Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Comics Out 29 November 2006

Two small books out this week:

1. The new issue of X-Men: I only get because Chris Bachalo is my favorite comic book artist. I have no idea if the book is any good; I am just mesmerized by the pictures. If I ever write a comic book this is the guy I want drawing it. Every day I wish there were more issues of Steampunk.

2. The Immortal Iron Fist, written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction. Obviously, my obsession with Casanova has me picking up everything with Fraction's name near it; like the Punisher, this one just snuck up on me. I don't know what to expect.

Brubaker, I know almost nothing about except that his Sleeper was very dull (using Alan Moore's brilliant Tao from Wildcats was a bad idea -- if you can't write for a genius, don't have one as a character); I thought about getting his Authority run, but flipping through it in the store -- hoping I would see something that would make me make up my mind -- I read a bit where the Midnighter is ruler of a harsh future distopia where small offences like littering are punishable by death: that is boring, and I put it back.

I will review one or both of these in more detail tonight in the comments.

Nothing in the news jumped out at me this week. Review, Recommend, Discuss.


Anonymous said...

Did you read Brubaker's two issues of Tom Strong? (Issues 29 and 30, I think.)

His was one of the more well-received of the seven or eight fill-in stories that they did in between Moore's second-to-last and last issues.

But I didn't think it was very good. It was basically doing to Tom Strong what Moore did to Marvelman (have him wake up and find out all his colorful old adventures were a virtual reality, and that the real world is actually harsh and awful).

Then Tom realizes the whole thing is a hoax, and the world actually isn't awful -- because any world in which superheroes exist couldn't possibly be that grim.

All rather ham-fisted, I thought.

Great artwork, though.

-- Jason Powell

Mitch said...

Today, I officially made the leap BACK INTO 52 with issue #30, after several people have told me that it is worth reading again. I didn't take them on their word alone-- I randomly plucked two issues of the vine a few weeks ago and enjoyed both of them. In particular I enjoyed the issue where Lobo returned and Animal talked about a "spiritual experience" he had a few years back. That intrigues me. So here is my new plan for 52: I will become a "casual reader" in the way that people become "casual smokers". Every once in a while, when the mood (or a specific cover) strikes me, I will buy it. It's surprisingly easy to jump back in after a few weeks off, without reading back issues.

Also, just to make sure that I am completely flayed alive by Geoff this week, I bought "Onslaught Reborn". You can all judge me how ever you want, but you must admit there is a certain magic about the most hated artist in the industry returning to the most hated property in the industry--to top it off it is written by one of the more overrated writers working today.

I'll let you all know what I think later.

liam said...

RIP Dave Cockrum

Geoff Klock said...

Jason: yeah, that sounds bad.

Mitch: 52 and Onslaught. Wow. If only they could be together on a crossover and hook into Heroes somehow. Then I could bleed from my ears and fingernails at the same time.

Of course 52 is easy to jump back into: it has no story structure. It just goes “and then this happened and then this happened.” It’s like jumping back into Cops -- you don’t worry you are going to loose the narrative thread.

Liam: yeah, that is sad. He was only 63.


X-Men: like I said, Bachalo is amazing. His art is pure pop fun and I could look at it all day. The stuff I liked in this issue is the stuff I always like: chaos you can sort out if you like, or just accept as a mess, his “zooms” (where the art is enlarged at a later stage of production so you seem to be very close to it), his white background intense fights, and girls you can really crush on.

Iron Fist: good enough to get again, but not outstanding; I would compare it in quality to Metzler’s JLA in terms of overall quality. It had a great story structure: I know NOTHING about this character and was able to follow everything, and appreciate the final page without being hit over the head with an exposition stick. The only bit that didn’t work for me was the boardroom scene, which was boring, but I suppose it is something about the character the writers are just saddled with. The art was quite good as well, Jae Lee for the masses; there were some good layouts and mise-en-scene (that is surely not spelled correctly) in the last two pages, especially. I also like the little highlighted boxes and circles for damage, but I imagine the artist saw it recently in the Dini-Williams Batman issue.

Mitch said...

Regarding Bachalo and crushing on girls-- Way back when, I totally had a poster of Jubilee from Bachalo's Generation X heyday, Geoff.

52 was alright. Something very interesting is going on with The Question and I like it.

Sadly, Onslaught Reborn was not as ghetto fabulous as I originally hoped. Not "novelty bad" enough and certainly nowhere near good.

