Thursday, April 20, 2006

What I bought - 19 April 2006

Yesterday was a strange comic-buying day. I was quite literally a super-corporate whore, and almost completely a Marvel zombie. Nothing even from Image! Weird. I'm going to lose all my street cred!

Plus, as usual, even the comics I liked pissed me off somehow. You knew it would happen!

Daredevil #84 by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, and Stefano Gaudiano
$2.99, Marvel

Reasons why the Marvel Universe is stupid, Part 87,847,839:

Ooh, look! We've captured Bullseye! (Presumably he has not escaped since they got him at the end of Bendis' run.) Where shall we put him?

Ooh, I know, I know! Let's put in a federal penitentiary where we're holding
a) Matt Murdock, who we all believe to be Daredevil and is therefore Bullseye's mortal enemy;
b) Wilson Fisk, who has employed Bullseye quite a lot in the past;
c) Hammerhead, who is apparently some kind of royal prisoner from the Middle Ages because his cell is like a small apartment;
d) The Owl, who's generally nutty;
e) Did I miss anyone?

What? You say there are plenty of federal prisons scattered throughout the country where we could stash all these people so they're not concentrated in one spot that is sure to explode with violence? We could put Bullseye in Guantanamo Bay so there'd be at least one criminal held there? (Sorry - liberal bias seeping through! Must ... control ...) Why the hell would we do any of those things? That's too damned logical!

Listen, I know we're just building toward the inevitable prison riot, when all this shit hits the fan. But sending Bullseye into the mix is just stupid. Yes, stupid. It strains my suspension of disbelief, which is already strained by the fact that Matt is in prison in the first place (I'm trying not to think about how stupid that is, and I'm willing to as long as the story is okay). And I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder where Frank Castle will end up. Any guesses????

Since this is the third part of a six-issue arc, there's a lot of treading water, as we usually get in the third and fourth parts of a six-issue arc. I mean, sure, we get a few nice nuggets of plot progression, but nothing that couldn't have been handled in far fewer pages. I'm willing to ride out the first Brubaker arc and make my decision about keeping the title then, but so far, it's just kind of there. It's not a bad comic book by any means, but it's certainly not something that makes me shake my head in amazement. Maybe it will live up to the hype. We'll see.

Ex Machina Special #1 (of 2) by Brian K. Vaughan, Chris Sprouse, and Karl Story
$2.99, DC/Wildstorm

Um, why exactly isn't this part of the regular title? It costs the same. There are the same number of pages. What's a-going on?

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a "special" simply so that Harris can claim he drew every issue of Ex Machina the "regular" title, which is so idiotic I can barely breathe. Listen, DC: guest pencillers are a fact of life. Harris has never been known as the quickest dude, so 19 straight issues out of him is pretty damned amazing, and we probably won't mind a guest artist. Sprouse is a fine fill-in, and he even makes the book look like Harris would! It's actually somewhat difficult to tell the difference in some places. So don't insult my intelligence by calling this a "special." It's a normal issue with a fill-in artist. The world won't come to an end if you admit it.

Other than that, this is a good issue. It's actually stapled together well, and the story, which is almost completely a flashback to Mitchell's superhero days, is interesting because it gives him an archenemy, which every good hero needs. The enemy is cool, too, because in the grand tradition of heroes, his enemy is kind of his dark side - a guy with similar abilities (he can talk to animals) but without Mitchell's morality. Mayhem ensues. Plus, Vaughan looks like he's going to tie it into Mitchell's job, which is the most interesting part of the book.

As usual, a good read. Even with a fill-in artist!

Nextwave #4 by Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen, and Wade von Grawbadger
$2.99, Marvel

Warren Ellis has a bit of a multiple personality problem. After last week's utterly joyless offering, he gives us this, which isn't exactly full of joy, but at least it has fun with things. Our heroes fight a giant Transformer, for crying out loud! It's a quick read that offers nothing more than our heroes fighting the bad cop who has turned into a giant robot, plus a short origin of The Captain, but it's just what a lot of people want from a comic book. I don't get people who want all-out action in their comics but don't like this. Even if you think Ellis goes over the top (The Captain vomiting on the aliens who gave him his powers, for instance), it's still exactly what you want from a comic book: interesting heroes beating on interesting bad guys. And despite the vomiting on the aliens, it's still a fun book. Tabitha trying to see if Monica is unconscious by shouting that Captain America wants her back in the Avengers, for instance, is funny.

This is the Warren Ellis I like - not that Nextwave is the greatest book in the world, but, at the risk of pissing off fans of that thing he wrote last week, it's much better than that. It's harder to come up with this kind of story than one in which everyone dies for no reason.

Squadron Supreme #2 by J. Michael Straczynski, Gary Frank, and Jon Sibal
$2.99, Marvel

It's strange - after two absolutely horrible mini-series to set this up, one written by JMS himself, the first two issues of the new title give me hope. It's still going to be slow, I bet, and that will piss plenty of people off, but this is packed full of neat little info bites and actually has a plot, plus the art is typically gorgeous. For a book with a lot of characters, we get nice development: Zarda is acting weird but no one knows why, Emil Burbank has another secret, Kingsley speaks volumes without saying a word, Zarda and Mark Milton talk briefly about ruling the world (ooh - foreshadowing!), and General M'Butu is a nice threat because he can control minds - and at the end, he controls three of the most powerful members of our friendly Squadron! It's interesting to see JMS putting the Squadron into "real-world" situations - I know that's the point of the book, but it's still nice to see that he hasn't backed away from that - and I'm curious about how the internal tensions among the heroes will play out. I'm perfectly aware that this book angers a lot of people out there because of its pace, but it will, I think, turn out to be the kind of book we were all hoping Rising Stars would be.

