Saturday, January 30, 2010

CBD 01/27/2010

Batman and Robin, Detective Comics, Kick-Ass

Batman and Robin #7 (Grant Morrison, Cameron Stewart) - I am still enjoying this series. This issue wasn't one I liked at first. I had to warm up to it a bit and re-read it, but it was good, almost fun even, comics. I am not a blackest night sort of comics person for the most part. This comic has DickBat taking CorpseBat to a Lazarus Pit in England. It also has some fun British gang war stuff, and Squire and the Knight... and BatWoman, who just sort of poofs there. It's pretty fun stuff in a pure superhero comic kind of way, with just a bit of the modern gloominess thrown in, as it does involve trying to make CorpseBat into LiveBat again, and Damien, the current Robin and BatSon apparently in a healing tank getting a new spine.

Detective Comics #861 - We get some Batman in this issue, as well as a new and grizzly badguy who looks like Max Headroom with knives stuck all over his suit. He looks pretty stupid, but he is pretty tough and awful. The art in this issue is by Jock, and Jock's art is very good, but it isn't even close to the bar that JH Williams has set for this title. This may be my favorite superhero title right now that isn't Tiny Titans. The Question backup feature has also been good, and is particularly good in this issue, while not exactly blazing new trails.

Kick-Ass #8 - I am still fully on the fence about this series. I guess I like it. I don't love a lot of things Millar is inclined to do regularly, but I have certainly enjoyed his writing in the past. I think the writing in this, the concept, the premise, and the aspirations it has, are all overblown and perhaps even irresponsible. It's a comic that was born to be a movie and it involves regular kids dressing up as super heroes, taking drugs, brutally murdering and being horribly physically abused. A father raises his young daughter to kill and gives her weapons and instructs her to use drugs. The main character has his body beaten and broken severely and keeps coming back. I enjoyed the story, and the action, but like Wanted, it left me feeling a bit dirty. I am not really a prude, but I don't always think thst freedom of expression should come without some personal responsibity. Maybe High School me wants to yell 'fuck yeah!', but the responsible adult me that still loves comics wonders if this needed to be done like this. Just because you can show the main character's Dad Fucking a woman from behind on their couch as his son walks in, doesn't mean it needs to be done, or that it makes for a good story

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Surrogates and The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone

I picked up these to trades from my local Library the other day when I went to pay the enormous fine I owed them because I am not smart enough to return items or conveniently renew them online. There is no reason anyone should ever owe our library a dime, given how easy they make it for you to renew, but this isn't the first or even fifth time I have almost had my library fine go into collection... and still I just can't quit them.

Robert Venditti wrote both of these stories, and Brett Weldele provided the art. The art is pretty great in my opinion, and works really well in both cases. I have been trying to think of what the art made me think of. Style-wise It seems like a combination of Frank Miller in Dark Knight Returns, and Ben Templesmith in Fell, with yet again another property created in the combining of the two and the use of single color page spreads and lots of muddy gray and earthtone washes, with the occasional blues thrown in. Even in the midst of fairly stylistic art, the characters were distinctive, easily identified, and expressive.

The writing is good, the characters are believable, and it works well, while not exactly making any major innovations with regard to storytelling, or what is effectively a police procedural sort of story mixed in with some commentary on human nature and corporations, and religion. I liked The Surrogates, and because of that, I loved the prequel Flesh and Bone. Flesh and Bone needs to be read after the Surrogates, even if you have no idea of the story, etc. The prequel hits all of the notes and expands upon them in some unexpected ways.

The Surrogates centers around the police investigation into a series of crimes against 'Surrogates' Artificial human analogues that are 'driven' by people and take the place of those people out in the real world. Surrogates allow Police and emergency workers to be able to work better and face less actual potential injury, etc. They are very common in the setting of the story. Detectives Harvey Greer and his partner are our guides through this, and Greer personally stands in for us in the story in my opinion.

Flesh and Bone takes us back to some important events that set the stage for the world as it is seen in the Surrogates. A homeless man is killed by three teens 'joy riding' in their dads' surrogates. This event puts a lot of events into motion, and we get to watch as Harvey Greer participates in the case that will move him from being a uniformed cop to being a detective. We also see his own personal first experiences with surrogates on an intimate level that really gives greater impact to the story as you already know it.

I am not sure either of these will ever find a permanent spot on my bookshelf, but if they do, it will still cast me less than the fine I will rack up having them out from the library..

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I picked up Chew #6 and 7 recently, and just had an opportunity to actually read them today. I picked them up at the comic shop near my parents that sometimes actually has stuff like this on the shelf, unlike my LCS where I would have to have requested it in advance. Not ragging on my LCS, as they are good folks and treat me well.

