Thursday, March 31, 2011

CBR Review: Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker #1

I recently reviewed Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Providing the line and color art, Huddleston makes Casey’s script his own, using a variety of styles to give each pages and sequence its own feeling and look. Butcher Baker, for example, is drawn with harder, sketchier lines, and never appears in color (aside from the pink glow) until the final page. Cheney and Leno, on the other hand, are drawn with much cleaner, controlled line work. He can shift from cartoony comedy (the car chase scene) to more traditional, ‘serious’ action, like when Butcher Baker begins his mission. The shifting styles works with Casey’s seemingly off-the-cuff improvisation style of writing, lending an ongoing energy to the comic."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sketch Reviews (March 31 2011)

You know it's a big week when it takes two hours to read all of your comics. For me, at least. I know, for some people, that's a standard week. Pity those poor bastards. So, let's do this nice and quick...

Age of X Universe #1: I'm torn on this one. I liked some parts, didn't like others. The twists Spurrier brings to the Avengers are pretty good. Not sold on Captain America here entirely. I remember Spurrier saying that it was Steve Rogers, but it doesn't seem like him. Since he's a character from before mutants, he shouldn't be as changed. Did love Iron Man. The art was very hit or miss -- Pham has a habit of drawing perfectly round heads. The Spider-Man back-up was nice in that 'I'm going to forget about it in two days' sort of way. [***]

Avengers #11: Another issue I'm torn on a little. I like the concept of the splash pages, they work for the idea of this being a big event, as does the inclusion to Uatu... but the execution just falls down. The narration is awful, overly verbose and clunky. Romita, Jr.'s splash pages are great, though. I can't complain about that. The final page... you know me, Thanos shows up and my heart skips a beat, but... 'master of death'... he's dead... ugh. [**1/2]

Captain America #616: An anniversary issue... this also begins the split between James and Steve stories in the title, which is a good approach and better than those Nomad back-ups. I'm still a little confused on the extradition procedures and agreements here, but that's my own nitpicky bullshit. This new situation is an interesting one for James, while the Steve stuff just... bores me. He spends a bunch of time wondering if he should become Captain America again and, I guess it's that 'change or die' mentality I have, but that's uninteresting to me. I do find it interesting that every other story in this issue is about Steve Rogers as Captain America. I wonder, was that requested by the editor or what everyone decided to do? A solid package with some hit or miss stories (and some really good art -- I was impressed by some of Mike Deodato's line work here... and Jason Latour! AND CHAYKIN!). [***3/4]

Detective Comics #875: This was the issue of potential realised. I really liked the first issue of Scott Snyder's tenure on the title and I'd been waiting for another issue to really say to me that this was a comic worth sticking with. I wasn't really thinking of dropping it, because it wasn't bad. It was good enough to keep buying and be worth it... I just kept waiting for it to hit that level that it seemed like it could. Partly because of the potential glimpsed in it, and partly because of the reactions others were having to it. I was finding it to be a good comic with the odd moment that was more than that. Others treated it like the goddamn second coming... maybe not that far, but you get the impression. It happens to everyone: people seem to be losing their shit over something you think is fine and you want to like it as much as they do, you just don't. At the same time, you call them all idiots for loving something that's not that good. Anyway... this is a pretty great issue. The level of skill on display here with the pacing, the structure, the confidence in alluding to previous 'throwaway' lines without calling any attention to it... Snyder blew me away here. It certainly doesn't hurt to have Fracesco Francavilla drawing the issue, but Snyder definitely showed me something that I hadn't seen yet from him here. I'm sure he'll love that. Of course, now that I know he can do it, I'll be expecting it every time. [****1/2]

Halcyon #4: I'm holding off until next issue before I pass judgement on this series as a whole, but... I'm still underwhelmed. It's hard not to see Sabre as Rorschach with a little more humanity and that's uninteresting. He's such a mundane character with his singular purpose -- and that mundaneness drags the entire story down into that same pit. Loving the art. I really dig Bodenheim's style. [***]

