Paying dues: Tuesday reviews

January 6th, 2010

What’s that, crow-like Carnevale mask? There’re going to follow a plural of what?


Stolen from here, btw, in the interests of credit due. Creepy fucking buddy. Something bit horrible to start off with; are you feeling relaxed? Saucy? A little tired, maybe; you could go a lie-down. Couldn’t we all, friend. Couldn’t we all? I probably think about Batman most days and you, loyal Mindless reader, probably do too; in lieu of any actual Bat-content here, please do have a look at someone else’s – it’s d00gz, he won’t let you down.

Or will he? There’s an end-of-the-decade schism brewing, betwixt the brightgeist – as espoused by David ‘d00gz’ Uzumeri, latterly there – and the ‘shitegeist’ (thank you, Kieron Gillen). I’m kind of – look, let’s define terms, I’m purely talking about factory (‘big two’ in the parlance of the lesser-jaded) comics which I’m probably the only Mindless One still reads in sufficient quantity to have any actual experiential notion of where they are at the moment? Maybe Zom or Gary L have a notion, I should perhaps have checked before embarking on this pointless, ambulatory intro here; Abhay speaks a lot of sense initially here, but particularly in rebuttal to Jeff Lester here. (That’s probably enough links to the Savage Critics for the nonce, but guys, next time you mention us? It’d be really super-helpful to link to us too.)


I don’t want to be jaded, and I don’t want to just reiterate less-well a debate that has, I think, some concrete foundations – basically, I think Final Crisis broke the wheel of superhero comics to some extent; the wheel being Samsara, cyclical time. I looked too hard and saw the magician’s glove. And there’s, look, this last week – I got my comics on 30/12/09 because my shopman was on holiday, I realise this is fucking late-time reviewnage, not the sort of thing one would expect to see from the Mindless Ones, nossir, I don’t even know when I’m going to pick on this week’s issues as a definitive barometer for ’09 at this juncture – I liked this week’s comics, anyway. I am so seriously bipolar, almost on a week-to-week basis with The Weekly Comics, that it’d probably be sensible to pick them up next in a fortnight. So Detective Comics #860 – whilst probably easily the least pyrotechnic of the Rucka/JHWIII issues artistically was the most satisfying chunk of still-quite-boilerplate, but with a strong side of character-work (something, as a man, I don’t much care about) storytelling. ‘Storytelling‘. I was arguing with a friend, who works in computing, who doesn’t believe  – in the spirit of Steve Jobs, apparently, someone I know next to nothing of – anyone should work in the Games industry, as he does, if they can neither code nor art. Because that’s all computer games are; I’m prone to believe in the combinatory experience, something called ‘gameplay’, which was utterly, out-of-hand dismissed by my chum. He’s the expert. The art is not the only good thing, but it’s the only great thing. So, I don’t know – Detective, yeah, it’s pretty good, even the Question bit was good this time (because it featured superhero and -vil guest stars, probably) – don’t you think JH Williams would be better off drawing Supertrendy Young Doctor or whatever, though?

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And you can sort of play this game over and over: Punisher #12 and Wolverine: Weapon X #8 were everything I said of them last time, whatever that was because I am the least-organised and coherent reviewer you will read this week, only even more so. Both are terrific genre-work, really, but at the same time as wistfully imagining what it’d be like to live in Yanick Paquette’s head, where all women look the same, which is to say – fucking awesome, at the same time as admiring the plot mechanics that, well, it’s quite good that someone finally wants to have a look at why Wolverine kills, why he gets a free pass at doing it (SPOILERS: he maybe likes it?,) honestly the X-Men just look the other way, only now they don’t, they encourage it, because it’s a grown-up ass world, I’m not sure how I feel about this particular development, rationally I’m down, emotionally I’m bummed because Gandhi, man… He wouldn’t have sanctioned black ops murder teams, yo. At the same time as all that and admiring the fine taste in Hammer and slasher flicks, their hybridising, yeah “Destroy All Monsters” is a cool referent always, but flip it, at the same time as thinking: “I’ve not seen this before, and felt this way” as Manphibian’s ground up infant children are unveiled to him by some horror fresh from the pit of Kirby, G0DLAND and Mignola’s shared ideation, Christ, that was upsetting… yeah, actually these sound pretty fucking good. And they are, probably about as good a Marvel Universe Wolverine comic or a Punisher comic as one could reasonably expect; but I – therefore – kind of want something direct and unmediated from Jason Aaron, Rick Remender, Yanick Paquette and Tony Moore. Rather something more from Aaron, obviously we all love Scalped, which is always going to be a better comic than anything he can feasibly do at Marvel, because he works better with parameters off. This isn’t necessarily the case of every comic creator, but you’d be hard-pushed to name more than three of whom the converse is the case. It’s also my fault there isn’t anything like that, because I didn’t take the “risk” on Remender/Moore’s Fear Agent and now there isn’t any to take it on; I don’t know what the risk was, exactly, I remember looking at that comic and hee-hawing mentally before deciding to pass. Because what? I have a notional budget, and I only want things buttressed by a shared, familiar universe? Because they’ll matter? (Secret: this Wolverine story, this Punisher story – they won’t matter in five years, at all. It’s a perennial-go-round.) Because I am shamefully, fundamentally conservative in several aspects of my life, including comic-purchasing? Because all my self-serving, conflict-free childhood desires were fulfilled by the contemporary comics market and now, oh now, I can reiterate teendom, refining pop-culture knowledge until I get it just right. And only I hate it. I got everything I wanted, and now I’ll squall – spoiled child: never struggled.

