It’s been longer than i planned to write this review, but 2014 started off with a wimper. There was not one book that i was crazy about, and i found most of them all pretty boring. Like, I don’t even want to write about this-boring. But hey, the comics were read, and now i will write about them. I’m also way behind on some graphic novels i have to read.
East of West #8 – Hickman & Dragotta – Good
Probably the best of the batch. I’m jumping right in, and it hits heavy with an honestly scary evil President, some nasty brain creature thing, and really great cityscapes and world building. There are mini-chapter breaks of sorts, which are all white pages with off-white lettering. On first read, i missed them, but they add nice little beats and a subtle bit of dread to the entire comic. As a whole, the story feels like Blade Runner with bits of manga horror, but Dragotta’s artwork has a pretty classy robust feel. He knows how to move a camera about a scene, when to go super close, when to stand back and show us more. Like he really learned Wally Wood’s 22 panel’s that always work:
The colors by Martin are really great as well. The entire issue is oranges, blues and greys, and as much as orange/blue has been done to death in movie posters, but where those posters appear to be the result of lazy copycatting, in East of West, it looks new again. A lot of time you hear about how colorists are ignored in comics news, but honestly, most colorists should be ignored. Its rare that i see a colorist who’s work not only stands out but also seamlessly supports the linework. Its often too much or not enough, too literal or too audacious.
Pretty Deadly #3 – DeConnick & Rios – Good
So i bought another issue of this comic, and i might have enjoyed Rios’ work even more in this issue. The river of blood, the horse-skull man, the hella’ creepy multi-arms thing bursting out of the river of blood. But as you can tell, this comic is really grooving in it’s dream logic narrative. I still have no clue what’s going on, who wants what, what is the conflict. There’s mini narratives within the larger narrative that makes sense, but on a whole, it’s like when you’re dreaming you’re in your kitchen, and then the scene transforms to your kitchen in an airplane, and your mom is played by a woman you’ve never seen before, but you know it’s your mom for some reason. I wonder if that same phenomenon is connected to Capgras delusion? But anyway, not sure how satisfying a read it was, but the art is still stunning, so maybe i’ll continue to see where this goes.
Fairest #21 – Andreyko & McManus – Crappy as fuck
You know what i hate in comics? Dudes writing about rape. You know what i hate about dudes who write about rape? How fucking sanitized it is. So one of the major scenes in this comic, is “Cin” – short for Cinderella, is tied to a chair, in sexy lingerie, Black Widow in Avengers-style, by sex traders. This is sex slavery:
“She was kept there for three days, raped by three to six men a day. When she returned home, her mother sent her away for stints in two other brothels, including one 400 kilometers away on the Thai border. When she learned her mother was planning to sell her again, this time for a six-month stretch, she realized she needed to flee her home.”
I find it kind of irresponsible to use sex slavery as just another plot point where the sexy little white girl saves the day by opening up a trailer and telling them they are free. Fat chance. I wonder how a comic like this gets approved? And the art was pitiful. Simple mistakes like a character remarking on an open-toed high heel, and the artist has drawn a closed-toe high heel! THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING. It’s just sloppy, a bit amateur, and completely disposable.
I’ve never read Fables before, but if this is a taste of the larger universe, folk tales with a shitty veneer of maturity by placing them in a modern context, no thanks. Cinderella owns a shoe store now, WOW – SO CLEVER. Corny garbage.
Red Sonja #6 – Simone & Geovani – Crappy
How many stories are there about an evil king who’s hurting his own people and must be stopped by a destined hero? Thousands? I guess it’s now an original story if you make it a destined heroine. I’ve never read Simone before, and this doesn’t make me wanna read anything else of hers. There was not one original idea in this comic, it could’ve been created by a dungeons & dragon campaign generator. There’s a poison that everyone has believed is a plague. I’m not really sure how that would work, i didn’t really see any symptoms besides “Feels intense pain and dies” Why it was necessary to distinguish between a poison and a plague in this pre-medieval society, and not just some weird hex on people, i couldn’t tell you. Could people spread the fake-plague by being in proximity with each other? I don’t know. It’s just fucking stupid.
Also, Red Sonja is wearing her chainmail bikini on the cover, which is a gorgeous illustration by Jill Thompson, but is in full body armor in the interiors. Can we just accept that chainmail bikini is really dumb and give her a dope ass suit of armor? Because her armor was so dull and cliche and boring and nothing about it, made me think “HERO”. It just looked like the same clothes everyone else was wearing. Take a lesson from Thor, Red Sonja. That dude knows how to look distinctive. With or without clothing on…
Rat Queens – Wiebe & Upchurch – WTF COMICS? WHY SO SHITTY?