Incognito: Bad Influences #5: Call me a sucker for metafiction (because I am), I enjoyed Slaughter's little rant at the end. Nothing revolutionary or anything, just something that I like seeing, especially when it just skims the surface like this did. I do wish he'd lived, though. I wanted to see where he was heading. I was much more interested in that than anything to do with Overkill or Zeppelin or anything... but, hey, After the Gold Rush is my favourite Young album, so... [***1/2]

Jimmy Olsen #1: Wasn't sure if I was going to get this, but I enjoyed the first chapter I read online and like Spencer's writing. Thoroughly enjoyable comic. [***3/4]

Scalped #47: Hey, it's Scalped... so: [****]


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

28: Sometimes All You Learn is that "Change or Die" can Make You Wish for the Sweet Release of Death

Warren Ellis's brief, four-issue run on Thor (#491-494) changed my comic-reading habits. In some ways, it was another in a long string of radical shifts for a character grown stagnant that happened during my childhood. Superman died and was replaced by four men, Batman got his back broken and was replaced by a crazy man in armour, the X-Men titles were taken over by an alternate reality for months, Hal Jordan went crazy and was replaced by a young guy, Spider-Man's clone returned and eventually replaced him, too... There were others, of course, but those are the ones that stand out.

Besides, of course, Thor and Iron Man, both of whom underwent some pretty big changes close together in 1995. In Ellis's run, Thor was made mortal, spoke plain English, and entered a relationship with the Enchantress. As a result of the horrid "The Crossing" storyline, Iron Man became his teenage self, because the best plan the Avengers could come up with to stop adult Tony Stark was a dumber, more immature Tony Stark. To be fair, they were probably distracted by the Wasp turning into a giant insect. You'll notice that only one of these decisions is still mocked today. I used to think it was because the Thor change worked, while the Iron Man one was so patently flawed in execution that it couldn't be explained away for years and, even then, only in a minor one-shot or annual that no one read.

See, I had fond memories of the post-Ellis Thor, written by William Messner-Loebs. He picked up where Ellis left off and tried to show what happens when Thor loses all of his godhood and is forced to rebuild Asgard with his people scattered across Earth. It was a run that was cut down before it had a chance to succeed, I thought. See, it only lasted eight issues, ending when Thor was transported to the "Heroes Reborn" universe and Thor became Journey into Mystery again (hey, the more things change...). There was a fatal flaw in this line of thought:

I'd never actually reread the eight issues that followed Ellis's four-issue stint on the title.

I did that last night for the first time since the issues came out. Okay, that's probably a lie. Since I found myself remembering the details of these comics as I read them, I must have reread them in the time that followed their release, but that's still well over ten years ago. Probably sometime in 1998 at the latest.

Having read these now, I'm disappointed. These are issues that take the potential of the Ellis retooling, one that felt fresh and dangerous and somewhat skeevy, the sort of thing that blows a 12-year old's mind, because superhero comics featuring an Avenger don't have him fighting disgusting vikings made of wood and radio parts as he tries to keep from vomiting up his vital organs before he fucks one of his enemies in exchange for saving his life. THEN! He finds out his problems are caused by a cannibal mad scientist trying to trick the World Tree into thinking the apocalypse is here just so he can see what the future of humanity looks like. That's some fucked up shit. That's what I wanted from my comics from that point on.

What followed were some fairly mundane superhero action and some boring-as-fuck talk about Asgard falling and Odin becoming a drunken hobo. Oh, and a lame crossover with Captain America, Iron Man, and The Avengers two issues in, because Marvel wanted to convince people that the 'new' Thor and Iron Man wouldn't change anything. It's the Big Three back together again and all that... the only good thing about that crossover was the John Paul Leon promo art that put the actual 88 pages or so of comics art (and four covers!) to shame.

Maybe it was the change at Marvel at the time as this was the beginning of Bob Harras's tenure as Marvel editor-in-chief, leaving behind the old system where there were five EICs, each in charge of their own little kingdom. Maybe the Ellis stuff was a bit too heavy, a bit too much for what Marvel wanted at the time. Maybe not. I don't know...

