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“More Water, Ma’am?”…Comics? They still make ‘em and I still read ‘em!

John Kane

Enter my personal four colour nightmare! Gonna make your eyes boil like eggs! Or bore you senseless. Hard to tell really. Anyway, I read some comics wrote some words – it’s a story as old as Love itself! Like my face.

(You look lost, stranger – The Shipping List is the next post down)

You know, without your glasses and your hair down like that you look like you’d enjoy hearing about:

PUNISHERMAX#14 by Jason Aaron(w), Steve Dillon(a), Matt Hollingswoth(c) and VC’s Cory Petit(l) (Marvel/Disney, $3.99)

“FRANK Part Three”: Then: Back from The ‘Nam Frank continues to brighten up the lives of all around him while exploring new career opportunities. Now: A wholly expected riot erupts. Will Frank learn to hate again. Will he learn to kill again? Time may just be running out for everyone’s favourite sad mass murderer…

Yes, every story element in this comic is so totally unoriginal that every scene is as familiar to me as my sainted mother’s “disappointed” face, but it cannot be denied that it still retains narrative power and wrongful fascination enough to stick a shank right into any misgivings and jerk that sucker about until the toothbrush handle snaps in half. Nick Fury is a bit of a cranky man though; I think Frank would make a great dishwasher. Keep him away from the cutlery perhaps.  Also, I hope Big Jesus’ surname is Trashcan. Oh, I see, I see how it is. It’s just David Bowie references that are Da Kewl. Fine.

Meanwhile Steve Dillon’s backgrounds continue their audition for a revamp of the Simon MacCorkindale detective/body horror series but they appear to have misheard the title as “Minimal”. It’s too late. I made that joke thirty-five minutes ago! Somewhat predictably this was VERY GOOD!

 

FLASHPOINT BATMAN: KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE #1 by Brian Azzarello(w), Eduardo Risso(a), Patricia Mulvihill(c) and Clem Robbins(l) (DC Comics, $2.99)

Thomas Wayne is The Batman! The Joker has kidnapped Harvey (not Two-Face!) Dent’s twins(!). How nasty will it get before someone tranq darts Brian Azzarello? Very, I’m guessing.

I really like Brian Azzarello’s Batman and the reason I really like Brian Azzarello’s Batman is because he is so very, very unlikeable. There’s no way this is accidental. Of course in regular DCU continuity Mr. Azzarello’s apparent experiment in aversion therapy is hampered by the fact that Batman can’t just machete open Killer Croc’s head like a coconut. Luckily the very special, very Geoff Johns-ian, magic of Flashpoint is that Batman can in fact do just that. So he does. So here’s Batmaniac, kids; everything everyone who ever got upset that Batman didn’t just kill The Joker has ever wanted. Now eat it. Eat it all up. Eat. It.

Mr. Eduardo Risso brings his usual experimental theatre production approach full of weird lighting sources, minimal stage design, excellent blocking and fine character acting and it is a dreamy thing indeed. This comic also has the dubious honour of having a last page so nasty the thoughts it provoked made me ashamed of my own brain. Relentlessly foul and repellent and, since that seems to be wholly the point, – EXCELLENT!

 

DOOM PATROL #22 by Keith Giffen(w), Ron Randall(a), Pat Brosseau(l) and Guy Major (c). (DC Comics, $2.99)

“Doomsday (No, Not Him)”: Mother of God, is this the end of The Doom Patrol? Like any of you lot care, right? Waaaahhhhhh!

I say, I say, I say, why do trade waiters read with gloves on? Because their hands are wet with the blood of cancelled comics! Bwa ha, and indeed, ha! Despite art that barely lurched above serviceable Keith “Take Me For Granted, Please!” Giffen served up a series that was loopy, clever, dense and oddly moving. Like a crab with a wooden leg. One that’s really good at telling stories, mind you.

The climax to the issue/series was a hilarious piece of rug pullery; the sort of thing that might upset some, but probably only because they forgot that in THE DOOM PATROL anything can happen and probably already did while you were separating your socks. It’s the sort of “4th Wall Breaking” that’s been going on since the ‘40s but that’s still inexplicably taken as modern and has folks breaking out “meta” (your flexible friend!) and in all likelihood blaming the series’ demise (but only if the series is sexy!) on the incredibly difficult demands it made on the poor audience (The Ben 10 Defence).

Not here, though, none of that will be happening here because Keith Giffen just thinks making smart comics is part of his job and that’s just not going to give anyone a pup tent in their pants now is it? Well, y’know what, every time I read an issue I was entertained and call me unfashionable (that’s your cue…) but that made this series VERY GOOD!

