"...I'm Taking The Case." Comics! Sometimes They Aren't Older Than Your Grandad!

Here's an image from DAREDEVIL #4; a comic that isn't talked about within. But I just really, really wanted it up there so I indulged myself. I do go on about #5 of DAREDEVIL though. Is that alright? Are you sure? Because it matters to me! Photobucket

Well, I can't promise to help but I did write some words about some comics that were actually published this Century. Yay me!

Oh yeah, one of the images may be NSFW, depends where you work, I guess?

DAREDEVIL #5 By Mighty Marcos Martin(a), Marvellous Mark Waid (w), Jaunty Javier Rodriguez(c) and Venerable VC's Joe Caramagna(l) (Marvel Comics, $2.99 (YES! TWO DOLLARS AND NINETY NINE CENTS NOT THREE DOLLARS AND NINETY NINE CENTS!)


"...but it's bee-yoo-ti-ful!"

If I said that this was probably the best book Marvel are belching out that probably wouldn't mean much since I don’t subject myself to much of their gassy blather. But the fact that everyone else who has ever picked the book up has said roughly the same might be an indication that it’s worth a look if you aren't already looking. Because it’s sure as sure can be that it’s worth looking at. Sockamagee, the art, oh the art, art as this there should be in comics all the time! Every page has something delightful on it and those are the lesser pages. It’s just excellent stuff that revels in all the possibilities that words and pictures reveal when used in concert. Rivera plainly loves comics and consequently his art rolls around in the medium like a dog in a cow pat. But there’s no shortage of people piling on the praise for the pictures so I thought I might at least extol the work of Mark Waid on writing. Because this is good stuff and, I feel, it gets overshadowed by the glories of the art.


"A hero acting heroically? Get outta town!"

It’s just super-solid all round and there’s a real danger of underrating that. Strong enough stuff to just shrug off that lame drivel about DD’s identity and turn it into a running gag. Better yet, for me at least, Mark Waid remembers the inherent awesome of fights’n’tights comics. There’s a bit in #5 where Waid solves the conundrum of how Daredevil would know he was being targeted by snipers so smartly, so gracefully, so obviously that I did, I admit, smile in admiration. By the time Waid topped it with the light switch gag I was full out snorting like a frisky pig. Corporate North American Mainstream Superhero comics don’t get any better than Daredevil by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin because it is EXCELLENT!


CAPTAIN AMERICA AND BUCKY #620 By Cracking Chris Samnee (a), Everpresent Ed Brubaker and Middling Mark Andreyko(w), Bouncing Bettie Breitweiser (c), Victorious VC's Joe Caramagna(l) (Marvel Comics, $2.99)

Y’know I bet sometimes Bucky feels like a motherless child. Oh. He is. And Dad pegs it as well. Then his sister gets taken into care and he gets brutalised by the military until he is a killing machine That’s quite a lot of misfortune for one kid, personally I’m just glad he didn't have a dog. By which I mean I’m glad for the dog. Now I’m going to spoil the rest of this series for you because I reckon I can see where it’s going based on how things have gone so far.


"The laughs never start."

Crucially we never actually see Ma Bucky and Pa Bucky die and Little Sister Bucky’s fate is uncertain. This is comics, better yet this is Marvel Comics, so the clock is ticking until they return from “the dead”! Not only that but they too will have been turned into killing machines with bionic bits and bobs. Will the Winter Soldier survive against the most dangerous enemy of all – his own family?!? Yes. But they will all be reset to being nice (i.e. American not Russian, obviously) and together they will go “off the grid” and cross America finding warehouses in which they can talk in front of bits of machinery before narrating sad thoughts over some Steranko influenced action. Hey, Captain America can turn up every now and again and whine about how much paperwork he has to do while looking out of a window with his back to everyone. Even better each one will have their own series: Winter Soldier, Spring Soldier, Summer Soldier and Fall Soldier as well as the “core” book: The Four Deadly Seasons! Call me, Marvel! I can LOSE you money too! Oh, this comic has got technique but no life and is a total waste of Chris Samnee's excellence because it is EH!