What I do know is that these are comics that struggle with the status quo Ellis established, trying to find a way for it to fit with what came before Ellis. These were comics that tried to reconcile Ellis's big leap forward and fail, because you can't reconcile those things. I read Thor prior to Ellis and, while they were all comic book starring Thor, they weren't remotely related beyond those superficial qualities. By trying to use the change as the impetus for the story, Messner-Loebs turned the title into a comic book about how Thor was a different comic than it used to be, which, ironically, made it have more in common with the comics pre-Ellis than Ellis's run despite carrying over the superficial qualities of Ellis's run.

To be fair, I had an idea that these comics would let me down. I've put off rereading them for a while. The one I was really worried about was Thor #502, the final issue, which I had particularly fond memories of. It was the only issue to featured the redesigned Mike Deodato costume (though, it didn’t make an odd appearance in the Iron Man issue of the "First Sign" crossover because someone at Marvel gave the artist the wrong reference material no doubt). It's a simple issue of Thor and Red Norvell (a former replacement Thor) waiting on the Jersey shore for the final assault on Onslaught after the heroes basically left him Manhattan. It's two guys preparing for death with Thor trying to enter a berserker state, hoping that would give the heroes the edge against Onslaught -- but, he fails and that allows him to save a man's life using the surgical knowledge from his past life as Donald Blake.

It's not a bad comic. It's the only issue that shows what Messner-Loebs could have really done on the title if he'd gotten cooking. It suffers from the context and... not feeling like an afterthought, but the knowledge that this is it. It's a comic about waiting for death -- and it's a comic stalling for time before it dies. Some would argue there's a brilliance in Messner-Loebs's writing in how he manages to make Thor about Thor, but it's tedious. It never says anything of substance. It never presents adventures that engage or engross. It flails about between goofy comedy and serious drama...

It's basically a reminder for me that change itself isn't what I love; it's how it was done. You'll often hear me want things to be different, for characters to change, for Marvel and DC to take bigger chances, and that simply telling good stories while jogging in place isn't enough for me. Well, sometimes I should just shut my big mouth, because there was a time when Iron Man was his teenage self and Thor ran around New York without a shirt on...

CBR Review: Daken: Dark Wolverine #7

I recently reviewed Daken: Dark Wolverine #7 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Acting as both the finale the second act of 'Empire,' the opening story arc of Daken: Dark Wolverine, and as a prologue to 'Collision,' the crossover with X-23 that officially begins with that title’s seventh issue, Daken #7 is something of a mishmash issue. It tries to serve two masters by providing a satisfying conclusion to the story that’s been the title’s focus since its relaunch, and also providing an introduction to the upcoming crossover story. The emphasis is more on the former than the latter, but that doesn’t stop it from seeming mechanical and without any drive beyond the one to simply end things and move on."

You can read the rest HERE!

Monday, March 28, 2011

CBR Review: Captain America #615.1

I recently reviewed Captain America #615.1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Captain America #615.1 succeeds in providing potential new readers with a good idea of what a typical issue of Captain America is like, albeit one somewhat divorced from the current stories. There’s no direct follow-up on 'The Trial of Captain America,' which concluded in issue 615, besides someone new stepping up to fill the role of Captain America now that James Barnes is being extradited to Russia. The only problem is that the new Captain America doesn’t have the approval of the U.S. government or Steve Rogers."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Batman, Incorporated #4

I recently reviewed Batman, Incorporated #4 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Some may look at a fill-in after three issues of Yanick Paquette as a bad thing. Those people obviously have not seen Chris Burnham’s art. Drawing upon various artists from Grant Morrison’s run on the Batman titles, Burnham’s art has a schizophrenic feel; He shifts styles depending on the sequence, relying upon three different approaches for three different places/times. He manages, with colorist Nathan Fairbairn, to make each different sequence of the comic have a different feel beyond how Morrison writes them. There’s a genuine sense of different contexts giving different tones that you don’t often see in comics that jump between places and times."

You can read the rest HERE!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Splash Page Podcast Episode 46

In this week's episode, Tim and I discuss: some random chitchat, escapism, comics that shaped our lives, Thor #620.1 and Captain America #615.1, and, of course, the LIGHTNING ROUND! And it all begins with "We're Hardcore" by Gord Downie.