Chew is the John Layman / Rob Guillory from Image that centers on Tony Chu, a cibopath working for the FDA in a time when trafficking in illegal chicken is a major crime. A cibopath, according to the comic, is someone who can eat something and get psychic impressions of the things history. This makes eating very unpleasant for Tony on a regular basis, and demands that he eat all sorts of awful things in order to do his job.

The first arc of the series (Taster's Choice) ended at number 5, and Issue 6 picks up with a new 5 issue storyline called International Flavor. This one features an investigation into a new, strange, tropical fruit that tastes mostly like chicken apparently. It also has Tony reuniting with an old partner from his days on the police force. The series is funny and interesting, it moves quickly and is served perfectly by Guillory's art.

Guillory's art is a full partner in the success of this book, I believe. It is dynamic and fun and his faces are unbelievably expressive.

The trade of the first 5 issues is out, or you could easily jump into this one if you can get your hands on 6 & 7.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Scalped: V3 & V4

Having received both an American Express gift card for Christmas, AND a lovely selection of discounts that could be used at my local comic shop, I found myself in a position to buy two trades recently. I looked over my shelves before I went to the store and gave it a great deal of thought as I browsed the stock at the shop. Ultimately it was not great contest. If I had about ten more dollars I would have gone with the Complete Edlund volume of the Tick, but beyond that, I had gone way too long without reading Jason Aaron's Scalped.

I picked up Volume 4, The Gravel In Your Guts, and Volume 5, High Lonesome. I read them pretty much straight through when I got home. I love this title. I usually say that Scalped is like a movie, in the best possible way that a comic can be like a movie. I believe now that Scalped is like the best possible gritty crime action/drama that you could hope to get on HBO or Showtime, or anywhere. It has great characters, great plot, intrigue, action, violence, sex, great writing and a real noir visual. I don't always love the art. I think it sometimes looks like a collection of grotesque racial stereotypes, excep for the fact that I have seen people who actually look like the pictures, so I don't think it is racist. It is gritty. It is often as ugly as the situations. This makes it really work.

I think that Aaron and Guera have the kind of complete connection that Brubaker and Philips do. The writing, the atmosphere and the art all gel perfectly in my opinion. This is times are hard and getting harder deep cover crime fiction. If you think things were bad before, you may be surprised by the capacity for them to get progressively worse in these two volumes. Dash Bad Horse, more or less our protagonist is in a hard downward spiral. At the same time even the really bad guys seem to be getting themselves into deeper shit.

In all of this, Red Crow, a big bad who could easily give the Kingpin a run for his money seems to have some bits of conscience and maybe regret or sensitivity that have opened up in him. That doesn't mean that anyone is safe, it may even mean the opposite. Red Crow really isn't a one dimensional character. I don't think even the strippers and whores and thugs are one dimensional in this.

This is an addictive series. For me, it is best to read the trade collections, but can be hard to wait. If you like gritty fast paced action and drama I recommend these highly.

Product Descriptions from
V4 The Gravel In Your Guts
This intense crime drama that mixes organized crime with current Native American culture.

Fifteen years ago, Dashiell "Dash" Bad Horse ran away from a life of poverty and hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in search of something better. Now he's come back home armed with nothing but a set of nunchucks, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and one dark secret, to find nothing much has changed on "The Rez" - short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime.

In this volume, Dash makes a dark and fateful decision that will forever affect his future on the reservation as he learns more secrets from his former girlfriend's past.

V5 High Lonesome
Jason Aaron, the hot new writer of the critically acclaimed limited series, THE OTHER SIDE, teams with gritty artist R.M. Guéra for an intense crime drama that mixes organized crime with current Native American culture. Fifteen years ago, Dashiell "Dash" Bad Horse ran away from a life of abject poverty and utter hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation searching for something better. Now he's come back home armed with nothing but a set of nunchucs, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and one dark secret, to find nothing much has changed on "The Rez" - short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime. Is he here to set things right or just get a piece of the action?

In this volume, we see the landscape of the Prairie Rose reservation through the eyes of a newcomer - a card shark and con man -
whose presence could spell doom for one of our main characters.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

2010: the year we get one good comic in two weeks

That's probably not entirely true. What is certainly true is that I have picked up one excellent comic so far this year.

In case it has been way too long since I last posted anything, which it has, I will fill you in on my pick for best single issue of 2010. I know this is a fair designation, as it is the only new issue I have picked up so far. My guess is that even if this issue doesn't stand up once other good comics come out, this series will continue to shine.

The Unwritten #9 - Mike Carey, Peter Gross - I continue to love this series. When I get to my LCS and see that all I have waiting for me after 3 or 4 weeks is a single issue and a Previews, I feel like I made out pretty well when the issue waiting for me is from this series.

In this issue Tom and Savoy survive a big attack at the prison, see the 'ghost' of Sir Roland, Save Lizzie and get to interact with Mingus, the winged cat a lot. The end is also pretty great and puts one of our hero's great adversaries more or less in the same place with him. It's well written and drawn, and continues to delight.