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Posts Tagged ‘Secret Weapons’

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.

The Stack-5/17+5/10 & FCBD

In new books, rants, reviews on May 19, 2017 at 12:12 am

It’s been a whole damn month, but I’m back, I’m tipsy, and I have OH so much to share with you from Free Comic Book Day up to this week’s picks. Strap on your crash helmets and pull up your Gallagher (TM) brand plastic tarps, and let’s get messy.

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That other week in comics: Holy shitballs Free Comic Book Day was awesome, the Allred clan serves up some quality quirk, and I continue smooching Image’s butt like they’re sending me original pages from The Maxx. But first, let us pay our respects to a tragically co-opted character:

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You’re in a better place now. One where Richard Spencer can’t get you.

Here comes the Free Comic Book Lightning Round!

Secret Empire/Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (Nick Spencer, Andrea Sorrentino, VC’s Travis Lanham, Chip Zdarsky, Paulo Siqueira, Walden Wong, Cam Smith, Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata-Marvel): The book’s first half, with haunting, gorgeously designed visuals, will no doubt split readers into two camps: those who think Nick Spencer and Marvel are trolling them, and those who come away with the realization that Mjolnir’s most terrifying aspect (and this has been beautifully extrapolated upon courtesy of Jason Aaron and the various Thor books of the last few years) is that ironclad conviction can be perceived as worthiness, and thus leads both good AND evil to power. But enough of that heavy stuff. Let’s talk about how Chip Zdarsky was born to write Peter Parker, and how this book’s Vulture zingers are the proof of that. Love the bold kineticism from the art team, too. There, we talked about it.

I Hate Image (Skottie Young, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Nate Piekos-Image): Gert from I Hate Fairyland goes on a murderous rampage through Bitch Planet, Saga, The Walking Dead, Spawn, Paper Girls, and more, poking fun along the way. It is the greatest and I love it. I love it into little bitty widdle pieces.

X-O Manowar/Secret Weapons/Bloodshot Salvation (Matt Kindt, Cafu, Andrew Dalhouse, Dave Sharpe, Eric Heisserer, Raúl Allén, Patricia Martín, David Lafuente, Jeff Lemire, Juan José Ryp, Simon Bowland-Valiant): Like the whole Valiant line in general, not a bad one in the bunch, whether it’s watching a barbarian stab aliens, a young woman talk to birds, or nanites trying to understand human memories.

Boom! Studios 2017 Summer Blast (David Petersen, Sam Sykes, Selina Espiritu, Sarah Stern, Jim Campbell, Liz Prince, Amanda Kirk, Hannah Fisher-Boom!): All ages fun galore, from the always-amazing fantasy adventure of Mouse Guard to the manga-inspired culinary silliness of Brave Chef Brianna to the musical, Wawa hoagie-worshipping high jinks of Coady and the Creepies.

Big Brass Balls Award 2017 goes to:

Spongebob Freestyle Funnies, for dropping some truth about our dysfunctional relationship with Diamond Distribution. Savage.

Moving on to the picks of last week:

Bug! The Adventures of Forager #1 (Lee Allred, Michael Allred, Laura Allred, Nate Piekos-DC Young Animal): So this is what happens when the zany creator of classics like Madman gets his whole family involved with cherished characters from the mind of the one and only Jack Kirby. You get trippy dream worlds, jokes about Camus, all kinds of pop culture references, and the sort of high-energy heroics that are worthy of the source material. Young Animal does it again. Two antennae up.

The Fix #9 (Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, Ryan Hill, Ironbark-Image): This comic consistently makes me literally (yes, I’m using it correctly here; If you mean figuratively, then fucking SAY figuratively) laugh out loud, and that is something that few books can do. Johnny the Homicidal Maniac did it. Dork did it. Now this does. There’s meth jokes and granny innuendo jokes and Hollywood jokes and BDSM jokes and it all lands every time. Oh, and there’s a cute dog. So you can always buy it for that.

Regression #1 (Cullen Bunn, Danny Luckert, Marie Enger-Image): I needed some more gross-out horror in my life. No, wait, that isn’t true at all. I don’t need it. I just like it. Because of chemical imbalances and an adolescence spent watching Troma films. Anyway, Regression delivers on that end, delving into the creepy world of hypnotherapy and past lives, and doing so with an art team that can deftly juxtapose bros at a cookout with bugs shooting out of corpses. Grab the popcorn!

Shade the Changing Girl #8 (Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Saida Temofonte-DC Young Animal): The soul of an alien poet, set loose among the grimdark bustle of Gotham. This creative team has done something truly special, and they have more than earned the right to continue the Shade story. This is something that we’ll all be coming back to decipher, years down the road. It’s your teenage shadow talking to you, through that wild place inside that you rarely visit anymore.

