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Trying to get back on track: Hibbs’ 7/4 & 7/11

Brian Hibbs

I posted the Batman Earth One review last week, so that covers my “quota”, I guess. I’m going to mix up a little of this week and last for this week’s post from me…

ADVENTURE TIME MARCELINE SCREAM QUEENS #1: I’ve actually not read this, but I brought it home for Ben, as I’ve brought home every issue to date so far. Eight minutes of silence later, he handed it back to me, and said I should bring it back to the store. “What’s wrong with it?” I asked, puzzled.  “Eh, I don’t know,” he said, “I don’t think it had enough action is, and it wasn’t very funny.” So, that’s what a comics-consuming eight year old boy thought. I’ll go with that first word then and say EH.

FUCK ALAN MOORE BEFORE WATCHMEN OZYMANDIAS #1 (OF 6): I kind of don’t even want to discuss the “plot” (which, I shit you not, added a “Women in Refrigerators” moment to WATCHMEN as the grossest of its sins), but, oh my god what a crazily lovely comic book. Jae Lee just killed it here, invoking the sense of design that WATCHMEN had, and totally putting his own spin on it with a moving “round” design on every page. this may well be an execrable, money-grubbing project that is being told soullessly and clumsily by most of the writers, but fuck me if this isn’t the most beautiful comic of the month by far. That’s some Eisner-level art, yo. Too bad it is in service of such a horrible comic book. Two poles of rating for art and writing, landing it smack in the middle with an OK for overall rating.

BLOODSHOT (ONGOING) #1: Wow, that’s a gory comic. Like really crazily keep it the fuck away from kids level of gory. Do people actually like that, actually? There’s an alright set-up, I guess, in here, with “weapon for the government” and “everything you think is a lie” and all that, but there wasn’t a thing in here that got me considering to actually come back and read issue #2, because I don’t really see any signs of it going in anything other than a regular Frankenstein direction. Fairly EH.

BTVS SEASON 9 FREEFALL #11: Oh, I liked this issue. Actually, it might have made a better issue #1 than issue #1 was. I very much need Buffy to stop being such a whiny girl by now — the character has been going backwards for most of the last year, and this plot line seems like it gives her a chance to move forward again. GOOD.

CROW #1: Uh, what? I know I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but IDW really has to get their shit together on the editorial level — this comic’s script is barely first draft where the title character appears on the last page, and the 21 before that is a ton of boring, endless repeating set-up — the antagonist says or implies what they’re going to do multiple times, AND we see it from another angle as well. This entire first issue should have been set-up in no more than eight pages, max, not padded out horribly like this.  I also think this new set-up completely upsets the straight-forward revenge of the original, AND misses the “sorrow is my fortress” vibe of O’Barr’s gothy original. Almost as clear of a miss as I can possibly imagine, and I didn’t even really LIKE the original very much (it remains a product of its time, very much) — sadly AWFUL.

EARTH 2 #3: Honest to god, I wish ALL of the New 52 books were as solid and world-buildy as this one is. THEN we would have had something magic on display. This is really VERY GOOD stuff.

FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #33: This year’s annuals for this, DD and Wolverine are an interconnected story by Alan Davis, with connections to Clandestine. Clandestine has never quite worked for me, and I can’t say why exactly, but I really love-ity love Davis’ clean superhero art, and if I can’t have him drawing silver age DC characters (or a variant thereon), then, yeah, have him draw what is very clearly his baby. I wonder though if he gets some kind of character participation or something for him to keep coming back to this when it keeps not clicking with the general audience? Anyway, this was solidly GOOD, and made for a nice stand-alone, star-drawn annual.