 

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS#7 by Nick Spencer(w), Cafu/Bit(a), Mike Grell(a), Nick Dragotta(a), Santiago Arcas(c),Val Staples(c), Lee Loughridge(c), Patrick Brosseau(l)

“On Victoria”: What if the original Dynamo and The Iron Maiden had shacked up in suburbia? Would a panel consisting of her hand holding a cucumber make you turgid?

Oh dear, no. I rather think not. Here it is, my nightmare made paper – a whole page consisting of four panels the sum total of which is that a woman on a plane is asked if she wants a glass of water. She accepts. The only useful narrative information transferred is that she is preoccupied and reading a file about The Iron Maiden.

Enough, already! That’s a whole page up the Swanee right there. You only have 20 of these things now, y’know. Either writers today cannot see the very real differences between ALIEN: THE ILLUSTRATED STORY by Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonson and ALIEN: THE PHOTONOVEL or they think their readers can’t. You want to do cinematic comics see the aforementioned Goodwin/Simonson masterpiece or read AMERICAN FLAGG! Howard Victor Chaykin didn’t nearly kill his fragrant self breaking new ground just so you could all drive away readers with lazy tat! Nothing personal to all the talented individuals involved but this approach is helping no one because it is AWFUL!

BONUS! Courtesy of the preview of CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 here’s Steve “Did I mention the shield is quite important to me?” Rogers with Comic Book Scripting Secrets #2398:

“If I narrate something quite ordinary/but spread it out/over enough panels/by Sterile Steve McNiven/ or maybe Banal Bryan Hitch/by the time/I have finished/saying it/you will assume/you have read/something of substance.” Repeat. For ten years. EH!


Yeah, I’ll probably read some more comics and, yeah, I’ll probably tell you about ‘em too later, see?  ‘Cos you can’t stop me copper, see? See?

(PS Working on the scans thing but don’t hold your breath is my advice.)

Thanks for letting me into your eyes!


16 Responses to “ “More Water, Ma’am?”…Comics? They still make ‘em and I still read ‘em! ”

  1. “Here it is, my nightmare made paper – a whole page consisting of four panels the sum total of which is that a woman on a plane is asked if she wants a glass of water. She accepts.”

    I almost have to believe this is at least embellished. But it’s true, isn’t it?

  2. I very much like that short summary section for each book.

    -B

  3. I second Mr. Hibbs on that, and add that your second installment, John, is a great refinement on the first. The writing is tighter this time, but still clever and entertaining, with that rather explosive voice of yours.

    Of course, you reviewed four comics and managed only one HVC reference, so clearly you’re already just phonin’ it in …

  4. “Here it is, my nightmare made paper – a whole page consisting of four panels the sum total of which is that a woman on a plane is asked if she wants a glass of water.”

    Good thing you didn’t read FF #2 – there, a character said what they needed to do in the first panel to solve a predicament.
    That panel then repeated for two pages, in the last panel of which… a character repeated what the other one said!
    Some will tell you it was a great, minimalist, character piece – demonstrating the different brain speeds of the characters – but really… it kinda pissed in the face of good comic book storytelling.

    “If I narrate something quite ordinary/but spread it out/over enough panels/by Sterile Steve McNiven/ or maybe Banal Bryan Hitch/by the time/I have finished/saying it/you will assume/you have read/something of substance.” Repeat. For ten years.”

    Beautiful!

  5. John, and also Ben Lipman, that was, as they say, awesome sauce. They say that, don’t they? I just saw Bat-Mite saying it on the Batman cartoon yesterday (thanks Hibbs, for making us watch that, that show is the bomb)

    Anyway, yeah, awesome sauce. More water, please!

  6. Surely that “More water, ma’am?” page is worth its 15 cents of entertainment…no?

    Nah, I wouldn’t think so, either.

  7. @Mikoyan: Would that I were embellishing. Would that I were.

    @Mr Brian Hibbs: We seek only to please. Thankyouverymuchah.

    @Brian McC: Cheers. It’s good to know that he fact that I cut 4/5ths out benefitted it in the end ( I actually removed 68 references to Howard Victor Chaykin, 9 of which were probably unhealthily revealing). I thank you kindly for your kind words.

    @Ben Lipman: see, you get it! I can totally see what they are after with the storytelling but it’s only because I have to translate it into “film” in my head instead of just getting what they are after right off the page because they are using “good comic book storytelling”. I want to like T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS (I want to like every comic, that’s where I start from – always. I mean I pay for these things after all).
    It’s a really rich set-up having Dynamo and Iron Maiden having a suburban lifestyle but it’s just frittered away (a super powered TERRY AND JUNE: I’m all over that!). I bet there’s good stuff in FF as well, but I’m just not going to ever see it because when I read a comic that employs that mode it feels like I’m being taken for a chump and paying for the privilege to boot.

