I read some comics. Did a little dance. Wrote some words. So I guess this me asking, "Something for the weekend, sir?"
THE MIGHTY THOR #3 by Matt Fraction(w), Olivier Coipel/Mark Morales(a), Laura Martin(c) and VC’s Joe Sabino(l) (Marvel, $3.99)
“The Galactus Seed 3: Stranger” Galactus lolls about on the moon as Asgard engages in pointless fights and wonky dialogue and all the while the people of Broxton become ever more tedious! Also: Sif’s bongos revealed!
This month The Priest With The Least is having problems with the concept of tolerance. Boy Howdy, those Theological issues are getting a real seeing to and no mistake. Priesty and his cronies are also now drawn with a somewhat demonic aspect. Hopefully this is foreshadowing their true natures rather than just ham handed caricaturing. Hey, a boy can hope even though the lack of subtlety or nuance in this thing is pretty substantial. There’s just a total lack of attention to anything beyond the surface dazzle and bluster, both of which exist purely thanks to the efforts of Olivier Coipel. Rather than being an actual Thor comic the whole lifeless exercise comes across as a bad cover version of a Thor comic. It’s dispiriting is what it is and that makes it EH!
IRON MAN 2.0 #4 by Nick Spencer(w), Ariel Olivetti(a) and VC's Joe Caramanga(l) (Marvel, $2.99)
"Palmer Addley Is Dead Part 4" The notionally moving tale of a talented boy who fell through the cracks is eviscerated by a total disregard for the comics medium! 'Nuff said!
Oh boy, this thing right here. There are no less than 8 pages of talking heads and this follows 6 pages of a woman in a library simply gaining access to a file, reading it and being a bit upset by the contents. There are 4 double page splashes intended to be emotionally affecting but, alas, each totally fails in this due to the inept execution. Respectively these resemble: an outtake from Commodore64 version of Toy Story, an illustration to a magazine article on predatory sex pests, a scene from a fumetti entitled "When Bins Attack!" and an advert for Lego City: Urban Shooting Playset. This is a horrible comic because it isn't a comic it's an (ineptly) illustrated TV script. One that relies for any impact on the fact that you too have seen the same generic scenes and that you will bring the emotion you felt when seeing these scenes in a, hopefully, better realised context, to bear on this pallid vacuum and give it some semblance of interest or verve. This is not a comic and so it is AWFUL!
SCALPED #49 by Jason Aaron(w), R.M. Guera(a), Giulia Brusco(c) and Sal Cipriano(l) (Vertigo/DC, $2.99)
“You Gotta Sin To Get Saved: Ain’t No God.” Paths are crossed.Secrets are revealed. Scores are settled. A decison is made.
When a character does something that’s totally out of character? That’s bad writing. But when a character does something out of character and then you realize they haven’t, instead it was you who you had the character wrong? That’s pretty good writing. If you’ve read this issue you already know what I’m talking about and if you haven’t read it you best be waiting for the trade, lovehandles, because otherwise you’re missing out on some damn fine comics. Golly, it was beautiful. I was thinking, “Of course. How convenient!”, and then I ended up with cake on my face. The cake of fools. 49 issues in and these characters are still growing and still developing in ways which, while never predictable, are entirely consistent. It’s easy to lose sight of the subtleties of SCALPED embedded as they are in the lurid and sensational aspects which surround them but they always rear up into view at precisely the right point. And the art, well, let’s just say that R. M. Guera is often close to Moebius, and that’s pretty much like being close to God. In a good way.
I may be a fool but not to the extent that I'd doubt for one second that Aaron and Guera would be totally okay with this being a TV show. Yet in the first instance they created a comic which worked as a comic. And worked very well as a comic at that. Ambitions towards other media shouldn't result in a lack of ambition in the source material. Yeah, the bit with the phone alone was EXCELLENT!
DEADPOOLMAX #9 by David Lapham(w), Shawn Crystal(a), John Rauch(c) and VC’s Clayton Cowles(l) (Marvel, $3.99)
“Bachelor Party For Bachelors” Bob’s not getting married in the morning but is that going to stop his zany scarred assassin pal from giving him a night he’ll never forget? You can bet your sweet caboose it’s not!
I’m not proud of this but I should probably tell you that the last couple of weeks I’ve been pulling a “Bobby Shaftoe” and amusing myself by substituting the word “sh*t” for the words “Fear” and “Flash” in everything I read about Marvel and DC’s annual sales spike stunt comics. See, and it’s dead clever this, you get stuff like “Sh*t Itself” and Sh*tpoint” right off the bat and then the tag lines become “Do You Sh*t…Tomorrow!” and “Everything Changes – in a Sh*t!” and there’s now a “Sh*t wave” covering the earth and, this is my favourite this one, Professor Zoom – The Reverse Sh*t!