This was maybe the worst of the week. Another D&D campaign as a comic. I don’t want to read about the shitty adventures your Dungeon Master cribbed from a sourcebook in 1995. I guess the idea is “I have this cliche adventuring story, i guess i can make it less cliche by making all the adventurers into sassy women” NO. Don’t do that. I’m tired of the brain dead way we write women. God forbid we see a STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER who isn’t also FANBOY PORN FANTASY. You’re not challenging anything by drawing skinny, pretty, flawless mary-sues. I wanna see a woman who’s as ugly as the Thing in Fantastic Four, or who’s as diesel as Glory by Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell. I just am tired of having to believe that a woman built like a prepubescent boy can wield a broadsword with enough force to shatter another man’s sword ( this happens in the comic )
What we do get is a dwarf/halfling type lady, who gets a passionate kiss from another woman, and it really just looks like we’re looking at some pedo-fantasy or some shit. It’s bizarre. Its like everyone bought the ‘How to write women, for DUMMIES! by Joss Whedon” handbook. Whatever, if you see Rat Queen in your local comic shop, burn down the shop. Find the publisher, burn down the publisher. Go to comic cons, burn them down. Just kidding, i don’t hate it that much. But it is terrible.
Check out that creepy shit:
Amazing Xmen #2 – Jason Aaron & Ed McGuinness – Not Amazing
I have never been a fan of Xmen. The whole ‘lets make them mutants so we dont need to have an origin for every character” always was boring to me. But i guess lots of people love them. In this comic, the Xmen don’t die, but they go to hell and they go to heaven. Somehow, this made sense to the writer and the editors and everyone else that got this to the shelves. To me, it basically just comes off as dangerous as their danger room. That is, not dangerous at all. Even though Storm is in hell, ‘where there’s no weather’, which is fucking stupid, because a hell would be much cooler with hell weather than with none. What a missed opportunity for thunderstorms of virgin’s blood and snow storms of children’s regrets! No. We get red dirt and red skies and red brick work. I’m constantly disappointed at how little imagination goes into comics, when you can draw whatever you want. It’s not hell if its bearable. But Storm doesn’t have any problem fighting hoards of demons. Because she’s a strong female character, of course a depowered Storm can fight just as effectively as Wolverine. Iceman? He keeps complaining how hot it is. Not painfully hot, just like summer day hot it seems. Dude doesn’t melt, he just gets icier. Wolverine is fighting in heaven, and its all pink clouds. And somehow, there’s an up and down in heaven, even though i’d imagine its an astral plane that you couldn’t simply fall from. Basically, don’t go to philosophical concepts of eternal pleasure and eternal pain and have it just be as artificial as a sound stage. Barely even finished this comic. Watch Event Horizon instead
Saviors – James Robinson & J.Bone – OK
This is a very OKAY comic. Like, so OKAY, i don’t have much to say. Its main character is a pothead, which i always hate, because its like a pothead’s pot dream that he really sees the real world when he’s smoking, and its not just pot fueled fantasizing. But potheads are always like “This would make such a good comic! What if like reptoids actually exist!” after watching one to many youtube videos. These people always sort of believe their own bullshit, and so it gets a bit tiresome. So this comic is about a dude who smokes a lot, who doesn’t have any ambitions, and discovers that there’s aliens impersonating people in his small town. For unexplained reasons, rather than letting everyone think he’s even more of a loser than he already is, the aliens chase him down and kill his best friend. You’d think the main alien, who is impersonating the Sheriff, could’ve just had him arrested on possession charges, if he really wanted to get rid of him. But intergalactic shape-shifting extra terrestials can’t think of a better plan than running after him.
The art is pretty nice in some pages, in that kind of lazy webcomic style. A bit generic, but i can see his art getting really great with some effort. Double page spreads was a nice touch. But it’s a better comic for free comic book day, the time of the year where comics publishers give away comics you wouldn’t buy in the futile attempt to convince you that they are selling comics that you wouldn’t buy.
That’s all for the week. A weak week.
Technically, i read all these comics at once, like a week and a half ago, but hey, let me try my best to remember what was what. While it’s still fresh in my mind, let us get straight to it.
