Four Colors to Infinity: Spackly-Smelling Women Edition
Have you ever noticed that comic stores are awful? No? Well, then you’ve never been in one, you lying shit. Recently my experiences in these places that happiness goes to die, stink, and be wrapped in a mylar bag have been particularly dreadful, but I soldier on for you, the reader. No matter how socially afflicted the clerks, no matter how terribly overpriced the titles, no matter how long I have to stand in line to get out of there with some sense of decency and humanity intact, I will do so as long as just one of you pays me three bucks a month for it.
While I’m on the subject of semi-rhetorical questions, when did comics creators start giving themselves names taken out of a bad early-’80s team book? Just this month alone I got books by Tim Green, Joe Silver, Hi-Fi, Will Moss, Chip Kidd, Fonografix, Rex Lokus, and Esad Ribic, who is clearly the villain in a Steve Ditko Mr. A story. Maybe these aren’t even people. Maybe they’re just corporations or AIs or something. I assume they’re also responsible for how there are no gutters in the books anymore and every other page is an ad for a superhero movie, rendering the whole book confusing and unreadable. Anyway, let’s get to this week’s nonsense.
CONVERGENCE: SUPERGIRL MATRIX #2: “Buggin’”. These Convergence books are lukewarm refrigerator runoff. They were literally created to keep fans treading water while DC moved their offices to the West Coast, and they contain about as much excitement and value as a corporate relocation memo or a “USE OTHER DOOR” sign. Still, this one was written by Keith Giffen and it has Ambush Bug, so there was no way I wasn’t going to like it. I don’t even know what’s happening in this one — it’s another utterly inconsequential, exposition-heavy intramunicipal punch-up, and Timothy Green’s art makes Supergirl’s hair look like a malfunctioning iTunes visualizer — but at least Giffen doesn’t take it at all seriously, and the Bug does what the Bug does best, which is make fun of whatever nonsense is happening in comics at the moment. May the running gag that Supergirl smells like spackle last forever, and I about lost my shit when he said his superpower is to attract lesbians. It’s a dead cert that line isn’t gonna show up in the TV show. This was pointless, but nothing that has Irwin Schwab is ever gonna get less than 7.2 ARGH!yles from me.
INJECTION #1: “No Title”. This is the new Image title from Warren Ellis, so I’m willing to forgive the lack of a title. Ellis is surely hit and miss, but he can be guaranteed to at least make the ride a lot of fun, even when it doesn’t go anywhere (New Universe reboot, I’d be looking at you, if I hadn’t thrown you in the recycling bin years ago). So far, it seems to involved a damaged bunch of esoteric experts being reunited to defeat a poisonous pseudo-mystical influence that has contaminated England; it’s pretty short on clarity of plot in the first issue, but some of the characters (particularly Dr. Robin Morel, alleged “cunning man” and master of British weirdness) are interesting, the prose is some of Ellis’ most engaging in years, and it’s a gorgeous-looking book, right down to Jordan Bellaire’s rich colors. Great stinging punchline at the end, too. I’ll definitely be tuning in to see where this heads in the next issue; as it is, the premiere issue gets a well-earned 8.0 Danny the Streets.
INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US, YEAR FOUR #1: “The Gods Themselves″. Let’s list the reasons this is such a shitty comic, shall we? #1: It is based on a video game. #2: Its very title is so long and unwieldy that it practically guarantees that you won’t understand the convoluted backstory behind whatever the fuck is going on. #3: It has, in the space of 20 pages, four flashbacks and three different narrators. #4: Instead of characterization, it has a collection of tropes: Superman is a domineering dad, Batman is an omniscient crypto-fascist, Harley Quinn says wacky nonsense, Reneé Montoya is a bad-ass diesel dyke, Alfred mouths off to Bruce Wayne. Not an original or interesting insight in the whole book. #5: Everything is scowling all the time. #6: The cover by Howard Porter is the most flat, generic thing imaginable — it would actually be improved by adding some ’90s horseshit like metallic paint or a trading card plastered over Hermes’ badly drawn face. #7: It is the worst comic I bought on Wednesday that begins with “INJ”. #8: It is the only DC book that came out this week that isn’t part of Convergence, and it’s still terrible. I hate this comic and the three dollars I spent on it; it gets 1.7 Suadela, Goddess of Persuasions.
