Guardians…

Well, I decided that perhaps I ought to see Guardians of the Galaxy. I had a number of issues with it: James Gunn is Troma alumni (watch out for the Lloyd Kaufman cameo, if you do see it!), but he also scripted the abysmal Dawn of the Dead remake (which failed mostly with regard to its script and its direction, so…). Anything surrounding it made explicitly clear that the nature of the characters–in all senses–was going to be ignored. Now, if you haven’t heard this before, let me address it clearly: I do not take issue with liberties taken with character history and storylines, so long as the reasons do not reek.¹ Something interesting has to be done to justify those changes–either it’s an absolute inability to address the history that brings a character to the modern incarnation (Rogue…) or it’s an expansion past a good ol’ Lee/Ditko/Kirby “This is how this guy got powers” explanation that doesn’t deal much with character. Making Max Dillon a humiliated loser nobody isn’t really out of range for 616 Electro (nevermind that it was crossed with 1610 anyway). But Lady Deathstrike’s rich motivation and background was traded for…well, literally nothing. In X2, she’s a cardboard bloody cutout–a nothing, a non-entity, and most obviously a stand-in for Sabretooth, as she doesn’t even retain anything of her factual origin. So, from here, we have some kind of trickle-through-the-cracks bits and pieces of SPOILERS. If you’re the kind of person that would be upset at someone telling you about how a movie opens, or about the nature of characters in it that don’t involve surprises or twists, or that kind of thing–stop reading. Accept that I think honestly the movie kind of sucks, and be annoyed or pleased or whatever reaction you may have to this news. So, seeing the obnoxious approach taken to Drax, Gamora, and Quill (to say nothing of Thanos–let’s not even get into what a shitty version of him this movie has) was just off-putting. Saldana and Bautista, to make matters worse, were not up to the characters they did have (poor shadows of their origins, or even current incarnations, that they are). The Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy is shockingly, miserably helpless at almost all turns, soft and sentimental in ways that it once took her a good bit of time to reach. Drax is some kind of weird amalgamation of the red-tattooed modern version and the post-second-resurrection doofus version. Milked for some really forced humour (“He doesn’t understand metaphors and takes everything completely literally.”), it just falls flat, and Bautista’s awful delivery does not help things. And of course there’s Quill. My first experience of Quill was when Giffen wrote him into the Kyln, for the post-Starlin latter half of the intended-to-be-ongoing Thanos series. He was a very interesting character, for his hinted history and his surly reluctance. Here, he’s no longer an ex-hero (or a still-hero), has no clarified reason for being, and is a colossal goof. The movie opens on him as an adult dancing through a mission stupidly. There are some real clunkers of dialogue in there, too (again, Saldana and Bautista make any weaknesses in the script uncomfortably glaring), and it just enforces the problems I have with the changes to the universe. The militaristic Kree disavow Ronan (you know, the Supreme Accuser, their judge, jury, and executioner) and sign peace treaties (!). The Nova Corps is bafflingly regarded: Quill insists they are the only ones to be trusted with dangerous things, but we see basically no reasons to justify this. They don’t have the Nova Force, the Worldmind (see also: Kree Supreme Intelligence) is nowhere to be found. They seem to be a bunch of more literal space cops. Guys in uniforms with guns trying to enforce the law. Huh? Why are they magically better at this than anyone else? Why should they be trusted to be capable of handling anything dangerous? And what the fuck was with Sanctuary? Once an enormous, technologically advanced ship, it’s now…a bunch of rocks. Thanos’s Metron-inspired chair is also now a bunch of rocks (what the hell?!) Thanos was ruined. Utterly ruined. Incompetent, power-backed bluster, rather than the brilliant and devious mind of The Thanos Quest, he’s not even interesting. He’s all threats and nothing interesting. It’s furthering the rather clear truth that he is wasted in these movies. There was no alternative, of course–anyone that thinks you can or should treat Thanos as a background villain doesn’t really get the character, at least as he appeared for his first 30-odd years (before Starlin’s absence allowed him to be stolen away for increasingly ridiculous and stupid plots that bear no resemblance to the characterization that precedes them). The reality is that Thanos should never have been inserted into the MCU. They are incapable of doing him justice–not as a knock against writers, directors, actors or others, but as a knock against the fact that Thanos stories are not Avengers stories. Not even when he appears in Avengers books. It is point 2 from a previous post on the subject of Thanos that elucidates why this movie is an affront to the character. Thanos has no control, no plan, no nothing in place for what transpires. Is it, as some say, “ridiculous” that Thanos is so powerful and devious that the Avengers or the Guardians or anyone else can’t stop it? Maybe. But the truth is that it’s because he’s significantly apart from the “core” of the Marvel universe. Chad Nevett addresses this most wonderfully in his Hello Cosmic blog entries, such as this on The Infinity Gauntlet:

As well, I’ve noted before how the regular Marvel heroes are useless in Starlin’s stories and here is no different. Issue four, as I said, is them getting slaughtered. Up until that point, they do nothing and after, at best, they distract Nebula. Starlin doesn’t just use Adam Warlock, he demonstrates why Warlock is better suited for these problems than the heroes we usually read, and why his stories are unique. Yes, Captain America is great, but having determination and grit means shit against Thanos, because Thanos is out of his league. In the same way, you wouldn’t have Adam Warlock fight the Red Skull, because the fight would last the amount of time it takes Warlock to use the soul gem on the Nazi bastard. Starlin uses stories like The Infinity Gauntlet to create a hierarchy of power within the Marvel universe and demonstrate that, yes, stories must be geared towards and come out of characters. You can’t just take a character and toss them into any story for the hell of it.

