Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Name:
Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!

27.10.04

Comics for 27 October 2004

Strange week. Sometimes it seems like a slow week, and suddenly you've spent twenty dollars. Such is the way of things in the Brave New World of over-priced pamphlets. Let's check it out:

Black Widow #2 by Richard K. Morgan, Goran Parlov, and Bill Sienkiewicz
$2.99, Marvel

I bought the first issue of this (what I assume is a) mini-series for two reasons: the character and the artist. I have always dug Natasha Romanov and was a little peeved that Rucka created a new Widow, even though the series he wrote were very good. I have been a Sienkiewicz fan for as long as I've collected comics (17 years, half my freakin' life) and was happy to see him doing interior pencils again instead of just inking things here and there. So what happens on issue number 2? Goran Parlov does "layouts" and Sienkiewicz does "finishes." Blech. I hate that system of art. I don't know why, I just do. But the art is still nice, so I'll let it slide.

It's not a bad story, either. This issue explains a little more without revealing too much. Natasha and Phil go to one of the victims' funeral, and secrets are revealed and people are shot at. One even dies! There's a cliff-hanger of sorts. It's very nice, and doesn't seem to be padding the story just to stretch it to six issues, like so many six-issue series these days (why does everything have to be six issues? just to make a nice trade paperback?). The two most interesting things in the issue are Natasha explaining why she doesn't do the whole bracelet thing anymore (although she has been wearing them in Daredevil, I think -- I could go check, but that would be a lot of work) and a little subtle lesbian thing going on -- not that it's titillating at all, and so subtle some people might miss it, but I think it's neat for the writer to put it in and for Marvel to let it through. I suppose this comic isn't getting sold at Wal-Mart anyway.

It's a nice book. Nothing to blow you away, but not a waste of time. Of course, it's three dollars. The theme of Greg's comic reviews, as usual, is price.

Daredevil #66 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
$2.99, Marvel

Bendis is supposed to be the greatest writer in the history of the printed word, but I've never been a total convert. I don't like Powers all that much (sacrilege!) and I haven't been reading Avengers. I read Ultimate Spider-Man in the trades, but wonder if he's gone a little around the bend with the whole body-switching story (and don't get me started on his treatment of Gwen Stacy). I miss Alias, which was absolutely brilliant. And I really like Daredevil.

Daredevil succeeds, I think, because Bendis really gets Matt Murdock. His depiction of Daredevil is not bad, and I don't think all his choices have been perfect (Daredevil taking down the Kingpin has been DONE TO DEATH!), but his Murdock is a very interesting character who has grown and changed over the course of the series (and not only when Bendis wrote it). I would love if companies (DC and Marvel, specifically, since they're the Big Two) would allow writers to change the characters without hitting the reset button every few years. I don't know what Marvel's going to do with Daredevil when Bendis stops writing it, but I'm glad they've allowed him to do what he has done over the past 40 issues.

In this issue, we get a flashback to when Alexander Bont, the first "kingpin," set himself up in business. In the present day, Bont has just been paroled, and he reminisces about "the good old days." It's a clever enough story, with the Golden Age Angel making an appearance, plus a yellow-clad Daredevil (even though Fisk was apparently already Kingpin when Daredevil was getting started -- Bendis messes with history here, but everyone else does it, so why not him?). Bont gets all misty-eyed for when all was right in his world, finds out that Murdock is Daredevil (not too hard; he sees all the reporters asking Murdock about it), and takes a pill at the end that makes him all foamy at the mouth and full of rage and strength. That'll be explained at some point, I'm sure.

The cool thing about the issue is the art. I first saw Maleev in a Crow mini-series years ago and was unimpressed. His work on Daredevil, however, has been wonderful. Yes, his fight scenes aren't the greatest, but Bendis doesn't give him that many and he's not that bad anyway and the rest of the time he's so brilliant who cares? Here he experiments with styles, and the results are breath-taking. When Bont is just a petty thief plotting to take over the underworld, the art goes black-and-white and actually looks like woodcuts. Very impressive. When Daredevil shows up, in the "1960s," the colorist (Dave Stewart) does that whole dot technique (Pointillist?) that you see in comics from the '60s, and the art is very Kirby-esque (or is it Ditko-esque or whoever the hell was the first artist on Daredevil -- I'm very iconoclastic when it comes to art in the '60s). Anyway, the art is a treat.

