Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Comic Day 6.23.2010

Well, I'm caught up on books waiting to be picked up, and I even managed to bag and box the about 3 months worth of assembled issues I had laying around over the weekend. Of course, this action also filled my storage boxes to the point of bursting. So, I guess a new short box is in the offing. Where I'm gonna find room for it is a whole 'nother matter.

Ah, comic book collecting.

I gotta tell ya, the idea of dropping all my monthly books, and completely switching over to a "waiting for the trade" tactic is looking better and better. Sure, a Trade Paperback collection might be more pricey, short term, but...

Issue of Batman: the Return of Bruce Wayne: $3.99
All six issues of this mini-series: $23.94
Esitimated cost of Trade Paperback: $19.95 + tax = $21.95

Plus, many more trade paperbacks will fit into a short box than will single issues.

I mean, I have series I follow exclusively in Trades; Powers and Invincible. I got on board so late, it was the only way to amass the entire stories reasonably. Sure, I'm behind on them, but I also wait for the Blu-Ray release of Mad Men, so I see that almost a year after the rest of you. I do enjoy reading those series in that format immensely. There's something about getting huge swaths of story in one fell swoop, especially in the current "decompressed storytelling" environment, where stories that would've been told in 1-2 issues in, say, 1984, now take 6-8.

Anyway, I have to say I think I've added to my list of series I follow in trades.

For the last couple of years, I've had several people suggest I read Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead series. I've always resisted. I love Kirkman's Invincible, which is some of the best superhero storytelling going on right now, but I just don't really grok zombie stories, and Horror, as a genre, holds very, very little appeal to me. So, I'd look at the covers, with the zombie hordes, and the title, and it just turned me off.

These folks persisted, however. "It's not really horror," I was told, "it's more of a survival story." "More of a post-apocalyptic road tale," I was told, which held some sway, as I've always love the post-apocalypse sub-genre. So, when I went into Borders to get the next Scott Pilgrim book I need to read (Vol. 4), and found they were out of stock, I grabbed the entry-priced first trade collection of The Walking Dead, Titled Days Gone Bye.

"What the hell," I thought. I don't have to buy any more if I hate it, and I can say, "tried it, didn't take" if it's bad.

Well, it's not bad. In fact, I loved the first arc immensely. Here's a little something I'd offer to anyone trying to describe this series in a pop-culture shorthand, this series reminds me intensely of Stephen King's The Stand, which happens to be a book I admire greatly. Yes, there are horror elements, shocking and unsettling moments (not for young readers, is my point), but that's clearly, extremely clearly, not the point.

In his introduction to this collection Kirkman says, flat-out, he doesn't care if the series scares anybody, or not.

The fact the series is black and white only further mutes the horror, or at the very least the gore. Where many other series with this sort of concept try to get in your face with heavily detailed depictions of violence, in an attempt to frighten, or at least gross you out, The Walking Dead stays clear of that. Tony Moore's light, almost cartoony artwork, and the absence of color, always brings you back to the distinctive faces he's created. Oh, he's telling a zombie story, all right, and that means some gore and violence, but the intent stays solidly away from lurid for it's own sake. In other words, the focus is always on the characters.

Kirkman's point here is holding a mirror up to humanity, and exposing it's foibles in an extremely intense setting. King used a superflu in The Stand, Kirkman uses zombies, but the result is the same. In the survivors, we see a microcosm of society, humanity in both it's most noble and petty.

So, yes, you were all right. Highly recommended. I'll be picking up some more trades soon.

With that, on to this week's pull list. Only four titles, but really heavy on the Batman this week.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #3 (of 6)

1:25 Variant cover by YANICK PAQUETTE

The most anticipated miniseries of 2010 continues! As Bruce Wayne's astonishing journey through time continues in this 6-issue miniseries, The Dark Knight travels to the eras of high seas thievery! Mastermind writer Grant Morrison's most ambitious project to date continues to chronicle the return of the original man behind the cape and cowl – Bruce Wayne! Featuring the dynamic artwork of YANICK PAQUETTE.

I've heard a lot of complaints about this series. How it makes no sense, and that Morrison is just high again. Well, I can't fully agree. I think this series makes a hell of a lot more sense than that Captain America: Reborn abortion that Marvel brought out last year. Morrison can go all the way off the rails (See Final Crisis), but I think he's pulling this off fine, so far.

I still say he's absolutely the wrong writer for BRUCE WAYNE as Batman (I love how he handles DICK GRAYSON as Batman), but that's also because I feel like "regular" Batman adventures work best as tough, urban neo-noir street drama, and Morrison likes to go straight for the Silver Age "costume of the week" style. It's a matter of taste, I know, but I really kind of hope Grant moves on after he wraps this up.

