (shame on you!), I will say one thing: lesbians!

DAREDEVIL #82 by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark
$2.99, Marvel

Brian had some interesting thoughts about this, and I'll try not to go over his ground. I will say that even if he is the Great And Wondrous Overlord Of This, The Greatest Comic Book Blog EVER!, the next time someone references Frank Miller's run on Daredevil (from TWENTY OR MORE years ago!), they must be beaten with socksful (sockfuls?) of quarters and made to read "The Clone Saga" and write a 30-page term paper on it! I, on the other hand, will compare this issue to ... Karl Kesel/Cary Nord's run on the title. Just because I can!*

The nice thing about this is that Marvel is allowing these writers to continually fuck with Matt Murdock's status quo. Bendis, of course, destroyed the status quo, but there hasn't been any evidence of any "reset" option, like the obvious one in Dan Jurgens' Thor run. I very much hope that Murdock continues to grow as a character and experience this stuff and work through it, because that would be fascinating to watch. Brubaker takes what Bendis left him and runs with it well, bringing in a Daredevil doppelgänger, having Matt desperately trying to survive in prison while keeping his identity secret, and doing the ol' lawyering with Foggy and Matt. It's interesting and it sets up the epic battle between Matt and the System! I do like how Ben Urich points out that no one is exactly sure why Matt is in prison, which leads me to my problem with this issue:

Prison Life. I have ZERO personal experience with prison life, so what I "know" about it comes from popular entertainment. It all seems the same, doesn't it? As if every writer, instead of sitting down and interviewing people who have been to prison, simply puts in his/her DVD of Oz and writes that? Let's see: in this issue, we have the criminal hierarchy. We have the crooked guards. We have the gangs. We have the problems with getting access to our lawyers. My question is to all you ex-cons out there: How true is this? Is prison like this, or is this a horrible cliché? I have a feeling it's the latter, but I don't know at all. If Loren and his krew are going to break down courtroom scenes and archery, we need an ex-con to shatter the myths of prison in comic books! Let it be done!

Any answers, people? Anyway, interesting start of the run.

Oh, and should I know who Dakota North is? The name sounds familiar.

*I have never read those issues.

NOBLE CAUSES #17 by Jay Faerber, Fran Bueno, and Freddie E. Williams

I worry about Noble Causes, which as you know is the best superhero book on the market. Is it selling so poorly that Faerber needs to stoop to these tactics on the cover? And then, when you open it up, BANG! on the first page:
Noble Causes

Because this is the best superhero book out there, despite the shameless pandering, this is a very good issue that examines the relationship of Celeste and Dawn reasonably and realistically. Celeste doesn't want to go public because she is worried that the Nobles will take it badly, even though she's not a part of the family anymore. It's interesting to watch the evolution of their feelings, especially when Dawn tries to force the issue. The flashbacks show how they met and got together, and while they're a but rushed, they're certainly not annoying.

Yes, there's titillation in this book. The first few pages are nothing but Dawn and Celeste in teeny-tiny bikinis. However, I don't find it terribly offensive, because the characters have been developed over the course of the book and Faerber wants to examine what makes a relationship - any relationship - work when there are outside forces working against it. So there.

As for the fact that the two women are hotties who happen to be making out a lot - well, I can't speak for that particular cliché - the only lesbian I've ever known (that I knew about) was pretty stinkin' hot, so I guess that's that.

You really should buy Noble Causes, you know. The guilt you feel for buying Spider-Woman's new series instead of this will vanish like the rain from Arizona!

PLANETARY BRIGADE #1 by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and a bunch o' artists: Joe Abraham, Cynthia Martin, Eduardo Barreto, Mark Badger (where's he been?), and Chase Conley
$2.99, Boom! Studios

On the inside cover of this book, Ross Richie singles out The Johnny Bacardi Show, Progressive Ruin, and The Comic Treadmill as blogs that praise his company's books. Since he left ME off the list, I will no longer give his books ANY good word of mouth! Soon, he will feel how far up the food chain MY influence spreads! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

Okay, maybe not. Because, despite the jarring art styles on this title, it's pretty good. It's Captain Valor's Justice League, and since it's Giffen and DeMatteis, you get the goofy humor, which not everyone likes, but I do.

