Singles Going Steady 3/21/2013: He Got Drunk a Bunch By Putting Beer Into His MouthA comic review article by: Rafael Gaitan, Danny Djeljosevic, Jamil Scalese, Daniel Elkin
Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin's weekly single issue review roundup.
Not everything gets covered in Singles, so here are the comics that got reviewed separately:
- Things feel increasingly dire in Age of Ultron #2.
- Nick and Jason loved the first issue of Jim McCann and Janet K. Lee's sci-fi heist comic Lost Vegas.
- Mark Waid's Insufferable #1-3 are great examples of how to create original comics for the digital format.
(Nate Cosby, Evan Shaner; Dark Horse)
This is that proverbial shit. Former Marvel editor Nate Cosby has been killing the freelance game -- his Cow Boy with Chris Eliopoulous was thoroughly rife with glorious characterization and reverence for the genre. Cosby has a unique talent for exploring genre through his leads, and Buddy Cops might be the out-and-out funniest fucking thing he's ever written, and one of the most in-real-life-laugh-out-loud books I've read in ages. Cosby and artist Evan Shaner have essentially created a "sitcomic book," filled with snappy interplay and timing that crackles like Officer Uranus' laser sword. It's Barney Miller crossed with the Fantastic Four and if that doesn't give your brain a boner you might be the literal worst.
Cosby has the alien Space Cop Uranus quoting Wu-Tang left and right (peace god peace god) and his partner T.A.Z.E.R., a 1970s parking ticket robot, is essentially a neurotic and put-upon Cliff Steele. Together they fight and argue and squabble, which leads to crimes being solved and monsters being beat up. Cosby's scripting is fluid and deft to match Shaner's gorgeous C.C. Beck-inspired style and the humor flirts with all territories but never mills about too much -- some gross stuff happens, a guy does a thing and what have you and it's the kind of book that puts a smile on your goofy-ass face for the entire time, and for $2.99 it's jam-packed with several Buddy Cops shorts originally published in Dark Horse Presents.
Shaner's art and colors are as beautiful and clean as ever -- why he isn't one of the biggest names in the industry is beyond me, and he is a perfect partner to Cosby's bubbling joke cauldrons- there is a "montage" set to Lionel Richie's "Hello" that is as brilliant as it is bizarre. It's a solid read that hits every mark and never threatens to overstay its welcome -- it's labeled a one-shot but I hope this is a backdoor pilot. The cape and tights set is always gonna be okay, but when creators are able to breathe new and exciting life into expectations, that's when you've cracked the case of what to spend hard-earned dollars on.
- Rafael Gaitan
Uncanny X-Men #3
(Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo; Marvel)
Last week I talked about the aspects of Brian Michael Bendis' X-Men run thus far that have reflected that of legendary X-Innovator Chris Claremont, who basically took the ideas of the X-Men thus established in the '70s and used them to create this this giant engine of characters and stories that only he could control and nearly everybody else who tried to manage it caused steam to shoot out everywhere -- but no injuries, because there's never going to be an Upton Sinclair-esque expose on the guys who write X-Men comics until a deranged fan murders one of them. Anyway, Bendis is probably the most Claremontian writer to touch the X-Men's universe, despite their different approaches to single issue comics scripting (read: ultra-compression vs. decompression). Both guys write a lot of words that characters to say to one another, though, and that's enough to make the comparison.
Uncanny X-Men #3 was a resounding success for me and not just because it felt like a complete single issue compared to previous Bendis X-Men issues. After a humorous flashback featuring one of the new mutants Cyclops has rescued, we pick up from last issue's cliffhanger, The Avengers have shown up to punch people, there's a standoff where things are said, the standoff concludes with room to advance the story onto the next plot point. It all pretty much worked for me and didn't leave me with the feeling of "That's it? This was only 1/3 of an issue." That's great.
The standoff is the centerpiece of the book (this is still a Brian Bendis comic, after all), and much of my enthusiasm for this issue comes from seeing Cyclops and his team finally stand up for themselves in the face of the Avengers. I've made it blindingly obvious from reviewing this run that I view Cyclops as a very clear-cut hero in this post Avengers vs. X-Men situation and it was vindicating to see his team stand up to the Avengers and say what I hoped he would -- "You guys are dicks and pretty much caused all of this, fuck you and your movie." I really like that the Avengers waltz in and come off as pricks. I feel like that's how it should be in the Marvel Universe -- the X-Men should be standoffish in every non-X-Men book and the Avengers should be completely out of their element and endlessly clowned when they show up in X-Men books.
