Still stinging with shame over his balky pull list J_Smitty gets it together, remembers his password and partially rights the ship.
Wonder Woman #21
Azzarello / Chiang / Wilson
DC Comics $2.99
This issue heralds the return of Cliff Chiang and it’s not a moment too soon. Or, maybe it is too soon. Chiang will undoubtedly keep me on this read where I would have otherwise fallen off by now. Still, it’s not all doom and gloom. Azzarello feels to me as though he’s embracing a new supporting cast; largely leaving the gods (both G and demi) behind - or at least fallow – and moving in the direction of Kirby’s Fourth World “modern” pantheon. Orion seems to be a semi regular at this point and we get our first glimpse of New Genesis so we’re definitely trafficking in that vein.
Chiang is a lush stylist and among other gems here really lays on some impressive boom tube effects (though that may be a collaboration between himself and colorist Matt Wilson) and – as usual with Cliff – the EYES have it! Ah, see what I…anyway to the pretty!
Also of note, one character dies while defiantly chanting the lyrics to Millwall FC’s ode to hooliganism.
Good job this year, Millwall, you lost to Wigan in the FA semis. Maybe (snicker) next year.
Conan the Barbarian #17
Wood / Gianfelice / Stewart
Dark Horse Comics $3.50
Conan’s bad acid trip continues in part two of three in The Nightmare of Shallows arc. A LOT happens in this so allow me to jump off a bit here.
After doing a brief run through of a fantasy version of his earlier imprisonment (Hint: It could be titled “How to Kill with Loose Masonry,”) Conan and Belit soldier on through their shared Yellow Lotus induced dream state.
Relaxing on a sedan chair in an air pocket of a sunken Khitai treasure ship (how cool is that, by the way?) Conan and Belit espouse their world views in a single exchange of dialogue:
Wood is at his best (for me) working through interpersonal dynamics. He has an ability to populate his characters with consistent viewpoints that don't just sound one note or as an echo of an overall writer’s voice. Belit’s presence throughout the series has put Conan on backfoot in an exploration of young love and how the immediacy, ferocity and depth of passion can be a simultaneously thrilling and blinding experience. Sure, it’s Romeo and Juliet dynamics but consider this:
In Conan’s savage history you get the sense that Belit was either the right woman at the wrong time (tragic, to be sure) or perhaps even more painfully the right woman at the right time. Wood is willing to travel that awkward road of hopes, weaknesses, fears and confusion in the midst of killing giant snakes and dropping acid.
For that brave dare alone, for allowing Conan’s new iteration a modicum of psychological flexibility, he should be lauded.
Davide Gianfelice works in the bold, minimal line style I enjoy for its representational flexibility (meaning it is recognizable and clear at any depth of scale) and despite the occasional tendency to oversexualize Belit (I preferred Cloonan’s weird Banshee) he is a VERY capable artist that works at a high level in what Dark Horse would do well to make their default “house style.”
Lastly, it would be CRIMINAL to undersell Dave Stewart’s coloring work. It delivers so much of the mood, sense of place and emotional context. The slightest bloom of a cheek as Conan and Belit embrace is a detail that is neither over or underplayed. Note perfect.
He is truly a super power in his world and a driving force of the Dark Horse look. If you need further evidence…
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth # 108
Mignola & Arcudi / Campbell / Stewart
Dark Horse Comics $3.50
They say when you become a parent your whole life changes.
I’ve enjoyed the weird super spooky creepshow that has been B.P.R.D. and I will continue to buy it but this one finally put me over my comfort line for what horror really is and illuminated why I’ve always had such a difficult time processing it. It’s the destruction of innocence that really gets me. The awful fall of the unprotected and the gentle that makes me rage and have a fit.
All of this is done capably and horribly. It is a wrenching experience and all the determined semi-photo linework and deep, blazing color do their job very well indeed. You pained me this month, B.P.R.D. and you showed me something scary. Thank you and damn you. Also, Johann is well hard.
Kirkman / Ottley / Rathburn / Rauch
Image Comics $2.99
Look, can we talk for a second? You need to start buying this book. It’s Spider-Man, all right? Great Cast, Great Action, Great Narrative. Kirkman goes to great pains to make sure each issue is accessible and comprehensible as a unit and as a whole. Ottley never met or imagined a thing he couldn’t draw free hand. Just do it as a favor to me. Ok? I don’t have much to say on it except it has held my attention for over a hundred issues and that’s not an accident.
Also, Twitter rec’d by Rob Liefeld! Err…
Batman Beyond Unlimited #17
DC Comics $3.99
Whoa, that’s a lot of people.
JT Krul, not bad on the Superman peace pitch. Truth!
Howard Porter, your line has thinned somewhat! A positive change.
Adam Archer, you have a wonderful – WONDERFUL manga-esque Darwyn Cookery about you, sir. Also, you learned how to make that Batman “Oh sh!t” face from Norm Breyfogle. I know it. Good on you.
You uncredited guys at the back outdid the Geoff Johns version of the Shazam / Captain Marvel yearlong thing by about a million miles in two panels. That deserves a donut! Let me know where to mail it.
That’s the great thing about charting the world of the future in comics. No one gives a damn about it. Isn’t that weird?
Till next time when I make my case that ARMAGEDDON 2001 WAS THIIIIIIIIIS CLOSE TO BEING THE GREATEST EVENT CROSSOVER EVER CREATED.
Signing off in the Signature Savage Style: