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 9 February 2005

Thanks to everyone who wished me and my little family well -- my wife and daughter are much tougher than I am, and they shame me into being so. Onward to more uplifting themes, like comics!

Lots of people complain about comics. Yes, Marvel released three books essentially starring the Avengers in the same week. (That olde-timey Avengers books -- what's it called? -- with Scott Kolins on art; The Ultimates; Young Avengers.) Yes, two books with Captain America came out this week. Yes, two Ultimate books came out this week. Yes, there's crap all over. But people, people, people -- nobody said you had to plunk down three dollars for Young Avengers, especially when it features Bendis-esque dialogue for seven or eight pages at the beginning (Bendis doesn't write it too, does he?). There's good stuff out there. Just boycott the crap, for Pete's sake!

I successfully passed my first Millar temptation after swearing off his work. The Ultimates 2 #3 came out today, and although it's pretty, I didn't buy it. I skimmed it however, and it looked lame. Just kill Bruce off, for crying out loud! Like we couldn't see his escape coming! (Did I just ruin it for anyone? I hope not, but I'm not that sorry -- it's lame.) Here's what I did buy:

Angeltown #4 by Gary Phillips and Shawn Martinbrough
$2.95, DC/Vertigo

The penultimate issue. Still cooking along, but I am going to have to re-read it when issue #5 comes out, because Holy Crap there are a lot of characters in this. I count 17 people with significant speaking roles. Sheee-it! More mayhem, double-crossing, set-ups for murder, illicit sex -- you know, good wholesome fun. I'm worried about the pay-off, though. I doubt if Phillips is going to pull it all together very satisfactorily. I have a feeling we're heading for a True Romance/Enemy of the State kind of Mexican stand-off here, where everyone ends up dead. What the hell would that prove?

Batman: The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke
$6.95, DC

I usually like these nice thick (for a comic) Batman books that exist outside the regular books. In fact, because Batman isn't tied to any real continuity, it might be nicer if DC just put out 6-10 of these a year instead of the regular series. This is a retelling of the first appearance of the Joker. I have read very little by Brubaker, even though the Internettis love him. The story here is fine. The art is very nice. As I read this, however, I wondered: "Do we really need this?" Most comics geeks have read the first appearance of the Joker, in its compact eight or so pages from lo those many years ago. It's still freakin' scary (especially the art -- was it Bill Finger back then? Help me out!)! It doesn't need all the trappings that modern writers feel the need to put in it. Here, the Joker even has a motive! Back then, it was pure greed -- he wanted to steal valuable objects and make a bold statement doing it. This is an okay book, but it seems really unnecessary. And anyone who's read Miller and Mazzucchelli's "Year One" will figure out what the Joker's up too -- Brubaker lifts the plot from the very end of that book! A nice book, but not for 7 dollars.

Creep #1 by Ethan Nicolle and Brinton Williams
$2.99, Conspiracy Productions

I ordered this book because it looked interesting. It's an example of why you should scan Previews to select your comics, because there's no way in hell a retailer is just going to order this in the hopes that someone buys it. That said, you shouldn't buy it, because it's just not that good. It's also dated January 2003, which means it's either really late or the second issue has not yet appeared. Either way, why would you keep up with it? It's the story of a weird looking dude (really weird looking, mind you, not just somewhat) who can't hold a job because he's so weird looking, but he apparently possesses great strength, so he decides to become a masked vigilante. The interesting twist is that because he's so weird looking, people will fear him instead of praising him, so his best friend (who's not weird looking) will pretend to be him in front of the press, while the weird looking dude does all the heavy lifting. It's okay, I guess, but nothing to get all excited about. The art is very rough and black and white, and there are innumerable grammatical errors (I'm sorry, but that bothers me). A forgettable little comic.

Fables #34 by Bill Willingham and David Hahn
$2.50, DC/Vertigo

What happened to Jack? Willingham tells us, in the first part of a two-parter with guest art by Hahn. Hahn's art is okay, but why Willingham refuses to pencil an issue or two occasionally remains beyond me. Anyway, Jack goes to Hollywood and immediately becomes a player (he's flush with cash because he looted Fabletown's treasury). It's a fun little tale that ends with the tag line "What's really going on here." Jack is setting himself up big in the movie business and greenlights a trilogy based on "Jack and the Beanstalk." He's utterly ruthless in his business dealings, which makes the issue very fun. It's a light as air issue, but that's okay, because all gloom and no fun make comics gloomy. Fun stuff. Still one of the best titles around.

