Thursday, August 02, 2007

Comics Out July 25, 2007 (The Week Late Review)

[Last week was an awesome week to go to the comic book store, but I only got these yesterday, because I was in Oxford and found out that the only comic book store in town closed. Oxford University is amazing but Oxford the town is not great. Case in point: A University town that cannot keep a single comic book store in business. Ridiculous. Anyway I wanted to do bullet point reviews of last week comics.]

Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert's Batman #666. Last week in free form comments James wrote:

"Geoff is right. Once again, Morrison puts himself up against Miller's Batman, with a tale of an uncompromising, ultra-violent Batman of the future. We seem to be back in New X-Men territory here, with Morrison admitting defeat in the face of what can't be changed/escaped. Morrison's fun, "bare-chested love-god" Batman has literally fathered a violent, anti-heroic Batman of the future (see: The Dark Knight Returns), exactly what Morrison wanted to get away from. Furthermore, the only way Morrison's Batman can defeat the last of the dark, violent, impostor Batmen* and gain primacy/immortality is to sell his soul to the Devil (Miller). Try as he might, Morrison couldn't replace Miller, and it is Miller's Batman that has assimilated Morrison's, and not the other way around. The silver-lining here, is that (hopefully) Morrison can now concentrate on doing his own thing, and stop worrying about Miller. J. H. Williams III and The Batmen Of All Nations seems like a perfect opportunity to do just that.

*I quite liked that just as the last one was a version of Bane, this next one was a version of the Azrael-Batman, with his orange face-plate and flamethrower."

It is freaky how much James is on my wavelength here. He has said all I would have said, exactly. I would also add that the Yeats quote is lame, and reminds me of Morrison's bad use of Milton in Batman: Gothic. (It may serve only to call up that book as another alternate Batman).

Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo's Hellboy: Darkness Calls #4. There is a great moment in which a guy catches his own severed head a split second before it hits the ground and a perfect weird little girl character in this issue, one of the best I have seen. But her speech about her story exemplifies what bothers me about Hellboy -- chunks of Mignola's research just sit on the page, undigested, and Hellboy just sort of walks around it, doing very little. The art is great though, and keeps me hooked.

Joss Whedon and Paul Lee's Buffy the Vampire Slayer #5. The art is not perfect, and there are moments that do not quite work (the out of control truck), but I thought this issue was very moving, and also dialed down Whedon's silliness, which in three running comics now is getting to be a little much, even for me. Newsarama thought the issue failed to make us care about the main character enough, but I thought the intriguing jarring story structure kept us from quite following everything until the end, at which point it is too late to really know this girl. I thought that was genuinely sad, and well done.

Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker's Immortal Iron Fist #7. I have heard complaints that the narration takes the reader out of the story, that the narration is too dissonant. I disagree. It turns out that the narrator of this issue is a character, but for much of it I just heard Fraction's own voice, the voice of his blog. It felt a bit like a Mystery Science Theater experience; I imagine this is what Fraction sounds like if you were to watch a serious kung-fu movie on his couch with him. "She beats people up. For money!" This is a different kind of harmony, and it is also different from Joss Whedon's ironies, which is nice.

Frank Miller and Jim Lee's All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #6. I love this book: everyone is right about what is wrong with it but it all works on another level, as I have argued (hit the Frank Miller link below to see what I said). In this issue Miller continues to do ABSURD things with story structure, warping it sideways. I double dog dare you to read Jack Kirby's introduction of the Black Racer in New Gods and tell me that Frank Miller is doing something fundamentally different in his use of Black Canary or the introduction of Batgirl. In both the story is absurdly interrupted by some new character the writer felt like introducing. Goddam Batman became an Internet catch phrase for how absurd this book is, so what did Frank Miller do? -- he used it twice in one issue. Blake said it best: Exuberance is Beauty.

Mike Carey and Humberto Ramos's X-Men #201. Humberto Ramos does not suck, but he is not the artist for me. I had to order this without seeing it, and did not know Bachalo would not be drawing it.


Elijah Fly said...

I dug Fraction's take on the latest Iron Fist. Without the commentary, the criticism would be about how it's just another middling Wuxia kung fu flick. There's nothing new under the sun, it's how you tell the story.

Oh, god, the old guy doesn't look like someone that would write like that, pffft. The narration humanized the characters and benefitted greatly from a unspoken humor that existed in the iron fist and her fisherman husband.

Who the narrator is is unimportant. (I just read Danny Rand reading the tome and relating it to us, yet still unimportant to the story)

It was a fun, enthralling one shot love story, that kinda tugged a bit.

It's why I have a serious love for his Sensational Spider-Man annual. After hearing Quesada whine about the marriage at length, and talking like it could go away, it was like Fraction was writing for the fan like me who grew up with the 20 year marriage.

It's funny that I've never seen anyone under thirty that hates the marriage. Sure, he can't date any one else anymore, but I for one am kinda sick of the same old, "oh I screwed things up with MJ AGAIN, got thrown out of the apartment AGAIN, and dating someone else for a year AGAIN."