X-Men #185 by Peter Milligan and Salvador Larroca
$2.99, Marvel

Boy, Rogue looks awful on that cover. I'm just saying.

Here's what I don't get: why isn't this book better? How can a writer like Peter Milligan be so middle-of-the-road? I can't blame the art, which is stunning, but the writing is just dull. It's certainly not horrible, just boring. Why?

I don't know enough about how Marvel works to know if it's Milligan toning it down because he feels he needs to or if the editors are reining him in. It's so frustrating to read the "good" Milligan and wonder what he would do if turned loose on a superhero title and then to actually read that superhero title. Should I blame Milligan?

I haven't looked at sales figures for the book, but I have to believe that it would sell well if the writer simply listed everything he had to eat that month while Larroca drew it. Marvel was willing to let Morrison go nuts on the book, so why don't they let Milligan go nuts? Does Milligan not have the cachet of Morrison? One reason, I think, that they don't allow Milligan to go nuts is because Milligan, more than Morrison or any other writer I can think of in mainstream comics, is obsessed with weird sex. That's not a bad thing in my book - he writes very thought-provoking stuff about sexual politics, and that's why his books are so good. Think about it: Shade - sex. The Extremist - sex. The Enigma - sex. The Minx - sex. Human Target - sex. Even this book has had a bit of that - not enough to make it a great comic, but the possibilities are certainly there in an almost incestuous organization like the X-Men.

Why did Marvel even give him this book if they're not going to let him be "Milligan"? Or, as I wondered above, is it just him pulling back? Did they make him write this so he could write goofy stuff like the Deadgirl mini-series (see below). The internal machinations at Marvel and DC, I'm sure, are very interesting.

Oh, the issue. Blah. Gambit is evil, so is Polaris, and it all comes to a head next month. I'll let you know then.

X-Statix Presents: Deadgirl
#4 (of 5) by Milligan, Nick Dragotta, and Mike Allred

I didn't even read this and I know it's better than X-Men. I opened the book totally at random and saw this line: "Maybe you gotta be more like the man your horse used to love." I have no idea to what it is referring (I can guess, looking at the rest of the page), but it's a better line than anything that is found in X-Men. And it's by the same person. Bizarre.

All in all, a pretty good week. Please forgive me for shilling for "The Man." I promise that next week I'll try to buy something that only 16 people in the country are buying!

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Blogger Chris said...

Hey, speaking of miniseries that you bought but didn't read, did you ever get around to reading Chuck Dixon's Iron Ghost?

4/20/2006 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

For shame, Chris! You were slacking in your reading of our most excellent blog! Yes, I did read it, and liked it quite a bit. More thoughts here.

4/20/2006 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

The FBI director is putting all those guys in the same prison on purpose. He wants them to kill eachother. Like, he was behind Matt's move from solitary to general population, for example.

4/20/2006 04:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Zard said...

I really want to be a returning reader of your blog because it's generally great. But you make it hard for me to come back to this site when you say things like "We could put Bullseye in Guantanamo Bay so there'd be at least one criminal held there?" That's not liberal; that's just ignorant and really offensive.

4/20/2006 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Oh, come on, Zard - have a sense of humor! Can you at least admit that there just might be a few people held there who didn't do anything wrong? Just a few? Even if it's just one, that's too many in our supposed bastion of freedom. Over 400 people who haven't been charged with a crime yet? What's up with that? Come on, crack a smile! I laugh when T. makes fun of liberals!

4/20/2006 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Oh, and Jake, I would accept that explanation a lot more if this wasn't SOP in the Marvel U. The Raft? WTF? That's a prison riot waiting to happen - oh, wait a minute, it already did! At least in She-Hulk they shrank the bad guys!

4/20/2006 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger Apodaca said...

"That's not liberal; that's just ignorant and really offensive."

Offensive to who? The people who are being held for four years at a time without any evidence, and then proven to be innocent?

Or maybe you mean it's offensive to the people who have "Rock on, Gitmo!" stickers on their cars. Cry me a fucking river.

4/22/2006 03:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Zard said...

To soliders who pick up terrorists on the battlefield after being shot at by them.

4/22/2006 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger Apodaca said...

"To soliders who pick up terrorists on the battlefield after being shot at by them."

What exactly do they have to do with Guantanamo, and why are they taking offense at remarks made about it?

The two things are not connected at all. You cannot guilt me into forgiving the grievances that have occured at that place.

4/22/2006 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Zard said...

Soldiers capture the enemy on the battlefield; the enemy gets imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.

I have no urge to argue. I made my grievence known without getting into debating politics. There is no need to be so hostile.

4/23/2006 02:12:00 AM  
Blogger Apodaca said...

Let me give you another scenario that's also true.

Traveler gets invited to stay at farmer's house. Farmer sells him to the U.S. MIlitary as a terrorist. Traveler sits in Guantanamo for four years.

I don't mind one bit if all the people involved in that process are offended, including the soldiers.

I'm being hostile because I'm upset that innocent people are being imprisoned for years at a time by my government. Complacency is only gonna encourage that kind of behaviour.

4/24/2006 01:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Zard said...

Well what the hell are you heckling me for?!

If I'm going to be attacked with random claims like "You cannot guilt me into forgiving the grievances that have occured at that place." I'm finding a different blog to read. I don't need this. Bye.

4/24/2006 12:30:00 PM  

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