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The Audition

Brian Hibbs

I know that I told you that I’d be the first one to punk out 0n the every-week reviews — and guess what? I was right!

(But I was writing Tilting, and a very special DC-Relaunch ONOMATOPOEIA that you can actually download as a full color PDF until June 28, so I don’t know, maybe that counts?)

Anyway, Jeff and I were talking about how much we like John K (UK)’s comments every week in “Shipping this week” threads, and we thought “Well, let’s give him a shot”.

(Important note to everyone who constantly asks to become a Critic — this is actually how you do it. You write nd you write without any expectation of anything other than amusing yourself and others, and then we invite you without you asking whatsoever. There will be no more discussion of this.)

So, accordingly, here’s John K (UK)’s first shot, below the cut. Make comments in the comments section, with your thoughts, though the final decision is absolutely mine and Jeff’s.

(I really should have some reviews of my own up tomorrow, I am pretty sure)

Without further ado: John K (UK):

FEAR ITSELF: THE HOME FRONT #1: Wow, do you like your Dumb wrapped in Ugly? Then have Marvel got a Speedball story for you!  How about a page which is just J Jonah Jameson saying: “I hate superheroes, me, I do, it’s true.” It’s one of the nicer Chaykin pages the self-proclaimed Jew From The Future has recently secreted but it’s still definitely one he just did to be able to afford his RDA of Mai Tai mix. Peter Milligan does a bit I’ve already forgotten but I’ve never forgotten that his and Duncan Fegredo’s ENIGMA is fantastic. And the folk of Broxton are horrible. What a bunch of self obsessed platitude panting dingleberrys. Are we supposed to empathise with them? Is this how the Marvel Landscape Gardeners view us commoners not blessed by The Muse? I’m being unfair; I know that the stress and financial hardship of the current recession that I and my family were experiencing was alleviated no end by the fact that Marvel were excreting an oily link of overpriced comics about Nazi robots and magic hammers. CRAP!

iZOMBIE #13: I swear stuff happens in this comic but I can’t remember what all from issue to issue. It’s just horribly frothy and weightless, an astronaut’s milkshake affair. Everybody’s a zombie, or a vampire, or a mummy, or an old man in a chimp’s body and they’re all just dating and, like, RPG-ing and totally worrying about lattes and how to recharge their iPod in a crypt. It’s like Scooby Doo for people who are legally allowed to have sex but are emotionally incapable of doing so. Look the fault is mine, I’m 41 years old I should have got out as soon as I saw “paintballing vampires”. Golly, it’s so cutsey and coy I can’t really process it. Every month it turns up and smiles at me and demands to be loved but…I can’t. I’m just not built that way. I graze on Hate. I think I’m buying it because I like it and I think I like it because of Mike Allred but I think, actually, I just liked X-FORCE/X-STATIX. And this ain’t that. So few things are, bubba.

JONAH HEX#66: I don’t know much about Fiona Staples but I know that she knows enough to know that you don’t draw snow. (The Master of not drawing snow is of course Mr. Joe Kubert.) There’s a super (almost) wordless sequence where you know what its leading up to but you kind of hope that it isn’t (it’s called “ suspense”) and its delivered nicely by all parties. Words and pictures successfully working together towards the common purpose of entertaining actually happens a lot less than you might think but it happens in JONAH HEX quite a lot.

JONAH HEX #67: This is a typically taut and tasty tale in which Jonah Hex must save the life of the very man who framed him! Which sounds teeth grindingly predictable but I assure you it is not. It’s a decent done-in-one but really it could just be Jonah sat on his porch digging cow muck out of his spurs with a sharpened matchstick because Jordi Bernet is in the saddle this issue. Like Brynner’s boys dealt in lead Jordi Bernet deals in awesome. Bernet! Spread the word!

(Y’know, I’m not convinced that having Jonah Hex fight Hush in a stovepipe hat is going to bring in a whole new audience. But then again I am baffled by the fact that there is no real audience for a comic as consistently well written and excellently drawn as JONAH HEX is.)

JSA #50: Despite being a mobile fossil I don’t know much about the JSA as before 1986 the only way we got comics in Blighty was when they washed up on the beach after a U-Boat had scuppered some luckless cargo ship. Were the silence broken by so much as a fruity trump kids would be hurtling to the nearest beach hoping to find a sandy four colour treasure. Distribution was patchy is what I’m saying. Luckily the JSA are introduced in Part One, illustrated by George “Ladies wrestling? Yes, please.” Perez. Unluckily it totally fails as an introduction to the JSA. Predictably the big guns elbow all the others out of the way and then stamp on their feet with their heels until they have to move to the back of the room near the stinky damp patch of carpet.