Velvet #2- Brubaker & Epting – Ok
Sometimes i wonder how successful writers/artists pitch work to publishers. Do they step in an office, greet their contacts warmly, and say “Hey i wanna do the same thing i’ve always done, again, will you publish it?” Do the publishers then respond “I dunno buddy, i’m not sure anyone will buy it..” and then they both laugh hysterically, “I’m just fucking with you. Sure, lets publish it. Nah, i don’t even need to see a script. I’m sure you can handle this. You’ve been doing it as long as I am,” There’s nothing wrong with Velvet. There really isn’t. Any critiques i’d have, would be pretty nitpicky (like the lettering of ZZZZZZZZ over a sleeping man’s body, in multiple panels), but overall, it was just a matter of boredom. What need is there for another generic, cat-suited super spy against generic FBI?CIA?WTF?LOL? goons? What need is there for gruff men with secrets, and sexy ladies who are gruff too, and gruff men who live on boats; by this point, i’ve seen it done by Angelina Jolie like at least seven times, and Velvet isn’t adding anything new.
There’s also the problem of almost every fucking floppy, is just this constant in-media res story telling. I understand the economic necessities of making a floppy, but these are writers who have been writing for years, and every year, i find less and less books that actually function as single issues. People wait for the trade, but what you end up with, are a bunch of single issues that didn’t work alone, but have so much padding, that the whole shitty story could’ve been told in a single issue. I guess that’s what job security in comics is, pull as many pages out of an idea as possible, and you can’t jump the shark, because careers don’t get canceled in comics, they just get promoted.
Should you read Velvet? I dunno. Did you watch that movie Salt? No? Well, i’d say don’t worry about it. The Conversation with Gene Hackman, much better espionage-ish type film. I’m so meh on Velvet i don’t even wanna curse. And that makes me sad.
Pretty Deadly #2 – DeConnick & Rios & Bellaire & Cowles – Art – Great, Words – Good/Ok
I ragged on DeConnick for Captain Marvel before, in November, and a book like Pretty Deadly is the far opposite of that Marvel series. I wouldn’t really know where a writer’s passions are, but something about Pretty Deadly, even though i didn’t really understand what was happening, felt like she REALLY REALLY cared about this book. You have some ideas, when you’re an artist/writer, that just sit in your heart like children that haven’t been born. You can see their features, hear how they’ll laugh, and even see how they’ll die. Then you get a chance to make those stories, and you don’t care what people say or if they like it or don’t, its yours and thats all that matters.
I really enjoyed it, and the art, the sequential story telling, the ladies that be lookin’ fierce, was really excellent. Sometimes i watch Beyonce videos, and all i can think is how she’s really gotten down every one of her moves and the whole look. Its just on point. Emma Rios, is on point. This is a book that i’d see young cats try to emulate and fail at. There’s panel layouts going on in this book that stretch your muscles til they might pop. Personally, i’m fairly conservative with my panel layouts, so seeing something like this makes me think about what i can do with my own game.
The story is kind of dreamy, and at times, i had trouble figuring out who was talking to who, and what the hell they were talking about. But rather than feeling frustrated with it, it really just made me want to keep reading more, so i could figure it out. If you can make me care, even though i feel disoriented, i’d say you’ve just pulled off a nice hat trick. High five, there’s passion in this book, and this is new. So i think this might be the first book from my reviews, where i’ll actually go and buy #3 (and #1)
Viking’s End – Rich Tommaso - Great
This is my favorite of the week. Have y’all ever listened to Hardcore History? That podcast right there, its the real deal. You guys need to put down your lame ass comics, for a second, and learn something real, something substantial, or something like Viking’s End. History was really fucked up. People spend a lot of time thinking about today’s every day cruelties. In the last day alone, i saw Paul Walker’s crushed face and burnt body, i’ve seen a black kid bleeding out on a San Francisco street, I’ve read about Scott Lobdell getting his dick all hard like a 5th grade poindexter and not knowing how to deal.
A bit of a tangent here, but i think about sex pretty god damn often, like shit, human procreation is really fucking mind-bending, but i ain’t once ever been on a panel and looked at a person next to me and thought ‘Time to get some. Yes. right now. This will work. Lets do this.” Come on man. Every time i read about harassment in comics, I think this, in this order: 1. AGAIN!? REALLY!? AGAIN!? WHAT ARE YOU, TWELVE??! 2. You should get punched in the face 3. These motherfuckers ain’t got no fucking game. Here’s a bit of advice, for anyone who’s trying to get laid. Treat the person you wanna see naked with respect. At best, you get laid and at worst, you’ve treated a human humanely. You don’t ever have to worry about being a creep, if you respect people’s boundaries, respect their work, and respect when they aren’t interested.
