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“Clod. I Have WEAPONS…” Comics! Sometimes They Are Almost Fresh!

John Kane

It’s a post about comics! Is it early? Is it late? Time is in flux!
Only if one man can face his Pull List can The Balance be restored!

One Man.
One Pull List.
There will be Words…
(…probably the wrong ones).
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ACTION COMICS #6
When Superman Learned To Fly” by By Andy Kubert/John Dell(a), Grant Morrison(w), Brad Anderson(c) and Patrick Brosseau(l) and “Last Day” by Chriscross(a), Sholly Fish(w), Jose Vallarubia(c) and Carlos M. Mangual(l)
(DC Comics, $3.99)

Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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 I like that stuff in my comics but I’m not unaware that in real life that kind of thinking gets you killed.

While there could be said to be many faults with the lead story in this issue such as an apparent attempt to distract from a lack of clarity (or indeed even sense) with a belligerently unslackening pace and art that once again belies Andy Kubert’s alleged superstar status it remains a fact that in this story Superman’s enemies conduct an auction for Kryptonite within Superman’s own brain (physically, literally within Superman’s own brain) and Superman uses his own Kryptonite poisoned body as a battery to save his both his own sentient ship and the day entire. Yes, Superman’s enemies conduct an auction for Kryptonite within Superman’s own brain (physically, literally within Superman’s own brain) and Superman uses his own Kryptonite poisoned body as a battery to save his both his own sentient ship and the day entire. That’s Superman comics enough for me!

The backup is the kind of sweet and tender emotional snapshot of a transitional moment in life that anyone under forty will treat as though it were sentient dog-muck hellbent on French kissing them; that’s okay because I enjoyed it enough for y’all! Yup, ACTION COMICS was GOOD!

 STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #6
Beneath The Bat-Cave” by Moritat(a), Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti(w), Gabriel Bautista(c) and Rob Leigh(l) and “The Barbary Ghost Part 3” by Phil Winslade(a), Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti(w), Dominic Regan(c) and Rob Leigh(l)
(DC Comics, $3.99)

Jonah Hex created by John Albano and Tony Dezuniga.
The
Barbary Ghost created by Gray, Palmiotti and Winslade

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Kids! How many owls can you spot!

Thank the Great Spirit! Next issue ol’ bacon face is off to N’Orleans! where there will no doubt be “gumbo” galore but at least there won’t be anymore shoehorning of Batman references into a book that doesn’t need them. A cave beneath Wayne Manor! Filled with Bats! This cretinous continuity reached a kind of hilarious nadir with the sudden slew of references to Owls: because Batman is currently encountering stress of a strigiform stripe by all accounts in the here and now! So we get about two pages in which the characters can barely move around the mansion setting for all the owls dangling, roosting, flopping and just plain flailing around the place. It’s as though Moritat has snapped and gone “You want owls? Here! Here are your owls! Got enough owls yet? I don’t think so! Owls! Here! Now! In your face! All! Owls! Touch them! Touch my owls! Tell me they’re pretty! Owls!” and then gone for a long lie down. Stupid owls. Anyway I’m a little bit partial to Jonah so it was still OKAY!

 STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!

ANIMAL MAN #6
Tights” by Jean Paul Leon & Travel Foreman/Jeff Huett(a), Jeff Lemire(w), Lovern Kindzierski(c) and Jared K. Fletcher(l)
(DC Comics,$2.99)

Animal Man created by Dave Wood and Carmine Infantino

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Movie Cliche #23415678: Sad Dad at fridge with beer and photo of son. Collect the set!

Tricky one this. Has Jeff Lemire done a pitch-perfect satire of the vapid screenwriting cliches that have run roughshod over comics beautiful storytelling devices or does he actually believe this is a decent film script made comics? It’s hard to tell isn’t it. Heck, I don’t know maybe you thought it was awesome? Luckily it’s easy to tell that Jean Paul Leon is an awesome artist and hopefully one day he will draw comics as awesome as WINTER MEN again. This issue is a complete waste of time and is clearly a fill-in so next issue we should be back to Travel Foreman and his nightmarish body horror.