Still fetishise Vertigo titles from c.’94-’97, the ones I haven’t even read, and likewise DC’s line from about the same period, maybe a couple years on; not Electric Superman, not Byrne Wonder Woman, but basically everything else that was in DC One Million, kind of an amazing crossover in that round about 70% was, at worst, readable and a lot of it quite-to-really-good. I am going to ride the word “good” so fucking hard today, this is how to do a review; boo-hoo, I’m a fucking baby-man. It’s not you, mainstream comics, it’s me. I got the market I just about deserved and no amount of sneering about who the most autistic fans are is going to switch that up. 
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That being said, if you bought fucking R.E.B.E.L.S. or whatever, for the horrible, ugly plastic ring, you are a worser bottom-feeder than I. Actually, DC have produced almost universally abysmal comics for nigh-on a decade now, the only exceptions sporting one – Grant – name – Morrison – on them. Kelly’s JLA, Waid’s Brave & Bold, modest exceptions. Oh, Brubaker – yeah, no, in fairness Gotham Central and Catwoman (the one title no-one ever mentions in best-of-Bru, best-of-decade lists, because it got fucked in the art dept.? Because it had a female lead? Still the best thing he’s done, with the possible exception of the ‘Lawless’ arc in Criminal, at least up until Paul Gulacy took on art.) Brubaker’s comics were good this week, and I’d thought him infallible until about six months ago – total write-for-the-trade stuff, I should really just get these things in trade form, but then again, I just think a hardcover gives Captain America or whatever… I don’t want them to be dignified, particularly. Anyway, after the oddly-distended temporalisms of the Hitch mini, which is still not over, because that’s how oddly-distended it is, chronologically, we have Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield? #1 (of 1, presumably) featuring the oddly-distended bodies Luke Ross’ pencil creates – it’s a good (see?) comic, too, and I’ve really been quite unenamoured of, as I say, the past six months of Ed B’s career. Reborn and The Marvels Project both read well – I discovered, the other night – in longform, but were absolutely onerous as singles. I’d begun to worry the rot had spread to Criminal, but that’s turning round too, as of the latest. It’s a notable hallmark of the Captain America run, though, that the specials and one-off issues are by far the most satisfactory singular reads.
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Man, I’ve just about run out of sickness to gush at you; basically all these guys are competent-as-fuck, they work hard, they do – I’m sure – the best job they can with the materials they have to work with, but I’m just wary of getting over-excited and inspired and shit. This month’s Uncanny X-Men (#519) is great if, like me, you’ve spent decades reading X-Men comics, it’s dense, there’s shit happening on every page, I have no idea if it’s a coherent unit, probably not, or if it’s just plot-plot-plot, but you know, that’s how Claremont do back in the day, and not exactly a bad example to follow in the case of this property, with this expansive of a cast. The intro bubbles – the ones that effectively say “check wikipedia”, I imagine, if you don’t have a Ph.D. (that’s “pretty huge dick”, as I do) in I Have Wasted My Life – are sometimes cloying, but mostly stay chuuuuust the right side of cute. Kawa’ii!! It has a lot of women, it has a heavy emphasis on their competence and excellence, I could go on, but the last time I got particularly excited about the comic it then bored my shit with a dreary, overpriced crossover. Nosedive. Equally, I was super-fucking-super-excited by Hickman’s Fantastic Four (#574, this ish) after three phenomenal issues, then they get this Hitch-manque guy fill-in, I don’t know, normally when artists share studios they have similar styles, perhaps he’s a studiomate or protegé; but it’s like, yeah, Hitch art if it was horribly, horribly staged, the acting and posture is just bizarre and occasionally quite unsettling, particularly the quite revolting, mugging children. Ruined. A Doug Stanhope line to finish, then:

Babies are like poems. They’re beautiful to their creator, but to other people they’re silly and they are annoying.

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