Look, can I just personally ask DC to, for the Love of all that is Holy, to stop telling me about Hal Jordan and Barry Allen! Stop it! You’re making me crazy here! I mean look at Mr. Terrific , he gets about three panels (Usually when faced with a scene where a young man on a bridge is approached by some creepy looking guy in green underoos talking about “voids” and the need for their “filling“ you’d get some kind of hilarious rudery. But I’m better than that. And I need you to know I am better than that.) which leave you none the wiser really. Luckily I know all about Mr. Terrific (He’s the world’s third warmest man, his wife is deaf and he is invisible to heavy machinery) but you won’t learn any of that in here. Golly, it’s a good job no one is expecting him to support his own series or anything. This chapter was a mess but George Perez drew it so it was a pretty dynamic mess.

Part Two involved time travel and how to fill a lot of pages with very little. Beards still equal evil in parallel universes in case you were wondering.

Part Three and please put your hands together for – HUAC! Because the JSA without HUAC is like a Day without Doris! Howard Victor Chaykin does the pictures here. DIAGNOSIS: MURDER must have finished because it actually appears HVC was almost engaged with this. He gives everyone a different face, some of them don’t even look like they are composed of uncooked dough, and he does a nice job of layering his drawings over his now obligatory clip art compulsion. Delightfully he also effectively communicates the inherent visual comedy of having a bunch of Cosplaying adults in a stuffy legal setting. It’s okay this bit but there’s a slight possibility I might be biased.

Part Four is how I guess most issues of JSA are on a regular basis which explains why I don’t buy JSA on a regular basis. Give me a mystery – I’ll solve it! No charge.

JSA #50 was very much like turning up to a party no one actually wanted you to turn up to. I don’t think that was the idea. AWFUL!

MIGHTY THOR #1: Oh God, this priest. This priest is the worst priest ever. He appears to have been written by someone who has heard of priests but only actually experienced them via the distorting medium of popular culture. I’m no priest defender and I’m certainly not Ricky Religious but I’m pretty sure the accepted role of the priest isn’t one of scaring the living piss out of the congregation. Having a priest act like that at a time of crisis is like having a fireman show up during the Watts Riots only for him to proceed to hose down burning buildings with gasoline while screaming racial epithets. Faith, pal. Google it sometime. Oh yeah, Galactus drools when he sleeps. Heck, he probably scratches his cosmic nuts when he forgets other people are around as well but I don’t need to see that either do I? EH!

27 Responses to “ The Audition ”

  1. @Hibbs:

    When I heard you describe your Onomatopoeia DCU special in Jeff & Graeme’s podcast, I was thinking (a) why didn’t DC do that in the first place; and (b) it would be great if Hibbs shared that online for the greater good of the other comix retailers. Fantastic that you shared it, and thanks! (And genius that you put in the option for “This Issue” / “This Series”.)

    @John K (UK): Fun reviews & looking forward to more of your overcaffeinated quips. (Though one quibble: I’d love it if you applied the ratings a little more consistently… IYHO, is HEX Good, Very Good, or Excellent?)

  2. Thanks John K (UK). Great reviews (in particular the iZombie review). Jonah Hex 66 is comic book greatness.

  3. Good on you, John!

  4. Great work, John! Hilarious read and I think you may have sold me on iZombie!

  5. I don’t want to influence anyone but I’d like to say I’m only doing this for my Dad who’s had a really heavy cold for a few weeks now and I just want to make him proud before his sinuses clear up and he’s tickety-boo again.

    @Steve D: Ah, fell at the first hurdle. Print these off, cut them out and paste them onto your screen:

    JONAH HEX #66 was VERY GOOD!
    JONAH HEX #67 was BERNET and thus EXCELLENT!
    iZOMBIE #12 was EH!

    Ta da! No one need ever know! Sssssssh!

    @George and @Justin thank you both very kindly. I hope your responses were justified.

    @The Internet: Do please feel free to be critical as I’m British we thrive on that stuff.

    Thanks to Mr. Brian Hibbs and Mr. Jeff Lester. I think. I am having exciting new emotions that’s for sure! Thanks again.

  6. Is it me, or is the link to the Onomatopoeia DCU special broken?

  7. I just tested it on another browser/computer, and looks like it works fine to me?

    -B

  8. Thanks Brian. I just tried it from a different computer and it worked like a charm. I’ve always wanted to read an Onomatopoeia, so it looks like this is my chance.

  9. It isn’t a “proper” CEO though — Graeme didn’t write anything there, and I just edited the DCU solicitation copy.

    Really just presenting it as a tool others could use to tell their Local store what they wanted…

    -B

  10. John K is great! Give the man a regular gig!

  11. great job John–
    your reviews have just the right mix of obscurity and acerbity to make you fit right in around here.

    Plus, you had me at “Blighty”.

  12. The Mighty Thor review is *genius*!

    I want more John K(UK)!

  13. JohnK(UK), congrats on being welcomed into the fold. I enjoyed your reviews here at least as much as your breakdowns on the “Shipping This Week” posts, which often inspired me to chime in on what I was buying. Your line about Hal and Barry particularly made me crack up. And as far as I’m concerned, you passed the audition (and hopefully in a Beatles “Get Back” way and not a Takashi Miike “Audition” way.
    And I fully anticipate, once you get your feet under you and your sail in the winds, some form of “Jog style” critical dissertation of American Flagg!