After I read the previous issue I fell into a light doze and dreamt about a man in a chair. I was holding the man in the chair via the power of some unknown threat. The man was crying and peeling his own skin off his own face with a small knife. I was then forcing him to eat it via the unspoken promise that if he did as I asked he could go free. The fact that the man was eating his own face was terrible but the worst thing was that we both knew I was lying and he wasn’t leaving alive. But he had no choice but to do as I asked because that was his only hope. Yes, it’s been a trying few months. They say there’s nothing as boring as listening to someone else’s dreams but they forgot about reading film scripts masquerading as comics which is so boring such comics are EH!

STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST (BUT WATCH IT)!

 

BATWOMAN#6
To Drown The World – Part One” by Amy Reeder/Rob Hunter/Richard Friend(a) J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman(w), Guy Major(c) and Todd Klein(l)
(DC Comics,$2.99)

Batwoman created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff (modern version by Greg Rucka and Alex Ross).

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“Given the state of your medical insurance talking’s about all you can afford so knock yourself out is my advice.”

Wuh-hoof! That’s certainly a change in artist alright. I’ll stick it out for a bit because I always like people to get a fair shake of the critic stick. Initially I’m not  finding myself a fan of Reeder’s thin line but I appreciate her attempts to step up her layouts. Given the writing is competent at best (actually that’s a compliment in today’s world o’comics) Reeder’s got it all on her to raise this one up from EH!

STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST (FOR NOW!)

DAREDEVIL #9
By Paolo Rivera/Joe Rivera(a), Mark Waid(w), Javier Rodriguez(c) and VC’s Joe Caramagna(c)
(Marvel Comics, $2.99)

Daredevil created by Bill Everett and Stan Lee.

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Storytelling in ‘Not Dead’ shock!

Unless Howard Victor Chaykin has been reactivated without my knowledge I guess this is the only Marvel comic I’m buying. That doesn’t seem right, I’ll have to check. Anyway, I’m buying this because Mark Waid understands that the bit with the boot is funnier and cleverer because it only takes up one panel. It’s because Rivera Jnr and Snr make all kinds of spooky magic happen on these pages. It’s because together the team on the book achieve the kind of synergy that results in the storytelling stuff from which the above image is but a sample. Yup, DAREDEVIL is a purchase because it is VERY GOOD!

(Hey, I hear Chris Samnee is coming aboard! I told you all I’d wait for him!)

STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!

DEMON KNIGHTS #6
The Balance” by Diogenes Neves & Robson Rocha with Oclair Albert(a), Paul Cornell(w), Marcelo Maiolo(c) and Jared K. Fletcher(l)(DC Comics, $2.99)

The Demon created by Jack Kirby.
Shining Knight originally created by Creig Flessel (modern incarnation created by Simone Bianchi and Grant Morrison).
Vandal Savage created by Alfred Bester and Martin Nodell.
Madame Xanadu created by Michael William Kaluta.

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His reply is actually quite funny but I’m still baling.

Nah. I’m done. It just didn’t work for me. Which is a shame as it wasn’t terrible as such it just never gelled. Way too diffuse and lacking in focus both from a scripting and art standpoint. I mean, how big was this village, where was everything in relation to everything else? But like I say it wasn’t terrible and I wish all involved well and hope the book works out further down the line but there are plenty of books I can read that aren’t EH! And that’s where my money’s got to go. It’s the Law of The Direct Market; savage and unrestrained!

STATUS: OFF THE LIST!

FATALE Number Two
By Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Dave Stewart
(Image Comics, $3.50)

Fatale created by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.

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 …probably because for some odd reason she’s drawn to look about 8 years old and acts as subtly as a silent movie siren?

People tend to refer to books by this team as “Brubaker” books don’t they? Which is odd as I find Brubaker to be the least of the appeal they hold. I guess it’s that whole Cult of The Writer thing or something. Hey now, hang on, I’m not saying Brubaker isn’t good. He’s got craft/technique/skill/whatever we’re calling it now in spades it’s just the result is, for me, mostly solid rather than inspired. Except when he gets Meta which is when the wheels start wobbling like they’re about to pitch a fit (remember INCOGNITO where working in an office was “like” doing Indie comics but taking to the streets and letting your inner nature run wild was “like” working in the mainstream? Really? Um.). On the whole though I get well crafted genre staples served up with a slight twist but the real pleasure I get from this team’s comics is in the form of Phillips and Stewart in conjunction with Brubaker. I’m not going to just roll around showing my belly because it hasn’t got capes’n’tights in it, okay?

