How goes the day! I guess after that Olympics Opening Ceremony I should just assure all our American friends, particularly your President, that the National Health Service doesn't actually mean that you have a socialist nation 3,000 miles off the coast of America. And, no, if you let this stand all of Europe isn't going to go next in a kind of domino effect. You guys are so ansty!
I read some comics and then did the words thing. You can do the reading bit if you like, if there's nowt on the box.
UNTOLD TALES OF THE PUNISHERMAX #2 Art by Connor Willumson Written by Jason Latour Coloured by James Campbell Lettered by VC's Cory Petit Marvel, $3.99 (2012) THE PUNISHER created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Snr and Ross Andru Cover by Kaare Andrews
This VERY GOOD! book is about Punisher Max. Unlike the Regular Punisher he does not have a beard, and his stories have swears, gore and dead kids in ‘em! Because, yes, Regular Punisher now has a beard. That’s the only thing that caught my attention in that recent irritating crossover with Daredevil. Not wishing to impugn the, no doubt, exhaustive research by Greg Rucka into face foliage, but I don’t think it’s a good look for Frank. He should be clean shaven do you not think? Shaving’s about discipline, shaving’s very military. But a beard? A beard’s not about discipline, a beard’s about vanity. Vanity’s not really something I associate with psychotic vigilantes. I have a hard time believing Frank Castle puts his War on Crime on hold while he just trims his tidy beard. Yes, I can believe a man can fly, but apparently a vengeful killing machine that has a face care regime is a step too far for me. No offence intended there to any bearded people. Particularly any bearded people built like brick shit houses who control this site. The Punisher's beard is important, yes?
Anyway, this book is about the other Punisher, the one who can eat soup without upsetting people at the next table. It’s called Untold Tales and yet here they are. It’s the second issue and like the first issue the real reason for paying three dollars and ninety nine cents is the art. Last issue’s art was pretty good but this issue’s art by Willumson is preposterously good. I’m not well versed in anything too freaky but even I can tell there’s a real ComiX vibe to the art. It’s got a wild-eyed and feral vibe to it which makes the contents of every deceptively traditionally shaped panel thrum with an animal heat and press against the page with an almost physical weight. The youngsters will appreciate that the sound FX are even drawn in as though they are giant inflatable physical presences, like Frank Quitely did in that Batman comic that time. Admittedly this senses shattering artistic performance is yoked to a fundamentally meat’n’taters tale; one which seems inspired by that old Jerry Lee song (“Come on over, baby, we got Castle in the barn!”) and has a big chunky gold shout-out to the King. No, not Jack Kirby. Elvis. Jack Kirby’s dead, stop going on about it. Stan Lee did everything! C’mon, Stan Lee probably stood behind Jack Kirby’s chair and moved his simple little hands for him. Why not, eh?
MIND MGMT #2 Story, art and cover by Matt Kindt Dark Horse, $3.99 (2012) MIND MGMT created by Matt Kindt Cover by Matt Kindt Did you notice the stitches on the guy's face? Ahuh, Matt Kindt is still EXCELLENT!
THE SHADOW #4 Art by Aaron Campbell Written by Garth Ennis Colours by Carlos Lopez Lettered by Rob Steen Cover by Howard Victor Chaykin Dynamite, $3.99, (2012) THE SHADOW created by Walter B. Gibson Cover by Howard Victor Chaykin
It’s a shame Campbell isn't just that bit better because this issue he does a pretty good job; there's a real sense of time and place, a sense that someone has done their homework, that materials of an archival nature have been attended to but, due to certain core failings, he can't help but fluff the big emotional bit somewhat, which has the unfortunate effect of my authorially intended species-shame at Ennis’ intentional homage to The Searchers being trumped by the fact that I find myself thinking, man, hats sure are hard to do. And they are, ask Lou Fine, so this was still GOOD!
"That's a Pez Dispenser, right?" Cover by Howard Victor Chaykin
“Ban This Sick Filth!” blared the Daily Mail headline that Wednesday morning. Of course “Ban This Sick Filth!” is the Daily Mail’s headline every morning and had nothing to do with Howard Victor Chaykin’s new exercise in saucy muck being held by The Customs. Oooer! Held by The Customs! Fnarr! Fnarr! The true extent of the upset was only revealed when the owner of my LCS commented, “No one cares, John.” Before adding, “And when are you going to pay for all these comics.” Leaving him to his quips I realised something had to be done, so I poked my head over the wall and saw Her Madge was pegging her washing out. I mentioned the whole thing to her, and she said she remembered meeting Howard Victor Chaykin when she guest starred in Viper and he had "sad eyes, like a child with a grazed knee" and agreed to get The Head Boy over to sort the whole HVC BK2 UK situation out.
So Cammers turns up, and he's a bit out of sorts because we’d interrupted him holding the back door of the NHS open so the Private Sector could run in and strip the place bare, wires and all, before anyone cottoned on. He’d got a copy of the moral soiling rag in question and he held it up to his face, his statesman’s face, his face with all the statesmanlike integrity of a lard sculpture of a single bum cheek, but with eyes, and commenced to read with those eyes. And he goes, he says, “Yes, but is it a book you would wish your wife or servants to read?" And Her Madge points out it isn't 1960 and tells him to his face that the book will be available next week, or she'll be reminding everyone about that time he left his own child behind in the pub. "Did he thank you, then?" said my LCS owner when I told him of the entirely imaginary lengths I had gone to for HVC. "No", I said, "And he’ll never have to.”
THE SIXTH GUN #23 Art by Tyler Crook Written by Cullen Bunn Coloured by Bill Crabtree Lettered by Douglas E. Sherwood Oni Press, $3.99 (2012) THE SIXTH GUN created by Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt Cover by Brian Hurtt
Yeah, I miss Bat Lash too, so this was GOOD!
