Clever Titles are for Better Writers Comics Round-Up 02/20/13

There’s only two words in the world that matter, and those two words are COMICS and NOW. Prepare your eyeballs for opinions, this week I get emotional.

Action Comics #17 written by Grant Morrison, penciled by Brad Walker & Rags Morales, inked by Andrew Hennessy, Mark Propst, and Cam Smith, colored by Gabe Eltaeb & Brad Anderson, lettered by Steve Wands, “Goodbye” backup written by Sholly Fisch, penciled by Chris Sprouse, inked by Karl Story, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Taylor Esposito:

“Let your spirit die, space dog.”

I’d rather just have read Morrison’s long pitch for this story. It would probably be more enjoyable to read, and would necessarily have more consistent art. This series has just been so regrettably close to greatness, it’s almost worse than legitimately bad Morrison projects, except wait, no, those are still worse. I’ve talked about the religious symbolism Morrison’s playing with, and it’s still intriguing, but that’s not enough to save the mediocre art, awful continuity-problems, and just general feeling of a rush job. Still, it’s not like there aren’t good things in this. The above quote, the common man helping Superman in his hour of need… Some shit just comes out great head to hand, and other things get drawn by two pencilers and three inkers. You can guess which one this is. Final note – Credit where credit is due: Superman and the Fiend from Dimension 5 is a dope title.

Adventure Time #13 written by Ryan North, drawn and colored by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, lettered by Steve Wands, “The Devilish Devourer of Delicious Delicacies” backup written and drawn by Josh Lesnick, “Princess of Rad Hats (Part One)” backup written and drawn by Chris Schweizer:

“It’s hard to get motivated fixing a compile-time syntax error when you can buy powder that turns a house into a monster.”

I enjoy this comic, and I would wager you would as well. It is well-written, excellently drawn, and hilarious for all ages. What do you want from me, I talk about this every month. It’s still good. Leave me alone.

Captain America #4 written by Rick Remender, drawn by John Romita Jr, inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Dean White:

“Remember what they love… and kill it before their eyes.”

This comic… I just can’t make up my mind. The flashback scenes feel so unnecessarily miserable, emphasizing how horrible it is just to establish character we already know Captain America has. And look, I get that it’s a sort-of reboot intended to allow for a new jumping-on point, but fuck that. Cap is a noble person, done, everyone knows that. You don’t need to pound “Livin’ in the streets” cliches to showcase it . But then the present scenes are AMAZING. Full-on crazy B-Movie universe, filled with influences ranging from Kirby’s Fourth-World to those wonderfully trashy sci-fi pulp novels from the early 20th century. Writing-wise, that makes it a tough toss-up. Romita Jr’s art is even tougher: the alien designs and world-building are gorgeous, and Romita’s a brilliant action artist, so that looks great. Unfortunately, his children are so bad. For real, they could be any age from 5-15: it’s impossible to tell. Considering the entire underlining theme of the first story arc is familial responsibility forced on young children that don’t deserve the burden, hell, you really need to sell the emotions on these kids’ faces, and Romita can’t seem to swing it, unfortunately. Final note – The switch to an all-black logo on the cover to mirror how screwed Cap is in the comic is a cool choice.

SPACE JAM OF THE WEEK

Daredevil #23 written by Mark Waid, drawn by Chris Samnee, colored by Javier Rodriguez, lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna:

“Well, he has a thing for nurses.”

It’s really hard to argue with a comic that’s this competently put-together. The plot and action are cool, from Waid’s overarching story to Samnee’s gloriously chaotic yet clear fight scenes, but what really sells this comic is the humanity and small moments in the characters’ lives. Waid understands, probably more than almost every other DD writer I’ve ever read, just how close Matt and Foggy are after years of supervillain threats, demonic possession, deaths, and that time Matt pretended to be his own made-up twin brother and made fat jokes at Foggy’s expense. They’d have to be close, and Waid is able to make the story feel like it’s almost intruding into a relationship that’s been understated for much of its history. Which isn’t to downplay Chris Samnee’s importance, either. Many of the situations and dialogue would be butchered in the hands of a lesser artist, but Samnee forces you to look at the facial expressions. When Matt shows up, on time even, to support Foggy, Samnee perfectly captures the relief on Foggy’s face. It’s one of several  different moments that humanizes what so many other creative teams just use as cliche-ridden corporate property.

Fables #126 written by Bill Willingham, drawn by Mark Buckingham, inked by Steve Leialoha and Andrew Pepoy, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Todd Klein:

“A man can touch his wife. It’s his right.”

