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 5 January 2005

I have a lot on my mind, and suddenly, I'm very busy (it's the child -- she has new things to do!). I wanted to get this week's comics out before I got into life in general, however (and aren't comics more important than life in general anyway?), so here we go!

Holy crap, it's the first Wednesday of the year, and already I've spent too much. Why oh why did I start looking through Previews? Meanwhile, there are two egregious grammatical errors in the comics I bought this week. I hate grammatical errors. Just another indication that our language is going down the toilet.

Captain Gravity and the Power of the Vril #2 by Joshua Dysart, Sal Velluto, and Bob Almond
$2.95, Penny-Farthing Press

I just can't get over how jazzed I am about this series. Not because it's the greatest thing ever (it isn't) and not because it's so ground-breaking (no again). I just like it because it's so unlike so much of what's coming out, and it's adventurous and fun and exciting and more comics should be like it in the sense of doing something different. And the art is gorgeous.

More of the same this issue, as Chase DuBois goes off to Egypt (and, it turns out, points west) to find something to do with the "power of the Vril," which, as it happens, may have something to do with Captain Gravity's powers. Her boyfriend, the oh-so-understanding suave German from last issue, turns out to be a Nazi (I'm glad Dysart got that out of the way quickly, since we all knew it was coming) and kidnaps Chase, even though she's supposed to be spying on him for the U.S. government, so I guess she doesn't mind. Josh has followed her to Cairo and eventually to Libya, where the bad guys are, and of course, other governments (the Commies) are interested. It's all played out in early 1941, which presents a problem, since Cairo seems awfully peaceful, and although I don't know WWII as well as I should, it seems the war should be affecting things a little more. Maybe not. The Russian spy says he's from St. Petersburg, which I thought by then was called something different (was it Leningrad yet, or Petrograd?). A minor quibble.

I'm hoping Dysart does a little more with Josh being black. He doesn't have to make it a big thing, but it's interesting that in the late '30s/early '40s, a black man could just hang out on a director's yacht with the white director and white starlet and it mean nothing, even if they're friends. Now that the action has moved to Africa, it's probably going to be less of an issue, but I wonder if Dysart will address this. Anyway, this is a fun book, and you should hunt it down (even if, as I mentioned, it rips off Indiana Jones movies -- there are worse things to rip off).

Detective Comics #802 by David Lapham, Ramon Bachs, and Nathan Massengill
$2.95, DC

Yes, it's depressing. Yes, it's gloomy. Yes, it's even nihilistic. I have read some complaints about Lapham's first issue of Detective Comics. Well, it's freakin' Batman. Go read Archie comics if you want happy happy joy joy. Batman comics should be depressing, because, let's face it, Batman's a pretty depressing character, and Gotham City's a pretty depressing place. People die there for no reason. If you don't like it, go read something else. Sheesh. Sean Penn wins a freakin' Academy Award for the gloomfest that is "Mystic River," and nobody says "boo." Lapham writes a very good Batman story and everyone whines and says they need Prozac.

Anyway, it doesn't get any better for our hero in the latest installment of "City of Crime," Lapham's opus. Oh sure, he gets offered tea (and I'm sorry, but seeing Batman sitting in a kitchen with a housewife pouring tea made me laugh, even though the context is, as usual, gloomy), but he doesn't drink it and it gets cold, and doesn't that just suck? Sure, Robin shows up, but he's too happy, and Bruce tells him to shut up and think of all the depressing things in the world. That Bruce -- always the downer.

Actually, this continues to be a well-written story with a lot of twists and turns and it appears plotted out the wazoo. Oswald Cobblepot shows up, as does Mr. Freeze. The fire that started last issue and which takes up a great deal of page space in this issue is central to the plot, and Batman finds six pregnant girls in the building who shouldn't be there. He only rescues one. There's a dirty cop (of course) and a dirty lawyer (are there any other kind? -- except mine, of course) and there are dirty politicians (naturally). It's all very noir.

