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In Which Hibbs Actually Recommends Something

Brian Hibbs

As many of you know, I’ve really become quite a cynical bitch about comics lately.

There’s just a resounding sameness to so many of them, and too many writers are “writing for the trade” (rather than trying to make each single issue a compelling read in an of itself). In far too many weeks, I think the alright stuff is really just all right in comparison to other, lousier, comics.

Well, I read a comic that I genuinely liked in and of itself this week, and I want you to read it as well, That comic is XOMBI #1.

XOMBI gave me a thrill, because it’s full of crazy ideas just tossed out there, like a good Grant Morrison comic — seriously, it features a team of Catholic superheroes, one of whom is named “Nun The Less”, whose superpower is shrinking — and, in this incarnation, it has some REALLY GOOD art, by way of Frazer Irving.

XOMBI was a Milestone book — part of the third wave, if I recall correctly, released after the market had decided, actually no it didn’t want the Milestone books, though, looking at comics.org, I’m a little shocked that it lasted 22 issues back in the mid-90s.

It was an idea machine back then, too, but it kinda suffered from art in v1 by JJ Birch — well, Joe Brozowski under a pen-name, and he’s one of those artists who actually has a lot of wonderful fundamentals, but whose actual rendering style isn’t too exciting, really. Everyone looked a bit stiff and angular.

This isn’t a problem now with Frazer Irving doing the art — man, this stuff just sings.

This series clearly follows from the first, but I understood every word that I read (and it’s been like 14 years between issues, so I’m telling you this as a plus), and it felt very much like a proper first issue.

If I had ONE criticism of the book, it would be that it’s a full 22 pages for the $2.99, instead of the now-usual 20-pages-for-a-DC-book, which means that issue #1 doesn’t have a letter’s page, and, thus, doesn’t have any kind of “introduction and here’s what we’re thinking!” kind of text pieces that all of the best first issues have.

Here’s how much I liked it — so far today, I have not LET a single customer out the door without a copy of the book in their hands. I don’t think I’ve done THAT since the SANDMAN days, actually. The downside of THAT is that, as I write this, I have exactly one copy left for sale, and I’ll be sold out in the next 10-15 minutes. (reorders, sadly, take 2 weeks to turn around in the current system, unless you’re willing to pay usurious shipping rates)

Which leads me to the next “here’s how much I liked it” — I’ve just placed a reorder equivalent to nearly 200% my initial order…. and I’m not sure I’ve ever quite gambled that big (well, proportionately) in a long-ass time.

So, yeah, when you go into your LCS, tell them you really would like a copy of XOMBI #1 — it’s a pretty exciting comic — and if they’re out (which they might be, I bet most stores ordered just barely above pre-orders), tell them it’s Diamond order code is JAN11 0259, and that you want them to reorder it for you.

I thought XOMBI #1 was absolutely EXCELLENT.


32 Responses to “ In Which Hibbs Actually Recommends Something ”

  1. Could I trouble you to pull a copy for me, por favor?

  2. Brian,

    I can’t thank you enough. Truly, I am grateful.

  3. I loved the new issue of Xombi but I wonder if Irving actually managed to suck it up and finish Gutsville before taking this on.

  4. Thanks for the great review! I’m often of a similar mindset re: many of today’s books, so this definitely sounds like something I’ll have to check out.

  5. This wasn’t even on my radar. I’ll pick it up on Friday.

  6. Milestone?

  7. “Nun The Less”? Oh yes, ordered.

  8. The original Xombi series is one of my favorite books of all time. It deserves a big hardcover collection. I really, really hope the new series does well and lasts forever. I know I’ve been pushing it on all my friends.

  9. That’s the way to do it, Brian! Something good will always trump those cynical moments.

  10. Oh, yes, please hype Xombi up: the first issue is great, and I’m tired of books I like getting cancelled! I do kinda hope Birch (or Brozowski) will come back for an issue or two down the line, though.

  11. Read it today – what a great comic!

  12. I did put Xombi #1 on my saver order sheet because I have a mad love for the Milestone titles.

  13. No, John, thank YOU for writing a great comic I can happily sell!

    Here’s hoping it at least quintuples the original run!


