John Buys Comics and Oh Man I'm so Hungry I Can't Think Up a Title

Three things from last week, as I did not get my ass in gear in time to write much of anything:

a) The Anchor No.1 - A fine entry in the “big dude who punches the supernatural” style that I love so much. I’ll pick up numba two and go into more detail then.

b) Hector Plasm: Totentanz - Really fantastic. I shall be tracking down the earlier Hector Plasm collection. Chris Sims hit all of my major points in his review of the book, so go read that and imagine that at the end I pipe in with a muted “Yeah.”

c) Hellboy: The Wild Hunt No. 5 - Holy crap! So great. Don’t wait for the trade on this series, guys. The last issue is in a couple of weeks, so watch out for me spewing praise in this space.

Four! Four things!

d) Grandville - Okay, this came out a couple of weeks ago but I just read it. It’s amazing, on about a hundred levels. The art is marvelous and amazingly detailed, the characters are well-realized and compelling, the giant fight scenes are actually followable and not a tangle of limbs that must be worked out like a magic eye puzzle. Add in some terrific shout-outs to Hergé and the Rupert comics and such and it’s just a delight to read. Non-comics-reading Erica (and every time I use her as an example her designation as such gets a little flimsier, I realize) got at least as worked up about how good this was as she did about the resistance that some of my workmates have to vaccination (if you know a doctor and you want to take a break from talking for a while, just ask them their opinions on such things - fun!). Anyone who enjoys adventure-style comics should check this out, if only in-store.

Dang it, five things. Batman No. 691 turned me off enough that there’s going to be a six hundred and ninety-SECOND ISSUE OF JUDGEMENT.

Now, on to this week:

Cowboy, Ninja, Viking No. 1

So it’s a recognized thing (by me, at least. Maybe you weren't paying attention or something) that over the last decade or so all of the classic character archetypes of our childhoods have been fermented and distilled on the Internet until things like Talk Like a Pirate Day or Zombie Walks spill out into the non-electronic world. And of course they bleed into comics as well - Dr McNinja, say, or Scurvy Dogs - often enough nowadays that you can start to get a bit wary when something is described as “Monkeys versus Ninjas… Zombie Ninjas! On the Moon!” Is it going to be good reading or did someone get a bit lazy and just throw concepts together until it sounded marketable?

I point this out to illustrate my state of mind when I saw that there was an upcoming comic called Cowboy Ninja Viking: wary and guarded. Man, these are three of the classic stock characters - was someone just picking names out of a hat in an attempt to entrap folks like me? My brow furrowed further when I read the plot synopsis: a guy with Multiple Personality Disorder who had three personalities - the titular Cowboy, Ninja and Viking - and who had been trained as an assassin by an ill-conceived government program. This was either going to be great or terrible.

Happily, it’s looking like it’s going to be pretty great. The art has the necessary chops (and check out that cover image - very nice) and the set-up was taken care of without spilling into issue 2. There were a few too many jumps in time for my taste - the lack of a full colour palette tended to make things like changes of location a bit hard to follow and forced me to flip back and forth a fair deal to resolve exactly what was going on and who was talking and so forth. The use of iconic word balloons to differentiate the CNV’s personalities was very, very cool. There’ll be a SECOND ISSUE OF JUDGEMENT on this one, but honestly it’s just because I’d like to wait and check out the characterization a bit more before jumping in with both feet.

Oh, to hell with caution. The main character is a cowboy AND a ninja AND a Viking, after all - this is probably going to be awesome.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance No 6 (of 6)

So RUN! dealt with the issue of the Human Flame and his continued evasion of justice (by making him super-powerful, having him defeat himself by his own hubris and ending up with him imprisoned on an asteroid), Escape tackled the finality of Final Crisis (by reinstating the Global Peace Agency as an extradimensional/extratemporal organization dedicated to heading off Crises before they occur), Ink is dedicated to either hazing the new Tattooed Man until he becomes a villain again or proving his heroism through a super-duper baptism of fire. What about Dance?

The Super Young Team were one of the more fun elements of Final Crisis, at least for me, and I was all for this series, whose goal seemed to be establishing them as heroes rather than just super-powered club kids. And that’s basically what happened, I guess. Kind of. Not really. Actually, not at all.

According to this issue, the Super Young Team has learned to work together and have found their places in the world and yadda yadda. As far as I can tell, though… there have been no actual changes in the characters (in fact, there’s been a bit of a reversion, since Big Atomic Lantern Boy screwed up his budding relationship with Shiny Happy Aquazon and is back to pining for her). There is no visible evidence to support the fact that the team has changed in the least.

I get that this series has been an overt examination of the celebrity aspect of super-herodom and that the characters must thus be infused with shallowness and soap opera and so forth but GAWD was it unsatisfying to read six issues and end up liking the characters less at the end. Intentional of not, I say bleah to that. Bleah.

Beasts of Burden No. 2 - I have no desire to ruin one second of this comic for anyone. All I’ll say about it is that as many horror comics as I read (and I read a lot of horror comics) this is the first one in quite a while to genuinely creep me out. I won’t be awake all night or anything, mind, but I did get that creepy feeling. Just a fantastic comic on all levels. Especially Mr. Pugsley: “Devil’s Well, huh? More like Devil’s Ass. This place sucks.”

Oops, didn't get anything else read. Good night everybody!