Clever Titles are for Better Writers – Comic Round-Up 01/10/13

It’s another great week for comics, especially if you like creepy clowns getting beat up, and doesn’t everyone? Let’s get to it!

Action Comics #16 (main story) written by Grant Morrison, penciled by Brad Walker and Rags Morales, inked by Andrew Hennessy and Mark Propst, colored by Brad Anderson, lettered by Steve Wands, (backup) written by Sholly Fisch, penciled by Chris Sprouse, inked by Karl Story, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Dezi Sienty:

“Turkey wrap, I love you.”

It’s interesting to read this the week after a new issue of Batman Inc. and see the difference that space, planning, and (obviously) artistic influence have on Morrison’s scripts. Like Batman Inc., Morrison’s going for a big conclusion, but here, he hasn’t had 5 years to seed story ideas and has 5 different artists that don’t reach the level of Burnham and Fairbairn. Action Comics is definitely weaker in terms of execution, if not in thematic ideas. But that’s not all that surprising; even Morrison’s biggest detractors would have a hard time arguing that he has bad ideas. In fact, there’s a lot to like in the background of this comic; Morrison’s over-the-top, though clearly an homage to the Silver-Age, enhancement of Superman’s role of a Christ figure (often regarded by many Supes fans, including Morrison interestingly enough, as a superficial reading of the character) is pretty fascinating. Superman fights the Devil, and it’s up to his disciples and friends to help him win, which is another nice way to tie-into those classic American folk tales of “______ beats the Devil,” that inspired Morrison. It’s just a shame that Morrison doesn’t have the space or the artistic partnership needed to capitalize on these ideas. The actual script is also weaker than usual, with bare faced exposition that doesn’t even pretend to be anything else. Characters say things like, “You think the Legion of Super-Heroes got back together to raid their old Headquarters or something?” leaving the reader to feel as if they’re being spoon-fed the entire story.

Adventure Time #11 (main story) written by Ryan (I’m never putting in the Q, you hear me?) North, drawn by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, lettered by Steve Wands, (backup) written and drawn by Zack Giallongo, colored by Lisa Moore:

“Come on. What were you guys going to do – – punch the acid?

QUITE POSSIBLY!”

North has a great grasp on the dialogue tics and general flow of the show, which combined with animated art that still uses the strengths of comics by Paroline and Lamb, results in a really solid comic every month: one of the better comic adaptations of anything I’ve read in a while. On a slightly more negative note, as much as I’ve been enjoying the back-ups, I feel like North needs a bit of momentum in story arcs.  Adventure Time didn’t really hit its stride until several issues in, so having a reduced page count to accommodate the back-ups could be hurting him a bit. That’s still a small complaint, though, and I always enjoy buying it, and even more, getting to recommend it to kids.

Bravest Warriors #4 (main story) written by Joey Comeau, drawn by Mike Holmes, colored by Zack Sterling, lettered by Steve Wands, (Backup) written and drawn by Ryan Pequin, colored by Mirka Andolfo:

“I thought humans outlawed butts like that after that big war?

I know, right? His butt is so nice it is actually illegal.”

Comeau writes a really nice dense script, and Mike Holmes art actually makes it look better than the actual cartoon, so I think it might have actually been a mistake to release the comic before the show started; now that we can compare, the actual show pales in comparison to the comic “adaptation.” The comic’s funnier, has better developed characters, and is drawn better. S’good stuff, I hope it keeps getting made. Did Mike Holmes get a different art job on another comic? I’ve got a weird feeling he did, but I don’t want to look it up.

Sweet Tooth #40 written and drawn by Jeff Lemire, colored by Jose Villarrubia and Jeff Lemire, lettered by Carlos M. Mangual:

“This is a story.”

I’ve been trying to roll around in my head why I didn’t really enjoy this ending for the last few days. I guess what I’m feeling is that a the time-jump creates a divide between the story and its readers, since  we have to connect the dots between the characters before and after the jump, so as to make their evolution feel earned. While it allows Lemire to tie-up plot points and loose ends, it also means that the characters that we’ve been reading for the last 39 issues, and, what… 3 years? 4? have changed, in some cases, almost enough to be unrecognizable. We don’t see their maturity, and we’re told in quick flashbacks what’s happened to characters no longer there. It becomes our responsibility to judge whether each character’s evolution makes sense across the time jump, and for me, they just didn’t. It’s a shame, because issue 39 felt so perfect, ending in a way that was unavoidable, but brilliantly set-up and paced. Conversely, this feels like Lemire had more story to tell, but no more room to tell it, which he has said isn’t what happened at all. Oh well. We’ll always have Essex County.

Thor: God of Thunder #4 written by Jason Aaron, drawn by Esad Ribic, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino:

“Terrific. Try rolling around in that fire to put it out.”

I really like how Jason Aaron can shift his writing style from book to book, while still retaining his trademark humor and big ideas. His work on Thor has been all about the mythic and epic. Ably drawn by Ribic, it lives up to the last great Thor comic by Walt Simonson. This is good stuff.

SPACE JAM OF THE WEEK

Wolverine and the X-Men #23 written by Jason Aaron, penciled by Nick Bradshaw, inked by Walden Wong, Norman lee, Craig Yueng, and Nick Bradshaw, colored by Laura Martin, lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna:

“This is for the two dozen black eyes you creeps gave me!”

Now, Thor is a great comic, no question. But this comic? This comic is the best. There are about 3 great jokes on every page, and a dozen funny ideas in every issue. It’s Claremontian in the way Claremont reads the first time , with a huge cast that all have distinctive voices (even if some of that distinction is the “Y’all sugah” type), and plot threads that weave in and out, so there’s never only one problem. Bradshaw’s penciling and Martin’s colors similarly dazzle; Bradshaw packs the page with details and animated figures, and Martin keeps everything bright and clear in a way few comics are colored these days. And look, spoiler alert here: I cannot fucking believe that Aaron is referencing the Chuck Austen run on X-Men. That is ballsy. I would think a single detail from that run would cripple any modern comic, but Aaron might just pull it off. Either way, I’m for real just in awe that anyone is actually bringing back Azazel, mutant king of hell. Mutant Devil. God, Chuck Austen was weird.

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