  14. I wasn’t as wowed by it as Brian, but am glad I picked it up on this recommendation, and will definitely be picking up future issues.

  15. I loved it. Never read the original. This book is weird and wonderful and a gosh darned idea machine. The lead character is almost conventional in his strange nano-machine-infused existence, with those horror-inspired and Catholic-inspired concepts really just flying out of the park.

    The Morrison compare is somewhat appropriate, but this is ideas that are a lot more focused/on-task than Saint Grant (whom I love love love, don’t get me wrong).

    So glad someone with an audience wrote and supported this one.

  16. Bought it on your strong recommendation. Liked it a lot, for all the reasons you said we would. Good call, thanks very much.

  17. I remember wishing Vertigo had picked up Xombi back then (14 years? yikes). I still think they missed that one… but who knows what their commercial decision-making is based on.

    Anyway, great book, glad to have it back.

  18. Snagged the LAST copy from Packrat Comics in Columbus yesterday and read it with zero knowledge of the prior series based on the recommendation.

    I really liked how Rozum played with the characters comfortably and resisted the urge to lay a big FRESH DEBUT card. It, for me, ran more to how I used to find a series. Accessible, in the middle of cool goings on, ready to take people for a ride within the issue while setting up for the “tune in next time” hook.

    Also, liked how Xombi was set up as practically untouchable and then he became profoundly “at risk.” Great hook.

    Ok, so that’s three plus hooks from me – yeah, also the ART!

    Auspicious debut that would have COMPLETELY been overlooked by me. Let’s see where it goes.

  19. just saw a 7 page review – premise seems to be weird for weird sakes (hopefully im wrong) but I think Irving sold me.

    damn Hibbs, can you do those more often?

    I cant be arsed to wade through that audio show of those other guys. Do they even review anything anymore?

  20. mckracken (etc.): Sure, they DO review comics — AS PART OF THE PODCAST. The show was an outgrowth of what Jeff & Graeme were doing in their free-ranging, pop-culture riffing reviews here. I don’t listen to them regularly, but clearly they enjoy doing them and are getting some kind of audience, both here and in the iStore.

    And Hibbs, thanks for the review. I only saw a few issues of XOMBI back in the day — to be honest, I found the story & writing intriguing, but the awkward art was such a turn-off, I just couldn’t get past it. (But then, I had the same initial reaction to the Morrison-era DOOM PATROL, so what do I know.)

    However, Rozum later totally blew me away with his wonderfully done occult detective series MIDNIGHT, MASS. (two miniseries from Vertigo, both with gorgeous art). Hopefully the new project does well enough it inspires somebody at DC to package them in a trade or one of those “Vertigo Resurrected” deals. Definitely worth a look, it was one of the most underrated gems of the whole imprint.

  21. Was planning on picking up a copy on the strength of Frazer Irving alone; good to know it’s a book worth reading as well.

  22. Yeah I agree, the art in DOOM PATROL sucked for the most part.

    They should do a special edition or something, at least do modern coloring like its gonna happen with FLEX MENTALLO.

  23. Amen. What a fantastic book!

  24. @Steve D:

    I totally agree on Midnight, Mass. I don’t remember when it came out, and it never even registered with me in the solicits. Years later found the whole run in the 50 cent bin, and plunked down a few bucks for it. Loved it. Really, really well done. Cold comfort for the creators, I realize, but yeah, I screwed up in not reading it in first run. Sorry, my loss.

    And to disagree with the thread here; I liked Case’s art on DOOM PATROL, especially pre issue 50-55 or so. I liked it well enough to have bought a number of pieces of it (including the Pentagon page from the Flex Mentallo storyline, a Scissor-Man page from the early 20s, and some of the mixed media pages). The art works for DP, and made a clear break from mid 90s “DC house” style art.

  25. I wish I’d read this post before going to the store yesterday, since I didn’t buy Xombi (I had no idea Irving was drawing it or I might have just for that).