You can download and listen to the Splash Page Podcast episode 46 HERE!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

CBR Review: Thor #620.1

I recently reviewed Thor #620.1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Reading this comic brings to mind the old practice of banking stock issues to run in cases of deadline crunches. Companies would commission comics that could be filed away and, then, slotted in when the scheduled comic wasn’t going to be ready to go print on schedule. Usually self-contained and generic, they did the job required: filled the pages between the covers and got out on time. Thor #620.1 feels like the 2011 equivalent with a perfectly fine story about the Grey Gargoyle trying to become immortal after turning all of the Aesir to stone. Ask me in a week if I remember any particulars and I would be surprised if I do."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sketch Reviews (March 24 2011)

It's Thursday and that's New Comics Day for me now. It's like I'm living in the UK one year ago. This is what I get for my 'Guess the Real Spoiler' game, isn't it? Small week for me. Six comics. Four reviews. Do the math and you get two comics left to briefly 'discuss' here. But, wait, one of those comics, I'll be discussing with Kelly over at CSBG, so don't expect much there. Man, these posts just keep getting shittier and shittier...

Deadpool MAX #6: Ever notice how everyone writes the title of this comic differently? Marvel provides no guidance. Then again, why would they? It's a dumb fucking title to give a comic. Dumber than most at least. In a better world, it would simply be titled "Deadpool" and there would be no need for it to distinguish itself from any other Deadpool comics. Because, fuck, having read that 'point 1' comic, why bother? This comic is funny and weird and interesting and that other one is none of those things. Also, Domino's Wikipedia page needs to be updated under the 'Other versions' section to include the events of this comic. Someone get on that. (What? I was checking to see what the character's real name apparently is to see if Lapham used it. He didn't.) [****]

New Mutants #23: Man, next week's Age of X Universe's title just got a whole lot more clever. [***1/2]


Monday, March 21, 2011

CBR Review: Loki #4

I recently reviewed Loki #4 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The mini-series focusing on the trickster god concludes with an issue that tells you everything you ever need to know about Loki, boiling him down to his essence and tying up the plot that began in the first issue. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa shows that he gets Loki and weaves that insight through various Norse myths, but never quite makes Loki the hero of the story. He’s the protagonist, yet he never comes across as someone we would want to get behind. He doesn’t even rise to the level of anti-hero. That, coupled with the art assistance from Al Barrionuevo, who does a somewhat inconsistent job, holds this issue back from being great."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #2

I recently reviewed Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #2 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "After last issue focused on the Ultimates, shifting from Ultimate Comics Avengers 3 to this series, this second issue clues us in on what's going on with Nick Fury and his black ops group. The end of the first issue suggested that Fury had turned traitor, selling Super-Soldier Program secrets to China to fund his attempt to take over SHIELD. Mark Millar doesn't immediately address that insinuation, instead developing an alternate story surrounding the sale of Super-Soldier Program secrets. This creation of a parallel story that shows how the Avengers will be coming after the Ultimates is a smart way to build the story when we’ve already seen why the Ultimates will be coming after the Avengers."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

CBR Review: Hulk #30.1

I recently reviewed Hulk #30.1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "I’ve been following Marvel’s ‘Point One’ program, buying every .1 issue released, wanting to see how each title and set of creators approaches the concept of a ‘jumping-on point’ comic. The results have been mixed, but Hulk #30.1 is, probably, the most effective of these titles released yet, both crafting a story that establishes the status quo of the book and telling a story that changes it. In effect, Jeff Parker gets you up to speed before getting you involved through a large change to the character of the Red Hulk and his world. Throw in some very good art by Gabriel Hardman and Tom Palmer, and it’s definitely an issue that’s perfect for those who haven’t been reading Hulk and want to give it a chance."

You can read the rest HERE!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Splash Page Podcast Episode 45

In this week's episode, Tim and I discuss: a slight change in the podcast's format, wrestling fans vs. comics fans and Dora the Explorer, Hulk #30.1 and Uncanny X-Force #5.1, Iceman and Angel #1, Fear Itself: Book of the Skull #1, some quick stuff, and we end with the all-new all-different LIGHTNING ROUND! And it all begings with "We're Hardcore" by Gord Downie.