INFERNAL MAN-THING #1 (OF 3): In case you all were wondering, Jeff really IS sticking with his Marvel ban — I could not get him to budge on what I thought would be the easiest tempt of all: new Steve Gerber, doing his #2 best known character, ooooh, with yummy art by Kevin Nowlan. It’s a clear follow through on an old MT story, and I thought it showed a lot of strong maturity and growth in balancing the “Gerber wacky” with actually affecting human emotion — that is to say: this is less of a lark than, say, NEVADA. I don’t really like much of Gerber’s tics, but I thought this was really solid stuff, well drawn and grounded. You can see why they let this take ten years (or whatever) to get drawn. Hm, maybe if I repitch it as “originated two editorial regimes ago”? GOOD.

PUNK ROCK JESUS #1 (OF 6): Wow, nice! It’s a profane title (and probably a profane execution, if I was sensitive to such things, which I’m not), but I really really liked the setup of a morally screwed up entertainment corporation creating a reality show where they clone Jesus. Hijinx, as they say, then ensue. It’s a little early to say whether Sean Murphy has the writing chops to stick the landing on this one, but this first issue was a pretty wonderful read. VERY GOOD from me, and my pick of the week!

SPACE PUNISHER #1 (OF 4): I didn’t necessarily expect much from this (the name tells you most of what you need to know), but I did expect less toy-etic takes on the “normal” Marvel U (example: “Doctor Octopus” is a “Space Criminal” with octopus legs for a body) — sadly AWFUL, and not the awesome I know you were hoping for.

ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #14 DWF: OK, the Ultimate universe has reached that point that it seems like all “alternate super hero universe” (CF: “The New Universe”, the “Supreme Powers” Universe, etc.) finally end up at — they don’t know what to do with the CHARACTERS any longer, so they think “Well let’s make big big changes to the WORLD”. This issue opens with a map so you can keep track of all the fucked up things that have happened in Ultimate America — DC nuked, the southwest an internment camp, and so on, and suddenly it is no longer “a world outside your window”, it’s something utterly unrecognizable and (this is more important, I think) unsympathetic. Even without the “We’re officially out of ideas” stench that SPIDER-MEN brought to the line, copying the general throughline of (ugh!) THE PITT isn’t going to lead to anywhere good for the Ultimate Universe. I have a hard time, other than from stubbornness, understanding why these books should still be published a year from now. AWFUL.

WALKING DEAD #100: That may be the single most fucked up thing that has happened in a series where all kinds of crazy fucked up things happen all of the time. Brutal, absolutely brutal — but it sets the book out along what I hope will be a solid new direction that should shake all of the complacency away. I thought this was an EXCELLENT installment (And, ooh, MONSTER seller, too) — may they have another 400 more issues after this! My ONE complaint? I was really hoping the 6 page (?) Michonne story that was in that issue of PLAYBOY would have been reprinted here after the letter col.

OK, that’s me… what did YOU think?


17 Responses to “ Trying to get back on track: Hibbs’ 7/4 & 7/11 ”

  1. I haven’t kept up Marvel or the Ultimate universe for about a year now, but if they’re (literally) nuking the Ultimate Marvel U, does anyone get the feeling Spider-Men is going to end with Miles Morales staying in the regular Marvel U while they cancel the Ultimate line? He’s they’re one notable, new character. The line seems moribund an this Spider-Men mini seems so desperate I tend to think there’s more to it than Marvel Team-Up antics.

  2. Wow “The Pitt” – old school New Universe reference. – Marvel really are out of ideas aren’t they?

    I can’t wait for the Star Brand reboot.

  3. Adventure Time: Marceline is that bad, huh? Damn, I had high hopes for it, too, since Meredith Grand is awesome. I still haven’t read my copy yet, but now my enthusiasm has waned some.

  4. Walking Dead #100 was my second Walking Dead issue after the first.
    It doesn’t do a whole lot to get new readers on and either Im dead inside or the traumatic event in it only really works if youre been a regular reader.
    It was paced well enough and had tension and all that good stuff though.

  5. @ Anthony:
    Even being an interesting character (which I agree he is), I don’t see how what’s interesting about him survives away from his origins?

