Thursday, March 6, 2008

well it was wednesday, and so i went to the comic book store (like i do) and i got some things and i thought i may as well write a little about them

The BOYS #16 So, The Boys is something I basically feel guilty about picking up every month. It is so much Garth Ennis at his very worst, dick-jokes, decapitation gags, sexual degradation--in other words, Ennis writes like a eight year-old boy on sugar overload after sneaking in some early '90s USA Up All Night. And yet. And yet. There is a heart here that keeps me coming back. At his best--his Hellblazer run, War Stories, some Hitman, Dan Dare--he has a real knack for capturing pathos and human dignity in his characterizations. Apart from Billy Butcher, who is shaping up to be yet another writer-from-the-British-Isles Brand HARD MANTM, the characters in this title are fairly well-written. Wee Hughie's blossoming (and no doubt, tragedy-bound) romance with a young superheroine is almost delicately written. The odd relationship between the Frenchman and the Female is actually developing into something almost touching. I'm still going to feel a little cheap every time I pick this title up, but I somehow keep doing it.

The Twelve #3 So the idea here is to dust off a couple of (well, twelve) WWII-era superheroes, mumble something about the Nazis having had them in suspended animation for 60 years, and plonk them down in the present. Well, in the Marvel Universe present, I suppose, but the Hulk hasn't stopped by yet. It's a cool idea, yeah, but with J. Michael Straczyski writing it could have just been another chunk of superhero soap opera, only with people getting called "Fella" a lot. Because dudes from the '40s call people fella. And, yeah, there's some kind-of-silly writing going on here. But Chris Weston is drawing it. And that makes it okay. Chris Weston draws a guy wearing a stupid costume, yelling about, i don't know, Zombie Masters or something, people shut up and listen. His rubbery faces and nice fabrics give the whole thing a certain gravitas. (Chris Weston draws people like they are animatronics, but with real fabric.) So yeah, this is working out for me.

Justice League: The New Frontier Classified So I will buy a book of Darwyn Cooke drawings of toast, maybe with the toast having little witty hard-boiled dialogs in speech bubbles. Darwyn Cooke is probably my favorite guy who does superheroes, and one of my favorite storytellers in the medium. This is a nice coda to The New Frontier, Cooke's glorious exploration of the major DC comics characters of the Silver Age in the context of the actual historical events of the time that spawned them. The first story, "The Greater Good" is basically a long Batman-Superman fight scene, with Wonder Woman acting as peacemaker, and how can you hate on that? The story also explores the murky morality at play in Superman's status as an avatar of Americanism. He really gets the big three DC characters, what makes them work and what makes us like them. And I love the way he draws Wonder Woman. The second story, "Dragstrip Riot" is a well-scripted teen hot-rod movie pastiche, starring Robin and Kid Flash, drawn by David Bullock. It's a nice attempt to break out of the main New Frontier style while remaining within the basic tone of the era. The last story, "Mother of the Movement" is a well-meaning attempt to confront the misogyny of the era, featuring an outraged Wonder Woman and a game Black Canary taking on a Playboy Bunny Club. This is the only dud in the book. Wonder Woman is scripted pretty flatly, coming across as obtuse and shrewish, and well, it's just a short gag strip that doesn't work out, although the J Bone art is nice, as usual.

Young Liars #1 David Lapham writes stories about interesting, mostly sympathetic if somewhat (scratch that, really) dangerous people to whom BAD THINGS ARE GOING TO HAPPEN. His Stray Bullets is basically a book about how being in danger of getting killed is pretty exciting, and Young Liars promises more of the same. Fights, chases, shennanigans, all drawn and scripted by David Lapham. This is going to be so good.

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