Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Wed. Is Any Day For All I Care #23

Ambush Bug: Year None #5
Final Crisis #5
Haunted Tank #1
No Enemy, But Peace #1
The Spirit Special #1
Vixen: Return of the Lion #3

Been just under a month since I did one of these, and unless I get a back issue jones, it'll be another month for the next. I decided to shoot my "new comic" review load in the one shot...

Ambush Bug: Year None #5 (DC, 2008, $2.99)
Well, the book is back to being amusing again, but then its lampooning "Countdown To Final Crisis," a rich vein of stupidity to draw from. There's more than a slight hint of Venture Brothers in the shenanigans, as well. Whatever you might have to say about Dan Didio, you have to give him credit for allowing such a scathing satire of his regime whilst under it.

Final Crisis #5 (DC, 2008, $3.99)
Everything has finally been coming together as-- another friggin' bid to make the New Gods cool? Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, but I'm regretting this series. Cliche? You're soaking in it. Another trial for a "disgraced" Hal Jordan ending in his exoneration and ultimate triumph? Another last stand for humanity, complete with ace up our sleeves meant to screw with the supper-baddies? Another final confrontation spotlighting the author's obscure pet characters? Lex Luthor as an anti-heroic wild card? Meaningless seeee-crets? Stop it! Just stop it! I'm so damned sick of Black Adam at this point, I cannot tell you. Supergirl versus a character somehow more overly sexualized than she herself is? What in the holy hell does "If Gods made i-Pods that were alive" mean? Telepathic shuffle? Impregnable DRM? Holographic album covers? Grant, lay off the hallucinogenics and get hooked on phonics so your editor can figure out you probably meant something only slightly less grating, like an "Omnipotent Blackberry." Or "Blakkk-barie." Whatever gibberish strikes your fancy. Finally, Carlos Pacheco continues to make J.G. Jones absences barely noticeable, but who's responsible for those last few crappy pages with Darkseid? Marco Rudy?

Haunted Tank #1 (Vertigo, 2008, $2.99)
Well... that wasn't quite what I was expecting. I figured there'd be some tense humor amongst battle action, but this book seems to be a comedy above all other considerations. I've never heard of Frank Marraffino, but his script positively screams for a film adaptation in such a way I suspect screenwriting may be his first love. His characterization is far to broad and ethnocentric to be taken seriously, but since the book seems to be about stereotypes and the comedy of errors, fair enough. Henry Flint is adept at both violence and slapstick, so he was also a good choice. I don't think this is really my thing, but folks who get off on the lighter side of Garth Ennis might ought to give this one a shot.

No Enemy, But Peace #1 (Machinegun Bob Productions, 2008, $3.00)
I decided to try this book, depicting true events during the Iraqi occupation, based on a number of glowing reviews. Fuck the lot of you idiots. Rather than being a soldier's story, it's a bunch of rah-rah macho bullshit drawn with all the nuance of early Image house artists like Brian Denham, Marat Mychaels, and Dave Finch. Between quotes from Shakespeare and a nine page recitation of the Rifleman's Creed is terrible dialogue, non-existent characterization, baldfaced heroic mythologizing, and a meandering non-ending. The comic isn't about a soldier saving the lives of his brethren, but spraying the innards of them thar' Islamofascist sand-niggers all over the walls with U.S. firepower. The only reason other reviewers weren't crapping all over this like it was Rob Liefeld on G.I. Joe was because they were duped by the veneer of biographical authenticity. The Haunted Tank rang more true.

The Spirit Special #1 (DC, 2008, $2.99)
Well, DC rushed out this quickie reprint sampler to cash in on a movie that bombed, and I glad for it. Will Eisner has always been one of those creators I meant to read, but never did. Almost as soon as I cracked open the book, I started spotting all the artists I admire who liberally stole from this work. Jim Steranko... Bernie Wrightson... Frank Miller (when he was good)... Comics really do owe this man a debt of gratitude. Regardless, the question is whether the stories stand on their own without history propping them up, and indeed they do. Three complete stories, two at only seven pages, and an epic running fourteen. That's bang for your buck, Sally! "Sign of the Octopus" is pretty lightweight, favoring violent action and an introduction to the Spirit's nemesis, but it's good for what it is. "Black Alley" is better, helped by mood, tension, and twists. "Sand Seref" was pretty much the template for the revered '80s Daredevil reworking, complete with a mini Elektra Saga. Talk about all killer, no filler. My only complaints are that the art is sometimes a bit too loose, and most of the Spirit catalog is only available in overpriced Archive editions.

Vixen: Return of the Lion #3 (DC, 2008, $2.99)
I've sampled a little bit of G. Willow Wilson's work, which led me to give her upcoming "Air" trade a spin. That was in spite of "Vixen," though, who increasingly bears no resemblance to the Gerry Conway character. This is an issue of mystical mumbo-jumbo, complete with the sudden appearance of an elder mentor figure you just know will buy it in issue #5. The only thing worse would be keeping him around afterward, and considering some of the backlash I've read online regarding Vixen's role in the modern JLofA, that would be another step in the wrong direction. This is some tired Joseph Campbell wannabe shit, except instead of a hero(ine)'s journey, we're stuck with a washout passively guest-starring in her own book. All the action is supplied by the Justice League of America, whose tangentially investigation takes up thirteen pages, sans the titular "star." Wilson herself doesn't seem interested in how she's writing Vixen, so why should anyone else be? Cover artist Josh Middleton continues to impress, as does Cafu, though his JLA seems off model and out of place.

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