From there, back at the base Magneto reveals that he sold everyone out to see what the humans would do, and then Cyclops hits up Wolverine's school for reasons to be revealed in the next issue. Which is a solid cliffhanger -- I have an enormous pet peeve for cliffhangers that simply read like "I ran out of my allotted pages so here's an arbitrary chapter stop" -- but this one works because I can explain why it's an intriguing moment that makes me want to read more. That's the #1 question ask myself whenever I pick up a superhero comic: "Why am I reading this?"
- Danny Djeljosevic
Secret Avengers #2
(Nick Spencer, Luke Ross, Matthew Wilson, Marvel)
Go in skeptical, come out amazed. That's something I love about art.
Full disclosure: I read Secret Avengers #2 for Taskmaster. I like that character a lot, and if he's joining an Avengers squad I need to see how it plays out.
The scoop? OMFG, Nick Spencer you are a goddamn genius. Out of nowhere Secret Avengers #2 ascends to one the of the best single issues I've read this year, a rare feat for a comic early in its intended run. What makes the second issue of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Mightiest Heroes so good is it's ingenuity, and the inspired groundwork for conflict down the line.
Simply, Spencer and Ross reinvent A.I.M. in a way that crackles and excites. HYDRA has typically reigned as the premiere secret society in the Marvel Universe with Advanced Idea Mechanics normally serving the geeky younger brother role (especially if they're sans-M.O.D.O.K). The new look cult is now stocked with science based super villains, some who haven't seen the pencil and ink treatment in quite awhile, and well, that final member is a fucking doozy.
I've seen some complaints about this title and the use of memory implants, with fans citing abuse for favorites like Clint and Natasha and a haphazard disregard for continuity.
You hear me? Fuck 'em! Kick the shit out of the characters, that's what they're there for. Put them through the wringer, it's what tension and drama is all about.
With the capability for multiple double crosses, high action, terse exchanges between bureaucrats dudes in capes and officers of the law and a sense that the entire of house of cards can come crashing down at any time this title has me very excited. A strong horse in the Marvel NOW! stampede.
- Jamil Scalese
(Scott Snyder, Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope, Brad Anderson, James Tynion IV, Alex Maleev, Nathan Fairbairn; DC)
To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to any post-Batman Incorporated #8 comic outside of that title that involves characters reacting to the death of Damian Wayne, but Scott Snyder looks at Batman's emotional turmoil at his son's demise through Harper Row, that girl with the blue hair and piercings from the Becky Cloonan-illustrated Batman #12. She's living out of a motel with her brother and goes out at night to punch criminals and help out Batman -- which, considering his current emotional state, is the worst time to go out and fight crime for Batman.
Andy Kubert illustrates this issue, which is a weirdly appropriate decision considering he drew the issues that introduced Damian. I'm not always keen on Kubert's stuff -- it honestly depends on the story and if we're talking '90s X-Men or what -- but he draws and amazingly disheveled Batman, whose decaying, tattered costume is one chain away from looking like Spawn's horrible pointy cape thing.
The backup story picks up where the feature leaves off, but the artist choice is shocking: it's Alex Maleev, who is so often colored by Matt Hollingworth or himself that I didn't even recognize it at first. Here Nathan Fairbairn handles the colors and it couldn't be a better choice -- Maleev's art in the past has never looked bright, but Fairbairn's got a solid palette that adds additional definition to the proceedings. It's okay to have bright colors in a comic book; it doesn't sacrifice gravitas or whatever you're trying to convey. I really want to see more of this collaboration.
- Danny Djeljosevic
The Manhattan Projects #10
(Jonathan Hickman, Ryan Browne, Jordie Bellaire; Image)
Ryan Browne steps in for Nick Pitarra to draw an interlude about Oppenheimer and the weird evil twin thing he's got going on. It's well illustrated and Jordie Bellaire colors the shit out of this thing, of course. You know the score -- it's The Manhattan Projects, where Jonathan Hickman tells crazy stories about scientists doing horrible things and blowing up luchadors and there's a talking dog.
Here's something that makes me enjoy this book even more -- there's probably at least a section of Avengers readers who want more work from this writer. And they're going to pick up The Manhattan Projects and have their minds blown.