You can download and listen to the Splash Page Podcast episode 45 HERE!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

CBR Review: Fear Itself: Book of the Skull #1

I recently reviewed Fear Itself: Book of the Skull #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Fear Itself officially kicked off this week with a prologue book that makes up what was meant to be part of Ed Brubaker’s half of the proposed Captain America/Thor crossover that “Fear Itself” grew out of. It’s not too difficult to see how that’s possible since Book of the Skull #1 reads like an issue of Captain America, particularly under Brubaker where much of what happens in the present is dictated by what occurred in the past, often in World War 2. Except this comic is a little more drawn out and not just another issue of Captain America, it’s the beginning of Marvel’s new event, and it’s a good comic, not great."

You can read the rest HERE!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sketch Reviews (March 16 2011)

Working on a Wednesday... back to CBR reviewing... girlfriend picked up comics for me... a little tired. Also, after spending all day in front of a computer, the last thing I want to do when I get home is do more of that. Still figuring out how to balance the various elements of my life. I'm pretty sure sitting in front of the TV all day isn't the way... but it is very nice nonetheless. So, comics.

Casanova: Gula #3: These two issues packaged together feels right. More than any other two issues, these two feel like they belong together. I'm looking forward to the finale again next month. Plus whatever newness we get. [****1/2]

THUNDER Agents #5: Hey, look, I'm quoted on the cover. Sure, they don't use my name, just the place that I wrote it for, but still... it's pretty cool. And damn if that wasn't a fantastic issue. The explanation behind last issue's traitor reveal, the whole final sequence... Spencer and CAFU fucking rocking it, boys. [****1/4]

Uncanny X-Force #5.1: An enjoyable action comic. I've heard a lot of great things about Uncanny X-Force, but nothing here that matched up. This was good. I really liked reading it. Honestly, one of the better .1 issues so far and the upcoming "Age of Apocalypse" stuff has me interested. I'm just not sure this issue sold me on the book enough. [***1/4]

The Unwritten #23: And so the long-winded explanation of Tom Taylor ends. I liked this arc when it began, but, by the end, I was just pushing through with force of will. I like the ideas, just not the long, roundabout way that they're presented. It's mechanical and falls flat on the page a lot of the time. This arc feels necessary, but wasn't entertaining. And, fuck, man, if you can't do both, why bother? [**]


Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Splash Page Podcast Episode 44

In this week's episode, Tim and I discuss: Chip Kidd and other internet-inspired topics, Rick Veitch, the new Flashpoint and Fear Itself announcements, Captain America and the First 13 #1, Punishermax #11, Batman, Inc. #3, New Avengers #10, Doc Savage #12, and end things with the LIGHTNING ROUND! And it all starts with "We're Hardcore" by Gord Downie.

You can download and listen to the Splash Page Podcast episode 44 HERE!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Sketch Reviews (March 9 2011)

Second (and last) week of my vacation from CBR. Work schedule changes next week from Tuesday/Thursday to Wednesday/Friday so comic-buying will probably get pushed to Thursday. Ah well.

Batman, Inc. #3: I honestly don't have a lot to say about this. The art is good. The writing seems to like going off in obscure directions for the sake of it. I used to find writers who used other languages in comics clever... now I just find it dull. Especially when most of the dialogue takes place in that language... translated into English. It reminds me of those people in university who tried too hard to look smart. Just get to it. [***1/2]

Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island #3: I was afraid that this would be an issue of me vaguely remembering what came before, but it turned out to be very accessible and entertaining. I really dug it -- though the art looked a lot less polished than the first two issues. [***1/4]

Doc Savage #12: I reread the previous six issues before reading this and it all holds together fairly well. Lots of misdirection and tangents that are never explained explicitly. Like Brandon's work with Nemesis, you need to actually try here. Nic Klein... wow. I know this team wasn't remaining on the book, but I would love to see them do more Doc Savage. [***3/4]

Jennifer Blood #2: The writing was better... the art was not. [**3/4]

New Avengers #10: Wow, you mean there were 'Avengers' before the superteam we all know about and was named by the Wasp when she just blurted something out? I hate shit like that. The team that Fury assembles is an interesting one, but what that has to do with the present stuff is beyond me. The stuff in the present was only really entertaining when Superia started ranting about how it's not fair, the Avengers cheat, and she's better than everyone. I really liked the beginning of this edition of "The Oral History of the Avengers" where Bendis had a few characters discuss why there's such a high turnover in the Avengers, how demanding being on the team is, and how quickly burnout can set in. Also, am I the only one who laughs at seeing Deodato draw the 1959 Avengers when Chaykin does them in the comic? (And better...) [***]