    @”AwesomeDude”: the Star Brand revival was a few years ago — Warren Ellis’ newuniversal (which was kinda OK, even if it ended in mid-sentence…)

    @Chris Hero: That was an eight year old boy’s reaction, remember. I was sort of fishing, hoping that someone would then post “Yeah, well my eight year old DAUGHTER thought it was the best comic she ever read…”

    @Dave Clarke: Could ANY book live up to that “#1, then #100” test?


  6. @Brian

    If an 8 year old boy didn’t like an Adventure Time comic, then that’s saying a lot for me. But I don’t have any 8 year old daughters or nieces, so I can’t give you any meaningful feedback there. I had high hopes for the Marceline comic because Gran’s Octopus Pie reads like she’d be able to sell an all girl lead comic to young boys. Perhaps my hopes were too high on that score?

  7. I found Walking Dead #100 to be very meta. I didn’t enjoy it so much as I was intrigued by what it had to say about the series, and perhaps how Kirman feels about it, and how Kirkman thinks readers feel about it. He seems kind of stuck between writing dramatic arcs that end with appropriately and dramatically satisfying conclusions, and mixing things up to defy expectations and match the randomness of reality. This issue said, “Hey, you think I’m only full of zigs? I can zag. Watch me zag now.” I don’t believe he truly zagged, but I’m still curious to watch how this meta-awareness pans out.

  8. I stopped reading Walking Dead when they met The Governor, nothing in it made sense, just random shit with an antagonist who had no motivation beyond “I am a bad guy in a comic”.

    Picked up issue 100 to see what it was like and it’s the same thing again. A guy talking like nobody ever talks (“Pee Pee Pants city”) and the thing that happens with one character I guessed before I opened it.

    The whole goddamn thing is Eli Roth’s monologue from Inglorious Bastards.

  9. I’m not a regular reader of Walking Dead but I thought the issue was just grotesque — and I do draw a distinction between a writer’s doing awful things to his characters and a writer’s doing awful things to the reader.

    I think it’s worth noting that the Onion’s AV Club raised the question of whether the issue went too far:


    Depending on what one thinks of the AV Club, one could describe them as jaded or able to distance themselves from what they’re reviewing. Despite the happy-talk conclusion that’s not really supported by the rest of the article, the critic’s reaction suggests, at minimum, that Kirkman came very close to crossing the line.

  10. The Ultimate Line seems to be obssessed with emulating good ‘ol fat Stalin’s body count porn and brutal dystopian thinking, also falling into the same trap the old bastard did of making the world unsympathetic and not worth saving, if “the people” are so worthelss and lame as to get DC blown up and the Southwest taken over by Sentinels, or letting Norman Osborn get elected head of Homeland Security, and STILL have the approval of the public even after he wiped out half of Chicago. What kind of world is that? It’s not the world outside your window, that’s for sure. . Of course, since Transmetropolitan, Supergod, and Black Summer are blockbuster best sellers and mainstream, I can totally understand why- oh wait.

    I think the majority of superhero comics creators still think his approval means something.

    having said that, once you get past the squalid reflex of such a bullying indie snob like Brian Wood hat in hand, begging for money from the people he’d throw rotten eggs at and spit on from the roof of his Brooklyn tenement ten years ago, and I gotta tell ya, I fucking’ CAN’T, it’s a good, classical 80s style X-Men comic.

  11. “Kirkman came very close to crossing the line.”

    Kirkman crossed the line way back with the brutalization of Michonne by the Governor. Frankly, “line-crossing” is something you should get every so often with creator-dominated work. It means the creator is still trying. It’s when he starts crossing that line too often, because it means he’s got nothing left to say.


