Comic Reviews for the Week of 8/25/2010

31 08 2010

Like we do during any major milestone (we did this after our first year podcast as well), the rest of the fellas and I are taking a much-deserved holiday, podcast-wise.

But readers of the site rejoice, because we’re bringing back the Reviews of the Week — now known as The Late Edition because, well, you know…

So let’s get on with it.

– art

The comics released during the week of August 25th, 2010 were definitely not anything to get excited and wet your pants over. It seems comic companies are saving those issues for September. (Scarlet #2, Stumptown #4, Wolverine #1, etc.) From this week, the single issue I was most looking forward to was the Punisher Max oneshot entitled Happy Ending.

Written by Peter Milligan (Greek Street, Sub-Mariner: The Depths) with art by Juan Jose Ryp, (No Hero, Black Summer) Happy Ending is a mixed bag. Ryp’s artwork and his attention to detail is truly remarkable. The Punisher’s badassery oozes off the page, unfortunately he only appears in a handful of pages. The story centers around an accountant named Joseph, who decides to visit the Happy Ending Massage Parlor (yes, that’s the actual name of the place) after having an argument with his wife. Instead of getting the joyous release he’s looking for, Joe befriends a woman named Gi-Gi (who of course wears a butt crack revealing, tight, red dress) and decides to help her evade a mob boss.
Punisher Max: Happy Ending is worth picking up for the artwork alone. Personally, the story left much to be desired. However, if you like your comics to resemble balls to the wall action movies (Mark Millar fans, please stand up) there is no reason you shouldn’t check this oneshot out. I’ve mentioned urination, a joyous release, a butt crack, and balls…this Punisher review is done. Now I can go back to watching my Scott Pilgrim videogame freeze every 20 minutes, and patiently waiting for next week’s set of titillating new releases.

– Freddie

The Week of Robert Kirkman by Arthur

Science Dog Special #1

Art by Cory Walker, Kanila Tripp, Fco Plascencia, Dave Stewart

B-

Guarding The Globe #1

Co-Written by Benito Cereno

Art by Ransom Getty, Cliff Rathburn, Fco Plascencia, Ron Riley, Thomas Mason

B

Invincible #74

Art by Ryan Ottley, Cliff Rathburn, Fco Plascencia

B+

Do it well or not at all.”

Had that in the back of head when I finished the first issue of Haunt and I felt guilty about it at the time, but when you want to like a book but don’t, what are you supposed to do? Honestly, I felt that way throughout the year, reading his Top Cow Pilot Season pilots and as I flipped through the Image United early issues, I think I pinpointed the problem.

It’s a little hard to convey so let me put it to you this way. Robert Kirkman is, well. Awesome.

But I prefer him when he’s writing in his own, superhero universe that he created back in ’03. Not to pigeon-hole the man or restrict his glossary of work solely towards everything Invincible, since it deprives him of the credit he so richly deserves for The Walking Dead [coming to AMC this Halloween], but the things that he’s doing in Invincible… The great writing, the electric characters, excellent world-building, a dynamic letters section– Should I even finish?

To be fair, I admire what he’s doing in those titles that I listed above and I certainly appreciate the effort and the overall backstory behind them, but the storytelling that’s told in those stories are dated at best. The world-building Kirkman is doing with Invincible (and by proxy, Science Dog and Guarding the Globe) is more in my wheelhouse.

I’ve noticed I’m gravitating more towards this series more than anything, but really, without it, we wouldn’t have any of those books including the first two on the top of this, so it’s kind of a big deal.

But back to that little problem of mine. The reason why I didn’t like Haunt but love Invincible is simple. When you say “comics” the knee-jerk reaction most people have is “superheroes”. The series gives those people what they want, but in a way most people would never expect.

Backstory: I came in pretty late to the series, so if I could somehow go back and offer up some commentary for the first volume, I’d say something like, “This series is broadcasting from the independent world a subtle How-To Guide on creating a superhero book for a cross-generational audience on a monthly schedule.” By that I mean, it starts out the gate by giving the readers something they’ve clearly seen before, with respects to the traditions that I’m sure all the long-time adult readers will enjoy. And yet it’s presented in a modern way in which the current runs of anything mainstream simply can’t compete with.

Depending on any of the collected arcs you can get right now, you’re guaranteed to get something good. Even when it’s a slow month, you’re bound to get something satisfying at least character-wise, if not otherwise. And Guarding the Globe #1 and the Science Dog Special are a continuation of that theme. We’re only an issue in each of these respective books, and already we got more characterization than in an entire arc of certain others that will remain nameless. And for those of you who are long-time readers of the main series, but on the fence for the tie-ins, they’re worth it. Science Dog is a superhero that a young Mark Grayson (a.k.a. Invincible) grew up reading and a young Robert Kirkman ended up drawing. This special collects parts one and two from issues #25 and #50, respectively and in time before it all wraps in the next issue of Invincible, while Guarding is simply Kirkman’s take on the Justice League and boy, is it done well.

To better articulate the point I touched on earlier, Kirkman’s work in this particular genre not only offers groundbreaking comics within the comfort of a very traditional structure of old-school heroics, it also offers this reviewer much hope as I envision the man taking a bunch of talented young writers, cultivating their skills under his supervision, and showrunning a new generation of future creators under the Skyline marquee to continue writing stories for his characters, these characters, long after he’s gone.

So yeah, there’s no better indication that, yes, you should be reading this and anything else related to it.

Robert Kirkman’s a leader. So please, follow him. Oh, and Mr. Kirkman. Consider this as an early (albeit rough) anniversary letter for Invincible #75.

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P.S. — This made the rounds in the comics community and after seeing it, I felt compelled to put it up here. Along with this, I also linked David Brothers post over at the 4th Letter, (About 4th Letter: It’s a great site that’s funny, smart, intimate, and mature, and I totally would love to guest host on one of their podcasts when I’m older…) that includes not only Brothers always thought-provoking writing, but a vast majority of the comments on the piece so after you’ve seen it, and you want to weigh in, the 4th Letter’s the place to do it.

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