Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Sunday Open: Third Week of May 2008

Captain America #38

This story continues apace and the quality remains typically high. We learn who Steve Rogers really is, have Falcon and the new Captain America teaming up, and get more politics. Because politics is fun.

Ghost Rider #23

Jason Aaron's initial story concludes and, yeah, Danny Ketch is back. I'm pleased that he's on the other side. Team-ups are fun, but opposing one another is always better. I've never been a fan of Ghost Rider (Blaze or Ketch), but am strangely excited about the prospect of the two going head-to-head.

Aaron also writes a mean fucking bastard of a Ghost Rider. He totally fucks up that cop for no reason other than the cop trying to arrest a dangerous criminal and Ghost Rider thinking he deserves a harsher punishment. That scene actually had me taken aback a little since it was so cruel.

Also, Roland Boschi's art on this title is making me a fan quickly.

The Mighty Avengers #14

" more Nick Fury?" My initial thought upon beginning this issue and then Bendis won me over by the end. Some wrote the Sentry off as Marvel's Superman... which he is, but that's a good thing since this is a very human "Superman" whose powers are pretty meaningless since his head is so messed up. The Skrulls know this (or Jarvis-Skrull does) and exploit it. Sure, it gives some obvious detail to a scene from Secret Invasion #2, but also adds a fantastic ending that I can't wait to see followed up on.

Khoi Pham's art is decent, but a little inconsistent. In some panels, he's aping Steve McNiven; in others, John Romita, Jr.; in others, Oliver Copiel... basically, Marvel's big names all seem to show up. It's not as jarring as it sounds, but every few pages, a panel would stop me cold because it was so unlike other panels with its style differences. But, I'd rather see a young artist experiment with styles like that in an effort to find his voice than to struggle with trying to be original before the ability is there.

Scalped #17

Lots of small things happen and that pushes the book forward far more than any one big thing could. This is a subtle, slow, methodical book quite unlike anything I've seen in comics before. Jason Aaron seems content to take his time and really focus on the moments and the characters. It's a heartbreaking read most of the time. I am so glad that I started reading this book.

War is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle #3

This comic makes me laugh. The second page is fantastic. The whole comic is pretty good as Ennis continues his slow turn around of Kauffmann from eager fuck-up to skilled fighter pilot. I'm also growing more fond of Howard Chaykin's art.

Hellblazer: Tainted Love and Hellblazer: Damnation's Flame

I was only planning to get one of these this week, but fuck it. I also ordered a copy of Rake at the Gates of Hell online to complete my collection (except for two Ennis-penned issues that remain uncollected--it would be three, but one is in Rare Cuts), and, holy shit, was it difficult to find a reasonably priced copy of that trade. Apparently, it is out of print or something, because I see people selling copies for over a hundred bucks. That is insane. I can't stand it when I see any book being sold for such a huge price--and I don't blame the people doing the selling, I blame anyone who pays that much for it. Seriously, if you're paying more than, like, maybe forty bucks for a trade originally priced at less than twenty bucks, you probably have too much money and too few brains. The worst case I've seen of this is for Haruki Murakami's Pinball 1973, which is available in English only in an edition published in Japan as part of a book series designed to help Japanese people learn English. You see, that was Murakami's second novel and he doesn't like his first two novels really, and won't allow them to be translated into English outside of Japan. I got a copy of his first book, Hear the Wind Sing as part of the same series and for, like, ten bucks, as copies are plentiful. Pinball 1973, on the other hand, seems to start at two hundred dollars or so, which I refuse to pay. Firstly, I'm not paying two hundred dollars for a little paperback book no matter what. Secondly, Murakami doesn't consider it good enough for me to read, so why would I pay more for that book than any other book I've ever bought? Better options for reading it: wait for Murakami to change his mind or, eventually, die and maybe it will get published in English then (morbid, I know, but true); or, maybe, spend some time to learn Japanese and get a copy that's in its original language for ten bucks. Both seem like far more intelligent ways of going about it than spending a huge amount of money needlessly.

The point: have some common sense about buying books out of print. The irony, in the case of Rake at the Gates of Hell is that when it first came out, it was around the time that bookstores were beginning to stock comic collections in large numbers and I saw it everywhere--but didn't buy it, because it collected the end of Ennis's run and I didn't have what came before it. Typical. On a good note, since I just bought a copy (at a decent price that was doubled because of shipping--so, $30 total, which isn't that bad), Vertigo will probably do a new printing--especially since they're going into overdrive to collect Hellblazer now by finishing up Jamie Delano's run (which I start in on next) and, then, I hope, Paul Jenkins's... I may have said that before, but I stand by it.

As for Tainted Love and Damnation's Flame... Ennis really put John through the goddamn ringer, didn't he? Those first few stories in Tainted Love are pretty messed up with John living on the street. I did love how easily he turned it around with one page of magic. The Chas issue was really great, too. Actually, my favourite stuff is when Ennis just had John or others sitting around, having a pint and talking. I know I'm not alone in that regard, but still needs to be said. Reading new stuff (for me) by him and Steve Dillon along those lines just has me begging that they'll get to City Lights soon. But, Ennis is pretty busy and Dillon is over at Marvel doing *shudder*... Wolverine: Origins (a book that makes me weep because Dillon is so much better than it).

I'd read much of Damnation's Flame (namely the eponymous story) thanks to Steve who send me a bunch of Ennis-penned Hellblazer issues a few years ago since he didn't need them anymore and knew I was into Ennis and good ol' John Constantine. But, it was nice to read the story again. Messed up, really.

I'm very much looking forward to my copy of Rake at the Gates of Hell to arrive. This summer will also be great with another Delano collection (I need to get the first two, though) and another Diggle one... and Jason Aaron does two issues that I'll pick up in singles, because, odds are, they won't be collected (unless Vertigo does a collection featuring those one-off issues and small arcs including stuff like Darko Macan's two issues between Ellis and Azzarello, or Eddie Campbell's four issues, and Mike Carey's one-off between Denise Mina and Diggle's runs--just title it "More Rare Cuts"). I am happy that Vertigo is cluing in that having the entire series collected is a smart move since it is the backbone of the entire imprint.

Punisher Presents: Barracuda

I really had not planned on getting this. My buddy Jason and I hit my regular Windsor shop and then the other one since he was looking for a copy of the first Preacher trade (he has all of the others--he got hooked after Adam lent him the series) and they had a copy of this collection, which I'd been looking for. I'm always impressed at Ennis's ability to continually come up with new stories involving the same sort of characters, but he does. This one is a lot of fun and not to be taken seriously. It's just Ennis taking the piss of everything possible.

With all of the Ennis I've gotten recently, I'm tempted to look through my collection of singles and trades to see whose work I have the most of: Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison or Joe Casey. I have no idea, but it could be a close race. Not that it matters, I'm just curious. Ah well.

Until next week.