    @Peter Adriaenssens: Of course everyone says “awesome sauce”! Because everyone watches B:TB&TB! Except people who suckle on the withered teat of misery – shun them!

    @A.L. Baroza: Putting it like that makes it even worse. Cheers!

  8. FLASHPOINT BATMAN “Relentlessly foul and repellent” You put the lime in the cocunut and shake it all up. Bruce Wayne’s Dad is a bad-mutha, you shut yo’ mouth! Sold. You sold me John. Despite all good sense I am buying that comic. If not this week, then in the 25 cent bin next week. Promise!

    DOOM PATROL: it was VERY GOOD, wasn’t it?

  9. A Doom Patrol story could certainly have comic companies turning out the awful infiltrated and have everybody replaced by shapeshifting clones of Keith Giffen.

    And run by Jack Kirby’s frozen head.

  10. Google reader said these reviews were by Graeme, which seemed odd at the time.

    Good reviews John K, please do more.

    Is it dickish to say I like how you’ve got your punctuation more under control? A nicer flow to your barrage of criticism. I mean this constructively.

    re: use of panels, has anyone called bullshit on Bendis using 3 sets of 3 issues in that ultimate enemy story to tell what would normally be (for him) a 5 issue mini. he’s so clever how he tricks us in new and exciting ways.

  11. John, There’s good stuff to do with the Future Foundation, but it ain’t in FF!
    Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man had a great take on that team in #658-660 (co-written by Fred Van Lente I believe).
    They went to France, they went to a microscopic world with a living atom that played off of Ego the living planet, they went to space and met the future future foundation, they fought pirates and they fought the Sinister Six… in a mountain shaped like a skull!
    A whole lotta things got punched, there were one-liners aplenty, and Spider-Man and The Thing talked like Cockney’s in a scene!
    People can rave as much as they want about Hickman’s sixty issue plan, but I don’t see how anyone could say that his individual issues are as entertaining as the ASM arc.
    (And it’s odd, as I always saw compression as a big strength of Hickaman’s image books)

    I’ve got the Thunder Agents issue, but haven’t read it yet – I might hold off until the next issue comes out, just so I’m not left hanging.
    (Something I also decided to do with Spencer’s Morning Glories, and now I’ve not read an issue since #6, despite having picked up #10 the other week).

  12. what you say about Keith Giffen is mathematically correct.

    2)i like reading your reviews. in some cases i end up reading reviews of comics that i would never buy. i still never buy them, but i go out of my way to read reviews of comics i have no interest in. for the charm. for the love of pete. thanks for the entertainment, good sir.

    third, i hold people who talk about AMERICAN FLAGG! in high esteem. all you needed was the one. tip o’ the hat to ye.

    and lastly, i do find something troubling about Thunderagents and its ilk (you mentioned FF), and for the reasons you described. very well put.

  13. @Corey(Ottawa): Well, it’s more cerebrally foul and repellent than anything. Like, having a society with a privatised police force is far more unsettling to me than any number of superheroes being graphically torn in twain. Still worth 25c though. Hey, at least we got 22 issues of DOOM PATROL!

    @Blue Tyson: Mebbe so!

    @Damon: Yes, but after all aren’t we all just Thought Convicts in The Prison of Graeme’s Mind? I sensed no dickish-ness about your comments, sir, be assured of that. Yeah, I don’t mention The Thrice Named One a lot do I? Funny that.

    @Ben Lipman: Ah, that sounds like the stuff. I believe the art is spectacular too, yes? The Thing channelling Don “no Barney” Cheadle? could be a purchase!

    @Tim Pilotus: I can’t lie, I might mention AMERICAN FLAGG! again. I made a tag and everything!

    My thanks to all!

  14. If Chaykin doesn’t smell vaguely of sandalwood I’ll be mightily disappointed.

  15. The Birthday Party references are the fire.

    It’s when someone starts name dropping Nick Cave personally that everyone heads for the exit.

  16. John, the art on those issues was pretty good – Javier Pulido showing the world how one is meant to approach Kirby’s characters/concepts, and then Stefano Caselli and Mike McKone show how the Marvel house style should look these days.
    Honestly, I think ASM has been Marvel’s best book since Slott took over solo – the book comes out every two weeks so any slight story/character/plot misstep is explained/forgotten/jover soon enough, the stories have rip-roared along and been good fun, and the arts had Macros Martin, career-best Humberto Ramos and Caselli, with good guest art along the way.
    The boys have booed it on the podcast – and the tag line is silly – but I think Spider-Island may end up a bit of a Sinestro Corps War, the rare ‘event’ that everyone enjoys – the build up stuff has been good (the FCBD issue was tops), and I think the team on the book have totally gelled at this point, so I’m quite looking forward to it.

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