Batman: Streets of Gotham #13

Written by PAUL DINI
Co-feature written by MARC ANDREYKO
Co-feature art by JEREMY HAUN

Hush finally breaks his silence and decides to make life difficult for Batman. What is Tommy Elliot's gameplan? And what will Bruce Wayne's return mean for the man who's been masquerading as Bruce all these months?

Also, the final, thrilling installment of the Manhunter co-feature is here! Kate confronts a vicious enemy who has infiltrated her personal life. Everyone she cares about is in danger, and so is her secret identity! Can she protect her loved ones? And when it's all said and done, will she decide to stay in Gotham City – or return to the relative peace of Los Angeles?

Y'know, I had almost forgotten that Hush was surgically-altered to look like Bruce Wayne, and "hiding in plain sight" as Dick kicked around in the Cape and Cowl. It was a clever enough trick, plot wise, to keep Bruce and Batman alive in the public eye. However, it's been simmering for so long...Who knows? I have faith in Dini with these kinds of stories.

I'll be sad to see Manhunter go...again. Hopefully, she'll get another back-up feature, or her own series, again soon.

Detective Comics #866

Written by DENNIS O'NEIL
Art and cover by DUSTIN NGUYEN
1:25 "DC 75 Anniversary" Variant cover by WALTER SIMONSON

Continuing the spirit of celebration from BATMAN #700, comics legend Dennis O'Neil's returns to the Batcave in this stand-alone, 40-page issue! O'Neil spins a tale of the Dick Grayson Batman intertwined with those classic days when Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder, patrolled the mean streets of Gotham City!

And come back next month for the return of The Question and Batwoman!

Ahh, Dennis O'Neil is going to write Batman again!! That makes me very happy. (I'm also very happy he'll be at SDCC this year, along with Neal Adams. May warrant buying a hardcover of the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series for signing.) It's exactly the kind of thing I like to see with this anniversary promotional stuff. Bringing in an old pro to do a quick one-shot that invokes the old days. O'Neil's picture is in the dictionary when you look up "Pro," so I expect it'll be good.

Also happy to see Batwoman coming back next issue.

Ultimate Comics Avengers 2 #4

COVER BY: Leinil Francis Yu
WRITER: Mark Millar
PENCILS: Leinil Francis Yu
INKS: Gerry Alanguilan
COLORED BY: Laura Martin
LETTERED BY: VC - Cory Petit

Nick Fury’s Avengers have assembled: Black Widow, The Punisher, a new Hulk, War Machine and Hawkeye are souped-up and ready to face Hell…literally. Evil’s emissary comes in the form of The Ghostrider, a mysterious new villain sent to collect Satan’s debts: human lives. But how do you fight the devil and his men? With big guns and even bigger cojones. Who lives, who survives? Who knows? But it’ll be one hellish ride!! Join superstars MARK MILLAR and LEINIL FRANCIS YU in another heart-pumping adventure!

Well, thank God this is over. "Overrated," thy name is "Mark Millar."

Seriously, this series, mini-series, whatever the hell it is, has been nothing but a mess. I don't care about a single one of these characters they've introduced. The first Ultimate Comics Avengers series at least had the revelation that "Ultimate" Captain America's son had turned himself into an "Ultimate" version of the Red Skull. I cared about Cap from past stories, so I cared about HIM. Now he's gone, and we're left with a bunch of characters I couldn't give two whits about.

I mean, look at these characters...The "Original" Hulk (which makes sense in context, but is just stupid), which is nothing more than an ugly racial stereotype, because OF COURSE a respected, highly educated black scientist, if given Hulk-like power, would immediately just become a drug-dealing, bling-covered "Gansta." "Ultimate" War Machine, who's nothing but a macho gun-nut in a generic suit of armor. "Ultimate" Punisher, who's, well, exactly like the regular Punisher, meaning a one-note muscleman with big guns. "Ultimate" Hawkeye is the only character with even a remotely interesting background, but he's just been turned into a Punisher clone. Yet another version of Black Widow who's made less impact than Scarlett Johanssen did in Iron Man 2?

It's ridiculous. Not to mention, and this is a killer...THESE are the characters Nick Fury recruits to take on a literal demon from hell? Two musclebound guys with guns? Another musclebound guy in an armor suit? A super-musclebound guy who's more interested in "Bitches and Money?" The girl Millar can't even bother to give a real personality to? Don't ya think you would want someone a little higher on the "supernatural" meter?

Millar writes killer "moments." Last issue featured Ghost Rider jumping his bike through a landing jetliner, ripping a passenger out of it. That was a great moment, but it didn't connect to anything. It's like the opposite of The Walking Dead. I don't care because Mark Millar doesn't give me even the slightest reason to do so. Frankly, it's the problem with most of his work.

I've gotten this far, I'll read how it ends. That said, when Ultimate Comics Avengers 3 appears, it's gonna be a tough sell to this guy.

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