Matt Brady said...

Was this week's 52 the all-Morrison, all-Batman issue? I read about that on some site and thought about picking it up, since it would seemingly tie into Morrison's Batman, but I forgot about it in the store. I haven't been following 52 at all, so I just walked past it like I usually do.

I dig Bachalo from several years back, and I'm working my way through his and Peter Milligan's Shade the Changing Man. That's some good stuff. But for some reason I have no interest in his current X-Men work. Maybe because I have little to no interest in X-Men these days (I do read Astonishing, Geoff will be happy to know). I also wish he and Joe Kelly would go back and finish Steampunk, but I doubt that's going to happen.

As for the highlighted damage circles in Iron Fist, Williams actually premiered that technique in Desolation Jones. It would be interesting if that became a new bit of comics' visual vocabulary...

buckshot said...

Immortal Iron Fist was pretty dope. I knew virtually nothing about the character going in, and I guess I still kind of don't. The boardroom scene felt kind of false - honestly, if the guy had no intentions of doing business with these allegedly corrupt people, why did he wait so long to say so? Maybe that will be explained later, but it felt too comic booky in a bad way. The Desolation Jones 'red damage box' scenes didn't really have the impact they were intended to. I hope this doesn't become the next 'bullet time', because when used correctly it's a really cool effect. Anyway, the Hydra ambush scene was really well executed I thought. Worth the price of admission but I doubt I'll stick around.

For Brubaker, I'd recommend his current Daredevil and Captain America work, Scene of the Crime, and maybe Criminal.

52 - I like it. I don't know so much about 'story structure'. It's not so much that I disagree, it's just that I've never read anything in this exact format, so I feel I lack any sort of context to judge it in. It feels like a soap opera, even more so than most superhero comics.

Batman The Spirit One-Shot - Darwyn Cooke can do no wrong. This book was so enjoyable. Essentially it plays out like a really good Batman: TAS episode, which might be kind of a bad thing since it's supposed to get the ball rolling for Cooke's upcoming Spirit title. Anyway, I challenge anyone not to like this book.

ACME Novelty Library dropped this week, too.

Marc Caputo said...

For some really cool Brubaker, look up his late-80s/early 90s independent work, "Lowlife", the best of which is collected as..."A Complete Lowlife". It's so different from anything he writes now, but it's equally compelling stuff. It's not to the level of excellence of Chester Brown's or Seth's personal stuff, but it's lightyears better than Joe Matt's stuff. And because it's not straight autobio, it's less arch.

And when it comes to "52", I stand by my mantra: Buy it weekly, read it monthly. It isn't a story, that's true; and by revelations in last month's "Green Lantern", it doesn't even seem like there will be an ending (makes sense - not a story, doesn't have to have an ending). It's more like a character study with mysteries attached. I spend $10 a month on a lot more that's less useful in my life.

James said...

I'll second the Brubaker Daredevil recommendation, that's some really good popcorn fun.

Haven't got this week's comics yet, but I did just read issues 1-18 of Whedon and Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men... I'm in love. I can't think of anything I didn't like about it. I consider myself a casual Whedon fan at best, but I honestly think he was born to write superhero comics, and these characters in particular. Wow.

Geoff Klock said...

Mitch: Bachalo's Jubilee. That brings back memories. Also: is "ghetto fabulous" a phrase I should know from somewhere, or did you make it up? I really like it.

Matt: Shade the Changing Man. This is like nostalgia alley. This was me in 1992 or whatever. I love this stuff.

Buckshot: you are right, it is a soap opera and should be judged accordingly. So I deem it a failure because the first fourteen issues did not have enough good looking people and scandal to make me want to go on with it.

Buckshot, Marc, James: are you all saying that my exposure to Brubaker is not representative of his skills? If I am going to read something of his someone is going to have to tell me it is a LOT better than Sleeper.

James: I was not in love with the first twelve issues (evil Professor X was done better by Millar, and much of Danger was taken from weak sources like Star Trek's Holodeck and Terminator 3); but I agree he is great on the book as a whole, and in the most recent 6 issues.

Unfortunately Whedon was most definitely born to write TV and not comics: he is possibly the very first third generation television writer -- his dad wrote for Benson and his grandfather wrote for Leave it to Beaver. It's why the basic rules of writing (story structure for instance) are so instinctive for him.