And then there's the grammar. Grrr. On page three, Lapham writes, "[Robin]'s thinking about the family of five he just saved on the fourth floor. Him and the big men with axes." HIM?!?!?! That's like saying "Me and my wife went to Hawaii on my honeymoon." Lapham, or the editor, should have known better. It's a minor point, I guess, but it's not the only grammatical error in comics this week.

The Gift #9 by Raven Gregory, Tyler Kirkham, and Sonia Oback
$2.99, Image

I'm still on the fence with The Gift. It's okay, I guess, but Kirkham's art isn't the greatest, and although I appreciate the single-issue stories, they're becoming familiar. I'm also sick of dirty cops in comics. They show up in this issue. Yes, I know there are dirty cops, and I'm not the biggest fan of police, but I'm sick of it (I'm also sick of it in movies, but that's a whole different post). Anyway, the Ancient One shows up, gives a girl who survived a police massacre of her stoner friends the power to gain revenge, which she does. It's interesting, however, because we learn that the Ancient One could have stopped the massacre, but didn't. According to Gregory, the next issue will begin to answer some questions, so that's something, but we'll see. This is the kind of comic that if you're interested, you might want to wait for the trade paperback.

The Incredible Hulk #77 by Peter David, Lee Weeks, and Tom Palmer
$2.99, Marvel

Peter David's back on The Hulk, and maybe all will be right with the world. After Bruce Jones stumbled to the finish line with his run, it will be interesting to see what David does returning to the title he wrote for twelve years, one of the greatest runs on any title in the past forty years. The fact that Weeks is penciling it is also pretty cool, since I've liked Weeks' art since his work on Daredevil years ago.

So ... does it hold up? Well, it's certainly a decent start. It's Lost! Actually, it's Monster Island (which is actually a peninsula)! Actually, it's The Tempest! Okay, David has said it's sort of a take on the Shakespeare play, with the big green fella, I guess, as Caliban. Good old Hulk is wandering around the ocean bottom (why? we don't know -- be patient) and he does Hulkish things -- rips a shark in half, tears some arms off a very mutant-looking octopus -- before washing ashore on an island. He turns back into Banner (do we even know what triggers his changes anymore?) and two people find him as he's about to be eaten by a two-headed lizard thing. At the end, someone familiar shows up. That's it.

Okay, it's not bad. It's pretty good, actually. Nothing like David's other title, Fallen Angel (why aren't you buying that?), but a good start. It's intriguing and mysterious and doesn't feel terribly slow, even though not a lot happens. There's some flashbacks to Bruce's teenage life, although he doesn't look like a teenager, and I'm curious if David will do anything with the fact that the Hulk is in the flashbacks -- if it's an actual flashback or just Bruce melding all sorts of thoughts together. Anyway, it's interesting. It's enough for me to pick up part 2 (of 5) because I trust David.

The Intimates #3 by Joe Casey, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Sandra Hope
$2.95, Wildstorm

More fun at the Seminary! Empty Vee has a crush on Punchy, but he thinks it's Destra, and of course, such teenage hijinks can lead to no good, and it does. We learn about Kefong's powers, and they are pretty clever. Kind of unfortunately, that's pretty much it for plot. I'm still on board with this book, but I hope things start happening a little more quickly. It's still a wickedly fun book, and the stuff at the bottom of each page is still good reading, and the art is very nifty, but I wish more was going on. I want this book to sell well, because Casey deserves it, and I hope people give it a chance. It's fun to read (since people are complaining about Detective, here's a fun read).