ADVENTURE TIME: MARCELINE AND THE SCREAM QUEENS #1 Written & illustrated by Meredith Gran, Jen Wang Coloured by Lisa Moore Lettered by Steve Wands KaBoom!, $3.99 (2012) ADVENTURE TIME created by Pendleton Ward
Much like Blessed Brian Hibbs I asked an 8 year old boy what he made of this comic. There must have been some kind of miscommunication because quite quickly there was a lot of shouting and after a bit of tussling a police presence was required. Anyway my court date is next month so if anyone can put me in touch with a good lawyer that’d be great. Otherwise, this comic aimed at 8-year old children contains a reference to the popular children’s entertainer Iggy Pop(!) and revolves around the fantasy of having a super-awesome musical career; that’s really more a teen and mid twenties thing, I think. Although these days I guess that dream can be dragged all the way into your forties. Mind you, it will probably weather the ravages of time about as well as the skin on the back of Cher's knees.
Meredith Gran (w/a)
People may mock, but you only need to do one song that plays over the end credits of the latest Jenifer Aniston flick (one where workaholic Jen learns the value of things via a series of laugh-out-loud hi-jinks stemming from her upsetting a genie and being cursed with a set of talking balls on her chin) and you’ll never have to hit up your Mom for cash again! I dunno, if you’re doing a kids comic I’d say get the stuff kids like right first, and then put all the hip stuff aimed at your mates in. Otherwise you’ll end up with something that’s really nice looking but essentially EH!
Covers by Gilbert Hernandez
Now this, this, is a comic an 8 year old boy would like! In fact it’s a bit like a comic an 8 year old boy would create. An 8 year old whose pets keep disappearing. It’s a disturbingly affectless presentation of a gorily deadpan comedy parody/celebration of genre trash. Maybe it has something serious to say about the human condition. We’ll probably never know as rational thought quickly gets tickled into insensibility by the women in bikinis shooting zombies, cleverly stupid names like “bittermeat”, laughably terrible jokes and the rewarding central conceit of beautiful people with beige minds seriously making a mess of the whole saving the world thing.
Gilbert Hernandez (a/w)
Look, the people in this awesome comic wear devices that look like metal Y-fronts to make them invisible for the delightfully childish and arbitrary time of 3 minutes. That should clue any slowcoaches in that this is no Walking Dead. And that's just peachy by me. I also liked the letter in the back of #2 that said Fatima had a “manly” face. It’s comics by Gilbert Hernandez! Don't be getting all prissy, John Sayles wrote Alligator. I hear Beto's (I call him Beto because we are so close we were practically separated at birth.) now been doing this stuff for 30 years, man and boy, and he remains VERY GOOD!
THE INFERNAL MAN-THING #1 and #2 Art by Kevin Nowlan Written by Steve Gerber Lettered by Todd Klein Marvel, $3.99 ea (2012) MAN-THING created by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway and Gray Morrow Covers by Art Adams
This doesn’t read too well as individual issues as (as I am sure we are all aware) it is an OGN cut up and shoved out in three easy, and pricey, pieces. It’s taken this long because Kevin Nowlan has taken this long. According to the text piece in #1 he was doing a page a week. At the Marvel page rates I have made up in my head, he would have starved to death before getting to page 10. So, rather than produce a half-assed product or die, Nowlan took his time and did other stuff. And I do have to say that the art here is very, very impressive. He’s got a ‘80s Kyle Baker thing going on, but with the additional, and considerable, oomph a foundation of fully painted colour provides. It’s a purposefully limited palette which gives everything a humid and lurid look. Like a swamp, see. Also, Nowlan’s also given Man-Thing a bit of a make-over and it’s kinda nice too, particularly the way Manny’s head seems to have slipped down to rest on his chest. Nice, that. Causes your gaze to stumble every time, good effect there. The words are very Steve Gerber, which is to say it’s very satirical in that endearingly adolescently blunt style Steve Gerber had. And when I say “adolescent” I don’t mean it as a put-down I just mean that in the sense of being energetic and all-encompassing. I always think of Steve Gerber as being an American version of Pat Mills, writing wise anyway. Although Gerber's more willing to accept his own portion of blame for the way things suck, I think. Maybe that’s why people respond more warmly to the work of Gerber than that of Mills.If you like Steve Gerber you'll like this, if you've never read Steve Gerber it's a good start as it is very Gerber-y. If you don't like Steve Gerber we won't be spending Christmas together. Because he and this are both VERY GOOD!
Kevin Nowlan/Steve Gerber (a/w)
According to #1 there's a lot of respect in this project. And yes, there probably is but this is Marvel. And so, as respectful as it was of your Uncle Nate to turn up to Pappy's funeral, it would have been better if he hadn't crammed his pockets with canapés, winked at the widow and blocked the bog with a boozy poo before drunkenly falling through a window. It’s a sloppy package what with the reprint of “Song-Cry of The Living Dead Man” looking kind of cheap and, in the second issue, having a double page spread printed on the front and back of the same page. This comic cost me two pounds and ninety nine pence Sterling, and yet I've had menus from the local pizza place pushed through my letterbox that had more thought, care and consideration in their design. But, I’m sure somewhere in there is a very real respect for Steve Gerber. At least Uncle Nate turned up, y'know. Ultimately, as Marvel as it is, it’s done out of respect for Steve Gerber, who is dead. And of course even Marvel respect the dead. Except for Jack Kirby. Who, it seems, can still just go f*** himself.
I hope you all had a smashing wekend and read some smashing COMICS!!!