More by habit than passion, I venture to the comic book shop every Wednesday and browse for a bit. I almost never know exactly what I will buy when I walk in the door. I try to surprise myself each time. Here are the comics of 8/22/12…
“War for the Books of Magic”
Justice League Dark, no. 12
DC Comics, Oct 2012
Jeff Lemire and Mikel Janin
My only investment with this comic is that I really like the way Black Orchid looks. She has an armored shell which makes her look like she is wrapped in red lettuce leaves. Her mask ironically makes her face look more interesting than the other characters. Overall, artist Mikel Janin does an excellent job on faces and it is easy to see that he wants to pull as much storytelling from the characters’ expressions as possible.
DC Comics, Oct 2012
Joshua Hals Fialkov & Andrea Sorrentino
Cover: Clayton Crain
I loved Clayton Crain’s work on X-Force in the Chris Yost/Craig Kyle days. Another fun fact is that one of the “I, Vampire” characters’ defining characteristics is “naked lady.”
I’m willing to accept the DC Comics thing as a reboot, meaning that the previous stories of the Authority didn’t happen. That’s fine. What unsettles me is how awkward the Stormwatch (Authority) guys are at their job. It is also awkward to see Apollo and Midnighter so young-seeming. “C’mon, that’s awesome.” Midnighter is basically Batman. He doesn’t say “c’mon that’s awesome.”
Gnarly man, after we beat up these zombies lets go slam some Mike’s Hard Lemonade, broski.
“The Big Finale”
Supercrooks, no. 4
Mark Millar, Leinil Yu & Nacho Vigalond
If you’ve ever watched a caper flick, a heist flick, you know this story backward and forward. Think of Supercrooks as a less ambitious “Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.” Ultimately it’s a crowd-pleasing formula but nothing particularly genius here. Every character here is defined by his or her super power the way that characters in heist flicks are defined by the skill they bring to the heist. They even have the reluctant cop character.
This is simple stuff for all the dudes who marathon Guy Ritchie flicks in their college dorms. Ayo approves.
Fatima: The Blood Spinners, no. 3
Dark Horse Comics, Aug 2012
Holy smokes, this comic was disgusting. No kidding, right? The cover features Fatima exploding a zombie’s head with her ray gun. Gilbert Hernandez draws in a very flat, contour-driven style but there’s some stuff in this issue that actually evoked a physical discomfort in me while reading. Totally gross. Can I even talk about it without spoiling the comic for folks who haven’t read it yet? No, just believe me, these two-dimensional cartoons made me grit my teeth something awful.
A+ body horror.
X-Men Legacy, no. 272
Marvel Entertainment, Oct 2012
Christos Gage & Rafa Sandoval
Since this comic stars Rogue, just accept that you’ll be reading a full comic of a godawful phonetic stereotypical “Deep South” accent. While I’m being mean, this is part two in that age-old story type: visitor sees two peoples at war and both sides are uniquely awful. Last issue was the noble warriors, this issue is the communist hive insects. Rogue made a friend of one of the noble savages last episode and she made a friend of one of the bug drones. Spoiler, next issue, she teaches both races that the other is pretty swell and they all agree to be friends and wave at Rogue as they send her merrily on her way to Earth.
P.S.: the art is gorgeous. Rogue’s facial acting is wonderful and since she is virtually the only humanoid in the story (and the only actual human), she has to shoulder the entire emotional burden for the reader. The body acting is fluid and implies a strong physicality throughout. There’s a nice moment when something psychic happens that’s rendered as a human metaphor (do bug people understand link-chains?) but it carries the message of a barrier very nicely. See how it mirrors when the chain is broken. SPOILER: Rogue breaks the chain. She is the only character who we can possibly empathize with here. Of course she breaks the chain.
“Something Wicked This Way Comes”
Secret Avengers, no. 30
Marvel Entertainment, Oct 2012
Rick Remender & Matteo Scalera
I’ve never read Secret Avengers before. I may never read it again.
The fight in the beginning with Venom and The Taskmaster was cool but ultimately, this comic was about things happening that I could barely understand and that I was barely given a reason to connect with. The bad guy is sending henchmen to procure the magic artifact. It’s not important to me, emotionally. I need to feel the drama between the characters. The drama is between the people.
When Taskmaster fights Venom, that’s the high point because there is an emotional stake: “You’ve broken the first rule of the negotiation, stupid,” Taskmaster taunts at Venom. “I know what you want, and that you want it badly […] You got my curiosity piqued.”
It’s a high start but then it is downhill for me after. The object loses its significance once the stakes have changed. The fight ends arbitrarily, Taskmaster stops to have a personal meltdown while Venom is still walking around–it’s confusing, why doesn’t Venom just take the Important Bag and leave? The plot becomes a confusing mess of chases and the villain gets the Important Bag simply because the story dictates that a monster should be summoned…
This issue is a chapter in a larger story that whose origins are inscrutable and whose resolution is indeterminate. Clearly, the champion of superhero comic books released this week.