I read comics. So should you.

Posts Tagged ‘Infamous Iron Man’

The Stack-5/24/17

In new books, rants, reviews on May 26, 2017 at 10:23 am

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This week in comics: Paul Cornell and IDW show us proof of life beyond cancellation, we get a double dose of Jonathan Hickman, and I do my best to explain why I’ve chosen to focus exclusively on comics. But first, it’s time for nostalgia’s weekly kicking in the taint:

Centipede001CovAFrancavilla

Are you fucking serious? So first we got a toy universe from IDW, and now an Atari universe from Dynamite? Yes, I realize Centipede actually came with a comic (I’m an old person, after all), but can’t we just enjoy the past without trotting out its dolled-up corpse every few years?

The best way to sum up my picks this week is with the word ‘struggle’. Not in the sense that I had to struggle my way through reading them, because that is certainly not the case. No, just in terms of narrative. This moment in comic book history mirrors a real, universal moment, where it feels as though most of us are slogging through, trying to maintain our stamina, winning small victories where we can. We are pushing into the murky space between dark second act and denouement. Let’s see what that struggle yields.

Saucer State #1 (Paul Cornell, Ryan Kelly, Adam Guzowski, Simon Bowland-IDW): This is SO encouraging to see! Cancelled Vertigo book Saucer Country returns to us as Saucer State, picking up right where it left off. Arcadia Alvarado, former Governor of New Mexico and alien abductee, is now the President, using her position and resources to get to the bottom of her experience. There’s greys, microwave projectors, and cake-loving space faeries, all illustrated beautifully by Ryan Kelly, whose work just keeps getting better and better. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up, and grab the trades from Vertigo while you’re at it.

East of West #33 (Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, Frank Martin, Rus Wooton-Image): Full disclosure: I am a total Hickman fanboy. I have been reading his work since The Nightly News, I loved what he did with The Fantastic Four and Avengers, and I eagerly await Frontier. East of West has been a notably longer story, a Science Fiction dystopia based on a version of The United States that is broken up racially and ideologically, staring down the barrel of the apocalypse. A lot has happened in thirty-three issues, but this latest one feels almost like it could act as a jumping-on point or a one-shot. It is bookended with the concept of burning your leaders, amped up with revolution, and at its center is a love story. Artist Nick Dragotta has been absolutely killing it on this book, bringing human emotion into this swirl of conflict on a grand scale. Give it a look.

Infamous Iron Man #8 (Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, Matt Hollingsworth, VC’s Clayton Cowles-Marvel): I know, I gush about this book almost every month. But you guuuyyyyys, it’s SO damn good. I can’t really get into why without SPOILERS, so here we go. In this issue, Riri Williams, the new Iron Man, goes to Latveria and confronts Victor Von Doom, who is also acting as the new Iron Man, and asks him to stand down, despite being COMPLETELY outmatched. What he asks of her in return is quite unexpected, and brings us to yet another huge end-of-issue reveal. Speaking of those, now that Reed Richards has revealed himself to Ben, he tries to convince his old friend that it really is him with a lovely anecdote that only they would appreciate. And as always, the art team just blows us away, Maleev’s shadow and Hollingsworth’s glow tag-teaming to punch your eyeballs in.

The Old Guard #4 (Greg Rucka, Leandro Fernández, Daniela Miwa, Jodi Wynne-Image): Moving on to another new series that I’m silly in love with, Rucka’s latest tale, one about a small group of immortals working as mercenaries. The focus so far has been both on how much immortality and thus time itself sucks, and that despite all that the rich and powerful will go to extreme lengths to get their hands on this perceived ‘gift’. This month’s installment, with art that comes across as a juxtaposition of life and death in much the same way that the writing does, is absolutely BRUTAL.