It seems like they're trying to tone down the slapstick JUST a little (not a lot, but a little), which is nice, because if you've been reading Christopher Burton's very nice trip through each issue of the old JLI/A (and where's the next entry, Mr. Burton?), you know that the humor of those early issues wasn't just the whole focus of the book, it was adventures in superheroing with some humorous dialogue. There's more goofiness in this book than those old issues, but not as much as some of the other work they've done recently (coughDefenderscough). The Brigade, with such fun heroes as the aforementioned Captain Valor, the Grim Knight, Third Eye (the mystic chick), Earth Goddess (the living embodiment of the planet!), Purring Pussycat (the flirt of the group), and some alien dude (he's a Prissuvian) that they actually call "Mauve Visitor" (that's him holding the martini on the cover), are suddenly caught up in an extra-dimensional invasion (and who likes those?), which is centered on some poor schmoe who can't control it. The potential for goofiness is there, but also the potential for some good, old-fashioned superheroic adventures. I hope the guys go the way of those early Justice League comics. That would be cool.

I also hope they get a regular artist. The styles of all these artists really clash with each other. Badger has always been a much more bizarre stylist than, say, Barreto, and his work follows Eduardo's in the book, and it's a bit jarring. Each artist is fine on their own, but the way they flow into each other is weird.

There's a lot to enjoy in this book. It sets up the characters nicely, introduces a decent threat, gives us some action, some pathos (the guy who is the extra-dimensional portal wants to die, but he can't), and some future stories (Earth Goddess is a Miracleman-like amalgam, in that when she's not needed, she switches bodies with some dorky loser chick who doesn't like being possessed by the spirit of the earth). Fun stuff. It wouldn't kill you to buy it.

There, Mr. Richie. I hope you're happy. This is because I didn't like 10, isn't it?

SHE-HULK #5 by Dan Slott, Juan Bobillo, and Marcelo Sosa
$2.99, Marvel

Is anyone else disturbed by that leering horse on the cover? No? Okay, moving on ...

According to the letters page, this is Bobillo's last issue on the book. That's a shame, because I think part of the fun of She-Hulk is its distinctive look, especially how Jennifer is so mousy and diminutive. Bobillo really gave the book part of its spirit, and I hope future artists are able to continue that. Art is usually not the make-or-break item for me on a book, so it probably won't drive me away unless it gets really bad, but it's a shame that Bobillo won't be around.

This issue concludes the whole Time Travel thing, as She-Hulk brings the Two-Gun Kid to the present because if he went back to his own time, he'd try to fix everything he knows about the future. So Jen has to keep an eye on him. He fits right in at the law firm, even though he experiences some culture shock. The ladies, especially Mallory Book, love him, which makes Awesome Andy grumpy, since he has a crush on Ms. Book. The whole issue is basically integrating the Kid into society, and it's done deftly by Slott, with a minimum of fuss. It's a pleasant, funny, nicely done single issue. So nice to see. And Slott continues to impress with nice little ideas - like the guy who was sent forward in time only two weeks. He's just peeved that he's backed up at work and he's missed all his favorite television shows. It's just a throwaway kind of thing, one that might get overlooked because it's on the same page as the time-displace caveman, which is broader, but it's nice attention to detail on Slott's part.

SUPERMARKET #1 by Brian Wood and Kristian
$3.99, IDW

The first order of business about this book is that during transit from the comics shoppe to my house, the front cover was bent slightly. Look at it!
It's no longer MINT! Oh, the horror!

Anyway, Brian Wood, who apparently got jealous of that other Brian - Bendis - has now decided to take over writing everything that Bendis hasn't gobbled up already. This latest offering is pretty good, although either Wood is a hella lot of years younger than I am or he's way too enamored with the youth ethos. About halfway through the book I was prepared to absolutely loathe Pella. She's the spoiled rich girl who is the star of the book. Her parents give her everything and she doesn't appreciate it, and she narrates idiotic crap like: "I'll spend [the money] on music downloads, and Indonesian knock-offs of popular American sneaker styles. Those are slightly less evil industries I can deal with supporting." Ooh, Pella, you're so cool! Can we hang at the mall and shop at Hot Topic together? We're so indy!

Then her parents get killed. This is where the story gets interesting, enough to keep me on board. Pella might actually have to confront certain things in her life instead of whining about them. Pella might actually have to deal with some of her beliefs instead of just bilking rich people out of their money with fake charities. In fact, the end of the book makes me appreciate what Wood did in the beginning, setting up Pella as kind of a tool, because now we're interested in seeing how this pampered kid will deal with this mystery into which she's been plunged. It might suck, but so far, it doesn't.

