ALL STAR WESTERN#16 Jonah Hex: Art by Moritat, written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, coloured by Mike Atiyeh and lettered by Rob Leigh. Tomahawk!: Art and colour by Phil Winslade, written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and lettered by Rob Leigh. DC Comics, $3.99 (2012) Jonah Hex created by Tony DeZuniga and John Albano Tomahawk created by Edmund Good and Joe Samachson
I finally realised that it isn't the sticklebricking of DC Continuity and the basic desperate casting about for stunt elements that are hamstringing my enjoyment of this book. No, it's the joylessness of it. Its total and wholehearted acceptance of the current DC mode of storytelling which puts a premium on prevarication and encourages emptiness. Look, this book would be great if Bob Haney was writing it. Bob Haney isn't writing it though so it isn't great. If I'm hankering after Bob Haney in 2013 it's a fair guess your book isn't up to snuff. On the up side this issue doesn't contain the dismayingly frequent page filling device of having that Oriental lass fighting for five pages. In fact she doesn't appear once which means that any entertainment can be rightly said to be just like the cast - purely occidental. You want better jokes, make better comics.
In the Tomahawk back up the most startling aspect as ever is Phil Winslade's bizarre digital watercolours job which I find enjoyable without actually knowing why. In other news, the English turn out to be the villains! I guess that's how Germans feel when they read DC war comics. A taste of my own medicine there. And it is bitter, bitter, bitter. This book, however, is only EH!
DJANGO UNCHAINED #1 Art by R M Guera with Jason Latour Adapted by Reginald Hudlin Coloured by Giulia Brusco Lettered by Sal Cipriano Adapted from the original screenplay by Quentin Tarantino Vertigo/DC Comics, $3.99
I can’t speak as to how good an adaptation this is because I haven’t seen the movie. I’m old and the wild and outrageous young rebel Quentin Tarantino scares me with his outrageously youthful rebelliousness and his youthfully rebellious outrageous movies. Luckily my much younger sister had seen this very movie so I asked her how she found it. She said, and I quote so the record may be deemed complete, “It was entertaining, Johnny, but it wasn’t good.” There you go then. Me, I fear I invite your youthful ire as I just don’t think Tarantino is all that. Oh, it isn't his childishly inflammatory use of the “N” word, after all I’m sure should our paths cross the edgy auteur would be equally forgiving were I to pepper him with the “C” word like it was going out of fashion. No, but some of it is the fact that he uses the word “cool” too much. The only men his age who should use “cool” that much are Grateful dead fans who live in San Franciscan dumpsters. Mostly though it’s that he reacts to proper questions like THIS. Yeah, I'll let that speak for itself I think. On the plus side the iconoclastic Quentin Tarantino does seem to have exhausted his celluloid fetish for Uma “Man Hands” Thurman.
The stated aim of this comic is to illustrate the original script. Every golden word. I guess it does that. It certainly seems like a Tarantino script. The dialogue is surely as self-satisfied and in need of tightening as ever and it retains all the usual rhythm and musicality (i.e. all the rhythm and musicality of a tune played on an arse flute); scenes outstay their welcome or outstay their welcome while also leading up to a totally predictable reveal and the characters haven’t any. Usually it would take hundreds of talented people and millions of dollars to make this stuff at least enjoyable if not actually good. All this comic has is R M Guera. All this comic needs is R M Guera. It’s an amazingly savvy choice since for the last 5 years and change R M Guera has been tasked with tricking everyone into thinking that a tour through Jason Aaron’s 70’s movie memories constitutes something with anything more to say than, hey, wasn't cinema in the 70’s just grand? Or SCALPED as it is known. Elevating the mundane to the magical is just what R M Guera does I guess. He does it bloody well though. Jason Latour throws down a few flashback panels and his art is excellent every time it appears but the shining star here is R M Guera. R M Guera with his ambulatory toby jugs and smooth storytelling once again showing everyone else up. Hey, the poor old writer doesn't even get a credit except here: Reginald Hudlin. I don't know why he doesn't get a credit but it's not a trend I want to encourage. Anyway, thanks largely to RM Guera this was GOOD!
SUPREME #68 Written and Drawn by Erik Larsen Coloured by Steve Oliff Lettered by Chris Eliopoulos Supreme created by Rob Liefeld Image Comics, $3.99
In this pulse pounding issue Erik Larsen basically says that he enjoyed illustrating Alan Moore’s script but since then he’s been noodling about and it’s been just super, thanks, but he’s off now. Apparently someone else will be taking over, no idea who but, yeah, someone at some point. Of all the moves to steal from the DC playbook that’s a pretty strange choice. At least he didn't steal DC’s signature move which is now apparently making comics nobody likes but lots of them. Larsen’s departure is a bit of a shame because I found his Kirby with a split nib art quite charming and in this issue it’s particularly so because, for no readily apparent reason, Larsen suddenly starts drawing this thing like it’s Kyle Baker’s RONIN. (Yes, I know it was Frank Miller's RONIN but this looks like Kyle Baker's RONIN).
