Singles Going Steady 5/27/2014: Charisma, Tardiness and Violence - Comics are Great!

A comic review article by: Jamil Scalese, Joe Tower

Singles Going Steady

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

 

MPH #1

(Mark Millar / Duncan Fregredo; Image Comics)'

4 stars

Braveheart of comics Mark Millar (The Authority, Superman: Red Son), writer, and the Leicester Lineman, Duncan Fegredo (Enigma, Hellboy: Darkness Calls), artist —

mph-061

Damn, McConaughey is everywhere!

This series debut is yet another hollow point bullet in Millar’s comics chamber, and, along with artist, Fegredo, he’s given life to another perfect Millerverse anti-superhero, who’s obis all contemporary slacker archetype-meets-classic comic trope.

Pair that with a twist of post-modern fate to challenge the threshold of an asshole’s reluctance.

In MPH, the hero in question is Roscoe, a low-life with high hopes, who, by issue’s end, becomes sort of like The uber-Flash, but for the MTV Cribs generation.

After he falls prey to a deal that reeked of the FBI sting operation it turned out to be, mid-level bagman Roscoe get sentenced to fifteen years’ maximum hard time. Too much of a “yes-man” to turn evidence on his kingpin boss, he’s still desperate for a shortened sentence a la good behavior. So he commits himself to the vision board he’d been working on before so foolishly getting arrested for cocaine, and to his hottie girlfriend, Rosa. But then, when one of his boys on the outside reveals that the boss set him up just for a shot with Rosa, Roscoe goes all “f***s all” on good behavior and, after a stint in solitary after a cafeteria beat down, partakes in goodies from the cell block’s “Candy Store” —

mph1_00002

If there were ever an episode of X-Files on The Flash…

 

What he gets from the Candyman is a mysterious pill labeled MPH, a pill we first caught a glimpse of in the issue’s intro, which had taken place twenty-some years earlier.<

After a violent seizure, Roscoe comes to consciousness possessed of super speed.

But describing Roscoe’s newfound power as “super” is like referring to the Rolling Stones as a “garage band.” Because, the fact is, after a dose of MPH, Roscoe lives in speed, existing in a world where velocity and time collide together, and everything around him literally grinding to a pace so imperceptible, it all just seems to stop.

Now, what I’ve always hated about Millar is that he’s so blunt. Dude writes with all the grace of a cinderblock. In a tutu. But then again, what I’ve always loved about Millar is that he’s so goddamned blunt. Dude writes with — I’ll say it again — all the grace of a cinderblock. But, f*** the tutu, this time the cinderblock is GETTING SHOT OUT OF A BAZOOKA.

MPH is no different, and I have to say, it is also aptly titled for a Millar property. From panel one to panel end, the motor on this baby heaves high-octane. The story greatly benefits from co-creator Fegredo’s art. It’s full of colorful and contemporary pizzazz, frozen in a timeless block layout that helps to reflect what will surely be any reader’s head-on collision with it.

Bottom line: MPH is kinetically spectacular fanboy fare wrapped up in the gritty currency of a Curtis Hanson movie… If you don’t want to pick it up, just think The Avengers-meets-8 Mile and you’ll have the general idea.

Yeah. I bet you want to pick it up now.

As a final note, given its potential cinematic heft, it’s no wonder MPH had already been optioned by Lorenzo di Bonaventura for cinema before it even hit the shelves.

- Joe Tower


Forever Evil #7

(Geoff Johns / David Finch / Richard Friend / Sonia Oback; DC)

They say 'better late than never", but sometimes it's better when it's late.

I genuinely liked this overstuffed finale to DC's first major crossover since their full reboot three years ago. Geoff Johns and David Finch unite to create the type of story that appeals to the core cape fan. There's hard-hitting brawls, killer reveals, well-placed emotion and, as always in superhero comics, an eye toward the future.

It's more than easy to question the logic of a lot moves made by DC in the last half decade or so. ComicAlliance's Andrew Wheeler recently described how the comics behemoth is coming up way short of its competitor, basically, not letting creators create. 

Wheeler's right in suggesting only a few talents are given a wide berth, and for Johns his long leash comes from a penchant for coloring inside the lines while stilling demonstrating flair and finesse. The players here are worn pieces to Johns: Sinestro, Black Adam, Cold, etc., but it's how they're used that nods to a modern quality of storytelling. Bad guys can function as protagonist now, and by the sheer fun in that premise Forever Evil succeeds. 

Likely inspired by Paul Cornell's run on Action Comics the theme of "bad does good" is channeled through eyes of Lex Luthor, and though the character has rarely lacked intrigue or charisma he still benefited from a healthy dose of page time. Luthor very well might be the character to watch in 2014 possessing a completely brand new role and a bit of information that is potentially game-changing. 

Now about that delay -- unacceptable. I know comics take time, and delays normally mean a better product, but the fact that Johns had to load this issue with so many big reveals and epilogues indicates highly decompressed storytelling. My problem with this series was the snail-like quality, and a problem like that is easily solved by spreading out all the good content from the last two issues into other ones. It's insulting to up the price as well. 

DC has had a funky, frenetic last few years but (outside of Batman) I honestly feel like Forever Evil represents their first big success. With Futures End already well underway there isn't much time to take this one in, but you should.