Wood has created an interesting world - one that cribs from a lot of other dystopian futures, sure, but still interesting. Supermarket looks neat and promises a lot. We'll see if it pays off!


THE KEEP #4 by F. Paul Wilson and Matthew Smith
$3.99, IDW

I trust the first three issues enough to give the final issues a chance. Don't let me down, Wilson!

X-STATIX PRESENTS: DEADGIRL #2 by Peter Milligan, Nick Dragotta, and Mike Allred

On Page One, Dr. Strange shops at a Pathmart. That's awesome.

There you go, people. I have questions, and you better have answers! I'm far too lazy to look them up myself!

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Blogger Eli said...

I kind of like that your review mocking the childishness of the anti-consumerist character in Supermarket is followed immediately by "Books I Bought But Didn't Read."

I also think the Supermarket review should've just been shortened to this: "At first I thought it disagreed with my personal political position so I was like booooo. Then I realized it might confirm it and I was all yaaay!"

2/16/2006 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Actually, I tend to agree with Pella's anti-consumerist stance, for the most part. I don't notice any specific shift in the "political" tone of the book, I'm just glad that Wood had a plot instead of just ranting about the evils of capitalism.

I'm not quite sure why the juxtaposition of the items amused you, either. I buy mini-series but don't read them because I save them until they're done. I have read enough of those two books to know I want to read the whole series, but I won't read them until they're done. I'm not sure what you mean, but then again I'm often confused.

And Pella isn't anti-consumerist - she's a hypocrite. That's why I found her annoying originally.

2/16/2006 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger Brack said...

Dakota North, a 5-issue mini series from the Eighties.

Never read it, but I remembered her so I must have encountered her somewhere.

2/16/2006 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Wood said...

don't take Supermarket so seriously... its a fun, breezy, tongue-firmly-in-cheek action/comedy. it'll fall apart under too much serious analysis. you just gotta go with it. Pella says a whole lot more stupid shit in issue #2, be warned!

writing this book is a hugely refreshing break from DMZ and Local.


2/16/2006 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

What I liked about the group therapy bit in She-Hulk was the apparently medieval young woman who's completely assimilated into the vapid, materialistic "party girl" subculture.

2/16/2006 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Marionette said...

I have actually read Dakota North. It was cancelled so fast that the only mention of it happening is in the next issue box. The letters page having presumably already been typeset contains the usual next issue info.

2/16/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Eli said...

The juxtaposition of Supermarket with buying and not reading something just made me giggle as a sight gag, even though you obviously have a legitimate, non-wasteful reason not to have read the issues yet.

I read your Supermarket review like this... The story began with a character espousing some obviously fairly knee-jerk and teenagerish politics and you reacted negatively. Then it became clear that the character was going to suffer and possibly be disabused of her notions and you perked up to it. I'm personally fine with a piece of fiction featuring someone with opinions I disagree with without making that person suffer and/or learn a lesson. Maybe you are, too, but that's not how I read the review. I'd be fine with a fun paean to the wonders and foibles of teenage anti-capitalism, even if I have moved beyond that stage myself.

2/16/2006 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Oh, I get it. No, it's not that I don't like characters that have negative traits, but I don't like reading stuff that simply shoves it down my throat. From the first part of the book, I thought this was just going to be a "look how cool I am because I don't buy crap" kind of thing, which would have been boring. I was just glad that Wood gave us a plot. It didn't have to be something nasty like the death of her parents. I just wanted it to be something, and I'm glad it was. That's all.

But, according to Mr. Wood himself, I better not analyze it too closely. So I'll just try to enjoy the ride.

2/16/2006 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Johnny B said...

Hey, don't hate me because I'm popular! Snicker, snicker... (rolleyes)

Dakota North reader here as well. Had every one of those, and I don't remember a damn thing about them except it was really different for Marvel at the time- no mutants or superheroes (the pressure to bring in Spidey or Woverine must have been enormous)- and that's probably why it got canned. I also remember the oddball art of Tony Salmons that graced every issue, if memory serves...he had a style that can best be described as slack.

