Posted by: Abhay Khosla on August 4, 2010
I have a fantasy that I’m sure is shared by many of you, and that fantasy is to walk into a comic book store and say, “I will have one of all of the comic books, sir.” And in my fantasy, like in yours, I have red lipstick on, and I’m wearing Marilyn Monroe’s dress from The Seven Year Itch. I think we’re all on the same page.
So, I’ve had a bit of a day at work, and I thought to myself at its conclusion: Today is the day for all my easiest-to-achieve, most unimpressive dreams to come true!
I’d go to a comic book store, and buy one copy of every Marvel comic released that week so I could write radical, awesome reviews of them. People all around the world would hold hands and read them, in perfect harmony. Then, a madman would rise in the East, and no one would be able to buy or sell anything, except those that had the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name on them– the original number of the beast of course being 616, the same number as the Marvel Universe. So, you know, it was a very carefully thought-out dream.
Reality sunk in about three minutes in, at an area comic shop: Holy shit, Marvel releases a lot of goddamn comics in a given week. A LOT. More than I can read in a single evening. More than I can afford in a month, let alone week. I’m only a lawyer in Beverly Hills– I’m not wealthy enough to afford comic books. Maybe someday I’ll be an oil tycoon, a captain of industry, and I’ll be able to afford numerous Marvel comics, but until then… this week, I only made it from A to H– not even halfway through the alphabet. Specifically, AVENGERS: THE ORIGIN to something called HIT-MONKEY (?).
Oh, with two exceptions: CASANOVA #2– I bought those comics the first time around. If you didn’t– you probably can’t do better this week. Essential comics. And also, there was some Orson Scott Card comic in the E’s, but Orson Scott Card is an offensive bigot to me; I’m not interested in giving him any of my money, however indirectly– in general, and especially not on the day with such good news finally about Prop 8.
I’ve got– let’s see– 13 comic books here. So, the way comics are written now, that’ll take, what, 6 minutes to read? For anyone who wants to play along at home, I’ll post in small chunks as the night proceeds. If anyone bought anything from I-Z in the alphabet, you’re welcome to chime in on the comments. Probably this’ll be really, really boring, but… Oh well! One, I sometimes notice complaints that this site doesn’t do “what came out this week” reviews often enough, so I thought I’d give those a shot (though I really don’t think I’m any good at that kind of thing). And two, I haven’t written anything about mainstream comics in a while, and I like to try to do that every so often.
Oh, I should mention– I haven’t really read that many Marvel comics this year, so i don’t really know what’s going on in any of these books. Will that matter? Uhm… let’s find out….?
Avengers The Origin #5 of 5 by Joe Casey, Phil Noto, S & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne, Mayela Gutierrez, Lauren Sankovitch, Tom Brevoort, Joe Quesada, Dan Buckley, and Alan Fine: Okay, so I’ve obvously made a horrible mistake.
So, this seems to be a retelling of a single issue of the old Lee-Kirby Avengers from 1963, but instead of being 12 cents for a story that fit a single issue, this cost $4 and… What’s scary is this is labelled #5 of 5. I don’t really understand how that could conceivably be possible. You know how the Avengers teamed up because Loki screwed with them? That somehow took modern comics, what, 110 pages to tell that story. It took me one sentence: “You know how the Avengers teamed up because Loki screwed with them?”
My guess is that this is for people in bookstores, people who haven’t read a lot of comic books and want things severely dumbed down for them. I suppose those people need comics, too. I would guess somewhere between 90 to 95% of the panels in this book are “widescreen” panels (which is to say, rectangular panels that go from one vertical edge of a piece of paper to the other). That term “widescreen” was first adopted because the actual drawings in the panels were purposely done in a way to remind the reader of a movie. Here, on the other hand– it just seems like Joe Casey and Phil Noto are afraid they might tell a story in an exciting way, by accident. Look at this panel (sorry– my scanner finally died on me):
Why is such a boring drawing taking up so much space on the page? I mean, in a perfect world, it’s nice if the size and shape of a panel somehow reflects the contents of the panel, the emotion of the panel, but … You know: I’m sure they were trying…?