Mother Panic #7 (Jody Houser, John Paul Leon, Dave Stewart, John Workman-DC/Young Animal): Mother Panic is BACK! New story arc, new artist (the amazing darkness and grit of John Paul Leon), and a new villain: a killer dressed in a body bag (“Everyone in this fucking city has to have a shtick”). This book continues to be Batman for people who want an even more tragic and more foul-mouthed Batman, and it does that incredibly well. It has such great quotability (“Trash spilling into our backyard. And I’m the fucking garbage man”), like it’s a vigilante comic written by Sam Raimi or Guy Ritchie in their heyday. And I love the way that the setting of Gotham City is acknowledged without being annoyingly fan-servicey, like in this issue where we just see a dark cape on a rooftop. After a few issues of stumbling, this comic is back on its feet, ready to plant them firmly into our asses.

Rounding out the week, here are a few one-sentence reflections on some other comics. Please note: I do not do this to diminish these books in any way. I’m just short on time, and think it’s amusing. Hopefully you do as well. We shall see.

Seven to Eternity #6 (Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña, Matt Hollingsworth, Rus Wooton-Image): It has just occurred to me that Adam Osidis looks exactly like MMA fighter Conor McGregor.

Letter 44 #33 (Charles Soule, Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque, Dan Jackson, Crank!-Oni Press): It is so marvelously satisfying to see Carroll get his comeuppance.

Black Hammer #9 (Jeff Lemire, David Rubín-Dark Horse): Just what in the hell are you up to, Colonel Weird?

Ringside #10 (Joe Keatinge, Nick Barber, Simon Gough, Ariana Maher-Image): Just like in professional wrestling, this heel turn felt really forced.

Plastic #2 (Doug Wagner, Daniel Hillyard, Laura Martin, Ed Dukeshire-Image): Despite the gore, this comic made me hungry for donuts.

And now: A mission statement clarification! Yay!

Some of you might be wondering why I don’t talk about the greater world of comics-related things: movies, television shows, toys, etc. Well, there are a couple of reasons for this intentional omission.

First of all, comics are my first love. They are my favorite form of entertainment, and have been since before I learned to read. I don’t want to dilute that by talking about other mediums that are tangentially connected. Movies, television, and collectibles are inherently more popular in the mainstream, and honestly don’t need the signal boost the way that comics do. This makes no sense to me. Comics are the wellspring of these fantastic ideas and characters, yet most people don’t read them. My mission is to win people over, and get them reading. Comics are a creative a motherland, yet sales slump, creators make little money and receive little recognition, and corporations treat them essentially as intellectual property farms, their niche money tolerated because the ideas can be crafted into a mass market product.

Second, the culture is absolutely choked with this concept of ‘geek culture’, and it has been crassly adopted and enforced everywhere you look. Understand, I’m not above this. I too watch the movies and the shows, and buy the t-shirts. I’m not a gatekeeper. I don’t think this expansion of comics is inherently bad. I want EVERYONE reading the books, and not viewing them as a lesser form of entertainment. I’m tired of the community kissing Hollywood’s ass, and even adopting the lexicon of that world (such as ‘Director’s Cut’) in the hope that it lends us credibility and brings in a larger audience. I do this for me and for comics, and that’s the way it will continue to be. Want to find out if exposure, popularity, or actually getting paid for my opinions shatter that scrap of integrity? Share this blog far and wide and let’s find out (shameless plug/desperate plea-winky face emoji).

So now you know. I may come across as too cool for school, or a cranky purist, but just understand that it comes from a well-meaning place, and a lifelong respect and passion for the medium. So many people have worked so hard to make so many magnificent stories come to life, and they all deserve better. The world is starting to understand that comic books are cool. Let’s work together to make them that kind of cool that people will pay money for, and proudly consume and discuss in public. Rant over.

That’s all for this week. Thank you for reading, and for reading comics. Feel free to comment and share, and you can follow me on Twitter @rabbit11comics, and see my art stuff on Instagram at rabbit11comics. Be sure to support your local shops, be good, and I’ll see you in seven.

