Graceland 11/21/12

This week, Ziah gives out awards to each comic totally unlike that other place that won awards and is super great. Anyway, Ziah did this because there were a lot of great things out this week, and he didn’t want to only give a best award. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Except turkeys. I guess it’s kind of an unfortunate holiday.

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Graceland Reviews, London Edition-

I have been in London, so here are some comics I picked up there. Feel free to tell me why I’m stupid for liking something or for disliking AvX (You’d be wrong, but you’re welcome to your opinion)

Harbinger #3, Joshua Dysart, Khari Evans:

“We’re an army in training for a corporation?”

I’ve been dubious on whether or not this comic could make a turnaround from an event in the first two issues when the protagonist uses his mental powers to force a girl to fall in love with him and then has sex with her, a plot point that made the book hard to read, and harder to recommend. Still, I figured I’d give Joshua Dysart a few issues to show his hand, seeing as his run on the Unknown Soldier was one of my favorite comic runs, and I’m glad that I did. Instead of using the really gross action as a quick way to motivate Peter to advance the plot, it’s becoming clear that Dysart is actually making an extraordinarily broken “hero”, of whom nearly every other character in the book looks at with disdain or fear, an opinion echoed by the reader. At this point in time, Peter should be a disgusting individual, and even when we get some back-story to elicit sympathy, it’s immediately halted by Peter being a dick to people. I’m fascinated to see where this can lead, and whether Dysart will actually give him a positive character arc or failed redemption. Past the story part of it, the art by Khari Evans isn’t quite to my liking; he or she does a fair job at concise storytelling, but the art just isn’t quite at a level as to be a draw on its own.

SPACE JAM OF THE WEEK

Archer and Armstrong #1 Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry:

“Noooooo—I wanna ride dinosaurs like they did in Caveman times”

This right here is my jam. Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry (of the Incredible Hercules, one of the best comedic action comics ever) reuniting for a story about an immortal, who might as well be “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski and the naïve assassin that’s been charged to kill him, teaming up and fighting people for alien technology. First issues are always tough to pull off, but Van Lente and Henry do a great job, setting up the story, introducing the characters, and having more than a few fun action set-pieces. I’m looking forward to seeing more of this comic when they fall into groove. Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel like the art’s a bit lacking, and I’m wondering if it’s the coloring. There’s a whole lot of grays and blacks in this comic, and Henry’s work on Incredible Hercules showed that a wider color palette looks just as professional.

Atmospherics, Warren Ellis, Ken Meyer Jr.:

“You’re a junkie that gets homicidal urges on heroin.”

So, this is basically a story that Warren Ellis wrote after he saw a documentary on cow mutilation and watched the X-Files for a while. It’s so short and one-note, it’s almost a waste to give any sort of plot summary to it. Of the other mostly half-baked Ellis Graphic Novellas, I’d say it’s not the worst, but why would you waste time reading a comic that’s really just not the worst?

Batman: International Written by Alan Grant and Mark Waid, drawn by Frank Quitely, Diego Olmos, and Arthur Ranson:

“Mr. Wayne, viewers want to know: what’s under your kilt?”

Frank Quitely has a two-parter in here about Batman in Scotland, written by Alan Grant, and it’s really interesting to see Quitely’s work when he’s not written by Morrison. I’m so used to their collaborations at this point that I found myself checking backgrounds and tiny details out of the habit that they would play into the story later, despite this being just a rather straightforward “Batman solves crime in a new place” story. Once I stopped that, I realized something about Quitely that I somehow hadn’t noticed before: He rarely uses speed lines or ghosting to communicate action; instead, he chooses the exact moment of time and body language of a character to imply the preceding and proceeding actions. And yes, I realize that’s the object of cartooning, and probably something that everyone knows about Quitely, but it was something I’d never realized since I was always distracted with trying to figure out Morrison’s writing. Anyway, the story’s fine, and it’s worth reading just to see how Quitely can elevate just about any comic script, which will probably be put to the test (hyperlink Millar’s comic). The other two stories are a neat Mark Waid story that isn’t jaw-dropping, but has a neat tweak on the character of Killer Croc, that if given the time and inclination, I think some writers could do some interesting things with, and an Alan Grant story that is a mediocre tale of Batman’s mystic training coming back to haunt him in the present day. This trade’s bargain bin at best, but if you can get a nice price, I doubt you’ll regret buying it.

SVK: I ended up writing a longer review of this one. Short version: it’s fine, not great.

“Rape-looking zombie bastard”

AvX #10 Ed Brubaker, Adam Kubert

“Is that a dragon?”

Why is this comic still going? UGGGGGHHHH, I hate it, I hate it so much. Every character is stupid and poorly written, and it’s not even about Avengers fighting X-Men anymore. It is seriously about Avengers (which includes pretty much all the X-Men at this point) fighting two crazy mutants with god-like power, one of whom is killing people and making others bow to her. How is this even a good plot twist? How is this worth the paper that it’s printed on? How will it end? Answers in order: It’s not, it’s not, and I don’t give a shit.

Graceland Reviews Part 1

I have been busy preparing for a vacation, so this is part 1 of the reviews, and I’ll do part 2 later.

AvX #9 Written by Jason Aaron, drawn by Adam Kubert, colored by Laura Martin

 

-“I think I… might have helped a bit. Did I…?” –Spider-Man.