    Brian, your DC relaunch special edition is really just perfect, and I think DC should be giving you a kickback just for putting it out there. But the way you’ve designed it, with all your store info on the front page only, would make it a handy tool for any store (who could replace the frontispiece with their own), and DC should give you a REALLY healthy kickback and make it part of their official marketing package for retailers. Bravo!

  14. I have to ask; why do you always write Chaykin’s full name?

  15. @Brad – The man deserves nothing less!

    @JohnK(UK) – Surely the call-up comes as no surprise to those who read. Congrats and as is your usual mode – have fun with it!

  16. “It’s like Scooby Doo for people who are legally allowed to have sex but are emotionally incapable of doing so.” Phenomenal line. And good job all around.

    Your name always make me imagine an emperor of Austria remembering a few seconds too late to avoid insult that he’s also the king of Hungary.

  17. And good on you mate. John K(UK), he likes comics, DO YOU?!

  18. @Steve D – Printed mine off this morning. Also probably a good tool for Hibbs to gauge some interest and also get some good predictive numbers for reader drop-off from issue one on. You would think if people signed up for “The Series” they’d be more inclined to be a) long haul for that book and b) more likely to be hand sold other books in the line. Good demographic information to get when all the NEW threatens to completely upset past patterns.

  19. Delightful snark, John K(UK). Hope you get the gig.

    Those “like this” tabs freak me out, a little.

  20. James Woodward:

    It’s almost like I did it on purpose that way, huh? :)

    I am fine if other stores use it that way (or if readers here use it that way to make it easier for their local store!), but I’d just ask they 1) keep it to in-store only, 2) credit Comix Experience in some fashion, and 3) send me (literally) a few bucks as a donation to offset the labor it took me to lay it out.

    -B

  21. I think Ricky Religious should team up with The Fixer (from Frank Miller’s Holy Terror coming out in September)! I already can’t wait for the round table Savage Critics discussion of Holy Terror!

  22. Good stuff John!
    I hope this doesn’t mean an end to the one liners in the weekly new books posts!

    I’m still not sure if I should be reading iZombie or not after that write up.
    I sense you’re warning us of it, but the idea of Allred drawn paintballing vampires is a lot to resist.

  23. @Ben Lipman: that’s the thing with iZombie lately, and something John and I have been bandying back and forth. I find LOTS that’s hard to resist, but as I hit page 20 each month, I’m not really sure if I enjoyed it, or if it was worth my $2.99. A panel at a time, an idea at a time it’s awesome. But as a book….I’m not sure it’s working for me as it did.

  24. @Chris Hero: You’re bonkers, but cheers!

    @James Woodward: There is only one Jog. Kneel before Jog!

    @Brad Curran: Out of respect. Then I can dance all over his current work with hob-nail boots and sleep soundly.

    @J_Smitty: I obviously don’t read because I’m practically made out of surprise at this point.

    @Mikoyan: Nice one. I should probably say that the (UK) isn’t because I am some kind of frothing Nationalist though; please be assured everyone!

    @AL Baroza: I’ll try and tone down the snark. Now I’m on The Internet I intend to be like Ray Winstone in THE PROPOSITION: “I will civilise this land.” Oh wait, that turned out really badly for him. I bet they didn’t use that table again.

    @Ralph Mathieu: Sadly I signed the back of a cheque in order to be able to feed my family and thirty years later it turns out I don’t own Ricky Religious anymore. Did you see HOLY TERROR is actually coming out?!?! Got your back, Frankenmiller! The Internet will commence to plotz!

    @Corey(Ottawa): Yeah, see, I want to draw attention to books like iZOMBIE that don’t get talked about but probably should. I don’t hate it or anything; just nonplussed. I hoped to point out that the fault might be solely mine while also give enough of a flavour of the thing so that people might be tempted to try it. I’m all about variety in genre fiction and just because I don’t want “paintballing vampires” somebody else might. Probably someone who gets asked to leave The Waffle Window!

    @Everyone else I missed: I thank you all for your kind responses and i want you to know that I have no idea what I am doing. Which is a great comfort to all of us, I’m sure. Particularly Mr. Brian Hibbs.

    Remember, kids – COMICS!!!

  25. Been away from a computer but– this is a great idea. And yeah– that actually is a more intriguing review for iZombie than everything else I’ve heard about that book…

  26. I do like this breathless and energetic style of reviewing, which is especially suited to single issues, but there are moments where I’d like to know a tiny bit more about the actual comics under consideration. Like that issue of Mighty Thor with the terrible priest — what else is going on? One sentence of context is all I need, then we can get on with making fun of said terrible priest.

    And pictures! I like to see pictures. Show me the priest and the stovepipe hat and something Howard Chaykin drew. My attention span is rubbish and sometimes I just need to comprehend visual images with my orbs of sight.

    PS: Enigma and X-Force/X-Statix are pretty amazing, I agree.

  27. See, every time you write “Howard Victor Chaykin”, it reads to me like you’re his mom scolding him. Which isn’t that far off, apparently.

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