I read comics. So should you.

Posts Tagged ‘The Old Guard’

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.

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The Stack-3/8/17

In new books on March 9, 2017 at 8:31 pm

. . . Aaaaaaaaaaand I’m back!

Sorry to all three of my regular readers, but i sorely needed a vacation. Not from comics, mind you, but from day-to-day life in general. Sometimes you lose perspective, and get in a rut so deep that your wheels just spin without purpose, and you angrily kick up mud at everything around you, losing any interest in forward momentum. Yep, according to my lazy-ass metaphor, sometimes you turn into a jeep.

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And you watch helplessly as your leader heroically drives off to his doom.

But now it’s time to get back to the things I love, hopefully with some renewed purpose and enthusiasm. First I’d like to quickly touch on a few of the more noteworthy books I missed in the last two weeks. I feel kind of guilty, taking my already brief one-paragraph nonsense and chopping it into rapid-fire nuggets (I’m capable of long form reviews, I swear), but since I’m not getting paid for this and you’re all probably just skimming it anyway, we’ll zip right past my insecurities and get the hell on with it.

Letter 44 #30 (Charles Soule, Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque, Dan Jackson, Crank!-Oni Press): The human race tries to put on a brave face and go out with some dignity, and we witness the inevitable heroic sacrifice. NO, I’m not crying. There’s something in my eye. Shut up.

Clean Room #16 (Gail Simone, Walter Geovani, Quinton Winter, Todd Klein, Jenny Frison-DC/Vertigo): It’s on like Donkey Kong. Demonic forces have infiltrated our world, and are ready to push humanity over the edge. Astrid and her organization are mobilizing, ready to kick said demonic forces in the taint.

The Old Guard #1 (Greg Rucka, Leandro Fernández, Daniela Miwa, Jodi Wynne-Image): Four weary immortals offer their services as mercenaries and get tricked into revealing their nature. This one’s off to a very promising start.

Savage Things #1 (Justin Jordan, Ibrahim Moustafa, Jordan Boyd, Josh Reed, John Paul Leon-DC/Vertigo): Children with sociopathic traits are recruited by an organization within the United States to be remorseless killers that will be unleashed on the nation’s enemies. What could possibly go wrong?

Royal City #1 (Jeff Lemire, Steve Wands-Image): The story of a dysfunctional family, the city they grew up in, and the loss that has manifested itself in different ways. I love the feel of this comic, and the way Lemire tells its story. I hope it sticks around for the long haul.

DC Rebirth update: I have read a few more titles in this new lineup recently, and I find I’m still not connecting with any of this stuff. At this point I’m honestly not sure if I’m just bringing in weird preconceived notion baggage, or if these books are really just mostly stale and bland throwbacks, but either way it’s not for me. I never want to be one of those people who dismisses a whole publisher’s worth of books for no reason (I still won’t touch Zenescope, who proudly just slap big ol’ titties on public domain fairy tales and call it a day, but I consider that sort of lazy exploitation a good reason), so I’ll still give one a read here and there, but in my opinion the really worthwhile comics in their arsenal are over at Vertigo and Young Animal.

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Redline #1 (Neal Holman, Clayton McCormack, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Crank!-Oni Press): I have no doubt only become MORE persnickety over the years about the execution of narrative, feeling that the HOW of storytelling makes all the difference when it seems like that old chestnut about there only being three (or maybe seven) basic stories is mostly true. So it was exciting to see this Science Fiction story approach its subject matter almost entirely from the point of view of a few US military agents stationed on Mars (ostensibly as a peacekeeping force). The exposition is as much in the repartee and shit-talking between Coyle and his team as it is in the art team’s gritty visuals. It comes across, speaking in the inevitable TV and movie comparisons, like Generation Kill meets Aliens, keeping us as entertained as we are intrigued.

Green Valley #6 (Max Landis, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cliff Rathburn, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Pat Brosseau-Image): The issue where Max Landis essentially points out how dumb the plot to Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits is.

The Wicked + The Divine #27 (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles, Dee Cunniffe-Image): This issue contains a very interesting experiment using eight-panel pages and color coding on those panels to differentiate scene breaks. I want to see more of this, please. Also, Dionysus tries to battle The Great Darkness with a series of experimental raves, because OF COURSE he does.

Copperhead #11 (Jay Faerber, Drew Moss, Ron Riley, Thomas Mauer, Scott Godlewski-Image): It has returned! Co-creator Scott Godlewski has passed the art torch to Drew Moss for now, who does a great job filling those big, Budroxifinicus-sized shoes. Speaking of everyone’s favorite wiseass, he drops a significant bomb on everyone at the conclusion of this issue.

Jessica Jones #6 (Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, Matt Hollingsworth, VC’s Cory Petit, David Mack-Marvel): Man is this issue good! I really don’t know why people give Bendis so much shit–He keeps proving how adept he is at superhero storytelling, whether it’s dialogue, action, or drama, and the end to this first arc showcases that perfectly. AND it starts off with a flashback where Jessica (then known as Jewel) beats down Doctor Octopus and tells him that he has no dick, so there’s that. One of Marvel’s best right now.

I think that about wraps things up for this week. Join me next time, when there will be a new Bitch Planet, Kill or Be Killed, Manifest Destiny, God Country, Head Lopper, Injection, Spider-Man, The Mighty Thor, Ether, Batwoman (Oh yeah, I DID like that one), The Wild Storm, and more! In addition, I feel it’s time to drop a piece about working the retailer side of things, too, so keep an eye out for that.

Thanks for reading, and comment below so I don’t feel so alone in this world!

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And Happy Birthday, Freddie Prinze, Jr.!