Here, I guess the High Concept (sigh) is Crime and Horror – together! Like Hope and Cosby! Like Morecambe and Wise! Which is fine because,hey, I like both. I’m not sure they belong smushed together though except as one of those novelty type deals. Y’know, all those Steve Niles things Steve Niles does. I guess Crime fiction tells us about the worst in ourselves and so does Horror fiction; they just use different tools. Using both sets just seems like doubling up and risking the results seeming lesser. Early days though, I mean, look at what porting Horror tropes into Crime did for James Ellroy ($$$$ is what it did, kids. Woof! Woof!). I don’t think we’re looking at an Ellroy here but we may be looking at an Angel Heart. And that’s fine. I got a thing about chickens, Mr. Cyphre; as in I don’t like to count them too soon but this one looks GOOD! so far.

STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!

FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT of S.H.A.D.E. #6
The Siege of
S.H.A.D.E. City – Part One” by Alberto Ponticelli(a), Jeff Lemire(w), Jose Villarrubia(c) and Travis Lanham(l)
(DC Comics, $2.99)

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E created by Doug Mahnke and Grant Morrison (and Mary Shelley).

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I am always happy to see the word “buffoons”!

There’s a bit in this issue that is pretty much a stealth WATCHMEN (by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins) reference. It’s the scene in the ‘Nam bar between The Comedian and Doc Manhattan but here with Franky and a red, bald dude who is, basically, Dr. Manhattan and without any pregnant woman shooting or face glassing. That is to say without any of the actual important or troubling content. I’d call that an Omen were I of a credulous nature. Otherwise it’s yet another issue of Hellboy in the DCU and which is Okefenokee by me!

STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK#4 and #5
In The Dark – Part Four and Finale” by Mikel Janin(a), Peter Milligan(w), Ulises Arreola(c) and Rob Leigh(l)
(DC Comics, $2.99ea)

John Constantine created by Alan Moore, John Totleben, Rick Veitch and Steve Bissette.
Madame Xanadu created by Michael William Kaluta.
Deadman created by
Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino.
Shade, The Changing Man created by Steve Ditko.
Zatanna created by
Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson.
Enchantress created by Bob Haney and Howard Purcell.
Dove created by Steve Ditko.
Mindwarp created by Peter Milligan.

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Stealth WATCHMEN reference#2. We get it, DC! You WIN!

I haven’t enjoyed this. It’s all been a bit like warmed-over ’90s Milligan with stuff like “In Nebraska The Pokemon come alive and the screams of the bread-cakes dance like glass-kneed OAPs.” Okay, not as warmed-over ’90s Milligan as that DEFENDERS#1 preview perhaps but still not terribly inspired. I mean the sheer scale of events would suggest the body count is in the hundreds of thousands not to mention the country-wide trauma involved but there’s no sense of any consequences.

No, I didn’t like it. I did, however, enjoy Milligan’s skeevy interpretation of Deadman. I would totally read a Peter Milligan Deadman series in which Deadman acted like one of those fantastic men who pressure their missus into all kinds of sexual situations that the missus clearly isn’t all that into and it’s all just about the guy exerting power over her so that’s she’s eventually roiling around in moral squalor with only the “fact” that he loves her to keep her sane. At which point the hilarious rogue tells her she’s a sl*t and leaves her to fall to pieces while he starts the whole cycle with some other vulnerable woman. I think a comic like that would bring in new readers. Sh*theads mostly, but hey, sales are down! We can’t afford to be be proud anymore! Despite creepy Deadman JLA: DARK was EH!

STATUS: DROPPED!

O.M.A.C. #5 and #6
Occasionally Monsters Accidentally Crossover” By Keith Giffen/Scott Koblish(a), Dan Didio, Jeff lemire & Keith Giffen(w), Hi-Fi(c) and Travis Lanham(l)
One More Amorous Conflict” By Scott Kolins/Scott Koblish(a), Dan Didio & Keith Giffen(w), Hi-Fi(c) and Travis Lanham(l)
(DC Comics, $2.99ea)

O.M.A.C. created by Jack Kirby.

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It’s the hot dog that makes it great!

In #5 O.M.A.C. and Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E have a great big slobberknocker which entertains and amuses me on a base level which I have no shame in gratifying since I am okay with comics just being goofy, colourful fun. With #6 I realise that the main reason I like O.M.A.C is because of Keith Giffen’s art because with #6 the artwork is by Scott Kolins and the only memorable thing about the issue is the fact that Leilani’s breasts are pancaked in the same manner that Caroline Munro’s were in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. Yes, I realise that reflects badly on me as a human being but, honestly, what reflects badly on us as a society is the fact that we have fallen so low so fast that when you read The Golden Voyage of Sinbad you automatically assumed I was talking about a p*rn film rather than a children’s fantasy film from the ‘7os.  So, um, anyway O.M.A.C was GOOD!

STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!

 

PUNISHERMAX#22
War’s End” By Steve Dillon(a), Jason Aaron(w), Matt Hollingsworth(c) and VC’s Cory Pettit(l)
(MAX/Marvel Comics, $3.99)

The Punisher created by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru and John Romita Snr.

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“Now that we’ve solved the Energy Crisis! Who’s up for a brewski!”

PUNISHERMAX#22 may just be the most subversive comic I read this year. Oh, not because of the ending because…really, Jason Aaron? Really? That’s your ending? We can solve all societies problems by just rising up and killing the sh*t out of other folks? Really? Heck, maybe we just need a strong leader as well? Fancy your chances do you, Jason Aaron? What a crappy ending. Mind you, I live in a country where we only arm The Police, The Army and farmers. What? No, I don’t know why we arm farmers, maybe because of all the lions? Or maybe they keep being carried off by subsidies in the night. Stop getting distracted by details. So, okay, maybe that ending is a bit more reasonable over there in The Americas. If it is, I will pray for you all. Christ, that irresponsible ending.

No, PUNISHERMAX #22 may just be the most subversive comic I have read all year because of the scene involving Elektra. Elektra is at the Hand headquarters after a savage battle with Frank. Elektra has served The Hand well for many years but now Elektra needs help from The Hand. Specifically medical help. But I guess The Hand doesn’t have Health Insurance for its employees and since Elektra is no longer of any use to them they have no qualms in cutting her loose in the most final of ways. Despite knowing full well the conditions of her employment Elektra is still surprised and dismayed at this turn of events. But she should have expected it, really, because that’s what you get for working for Marv..I mean The Hand. Say, is something bothering you, Jason Aaron? Stuff on your mind?

Oh, PUNISHERMAX was entertaining enough and the fact that I could never reconcile the interesting parts with the witless parts of it actually made it more interesting and brought the whole thing up to GOOD!

STATUS: Cancelled or Came To A Natural End When The Author Had Told The One Frank Castle Story He Felt He Was Born To Write. (Oh, yeah!)

RASL #13
By Jeff Smith (a/w/l)
(Cartoon Books, $3.50)

RASL created by Jeff Smith.

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There’s a couple of reasons I really like RASL. There used to be pretty much just one reason; that although none of the individual elements actually seemed unique in and of themselves they were combined in such a way as to present a story notable for its novelty and also the freshness of its presentation. There are many scenes in RASL which you have seen in other stories but this is not a problem with RASL because it isn’t really a problem at all unless it is a problem with all stories. It is a problem with some stories because they will just go for the default setting of said scene; the one that’s floating closest to the surface of the popular imagination due to repetition and exposure via Hollywood blockbusters for example.

Look at the Avengers Vs. X-Men preview and ask yourself whether the life sappingly tedious familiarity of every scene is intentional and while you have your own attention ask also how many pages until The President says “And may God have Mercy on us all.” It’s all about familiarity, oh yes, I am aware it’s all pitifully legitimised by claims of “homage” but that’s cockrot, it’s all about familiarity; giving people what they already know they like. Of course eventually familiarity forgets to put its rubber on and breeds something; contempt. Not in the case of RASL though. RASL keeps me on my toes, RASL demands something from me – attention. In return it rewards me with quality entertainment. That seems fair enough to me.

The other, more recent, reason for liking RASL is that unless Jeff Smith has some kind of catastrophic breakdown involving his identity he won’t be suing himself anytime soon. Yup, RASL is VERY GOOD!

STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!

STATIC SHOCK #5 and #6
True Natures” and “Unrepentant” by Scott McDaniel/Andy Owens(a), Scott McDaniel(w), Travis Lanham & Dezi Sienty(l) and Guy Major(c)
(DC Comics, $2.99ea)

Static created by Dwayne McDuffie and Jean Paul Leon.

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 A DC writer on The Internet: Yesterday.

