Four Colors to Infinity: Thumpa & Killsandra Edition
It’s time once again for Four Colors to Infinity, the semi-ongoing feature where I buy a bunch of comic books I’ve (mostly) never heard of and try and find something interesting to say about them. This feature is in dire straits, to be honest, because first, comic books are stupid expensive these days and I ain’t got any money, and second, so many of these books are boring as fuck and I am beginning to strain to have any observations more articulate than “oh, look, another incomprehensible fight scene, haven’t seen one of those since three pages ago”. Still, I will do what I can, because I have made a solemn pledge to you people to throw my life away on trivial garbage.
This week, it was back to my U District comic shop where I bought a six-pack of books (plus one bonus title, the latest Miracleman reissue which I’m not going to review because it’s old and actually good, and I got nothing beyond jokes about “the original writer, how the fucking thing is now published by Marvel and still isn’t called Marvelman, and the extreme irony of the fact that a lot of the money from the reprints is probably going to end up being income that Amanda Palmer will coyly fail to acknowledge she has access to next time she’s dunning her fans for more cash). I was pretty stoned when I got these so the selection is even more random than usual, but I got as many first issues as possible in hopes that I wouldn’t be completely in a fog. I bet you can guess how that worked out for me. Anyway, let’s waste no more time on the preliminaries and jump right in to the least informed comics reviews on the internet!
ALL-NEW HAWKEYE #1: “Wunderkammer, Part One of Five”. You know who’s not a great comic book writer? Jeff Lemire is who’s not a great comic book writer, which is too bad insofar as writing comic books seems to be his primary occupation. Jeff Lemire at his best — which this is, I guess — writes sort of like Joss Whedon with a head cold: lots of allegedly ‘clever’ dialogue being spoken as a substitute for motivation and character development while the heroes beat up on some faceless menace. In this case, it’s HYDRA, and we get Man Hawkeye and Woman Hawkeye screwing around shooting arrows in a secret base while Man Hawkeye reminisces over his abusive foster childhood. I’m not interested in Man Hawkeye’s abusive foster childhood. The real drag of this overly familiar muss-up is that it wastes a very fine art job by Ramón Pérez, of whose work I am very fond — his fight scenes are even exciting and dynamic, if underserved by what’s gunking them up in the word balloons. Not very exciting! Let’s rank it 4.7 Maynard Tiboldts.
DESCENDER #1: “Tin Stars, Part 1”. Hey, look who it is! It’s Jeff Lemire! I remember not liking his stuff as recently as the last comic I read! I guess Image is giving this guy work, too, and God bless him for it. I’d love to hate on this one because hate is the only thing I really get out of life anymore, but damned if it isn’t pretty good. Dustin Nguyen’s art is expressive and interesting, if not leap-off-the-page spectacular, and Lemire actually tones down his overactive hype centers and does a decent job on the script. There’s way too much exposition — probably inevitable in what looks to be a sci-fi epic, but still — and we’re yanked from one place to another without being able to get comfortable with the surroundings, but the basic plot is interesting and Lemire manages to deliver some charm as well as a couple of moments of genuine, eerie mystery and suspense. Shut me up, didn’t he? I can see picking this up again, and it costs a buck less than most comics, so hey: let’s give it a whopping 7.2 Sgt. Pinbacks.
GRAYSON #8: “Cross My Heart and Hope to Die″. Man, I don’t know anything about this comic! Is it about Robin? It is about the Flying Graysons? Is it about that woman who wrote Nightwing back in the’90s? Did DC buy Invincible from Image? Is it about G.E. Grayson, the British architect who designed All Hallows Cathedral? I’m sure I don’t know but it’s got someone getting punched in the face on the cover, so it’s a superhero comic, all right. Anyway, I guess this is Robin, or Dick Grayson, who I don’t even know who he is anymore, but he runs a spy academy for teen girls? And then a guy with a messed up face starts screwing around with everyone, and Robin fights a robot with all the powers of the Justice League and defeats it easily because that’s what comics are like these days. I don’t know. This was okay, I guess. Too much dialogue, overly busy fight scenes, arbitrary bad-assery. I can barely be bothered to muster an opinion about this one. At least it has a title. Rate it as, oh, let’s say, 3.9 Professor Radiums.
INFINITY MAN AND THE FOREVER PEOPLE #8: “The Equations of Life and Anti-Life”. Apparently they let Dan DiDio write comics in his spare time from ruining comic book companies. One of the perks of being the boss, I guess; I would get mad at him dumping on Jack Kirby’s legacy, but Forever People was not really the King at his best. Still, it deserves better than this; DiDio teams up with Keith Giffen, who is padding out the ol’ retirement account, and someone called Daniel HDR. He, along with Blond and Hi-Fi (who did the colors here), is part of an exciting new trend of really getting on my nerves; he is about as good an artist as you would expect from someone whose last name is three random consonants. Beautiful Dreamer is now Dreamer Beautiful, which is all the innovation Dan DiDio is prepared to bring to the title; it’s predictably terrible, alternately too expository and too dumb for words. It appears to be written for children, but it’s not in a charming way, just in the sense that it’s shallow, witless, and stupid. The action just ping-pongs back and forth without any reason to care or get involved or remember. It’s…forget it, Jake. It’s DiDio Town. Condemn this nonsense to the fires of Hell and remember it only with 0.2 Starbright Moonriders.
IRON FIST THE LIVING WEAPON #10: “Redemption, Part Four”. Boy, I just don’t know what to make of this thing. I feel like the last thing a character like Iron Fist needs is to be crammed full of cosmic/outer-space/end-times glop like every other comic on the rack these days; as I’ve asked before, can’t anyone tell human stories anymore? Has everyone forgotten about character? There’s also a ton of padding here, big splash pages (with the usual incomprehensible fight scenes) that eat up the page count, an hilarious (‘ironic’) Asian stereotype called Fooh, and a whole lot of laziness on the storytelling level. On the other hand, Kaare Kyle Andrews has a way of getting you involved in the story even when it’s not that great on its own merits, and his art style, while it lacks discipline, is pleasantly reminiscent of John K. Snyder III. I’m really torn on this one, it’s a curate’s egg for sure; let’s split the difference and give it 5.3 Solarrs.
ÜBER #23: “The Great Burn”. It’s our first returning contestant here on Four Colors to Infinity, and thank God it’s this book, because this has been an incredibly dreary week and it’ll be nice to go out on a high point. This is the first chapter of a new arc in the story of World War II, super-soldier style, so it’s a bit wordy and heavy on exposition, but that’s probably forgivable. Daniel Gete has replaced Canaan White on the interior artwork, and while I like them both, I think Gete is a slight upgrade. What continues to impress me is how well Kieron Gillen manages to incorporate real war-comic aspects — tactics, strategy, historical knowledge, real-world personalities, and military know-how — into a story that also satisfies dramatic storytelling requirements. This comic could be a real stinker in the wrong hands, but it’s exactly in the right ones, and while it’s a heavy read that’s sometimes hard to get through because of all the horrors of war and moral bleakness, it’s also excellently crafted and skillfully designed, with that rarest of qualities, a premise that’s well thought out in advance. I’m really looking forward to this new chapter, and I’m grateful this book salvaged an otherwise crummy week. An improvement on last time, and thus the recipient of 7.5 Stalingrad (The Tick version)s.
Join me again next week, maybe, if my wallet and my patience hold out!