Singles Going Steady 5/20/2014: So Crazy It's Crazy (or So Crazy It's Brilliant?)

A comic review article by: Gabe Carrasco, Guy Copes, Justin Giampaoli, Bree Ogden, Kevin Reilly, Riagain27

Singles Going Steady

Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin's weekly single issue review roundup. 

The Field #2

(Ed Brisson / Simon Roy; Image Comics)

3.5 stars

I have a few disjointed thoughts about The Field. One is that I really want to like this comic book, though I honestly have no clue if I do or not. Two is that this is one of the weirdest comics on the market. Three, I can’t tell if this comic is so brilliant that it’s circled around into crazy territory; so crazy that it’s circled around into brilliant territory; or neither and I’m giving the creators too much credit either way.

The Field #2

But here is something I can say with absolute certainty: Ed Brisson has never let me down, and I can’t reasonably believe that he and Simon Roy and Image Comics are going to up and release something as insane as this book without a master plan. So I choose to watch this unfold with a hopeful eye.

Issue #2 is a bit more revealing than issue #1. We get more information on our mysterious man with no memory, also known as The Source. Christian (the homicidal ex-bible salesman) takes him to a terrifying disgusting bar/orgy/drug party/hedonistic-gathering–of-mindless-heathens where everyone seems to know and worship him—praising him as “The Source.” There, the mysterious cell phone buzzes with the same unknown texter as before telling him to meet in the bathroom. In a dingy stall, we meet an old man who tells The Source that all this craziness is his fault; that he was a scientist researching time-travel, he started all this, and it’s heavily implied that he must be killed in order to close the “loo—” (at which point he is viciously killed by Christian, but we can only imagine that he intended to finish the word as “loop.”)

This was precisely the point where I started to feel the warm cocoon of Brisson’s hands envelope me because all the little loose ends started to click into place. My current hypothesis is that Brisson wants us to feel as confused and lost as The Source—not only a man with amnesia, but a man with amnesia in a time-travel scenario. A loop. The very notion hurts my brain so doesn’t it make sense that Brisson should slowly unfold the story for us rather than explain everything upfront?

I’m working off of a gut feeling that Brisson knows exactly what he is doing and he is hoping that his readers will trust him to tell them a great story.

-Bree Ogden

Wasteland #54

(Antony Johnston / Christopher Mitten; Oni Press)

5 stars

Abi and Michael venture down the shaft/silo/chute under the hatch they found in the last issue and it leads them to the lab with the mysterious symbol that’s been used for The Big Wet since the first issue.

Wasteland #54

I was flipping these pages so hard with excitement! Chris Mitten laces the backgrounds with a half-sign, something the team’s done in the past for clues, pretty sure it says "Project Adam," and it all gives way to an absolutely brilliant extended flashback sequence. We see NYC underwater, the ice caps melting so that most of Liberty Island is submerged, and I've just never seen Mitten’s black and white work look better. He pulls so much life out of the look, with gray variations, more confident figure work, smart inking, and dope light-sourcing. Without spoiling the specifics, Antony Johnston basically begins to let us understand the origins of The Big Wet Universe through congressional debates about climate change, cautionary tales of genetic engineering, and a last page reveal about a startling discovery under the ice. I've never been more excited about Wasteland, something crazy to say about any series at #54, because the anticipation building for years is all paying off in spectacular fashion.

- Justin Giampaoli

Secret Avengers #3

(Ales Kot / Michael Walsh / Matthew Wilson; Marvel Comics)

 There is something to be said about the "Post-Daredevil Superhero Comic". You've seen them before: the tone is lighter than other books on the rack. The color palette jumps off the page. The scripts are quick, and witty. Usually, issues are one-and-done stories, that might eventually link together. You might have considered these as being influenced by Hawkeye-- as much as I like Hawkeye, I'm not completely convinced. Since Daredevil debuted in 2011, plenty of books have taken massive tonal shifts. One of them is the latest volume of Secret Avengers, whose third issue released last week. 

