Hellboy in Mexico
I have no idea when I first encountered the idea of Hellboy spending some time fighting monsters in Mexico with three luchadore brothers. It may have been as recently as last year in the Hellboy Companion or it might have been hinted at in a letters page back in 2002. The exact date is, in fact, immaterial because I have been craving this so hard since whenever it was that it felt like forever ago.
And now it’s here! And it’s good, as all Hellboy one-shots are. I think that it’s a natural law, as-yet unquantified by our science. It’s not terrifically deep, of course, but who needs deep, especially when the other series in the Hellboy universe are concerned with portents of doom and the deferral of monstrous destiny. As much as I love all of that, sometimes it’s nice to sit down with some old-school monster-punching action.
That’s not to say that this book is only about punching. There’s enough abridged exploration of loyalty, friendship and vengeance here that it could have made a fair-sized miniseries. But it didn't have to be: everything is there and everything is fantastic. The punching and assorted moves that I no longer know the names of (early 90s Johnathan is slightly ashamed of this) are executed with admirable skill, even when not compared to books in which fight scenes are mere bundles of unresolvable limbs. It is wonderfully and abundantly clear what each character is up to in this book.
izombie No. 1
There’s a pretty good chance that you caught the preview for this that was floating around the last month or so but just in case, here’s the skinny: it’s written by Chris Robeson and drawn by Michael Allred, and it’s about a girl who is a zombie, but not the corpse-lookin’-lurch-around-the-countryside type, just a bit pale, a bit dead. The catch is that unless she eats a fresh human brain each month, she will become the lurching and mindless sort of zombie. To facilitate her pursuit of brains, Gwen (that’s her name) works as a gravedigger.
The preview also set up the fact that there would be mystery-solving in this comic, as Gwen must placate the echos of the people whose brains she eats, absorbed during that super-gross process. What I did not know ahead of time was that this was going to be a girl detective kind of story, complete with Sixties-era ghost sidekick, nerdy were-dog love interest and crypt HQ! Even if I hadn’t read old Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon adventures throughout my formative years, I would be all over this.
I don't really know what else to say. If fun writing, Allred art and plucky supernatural girls solving mysteries isn't enough to get you interested in this one then I guess that we're very different people.
How happy was I to see this collection? SO HAPPY. I used to have access to the individual issues of this comic but then lost them in what can only be described as a messy roommate divorce. What fun to have them again!
Superf*ckers is an incredibly satisfying book, essentially about what a group of super-powered teenagers would probably really be like, and while it’s certainly not what I want to encounter when I pick up an issue of Legion of Super-Heroes it’s nonetheless very cathartic to read about over-indulgence, petty politicking, mind games and misfiring hormones in a similar context. I was a pretty innocuous teen, but I'm pretty certain that given the chance and the powers I'd have been smoking grote and engaging in ethically questionable behaviour just as readily as Jack Krak or Orange Lightning.
All the old clichés get illustrated, Kochalka-style: tryouts, super-romance, disgusting sidekicks, too many rules. I think that it gains a lot by being adorable and brightly-coloured as well - not having to waste energy on being grossed out and offended leaves a lot more for delighted clapping and squeals of glee.
Sparta U.S.A. No. 3
THIRD ISSUE RECAP: Sparta is a town in… another dimension or a fantasy land or the future, I’m not sure. Or maybe someplace else. Wherever it is located, it appears to be a football-obsessed small American town. Look a little closer, though, and there are a lot of strange things about the place, like the fact that its citizens are encouraged to get ahead by any means necessary, up to and including murder, as long as they don’t get caught. The people of Sparta don’t know anything about sexual reproduction - their babies are delivered on a semi-annual basis by the Maestro, their sinister blue Governor. And nobody leaves town because they’ll probably be eaten by yeti.
The hero of the book, Godfrey McLaine, has left town and learned about the birds and the bees and so forth, and now he's come back in order to free the people from the Maestro. So far this has involved getting his ass handed to him by the entire town (who just wanted to watch football, dammit), but he subsequently formed a militia out of the only people in town willing to have more faith in him than the Maestro: all of his former lovers.
Having written this out I now realize that it is all very strange. I assure you, however, that it is strange in a good way. Every issue has more yeti than the last!
Brightest Day No. 1 - Nobody said "Brightest Day", so one point to them.
Batman and Robin No. 12 - Good job, Grant Morrison. You caught me completely off-guard.
Astro City: Dark Age Book Four No. 4 - Holy poo! Dark Age is done! Not that I didn’t enjoy it but it must be said: I am incredibly excited to read some
Orc Stain No. 3 - Fully half of this issue reads like a video game, in the best possible sense. That is, not like most comics based on video games. It’s like… like when you’ve been playing a game for a while and you’re on a level that’s giving you some trouble and then suddenly you just nail it. You fly through the level like it was nothing. That is exactly what the action in this book felt like to me. Astonishingly good.
Secret Six No. 21 - Hey, Dwarfstar! Always good to see someone keep on being a super-villain even after the series they started out in was cancelled. Also: there is a joke in this issue that is so good/bad that I guffawed, though subsequently I learned that it was impossible to explain to someone who doesn’t read comics, no matter how fast you talk or how many times you assure them that what you're talking about makes sense.
Batman Confidential No 44 - My, but that Sam Keith story was interminable. It’s good to get back to reading short, unconnected Batman stories. Hey, check it out, it's the second-best zombie from Return of the Living Dead!