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 24 November 2004

A small sample of books today, but some good quality:

Black Widow #3 by Richard K. Morgan, Goran Parlov, and Bill Sienkiewicz
$2.99, Marvel

I still don't know if this is the first arc of an ongoing series or a mini-series. It's quite puzzling. Anyway, there are some real nice moments here, and the story continues to interest and entertain. It's a nifty little puzzle, one I hope doesn't fall apart as Natasha gets closer to the solution. There's a nice panel in which Max, the male agent tracking Natasha, insults women with his partner, Kestrel, standing right there. It's subtle digs at the male-dominated comics world that makes this an interesting read. There's been some discussion about non-comics-writers like Kevin Smith and J. Michael Straczynski coming onto high-profile titles and messing with things because they don't have an appreciation of the history (Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn? Ick!). Morgan might go that route, but here, because Natasha has never been so high-profile, he can get away with a little more. That said, this is a perfectly believable Black Widow in the context of her previous appearances. She's a tough bitch who knows exactly what she's doing and always looks out for weaker women. Not a stretch to believe that.

The art is excellent this issue. When issue #2 came out, I was worried that Parlov doing the layouts and Sienkiewicz finishing would make the art less Sienkiewicz-like, which was a big draw for me. However, the Sienkiewicz influence is still strong, and some pages, like the one when Ferris sees her through a drug-induced haze, and pure Sienkiewicz and brilliant. Natasha's breasts are ridiculously large in one panel, but I suppose that's okay, since she's trying to look like a slut. The use of sound effects in this book is very well done, as well. Sienkiewicz has always incorporated neat ways to convey sound into his art, and in this issue, there are two great examples -- a rifle shot, and something hitting the pavement. People don't always appreciate the sound effects in a comic, but here, they're done very well.

Good stuff. I suppose you could wait for the inevitable trade paperback, but Greg Land's covers are very pretty to look at on a monthly basis.

Daredevil #67 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
$2.99, Marvel

More of the same from last month, with Bendis continuing to impress and Maleev experimenting with the black-and-white, woodcut-style 1940s art and the Ditko-esque 1960s art. Must be tiresome for these guys to be so consistently excellent. Why would you buy Avengers Disassembled when you can read really good Bendis work here? Why, dear God, why????

Melvin Potter shows up in this issue, beating the living snot out of Matt Murdock while Alexander Bont looks on. We don't find out why Potter turned against Murdock, nor how Matt was captured. I'm sure we will in the future, but it's a little weird that Bendis doesn't tell us. I guess I'll have to trust him. We get a flashback to the "1960s" and Bont is telling Potter that he has to go get Daredevil for him. This is apparently after Potter gave up being Gladiator (I'm fuzzy on my old Daredevil history, but I'm sure Gladiator appeared in the late 1970s, so Bendis may be messing with history again), and Bont basically blackmails him into doing it. We see another flashback to the "1940s" and how Bont got on top of the underworld in the first place. Then we see why Bont hates Matt Murdock, as opposed to Daredevil, so much. So it's a layered story, with events going on in three different times, and all will, presumably, make sense at the end. Although I like this issue and this story a lot, I have some questions:

On page 3, Bont says that he wants everyone to understand how we all got to this place, meaning Potter beating the hell out of Matt while Bont watches. We then go into the first "1960s" flashback where Bont wants Potter to bring him Daredevil. It can't be the same time period, because it's a different art style and Bont's much younger. So why did Bont want Daredevil at that time, and how did he get Matt in the present?

Agent Del Toro of the FBI, investigating the murder from last issue (Bont punched right through some guy!), knows that the stripper's name is Amber. Amber wants to know how she knew her name, and so do I? Is there something we don't know about Agent Del Toro? Is that a stupid question?

Buy Daredevil. Powers is too "look-at-how-cool-I-am!", Ultimate Spider-Man is fine, but too devoted to the "Ultimate" mandate of redoing the mileposts of Spider-Man history, The Pulse is too new and hasn't found its legs yet, and as for Bendis's Avengers work -- the less said, the better. Read Daredevil!

Supreme Power #13 by J. Michael Straczynski, Gary Frank, and John Sibal
$2.99, Marvel (Max)

Holy crap, three Marvel titles in one week! How can I stand it?

It's been a while since the last issue of Supreme Power came out, but that's okay, because it's definitely worth the wait. As long as Frank stays on the art, it will be worth the wait. This issue is actually a little sloppy, but it's still worth it! Frank's art is excellent without being gimmicky, and it works very well on this title. You actually believe these people are real and doing all the things JMS makes them do. It's a very good book.

So what happens? The heroes are tracking down a super-powered serial killer. But there's so much more. Nighthawk (isn't it Nighthawk?) and Hyperion have an interesting conversation about the responsibilities of power and how you choose to use it, the fast kid (I can't remember his name, because it's been so long since this title came out!) is mocked by some hookers (in a really funny scene), and Doctor Spectrum gets involved. The last scene, where Nighthawk encounters the killer, is set up nicely, and, as usual in this title, you really get the sense of danger when dealing with superheroes. Usually, superheroes are presented as, well, heroes. That's great, but shouldn't people be just a little scared of Superman? I mean, he's kind of scary, isn't he? Straczynski does a nice job showing the scary side of superheroes -- not in the way others have done, as if they're going to take over the world because they can (although that's here, too), but as if they could kill you because of a casual swat on the back. It's done well here.

I wish Supreme Power came out more often, but I won't complain as long as it's this high-quality. Pick it up!

Waterloo Sunset #2 by Andrew Stephenson and Trevor Goring
$6.95, Image

This is an interesting title that is actually worth the seven dollars, since it's a hefty book and tells an engrossing tale. It's 2051, and London has been plunged into a new Dark Age. The city is cut off from the outside world, and it's populated by not only humans, but strange aliens as well. Into the city comes a woman from the outside with dire news for the inhabitants. She's on a mission that could lead to disaster or to a renewal of London's fortunes. The woman, who is named Nina, is led around London by Esau, a Hunter, who knows all the powerful players and navigates among the dangers of the city. Last issue, Nina wanted to meet the Cartel, the secret group that runs London. In this issue, she and Esau get to enter the tower where the Cartel supposedly resides, but they find nothing. Nina, however, has persuaded the Cartel to meet with her, a meeting which will change the way London is run and may lead to its end.

This is the kind of book that needs to be part of why comics are a vital art form and can do so much more than superheroes. The story is interesting, and the art complements it perfectly. Goring's style is much like David Lloyd's, and his London comes to life with every small detail he packs onto the page. It's a bit of a mystery, a bit of a science fiction story, and kind of a Grail Quest. I just read somewhere where the title of the book comes from, and now I can't remember. Damnit! Anyway, I don't know how long this title will last -- I'm sure it's a mini-series, but I don't know how many issues it runs -- and I hope people pick it up. It's a fascinating concept handled well. There are many questions about what's going on, and if I don't have answers when it's done I'll be a little peeved, but right now I'm enjoying the ride.

That's all for this week. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.