Secret Avengers #3

Secret Avengers, with its new creative team, has become the book it could and should have been last year, when its Marvel NOW reboot failed almost immediately. That book was an absolutely fine piece of spy fiction, but this hilarious book makes the previous volume look ancient in comparison. Zippy repartee bounces off the gutters of the comic in ways Brian Bendis could only dream of. 

Secret Avengers #2

The third issue continues the episodic story of the series: these Secret Avengers have essentially taken the role of Norman Osborn's late, great Thunderbolts. The team is split up: Spider Woman, Black Widow, and Coulson intercept a weapons deal, while Hawkeye and Nick Fury, Jr. are sent to kill a monster. And while we don't see a lot of that second story in favor of a cliffhanger ending, it's still an entertaining ride. In an ideal future, especially since Marvel has teased a reboot at the big retailers convention last weekend, every book feels this way. But until then, I suppose, we can enjoy Secret Avengers and call it a night. 

- Kevin Reilly

Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1

(Mike Benson / Tan Eng Huat; Marvel Comics)

2.5 stars

The title harkens back to the days of Marvel’s black and white martial arts themed magazine of the same name.

That tome of kick-butt greatness featured The White Tiger Hector Ayala, Iron Fist, The Sons of the Tiger, and Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. The latter starred in what is not just one of your Padre’s favorite comic runs of all time, but a recognized untouchable classic in the minds of comic pros and fans the world over. The team of Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy, later artists Mike Zeck and Gene Day, elevated The Hands of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu (MOKF) to the top of the Bronze Age heap. Due to rights issues and some characters not being available for Marvel to use (Fu-Manchu for one), this series is still criminally uncollected. All of that is setup to say, this week’s debut of the new MOKF in the form of Deadly Hands, or DHOKF, is starting at a bit of a disadvantage in my mind.



Does it overcome the weight of expectations thrust on it by past greatness?

Yes. Somewhat, slightly so. Even with my bias put aside, viewed on its own merits, I’m still not sure if what it does do right is enough.

It is certainly clear that writer Mike Benson(Moon Knight, Deadpool: Suicide Kings) gets the voice and inner monologue of Shang-Chi, while crafting a story that sets out to be its own thing and not some mere homage. Old friends The Sons of the Tiger make an appearance, as does Leiko Wu, and Black Jack Tarr.

This Shang-Chi, as we have seen over the last few years, is more firmly entrenched in the greater Marvel U as an Avenger under the direction of Captain America. (Is anyone NOT an Avenger these days?)

The story starts off fast as we are dropped into a cool action scene that ends with a shock. Before we can catch our breath we are smack dab in the middle of another chase and fight sequence. It is after this second fight that things slow down. Not reading wise, because you will be done in a matter of minutes. No, the story slows down because Shang-Chi’s interactions with everyone else in the book just seem to drag. He comes across as almost too serene and calm, looking zoned out, cold, and boring for the most part. There is another fight scene towards the end, followed by some exposition by Tarr, (I wouldn’t really call what they had a conversation), and an ending that felt flat.

Artist Tan Eng Huat (X-Men Legacy) has a cartoony style that is very clean and distinct. It isn’t the gritty realism you might be expecting from a book about the MOKF, but it has a nice animated look that works with the story being told. His layouts are precise and storytelling clear. There are some spots, however, where characters look a bit stiff and background settings look empty or lacking in detail. There are also spots where he seems to be struggling with Shang’s look, facially, as it changes on some pages from one panel to the next. It can be distracting and take away from what is, overall, a fun style.

DHOKF #1 is not a bad book; it’s more of an average debut with a few good fight scenes sprinkled throughout.