MYTHIC #1: “Cloudbusting”. I had pretty high hopes for this new Image title going in, because it has an absolutely gorgeous cover (based on a logo design by Rian Hughes) and it’s written by the usually reliable Phil Hester. And, well…it’s not bad, exactly, although I’m not crazy about John McCrea’s loose, cartoon art. It’s just a bit…ordinary. The BPRD-esque plot, about a ragtag band of paranormal investigators, is pretty shopworn, and the characters haven’t really done much to distinguish themselves, although that is probably forgivable in light of this being the first issue and all. It’s got some funny moments, to be sure, and the plot sets up an idea for the next issue that’s pretty appealing and will probably have me returning. I guess I was just hoping for more, and it doesn’t help that this and the much better Injection have very similar premises and set-ups. Worth a second look, at any rate, and probably good enough for, oh, let’s say 6.3 Tobin’s Spirit Guides.
SECRET WARS #2: “Doom Messiah”. At the comic shop this week I got to hear two dummies argue over which was better, the original Secret Wars or Secret Wars 2. Guess what, guys? They were both lukewarm pee-water. They’re in good company, too, because the latest iteration of Secret Wars — the final big event before the Marvel Universe gets rebooted and everything that happens in it becomes completely meaningless — is likewise room-temperature urine-ade. In the second issue, Jonathan Hickman takes his Game of Thrones references from dull-witted homage straight to shameless rip-off, thus ensuring that this will sell a billion copies to people who, unlike me, don’t think that Game of Thrones is silly, overrated hooey. Esad Ribic’s art tries to be awesome, and while it has scope and ambition, it’s just not all that good. The old Marvel Universe is gone forever, and ordinarily I’d say good riddance if I weren’t slightly bothered that this is yet another event comic where literally billions of people are murdered and neither we nor the costumed assholes who are the only ones who survive so we can watch them zap each other with lighting for another year are ever asked to care about it. As for the story, well…in a recent Esquire review of Mad Max: Fury Road, Matt Patches correctly points out that “the average blockbuster starts and stops like a clunky Oldsmobile. Plot, plot, action, plot, plot, plot, action, action, plot, fin. This is the blueprint for Marvel’s perpetual motion machine.” Why add anything to that? The comics are the same way. It’s just yack yack sizzle punch yack. This book has about 300 characters in it, and not one has any, well, character. It does have one guy pointing out how cool it is, just in case you didn’t notice on your own, so if that’s your idea of a good time, enjoy me giving this o.6 Volcanas.
THOR #8: “The Woman Beneath the Mask”. Speaking of Secret Wars, the latest snore of a mega-galactic ultra-massacre makes it pretty much impossible to appreciate Thor, which in the last few months has turned into one of Marvel’s best and most surprising books. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with this issue; Jason Aaron’s writing style is still a fun throwback to the best of the ’80s and ’90s, Russell Dauterman’s art is actually getting better with each issue, and this installment — which finally reveals the identity of the new Lady Thor — has a dynamite reveal at the end, after a well-crafted red herring in the middle. It’s a solid issue from a very worthwhile book. It’s just that it ends with a smug bullet on the last page declaring “THERE IS ONLY SECRET WARS”, as if to rub in your face that no matter how much you’re enjoying this exciting and entertaining book, it’s all about to get wiped out like last week’s rancid pasta to make way for some dumb even book where Thor becomes a flying outer space Gestapo, and then this whole interesting and innovative storyline will get dropped the minute it’s over in favor of a new continuity. So, well, a bit of the ol’ mixed feelings on this one; let’s call it 7.4 Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðrs and pretend it’s not about to get ruined.
Thanks for tuning in as I whine petulantly about my expensive hobby of reading things I don’t like even though I don’t have to! Face front, true believers!