(This book was pre-ordered before my delusional and smug decision not to give Marvel money for books featuring Jack Kirby characters until such time as they just acted decently towards The King's memory. This also applies to THE MIGHTY THOR. The point was not to spend less at my LCS and thus drive the elfin owner into the nightmarish world of working for someone else but to fulfill my obligations viz a viz pre-ordered comics and then spend the same amount on different stuff. No, I don't know why I'm explaining this to you. And now back to our regular programme...)

OMAC #2 By Kracking Keith Giffen and Dandy Dan Didio (w&a), Saucy Scott Koblish (a), Hunky Hi-Fi (c) and Tasty Travis Lanham (l) (DC Comics, $2.99)

I enjoyed the first issue of OMAC a great deal. In fact I enjoyed it so much that had I my druthers each successive issue would consist of OMAC appearing in the Cadmus complex and then running through it smashing stuff up until he got to the end and then disappearing. Yes, every issue would open with him reappearing and then running through the Cadmus complex smashing stuff up until he got to the end before disappearing. Every issue. Same page layouts, same panels, same characters in the panels. But! With every issue and every re-appearance the scenery would be more battered and the people more bruised. Over the course of the series the dialogue would degenerate from shocked exclamations to weary acceptance and right down to futile grunts. This would continue for about, say, 12 issues until OMAC was just running through an ever deepening trench littered with bones and metal. (Hey DC, Call me! I can lose YOU money!)

Photobucket "Really? You look more like a "Larry" to me."

With issue 2 they don’t do that so what do they do? Well, it isn't Kirby let’s get that right “out there”!!! By the time Kirby birthed OMAC he had evolved beyond the merely mortal, having ascended to a plane whereby he could produce comics suffused with complexity and subtext that the man himself would have had trouble articulating. Reportedly not the most articulate of men Kirby was at his most articulate when he communicated via the medium of pencil and paper. With OMAC he was telling us of The Future. And the news from The Future wasn't good. The news from The Future is never good because in The Future you will be dead. Sorry about that. Worse than that Kirby’s OMAC told us that in The Future people would still be sh*theads and technology would simply give them exciting new ways to be such. But as long as there was someone willing to stand up and punch stuff until it stopped moving we’d be okay. The new OMAC isn't about The Future it’s about Now. Since stuff that’s about The Future is about Now anyway I guess that makes the new OMAC about The Past. And that’s clearest in the storytelling.


"Kids! How many storytelling techniques can you spot in this one panel!"

What we have here is pretty much any Hulk comic from the Bronze Age. By which I really mean how you remember any Hulk comic from the Bronze Age being. There’s a big old slobberknocker of a fight in which outlandish property damage is inflicted and much expositionary dialogue is spouted. Now, you may say there’s no place for such old-timey stuff in the brave new world of comics and I’d kind of see your point but I cannot deny the simple pleasure that this issue delivered. I don’t want to sound like some luddite berk living in the desert with locusts stuck in his beard but the fact remains that this style works. It delivers. And it isn't all Old School; the technicolour japescape of a colour job by Hi Fi looks like it was sourced from the still wet skins of alien jellyfish. It’s pretty good stuff, amiable entertainment that leaves you feeling entertained and amiable. I think the whole “I” for an “Eye” thing is bit too cute but I really liked “Omactivate!” so, you know, each to their own. There is some odd English in it too. Which is a bit rich coming from me but then I don’t have an Editor do I? But then, in a very real sense, does anyone in comics these days. Minor hiccups then and maybe not even that just a touch of reflux maybe? OMAC #2 is VERY GOOD! in any case.


