So, I don't actually have the time to be doing this, but, damn it, it feels like I've posted 6 reviews all year long to the blog, and this is my absolute last chance for 2006. 3 GEEKS JIMS JERKY: Amusing if inconsequential, just like most issues of 3 GEEKS. Except this one, instead of being about comics.... is about meat. And has dried meat glued to the front cover. (Which, from a retail perspective, works about as well as those Eclipso Diamonds did) Yes, it comes with a piece of beef jerky. The comic is solidly OK
The bad thing is that I didn't notice the "DIS" (for "Display") in the title on the order form! Nor the $40 price, since it's solicited individually in PREVIEWS at $2. I didn't understand I was ordering 20 copies at a throw, and there wasn't any way to order individual copies. We're asking for returnability now.
30 DAYS OF NIGHT SPREADING THE DISEASE #1: I may be too much of a purist, but as much as vampirism would be logically blood borne, to be there needs to be a take and receive not just an injection from a hypodermic needle. But that just may be me. OK
52 WEEK #34: The end of the second act, I guess, and I liked the way they worked in the one and only cliffhanger they're actually "allowed". There are only 19 to go... and they've got a lot of lot of stuff that needs to get dealt with, starting post-soon. There was a lot in this issue not to like -- the continuation of Geoff John's weird fixation with super-powered beings bisecting other super-powered beings, the idea that Lex is casually kidnapping, injecting with drugs, and mindwiping major reporters, or John Henry's "Here's the exact same speech I've given you the last 8 times we've tried to move this plot forward" scene. I love 52 for the nods, and the wacked out ideas, and the stupidly-crazy scope, but it’s a badly plotted beast, lurching around wildly. This issue, as an issue: EH.
AGE OF BRONZE #24: It’s a sad shame that work like this so lovely, so painstakingly researched, so essential to showing what comics are capable of, sells so darn badly. Every issue is a treat, and this is no exception: VERY GOOD.
ANNIHILATION #5: I'm flashing to Andy Schmidt's column on The Pulse the other day where he laid out a bunch of rules that a reviewer should follow. Chief among them "don't discuss a work until it’s done." Oh... alright then.
ASTONISHING X-MEN #19: Yeah, solid stuff, though I much more enjoyed the personal moments then any of the 'splody stuff. VERY GOOD.
ATLAS #3: Damn, that was depressing. And makes we feel even worse about Horrock's adventures in mainstream comics... depending on my much he's really fictionalizing it. (I mean, obviously, he's fictionalizing it... but how much of it is essentially true?) Still, VERY GOOD
BATMAN & THE MAD MONK #5: This Matt Wagner kid can kinda draw, can't he? Someone should get him on something high profile.... VERY GOOD.
BLACK PANTHER #23: Continuing to be the most thoughtful and globally resonant of the Civil War crossovers. I think it's playing too much with the racial/-ist themes (I've conceived BP as being above all that, myself) -- but then, I'm a straight, white male and I'd say that, wouldn't I? GOOD.
BLOWJOB #20: So, Eros was originally conceived as "Saving" Fantagraphics, right? Providing much-needed cash flow to keep the doors open to allow them to do the "good work" in an uncaring market right? Well, the pendulum has swung back by now, right? And Eros has fewer and fewer releases, and most of them don't actually sell all that well anymore, anyway (least round here, and I have no problem with cartoon-based pornography), AND they seem like they're getting raunchier and raunchier. This here is all rape-fantasy, and while fairly well drawn, gets a big "ICK!" from me... and I guess I just wonder where the "value" is any longer? I quite like having an arm that can produce a BIRDLAND or an IRONWOOD, really, and it would be nice to see more "name" creators doing erotic work (Matt Wagner used to talk about a book of the sexual fantasies of two sisters -- I've seen several pages from it, at least a decade ago, and it was swell stuff), but this kind of production just feels like the tail wagging the dog, or something. This CAN'T be helping FBI, can it? Doesn't one volume of POPEYE equal a whole year's worth of BLOWJOB? As I said, this gets an ICK!
BLUE BEETLE #10: I though this was a really charming and fun issue. Maybe this is how you have to handle the Fourth World stuff... make additions to, rather than rehashing what Jack did? GOOD.