- Guy Copes III

Think Tank: Fun With PTSD #1 

(Matt Hawkins / Rashan Ekedal; Image/Top Cow)
3 stars
I've been a fan of Think Tank since the beginning, but this one-shot was certainly not the strongest issue. It has an unfocused feel that shoehorns in multiple story elements, including a "fake" Zero-G sequence, David volunteering to help kids for some reason(?), reveals Mirra is in counseling for domestic troubles and glosses right over it(!), introduces a new military liaison (ok), and finally gets to the heart of the issue (whew!) by addressing the sad fact that less than half of vets with PTSD actually seek treatment, and other staggering real-world statistics, like the fact that last year there were more military suicides (185) than soldiers killed in combat (176) in Afghanistan. 
Matt Hawkins has clearly done his research, everything from legal defenses around dissociative episodes, to the perception of PTSD as "weakness" in military culture, all embodied in the plight of Navy SEAL Morgan, the guy who helped save David a while back. This is a well-intentioned issue, a good cause, a decent issue that sees David trying to do something to help vs. just weaponizing all of this R&D technology. Hawkins is even donating 25 cents of every extra dollar for this 68 page thing, and that's all admirable, but I still felt that as a single comic, it was a bit all over the place. 
In addition to all the narrative threads, there's a preview of the new book Wildfire, which comes off as a very talky info dump, a throwaway insinuation that suggests psychology is not a hard science (which could piss some people off), and some ugly obvious typos like "case story" vs. the commonly accepted "case study," then "JAG Advocate" instead of just JAG "attorney" or "lawyer," since "JAG Advocate" is basically redundant considering what the acronym stands for – Judge Advocate General. Speaking of the JAG, call me nitpicky, but "JAG Core" vs. "JAG Corps" multiple times in a script is just inexcusable these days for a pro writer writing about the military. My services are available as a freelance editor. Call me. 
-Justin Giampaoli

Deadpool #28

(Brian Posehn  / Gerry Duggan / Scott Koblish; Marvel Comics)

4 stars

Quite likely the biggest thing to come out of Marvel Comics last month, or possibly comics as a whole was the 27th issue of Deadpool. Between the Guinness World Record cover and eighty-plus pages of the book they nearly overshadowed the fact that Wade Wilson, the Merc with a Mouth was getting married in the first place. But now the wedding is over and the part that every newlywed couple is really looking forward to begins, the honeymoon! So let's check it out and see how it looks.

I didn't read the digital Deadpool comic, so the previous issue was really my first introduction to Shiklah. However, even after only a little bit of time with her I love her as a character already. I could be wrong on my assumptions of her characterization, since again I didn't read the digital, but to me her interactions with Wade remind me of Cable. She's less serious than Cable obviously, more likely to throw out banter of her own but the two of them play off of each other just like Wade and Cable used to do. It's a great Abbot and Costello feeling, or more appropriately since the first part of the honeymoon takes place in Japan, a boke and tsukkomi routine.

Deadpool #28

Also great was that the two of them were barely in Tokyo for any time at all before a series of events happened causing everyone from the Yakuza to the Hand to Japan's national hero Sunfire to get involved in the shenanigans. I'm not going to spoil particulars but seriously, practically everything that has happened to a Marvel character in Japan in the past happens to our newlyweds over the period of about an hour.

Deadpool #28

So to finish up, things are looking great for Deadpool recently. I had put the book down for a while, I got bored with what seemed like silliness for the sake of silliness ever since Deadpool Corps and I missed the byplay and the ho-yay between Wade and Cable. Now that Shiklah is here though, it looks like I'm going to have to pick it up again.

- Riagain27 

The United States of Murder Inc. #1

(Brian Bendis / Michael Avon Oeming; Marvel/Icon)

4 stars

This is the latest creator owned venture by the Powers team of Brian Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. It is a crime thriller set in a world where the Mafia is fully in charge…of damn near everything. This is BMB at his absolute best, writing well-paced crime fiction. It isn't all grim and fatalistic though. There is a sense of humor and wit splattered throughout the proceedings. A perfect example of the entertaining smartass on display can be found early on when main character Valentine is having a heart to heart with his Mom or getting his balls busted during his initial meeting with Tuzzo.

Kicking off with a ceremony to elevate Valentine into the role of a newly made man, the book is filled with enough irreverent bastards and sons of bitches to fill a punk rock remake of Scorsese's Mean Streets. Jagger Rose is hands down one of the coolest new characters in comics. Tough, no nonsense, lacking a verbal filter, and whatever you do, DO NOT CALL HER THE FUCKING BARTENDER.