  12. @Bubba, I really agree with you. Now, I’m obviously not denying anyone’s right to enjoy that stuff but considering that Kirkman envisages no end then um what is the point? I’m not being facetious, I’m *genuinely* curious. After one hundred issues of encountering onslaughts by the gutmunching unliving and, even worse, by human Evil where else can you go? Rick and Friends think they have come upon a safe haven only to find that demented human bastards have some ever-more diisgusting horror in store for them ad infinitum, ad nauseum? Will Walking Dead #150 see them apparently in a better place only to find a new villain who feeds them shit before performing even more grotesque acts upon them? Now, yes, in that sentence I was beig slightly facetious, but I do wonder how far you can go with the almost relentlesly dark kind of ongoing story before it becomes too much, it’s like living in constant pain, how long before there no longer seems a point. Uhrm, sorry if this isn’t making much sense, I’m aware that there are those who have read #100 and not been affected at all by the hideous events at the conclusion. Of course, one can say “Oh, it isn’t real” but it *is* real to the characters and you can imagine the horror of that event in “real life”,after all , that’s the point of fiction – that we *believe* in some way the things that we read, else why read them. Even watching The Simpsons we believe in some small way in those characters and want to see what happens next.
    Regards, Hal

  13. I’m not 8 years old, but I have to agree with Ben’s opinion of Marceline and the Scream Queens. My guess as to why it falls flat: it’s full of awesome characters who don’t do anything awesome. The characters only try to do one really fun/awesome thing (the concert), and I think it just doesn’t work well enough on the page to carry the issue – maybe if it were animated and had sound?

    I plan to give issue 2 a try to see if I like it any better.

  14. To Alan (typed by Brian):

    I completely agree with you that “it’s full of awesome characters who don’t do anything awesome”. Probably what the next issue should be about them going to the Candy Kingdom to find more ways to make the concert better. That would be awesome.

    From Ben!

  15. “Rick and Friends think they have come upon a safe haven only to find that demented human bastards have some ever-more diisgusting horror in store for them ad infinitum, ad nauseum?”

    As opposed to…what? The all singing, all dancing issue of The Walking Dead?


  16. @mbunge – Ha Ha Ha…mmmm… No. I see I needn’t have worried about being facetious, as some others have no such qualms ;-). Nope, it’s interesting that you lift that bit without the context but I kind of see where you are coming from, no in the post I’m asking isn’t there a point when it’s all formula? As a series with no end point, isn’t it the case that Kirkman will just have to keep discovering new extremes of horror to put his characters through? And if that’s true is there any point or will it become just about jerking off to atrocity under the guise of drama? I mean it as a genuine question, the longer it runs the more dubious it becomes? I don’t know but I do think that is a danger with simetging that could run for “ever” that isn’t there with a film or a comic of this type that is fibite. Maybe I think too much!

  17. “And if that’s true is there any point or will it become just about jerking off to atrocity under the guise of drama?”

    Which is more creatively questionable, however? Actually killing off characters in horrible ways in The Walking Dead or having Peter Parker worry about the 87th time poor Aunt May has fainted dead away? The Walking Dead’s continual parade of atrocity or Batman being on his 4th Robin? And that’s with the 5th Robin apparently retconned away. The Walking Dead introducing another “big bad” or the audience being expected to care about whether things work out between Jerry Seinfeld and his 1,223rd TV girlfriend?

    Most drama is formula. All drama is about bad stuff happening. I’m not sure what you think you’re going to get from 100 issues of a comic about the aftermath of a zombie holocaust.

    Frankly, look at where Rick and company are now, even with the appearance of Negan, to where they were at the start of the book. For those still alive, things are a whole lot better. Kirkman has had these characters on an upward path the whole time, but as they’ve conquered one obstacle after the other, what is he supposed to do but come up with even worse challenges?

    No, the criticisms to make of Kirkman are not about crossing the line or creating the zombie equivalent of torture porn. I’d say they are…

    1. Doing a shitty job of managing a big cast of characters and then constantly saddling the book a big cast.

    2. A near total disinterest in doing any “world-building” or focusing on the practical realities of post-apocalyptic life.


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