CITY OF HEROES #17: They had a play-for-free weekend, and I got sucked back in, and so did a bunch of my old supergroup, and for a few weeks there it was a perfect rush each night. Now most of them have drifted away again, and I'm back to soloing most of the time, and, foo, I don't think I'm going to renew when it comes up on the 12th. The winter events were pretty fun though. What? Oh the comic? Nah, didn't read it, sorry. INCOMPLETE.
CONNOR HAWKE DRAGONS BLOOD #2: See, I just don't get how you could possibly have a "World's Greatest Archers" competition and not have every single person there saying "So where's the Justice Leaguer with the Goatee?" every 10 seconds. But if you can get past that, this is a wonderfully serviceable thriller. Characters are individuals, appear to have motivations, and there's plenty of drama. It is written well, and well illustrated, and yet I still kinda don't give a damn about Connor Hawke. From a craft perspective, it's probably a "good", but since I'm telling you what *I* thought, it's an OK.
CREEPER #5: See, as mm, mm, limited as some characters may be to specific lightning-in-a-bottle creative pairings (Ostrander and Mandrake on SPECTRE, Moore and Bisette/Totleben/Veitch on SWAMP THING, etc.), what doesn't work is mucking with a character's origin hoping that the SITUATION provides the story (cf: DEMON, the Yakuza Street Racer). SO that's why introducing the Joker into the mix of Creeper's origin doesn't make him any more compelling. In fact, I'd argue it makes him less compelling, really, since in tying him to The Bat, now he's, dunno, Man-Bat instead of Animal Man. D-list, instead of C-list. That's a long way of saying AWFUL.
I said to myself that I'd do as complete of a survey of this week's books as I could, but damn, I've been doing this a long time already today, and I'm still only at "C", pray for me here...
CROSSING MIDNIGHT #2: My first thought on this comic was "damn, that's pretty. Did last issue look as nice", and I went back and looked, and yes it did. So, it's very pretty. Storywise, I also felt this was stronger than issue #1, but what I'm trying to puzzle out is where this is/can go long-term (It's a monthly, not a mini), because we're at 2 issues in and I think it defies the 10-words-or-less pitch. And, so, because I am shallow and harried and read far too many comics, and because I need a CERTAIN amount of spoonfeeding, I can't decide whether I really like it or not. I don't really know what it IS, y'see? So, uh, OK?
DAREDEVIL #92: Yeah, that worked, I think. VERY GOOD.
DETECTIVE COMICS #827: A new Scarface, and this time she's him! Eight words, see? Very nice done-in-one, setting up possible future conflict, doing every single thing that a monthly issue of DETECTIVE should do. I did like the Gs-for-Bs of the Wesker version, cuz the idea that he's actually a really really bad ventriloquist just adds to it, but "Sugar" looks to have a few interesting possibilities, so hopefully fair trade. All in all VERY GOOD.
GUMBY #2: Actually, I still haven't read it yet, but Tzipora read it to Ben, and I caught the back half of the performance and it sounded grand. Plus he likes the free Pokey you get with your purchase. I wish there hadn't been a variant cover, however. That's kind of unnecessary, and Geary's cover was much much stronger anyway. Burden and Geary are a dream team for this book, and I'm going to cheat and go from the giggles I heard from the other room and say VERY GOOD. Because I know you should buy it.
HACK SLASH SLICE HARD: See, I see what they were going for, but there were way too many characters in way too short a space to hold them, and it just became a mixed up muddle. EH.
HAWKGIRL #59: Wow, nice art! And the first issue I sorta wasn't embarrassed to read, lately. A very strong OK.
HELLSTORM SON OF SATAN #3: It is, I think, the Egyptian Mythology that isn't making this for me. That's not what I want in a "Son of Satan" comic, really. EH.
HEROES FOR HIRE #5: Ricodonna is a stupid adversary, and this is really a d-list team, but there's an adequate level of competence in its execution. EH.
IMMORTAL IRON FIST #2: I don't have a problem, I guess, that there have been other Iron Fists before. But I kinda do have a problem with a WWI-era version on the battlefield, wearing a mask. That's kind of a thumping big continuity implant, ain't it? Still, the execution was wonderful, and I really like this book. VERY GOOD.
