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!

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!


Comics for 10 November 2004

Sheesh. Lots of comics this week, but did any really blow me away? We'll see. I'm going to try to keep this short. Again, we'll see.

Angeltown #1 by Gary Phillips and Shawn Martinbrough
$2.95, DC/Vertigo

If you like pulp detective fiction, you'll probably like this. Lots of characters, a murder, intrigue, a story that could go many different ways, and nifty art. Martinbrough doesn't get enough credit. Nate Hollis is a cool character, and it will be interesting to see how the racially charged atmosphere of Los Angeles is brought into this. A black basketball star is wanted for questioning in the murder of his white ex-wife. O.J. references are naturally included. There's a lot going on in this first issue, and I'm going to check out the second issue to see if Phillips keeps all the balls in the air effectively. I don't know if this is a five-issue mini-series or an ongoing series, but we'll see what happens with this. It's worth checking out, especially because there's not a lot like it out there.

The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty #5 by Gabriel Benson and Mike Hawthorne
$1.99, Beckett

Kind of a letdown after last issue, but still interesting. Not a lot of exposition in this one. It's almost all action, although we learn some crucial things about Red's plight and where Cole used to live with his now-dead wife. There's a trip on a railroad, which allows Drake to go all Snidely Whiplash on Red's ass. People die. Things come to a sort of a conclusion, which makes me think there will soon be a trade paperback collecting the first five issues. Man, the state of comics these days, with the slavish devotion to the trade paperback, makes me sick. I actually miss the days when Claremont could keep three or four plots going for issue after issue! Oh well. Support your local independent comic! Buy The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty!

Fables #31 by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Leialoha
$2.50, DC/Vertigo

This book is still $2.50? Man, it's totally worth it. Anyway, I think Steve Leialoha is the first guy in comics to use the old "Buy this comic or I'll shoot this ________!" in ads for Coyote back in the days of Epic Comics. He's been around a while. Buckingham's looking a little more Bachalo-ish this issue, which isn't a good thing, considering how bizarre Bachalo's art is looking these days. I'm being incoherent, aren't I?

Bad things are on the horizon for our fabled bunch. Bigby is not happy. Uh-oh. Snow leaves for the Farm with her kids, since they're too weird to stay in New York. Bigby doesn't like the fact that his kids are being treated like second-class citizens, and since he's not allowed on the Farm, he leaves Fabletown. Unhappily. Uh-oh. Little Boy Blue has also left, presumably back to the Homelands to find what's-her-name, his girlfriend (crap, I can't remember which fable she is -- I suck). I like that he took the Vorpal Sword with him. Anyway, bad things are happening. Even Colin the dead pig shows up and tells Snow that bad things are coming. Uh-oh.

Fables is one of the better comics out there. If you're not buying it, why not?

Forsaken #2&3 by Carmen Treffiletti, Kristian Donaldson, and Nick Zagami
$2.95, Image

I didn't get Forsaken #2 last month, so I got them both this month. I'm not totally sold on the comic yet -- it seems a little Alien Nation to me -- but I'm giving it a try for now. The art is bizarre and cool, and the story's pretty good. Lots of mystery. I wonder if the characters are a little "too-cool-for-school," but so far they haven't pissed me off. In these issues, we learn why these five people (four humans and one alien) have been recruited, and they head off on their first mission. It does not go well, to say the least. There's an interesting diatribe by the leader of the bad guys about "aliens" in our midst, which I suppose you could read as a clever dig at not allowing residents of other countries on Earth into our America, but only if you want to. Anyway, it's another interesting title from Image that I may keep buying. It's not as good as Rex Mundi or Small Gods, but it's kind of neat.

The only thing that could really turn me off the book at this time is the atrocious lettering, or more precisely, the atrocious punctuation. I'm serious -- it makes me cringe whenever I see it. Commas are your friend, people! Maybe some people don't care about that sort of thing, but it really bugs me.

The Gift #8 by Raven Gregory (he's a man, baby!), Cristina Lopez, and Sonia Oback
$2.99, Image

The Gift is a weird little book about a strange and mysterious man who wanders the Earth (or more specifically, the U.S.) giving strange and awesome powers to people who have been wronged in some way in order for them to wreak revenge (or not). Wait a minute -- it's 100 Bullets! Okay, it's more supernatural and theological than 100 Bullets -- is the old man God? Is he Satan? We don't freakin' know! But that's okay, because it's all part of a larger set-up. I can wait, because I don't mind teases by writers as long as they pay up later. I've been wondering about the theological issues brought up by this comic, because it's rare to see anyone in comics addressing spiritual issues (DeMatteis does it quite often, especially in his brilliant Dr. Fate, and Ostrander did in The Spectre, but it's still rare) and I wonder what Gregory is doing with it. I stick around for a while to find out.

