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 2 February 2005

It was Groundhog Day yesterday. What a great movie. Not good, but great. But you don't need me to tell you that, do you?

Anyway, onward and upward!

Detective Comics #803 by David Lapham, Ramon Bachs, and Nathan Massengill
DC, $2.95

I'm enjoying this run on Detective so much I might have to go buy Lapham's Stray Bullets, which is collected in what seems like an endless series of trade paperbacks. His 12-issue run, only three issues old, is shaping up to be one of those definitive takes of the character, much more so than the "Hush" storyline was. The art is dynamic and detailed, the characterization is spot on, and the twists are well thought out and organic. I have no idea who the bald guy who first appears on page 3 is, but I'm sure I will soon. Mr. Freeze comes off a great bad guy, and Penguin gets a fun line when he says, "This is what happens when you work with freaks." You're so normal, Oswald! Lapham tells the story in a nice, non-linear fashion that makes you sit and think about when everything fits together, and it's actually a pleasure to read a comic that makes you do this, especially because he does it well. Lapham's characterization of Batman is excellent, as well. I may have mentioned this before (I don't care to check) but a Bat-book with Batman in the shadows most of the time is cool, because he should be a little scary. The less we see of Bat-boy, the better, I say. Here we see plenty, but it's often just the cape, or his hands, or we hear is disembodied voice. Good stuff.

I had to laugh at the rain. I read on some site recently (sorry, can't remember which one, or I'd link to it) that if Frank Miller writes Batman, there will be rain. Lots of rain. Well, here, there's lots of rain. Gotham must be in the Pacific Northwest.

Good book. A reason to like Batman comics again.

GrimJack: Killer Instinct #1 by John Ostrander and Timothy Truman
IDW, #3.99

If you haven't bought Ostrander's work on Firestorm, Suicide Squad, or The Spectre (I'll forgive you if you skipped Martian Manhunter), run, don't walk, to your nearest comic book store and buy every issue you can find. I'll be here when you get back.

Okay, now that you've spent your entire paycheck, I can talk about GrimJack. GrimJack was the first title Ostrander and Truman worked on, back in the early 1980s, and it's finally back after much legal wrangling over the rights. IDW is releasing new stories as well as trade paperbacks collecting the old stuff, and you really should check it out. Ostrander is an excellent comic book writer.

This new issue tells a pretty straight forward action story. John Gaunt quits the police force of Cynosure, the trans-dimensional city in which he lives, and eventually hooks up with a shadowy, CIA-like force that eliminates threats to the status quo. Gaunt does this for a while, until he's sent to eliminate a certain threat. It turns out to be a set-up, however, and most of his team is eliminated itself (just like Mission: Impossible!). I don't think it will come as a surprise that the sole survivor (besides ol' GrimJack himself) is a foxy chick. Where would the sexual tension come from otherwise? Anyway, by the end of the issue, Gaunt and Fangs (that's her name, I swear!) are up to their necks in good old-fashioned shit. More mayhem will ensue in future issues.

I'll be honest -- I own only the first ten issues of the first GrimJack series, and I've only read the first couple. I was planning on buying all of them, and still might, especially if IDW goes through with their schemes of releasing the stuff in trades. This first issue of the new mini-series doesn't require a lot of knowledge of the series, and it has good things going for it: Ostrander's ability to get you inside the character quickly, with a minimum of wrenching soul-searching, and Truman's slightly bizarre but excellent art. Truman has a bit of trouble with fight scenes, but he draws excellent weird creatures, and his work suits a series set in a trans-dimensional city. I'm looking forward to GrimJack getting some much-needed publicity with this mini-series.

The Intimates #4 by Joe Casey, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Sandra Hope
Wildstorm, $2.95

Ah, the somewhat notorious "Nipple Issue." Yes, it appears Destra's nipple is on the cover, but so the fuck what? I've been wondering about her see-through shirt since this series began, and DC/Wildstorm keeps publishing it. I mean, who the hell cares? Are young lads going to start rampaging in the streets because they see a nipple? They didn't after the Janet Jackson incident. It's not like it's even a very good shot of a nipple. Dorian puts it quite well (he's talking about the new Shanna the She-Devil, but it still works):

I'm trying very hard not to see this as indicative of some of the wider problems with the American mind-set; but I find it very interesting that showing people being violently disembowled or with half their faces ripped off is a-ok, but for God's sake, whatever you do, don't let people see a naked breast.

Amen, brother! Anyway, I'm still liking this comic, although I'm still not sold on keeping it up. I'm in the wait-and-see period, which for me can last anywhere from 6 to 12 issues. I like what Casey's doing, and the art is good, but unless Casey starts developing some stories as well as he's developing the characters, I might have to stop buying it. I trust him, because he took his time on Wildcats, but let's go, Joe!