JUSTICE #9: No idea, I'll get my copy THIS week. We only had enough for about 2/3rds of the subs last week. INCOMPLETE.
KILLER #2: Archaia is rapidly becoming one of my favorite publishers. While I may not be the exact audience for any given book, the Base Quality of their line should really be commended. And I really dig this book in particular. Very affecting. And VERY GOOD. My only problem is getting restock -- my backorder for #1 got cancelled (timed out). They need better distribution than Diamond's narrow pipes, if you ask me.
LOVELESS #14: Shallow and stupid, and too many comics, that's me, I've said it before, but I never have any idea which character is whom and what there relationships to others are when I read this book. No character is distinct enough to pick up out of a line up for me, and dooms this to AWFUL for me.
NEXTWAVE AGENTS OF HATE #11: Damn, they're on FIRE. That sequence of double page spreads at the back? INSANELY AWESOME. VERY GOOD.
OKKO CYCLE OF WATER #1: This is what I was saying about Archaia before. Not For Me (I generally don't like period pieces), but very well constructed and illustrated, and a fast sell-out (at like low-DC numbers) to boot. OK for me, probably VG for you (generically, not specifically)
ONSLAUGHT REBORN #2: Ow, bad. We sold out of this too fast, too. More thankful than upset however in this case. There's a scene here which I think sums this up fine: Captain America, Thor and Iron all charge Onslaught, while Franklin Richards cowers nearby. Big full page money shot, with an inset box with what's looks to be them all falling into the water together. Turn the page, and Onslaught in nowhere to be seen, instead Cap + crew are hanging around with the FF, no one even mentioning where Onslaught went. Mm, comics. AWFUL.
SUPERGIRL #13: There's a villain who kills people with hate, but he's defeated because Kara's hatred for HERSELF overwhelms him. This is in a comic book starring "Supergirl", can you BELIEVE that? CRAP.
TEEN TITANS GO #38: Hey, look, its Chynna Clugston drawing the Mad Mod! Nifty! The problem is that it is maybe 8 pages of story stretched out to 22 (the THIRD "Hard Day's Night Reference" was probably the trigger), but who cares? It's Chynna Clugston drawing the Mad Mod! And it's only $2.25! OK
ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #37: It's too... hm, dense, maybe, for an Ultimate book. Readers are abandoning it in droves here. I think it's a solid OK read.
ULTIMATE POWER #3: Hurray, let's spend most of the issue backtracking before #1! Grrrrr. Hell, this could have been #1. And I just can't get past Greg Land overly-posed art. Foo, AWFUL.
UNCLE SAM AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS #6: I mean, it's cute to bring back each and every Quality hero, even, sure, the Invisible Hood. If only for a minute. But the story need to work if I'm going to care. And the antagonists are so generic and uninspiring that I don't. EH.
USAGI YOJIMBO #99: Another VERY GOOD issue. Let's hope there's another 99 coming.
WHAT IF AGE OF APOCALYPSE: Yikes. Pretty incoherent, though to be fair, the original was too. But doing a "What if...?" on an alternate reality just proceeds from a point of "Wait.... why?" AWFUL.
WHAT IF DEADLY GENESIS: This one worked better, partially because it was 50% longer, and partially because it really only had to concern itself with one character. And it was certainly OK. However, I think there should probably be a Statute of Limitations on What ifs -- you got to let like 3 years pass before you take a go at it.
WINTER SOLDIER WINTER KILLS: Character beats in search of a plot. Feels like it was rapidly thrown together, but, still, it's Brube, so it has its skill. But I say EH.
Meh, and I'm going to quit there. Only 3 comics left, but I'm sick of sitting here and typing tonight when Ben and Tzipora are out and I could be playing video games instead!
PICK OF THE WEAK: Gotta go with SUPERGIRL #13. In fact, I think I can go with the entire relaunch of SUPERGIRL this year as being the Worst Idea of 2006.
PICK OF THE WEEK: In a strong week of contenders, I'll go with NEXTWAVE AGENTS OF HATE #11.
BOOK/TP OF THE WEEK: I'll go with BPRD UNIVERSAL MACHINE this week, I think.
There, done with 2006.
What did you think?