- Danny Djeljosevic
Wolverine and the X-Men #26
(Jason Aaron, Ramón Pérez, Laura Martin; Marvel)
Despite the amazingly bizarre "From the Pages of Origin" cover blurb that dredges up bad feelings of an 11-year-old comic, Wolverine and the X-Men #26 is a delightful surprise. Not because it's good -- its reputation as "the weird, comedic X-Men book" precedes it -- but rather the work of Ramón Pérez, who is so incredibly talented that it's shocking he took a job drawing a Marvel title.
Jason Aaron's script jumps between the present-day X-Men in the Savage Land and the backstory of Dog, the kid from Origin who we were supposed to think was Wolverine until he turned out not to be -- now a time-traveling villain in classic Marvel supervillain status. Pérez renders Dog's flashbacks as a dreamlike ink wash style, which is way more "Art for art's sake" than is expected in a mainstream Marvel comic. He could have just drawn everything the same and had Laura Martin cast all the flashbacks in golden hues, but he didn't and that's great.
I'm pretty much astounded any time someone goes above and beyond the bare minimum in something mainstream and populist to deliver something resembling genuine artistic expression. Remember that time in Modern Warfare 2 where you spend a level playing as astronauts just watching an EMP explode from space? It's a dumb game, but a perfect example of someone at least grasping at Art in a context where you could leave that shit out and nobody could notice.
Storywise, Aaron offers a cliffhanger where Dog decides to pull a bunch of dangers from across time -- evil robots, evil cowboys, evil cavemen -- and the result is weirdly affirming on a meta-level. You can do anything in comics and the moment at the end is so big and threatening that it feels like an "event" book. That's great considering we live in an era where all the "important" stuff happens in the crossovers.
- Danny Djeljosevic
Todd: The Ugliest Kid on Earth #3
(Ken Kristensen, M.K. Perker; Image)
So, here we are in the home stretch in this four-issue miniseries, and I'm starting to wonder if Kristensen and Perker have the stamina to keep the pace they set for themselves in issues one and two. Are they starting to get a little winded? Did they break too hard out of the gate?
I don't know, but issue three seems to point in that direction. Everything's getting pushed forward in this book, all the subplots are playing out, and there seems to be a rush to tie it all together. Gone is the pacing of the earlier two books and ease with which they played with their humor (although the Pervez Musharraf joke in this book almost made me pee a little in my pants -- not something I usually admit, by the way). Todd: The Ugliest Kid on Earth has started to smell a little like an old Mad Magazine, and I don't mean that particularly as a compliment (Yes, Me Worry!). The promise of the earlier issues seems to have been left between their pages.
Maybe that's because Todd himself is hardly in this issue. For me, this character set so much of the tone of the whole book -- I mean, cripes, they did name the series after him. As he fades into the background, the other characters' bombast shines just a little too brightly. The plasticity of the construct becomes too apparent. The jokes become a little too forced. The heart of the book diminishes as does my enthusiasm for it.
But you know what? I'm an optimist. I like to see a sandwich half-eaten at lunch as tonight's delicious opportunity for dinner. And I'm willing to bet that sandwich that Kristensen and Perker DO have what it takes to reach the finish line with their arms upraised, not wheezing and coughing up blood. There is so much on the plate at this point in this book, that this shit can go any which way.
And I'm pretty sure that way is going to be awesome. Todd is going to be the clown who stands in the middle of the circus ring laughing at all of us.
I'm thinking Kristensen and Perker have been training for this race for some time. Damn right I'm going to be there clapping wildly as they ascend the podium to receive their gold medals. Issue four? Issue four is going to be AMAZING!
- Daniel Elkin
(Ann Nocenti, Alex Sanchez, Claude St. Aubin, Matt Yackey; DC)
The other day I reviewed a comic called Ninjabitch and it was pretty horrible and it began with a joke about me loving Katana #1, but Katana #2 actually reminds me of the aforementioned graphic novel because it has ninja-related stage shows and a female protagonist with a sword. But it's the complete opposite -- it's actually kind of good, we get to know and understand Katana even though she's crazy, and the ninja-themed show also results in a fight but with the hilarious twist that the crowd thinks it's part of the performance. Plus Katana gets to wear cute dresses and casually fight a local karate wino who keeps throwing candy at her. Also, Katana could have turned that headlock into a huricanrana and showed that drunk who's boss.
I guess that's my new comics fetish -- female protagonists wearing cute non-male-gazey outfits. We should all be ashamed that it's such a novel idea in mainstream comics.
- Danny Djeljosevic
THOR: GOD OF THUNDER IS THE MOST METAL THING PUT OUT BY MAINSTREAM COMICS
Fearless Defenders #2