Black Cloud #2 (Jason Latour, Ivan Brandon, Greg Hinkle, Matt Wilson, Dee Cunniffe, Aditya Bidikar-Image): There was some blowback on the first issue of this one, with cries of ‘too impenetrable’ rising above the usual critical din. Me, I love a good mystery, and I especially love when a story unfolds organically, without a visit from the condescending Exposition Fairy. This issue drops lots of hints through the dialogue, like the characters don’t even care that there’s an audience present, trying desperately to piece together their dilemma. I like that. Your mileage may vary. Bonus points for mocking Trump’s stupid red MAGA hats.

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Now then, THIS week in comics: Marvel cements those new legacy characters in place with feels, DC finally gives us some follow through on Geoff Johns and his nutty Watchmen idea, and #teammargaret gets a big old PLOT TWIST (cue air horn). But first, I just want to give a shout to my main man Rahzzah, who has two new and kick-ass covers out this week:

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Invincible Iron Man #7 (Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, Marte Gracia, VC’s Clayton Cowles-Marvel): At last the cold, hard truth gets addressed: Riri is a kid, and has nearly zero experience fighting super villains. Her mind is elsewhere when she runs into Will O’ The Wisp, and she gets knocked out, saved only by the swift intervention of the Tony Stark AI. Now please understand, I love this book, but I’m hoping we soon see one of the supporting characters step in and just say what we’re all thinking: It is GROSSLY negligent to let this young woman act as Iron Man. Genius-level intellect is great, but it won’t help much when the punching starts. She has her whole life ahead of her, and Secret Empire is right up in her grill, and it won’t end well without better planning and a LOT more training. Do it, Bendis.

The Wild Storm #4 (Warren Ellis, Jon Davis-Hunt, Steve Buccellato, Simon Bowland-DC): Sure, there’s a lot going on in this issue, what with all the Covert Action Team stuff and the shooty and the boom-boom. But let’s fast-forward to Weatherman. He arrives on his space station and proceeds to dress down every subordinate within earshot, and it is just Ellis at his cranky best. The banter between he and Ms. Pennington is reminiscent of Spider Jerusalem and his ‘filthy assistants’ from the deservedly praised Transmetropolitan. And the art is just goddamn majestic. This crew makes the man-made downright picturesque.

Curse Words #5 (Charles Soule, Ryan Browne, Michael Garland, Michael Parkinson, Chris Crank-Image): Here we go. Wizord versus Ruby Stitch. The battle rages over Las Vegas, and our hero taps into the power of luck to recharge the magical batteries, so that he can. . . um. . . SPOILERS animate a fake Eiffel Tower. Yeah. That goes about as well as you’re thinking. Meanwhile, in flashback, we discover the scandalous truth about Margaret: she’s the daughter of these two, and for some reason none of them recall this fact. Ruby relents when Wizord concedes, and Sizzajee cuts her loose. So much drama! In pretty much unrelated news, the awesome Van Tour for this comic will NOT be coming to my shop, and it makes me incredibly sad. If you’re near any of the stops this Summer, do yourself a favor and check it out. It will be magical and beardy!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #20 (Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, Travis Lanham-Marvel): So Melissa Morbeck has devices that allow her to control animals, and is using them to frame Colleen while also framing Doctor Doom. It’s a villain scheme, so naturally it’s unnecessarily complex and therefore full of opportunities for thwarting. Guess what? That is exactly what happens. You knew that was going to happen, but think of how much we learned along the way. We found out that freshwater snail parasites kill a LOT of people, that there is a squirrel in New York named Li’l Busta, that helicopters are super noisy, and that EMPs make sounds when required by the drama of a story. Beat THAT, Bill Nye!

The Wicked + The Divine 455 (Kieron Gillen, André Araújo, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles, Dee Cunniffe-Image): Kieron asks a lot of his audience. You have to know all this stuff about gods and mythology, and then all this other stuff about pop stars and usually some obscure Britpop junk, and NOW he wants you to recall your Roman history. Jeez, dude. Remember Julius Caesar? Well, according to the conceit of this comic, he’s actually Lucifer, and he wants nothing less than to deny his destiny and be the Emperor of Rome. It does not end well for him. Don’t worry, Ananke will fix it, and keep the history books just the way we remember them. You know, IF we had read them, and not doodled phalluses in them instead.

Quick news update: This November, DC is going to release Doomsday Clock, which will tell the story that Geoff Johns initially envisioned about the role that the Watchmen play in this newly reborn universe. If it is true that it is stand-alone, was inspired by the current zeitgeist, and gives us more than the recent lenticular Flashfest known as ‘The Button’ did, then I’ll gladly pick it up. Though it’s Alan Moore blasphemy of the highest order, I’m curious to see what Johns has in mind, and what it says about the ‘grim and gritty’ era finally meeting its maker at this particular publisher. To be continued.

Well, I hope that somewhat made up for my extended absence. As always, thank you for reading, and for reading this blog. You can follow my silly ass on Twitter at @rabbit11comics , and on Instagram at rabbit11comics. Feel free to comment and share, be sure to support your local shops, be good, and I’ll see you in seven.

No, seriously. This will be weekly again.