Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday Is Not At All Timely For All I Care #165

B.P.R.D.: 1948 #1
Bedlam #1 (2012)
Liberty Annual 2012
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Annual 2012



Got holiday'd, got burned out, got sick, people died, empires crumbled, yadda yadda...



B.P.R.D.: 1948 #1 (Dark Horse, 2012, $3.50)
This was not new reader friendly, following "1946" and "1947" mini-series, which were all about filling backstory of the Hellboy universe to begin with. I've always tended to enjoy the writing of John Arcudi, even when it's too cinematically staged to be satisfying as a comic book, which is the case here. I wish I could see this as a cable mini-series instead of a dry, brief floppy periodical. The only casualty would be the art of Max Fiumara, featuring delightfully skewed caricatures of life wholly appropriate to the off-kilter nature of the environment. For the relatively uninitiated such as myself, it is the saving grace of a book where unfamiliar characters speak cryptically to one another.



Bedlam #1 (Image, 2012, $3.50)
Nick Spencer is one of the better new writers in comics, and I've been waiting for him to do a comic I could get behind. Iron Man 2.0 and Ultimate X-Men were major label bullshit, and even Thief of Thieves seemed like dues-paying within Robert Kirkman's Image fiefdom. Despite my affection for the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, the "Next Generation" approach and simply being co-opted by Dan Didio's DC kept me from even sampling Spencer's series. Morning Glories has probably been his biggest hit to date, and Existence 2.0/3.0 has been the thing I've liked the best, but neither truly hooked me and both were marred by art from Joe Eisma, who I find deeply off-putting.

Bedlam illustrator Riley Rossmo isn't going to be nominated for a 2012 ...nurgh... Artist I Want To See Draw Things award either, and the whole premise is clearly Gotham Central fan fiction. No one would ever build a major U.S. metropolis under the name of "Bedlam," but as a way to have Arkham Asylum writ large over the whole of Gotham City, it's an appropriate conceit. The book is Spencer doing an unauthorized continuation of the Christopher Nolan Batman films, with the Heath Ledger Joker starring and Gary Oldman's Commissioer Gordon as a supporting player. If I really wanted to reach for analogues, I could even finger the probable Harvey Bullock. The main change-up appears to be Detective Renee Montoya set to take on a Clarice Starling role as the series progresses.

As diminishing as that summary sounds, Spencer's script is effective, with a twist that will make you want to start the book over immediately to read it from a new perspective. 48 pages of involving story for less than four bucks is a huge bargain, and I anxiously await the first trade collection to see if the arc can sustain the tension of this debut. It's my hope that Spencer will do for the not-Dark Knight what Kirkman did for not-George Romero zombies: geek out on the material thoroughly for an extended time as their enthusiasm infects the audience.




The CBLDF Presents Liberty Annual 2012 (Image, 2012, $4.99)
Okay Jonathan Hickman two-pager. Better four pages by Andy Diggle & Ben Templesmith. Alright extended editorial cartoon by Howard Chaykin & Sina Grace. Solid two-fer from Steven T. Seagle & Marco Cinello. Sweet two-fer for Joe Keatinge & Chynna Clugston Major Flores Baxter-Birney. Underwhelming five page James Robinson/J. Bone "Saviors" backdoor trailer. Nifty three pager from James Asmus & Takeshi Miyazawa. Lame Marineman/Hip Flask two page team-up by Richard Starkings & Ian Churchill. Odd single strip from Chris Roberson & Roger Langridge. Gabriel Bà centerfold. Winning Chris Giarrusso strip. Pretty four page Storm Dogs by David Hine & Dougie Braithwaite. Two page Brandon Graham nonsense. Heavy-handed Jim McCann/Janet Lee inspirational. Two page meh from Kieron Gillen, Nate Bellegarde & Jordie Bellaire. Terry Moore channels Charles Scultz for two. Six page Robert Kirkman/Charlie Adlard Walking Dead rounds out and highlights the collection, though the basics were borrowed for the TV show's midseason finale. All in all, I'd say the quality was up this year.



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Annual 2012 (IDW, 2012, $8.99)
I always cheered the success of TMNT as a victory for independent comics creators, but I never thought the comic was actually any good at all. Sixty pages of Kevin Eastman story and art are about as painful as three hours of open mic night, rather shameful for a career spanning decades. It was a swell blast from the past to see old school screentones used throughout the book, and entirely necessary, since the art underneath them is still as poor as one would expect from a nobody toiling on an inferior labor of love during the B&W boom. The story is a moronic riff on the car wreck Roshomon section of Guy Ritchie's Snatch, and the characters are such wretchedly arch cliches that there's actually two Scotsmen with phonetic "accents;" the down-on-his-luck boxer and the bartender, and both of whom should probably have been Irish. Of course the black guy ("Brooklyn S. Bridge," a joke Rob Liefeld used in 1992) is the one who wants to keep the ill-gotten loot, because nigga-wah? Nigga-who? That sort of inanity goes on for page after page, and life is just too short, amiright?

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