Punishermax #11: And speaking of things I hate... Bullseye's reveal that's printed so tiny you can't see it (and I wouldn't be surprised turns out to be gibberish when you enlarge it). Just fucking say it. Teasing it out like this is just a shit play. Not even an attempt to cut away or have it drowned out by some sound... the print is just smaller. Fuck. Otherwise, I really loved this issue. The glee of Bullseye, Steve Dillon owning every page, the Kingpin's "Fuck you. Just fucking do it." It all worked for me. Just that fucking speech balloon... cheap fucking cheat. [****1/2]

X-Men Legacy #246: Really liked this issue. This story gets more interesting with each issue. The final few pages were very surprising. More thoughts when talking with Kelly. [****]


Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Splash Page Podcast Episode 43

In this week's episode, Tim and I discuss: brain farts, Deadpool #33.1, Flashpoint creative teams, First Wave #6, Joe the Barbarian #8 (with a tangent on painted comic art), stupid comic fans, SHIELD & Secret Warriors (specifically issue 25), and end things with... THE LIGHTNING ROUND! And it all begins with "We're Hardcore" by Gord Downie.

You can download and listen to the Splash Page Podcast episode 43 HERE!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

28: Your Older Stuff was Better (A Post that's Not Actually about The Annotated Mantooth)

I write SORRY in every copy of MANTOOTH that comes my way.

--Matt Fraction, Casanova: Gula #2.

I bought The Annotated Mantooth because of two things: 1. Warren Ellis vouched for Fraction. 2. Fraction's column on CBR. (Or was it columns? Was he doing the Basement Tapes then? I'd check, but I'd rather keep that in doubt, honestly...)

What that makes me think about now is that there was a time when those two things were enough to make me spend thirteen bucks on something. But, that was the end of 2002 and I was a month away from turning twenty. Somehow, that time seems so long ago and, yet, it seems like yesterday that Matt Fraction was on my 'will buy anything he writes' list. He's not anymore and that's because I think his old stuff was better. Give me Mantooth over Iron Man any day of the week! And, yet, I bet Iron Man is better in almost every aspect of craft. How fucked up is that? I prefer the amateurish thing that is one of Fraction's first pieces of comics work to something he now writes with eight years of experience under his belt.

Shit, this isn't fair to Fraction... but, the comparison between his early work before Marvel and his current work for Marvel has been on my mind lately. Tim and I have discussed it. Graeme and Jeff have discussed it. I've seen it talked about on Twitter. It's not really about Fraction, because it's a common enough thing: young person does work that people love, continues to do work as he/she grows older, people love it less and blame things like 'selling out' and 'being lazy' and 'too much cocaine.' I think there's just something that kills you a little when you've 'made it' whatever that means. Not to everyone, of course.

Because I'm the self-centred sort, I've been thinking about myself in a similar way. Was my older stuff better? That same hunger that made me an angry young man is also what drove some of my earlier writing. Back when I'd churn out comic scripts no one has ever read, planned out a 100-issue series called "Superfucks," wrote stupid blog posts, wrote a weekly column on my own website for five years straight... Now, I write reviews for Comic Book Resources, I blog for Comics Should be Good, I write about wrestling for 411mania, and... I maybe sometimes blog? I do the odd month-long 'event' or something like the Blogathon, but... that's it.

I don't want to blame the CBR reviews, but that's a big reason for my lack of productivity when it comes to writing about comics. Some people can do five or six reviews a week and still write a lot more. I try. I can't. Or do I tell myself I can't? Is it just easier to not? Is it easier to sit in the safe comfort of 500-word chunks churned out on a weekly basis? I try to do my best, to say new things, to even try new things, but it doesn't always work that way. It's a fucking job, man, and no matter how hard you try, more often than not, the JOB wins. Except for the best of us. And, if this year is about anything, it's about me trying to get it through my head that I'm not 'the best of us' and learning how to live with that.

So... The Annotated Mantooth.