The Stack-3/29/17

In new books, rants, reviews on March 30, 2017 at 9:48 pm

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This week in comics: A tear-filled goodbye, the current Zeitgeist Level is ‘Shitstorm Brown’, and somehow Snagglepuss sparks a fierce debate about art styles. Before we begin, I have a burning question:

 

doom

Can we knock it off with this ‘director’s cut’ horseshit already? Using the terminology of another medium, particularly when it is a total misnomer, doesn’t become us, darlings.

Spider-Woman #17 (Dennis Hopeless, Veronica Fish, Rachelle Rosenberg, Andy Fish, VC’s Travis Lanham, Javier Rodriguez-Marvel): After going through trials and tribulations both deeply personal and extra punchy, Jessica Drew is ready to take a break and settle down with baby Gerry and her new beau Roger, the man formerly known as Porcupine. What writer Dennis Hopeless brought to this title that truly set it apart from nearly everything else on the shelves was heart. He chronicled the highs and lows of a burgeoning super-family, and did it without being saccharine or disingenuous. I enjoyed issue after issue of baby mama drama, and I am not a fan of babies whatsoever. What the various artists involved brought to this title was no less important: Inventive page layouts, expressive character work, and an overall aesthetic that was a refreshingly bright nod to the classics. This book was its own unique corner of the Marvel universe, and its presence will be missed. Enjoy the downtime, Arachnid Lady. You have certainly earned it.

Unfollow #17 (Rob Williams, Mike Dowling, Quinton Winter, Clem Robins, Matt Taylor-DC/Vertigo): Up to this point, Unfollow has sunk its hook into us with a very juicy directive: Imagine that a single genius introduced the world to social media, and that he is dying from cancer, and wants to play a game with us to see what we’re made of. That game involved giving away his fortune to random users of his platform, provided they could survive each other long enough to enjoy it. Recently, the game has changed. SPOILERS Our genius billionaire, Larry Ferrell, has sent his cancer into remission and had an epiphany: People have misused his tech, they are lost without it, and this money is HIS. He plans to simply kill off the remaining 140 chosen ones himself, and get back to being an ‘alpha’. It’s a twist that makes a frightening amount of sense. Rob Williams and his crew have crafted a top notch wake-up call, and I suspect there are even more surprises in store.

Clean Room #17 (Gail Simone, Walter Geovani, Quinton Winter, Todd Klein, Jenny Frison-DC/Vertigo): Next, we sidestep over to another fantastic Vertigo book, where oddly enough, the Internet has also gone dark. Oh shit–SPOILERS Whoops. The difference is, it is the terrifyingly silent opening salvo in the war between demonic entities and humans. They’re hiding among us, and they are now savoring every last bit of chaos, confusion, and suspicion that the panicked masses are experiencing. Meanwhile, in the Clean Room, Astrid is schooling the murderous stalker who has penetrated her inner circle, and is preparing for a showdown with the entity child who wants her broken and destroyed. Gail Simone is talented, funny, and prolific. She also has a dark side, and she is expressing it in a fascinating way. I want more, provided it does not manifest in horrifying ways, like it did with Grant Morrison (look up the story behind his comic, The Invisibles).

Cinema Purgatorio #9 (Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill, Garth Ennis, Raulo Caceres, Digikore Studios, Max Brooks, Gabriel Andrade, Kieron Gillen, Nahuel Lopez, Christos Gage, Kurt Hathaway-Avatar Press): I have been meaning to discuss this excellent anthology book for months now, so let’s dive in. The main story is really just a chance for the always enchanting and cantankerous Alan Moore to dissect the dark underbelly of film and animation, in a way that only someone fucked over by that same machine can. Garth Ennis’ Code Pru is about the way we make the horror of life banal in order to contain it. A More Perfect Union is a historical fiction gorefest about armies of giant ants emerging during the time of the Civil War. Modded is quite simply Pokemon in a post apocalyptic wasteland, changing out cute monsters for actual demons. And The Vast is a kaiju story focusing on the arms race between nations trying to train giant monsters by getting them to imprint on humans when they’re babies. If you are a fan of horror and gorgeous black and white artwork that stands up on its own, you need to be reading this.

