It’s been a surprisingly good week for me, if you were at all curious about the man behind the curtain, the wizard behind the Oz. But who cares about that, let’s talk about a week of comics that was probably way better than it needed to be. TEBIOS! Because hell, I think this gimmick has legs, at least until I run out of recognizable languages to translate it into.
Batman Inc. #10 written by Grant Morrison; drawn by Chris Burnham, Jason Masters, and Andrei Bressan; colored by Nathan Fairbairn; lettered by DC Lettering:
“Camelot must fall.”
This issue, Grant Morrison does his thing, and DC does its thing, namely, making oblique references to comics no one cared to read, and butchering a
writer’s vision with numerous fill-in artists, respectively. I would be glad to wait an extra week or two if it meant that Burnham could could actually draw the whole comic instead of having two additional artists draw two pages each. Also, it’s been pretty much impossible to ignore the one-two-three beat in Morrison’s dialogue since I noticed it last issue.
East of West #2 written by Jonathan Hickman, drawn by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton:
“What the hell else did you think he was going to say?”
I’ll talk about Hickman a bit later in Manhattan Projects, but I’m always a bit more lenient to a writer that I’m hit-or-miss on if they have a good art team, and Dragotta and Martin are that exactly. This is a comic that’s taking its time getting to the point, and honestly, I’m okay with art this good. Give me some interesting tidbits for cool stories, gorgeous art, and no more than four bucks a month as an entrance fee, and I’ll probably stick around a lot longer than I should.
Five Weapons #3 written, drawn, and lettered by Jimmie Robinson, colored by Paul Little:
“I have a chance. Watch me go for it.”
There’s something really fascinating about the pacing of this mini-series, and how Robinson’s positioned it so that you basically can’t not buy the next issue. In a nutshell, the entire issue is full of clues and hints for future issues that all boil to the climactic fight… which’ll actually happen in the following issue. It’s basically 20 pages of set-up for a resolution that won’t happen for a month, and despite this, it isn’t boring. Part of that is, admittedly, I’m just a sucker for this style of logic puzzles, where the clues are in front of you the whole time, and you see how they fit together at the end. But really, I can’t imagine that that’s the only reason I’m enjoying this comic. Either way, I’m liking this a lot more than I thought I would.
Fury: My War Gone By #11 written by Garth Ennis, drawn by Goran Parlov, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rob Steen:
“Jesus fucking christ almighty.”
Everyone should know this, but just in case you don’t, Garth Ennis is really goddamn good at conversations. It’s actually really interesting that he works primarily in comics, considering the importance of the “visual” in the medium, as opposed to dialogue. His focus on dialogue is reminiscent of a playwright, since
plays are almost entirely dependent on good conversational patter to keep an audience’s attention. Which isn’t to say Ennis is writing for a different medium (unlike some other writers *cough* Mark Millar *cough*), just that his specific skill set seems rare in the comics industry. But whatever, you don’t care about that. Was this a good comic? Hell yeah it was. Ennis and Parlov, suckers, you can take that shit to the bank.
G.I. Joe #3 written by Fred Van Lente, penciled by Steve Kurth, inked by Allen Martinez, colored by Joana Lafuente, lettered by Tom B. Long:
I said I was going to drop this comic last month, but I forgot to tell my local shop, so I was stuck with one more. As it turns out, it’s the best of the series, with Van Lente trying his darndest to wring new depths of character from the empty carcasses of toy lines given a cartoon 30 years ago. It’s not a bad comic by any means, competently written, and, at the least, drawn well-enough that you can understand vaguely what’s happening on the page in front of you. But ultimately, this is a four-dollar comic coming out the same week as
Young Avengers & The Manhattan Projects, both of which are cheaper and when you compare Joe to them, well, it turns out competent doesn’t actually go very far.
The Manhattan Projects #11 written by Jonathan Hickman, drawn by Nick Pitarra, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Rus Wooton:
“I’m your friend.”
Hickman’s always been a “high-concept first” kind of writer, meaning that whether you appreciate the elevator pitch of his comics usually determines whether you’ll appreciate the finished work. Unfortunately if you’re looking for character over world-building, you’re usually out of luck. With Manhattan Projects, though… It’s amazing to see how incredible Hickman can be when he actually ties character personality and interaction in with the high-concept ideas. This is an issue about two people, each an outcast, superior to much of humanity in their own way, and the friendship they’re able to form as a result. It’s a lovely, quiet issue in a series that’s been largely about large ideas and the solitary men who wield them.
Ultimate Comics All-New Spider-Man #22 written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Sara Pichelli, colored by Justin Ponsor, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit:
Aaaaaand, I’m done. Part of the reason I kept up with this comic was the brilliantly choreographed art by Pichelli, but Bendis has finally made the comic unreadable. (Minor spoilers ahead, but I’ll be vague). Miles Morales was the most interesting when he was distinct from Peter Parker’s version of Spider-Man, a new evolution that fit in the now-distinctive Ultimate Universe. But Bendis just had to twist his character to be more in line with Peter’s by ramming a preventable tragedy into the title. I don’t want to read about a young boy burdened by a death he could have prevented, one whose great powers are, ironically, powerless against the wheels of fate. You know what I could read if I wanted that? The original fucking issues of Amazing Spider-Man. And those have Steve Ditko and John Romita Sr. on art, so…
Witch Doctor: Mal Practice #6 written and lettered by Brandon Seifert, drawn by Lukas Ketner, colored by Andy Troy:
“Well, this has been really satisfying.”
Wolverine and the X-Men #28 written by Jason Aaron, drawn by Ramon Perez, colored by Laura Martin & Matt Milla, lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna:
“This is where we belong, Broo. Here with the rest of the monsters.”
I know I complain about decompressed arcs that last for months, but
sometimes they can lead to character evolutions that feel earned. Aaron’s written more than two dozen issues with these characters for a year and a half now, so when they change, it feels like a natural progression of their characters. Plus, Perez is a brilliant artist, and hopefully Marvel will limit the fill-ins, and put out some nice trades of this title.
SPACE JAM OF THE WEEK
Young Avengers #4 written by Kieron Gillen, drawn by Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton, colored by Matt Wilson, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles:
“Come with me if you want to be awesome.”
In only 20 pages, these creators reminded me why I love comics. There’s an almost tangible humming of excitement
as you read this comic, like the creative team’s pleased as punch to show you what they’ve made, and it is just astonishing. A genuinely brilliant partnership creating a comic that feels perfectly conceived and executed. Comics are comics, not movie pitches, not failed tv pilots, and it’s nice to see a creative team that understand that.
Once again, it’s a sad week for fans of Ursines, as an entire week of comics produced exactly one Bear.