Does Phil Noto work a day job? Maybe he has a day job. Or… well, it’s been five issues for him, so maybe he’s very, very tired. One action scene takes place on the “Isle of Silence”, which is a nice way to explain why there are no backgrounds in those panels; I don’t know what the rest of this comic’s excuse is. Dull compositions; boring panel layouts; I don’t want to sound mean here, but this drawing of the Kree-Skrull war looks like a particularly languid game of Galaga. Cough Syrup Galaga. Lil Wayne and MC Frontalot should totally team-up for an album called Cough Syrup Galaga– that should 100% be a thing, that exists in the world. But, yeah– geez, it sure looks like Phil Noto could be having more fun…
But … why is this what Phil Noto’s drawing, to begin with? Setting aside the question of, you know, why does this comic exist, which … you know– I really love Lee-Kirby Avengers, so I’m maybe too biased to answer that. But setting that aside– Phil Noto re-doing a Kirby comic, of all things…? He seems more influenced by, I don’t know, Robert McGinnis than Jack Kirby. Here’s a panel from the book of IRON MAN, THOR, the HULK and ANT-MAN, i.e. there of the most powerful characters in the “Marvel Universe”:
Maybe it was on purpose, that they wanted to go 180 degrees in the other direction as Jack Kirby. Which… mission accomplished. But– it just seems like there are other things he’d be better at– has he done a bunch of detective comics already that I haven’t noticed? Single women renting out Apartment 3-G’s for sexy lady-adventures type comics…? Do they make those anymore? Sleazy pulp comics.
As for the story, the bad guy in the story is Loki. As Loki is threatening to destroy all of Earth’s heroes, he falls through a floor that ants have eaten, into a metal tube. When they open the metal tube, Loki has disappeared, off-panel, never to be seen in this comic again. The end. It took them five issues to get there…? Okay. For people who were following this for all 100+ pages– was that a satisfying ending for you? Which part was the good part for you: the part where ants eat the floor off-panel, or the part with the very inexplicable metal tube…? I really liked the metal tube in Woody Allen’s SLEEPER, but the metal tube in that movie was a machine that gave Woody Allen orgasms. The tube in this comic book didn’t give anyone orgasms. Or maybe it did– maybe that’s the Secret Origin of why Loki disappeared: he’s in Asgard, having orgasms. The Orgasms Cosmic. Maybe now you know the rest of the story. I hope Woody Allen orgasms in at least four of these comics. If I have 16 comic books, and there’s a, what, 25% chance that Woody Allen will orgasm in any given comic book ever made, then statistics say that he should have an orgasm in at least 4 of the comic books. All those years of math, paying off.
If you want a Joe Casey comic, you might possibly be better off with that OFFICER DOWNE one-shot he did for Image. It’s this violence-gore thing. I haven’t dug into that yet, but it’s sitting on my desk– sure looks like more fun than this thing.
Okay, well, that first review stunk, plus it took me an hour. Oh man, I’m really going to have to go faster if I’m going to get this done tonight. Probably, I won’t. Probably this is part one of two or three or twelve or maybe that’s enough, just judging by my speed here. I’m not just boring tonight, but SLOW. Next up is AVENGERS: PRIME. Oh, right, this is that Bendis and Alan Davis thing– okay…
Avengers Prime #2 of 5 by Brian Michael Bendis, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, Javier Rodriguez, Chris Eliopoulos, Lauren Sankovitch, Tom Brevoort, Joe Quesada, Dan Buckley and Alan Fine: This seemed like a reasonable Marvel comic, though not the kind of thing I’m that into. Iron Man, Thor and Captain America go to a fantasy kingdom– one of the Norse ones, but none of them are together. Iron Man and Thor get into adventuers; meanwhile, Captain America tries to have sex with some random blue-skinned woman.