Infamous Iron Man #6 (Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, Matt Hollingsworth, VC’s Clayton Cowles-Marvel): Would you care to know where the most exciting things are happening over at Marvel? They’re happening over in the ‘silly’ wing, with books like The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. They’re happening in Jason Aaron’s Thor books. They’re happening in books that address mental health issues, like Moon Knight and Hulk. And they are happening wherever The Bendis is. Spider-Man, Jessica Jones, and the Iron Man world are amazing. Go ahead, call me an ass-kissing fanboy. It’s true and you know it. What can I say? Marvel is in rare form, and their best bald boy is leading the charge, despite whatever shit screamy right wing trolls have to say. But anyway, let’s talk Iron People, written by The Bendis. I love the idea of a repentant Victor Von Doom, a VVD that has been in the egomaniacal supervillain game so long that he truly doesn’t know how best to be a hero, even while being an unstoppable combination of technology and magic. It’s captivating, especially when SPOILERS his mother shows up, apparently in cahoots with a man who has been mysteriously absent in the current Marvel world: None other than Reed Richards. Sign. Me. Up.

It needs to be said that Alex Maleev’s artwork is a perfect pairing for the subject matter of Infamous Iron Man, and that brings me to my rant for the week, inspired by this of all goddamn things:

bananasplits

Yep. THIS came out this week. Why? I have no fucking clue. This isn’t “You put chocolate in my peanut butter”, this is “You stuck a banana in my Faygo Jello mold”. It’s a nostalgia trip cash-grab, end of story. BUT, then we get to the backup story, The Snagglepuss Chronicles. Things get sort of uncanny valley in this part of the comic.

See, the art, while beautifully rendered by folks who are clearly quite talented, kinda ruins Snagglepuss and his friends. This is a cartoon character, doing cartoon things in a cartoon setting. If you make him look more photo-realistic, it gets creepy in a BIG hurry.

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Now that is some Five Nights at Freddy’s shit right there. I know furries who are actively turned OFF by this.

And this got me thinking. Are publishers and editors making enough of an effort to match artists with writing that suits their strengths, and vice versa? It matters. Shhhhhhhh. YES. IT MATTERS. Let me be clear. I am not saying this art is bad. Far from it. But is it a good look for Snagglepuss? Not so much. Now this gets me thinking about a bunch of titles that are on the chopping block, because I am irked by this creative dissonance. For example, Mother Panic. I love this book. But it’s a dark story, and it needs to look like this:

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And not THIS:

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Again, I’m not saying the latter is bad. But it’s cartoony, with big anime eyes and blocky figures. This is a comic about an emotionally scarred vigilante, who often declares, “Fuck Batman”. You don’t want some clueless parent picking it up for their six year old.

I have this issue with some other books, like my beloved Letter 44, but I try my best to power through. You may not care. But I think creative teams need to take this into consideration, in order to deliver a final product that is tonally in sync and therefore that much more appealing. This inevitably sidetracks me with questions about style, and why more artists aren’t more flexible, but that’s a whole other can of worms for another day.

EDIT: Some updates are in order. First, after reading the Snagglepuss back-up story, I discovered that it has a great message, though I’m still not sure why this character is saying it, drawn in that style, and in this book. Second, it would appear that in a couple issues Mother Panic will be bringing John Paul Leon on board, and his artwork is a much better fit than Shawn Crystal’s is. So, hooray for not dropping a book before doing a little research, and here’s hoping that Shawn gets some gigs that mesh more with his style.

That’s enough from my big mouth for this week. Be sure to check out my nonsense every Thursday, and if you get your friends to stop by as well you’ll make me squee with unbridled joy. And feel free to comment, share what’s in YOUR stack, and debate me on my irritating pet peeves. Be good, and I’ll see you all in seven.