This issue kind of bothered me, mostly because it’s Willingham setting up a villain that… well, he’s almost a strawman. The villain’s more of a hurdle for Snow White to jump over, really. Unfortunately, while that can work in some scenarios, it feels like this villain was created entirely to piss people off. His entire existence is almost guaranteed to start some unnecessary blog post about men’s rights, and while it’s clear what side Willingham’s on in that “debate,” that doesn’t make the interactions between the characters any less annoying. In fact, it almost becomes worse with that view, because it’s treading water until the eventual retribution, and Willingham is not nearly as good at that as Ennis. Plus, there’s a new inker on parts of this comic, and it’s really obvious; Steve Leialoha might not seem like an irreplaceable part of the Fables team, but his inks on Buckingham’s pencils really are integral.

Happy #4 written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Darick Robertson, colored by Tony Avina, lettered by Simon Bowland:

“…cunt…cunt…cunt….”

Alrighty, let’s get this out of the way real quick. Fuck this comic book. Or as Morrison would write: fuck this fucking fuck shit of comic cunt shit dick, because apparently he learned all his dialogue by watching some low-rent rip-off of Oz. A lot of people have described this comic as “Morrison doing Ennis,” but that’s not it at all. It’s Morrison not understanding what Ennis does. Ennis’s dialogue has a rhythm, a motion that sweeps you up within it, an awareness both of and from Ennis himself and the characters as well. When they swear excessively or commit horrible acts, it’s in character for them. When characters in Happy do something similar, it’s because, well… shit, this is four issues long, and Morrison had space to fill, sucker. There’s a child rapist in this comic, because… I guess there had to be? Nick Sax is an invincible badass, right up until he’s not, until oh wait, now he is again, never mind, my mistake. I’d say something nice about the art, but fuck it. Robertson worked on Transmetropolitan and The Boys, he doesn’t need my empty praise making this comic sound any less awful than it was.

Indestructible Hulk #4 written by Mark Waid, penciled by Leinil Yu, inked by Gerry Alanguilan, colored by Sunny Gho, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos:

“Hulk breaks, Banner builds.”

Has there ever been a Hulk comic with a different artist for the Hulk scenes and the Banner scenes? Because if ever there was a comic that could use that artistic strategy, it’s this one. Yu might excel at creating the massive scope and monstrous nature of the Hulk, but he’s lacking when it comes to the subtler facial expressions that the human sections of the book need. Compare it to Samnee’s work, and it’s clear Waid is used to  writing for an artist who excels in those scenes. On the other hand, the battle parts look nice.

Locke and Key: Omega #3 written by Joe Hill, drawn by Gabriel Rodriguez, colored by Jay Fotos:

“Then let’s burn some shit.”

Damn, Joe Hill is a cruel bastard. This is the final act before the curtain rises, and everything goes to shit, and if there’s anything my useless English degree has taught me about foreshadowing, it’s that the final four issues are going to be disastrous. This is his and Rodriguez’s series, so there’s no reason for him not to kill your favorite characters, no IP-holders throwing up their hands in protest. It’s a testament to their \creation, though, that I feel physical dread while watching these characters go off to their likely doom. This is a comic that just plain works, and it’s easily one of my favorite series of all-time, even if they whiff the ending, which is doubtful. In point of fact, the only reason this isn’t my Space Jam of the Week is because I’m too attached to these characters, and this is a sad fuckin’ issue.

Saga #10 written by Brian K. Vaughn, drawn and colored by Fiona Staples, lettered by Fonografiks:

“Yeah, that’s right! Flee in terror, bitches!”

A new issue of Saga and once again, I don’t seem to like this comic near as much as seemingly everyone else on the planet. I certainly enjoy it while I read it, the world-building’s smooth and the art’s gorgeous, but… it just doesn’t stick with me. Someone dies in this issue, and I honestly didn’t care. I could already see the Tumblrs sobbing about it, but the character’s death felt like the loss of a chair, more object than real person. I guess this comic is just not really aimed for me, which is fine. I will say that Staples’ work on the middle splash-page is absolutely stunning, though.

Thor: God of Thunder #5 written by Jason Aaron, drawn by Esad Ribic, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino:

“This night we die for Thor!”

I didn’t much like this comic, but that’s kind of my fault. I fell for the marketing trap of this being a five-issue arc with more to come, rather than just another chapter. Since I kept expecting a climax, the ending felt abrupt.Aaron writes some great comics, but this just feels too slowly paced, or maybe eight-issue epics should be reserved for later in a creator’s run, rather than the opener. Either way, Ribic draws well, but Svorcina’s coloring is really muddy and unclear, which is a shame. “Dark” stories don’t always have to be literally dark, and in this case it lead to a lack of clarity.

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