The Gift #10 by Raven Gregory, Tyler Kirkham, and Marco Galli
$2.99, Image

Just when I think I'm going to drop this, Gregory comes up with an interesting issue. What I like about this book is Gregory's willingness to kill off characters with astonishing regularity -- they're fictional, after all, and serve his will! He does it again in this issue, and the first major part of the story comes to an end, with a reference to issue #4 (which came out a LONG time ago) and a couple of new players in the Ancient One's weird game. Kirkham's Liefeld-inspired pencils are apparently moving on, which isn't the greatest loss, and it remains to be seen whether the next issue is the one that causes me to throw up my hands and quit reading, but for now, I'm still intrigued. This is just another title that Image is publishing that makes them one of the best companies out there -- even though it's not the greatest book, it's still something different in the market, which is nice.

The Incredible Hulk #78 by Peter David, Lee Weeks, and Tom Palmer
$2.99, Marvel

I like Lee Weeks as an artist, but what the hell's going on with the Hulk? He's really bizarre looking. His head's way too freakin' big for his body, and his body doesn't look all that imposing. Even Gary Frank's rendition of Hulk wearing glasses and a cardigan is scarier than Weeks' (although that may be for different reasons, i.e., he's wearing glasses and a freakin' cardigan!). Anyway, things happen. Gray Hulk fights Green Hulk. Bruce has flashbacks to high school. Somebody malevolent with long fingernails (it's probably a woman, but it should be MANDARIN!) is checking out the proceedings. General Ross shows up at the end (it's not THAT big a surprise -- well, it is, because there's no warning for it, but it's not like we find out that Brad Pitt is really Bruce's imagination run wild or something). Is everyone on the island dead? These questions will haunt us until next month!

It's a pretty good issue. David obviously has a firm grasp on the character. As for what's going on -- well, it's a bleedin' mystery, en't it?

Ultimate X-Men #56 by Brian K. Vaughan, Stuart Immonen, and Wade von Grawbadger
$2.25, Marvel

I know I've said it before, but Ultimate Dazzler kicks so much ass it should be illegal. She's the coolest Ultimate character bar none, with Gwen Stacy a close second. (What, Gwen's dead? Bendis would never be that obvious, would he?) Anyway, Dazzler rules, Colossus digs Longshot (who appears to dig him back, despite Vaughan's contention to the contrary), Spiral has weird hair but kicks ass until Jean goes all Phoenix on her, and the X-Men rescue Longshot. But wait! Angel gets himself captured because nothing can go smoothly in comics! Where would the tension be if all went smoothly?!?!? Oh, and Jean looks freakishly skinny (except, of course, for her breasts) in one drawing. And Dazzler kicks ass.

It's a good story. It has nice art. Not much else to say.

Vimanarama #1 by Grant Morrison and Philip Bond
$2.95, DC/Vertigo

Unlike Mark Millar, who apparently holds comic book fans in contempt, Morrison apparently revels in being a big geek. Yes, he might think he's smarter than you or I and show it with his weirdness, but he has a fondness for the art form that makes it all worthwhile. After the unevenness of Seaguy (I should re-read it, because it wasn't bad, just messy) and the brilliance of We3, we get Vimanarama, which is dazzling (the adjective of the day, since Dazzler kicks ass). It's also very funny. It's also chock full of Morrison weirdness, but because it's a three-issue mini-series and not 12 (like The Filth) or, what 45? 50? (like The Invisibles), he's forced to keep it accessible. It has enough weirdness to suck you in, but not too much that it shuts you out. Morrison is excellent at walking this fine line.

It also has: dancing Indian girls playing soccer; two strange faceless taggers (that's graffiti "artists," for those of you who haven't taught high school recently); a hero with a noose (and he's not afraid to use it!); talking wooden blocks; witty dialogue (sample: "I think we unleashed the forces of darkness by mistake." "Lucky I brought my dad's hammer."); a glowing lotus; Kirby-esque Hindu superheroes; and vomit in the last panel. How can you go wrong???

Cool stuff. Just buy it already! Cleanse Captain America and the Falcon from your soul!!!!


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