Noble Causes #6 by Jay Faerber and Fran Bueno
$3.50, Image

Well, it's still too much money, but it's a pretty good issue. Liz leaves Race for a while, but they have a heart-to-heart and say some interesting things about a relationship between a superhero and a non-superhero, one I wonder if Clark Kent and Lois Lane have ever had (I don't read any Superman comics, so I don't know). We revisit why Doc Noble is acting so weird. We find out a little more about the mysterious bad guy that Invincible stopped last issue, and it's not a good thing. We also find out a little more about the alien world where all the heroes are. All in all, it's a good issue. Faerber, I think, is trying a little too hard to keep a lot of balls in the air, and although I like multiple storylines in one issue, maybe one fewer would help us keep track of everything a little better. This is still a good comic, and I'm sticking with it, and I think more people should be buying it, because it's an interesting look at celebrity superheroes that does a better job of it than, say, Fantastic Four.

The Question #3 by Rick Veitch and Tommy Lee Edwards
$2.95, DC

Ah, grammar. Proper usage of the English language. Apparently that's not a super-power Vic Sage possesses. Let's open to PAGE ONE, PANEL ONE. "They're laying low, Metropolis," opines Mr. Sage in his wonderfully wacky internal monologue. Now, I know the whole lie/lay thing makes some people's heads hurts, but really, Vic? Aren't you a journalist?!?!?!?

At least it's the first panel, and then we can move on. The art continues to be spectacular, and there are thought balloons! I miss thought balloons. Veitch comes up with an interesting way to keep drug deals and other illegal activities away from the prying eyes of Superman, but he really beats us over the head with it, like he's trying to prove how clever he is. I know very little about the Question, but I didn't know he had X-ray vision, like Veitch implies on page 2. Anyway, that's not the issue in this issue -- Sage does little except beat up bad guys. We learn more about what Luthor is doing, and Lois checks out some chi, and we get a kind of explanation for the yellow panels with Sage's silhouette. We learn a little more about the Subterraneans, who are (shocking!) working with Luthor. The bad guys are a neat concept, although I can't help wonder where I've seen Minos before. Is he the bag guy on Space Ghost? Help me out, people!

There's been a lot of talk about Veitch "ruining" Ditko's creation. Whatever. This is an interesting series, and I'm actually hooked for the whole thing. If you don't want to get the individual issues, look for the trade paperback, because I'm sure it will be out sometime.

Ultimate X-Men #54 by Brian K. Vaughan, Stuart Immonen, and Wade von Grawbadger with Scott Koblish
$2.25, Marvel

Dazzler rules. That's all I have to say. She ruled last issue, and she rules even more this issue. Dazzler bleepin' kicks ass. Okay, she's flying on the cover (?), but she still rules.

So what's going on in this issue? Well, Vaughan is doing the Ultimate version of Longshot and Mojo, and I'm waiting to see what happens with this before deciding if I'm keeping the title. Vaughan also brings in Genosha, as Longshot is a Genoshan mutant accused of killing a politician, for which he is sentenced to be hunted on Krakoa, an uninhabited island, while Mojo films him for a "reality" show. Of course, he's remarkably lucky, so he keeps surviving. The X-Men find out about this and don't actually intervene, instead going to Genosha to investigate whether Longshot (he has a real name, but it's more fun to call him this) is innocent or guilty. Colossus thinks this sucks, so Xavier grounds him. He also acts all snotty with Jean when she questions him. Is Ultimate Xavier going all Onslaught on us???? After Jean, Scott, Bobby, and Kitty leave to investigate, Dazzler suggests the rest of them steal a jet and do some of their own investigating. That, my friends, is why she rules. Of course, Vaughan will probably kill her off, because she rules too much. The lame characters (yes, I'm harping on Cyclops again -- even Ultimate Cyclops is lame) they keep, but who needs cool characters?

The art is pretty, although not as nice as Immonen's on Superman: Secret Identity. Vaughan puts in a wonderfully witty defense of decompressed comic-book writing. Of course, Mojo the villain makes the argument, but it's still funny. And there's a Doug Ramsey reference!

Pretty good stuff, better than the last arc, even though it had Fenris in it. We'll see how it plays out.