It's not my favourite Fraction comic, because Casanova exists, but, it's in second place. And it's the comic he apologises to people about. It's funny and goofy and everything that people who talk about 'awesome comics' want. Not everything works... but there's so much energy. So much hunger. A hunger that just isn't there anymore. For Fraction and I. How do you sustain that energy, that hunger, especially after you've 'made it?' Can anyone do it? Can you work in a deadline-based position for an extended period of time and match the work of people who do it only when they feel the urge?

I sure as fuck hope so, because, otherwise, I'm doomed. And so is Fraction. And a lot of other great people.

I honestly didn't intend for this month's (late) post to be another bit of masturbation. I meant to discuss the comic, but kept getting sidetracked by this idea of safety in 'making it.' Of the grind getting you down. And competiting with your younger self. But, I will say this: for everything I envy about myself in my late teens/early twenties, I'm living the life he dreamed of in some twisted form. I bet Fraction is, too. And that seems like it means something.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Sketch Reviews (March 2 2011)

For the first time since the end of October 2008, every comic I bought and read this week was just for me. That's both strange and kind of nice. This month's '28' post is late because, well, I kind of forgot. Second one and already off schedule. To be fair, there's no February 29 this year. I wrote part of a post last night and then abandoned it. Not at all what I wanted. Maybe something will get written in the next few days. I also hope to write about Dark Entries for my series of posts on Hellblazer. But, for now... every single comic book I bought today!

Annihlators #1: The argument for why this group works makes sense. They're too powerful to be effective, because they'll always be afraid of letting loose. Works for me. Quasar's narration was annoying and didn't work with the flow of the issue. This was also some of the most generic art I've seen from Tan Eng Huat. It's like every rough, interesting element of his work has been smoothed over. I had to double-check the credits to make sure it was him. The Rocket Raccoon/Groot first issue story was alright. I dig Tim Green II's art. The plot isn't nearly as funny or wacky as it's supposed to be. [***]

The Boys #52: The cover says Russ Braun, but this is all John McCrea. I have not enjoyed his constributions to The Boys so far. He can't match the expressive art of Robertson or Braun, his characters never acting quite as much, looking more like blank slates much of the time. But, Ennis's writing is strong as Hughie and Mallory meet... again. I'm waiting for Hughie to reveal to Annie his association with the Boys. The art drags this issue down, but it's still pretty good. [***]

Deadpool #33.1: I liked the mocking bit about how this issue doesn't really fit between issues 33 and 34. I liked when Deadpool's mask wasn't in the right place on head to sell his beating. Otherwise... not funny, just sort of goofy in that stupid way. Another reminder of why I ignore this title's existence. [*3/4]

First Wave #6: I don't know what to do with this. Maybe this will read better when I reread the whole mini-series, but, on its own, it's a mess. The writing just falls flat under the weight of an overly complicated plot that goes nowhere and the art continues its downward spiral into ugliness. How this was supposed to make me want to read more comics featuring these characters is beyond me. [*1/2]

Incognito: Bad Influences #4: An enjoyable issue, but not great. Simply good. It's settled into a nice little rhythm... and seems to have little direction. I have a feeling next issue will illicit a "That's it?" response. [***1/4]

Joe the Barbarian #8: Love the art, but the writing continued to leave me unaffected. Like First Wave, this could read better as a whole... but I doubt it. A big miss from Morrison when it comes to me. [***]

Secret Warriors #25: Huh. So, that's the Zodiac Event. That's... disappointing, I must admit. Not at all what I expected, but is that Hickman's fault? Is that my fault? I'm not sure yet. This does explain Leviathan... it leaves the connection between SHIELD and SHIELD unexplained (if there is one beyond the name). No, not what I expected. I don't know. A comic hasn't left me at a loss for words like this in a while. [n/a]

Ultimate Captain America #3: Wait, am I supposed to be rooting for Captain America? Or for 'Nuke'? Because I'm pretty sure I've got things backwards... I wonder, when people write a character like Captain America, do they consider how readers outside of the US will respond? Same with Superman... I figure non-American writers do, of course, but what about American writers? I'm curious. I liked this issue more than the first two, but it's still not rocking my world. [***]