2/16/2006 09:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did a little jail time which is different from prison time since it's for people who are either awaiting trial or serving sentences of a year or less. The main thing is that it was boring. Really, really boring. So boring you wouldn't believe it. You have little to no interaction with guards, you try to avoid interaction with the other inmates, many of whom have mental problems, and there is nothing to do. Jails differ, but the one I was in didn't let you bring in anything except a Bible. There was one deck of cards that someone had smuggled in, and a crazy Gulf War vet had a little pencil that he used to draw pictures of demons raping women on the walls whenever no one was looking. Sometimes the women were raping the demons.

No exercise time, no time out of the cellblock (which was built for 25 and housed 50) and no gang wars or fights except when people were getting on each others' nerves. No guards coming to the bars at the end of the block to say, "Haw, haw I heard you were gonna get it good." They did their best to ignore all of us.

Food is brought to you, you don't go to a fancy cafeteria where someone tries to "shiv" you. Actually no one "shived" anyone. There was a real lack of "shiv" action in general. The worst thing that was going on was cigarette smuggling and the brewing of illegal hooch.

But mostly it was boring.

2/16/2006 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Oh, and should I know who Dakota North is? The name sounds familiar.
Dakota North Investigated, back in the day.

This latest offering is pretty good, although either Wood is a hella lot of years younger than I am or he's way too enamored with the youth ethos.
This is my main problem with DMZ. It's supposed to be an urban warzone, and everyone looks like they walked out of Old Navy on theier way to the Apple Store.

2/17/2006 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Wood said...

Coming up: DMZ: The Battle for $15 Cords


DMZ: Operation Performance Fleece


2/17/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

All of Wood's characters are hypocrites; that's kind of why I gave up on his stuff.

Dude, issue #4 of The Keep was awesome. Why didn't you read it?

2/17/2006 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Dan: It's part of a mini-series. When they're all out, I will read them all. My poor brain can't keep up with the stories, especially when they don't come out every month!

2/17/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Mo Soar said...

Supermarket: I didn't get the feeling that we were supposed to believe that Pella was anything other than the future equivalent of a spoiled Gen-X brat. She mouths a lot of world-weary stuff, but I think she's about to be slapped in the face (literally and figuratively) with just how clueless she actually IS about how the world works. Nothing she says is particularly UN-true, it's just all filtered through her poor- little-rich girl impression. The fact that she has a job when she doesn't need one is interesting, but the fact that she treats the customers like shit (whether they deserve it or not) is pretty amusing. Also, the art is gorgeous and deserving of far more positive ranting.

2/17/2006 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Good on you, Brian Wood, for taking the criticism in good humour. :)

2/17/2006 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

I actually own Dakota North #1 but never read it. I probably got it for ten cents.


2/17/2006 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Wood said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/18/2006 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Wood said...

well, Kelvin, I do find the Old Navy thing amusing. You also posted a similar comment months ago, mentioning The Gap. I assume your point is that Riccardo's character designs look too hip and fashionable for a warzone, even a New York warzone? I dunno, how hip IS Old Navy, anyway? Its all khakis and pocket tees, based on TV ads.

i look around the city at the fashionistas we have walking around now, and something tells me it would take more than a war to get them to give it all up. :)


2/18/2006 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

i visited a friend's uncle in jail, once, as he was dying in the prison hospital. the place had all the cliches that you mentioned, and then some: the inmates have their own shopping complex within the walls, little groceries/convenience stores, and they had small hotels somewhere within the place, too, for the conjugal visits. the guards were pretty lenient, they even made some of the more talky inmates as deputies to keep the peace. some of the inmates were there because for small stuff, like looting, but some of them were there for murder.

the maximum stuff, they reserve for the political prisoners, like the soldiers who declared coup d'etat in the heart of manila's business district, a few years back. the way i understand it, they're not even allowed to mingle. at least, the leaders aren't.

this is in the philippines, of course.

2/18/2006 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

I assume your point is that Riccardo's character designs look too hip and fashionable for a warzone, even a New York warzone?
Pretty much, yeah. It's a great-looking book, but it's also a hip-looking book, and I'm not sure that's the right visual style for a comic about urban warfare.

(Yikes, look at me telling the creator what the right visual style for his book is. Hubris, my name is.)

By the way, I loved the most recent issue. There should be a review up at SBC soonish.

2/21/2006 01:51:00 AM  
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