Monday, April 14, 2014

Wednesday is Cap n' Chicks For All I Care #185

All-New Invaders #1
Captain America: Homecoming #1
Empowered Special "Internal Medicine"
Sin Boldy #1
Slipstream #1

All-New Invaders #1 (Marvel, 2014, $3.99)
The Invaders are a team I've always liked in concept far, far more than in execution. They're Marvel's JSA, excepted not, since they were largely invented in the 1970s and staffed with the sort of Roy Thomas retcon creative abortions that would latter star in Young All-Stars. Their "heyday" series only lasted a little over three years, but Marvel's tried to revive them every few years since 2004, to no success. This time, they've got The Golden Age writer and JSA franchise initiator James Robinson aboard, along with another Brit, the underrated Steve Pugh (whose art I've bought video game tie-ins to ogle.) Coming into their debut issue as a reader who's rooting for everyone involved, it still doesn't work. Most of the issue revolves around Jim Hammond, who accomplishes the unenviable task of being the less interest Human Torch. There's a destructive battle in the middle of the sort of idyllic small town America that seemed hokey in the second Superman movie thirty years ago, coupled with hoary repressed memories involving dorky new retcon characters you've known and hated far too often in your reading experience. The art is okay, but Pugh isn't in his wheelhouse, and then the goddamned Post-Chromium Age Bucky shows up. About the only thing I liked was the inclusion of the fascistic Kree, who both substitute for Nazis nicely and call back to the original Marvel Golden Age revival at the end of their war with the Skrulls.

Captain America: Homecoming #1 (Marvel, 2014, $3.99)
I picked up this book because I wanted to see Tom Grummett draw Cap, but I guess I missed the years of work his preferred inker Cory Hamscher has put into crapping up his style with loose sub-Image flourishes. Grummett is also (badly) rendering the movie costume, and scripter Fred Van Lente seems to take "cinematic continuity" as code to phone in a simpleton plot. Even the coloring is flat and gaudy, topping the sort of shit package restaurants and computer stores used to give away to kids. There's added value in the form of a reprint of the Falcon's first appearance, if you like that character and don't find his origin stupid. The bright colors suit Cap, but not Gene Colan, and we're stuck in the middle chapter of an uninspired Stan Lee yarn. The Mark Bagley cover is kind of okay, I guess.

Empowered Special #6 (Dark Horse, 2014, $3.99)
Well, this was different. I've gotten used to the manga-inspired artists that usually guest on these specials, and while Brandon Graham still fits under that umbrella, it's certainly further from the mainstream American image of it. Best known for Multiple Warheads and writing the weird Eurocentric Prophet revamp, Graham's quirky, ornate, doodly style would seem in keeping with Adam Warren's densely populated world of "Superhomeys." It skews a bit too indie hipster for my taste, with some dodgy panel-to-panel flow and a somewhat crude "first draft" aesthetic, but Warren's script seems customized to the imaginative artist's strengths. Certainly, I like seeing such a strikingly different interpretation of Emp's world. The story is fun, if light, but Warren provides bookends that hint at ominous tidings to come in future volumes of his magnum opus. Warren does ominous foreshadowing better than anyone in comics.

Sin Boldy #1 (Image, 2013, $3.50)
You'd be forgiven for thinking that I was done with Joseph Michael Linsner after my rant against The Swordmaster's Daughter & Other Stories, but I'm still open to appreciating his art in one-shots and reaffirming how much I've grown as a person since Linsner's '90s glory days. The lead feature starring Sinful Suzi wouldn't have been out of place in Tipper Gore's Comics and Stories (aside from its toothlessness) or some '70s prozine that favored titties over topicality. There's painfully dated Cobain and Crawford gags, as well as anatomical fixations that made me wish that this was a Kevin J. Taylor comic instead. Unfortunately, it fails at pornography just as much as it does at comedy and drama. The second story stars Obsidian Stone, in his first ever comic tale, despite debuting in the 1993 Dynamic Forces The Creators Universe set. Linsner proudly boasts of creating Stone in high school and having marinated the character across twenty years of sketchbooks, but for the greater good this still undercooked Moorcock panty-sniffer should have just stayed in his personal memory hole. I'd like to think that I would have seen through this even as a teenager, since the stories are plainly inferior to Subtle Violents and Drama, much less his long ago storytelling peak collected as Angry Christ Comix. Where those grim fables were nightmarish and insightful, Linsner's current output shows greater proficiency in visualizations of purple prose and the regression from humanity that comes with drawing naked girls in an isolated studio since the Bush Administration.

Slipstream #1 (Big Dog Ink, 2012, $3.50)
There's a minor publisher nobody pays attention to, and they apparently have their own little super-hero universe revolving around a heroine called Critter. Slipstream was one of a set of four specials that took part in "The Paradox Paradigm," which doesn't encroach on the narrative here, such as it is. Slipstream is an other-dimensional being who takes human form and deals with the wonderment of a physical body, as well as malevolent forces from her own plane. She teams up with the cheesy prefab super team "The In Crowd," who went on to their own brief mini-series recently. Pat Shand's lightweight plot recalls old Chris Claremont "decompression breaks," and the art of Owen Gieni is a pleasing meld of Art Adams with Evan Dorkin (and he's now making a name for himself on Manifest Destiny.) An inoffensive full color all ages package.


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