- Jamil Scalese


Invincible #111

(Robert Kirkman / Ryan Ottley / Cliff Rathburn; Image Comics)

4 stars

In Image Comics’ Invincible, a lot of people get punched in the face. That will include you, the reader, if you choose to read it, and subsequently get punched in the face.

Do you like face punching? Maybe you do. I don’t know. I don’t know your life.

Well, that's not nice.

Well, that’s not nice.

Having no experience with previous issues of the Invincible series, I have to say this issue #111 reads like a stand-alone. Not so much like a #1, but at the very least, a stand-alone. Everything that happens, happens, but it’s clear WAY more has been going on. It’s kind of like watching an episode of Law & Order, except one of the recurring characters is pregnant.

Written by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), with art by Ryan Ottley (Haunt) and Cliff Rathburn (TWD), Invincible is, by far, the unbeatable one-two punch combination of this particular FOC. It starts strong, keeps pace, and finishes big.

The story of Invincible follows Mark Wahlberg as he chases his dream to play for the NFL — Wait, no. Sorry. That’s not it.

Oh, yeah… Invincible follows Mark Grayson, a super being, last in a long line of super beings, who faces enemies both faceless and faced. The faceless enemies include “difficulty coping with the reality of life” and “inability to accept family.” The faced enemies are mostly “many brains of alternate selves of an evil scientist existing in the same killer robot”…

So, you know, THAT.

I’m giving it a hard time, but it’s a really fun comic. On an honest note, for any of the faint-of-heart, I will say this comic is violent. I assume most of you will not have a problem with that. I don’t either, I just wanted to put it out there… So, it’s violent. And the violence comes as a shock, because the art is playful enough that it doesn’t presume violence

- Joe Tower


TMNT 30th Annversary Special

(Kevin Eastman / Peter Laird / Gary Carlson / Frank Fosco / Jim Lawson / Tom Waltz / Bobby Curnow / Dan Duncan; IDW)

4.5 stars

I mean, let’s all take a knee for Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, huh? For creating this bizarro pseudo-comic-turned-cultural-institution in some crappy workspace in New Hampshire, like, 30-years ago. Right? Am I right? Initially I wanted to lead off FOC with this because it seemed timely, what with the forthcoming Michael Bay TMNT reboot about to kick-flip it’s way into theaters. But, alas, this particular comic is more of an anthology — albeit a spectacular one — and I wanted to give credence to a new original series. But, c’mon, it isn’t like those four nunchuck-wieldin’ mutant knuckleheads haven’t gotten plenty of attention since their 1984 debut. And from those early days back in Mirage Comics black-n-white, to the glossy sheen of a more kid-friendly appearance in Archie’s Adventure, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello’s collective journey out of the New York City sewers is deftly chronicled in this slick volume. Also included are excerpts from an Image Comics’ 1996-1999 incarnation written by Gary Carlson with art by Frank Fosco; as well as one from writer and artist Jim Lawson in another Mirage release from 2001; and a more recent offering from Tom Waltz and Bobby Curnow (writers) and Dan Duncan(art) released on IDW.

- Joe Tower


The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow #1

(Howard Chaykin; Dynamite)

2.5 stars

Howard Chaykin (Dominic Fortune, Cody Starbuck), a triple-threat as a writer, artist and cover artist, has done some really wonderful things for such a kick-ass pre-Cold War era character who for so long has been underused. Most notably is his four issue The Shadow revamp for DC Comics back in 1986, entitled Blood & Judgement. This time around we return to a forsaken New York City five years after the end of World War II, the story opening on self-proclaimed super villain Benedict Stark, when he has been foiled by The Shadow during an attempt to rob the Federal Reserve. We soon learn, however, that his crime is more than meets the eye. Stark had apparently discovered a method for miniaturizing gold. Duh-duh-duh! Elsewhere, in London, a blackmail plot gets set in motion that features molecular physicist, Dr. Simon Thorpe. And meanwhile, back in New York, on New Year’s Day, 1950, Lamont Cranston somehow sees fit to retire as The Shadow. So here’s the thing: Blood & Judgement was fresh, and vaguely familiar. It was like déjà vu. It seemed, perhaps, seminal. It crackled with a mid-century noir flame; the same buzz as those old radio plays. Don’t get me wrong, Midnight In Moscow is good, but not quite déjà vu. This is more like a memory: fading, but a little too familiar to be exciting. In fact, it seems so familiar, this time it’s almost boring.

- Joe Tower

If "The Color Purple" were about white people...

If “The Color Purple” had been about white people…

Ordinary #1

(Rob Williams / D’Israeli; Titan Comics) 

4 stars

There’s no question in my mind that Rob Williams (Cla$$war, Low Life) is a genius. After I read this, his latest debut on Titan Comics that he wrote with D’Israeli (H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds, Leviathan), I was compelled to revisit 2002’s Cla$$war, a spectacular six issue series released over the span over two years and, to my dismay, STILL ISN’T A MOVIE. For my money, Williams is the purest conduit through which comics-based stories about people who are heroes who hate being heroes can travel. Michael, the protagonist in Ordinary, will be no different to you. Except he will be totally different to you. Michael is a bit like the Razzo Rizzo of comic books. He’s a drunk and ne’er-do-well, he’s shitty at his job and an absentee father. Then one day everything changes. Right? Except for Michael. This comic book is like American Splendor for X-Men fans. Everything in Ordinary is ordinary, until you find the extraordinary in just how ordinary everything is. Even what actually is extraordinary.

- Joe Tower

Community Discussion