Well, that was certainly a stinker of a thing. I have no problem with Scott McDaniel’s art by the way. Sometimes it lacks clarity but I respond well to the boldness of his line and the chunkiness of his figures. I find it quite pleasing on the whole. His writing has, however, been less than stellar. It’s hard to know what to say about this disaster really except if you employ someone to write – let them write and let the artist take care of the pictures. It isn’t like there’s no room for synergy; the two can be responsible for both of those separate aspects but combine them when it comes to the storytelling. It’s a collaborative medium, so I’ve heard. A mess like this just makes me sad. I’m not very savage at all because it dismays me to say STATIC SHOCK was AWFUL!

STATUS: DROPPED!

SWAMP THING#6
The Black Queen” by Marco Rudy(a), Scott Snyder(w), Val Staples & lee Loughridge(c) and Travis Lanham(l)
(DC Comics, $2.99)

Swamp Thing created by Len Wein and Berni Wrightson.

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This is horrible in all the wrong ways. It’s nice having little shout outs to Dick Durock and Len Wein and my Nana Alice and all but, hey, where’s the…well, where’s anything? Splash page after splash page of nigh-contextless horror does not a narrative make. Seriously, I need to know what’s going on on those pages if it’s going to freak me out. Marco Rudy’s art works hard to evoke the scabby nastiness of the Bissette, Veitch, Totleben years but what is going on? Something to do with rot, something to do with flesh. I’m sympathetic to the notion that specificity kills horror dead on the page but y’know I need some clue or it’s just…stuff. And stuff isn’t specific enough to be scary. And… The Parliament of Trees? Apparently you just walk up to them with a box of matches and, hey, game over Parliament of Trees. That’s…stupid. Worst of all this turns out have just been one of those crappy origins that take six issues. Sure they could wrong foot us at the last and Abby could adopt the mantle but…it still took six issues. Six not very good issues. So yeah, SWAMP THING is EH! Moley, I just checked and it’s six issues and counting to the origin, that doesn’t help at all.

STATUS: DROPPED!

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS #3
A Godawful Small Affair” by Wes Craig & Walter Simonson/Bob Wiacek(a), Nick Spencer(w), Hi Fi & Lee Loughridge(c) and Jared K. Fletcher (l)
(DC Comics, $2.99)

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents created by Wallace (“Woody” not “Wally”) Wood and Len Brown.

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‘Nuff Said!

STATUS: STICKING IT OUT FOR THE LAST THREE ISSUES!

 

So yeah, hope that was okay. If you disagree with any of it that’s fine just let me know and we can throw it around like a pack of terriers with a rat. If you thought it was all totally spot-on then, Hi, Mom! Whatever happens those were my comics and that’s what I thought.

Have a good week and remember to read some COMICS!

24 Responses to “ “Clod. I Have WEAPONS…” Comics! Sometimes They Are Almost Fresh! ”

  1. Aaron Eckhart is Boston Brand in IN THE COMPANY OF DEADMAN!

  2. I too am having trouble getting into Demon Knights and I’m not sure why.
    I love the concept. Cornell is a smart writer. I’m a fan of Kirby’s Demon. But at issue 6 I’m just not feelin’ it.
    I think perhaps this first arc was a bit too long.
    And I don’t mean that in a “it’s decompressed storytelling” way because each issue really has quite a bit going on in terms of establishing this world and filling in the character’s backstories and giving insight into motivations.
    But yeah, we’re stuck in the same damn village for what will be seven issues now.
    But I want to support the book because it is different and has so much potential.

  3. For those looking for something like Demon Knights, I highly recommend Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s Demon run.

    I don’t think that one was ever collected.

  4. Alfred Bester created Vandal Savage! Wow, I did not know that.

  5. After seeing the rest of the internet fawn all over that piece of dreck, reading your Punisher Max review was almost cathartic. Thanks

  6. PunisherMax had a TERRIBLE ending, but at the same time, I felt it was a great ending for the character? Is that weird? Well good, because we live in a weird time, my friends. Make a hardcover collecting the whole run and I’ll give you money, Marvel.

    I am the opposite of you in that I have dropped everything from DC except one book, Batman, and I can totally drop that book and just no longer care. Frankly, I think a lot of it is just garbage, and the stuff that’s enjoyable, seems like fluff. Animal Man is good, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve already got everything I wanted out of this character and his world with Morrison’s run. OMAC is cancelled, and Jeff Lemire is leaving Frankenstein. Static Shock broke my damn heart. There was a few other books I checked out mainly for the art like Batwoman and Wonder Woman, but I’ve gotten out of that habit. Call it the Cult of the Writer, but I’m not enjoying the words on the page, the pretty pictures its printed are just that less meaningful. It’s kinda like being a sequential art gallery for $3-4 bucks a pop. That’s the kind of hobby I can do without.

