Sunday, March 4, 2012

Wednesday Is Brubaker Wood For All I Care #137

Fatale #1 (2012)
Winter Soldier #1
Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha & Omega #1

Fatale #1 (Image, 2012, $3.50)
I'm glad Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have ventured outside the Marvel aegis, specifically its creator boutique line Icon, in favor of the full independence of Image. I just wish they'd shown similar bravado with regard to their comfort zone. Fatale is yet another noir to go with the eleven others advertised at the back of this book. Well, I haven't gotten around to Incognito yet, but lets assume. This book involves an investigative reporter in the past falling for the moll of a dirty cop, as years later his son is pursued by gangsters, seemingly over a valuable unpublished manuscript. There's gunplay and car chases and mysteries to unravel. Where this edition breaks ranks is by borrowing Nazi demons and colorist Dave Stewart from Hellboy. That pretty much the sole variation. Hell, the protagonist even looks like Jason Blood. It's a decent amount of plot for twenty-four pages, but it still begs to be read in trade paperback. Maybe when taken as a whole it'll feel like it's more than simply competent.

As a reward for buying the floppy, there's a text afterward where Brubaker discusses his lack of creative courage. The best feature of the book is "H.P. Lovecraft and the Horror of the Unseen," a short article about the origins of existentialist "cosmic horror" from the late eighteenth century through to the name-checked author's time, and his impact on those who followed.

Winter Soldier #1 (Marvel, 2012, $2.99)
"So the son of Mohandas Gandhi turns his back on the peaceful resistance of his father, choosing instead the path of the samurai. The high mountain air of the Himalyas preserves him, giving him nearly a century to learn the martial arts before turning his Bushido blade on the Chinese occupation in Tibet. I call it Dalai Shogun."

I could take that more seriously than the Winter Soldier. I realize Ed Brubaker managed to sell many modern readers on the return of Bucky Barnes as some sort of retro Commie assassin Cable variant. I myself have read too many deaths and false returns to ever be able to accept it played straight, much less with all the contrivances Brubaker stacked on. I figured by Captain America #50 Brubaker would finally offer a "gotcha" and have him turn out to be Dr. Faustus' bastard son or something, but I think we've passed the point of no return, and I'm well past the point of shit to give.

I bought Winter Soldier #1 because it was offered cheap and I tried to keep an open mind, but I barely got through the first few pages before my brain farted. Bucky was Captain America for a while, everybody thought he was killed in that role, but he's really sleeping with Black Widow as they both track Soviet sleeper agents. I'll never understand why Marvel decided to date Black Widow by firmly establishing her as being alive during World War II. All I could think of was Natasha's always on some guy's arm, and they finally hooked her up with a fellow throwback. Poor dear, always the sidekick.

Another thing that put me off was the art of Butch Guice. It doesn't look bad, but in each panel I find myself playing "Spot the Photo Reference." It looks to me like he's also learned to work a computer, since it often seems like photos have been mildly digitally altered and Butch say "pay me." The Black Widow gives him an excuse to overuse shadows and silhouettes. Hooray for stick figures doing tumbles.

The plot is a half-assed set-up of the premise, and all that's left over is Monsieur Mallah and a couple of semi-obscure Marvel villains plotting against a major leaguer. Everything here has been seen before, better, and indicates the pointlessness of the continued production of most mainstream super-hero comics these days. I suppose that's why Marvel is happy to churn this out for just tens of thousands to cover the cost of maintaining copyrights.

Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha & Omega #1 (Marvel, 2012, $3.99)
Another example of the type of comics that are fucking choking the life out of this goddamned industry. There's this pink haired little fuck with a limp mohawk who's anti-authority. Because he's a telepath, and doesn't like Wolverine, he decides to trap Logan and a fellow student in a psychic construct resembling a futuristic Grand Theft Auto. That's the premise, and that's the story. There is nothing more to it than that. The two sets of artists do decent work, even though I'm really over stuff from manga being directly referenced (like that robot cop from Appleseed.) It's just that Brian Wood's story takes a couple of minutes to read, and it boils down to meaningless nonsense beyond the indefensible mind rape. If the story doesn't end with Wolverine killing the responsible prick, and it won't, we know from jump readers will spend $20 on a circle jerk.

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