 

 Really, it’s about time we had another good issue; despite some little bits of nice writing and mostly great art, this event has been pretty mediocre. Luckily for us, we get the first actually good issue since #6, as Jason Aaron takes us back to something just about every Marvel fan can appreciate: Spider-Man outclassed completely, and then triumphing through force of will. Sure, it’s not as good as #33, but then again, what could be? Anyway, Spider-Man is awesome, and the nice Adam Kubert art helps make this pretty good. I’m just excited that this stupid event is almost over, and we can get to such exciting titles as: Avenging X-Men, Uncanny Avengers, Avenging X-Force, X-Avengers, and The Avengers and the X-Men Team Up.

 

 

 

Action Comics #12 Written by Grant Morrsion, drawn by Rags Morales, CAFU, Brad Walker, Colored by Brad Anderson, Gabe Eltaeb

 

-“This gun shoots psychic bullets- a guilt that will consume your mind! A fear that will never let you rest!” –Adam Blake, the first Superman

 

I’m really enjoying the crazy ideas Grant Morrison is packing into almost every page, but I don’t think I’ll be missing him when he leaves the title after #16. It’s not exactly high criticism to say that comics are better when the art is on par or better than the writer, and while Batman Inc has Chris Burnham, Action gets… three artists. In one issue. One 20 page issue. And 4 inkers. This was a rush job, and it shows, but despite all of that, Morrison writes incredible dialogue (I had so much trouble choosing the above quote) and brilliant story arcs; the last few pages had me grinning like an idiot. My point, anyway, is that I’m looking forward to a Morrison less contained by the rigid Nu52 monthly schedule, working with a great artist that doesn’t feel rushed to deliver pages at the expense of quality.

 

 

 

Animal Man #12 Written by Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder, drawn by Steve Pugh, colored by Lovern Kindzierski

 

“Then it possessed my body, but I grew a new one and I killed it.” –Animal Man

 

 I guess I’m cooling on the Lemire’s non-self drawn work; I was considering dropping Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E, before the writer switch, and now even Animal Man has started to feel stale. Maybe it’s that the whole Rotworld arc and accompanying build-up has just felt overlong instead of the epic adventure it seems to be trying for. Maybe it’s that even though we’ve seen Buddy Baker in almost every issue, I haven’t felt like he’s really having a character arc. Regardless, I guess I’ll give it till the end of the Swamp Thing crossover, seeing as how the art for both titles is really good.

 

Space Jam of the Week

 

Daredevil #16 written by Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, colored by Javier Rodriguez

 

“We really underestimate that guy. The pain and fear he had to overcome just to function…”- Ant Man

 

Now this is EXACTLY what I want from a comic. Mark Waid, in TWELVE PAGES, has gotten me to like Ant-Man more than 30 years of comics. That is incredible. Add in some of the best Matt and Foggy interaction with phonemonal art from Chris Samnee, and you’ve got one hell of a comic. The only problem? There’s still no appearance of Mike Murdock. I know Waid has read DD #25. It’s impossible not to be reminded of it when reading the new series, so every issue I keep waiting for him to show up. Still an amazing comic, even without Matt’s twin brother who wears sunglasses and calls ladies “dolls”.

 

 

 

Defenders #9 Written by Matt Fraction, drawn by Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton, colored by Dommo Aymara

 

 

“THE AMERICAN WAR PIG IS DEAD BENEATH THE HEEL OF AGENT PUSSYCAT OF HYDRA!” –Agent Pussycat of HYDRA

 

Dial H #4: written by China Mieville, drawn by Mateus Santolouco, colored by Tanya & Richard Horie

 

“She’s a mage of nothing. She coulda helped me with this. But she said she needed to conserve her energies. So she did nothing.”

 

This reminds me a lot of the Grant Morrison/Richard Case Doom Patrol, which is high praise coming from me, as that is my favorite Morrison comic ever. Like Doom Patrol, Dial H has a huge density of ideas; crazy talking villains that we only learn about months after they’re introduced, fantastic phrases and names that make you wish you thought of them, and an artist willing to draw all manner of crazy things. Like Doom Patrol, I don’t understand half of the comic, and probably won’t until about 6 more issues down the line, but I am enjoying the flow of it.

 

 

Main Event: JMS vs. Mark Waid

Spiderman Event Chart
Spiderman Event Chart

It all started with a chart. An angry fanboy makes a factually inaccurate infograph depicting the declining sales of Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man and former ASM writer J. Michael Straczynski shared on his facebook page, coupled only with the passive aggressive missive, “Just sayin’”.

It was the shot heard round the world.

in light of editor Steven Wacker’s recent sidelining injury, DC Comics has agreed to let JMS sign a One Night Only contract to take on Wacker replacement and fellow former Spidey scribe Mark Waid in a No Holds Barred, Peter Parker on a Pole Match! Spider-Man creator Stan Lee will serve as the special guest referee as the two wordsmiths battle it out for for honor and the right to say they weave a more tangled web.

In Waid’s corner will be current ASM writer Dan Slott, and in JMS’ corner, a giant pile of Babylon 5 royalty money.

As a special stipulation, if JMS loses, he will have to notate on the cover of anything he writes that he willfully tackled the ambulatory abortion that was the Red Circle relaunch and if JMS loses, Waid will never be allowed to write the webslinger ever again, and will be forced to endure a cross country road trip with Alex Ross.

In a special undercard bout, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar look to end their bitter feud in a Loser Leaves Scotland steel cage match.