Captain America: Sex Tourist…? I’d read that. Captain America’s near-death experience causes him to retire from a life of adventure, in order to travel the Marvel Universe, indulging in bizarre sexual fantasies…? Captain America’s no Woody Allen but close enough…? One down, three more to go. Suspense. Though, you know, speaking-of, while we’re on a tangent, did you ever look at the website for International Boar Semen? What really fascinated me about that page is you can buy more than just boar semen and boar semen accessories– they have a Cafe Press t-shirt page. Is that real? I don’t even know if that’s real. You know: google. I don’t even know what to tell you.
Anyways: Alan Davis, everybody. He’s not the worst thing to ever happen. I’m just not that into fantasy, sword-sorcery stuff, so this comic isn’t really for me. But there’s a couple cute-ish comedic bits, at least– most intentional; none as funny as Bendis writing magical spell gibberish, though, which I just find really funny for some reason. Just the image of any grown man coming up with wacky nonsense words… That just makes me laugh.
I’m a little confused that– I thought the whole idea of this comic was to see these three characters team up and have an adventure together…? That doesn’t really happen this issue. But it’s only #2 of 5, so maybe that happens in some other issue. Or maybe I was mistaken. Beats me. That matter to anyone?
Captain America #608 by Ed Brubaker, Butch Guice, Rick Magyar w/ Mark Pennington, Dean White with Elizabeth Dismang & Frank Martin, VC’s Joe Caramagna, Marko Djurdjevic, Lauren Sankovitch, Tom Brevoort, Joe Quesada, Dan Buckley & Alan Fine: This comic is some kind of– I don’t even know. Captain America, having problems, and what have you…?
This was a very well-received book, back before it got sucked into one damn crossover after another. People don’t seem excited about it as vocally anymore, but maybe I just go to the wrong websites– I couldn’t guess. The first page recap for this storyline, though, sure has a lot going on in it. It really wore me out just reading the recap.
Basically, according to the recap, the new Captain America, who replaced the old Captain America, after the old Captain America died, even though the old Captain America is no longer dead, has angered the son of the man who killed the new Captain America, back when the new Captain America had been dead, before he was Captain America. And so, the son drugs Captain America, and the drugs make Captain America violent, so Captain America has no choice but to track down the female bartender who slipped him a mickey on behalf of the son, only to discover that she is also a supervillain who…
Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s describing a plot that was in an Ed Brubaker issue of Daredevil, like, two years ago. “Bad guy gives good guys drugs that make them violent“– wasn’t that a Daredevil plot? I think it was because I remember that being the last issue of the Brubaker Daredevil I ended up reading (not counting some ninja story in the Nocenti-Aja issue…)
Anyways, the comic is mostly just boring besides the recap. There’s a decent fight scene, actually, though Captain America doesn’t have his shield or use that fancy gun, either. I wasn’t very interested by what was going on, but you know– I’m not the best audience for this kind of thing; plus: I haven’t been following the book… Do people care if Captain America dies if the Marvel Universe has a spare? Maybe; I don’t know– maybe that’s the fun of the book for people, having to find a reason to care instead of just relying on the assumption of caring. I don’t know. [Edited this paragraph a little since all I had in me last night was "I was bored by this", which is especially crappy work on my part].
Except halfway in, one of the book’s three colorists becomes noticeable. Most of the book’s nothing much to look at, but about halfway in, Bucky and his girlfriend are on a barge at sunset, and the colors suddenly jerk into a different style altogether. It starts to rain, and I guess the way rain smears light interests the colorists in a way nothing in the book had previously. Probably it’s only one of the three people, who hadn’t had time to do the rest…? That’s my wild guess. It only lasts, oh, two-three pages, but… That was the only thing that was interesting. It still catches me surprise, how much colors have changed in comics; are still changing. Of all the different areas of comics, the color is the ones that’s changed the most and changed the most often since I started reading comics…
I really like this panel on the right, though. I like that expression– it’s one you’d see pretty often in old Marvel comics. “I’m so surprised that I’m going to let flies go in and out of my mouth.” The acting in this comic is not great, but it’s not great in a way that I like, at least.