  7. *like buying

    It’s late where I live and I will now return to my home planet before embarrassing myself further. Pray I’m not killed on the way back!

  8. JohnK you’re quite good.

    That crack about needing a strong leader (with emphasis) justified the piece in and of itself but then you went on and did about 6 snorts, 3 guffaws, and at least 1 comedy tear wipe worth of other nice things.

    Very nice overall and will probably add the first RASL collection based on this. I like the bit about familiarity and have a theory that original Image begat current Marvel in some strange Ouroboros / human centipede fashion and your thinking (whether you agree to participate or not!) jells nicely with that.

    Also, Jeff Smith lives in town and he might come round looking for me if I don’t get a copy.

    “Not the fingers, Jeff! The schedule was just so erratic!”

    RIGHT THINKING (with emphasis) and best to you, sir!

  9. Elektra? The hand? In PunisherMax? So Aaron really transformed the book into another MU-Elsewhere or Ultimate or whatever? What a novel idea. Good to know and to avoid the trade.

    Amy Reeder´s art on Madame Xanadu was beautiful and I still dropped the book because it was such a huge disappointment, the most boring story I ever read from Matt Wagner. But I am really interested in this case how this will contrast with Williams´ art, which is the whole buying point of this.

    Just curious, are there really still people out there following the Cult of the Writer? After buying one crap comic too many from writers I used to follow blindly I took the wait and see approach to well, everything, and you save so much money.

    Hex is finally leaving Gotham? Now that is good news.

    Good idea to comment pull list stuff, John! This is really helpful in deciding which trade comes into the maybe category. I no longer buy monthlies except Hellblazer, which I am committed to accompany to its whimpering death (as I bought it from No.1) which can´t be long now. But thanks to a lot a reviews like yours I bought my first Daredevil comic in years and it was a lot of fun. Who would have thought.

  10. Knowing that OMAC #6 was going to feature fill-in art, and agreeing with John that the art is a huge part of the book’s appeal, I nevertheless enjoyed OMAC #6 more than I had expected (though, yes, the fill-in art was crummy).

    I think the juxtaposition of commentary on office/cubicle life with the superheroics of evil mad scientists in the basement, all handled with a light touch, and with the main character equally involved in and concerned about both, is a potentially winning formula that someone should mine further once OMAC is gone. Hey, at least I’ll buy it.

  11. Here’s how the world doesn’t make sense (pt. 243,731):
    I buy a $3-4 comic, read it in about 13 minutes, put it away without much thought. Kinda going through the motions. Then, in this post, I read about some of said comics for free, and laugh with enjoyment repeatedly, and think “Why am I buying that again?” Seems like a fair world would see JohnK getting all the money from the mediocre comics he reviews.
    Of course, nothing about the buying, selling, and reading of comics makes much sense anymore, it seems…

  12. It sure doesn’t make sense, @Brian. I’m very un-excited about the new books I’m getting, and wondering why I bother.

    I hate to beat a dead horse, and I hate to sound like a grumpy old man pining for The Good Old Days, but on a formal level (leaving aside specific content for now) I really think my lack of excitement for these monthly comics has an enormous amount to do with decompression, and with the elimination of a lot of “non-cinematic” devices, such as narrative captions and internal monologue, which comics creators used to use and don’t anymore. Those devices could be mis-used, to be sure, but in a good writer’s hands they enabled a lot of meaningful content to be packed into 22 pages.

    I’ve read 6 issues of Frankenstein now (just to pick one). I could go read any random 6 issues of Claremont’s X-Men (just to pick an example from a heyday of ‘when comics got me excited every month’). If I compare the two I see that (1) a LOT more happened in those 6 issues of X-Men, and (2) I got to know the characters a LOT better. In short, after 6 issues, I would be MUCH more involved in X-Men than I am in Frankenstein – mostly because there’s just MORE THERE.

    And the sad thing is, Frankenstein isn’t bad! The content is reasonably decent. I should be excited about it and I want to be. But it’s been 6 issues… 6 months!… and there just isn’t enough content there to be excited about.

    I’d be really interested if folks feel this analysis touches on something with them, or if you guys really think these factors have nothing to do with it.