There's a school dance. Hijinks ensue. Destra shows she's tough, and that she's a spoiled little rich bitch who gets her daddy to get her what she wants. Empty Vee makes out with a guy. Casey makes a lot of observations in his crawl at the bottom about dancing and sex and challenging authority. He also asks if anyone's reading the crawl. I am, Joe, and I like it -- keep it up! He also speculates on how long the book will last. I have no idea if the sales are warranting an extension, but I hope they do, and I hope you check this book out. It's fun.

The Question #4 by Rick Veitch and Tommy Lee Edwards
DC, $2.95

More craziness from the minds of Veitch and Edwards. If you haven't already bought this series, you're not going to start now, but you should get the trade if it comes out. I can't keep telling you about how freakin' cool the art is. It's still freakin' cool. Big Blue shows up in this issue (Vic Sage is in Metropolis, after all), and the way Edwards draws him is simply amazing. We learned last issue that the weird yellow way Sage is looking at the world has to do with the chi that Luthor is trying to tap with his Science Spire, which makes sense. In this issue, we never get a clear view of Supes, but we do see that he's a chi magnet. This is a wonderful way to portray Superman. It's stuff like this that makes old characters still viable, even if you think they're played out. Superman a magnet for chi (we knew he was a babe magnet, but this?)! Very cool.

Anyway, more cleverly planned escapades with the Subterraneans, and more chi weirdness with Lois Lane, Miles van Vliet, and Six True Words (I love her name -- she needs her own series based solely on her name!). STW sets some ghosts free, said ghosts having been trapped when a slaver went down in the harbor on the precise spot where Luthor wants to build his Science Spire. Freeing the ghosts ends the book, actually, with Sage showing up just as she does. Why this is a dramatic point to end the book on, I don't know. I don't care. It's cool. Buy it.

Supreme Power #15 by J. Michael Straczynski, Gary Frank, and Jon Sibal
Marvel/MAX, $2.99

Another cool issue. What JMS is doing with this series is just fascinating. More than his Rising Stars, which is good but plagued by delays and inconsistent art, this series shows what would happen in the real world if certain people received super powers. It's much more cynical than Rising Stars, as well, so it works a little better. I hope JMS doesn't keep returning to this well (this should be the last time he explores this theme), but he's doing fine right now.

In this issue, we get the aftermath of Hyperion's battle with the hooker-killer. His name is Michael Redstone, and we learn a lot about him. Naturally, by the end of the book he's working for the government. The government would never do something like that, would they? The other part of the story has to do with Hyperion, Nighthawk, and Blur assessing what they've done. Mark finds out some uncomfortable things about racism and relationships within the black community, and I appreciate JMS looking at these issues and addressing them. It's interesting reading. We also see Mark enjoying his powers and freedom, as he explains some disturbing things (for the future in the book, I mean) to Blur. Oh, and Dr. Spectrum meets up with that fish-girl again. Something's going to start happening there.

Frank's art continues to be excellent. This is another book that I really enjoy reading. It's just another example of what you can do with comics.

The Twilight Experiment #1 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Juan Santacruz
Wildstorm, $2.95

This is a mini-series, and it looks like it's going to be a nice book. It's an interesting concept, at least, and promises some different takes on superheroes and how they affect regular people. The art is very nice, clean and clear, and battle between the good hero and the baddie is sufficiently epic. So far, so good.

The story begins in an unusual way -- the effects of a superhero fight on the normal people. A chunk of building falls onto a truck and kills the driver, leaving her sister in the passenger seat unharmed. Years later she's still traumatized, although she denies it. Meanwhile, the heroine's son watches the fight from a satellite where he is being raised by a robot because his mom would kill him if she touched him (the nature of her powers and all). He's a little freaked out when she sacrifices herself to save the day. The fight is in the past. In the present day, Rene Doyle (the girl who survived) is talking about the superheroes to a psychiatrist, and she tells him about a guy who had been run over a few times by his angry wife (he was cheating on her) and was clinically dead, when he suddenly wakes up. Cue Twilight Zone music. At the very end, the MIB show up (although they're dressed in white because it's in the mountains, and there's snow all around) and we find out that one of the combatants in the fight survived. Who could it be? Serenity (the good chick) or The Righteous (the bad guy)? Who? WHO?

This is a nice book, and I'm curious about the rest of the story. The first issue, despite setting a lot of stuff up, also packs in a lot of action. Shocking! I was reading about this series a while back, and it's called The Twilight Experiment for some reason that I can't remember. I'm sure we'll find out. Check it out!


Blogger Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Good stuff. I've been curious about Latham's work but War Games blew my Batman budget to smithereens this summer and I've since pulled back to Gotham Knights, Batgirl and Robin only, though the latter's on a short rope. (And, of course, Gotham Central, which I don't really consider a Batbook.) Might pick this up in the trade if/when DC releases it. Looking forward to Steve Niles' Bat-mini, Gotham County Line.

Eyed Grimjack in the store on Wednesday but didn't really know anything about him. Love Ostrander's Suicide Squad, though - bought the first 38 issues on eBay awhile back - so I might pick it up next week.

4/2/05 8:48 AM  

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