After the comic, they jammed in another comic, an 8-page comic, NOMAD by Sean Mckeever, Filipe Andrae, Chris Sotomayor, VC’s Joe Sabino, Lauren Sankovitch, Tom Brevoort, Joe Quesada, Dan Buckley and Alan Fine. I guess the idea is to make people feel like they weren’t getting ripped off by how much this book cost, but I think that might have worked better if anything in the NOMAD comic had been even slightly fun. Instead, Nomad fights a gang of homicidal gay-bashers, until retiring to a diner for a talking head scene that lasts 4 of the story’s 8 pages…? I didn’t understand what either of them were talking about, at all, though; maybe it’d have been fun if I had…?
Captain America: Forever Allies by Roger Stern, Nick Dragotta, Marco Santucci, Patric Piazzalunga, Chris Sotomayor, Jared Fletcher, Lee Weeks, Matt Hollingsworth, Damien Lucchese, Thomas Brennan, Joe Quesada, Dan Buckley and Alan Fine: Oh, I liked this one! I’m getting sleepy, so this one played off of my “I should really, really go to sleep” mood well.
Plus: Roger Stern, you know? Roger Stern was always welcome name to me, growing up. I don’t know if he ever had his own series, made up his own thing, but his stuff always seemed a little more thoughtful to me than other people who worked for those companies. This one…
It’s a comic book about race…? I did not see that coming.
The comic begins with Bucky reminiscing about how he was part of a team of heroes in the 1940’s, the Young Allies, which had its own comic book series in the Marvel Universe, a racist series of propaganda comics put out during the war…? That’s a pretty odd detail, the first of several. (I’d never seen any of the old Jack Kirby – Joe Simon comics featuring the Young Allies, so these were all new Jack Kirby characters for me. That never hurts. They’re the kind of Child Heroes “celebrated” by Grant Morrison in his Manhattan Guardian series, the high-point of the SEVEN SOLDIERS series for me, “Sex Secrets of the Newsboy Army“)…
Anyways, Bucky then starts investigating the mystery of some Asian dragon lady character, and in order to do so hops onto a plane with Jack Muldoon and Brenda Sue, two Texan cowboy billionaire stereotypes. The comic then flashes back to a reference to the 1943 Zoot Suit riots, an incident involving violence perpetrated by white soldiers mostly on Latino youths, which… The comic doesn’t delve into the history, but… One of the big climactic moments is Bucky realizes that the Asian villain escaped from jail by fooling prison guards who couldn’t tell the difference between an Asian lady and a black lady…??
I have no earthly idea what the HELL this comic is trying to say, if anything, but I’m at least a little delighted that one of the 16 comics ended up at least seeming to be about “Race in America,” I guess. About ANYTHING. Roger Stern, tackling the big questions– I could see myself getting another one of these. I probably really need to sleep, though.
So, let’s pause it here, and resume later in a separate post, or this post, or whatever. Tomorrow, or whenever I get this going again, what do we have to look forward to? Daredevil Black & White #1 (I’d have bought that one any which way; that is one great line-up of creators), something called Darkstar & the Winter Guard (which is apparently a comic book that has been published for the last three months– who knew? No one. No one knew), Deadpool #1000 (which is scary thick..? I think Michael Kupperman might be involved), Deadpool Wade Wilson’s War Massacre in Mexico: The Terrible Truth of Team X (I don’t know what words on this cover are the title), Doomwar (there’s been an entire Doomwar going on that I missed apparently), Gorilla-Man (something to do with those Atlas comics…?), Hawkeye & Mockingbird (someone at comic-book-resources-dot-com apparently likes it, according to a quote on the cover), Hercules Twilight God (the cover to this comic makes it look likes it was designed for a quarter bin), and this Hit-Monkey thing ( I really don’t even know what I’m looking at…?).