Apologizing for some person ‘not getting your humor’ is such bullshit. Sometimes, i wonder how male cartoonists would feel, if i kept implying that they got nice dick-sucking lips during a panel. Then i’d say “BRO, I’m JUST JOKING!” I’m not gonna pretend to be some noble post-masculine feminist, cause i’m as much of a meathead chauvinist as any other dude from Jersey (i’m working on it), but any time i’ve done some fucked up shit, i didn’t wait til i read about it on xojane.com to respond. The time for apologies, isn’t years later. Straight dudes live in a bubble of knowing they can get away with anything, but there’s a god damn reckoning coming. Scott Lobdell apologized with the quickness, cause the internet hate machine does not have patience for your sluggish reply. I recently replied to a post about this, asking “why don’t people just name names” and got a schooling from Laura Hudson. I got my own bubble of being an aggressive straight dude, where honestly, i’m not gonna come up against many situations where i can’t solve with more aggression. In some ways, i can’t see beyond my own bubble. But i can see, that if you’re gonna be a creep in comics, you’ve just about used up all your get-out-of-jail free cards. Its been hard out there for a lot of people, and now, straight white dudes, you can join the rest of us in the gravel pit.
Okay okay…speaking of white dudes, let’s get back to that Viking comic. I’m sorry Rich Tommaso, cause your comic was both historically enlightening and also wonderfully drawn. It’s got a bit of a chris ware feel? I’m not sure, but you know, little square boxes and geometric humans, that kind of stuff. And the story is about some little brat, who goes straight gangsta, and kills a man’s daughter, after getting her drunk. No victim blaming here, but i know better than to hang out with murderous barbarians who’s family has been at war with my family. It’s actually kind of hilarious, even though its just a cruel trick to get the father to join the battle. It works, the Father is pissed and smarter than the little shit, and the the little shit gets 86’d. Justice was swift on the battlefield, and i’m always aghast at how much blood we used to shed on the regular. I’ve cried thinking about 9/11, but human history would place that event in a thimble, compared to the buckets of guts that other massacres have been. The ending was a sweet surprise, so i won’t spoil it, but everything in this book is delightful. Sorry about the tangent again.
In Pace Requiescat – Sean T. Collins & Julia Gfrorer – Art – Good , Words – ???
Who wants to read a comic about glory holes? Who likes Edgar Allen Poe? This comic is for you. Good Art, but the rest? Personally, and this i’m admitting is a bit more biased, more just my tastes, i felt this was just an artsy indie idea that didnt amount to much to me. Like any time you’ve gone to an art gallery, and you’re with friends, and they are watching a video of a dead fox slowly decomposing, and you don’t wanna be the first dude to be like ‘i don’t get it’ or leave, so you watch the whole thing too. But then you watch it like 3 times, and realize your friend has been waiting for you to leave, but neither of you know when this thing properly ends, so you are just kinda waiting for some kind of interruption. Then a complete stranger gets up and leaves, so you leave too. Man, that shit is so awkward.
Keep Fresh – Zejian Shen – Art – Ok, Words – ???
Real creepy, and if you want to read this in english, good luck, because all the english text is crammed in the bottom of each page haphazardly. In a way, it kinda adds to the creepy effect, but by the end of the comic, i missed something and didn’t know what, so i could not figure out the conclusion. Sometimes, i just feel straight up stupid. I think “Is it me? Do i just not have the reading comprehension necessary for this comic?” My high self esteem quickly discards that question, and replaces it with “WHY CAN’T I READ THIS SHIT!?” But nah, this isn’t shit. I actually enjoyed it, because i like reading sorta-horror comic about motorcycle dude smashing the brains out of a pervert with a hammer.
I wonder why that image would appeal to me? I wonder….
There was some not so good comics in this, but some very good comics too. And it was mostly very good. Most of the time i read anthologies, and i just think “great, inaccessible toilet paper” But this was a quick read of enjoyable short comics. Notable stand outs –
Spirit Hand by Gfrorer – Real creepy and unsettling
Tuesday by Aidan – pitch perfect description of depression in six panels
This Magic Ring & Crab story by JFish – would love to read more adventures of these characters, and probably has the most possibility for expansion.
That’s it y’all. Mostly a good week. Besides some boring comic and some inscrutable comics, everything else was really enjoyable. Cheers to you!
*Disclaimer: All prints and ICY items in stock, all other merchandise sold out.
Thanks www.flickr.com/photos/wishbook for an amazing collection of christmas catalogs including this one that, in the parlance of the time, we ganked.”