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Short and Sweet: Jeff’s Reviews of the 6/7 Books.

Jeff Lester

Funny. It’s probably the most anemic release week in six or seven months and you’ve got all three of us contributing reviews. Whether there’s a connection between the two events, I can’t really say. Nonetheless, I’ll be pretty brief here, because most of the really good points were hit by Graeme & Bri.

But, first! Hats off to Justin Riegner, whose letter to Robert Kirkman ends up on the next-to-last page of Walking Dead #28. Justin asks Kirkman quite openly why he can’t get his creator-owned books on schedule and how shipping issues two weeks in a row hurts retailers. Justin then goes on to point Kirkman to Hibbs’ articles on Newsarama for a full explanation of what he’s talkign about.

Justin, seriously, you are my hero.

To give Kirkman his due, he did print the letter, but I wish he’d had a little more to of a response than “We’re getting the book back on track. That’s all I can say.” All that really does, frankly, is dodge and ignore the main issues while acting like they’re being addressed.

And, on an unrelated note, if you’re a Lovecraft fan, you should go to this site, and get this movie. It just showed at the latest “Hole In The Head” Indiefest at the Roxie, and I thought it was great. Admittedly, I’m a fan of silent movies anyway, but this adaptation of “The Call of Cthulhu” really nailed 95% of the essence of Lovecraft’s stories, I thought. It’s awesome.

And so:

52 WEEK #5: Pretty much what G & B thought, except I seemed to like it a little bit more than they did–Hibbs thought that scene with the Red Tornado’s voicebox yelling “52! 52!” was cheesy, I thought it was neat. That scene between Buddy Baker and Starfire made everything else worthwhile. On the other hand, as Graeme pointed out, it’s funny as hell watching a batch of writers who’ve never really had to worry about real-time pacing struggle with the concept. They better figure it out fast or it’s only going to get worse. Highly OK.

ANNIHILATION SILVER SURFER #3: Fucking mother of god, that pneumatic lettering directly on the background art is awful. Are we all too good for caption boxes or something? And if that wasn’t the nitpicky enough, I’ve decided the secret to a good cosmic epic is thick ink lines. Seriously, all the classics of the Marvel cosmic epics had a thick-ass ink line to really make you feel like the scenes are powerful enough to command your attention. Here, each scene feels like the cosmic debris you see floating throughouth, untethered, unimportant, weightless. It’s not bad or anything but it seems deeply inconsequential, which is the opposite of the intended effect, I think. Eh.

FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #9: Weiringo art? Lovely as hell. David story? Deeply annoying to my inner fanboy, as I was hoping this would be a Spider-Man book from which I could take refuge from all of JMS’s mystical blah-de-blah and technotastic Spidey-McSuits and we could see, you know, Spider-Man. Being Friendly. In a Neighborhood. Instead, we’ve had mystical wrestlers, imaginary stories chiding the mentally ill, and origins of time-travelling Hobgoblins. Check, please! Eh.

HARD TIME SEASON TWO #7: Again with the ugly lettering dropped directly onto the art–but rather than it being just the where and when like Annhilation, it’s the meat of the story. Fuckin’ great. While I doubt the ballsiness of Gerber’s conceit would have worked, it really needed every single element working at 100% to have it come off and that wasn’t the case. Frankly, I liked the issue but I’m self-aware enough to know that, in large part, it’s because it reminded of some of the really bold shit Gerber used to do (and pull off) back in the ’70s. OK, at best.

LUBAS COMICS & STORIES #8: Beto’s recent Luba-related output (the last, I dunno, five years, more or less?) has always made me a little nervous and uncomfortable, and this issue seems to finally point out why–more or less every character ends up getting what they’ve more or less always wanted, and somehow this simultaneously fulfills and destroys the person, simultaneously. Nothing seems to underline this point more than Doralis who comes out as a radical queer and then wastes away and dies in the space of a few pages while babbling about how happy she is. Rather than make it an illustrative death to warn the readers of the perils of this or that, Beto keeps the details minimal and maximizes the attention to Doralis’s joy. Milo Manara is always quick to play the “I worked with Fellini card,” but Beto’s work (here and in his other Heartbreak Soup stories) strikes me as a true successor to Fellini’s awareness of the simultaneous joy and horror at work in desire and excess, and the feelings of titillation and dread those things provoke in a spectator. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea–I’m still trying to figure out if it’s mine, in fact–but there’s no denying this is Very Good work.

WALKING DEAD #28: Alot of the characters in this book speak the same, ploddingly spelling out their feelings and their worries and their frustrations, so The Governor comes off as shocking just in the brutally direct way he cuts to the core of what he wants. The chopping and the raping and the callousness is just icing on the creepy cake. No matter what else he tackles, Kirkman’s work seems the most assured and provocative on Walking Dead and I hope he never loses that while chasing the tall dollars. Very Good.

WONDER WOMAN #1: I read and agree with everyone’s complaints about this (in fact, I have many more) but, on the other hand, I dug it. It looked great, it read like a more cohesive Jeph Loeb story (hey, here’s all of Wonder Woman’s rogue’s gallery in six pages!) and that last page brought back many happy memories. Hopefully when the next issue comes out–you know, seven months from now–I’ll feel the same. Good.

Y THE LAST MAN #46: This, too, was Good.

PICK OF THE WEEK: LUBAS COMICS & STORIES #8 or WALKING DEAD #28, depending on your tastes.

PICK OF THE WEAK: FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #9. I admit it, I’m unimaginative. I’d like to have at least one title where Spider-Man fights, like, The Prowler and shit. Does that make me a bad person?

TRADE PICK: ACTION PHILOSOPHERS VOL 1 GIANT SIZED THING TPB has the first three issues of Action Philosophers for only $6.95! Really great stuff. There’s some other awesome trade stuff–I haven’t read it, but that Essential Fantastic Four volume is sheer opium for the eyes.

Also, no time to write it up now, but Graeme lent me his advance copy of Curses by Kevin Huizenga and oh, sweet jesus, is it great. I’d missed most of this material when it first appeared and it knocked me on my ass. Between “28th Street,” “Curses” and “Jasper Johnson,” this should really grab people’s attention. [Note to D&Q people: You must get this into the hands of the New Yorker review staff. Seriously.] I hope to write more on it later.

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