"Holla, Holla"

“Holla, Holla”

There's mystery, a bombshell, or two — pun intended — and a twist at the end you won't see coming.

The visuals by Oeming, with colors by his wife Taki Soma (Rapture), is a sort of pop art-meets-deco meets-anime look that really gives the scenes some vibrancy. There is an elegance to the violence he depicts and the panel layouts on some pages remind me of Matt Wagner's Grendel.

Bendis does a nice bit of world building in this oversized first issue. The hooks are there and you'll want to come back to get deeper in this mob ruled world. To paraphrase fellow Dartmouth grad Michael Corleone, If you think you're going to get out, this book will just pull you back in. (“Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in" – Actual Line)

Okay that was pretty friggin' terrible. I'm gonna' blow like the wind. Youse guys go read the friggin' comic.

- Guy Copes III

Astro City #12 

(Kurt Busiek / Graham Nolan; DC/Vertigo)
Astro City #12
It's getting a little old hat to continually express how consistently enjoyable this title is. Although Brent Anderson is absent this issue, the inclusion of artist Graham Nolan is a nice aesthetic fit, and it doesn’t stop Kurt Busiek from doing what he does best, showcasing alt POV stories that push hard on world-building. The story of the Gentleman Bandit is just such a tale, one that fleshes out stray corners of the universe, while capturing a tone of regret, brushes with fame, and a compulsion to do what the heart wants, despite the brain knowing better. 
-Justin Giampaoli

Green Lantern Corps #31

(Robert Venditti / Van Jensen / Bernard Chang; DC Comics)

3 stars

It’s a prison break… Green Lantern Corps Style! Once it was revealed that the main antagonists for this Uprising crossover story arc were shape-shifters, I cried “CHEAP PLOT DEVICE!” right off the bat. And so far, Robert Venditti (Green Lantern) and GLC scribe Van Jensen haven’t given us anything we haven’t seen before. Some of the Corps members are shape-shifters in disguise! They used the leader’s likeness to make us look bad! These situations are not so much “dramatic space-cop epic” as they are “unfortunate sci-fi sitcom episode.” Bernard Chang, however, is continuously delivering some awesome new alien species for the Durlans to turn into, and consistently handling the diversity in the GL Corps beautifully.

Although the overall story arc was lacking until this point, GL Corps #31‘s last pages are a game changer. MIA-Corps member, Super-powered Daxamite, and ex-keeper of the Ion entity, Sodam Yat returns to blast holes into some Durlans scum, and give the Corps that edge they so desperately need (plus long-time GL readers will appreciate seeing the return of a familiar face!). With the shape-shifting cat out of the bag at barely issue 2 of the crossover event, this bodes well for the rest of the Uprising story arc, and Jensen is doing a great job giving us a genuine CORPS book, with not just 3 or 4 representative members, but more than 10 individual, unique protagonists to follow. This issue may not warrant the highest score for the cliché prison break scenes, but oh those killer last few pages!

- Gabe Carrasco

Star Wars #17 

(Brian Wood / Stephane Crety / Julien Hugonnard-Bert / Gabe Eltaeb; Dark Horse)
4 stars
Artist Stephane Crety and inker Julien Hugonnard-Bert continue their mission with writer Brian Wood and colorist Gabe Eltaeb, depicting Princess Leia Organa in an arranged marriage with the Prince of Arrochar to secure a suitable location for the Rebel Base.
This issue mostly advances the plot machinations of the dubious dealings of some of the Arrochar factions, and leads right up to a very rousing cliffhanger promising loads of frantic action. There’s apparently only 3 issues of this run left, so I’m curious where the arc will end. Most have been 3-issue arcs, which would suggest it’ll end next issue at #18, and then leave two issues as something of an epilogue. Hang on… yes, a little Googling at Dark Horse reveals a new storyline in issue #19 potentially involving IG-88. 
- Justin Giampaoli


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