Mitch said...

52: I've missed out on a lot of good forum/podcast discussion of the DC Universe by not reading 52. Hence, I'm back in... casually. Structure be damned! I should add, I only started watching LOST so I could know what the hell my girlfriend was talking about with her friends.

GEOFF: I certainly didn't create the term Ghetto Fabulous, but thank you for thinking I could have. Definition here:

I'm pretty positive that no one has used it in describing a comic, though.

James said...

Geoff: My Brubaker experience isn't much wider than yours; I've loved his Daredevil, hated the first issue of X-Men: Deadly Genesis (and thus steered clear of his Uncanny run), and of the two Captain America Civil War Tie-ins I read, liked one and not the other. I've heard nothing but good things about his Captain America up til now though, and I'm keen to check it out.

I thought I'd hate Danger, because it seemed like a repeat of an (awful) post-Onslaught arc where Cerebro turned into an evil robot and tried to kill the X-Men/Professor X (I think Chris Bachalo drew some of it, so that'll excuse my familiarity). It was much better than that though, and much better than the idea sounds on paper, I thought.

I think I enjoyed Astonishing X-Men more than Whedon's TV work (in part) because I often find his dialoge cutesy and irksome when performed by actors, but when it's in a speech bubble I can imagine the delivery is spot-on.

You've said the first year is too conservative, Geoff, but I guess (in the same way that I enjoy Batman Begins) that doesn't necessarily bother me if the execution is entertaining enough. From what I gather, Whedon's mainly invoking the Claremont & Byrne/Cockrum era with Astonishing, and it might be because I'm not directly overfamiliar with that stuff that I find it so compelling. I'm fairly confident that Whedon's looks and reads better, though. (May the metaphorical lynchings begin...)

If I'm REALLY honest, the reason I'm in love is that Cyclops took his visor off and vaporised a sentinel and 100 yards of forest.

James said...

(I may need to learn concision.)

Scott said...

Brubaker runs hot and cold. Now, I enjoyed his Sleeper and am enjoying Criminal but his Authority was horrible, making me think that the concept had outlived its shelf date. Morrison has a lot of work to convince me that the Authority can still be relevant.

His X-Men just isn't that good but his opening arc on Daredevil was excellent but the jury is still out on the second arc.

Batman/Spirit is just a fun book and there's a lot of subtle stuff that Loeb and Cooke are doing in it. The one thing I caught on the second reading is that they're using a lighthouse as their hq. Batman lives in a cave and the Spirit lives in a cemetary, both deep in the ground. But when they team up, it's in a lighthouse, suspended above the ground.

I'm trying to digest Ware's Acme Library right now. There's not too much in this book that we haven't seen from Ware before but I still marvel at the way he constructs a page. The panels actually dance around a central image.

buckshot said...

Word, Scott. I'm not sold on Rusty Brown just yet. Of course, had I read Jimmy Corrigan in a serialized form, I probably wouldn't have been sold on that either.

Besides, Ware's stuff is always interesting if nothing else.

Matt Brady said...

Man, am I the only one who didn't like Batman/Spirit. You can read my takedown of it on my blog; I thought it was very poorly plotted and scripted. The redeeming value was Cooke's art, and that didn't make it worth $5.00.

Geoff, I think if you didn't like Sleeper you probably won't like Criminal. I really liked Sleeper, but I haven't read much of Brubaker's other stuff. X-Men: Deadly Genesis got a big "meh" from me; I guess I'm more interested in crime stories from him rather than superhero stuff, which is why I haven't been reading Captain America or Daredevil.

Tom said...

I second the recommendation of Brubaker's "A Complete Lowlife."

I am enjoying "Criminal" much more than "Sleeper" so far.

I recently read his first Captain America trade, and it was quite solid...much better than, say, his Authority run, which I found reasonably tolerable, if not unenchanting.

I hear good things about his Daredevil, but I won't be finishing the Bendis run until after Christmas (my wife is buying me the last two hardcovers), and so won't be reading Brubaker until sometime after.

You've all tempted me on Iron Fist, which I skipped because I wasn't too thrilled with Punisher: War Journal (love Casanova and Five Fists of Science, though).

Geoff Klock said...

Thanks for the Brubaker advice everybody.

James: I remember that Bachalo stuff, but it's in a attic and I have not been able to get to it since Danger came out; I have been wanting to re-read it since then.