So, y’know, I have childish aspects to my personality is what I’m getting at. So maybe the fact I don’t find DEADPOOLMAX very funny is actually a good thing? You’ll notice Kyle Baker hasn’t drawn any of this issue which is better than him not finishing drawing some of the previous issues, which has been happening quite a lot. So I make a noise like EH!
DC COMICS PRESENTS NIGHT FORCE #1 by Marv Wolfman(w), Gene Colan/Bob Smith(a), Michele Wolfman(c) and John Constanza(l)(DC Comics, $7.99)
NIGHT FORCE – they force the night to surrender its secrets! If the night needs forcing that means it’s time for NIGHT FORCE! When the NIGHT FORCE…my lonely heart calls! Oh, I wanna dance with somebody!
Ah, sweet Gene Colan. Gene “The Dean” Colan. Truly a unique and delightful force in mainstream genre comic art. Beyond the oft-commented upon use of shadows and light I always found his work very similar to that of Gil Kane but less rarefied and more grounded. Where Kane’s work had an operatic fluidity Colan’s was more workaday hustle. While Kane’s characters soared and thrust, Colan’s figures stumbled and lurched within a POV that was more hectic than roving. His work had life bursting out of every panel but it was the life of a bloke rather than that of a demi-god. You could aspire to be a Kane character given enough genetic engineering and a high tolerance for pain but you probably already were a Colan character. And although Colan seamlessly grafted his style onto all manner of genres his art possessed an intrinsic familiarity to draw the reader in no matter how fantastic the four colour shenanigans. He was The Dean. He will always be The Dean.
This package collects NIGHT FORCE #1-4 from 1982 A.D. The issues show Baron Winters recruiting a motley group of people with sad pasts in order to prevent supernatural evil elements from ensuring the world itself has a very sad future. Baron Winters is one of those oh-so-spooky chaps that appears never to age, has a different garden every time he opens his patio doors and owns a leopard called Schnorbitz. Sorry, I meant Merlin. (Obscure reference? Check and mate.) He’s also under some kind of supernatural house arrest, hence his need for human agents who can move freely in the world abroad! So we have Jack Gold (bitter smoker with a poor employment record), Donovan Caine (a professor of parapsychology who has a wife and child who, let’s face it, shouldn’t be starting in on any DVD box sets) and Vanessa Van Helsing (a kind of psychic nuclear attack in the form of a lady). The three are manipulated into close contact via the Baron and the government’s interest in Caine’s experiments. Taking place on campus these seem to involve trying to open the Gates of Hell by stimulating Ms Van Helsing’s nascent powers via the repeated application of orgies. Which is eerily similar to my experiences of not-studying at Coventry Polytechnic. Anyway stuff goes wrong and all kind of bad hoodoo gets a-cooking!
It’s fast pulpy fun which is either enhanced or undermined, your call, by its attempts to try and inject some maturity into the whole exercise. There are references to “open marriages”, “alimony” and, while the “orgy” word isn’t ever used, it’s clear that quite a lot of people are having quite a lot of fun in a confined space via the medium of physical interaction. Sure it’s clumsy and unconvincing but kind of endearing. Of course it was all for naught as in 1984 Howard Victor Chaykin would demonstrate how to graft a more mature sensibility onto genre comics. But this was 1982 and Wolfman and Colan have a pop at it and it doesn’t really work but, hey, they sure snuck a lot of stuff past the Comics Code.
There are many things wrong with this comic but pretty much all the worst of them are due to sloppy (re)presentation rather than the creative types involved. The last page in particular is a right horrorshow. I guess no one could find a copy of this page so they asked someone who had read it when it came out to describe it over a faulty phone line to someone with a cheap pen and the delerium tremens and then everyone just crossed their fingers. It’s bad.
And, I really don’t want to sound like Andy Anal here but, the paper stock is all wrong. Mr. Colan has gone to some effort use some exciting techniques, mostly with craft tint (is that right? That dotty stuff.), but these depend on a layering effect to succeed and they fail totally because the image just sits right on top of the glossy paper with exactly and precisely no differentiation between the layered elements. The paper also works against the inking which is too sharp for the necessary haziness of Colan’s pencils. Okay, that was probably the case in the original but the old timey soft paper would have mitigated this while the new timey , oh, look even I can’t believe I’m talking about paper stock, but that’s just how much it doesn’t work. It makes it look like Gene Colan doesn’t know what he’s doing. Gene Colan knew what he was doing but the people who assembled this didn’t. Or did but didn’t care, which is worse.
Still, it was The Dean so it was GOOD!
So, yeah, COMICS!!! Buy 'em from your LCS - I do!