That's not the engine I grew up reading in Spider-Man. Old creators are about how Pete should be a loser, etc. What I read was Charlie Brown and THE Red headed girl vs THE WORLD.

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James said...

Ha! I definitely had your critiques of previous issues in mind when I read Batman #666, and I've read the superhero book twice now, so there you go. One thing someone else caught that I can't believe I missed: future-Damian has shaved his head, giving us Grant Morrison in a Batsuit.

I enjoyed the narration in Iron Fist, but I thought it was a shame Travel Foreman didn't draw the whole issue. Multiple artists have been used to great effect in this book up 'til now, but I couldn't see any narrative reason for the switches here.

Didn't get X-Men last week because Ramos is not for me either (not on X-Men, anyway, I think he'll probably be a good fit for Runaways). Chris Bachalo is gonna do Amazing Spider-Man (WOO!), but only for 3 issues (boo), so he'll be back on X-Men at some point.

Marc Caputo said...

I've come around on Ramos through Bachalo - I find that I really like him. He's got a really funky vibe that fits the outsider status of the X-Men. If Ramos and Bachalo can keep up the switch-off, X-Men might become A+-list.

ASBARTW - it's just bad. And I flat out reject the notion (if anyone's offering it) that "well, that's the point." Miller's in full-on hate mode for anyone involved with this project. I've said (over at my blog) that I don't want to see Batman in Sin City; I'll add to that - Sin City IS Gotham without the salvation of a Batman. I'm going to continue to read it, but as the number of issues approaches the number of issues of All-Star Superman, how can you justify that both books are great?

scott91777 said...

Actually, I think he has goddammed batman in it more than twice if you count each individual time Gordon says it.

ATOM HOTEP said...

I have noticed a ton of people complaining about the Yeats quote, and I might be wrong but I believe it's in there because it's a cliche. The fact that Damian-Bat finishes the quote for Commissioner Gordon suggests this. It plays up the whole crappy alternate 90's Spawn future-ness of it, Batman graphically killing a child by punching her in the back of the head, a serial killer spelling out a pentagram on the map of Gotham (ooooh! how very GRIM, though without it we wouldn't have gotten the "Satan Signal" line), the absolutely ludicrous plot point of Devil Batman being killed because Damian beat him to selling his soul to Satan. Totally ridiculous and kind of obvious to mock 90's Image comics, but really fun nonetheless. It makes me like the Morrison run on Batman more just because it's a looser, more straightforward take, while at the same time, we get lots of fun, cool ideas and experiments that he's just tossing off and trying out, starting with the hilarious Joker prose story that is maligned for no reason at all.

Also, I didn't see the bald Damian as a Morrison fictionsuit or whatever, but kind of a reference to Batman One Million. He had a shaved head, too.

Dante Kleinberg said...

I'm assuming, maybe without merit, that ASBARTBW #6 is the last issue they needed to put out a small trade, so I'm going to stop buying individual issues now (shifting over all my buying to trades as soon as my current storyarcs are done). Anyway, I'll keep buying it because it amuses me, but I can't honestly say I think it's GOOD. It just amuses the heck out of me.

It would've been a more effective parody 10 years ago when the TAKE IT TO THE XXX-TREME attitude was being sincerely utilized in stuff. Now it seems a little old-fashioned, in the land of nostalgic meta-irony...

ATOM HOTEP said...

I sincerely think the number one problem with ASBATAR is Jim Lee, it's like Jim Lee cum Alex Ross, Jim Lee at his absolute stiffest, boring and least expressive. Even the splash pages are crap. His tone does not match Millers at all, which is a bad thing because at least Miller is entertaining as hell on this book, if not particularly good or anything.

Marc Caputo said...

Re: Batman 666. I just caught up on the Morrison issues of this book and I've got to say that Morrison's turned in the right direction. I still can't forgive him for 657, pt. 3 of "Batman and Son", because it just annoys me. But he salvaged the arc at the end. 666 may be one of the better, if not best single issues I've read this year.

Geoff, you'll understand this next point. And the rest of you out there could find worse ways to spend your time and money. During Sorkin's "Sports Night", there was an episode called, "The Cut-Man Cometh", which really is one of the funnier 1/2-hour comedies ever. Part of the jokes revolved around the fact that "you can't give yourself a nickname." In 666, Comm. Gordon calls Damian a "goddamned maniac", which HAS to be a riff on Miller. That line works; it doesn't work in ASBARTBW (the first time - which was probably the only time it was meant to be used; Miller heard all the hubbub and decided to rub our faces in it. That'll learn us).

Because you can't give yourself a nickname.

ATOM-HOTEP said...

It also reads too much like "Internet: The Comic", gleefully referencing GODDAMN BATMAN in cute ways is so Gail Simone.

Matt Brady said...

Hey, I also wrote something about the introduction of the Black Racer yesterday!

As for Batman #ofthebeast, I didn't especially like it (although atom-hotep makes a pretty good case), finding it overly violent and kind of pointless. I'm sticking with the series for the JH Williams III arc, and then I'm dropping it.