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Posts Tagged ‘Mother Panic’

The Stack-6/28/17

In new books, reviews on June 29, 2017 at 2:18 pm

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This week in comics: A whole lot of jaw-dropping, revelatory moments. It was exhausting, and wonderful. But first, apologies are in order.

I’m overly skeptical of nostalgia and crossover gimmicks, to say the VERY least, so naturally I felt it incumbent on myself to take a big ‘ol poop on DC’s latest superhero/Looney Tunes mash-up specials as soon as they were announced. None received more of my spleen ventings than Batman/Elmer Fudd. Why? It seemed so absurd, in the most crass and exploitative way. “What can you possibly do with this?” I thought. You either make Batman look Joel Schumacher-levels of hokey, or you try to make comedic cartoons dark and edgy, which is only a SLIGHTLY worse crime in my eyes than, say, co-opting those cartoons in order to sell your dumb fucking truck mud flaps or ‘urban’ t-shirts.

Despite how cranky I can be, I always keep an open mind, and try not to level substantial criticism against any comic without having read it first. So, I read it. Turns out, it’s both successful in its execution, AND very enjoyable. Let me be clear: It’s not that I doubted the impressive talents and abilities of Tom King and Lee Weeks; I simply didn’t think you could put this particular chocolate in that particular peanut butter and get anything other than corporate dysentery. I was wrong. This creative team rose to the challenge, and made something engaging, that was reverential without being tiresome, and stood on its own as a story. It appears that when you make the Looney Tunes into human citizens of Gotham, it’s a perfect fit. It also needs to be said that Lee Weeks needs to be the sole illustrator of Batman comics going forward. To my shame, I had forgotten what an artistic powerhouse this guy is.

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And now, with foot firmly planted in mouth, it’s time for me to review my other favorites from this Wednesday:

Mother Panic #8 (Jody Houser, John Paul Leon, Dave Stewart, John Workman-DC/Young Animal): The hunt for the body bag killer continues, and Violet bullshits her way closer to her prey using the only resources she really has available: the internet, Otis’s army of rats, and her fame’s uncanny ability to get her on television. There’s some great scenes elaborating on her cybernetic implants, and artists John Paul Leon and Dave Stewart really convey just how much pain and suffering those devices are causing her. For my $3.99, this is a far more compelling tale of crime-fighting in Gotham than most of the actual Bat-family books right now.

Black Magick #6 (Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott, Jodi Wynne, Chiara Arena-Image): At last, the triumphant return of one of my favorite new Image titles! In this issue we see Rowan, in a ritual on her thirteenth birthday, contacting her entire lineage, and then nearly going mad with anger and despondency as a result of having lifetimes of distrust, abuse, torture, and murder thrust upon her in one night. This story of a witch who works as a police detective has been top notch, and I really must stress again how strong this book is on ALL fronts. Nicola Scott’s greyscale art is mindblowing, adding flourishes of color precisely when they’re needed. It’s rare to see lettering that’s a deviation from the norm, but Jodi Wynne’s is a perfect example, clear yet distinctive, and more thematically true. Do yourself a favor and get caught up now.

Secret Weapons #1 (Eric Heisserer, Raúl Allén, Patricia Martín-Valiant): This miniseries is another great example of delving deeper into superpowered characters who get overlooked and ignored–the C and D-listers. In this case they have literally been left behind by their benefactor, the infamous Toyo Harada. Without his wealth and protection they are exposed, struggling, and prime targets for an alien creature that absorbs abilities from bathing in the blood of psiots. Enter Livewire, a former student and soldier of Harada’s who wants to do for these kids what no one else would. This was a terrific first issue, with particularly creative use of character powers and page layouts. If you’re a Valiant diehard, or someone who enjoys comics like Generation X or Runaways, you’ll  want to check this one out.

Saucer State #2 (Paul Cornell, Ryan Kelly, Adam Guzowski, Simon Bowland-IDW): So this is it. An alien intelligence has been spotted at the edge of our solar system, and is advancing. President Alvarado has no choice but to snap into action and confront the greatest shitstorm of panic that the human race has ever known, and she does so with flying colors, assembling an inner cabinet that will advise her on how best to approach the subject with the rest of the world. Meanwhile, Major Abramowitz is seeing to some scheming loose ends, and the greys appear with one hell of a revelation. The feeling here is similar to what’s going on now in the final arc of Letter 44. Both are outstanding comics, and are required reading for fans of Sci-Fi, alien stories, and conspiracy theories.

Saga #44 (Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Fonografiks-Image): Wandering a hostile backwater planet, trying to deal with Alana’s miscarriage and the bizarre magical powers that it’s imparting to her, Hazel and her parents are devising a train-hopping Plan B while some locals close in on Petrichor and the ship. The ending is of course another unforeseen shocker, but I’d like to take a moment to focus on those locals. What’s intriguing here is that they are a sort of mirror image of our main characters: a man and woman from very different races (one is a black human, the other is a white centaur), who had a mixed child that no one else around them approves of. The difference here is in ideology. This family seem to be decidedly pro-life (in terms of the unborn, anyway–they had no qualms about murdering adults, even pregnant ones), whereas Alana and Marko came to this place seeking an abortion (though due to the disturbing miscarriage). One of our longest, most heated disputes in this country is playing out in the pages of Saga, with all the grey areas that it entails. Bravo.

And that’s just about it for this week. As always, thank you for reading comics, and for reading this. Feel free to comment and share, and follow me on Twitter and Instagram @rabbit11comics. Don’t forget to support your local shops, be good, and I’ll see you in seven.

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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:

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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.