John Buys Comics, the Thrilling Return

Back to the comic-buying grind again, oh what fresh stale hell is this. I kid, of course - if I got paid for this it would be the best job ever.

First, some Last Week's News, cold off the presses. Did you know that The Outfit came out last week? You probably knew that. But just in case you were, like me, out of touch for a time I will repeat myself: The Outfit came out last week! And on the off chance that you have no idea what I'm talking about: way back in the Sixties novelist Donald Westlake came up with a character named Parker and started writing novels about him under the pen name Richard Stark. Parker is basically a sonovabitch, a freelance thief who pulls two or three big jobs a year and spend the rest of the time living the high life in hotels and resorts around the world. Parker is basically an ultracompetent sociopath and is one of the most enjoyable characters in literature. The books typically feature Parker and a rotating series of other thieves pulling off one or more big scores, usually while Parker is simultaneously trying to solve some small complication in his life, like being blackmailed or having the mob put a price on his head. It's all pretty wonderful.


And now Darwyn Cooke is adapting the series into comic books, first with last year's The Hunter (also adapted into the Mel Gibson movie Payback, trivia fans) and now with The Outfit. And let me tell you, the right guy is on the job. Bothe Cooke and Westlake-as-Stark operate in a glorious Fifties-shading-into-Sixties aesthetic so very well, and as a result the books both look and read like they were written just for my nostalgia-riddled soul. And of course the violence (of which there is much) is marvellously choreographed. Really, the only bad thing about the whole thing is having to wait for the next instalment. Where's my instant gratification, dang it?

Even farther back, a whole two weeks ago, Fantagraphics Books came out with the amazing Four Color Fear, a book that would have made my month all by itself. More on this one in a later post - tis the season, after all. 


Batmans - Unless I missed an something in the confusion, the Scheduling Fairy has gotten drunk on her way to DC yet again. I mean, it's very possible that I did miss something, but shouldn't Bruce Wayne be returned to the DC Universe proper some time after the Return of Bruce Wayne series actually finishes? I guess it is awfully close, but having the penultimate issue of that particular series in the same pile of comics as the opening salvo of the Bruce Wayne: the Road Home event felt a little weird.

I can't get too worked up about the whole thing though, since The Road Home is following my very favourite event format and taking place in its own one-shots and minis instead of horning in on the associated ongoings that I enjoy so well unmolested. Way to diffuse my nerd-rage, DC.

Oh, the comics themselves? Not bad. The one-shots that I picked up were entertaining enough to justify their existence, which is always nice. I'd say pick 'em up if you're reading the associated series but don't feel left out if you don't. Meanwhile, The Return of Bruce Wayne didn't deliver awesome in quite the concentration that I'd gotten used to but that's to be expected with a next-to-last issue. Next issue: total awesomeness.

Wait, does Knight and Squire fit here? Sure it does. Here is the easy calculation to determine whether you should buy this issue: take the delight that you felt when you read the preview for this a couple of weeks ago - and both zero delight and negative delight count - and multiply it by five, because the whole issue is just exactly as wonderful. Then, simply follow your heart. Paul Cornell and Jimmy Broxton are doing a terrific job of expanding the British corner of the DCU its own distinct place, one that has more than just a handful of characters with accents. Instead, they are developing both a rich retroactive history and a distinctive cultural flavour for the British superfolk scene. Plus, you know, Knight and Squire, two of the most criminally underutilized characters in comics, get their day in the sun. Hooray!

And in further Batman news, Masks and Monsters, the latest Hellboy collection came out this week and it's great. It contains the Hellboy/Starman/Batman crossover which among other things features Mike Mignola drawing super-heroes, which is one of thie things that brings me the most joy in this life. If I were ever to get acquisitive enough to collect anything obsessively it would definitely be Mignola-style super-hero drawings. So delightfully barrel-chested!

I think that I'll leave it at that, or perhaps at bat. Old things and bat things. Let's call it a theme week.