This is a weird issue. I didn't get it. Okay, I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I still didn't get it. Did the guy become fictional so that his kid could become real? If so, was the kid ever real? If not, then what the heck happened? Is this supposed to be Gregory's life? He tells us after the issue that he has two boys, so I guess it's not him. So what's the point? I know it's supposed to be all "Cat's in the Cradle" and make us a little weepy, but it didn't. Maybe I'm being harsh. I just didn't get it.

Identity Crisis #6 by Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales, and Michael Bair
$3.95, DC

I don't hate Identity Crisis as some bloggers do, nor do I think it's the greatest thing DC has published since Watchmen, as Wizard seems to think. It's okay. The best thing about this issue is the page where Batman holds Tim Drake over Mr. Drake's body. It's touching and a little creepy all at the same time. We learn two important things in this issue. One's important, and one is, well, whodunit, so I guess that's pretty stinkin' important too. It's nicely done, actually, and a lot of smarty-pants will have to shut up. I don't even try to guess whodunit. I'm not that bright. Anyway, next issue is the big finale, and I'll be interested to see what happens. The DC Universe will never be the same!!!!!!

Ocean #2 by Warren Ellis, Chris Sprouse, and Karl Story
$2.95, Wildstorm

This is better. After last issue's slow pace (which is being nice), we pick it up a bit. Not too much -- God forbid -- but a bit. More characters are introduced, more exposition is exposited, Kane (I mean Jackson King, I mean Ultimate Nick Fury -- I know I mentioned this last month, but Ellis's obsession with bad black men is a little weird) learns more about the "coffins" in the ice, Kane and Fadia go on a field trip, and we find out why a weapons inspector is out there. Ellis gives us a nice little story that he honestly could have given us last issue, but what the hell. The art is gorgeous, there's a nice sense of developing tension, there's a conflict, and there's cool sci-fi crap going on. A neat series. If you don't want to buy it piecemeal, wait for the inevitable trade paperback.

Strange Killings: Necromancer #1-6 by Warren Ellis and Mike Wolfer
$3.50, Avatar

Ellis started writing these mini-series for Avatar a few years ago (2000, I think) and since then he's done about one a year. These series tell the weird tales of William Gravel, combat magician. He's a Black Ops guy for the British who does all the jobs not even S.A.S. will handle. "Combat magician" means that Ellis gets to have him kill dozens of people in gruesome ways, rendered beautifully in black and white by Mike Wolfer. This series is no different from the other ones except that Gravel gets lucky. A British scientist has gone a little nutty in the Filipino jungle and is creating zombies, who prey on the locals and the occasional tourist. Gravel goes in the stop it. I like the Strange Killings 3-issue mini-series more than the 6-issue ones, because they're tighter, but Ellis knows what he's doing regardless. These are interesting little sidebars to his main stuff, and they deserve to get more attention. They haven't really been that disturbing since the first one (Strange Kiss), but check them out anyway.

X-Men: The End Book One: Dreamers and Demons #5 by Chris Claremont, Sean Chen, and Sandu Florea
$2.99, Marvel

Oh, Claremont. What have you done? I was with you on this one, I really was. All the characters we either had never heard of or who have been in limbo for decades, all the peripheral characters dying (more this issue!), all the plots thrown at us with little rhyme or reason -- I was with you. Even though this is planned as 18 issues (three 6-issue mini-series), I was with you. And now ... I don't know if I'll pick up the last issue of this mini.

Well, I probably will. But unless it really pulls the fat out of the fire, it will be the last issue of X-Men: The End that I buy. Why? Three reasons: Ahab, Madeleine Pryor, and Stryfe. They freakin' show up in this issue. Madeleine Pryor was interesting back in the mid-1980s, the first time she showed up. Then she became the Goblin Queen and it all went to shit. Ahab was interesting for a microsecond when he was Rachel Summers' master, but then he went to shit. And Stryfe sucked from the moment Rob Liefeld (probably, unless it was Greg Capullo, Liefeld's clone) put him down on paper. And they all show up in this issue. Blech.

I can't even talk about the wacky plot. There are Skrulls. I just can't get over those three horrible villains. I can't. Say it isn't so, Claremont!