PUNISHERMAX#18 By Swanky Steve Dillon(a), Jumpy Jason Aaron(w)and Matt Hollingsworth(c) (Marvel Comics, $3.99)

What a frustrating book this is. There have been some great moments as Frank’s monstrous nature is revealed in all its dark blankness but there’s some serious flaws. Just having Frank pop in or out of places like a magic fairy of death is jarring. It seems he can just waltz into the correctional facility hospital and pop his nut in Bullseye’s face. (Or a cap, I’m not strong on youth slang.) It undermines the good stuff when there’s such little attention paid to the plot. “And then I escaped…” isn't really a satisfactory way to end a prison arc, y’know. It’s all a bit odd because Aaron’s had plenty of room to tell his story (oh, look another three panels of someone leaving a room!) but it’s all a bit nebulous aside from the bits where Frank does something psychologically foul. These may be the more interesting parts to read simply because Aaron finds these the most interesting parts to write, all the other stuff gets a bit out of focus and vague. Unmemorable people in unmemorable rooms filling pages until Frank does something unforgivable isn't really convincing me that’s there’s much going on here. I mean there’s The Kingpin but he seems to be currently re-enacting some scenario from the letters pages of a psychopathic Razzle simply because he’s a bit bored. Oh, I know it’s the old thing about selling your soul to get what you want but then finding out it’s not; but it just looks like the Kingpin hasn't the wit to think of anything to do but drug and shag in his free time. Try cracking a book, man.


"Dammit, Kingpin baby, I (nnnhh!) almost (unnnh!) got there that time but you keep (uhhhh!) throwing me off (uhhh!) by callin me "Alan"!)

I don’t think matters are helped by Steve Dillon. Look, I like Steve Dillon, he’s a good artist but his action is too static, his backgrounds too vacant and his faces too caricatured to convince when applied to a serious story. Well, as serious a story as a story with The Punisher in can be. We’re not talking Ingmar Bergman here, folks, probably more Larry Cohen at best. At its worst it just seems like crude fan fiction involving the supporting cast of Frank Miller’s Daredevil run. I’m sure seeing Kingpin’s tubby bum as he slaps it to Elektra made someone’s day but it wasn't me and it wasn't today. At its best though it does seem to be saying something about fathers and men and stuff (oh, don’t worry, it’s nothing good. It’s never anything good.). Like I say it’s frustrating because if there was a bit more substance and a lot less sensationalism this would be better than OKAY!


SWAMP THING #2 By Yomping Yanick Paquette (a), Salty Scott Snyder(w), Naughty Nathan Fairburn(c) and Jesty John J. Hill(l) (DC Comics, $2.99)

Scott Snyder isn't the first person to tell us everything we know about Swamp Thing is wrong, but I doubt if anyone has ever done it as hamfistedley as this. The Parliament of Trees straight up send some mossy messenger to Alec Holland and he just plain tells Alec that everything he knows about Swamp Thing is wrong! Considering that the swampsters no longer talk in slow motion this takes him an incredibly long time. He uses a lot of words. So many words that he basically just wears Alec Holland down into believing him rather than actually says anything convincing. Holland clearly decides to believe Swamp Thing because life’s too short to listen any longer. Oh, and there’s also the biggest threat ever, ever, ever that has been around for ever, ever, ever but no one’s ever mentioned it before because. Just because. The woody courier then drops dead which is the price of his mission. I’m thinking the Parliament of trees want to maybe look into more effective means of communication. Then mad badness involving backwards headed people wakes the reader up, gainfully employs Paquette and dares to entertain for the latter part of the issue. This is slightly undercut when Abby turns up - but now she’s a bad-ass girl on a motorcycle! I hope the series isn't just going to end up with characters turning up but different! It’s Anton Arcane! But he’s a shoe salesman from Hoboken with a penchant for playing Toploader songs on the paper comb! It’s Chester but he has big ears! Nice art and some effective last-act nastiness but, really, the second issue seems a bit soon to fall into EH!