  13. Whoa! Um, working backwards then:

    @Chris Brown: I’m totally sympathetic to your points. But I am old and thus not to be trusted or something. (Of course the dark, venal secret of all us fogies who have stuck around comics is that we don’t want comics to be like they were when we were young and had futures, no, we want them to be *better*. Shhhh!) A lot of them are better, too. Have you read DAREDEVIL? That takes advantage of all the storytelling tools available in comics to tell the story in the best way possible. That’s what I call comic writing.

    @Everyone: Do feel free to discuss Chris’ excellent points amongst yourselves, but – play nice now! No wishing people would die in a fire!

    @Brian Wiggett: As a wise man once said, “This whole world is wild at heart and weird on top.” I’m sure that goes double for the world o’comics. Thanks for the very nice words but just being able to dialogue with other people about comics is payment enough. Really!

    @Chris Brown: Now you have made your case I admit you are right. O.M.A.C. #6 was better than I made out. You have good ideas for comics, alrighty-roo!

    @AndyD: Yeah, The Hand and Elektra were really not a good fit for PUNMAX. It’s still a fact that no one has ever written a good Elektra story except FrankenMiller. Um, I actually like HELLBLAZER. But, hey, I’ve been on it since #1 too! C’mon, even if you don’t like Milligan there’s no way this is as bad as the Jenkins era (which was only redeemed by Sean Phillips’ art) Yes, The Cult of The Writer remains see: Marvel Architects. According to Messrs Lester and McMillan’s podcast there’s going to be an MTV show about them. Christ.(in italics).

    @J_Smitty: Thanks for the kindness. But I hear Jeff Smith goes for the eyes first. Wow, imagine living near a comics professional! One you like as well! Tell him I said “Hi!” I hope you give him free doughnuts. Unless he takes the piss and fills his pockets. There are limits to hospitality.

    @Jeremy: As for PUNMAX’s ending I liked the downbeat ending they swerved away from at the last second myself. About it all being meaningless and changing nothing. I would have liked that ending. But I am quite a morose creature. Hope you made it back okay!

    @Other Chris: No problem, glad to be of service!

    @R.S. David: Well, that’s what The Internet says. He invented Solomon Grundy as well! Apparently.

    @Tim: Last I saw those issues were pricey. Say, you’re not in the back issue biz are you? I think I have some of those lost in The Archive. Cheers for the reminder!

    @Brian: You stick with it, sir! I hope it rewards your patience. It could do that!

    @John: You are a bad, bad man. (Yes, I would totally watch that).

    Thanks everyone!

  14. @Chris Brown

    http://toobusythinkingboutcomics.blogspot.com/2012/03/on-justice-league-6-amazing-spider-man.html

    Colin Smith frequently discusses the topics that vex you (and me) I’m sure he’d be pleased if you joined in there.

  15. @JohnK: I do read Daredevil and you’re right, it is the exception. Fine stuff!

    @J_Smitty: That’s an awesome link, thanks!

  16. Chris Brown,

    I felt the same about Frankenstein. Looooovvvve the concept and Lemire’s a good writer.
    But I felt the first arc was too long (four issues) and then the O.M.A.C. tie in, while entertaining, took up an issue that could have been spent on better things.
    Six was a step in the right direction but then it was announced Lemire’s gone and I was looking for excuses to save some money.
    While we’re talking about getting your money’s worth…
    I’m a big Avengers fan and have enjoyed some – not all – of Bendis’ output.
    But then this month I picked up the first two issues of Remender’s run on Secret Avengers.
    I haven’t done it yet, but I thought about counting the word balloons and comparing it to Bendis’ titles.
    I swear that Remender has packed a bunch of new concepts and characterization into his issues, while Bendis’ suffer from the continued decompression.
    And it does make me resentful.
    I already have a pretty slim monthly pull (around four to five books is the limit I’ve set) so I’m okay with spending a few bucks on comics. But just the idea that one writer fills up his pages while the other doesn’t and I’m paying the same amount for their work sours me on the current industry.
    I think some folks view decompression as the cure for all the melodrama and verbiage of older comics.
    But folks like Remender, Morrison, Waid, James Robinson, Cornell and others prove that’s not the case. All you need is a smart and creative writer. You can still pack a title with words.
    Yes, Bendis is talented. But why he’s been cut so much slack over the years for drawn out stories and panel-upon-panel of jabber really doesn’t make sense to me.