I quite enjoyed this book. It had enjoyably stupid characters like Lion headed Supreme and Darius Duck, people flew around, punching occurred and Larsen always respectfully drew Supreme in that scratchy Liefeld mode without actually ever being as shitty as Liefeld. Sure, it was pretty basic stuff but it was basically pretty stuff. Sometimes I don’t actually want all that much from a comic and this certainly delivered that. I wouldn't recommend that Erik Larsen make a habit of just dumping books as people might start referring to a failure to commit as having committed Larsen-y. Unlike that joke this was OKAY!
FATALE#9,10 Art by Sean Phillips Written by Ed Brubaker Coloured by Dave Stewart Fatale created by Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker Image Comics, $3.50
Everyone can relax because I’m done here. I’ve had my doubts about this one all the way. For starters the horror elements have been inexplicably dusty and dull (cassocks! tentacles!). I don't need my own pet Jess Nevins to know that horror in the '70s was actually engaging with real world events and offering up savage and innovative treats which were leaving Corman's Poe adaptations for dead. Then there's the inescapable drab narration which mistakes deadpan for just plain dead on the page and is written in a fabulous new tense even more inactive than the passive; the comatose tense perhaps. The only sign of life in this one-note stuff is that it works the word “but” like it yearns to be a Salt’n’Pepa track.Then there's stuff like this:
That pivotal oh, go away moment occurred in issue 9 but due to the caprices of my comic dispersal system I still had issue 10 to go. Yes, one more chance! A chance which was immediately crushed when the central character (who thus far has been less like Fatale and more like Docile) just suddenly remembered she had special magic powers and plain killed everyone in a climax as rewarding as being inadvertently brought off by the motion of your train seat. Look, there’s no mystery about why men will act like complete tools for a pretty face, certainly not a supernatural mystery. Unless you think the contents of your pants are supernatural and mysterious. In which case your Pope just resigned. I didn't know Popes could do that! This series always seemed less James Ellroy and H P Lovecraft and more Quinn Martin and Donald P Bellisario. An impression strengthened by future covers which indicate the series is just going to stick a new genre on top of the usual stuff. Now she's a witch, now she's a space man, now she's a turtle, dis-integrating! Like my interest. Mr Ben with a magical woo-woo may well be a new direction but not one I’ll be pursuing. So, I’ll be missing future essays on The Scarecrow And Mrs King and, more importantly, the fine work of Sean Phillips and Dave Stewart which deserves better than to be yoked to work this EH!
SHADOW SPECIAL #1 Art by Ronan Cliquet Written by Scott Beatty Coloured by Mat Lopes Lettered by Rob Steen The Shadow created by Walter B. Gibson Dynamite, $4.99 (HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!!!! FOUR DOLLARS AND NINETY NINE CENTS!!!! THAT'S INSANE!!!!)
In the main title The Shadow is currently palling about with George Orwell. George Orwell is the author of a couple of books on how shit being poor is and how we will all willingly participate in a system designed to crush our common humanity. He was right about both of those things and remains right, although he missed a trick in not realising that the main way The System would ensure our complicity would be by making nice things for us to buy. But then there weren’t many nice things to buy back then so we’ll let him off. Rip The System! You don’t bring Orwell to the party unless you want that party to get political! Orwell also did a book about animals on a farm. I can’t remember what it was called but it was about animals on a farm. It was a metaphor or an analogy or some clever shit like that about some animals on a farm. Oh yeah, I remember now, the one about the animals on the farm? It was called BEFORE WATCHMEN.
Anyway, this isn’t the main series so George Orwell isn’t in it. No, this is a “special” but it isn't very, possibly even at all. Except for the price. That’s pretty fucking special right there. There’s the core of a fun and pulpy tale here but something’s gone awry on the pacing front. When there’s more pages devoted to The Shadow moaning about going shoe shopping (yes, really) than there is to his fight in a minefield with a man who has courageously chosen to sport only a bouquet of barbed wire around his nuddy bod (Oooch! Owch!) then, yes, I’d have to disagree strongly with the storytelling emphases.
Ronan Cliquet has a good go at being Alan Davis but he seems to have jumped ahead a bit; Alan Davis didn’t get to be Alan Davis until he’d got the basics right, son. I’m guessing he’s just some wee snip learning his trade but the best I can give him is – promising. The most special thing about this comic is the paper it’s printed on. Paper so much like catalogue pages from your youth that there’s a constant urge to riffle through them to the Hot Wheels section or the sports bra section depending on which age your development is currently arrested at. No, it wasn't special unless special is EH!
And like The Pope - I'm gone! But there's still COMICS!!!