Daredevil remains one of the best books out there, especially from the Big Two. Bendis often loses steam at the end of his stories, but his set-ups usually hook you. In the absence of Alias, Daredevil remains his best work (yes, I read The Pulse as well -- I have to give it time).

Planetary #21 by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday
$2.95, Wildstorm

Before Rex Mundi, Planetary was my favorite comic. It's still a close second. I wish it came out more often, but oh well. Planetary is brilliant on so many levels it's scary. It is, more than Transmetropolitan, more than The Authority, Ellis's magnum opus. He's almost finished with it (I think it's going five more issues, but I'm not sure), and I can't wait to sit down and read the whole damned thing again. It's something that has to be savored. It has mind-blowing concepts and near-perfect art, although Cassaday looks a bit sloppy in this issue -- maybe all that X-stardom is going to his head. This issue is one long conversation between Elijah Snow and some weird chick with dreadlocks called Melanctha (Philipp Melancthon was a big-wig in the German Protestant Reformation; I assume there's some connection, because Ellis has such a big brain, but damned if I know what it is) during which Snow learns a little more about himself and why he's so special. It's tough to describe. Just buy the damned book! Totally worth it. Planetary is something I would give non-comic-readers. It's just that cool.

Singularity 7 #4 by Ben Templesmith
$3.99, IDW

This the last issue of a mini-series, and it leaves me a little cold. The first three issues were excellent, but the resolution ... eh. Kind of disappointing. It's sufficiently nihilistic from the collaborator on the 30 Days of Night juggernaut, but perhaps too much so. The guy with the dragon tattoo (I don't think we ever learned his name) doesn't play a major role, which I thought strange. It was just ... weird.

The art is a trip, though. I imagine some people hate Templesmith's art, but those people are morons. It's a cool book to look at, and it is a cool story, for the most part. Buy the trade if you haven't gotten the single issues, because it's worth it. I just wish it had ended differently, because it's kind of confusing. Not so much a downer (that I can deal with), just ... confusing. Maybe I'm missing something. I'm sure I am -- I'm not all that smart.

Solo #1 by Tim Sale, with Darwyn Cooke, Diana Schutz, Jeph Loeb, and Brian Azzarello
$4.95, DC

I hope this series does well. I really do. Anthologies just don't sell these days, probably because they cost so much (sorry, but it is a concern), but they seem to be a great idea to allow either new talent into the industry or established talent to show off some other aspects of their abilities. That said, this is a beautiful book. The non-superhero stuff ("Christina, "Low Card in the Hole," "I Concentrate on You,") is superb, and Sale's superhero work still impresses. Nothing in here, however, blows you away story-wise, and that's a shame, because the art's so nice. This issue is probably for Tim Sale fans only, and I don't know if you can sustain a series on just that. I won't be buying the next issue, with Richard Corben, because I'm not all that impressed with his art. But we'll see what comes down the road.

WE3 #2 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
$2.95, DC/Vertigo

Holy crap, is this good. I'm a huge Morrison fan, although I admit sometimes his stuff is too out there for me (The Filth, most of Invisibles). Seaguy was pretty good, but WE3 is unbelievable. The story hits all the right notes, with the animals' personalities coming through wonderfully, and the right amount of tension, horror, and tragedy. Morrison, who seems to have become rather cold recently, used to write stuff that wrenched your heart (late issues of Doom Patrol most especially), and here he's back to that. Just the interplay between the animals, and 1's last words of the issue, are enough to cut right to your core. It's really amazing.

Quitely's art is unreal, as well. He's always been good at experimenting and making it look good, and here he cuts loose. It's chilling the way he makes the violence in the book (and there's plenty of it) beautiful and balletic. The three pages where the animals rip into the soldiers sent to kill them make you focus on everything on the page and really appreciate how good these killing machines are. The double-page spread of the cat going through the panels (you'll know what I mean) are truly revolutionary. The confrontation with the redneck and his son is riveting and tragic and bloody all at once. Amazing.

I can't imagine how any mini-series will top WE3 this year. It's fantastic. If you haven't bought it, buy the trade when it comes out. You will NOT be disappointed.

That's it for this week. Not bad at all. We'll see what comes down the pike in November.