Greek Street #2 (DC/Vertigo): Peter Milligan and Davide Gianfelice have quickly created a book that intrigues me. It opens with a certain charm, like a siren luring you toward a perilous tale inside the book. It’s not afraid to ask the big questions (like how old do you want your new vagina to look) and is reminiscent of the movie Seven, the way it played with different scenes of the seven deadly sins, Greek Street plays with tragic vignettes with equal gusto. Grade A.
Invincible Iron Man #16 (Marvel): Madam Masque is an exceptionally creepy and sexual sociopath. It’s really a striking bit of characterization. Fraction’s script examines the notion of identity via organic conversations between Tony and Whitney, Tony and Pepper, Maria and Natasha, etc. Larroca’s reliance on photo-referencing has all but faded; he’s confident and adept at the big action scenes or the quiet emotive panels. This creative team has developed one of the definitive runs of this character. Grade A.
Wednesday Comics #5 (DC): Batman is really the only strip that’s getting noticeably better every single issue. Not only are the visuals stunning, but the characterization is extremely crisp, whether it was Gordon’s opening line, a wry Alfred in this issue, or a blonde bombshell in the last one. It swaggers with a subtle attitude and I love how this issue is basically a full page shot of the cave with several inset panels carrying the conversation forward. Grade A. The first panel of Kamandi has a sword, a motorcycle, a revolver, a bazooka, an ape, a tiger, horses, a damsel in distress, and an explosion. That is all you need to know. Grade A. The first issue of Superman had Superman fighting an alien, which made him feel like an alien. In the second issue, he talked to Batman, which made him feel like an alien. In the third issue he did something I can’t remember, but I’m guessing it probably made him feel like an alien. In the fourth issue, he talked to his adoptive parents, which made him feel like an alien. In this issue, he has a Kryptonian flashback, which made him feel like an alien. Oh, and it managed to re-tell his origin for the umpteenth time. I certainly hope that we’re going to get more than just 12 issues of the Superman-as-outsider motif. This is reading more like a random sampling of the Superman mythos than an actual story. I will say that it’s colored well, but it needs to get somewhere fast. Grade C. Deadman continues to be pretty generic and middling. He fights some demons. Grade C. Green Lantern offers up a very decompressed detour that explains a colloquialism. Grade B. Metamorpho provides a chemistry lesson and a Wonder Twins impersonation, but at least it’s finally doing something. Grade B. Teen Titans finally gets a POV character, but it’s a member of the damage control team(?) Awful lines like “My stupid teammate did something really stupid!” Like read this strip? Artistically, this is devoid of interest, it’s all plain lines in the foreground that lay flat against your eye. Grade C. Strange Adventures distills everything that’s trademark Paul Pope down to its very essence and mainlines a concentrated weekly shot right into your brain. It’s the "pretty girl" style he perfected for Kodansha, the dirty future tech moral quandary aesthetic that harkens back to Philip K. Dick, and the forward thinking Silver Age nods that remember their past, but transcend them. Grade A. Supergirl is not really for me, but it’s still done extremely well. It takes oodles of talent to make a plane crash seem cute and fun. Grade B. If the Metal Men line “I resemble that remark!” was a joke, then I didn’t get it since there’s no context for it. The art here is greater than the story it depicts. Grade B. Wonder Woman is consistent in that it has 67 panels which are unreadable incoherence using the worst possible font choice and punctuated by the same ol’ wake-up-at-the-end trick. One of those 67 panels is no bigger than the width of a pencil, it’s really ridiculous. Grade D. Is Sgt. Rock ever going to leave that room? Grade B. Of the two Flash Comics, I’m enjoying the melodrama of the Iris West strip more than the straight up Silver Age superheroics of the Flash. Grade B. Demon & Catwoman has no Catwoman, just the Demon. At this point, I wish it had neither and was just a blank page that I could draw my own comic on - sort of an interactive portion of the program. Grade D. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay Kyle Baker and Hawkman is that I can’t wait to see what he does next. Grade A. Overall, the mediocre strips are quickly pulling down the few great ones. Therefore, a waning Grade B.
Justice League: Cry for Justice #2 (DC): Ok, I couldn’t resist. And I just needed something to read after Sea Donkey dropped the ball on the couple of titles I was really looking forward to. See? No Warren Ellis? No Terry Moore? Then I have to buy this shit. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that Robinson was deliberately doing shlocky, campy, self-parody, tongue-in-cheek send up. Because, let’s face it, ever since we saw the spinal cock sheath over in The Boys, there’s nothing else you can really do with the superhero paradigm. It’s dead. So why not fuel blogger bile and give content for all of the entertaining remix wizards to play with? Some of my favorite bits, in no particular order;
- Mention of a threesome with Hal, Huntress, and Lady Blackhawk
- The “villians” typo
- Congorilla vs. Mikaal for six pages, for no apparent reason
- Mastery of the King’s English with lines like “You heal quickly quicker”
- The Memphis Belle located in a deserted Blackhawk Hangar
- Houngan’s “pickled toes”
- Long Island Iced Teas and Gin Martinis
- Hal and Ollie referring to eachother as “Green Lantern” and “Green Arrow,” with the quotes, because that’s how people talk
- Washed out ruddy inking/coloring during the Ray Palmer/Jay Garrick scene
- The weird three stooges guards
- Out of order word balloons during the Atom/Hal/Ollie conversation
- Javelin’s Freudian projectile hitting Supergirl’s tits
- Jean Loring a “bitch” for cheating, probably because of “headaches… in the bedroom”
As faux superhero, genre parody, comedy genius, this is a Grade B. But as an earnest superhero comic? Grade D.