  17. I agree with you, brian, but I think Dan Slott should not only be on your list, but at the very top of it.

  18. “even if you don’t like Milligan there’s no way this is as bad as the Jenkins era”

    Heh, this is an interesting question. In all its existence Hellblazer was something like a rollercoaster, from the heights of good to excellent writer runs it went deep, deep down but caught the upswing again. But not in the last years. Yes, Jenkins was truly bad, but so was Azzarello, Mina and (surprisingly) Diggle. But what do I know? Maybe Milligan´s Constantine is exactly the right swan song for the book, the hero a used up has been who can´t keep it up any longer and is disconnected from the time he lives in. Maybe his pod-people persona Captain Constantine Sorcerer Supreme is exactly the right symbol for current comics writing.

    But, hey, we´ll always have Dangerous Habits :-)

  19. Azzarello’s Hellblazer wasn’t (all) bad. Most of that run was terrific comics, though the last year or two went off the rails badly.

    You also skipped over Carey’s fairly lengthy run, which was mostly good enough to qualify as an ‘upswing’ I’d say.
    I decided to take a break after Carey finished and it’s a shame that word of mouth has kept me from going back. It’s very suprising that people seem to be so lukewarm to milligan’s run so far, but his career has always had that rollercoaster quality as well.

  20. Speaking of decompression, the last issue of Avengers: Children’s Crusade shipped yesterday. In the beginning, I was genuinely impressed with the writing, which seemed very old school Marvel to me: real tension, high stakes, lots of expository dialogue.

    At some point, though, the book became bloated with a cast of dozens of characters (in addition to the Young Avengers, already 7 or 8 characters) who stood around arguing for issues on end. They stopped to fight every once in a while, but in the end nothing happened that couldn’t have been fit into 3 or 4 issues.

    It’s like all the talking and all the characters were there to distract from the fact that the plot was going nowhere. So I guess my point is: more word balloons and more pictures doesn’t necessarily mean more real content. If the characters simply rehash obvious arguments with no real resolution, the reading experience can be just as empty.

  21. @Chris Brown / @John K: INDEED! I’m done with ANIMAL MAN and SWAMP THING which are both taking way too long to get anywhere interesting. Compare / contrast to to the first six issues of the Morrison and Moore runs to which they’re so indebted… which I did. Just plain more story per issue, with clever done-in-ones and issues that contribute to the evolving story while having their own contained beginning-middle-end. (Waid’s DD is infinitely more satisfying and entertaining precisely because it uses this kind of old-school storytelling — generally determined to make each issue entertaining ON ITS OWN as opposed to “here’s the next chapter of yer graphic novel, hope you remember what happened last month.”) If DC doesn’t want us to wait for the trades that may or may not be coming, they better pick up the goddamn pace.

    And, YE GODS! WUH-HOOF, indeed. I didn’t realize how much I was buying BATWOMAN just for the art. Which I don’t do. (Confirmed Cult of the Writer cultist here.) What a painful, teeth-jarring gearshift (and I liked her on MADAME XANADU… is this a rush job, bad inking, or am I misremembering how good XANADU looked?)…

    Half the reason the book has worked so far is because of the shades of emotion and layered meaning JHW3 adds with his art — like a great director embellishing a weak script (see Cronenberg’s HISTORY OF VIOLENCE). Is JHW3 returning to interiors (hope, hope), or is this a permanent shift? (‘Cuz I see Reeder is back for next ish as well.)

  22. Avengers: Children’s Crusade was such a debacle. I’ve rarely seen a worse example of writing to an editorially-dictated mandate. “Okay, we need to bring back the Scarlet Witch… but we need to de-evil her like they did with Jean Grey… AND we need to bring her back in a way that let’s us not bring back all the mutants, ’cause we still want that millstone around our necks… and we need to tie up all the loose ends from the first Young Avengers series, like are those really Wanda’s magical twin babies, and what to do with Baby Kang and Teen Vision. So with all that, you should have three pages left to do whatever you want. Annnnnnnd… go!”

  23. Good point, Thom H.

  24. I don’t really read Hellblazer, but I liked that Paul Jenkins issue about all the people who died in crashes, shipwrecks, etc. I don’t really remember it at all, what the story was, but it does pass through my mind sometimes when I hit a rough patch of turbulence. I think Sean Phillips drew it? I haven’t seen it in ages. I think it was Paul Jenkins and I think it was Hellblazer. I think.

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