MIGHTY THOR#4 By Oval Olivier Coipel/Messianic Mark Morales(a), Melancholoy Matt Fraction(a), Lively Laura Martin(c) and Vitamin-enriched VC's Joe Sabino(l) (Marvel Comics, $3.99)

Ah, oh, it’s the usual bad cover version of a Thor comic. A hint of tit, a couple of “bastards” and some blood (when apparently some wolves get into Odin’s freezer. It isn't very clear what’s going on really.) seek to convince that this is  in some way more mature than those old Thor comics children (Haw! Children!) liked. Basically Thor hits The Silver Surfer in space. There’s some other stuff but it all seems mechanical and unconnected. Yes, predictably enough it’s another addition to the dismaying number of comics that probably sounded aces in interviews but, in reality, are staggeringly inadequate reading experiences. This seems to be working out okay for everyone though. (After all it’s only healthy to ignore reality and just stay positive about everything all the time.) I guess in the future there won’t actually be any comics, just interviews.


Interviews describing the most awesome comics ever; comics so awesome that to make them a reality would be just plain vulgar. There’ll be some personal stuff in there as well so that you feel connected to the interviewee with the uncomfortably shrill emotional content distracting from the cynical calculation underlying it all. After all what’s your USP? You, baby! You beautiful snowflake, you! They’ll have to be careful though, these writers of the future, it’s a fine line between being compared to Dave Eggers and being compared to Dave Pelzer. I don’t mind as they are the writers and being writers they are The Shining Ones and those that dare to raise a voice in criticism (burn them!) are nothing but Haters fuelled by resentment and jealousy. And it’s true. Christ, sometimes I wake up with my face wet with tears because I didn’t end up writing Thor comics. I wasn't hungry enough.  I failed the world. I am the filth of the earth. And all that’s fine, I mean it isn't like this pallid thing cost $3.99 is it? It did? Oh, those writers can get stuffed then. I’m sure everyone involved in this was a truly special human being but that doesn't stop it being EH!


AVENGERS 1959 #2 By Hirsute Howard Chaykin (w/a), Jolly Jesus Arbutov(c) and Jingoistic Jared K. Fletcher(l) (Marvel Comics, $2.99)

(Yes, I am aware Nick Fury was created by Jack Kirby but Howard Victor Chaykin needs his Mai Tai mix and who am I to deny him?)

Kind of typed myself into a corner haven’t I? In trying to course correct the critical conversation concerning Howard Victor Chaykin I may have erred a little on the enthusiastic side. (“Ya think, you limey asshat, huh, ya think?”) Now I imagine no one will believe me when I say that this second issue is even better than the first issue and the first issue was nice stuff to start with. Any rational human being would be forgiven for dismissing me as the kind of guy who had Howard Victor Chaykin pooped in a brown paper bag I’d pay for the privilege of a peek. I wouldn't though and I think that kind of nasty talk tells us more than enough about where your mind goes when no-one’s watching. For most of the issue the art is really, really sweet. The colouring is greatly improved and makes everything more visually coherent and there are some strong holding lines going on which I like. I was particularly enamoured of The Blonde Phantom’s hair.


"Oh, Howard Victor Chaykin! Don't you ever change!"

The last few pages get a bit choppy but by this point the events are getting pleasingly goofy so it’s not a dealbreaker. Baron Blood and Brain Drain? From Rascally Roy and Frisky Frank Robbins’ sweat drenched INVADERS run? By Howard Victor Chaykin? Man, that’s some daft stuff I’m liking. And on the last page when Howard Victor Chaykin basically introduces John Steed into the Marvel Universe I’m kind of starting to warm to the idea of looking in that bag. I guess you could say it’s Howard Victor Chaykin by numbers but I've run the numbers and Howard Victor Chaykin’s numbers look pretty good. AVENGERS 1959 #2 is witty, smart, saucy, fast-moving entertainment and it’s my fault but your loss that you won’t believe me when I say it’s VERY GOOD!

Remember, Kids, if you only buy one of these - buy DAREDEVIL because it is pure COMICS!!!



Criminy, just buy it already! Now go have a nice weekend!