    But likely they’ll have issues left next time and I might need something to replace the canceled Doom Patrol, so this sounds like it :)

    I too like Case’s art on Doom Patrol a lot, I’ve reread the trades multiple times and think there are parts, especially the really crazy typically Morrison parts, that look fantastic because they’re so different from the usual superhero fare from the time.

    Flex Mentallo is getting collected? Finally! When’s that supposed to happen?

    I’ll be looking for that Midnight, Mass too now :) Yay internet!

  26. Oh– I used to really like Xombi back in the Milestone days (Xombi and Shadow Cabinet were my favorite Milestone books), but this wasn’t really on my radar, somehow. Thanks, Brian.

    (Also: Richard Case was underrated– his stuff may not be pretty but he was the right guy for that book at that time– and even today, you’d be hard-pressed to pick a DC artist for that comic who could pull off what that book needed…).

  27. Another vote for Richard Case. Adhay is absolutely right about him being the artist the book needed. And he’s a nice guy.

    As far as current artists are concerned– if you expand “DC artist” to include Vertigo, Sean Murphy could do right by Morrison’s Doom Patrol.

  28. Thanks for the recommendation, Brian, and thank YOU, Mr. Rozum, for writing it! I was on the fence on buying it & your very positive review pushed me to get it & I’m glad I did (I don’t know how many my LCS ordered, but I grabbed up the last issue they had!). Very engaging as a 1st issue, weird, loopy fun (& yes by the end of the issue there was a sense of weirdness for weirdness’ sake, but not in a way that would keep me from buying future issues). The art was a big plus; I think what turned me off on buying any of the original Milestone issues at the time was some of the art (even Denys Cowan, an artist I like, was inked rather unsympathetically) & particularly ugly color work across the line. Hopefully DC will repackage the Milestone material into trades or $7.99 Presents issues with redone coloring.
    I have to admit I’m a little annoyed that just about any comment thread deems fit to pick on Jeff & Graeme’s podcast, or other posts or the lack thereof. Um, this is a free site. Nobody’s paying to see the content here, and nobody’s getting paid to provide it, so: All Content Is Good. If you don’t like it, move on and look at (or listen to!) the stuff you do like. It’s obvious Jeff & Graeme have a lot of fun doing the ‘cast, & they’ve put a lot of work making sure it posts here & on iTunes & addressing technical issues & improving the sound quality, again, all on their own time.
    It’s nice to see an outpouring of faith in Richard Case’s work on Doom Patrol. He’s one of the more maligned artists in (semi)recent times, but I think regardless of your opinion of Grant Morrison, some artists are much better at interpreting his scripts than others, and Case clearly “got it” & made Doom Patrol one of the best.

  29. Re: Milestone coloring…

    Was that a deliberate choice? As I am hunting old issues I’m noticing a muted palette and some pretty heavily “scratched” (is there a colorist in the house to give me some better terminology?!?) effects.

    1) How much control did creators have over this?

    2) Given the much remarked upon added graffiti in some other milestone titles was this a misguided attempt at “urban grit” by someone somehow…above McDuffie?

    Not saying good or bad but given the topic and comments re: Case’s art as well I thought it worth mentioning. It definitely sets the books apart (vs their more recent appearances in Justice League or what have you…)

  30. in any case, im glad about the recoloring of FLEX, the 90ies job really held the pencils back.

  31. Though I didn’t read the 1st series, I was psyched to see this series coming back with Rozum & Irving involved, as I was a big fan of Midnight, Mass.

    The first Midnight, Mass series was Rozum, Jesus Saiz and Jimmy Palmiotti, Tomer Hanuka covers. Fun stuff. IIRC, Vertigo originally was going to do an ongoing but the imprint was in a bit of a dryspell and chopped it down to 8 issues and a followup, much to Rozum’s chagrin, as one can imagine. 2nd mini is Rozum, Paul Lee, Hanuka covers. Probably very cheaply gotten in back issues via the internets or other places.

  32. FINALLY picked up a copy of this (with the the psychedlicious Brendan McCarthy alt cover, yay — so glad that guy’s circled back to the realm of comix). Everything promised, and more. Thnx for the recommendation, Brian.

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