This is the reality. Thanos doesn’t belong in these movies, and I know I’m just going to be more and more depressed and/or irritated as this shit goes on, because they will not ever do him justice. Because, like most people, they don’t understand the above at all. Alas. Oh, and for anyone who hears Gamora’s speech to Quill in the movie about how Thanos treated her, I heartily recommend “Yule Memory”, a short story from the 1992 Marvel Holiday Special. It contains this panel, which should speak volumes about how fucking stupid that change was: ¹For instance, X2‘s conversion of Stryker reeks of cowardice. That the original story–God Loves, Man Kills–dealt with Claremont’s favourite approach to the discrimination the mutants faced (a religious facet) seems to have been too scary to write or film or whatever. So they sucked the scary possible zealotry and re-fashioned it into, “Well, he’s kind of nuts.” Boo. Stupid.

Everyone Says Sooner or Later You’ll Reach the End

It’s We…Thursday!

I was entirely too caught up in finally getting into all those Valiant books, so I didn’t write a thing here yesterday on the new stuff I picked up.

Let’s start this off with a nice, straightforward bullet point-type list:

  • Hawkeye #19
  • All-New Ghost Rider #5
  • X-O Manowar #27
  • Armor Hunters: Harbinger #1

So, despite the voracious reading yesterday, the last two are off the table–I’m not that far, yet.

Hawkeye, I’ve mentioned, suckered me in almost entirely by accident. I’ve got (and thus read) all but #2 and #3, and I really love the series, as most people do. Much like my stated affection for She-Hulk artist Javier Pulido, David Aja helps to make Matt Fraction’s writing stand out. The book has experience numerous experiments in story-telling already, and this week was no exception. The events of recent issues left Clint with severe hearing damage, so much of the dialogue is “inaudible” to him, and thus us. ASL would help in understanding the book (!), though I’m woefully ignorant. Still, the characters remain as engaging as ever (Clint, his brother Barney, everyone in Clint’s building…with at least the one sad exception) and the storytelling is not mired in its “gimmick” so much as shruggingly stuck with it to fit Clint himself. No let downs here.

All-New Ghost Rider has been strangely slow: we’ve just finished the first (I just confirmed, though I was given reason to believe already, not the last, thankfully) story after five issues, which ran at a steady but somewhat slow clip. But that can be blamed, perhaps, on the stunning art and layouts of Tradd Moore, like this transformation:

The story was, to be honest, kinda so-so. Mr. Hyde was brought in and made shockingly effective as a villain (apologies if he has fans hiding…somewhere…), but I think Moore carried the whole thing. That said, the news that had suggested to me that we have at least one more issue coming, was wrapped around an artist change. This is obviously worrying–the book already concerned me on the subject of longevity, and the idea of an artist change made me even more worried. But I looked up Damian Scott–the next artist–and was not overly concerned:

A stylistic shift, certainly, but fitting for the book–fitting on the one level, because of the setting for the book, but not entirely, in that this isn’t graffiti-influenced art that loves self-aggrandizing, territory-claiming tagging, but the stylistic choices of the far more artistic segments of the stuff. I think it may work out well, but perhaps Scott will tone himself down for the book–who knows?

I’ve got little to add for you on those two Valiant books, as I’ve said, but here’s the nice wraparound for the Armor Hunters: Harbinger mini, by, I believe, Robert Gill:

 

That’s it for new stuff this week–I imagine I’ll have some commentary on the Valiant stuff I have been reading (I just finished the Harbinger Wars crossover before passing out last night) at some point here.

Today’s title comes from Oingo Boingo’s “Out of Control” from their first “no-Oingo” album, Dark at the End of the Tunnel.

I Don’t Need Pride of Place, But in Your Good Books I Think I Might Rate a Page

Is it frivolous to comment on things when I should theoretically be commenting tomorrow, in the passionate throes of New Books Are Out Wednesday¹?

Well, of course, the answer is: who cares?

So, onward and upward!

Most important news is, I’m afraid, music-related, and not comic book related: after comments, photos, and statements insisting that they were working on new material, we finally have evidence: Doomtree has dropped a new track.

The credits are much like those on No Kings, with Cecil, Beak, and Paper sharing authorship on the beat, and everyone who does so contributing verses (Stef, Sims, Cecil, Mike, with Dessa mostly just joining on the last recitation of the chorus).

The beat is odd: somewhat retro in its usage of synthesized noises, but very subdued and laidback. Unsurprisingly: the track is awesome.

Anyway.

It’s been a bad week, so I spun around the area (using the term “the area” loosely here) and filled a bunch of gaps. More (Flash Thompson, of course) Venom, more classic Valiant, classic Moon Knight, some newer Valiant to fill gaps there,  Justice League America and Europe (apparently, the latter is difficult to find, but often cheap as hell when you can), and most of the usual suspects. I finally have all of Friends of the Maxx, which pleases me greatly. And perhaps nicest of all, I plugged the single-issue holes in Uncanny X-Force (the second volume, the almost-all-female-except-one-troll-in-all-senses version) and Secret Avengers. Whew! I think I get why the latter issue was hard to find (it adds Venom to the team as Agent Venom), but I have no idea why UXF #10 was such a pain.

I’ve been starting to cut through the modern Valiant stuff with the first 10 or so issues of Archer and Armstrong–it’s almost like the satire Ennis likes to do, without having to pound into your face how much he likes having absurdly violent and/or sexual (and “and” can of course mean the two are combined!) scenes inserted, either for his own amusement, or for shock value.² It doesn’t linger (GERBER.³) and uses it to set up the character of Obadiah Archer in his entirety–as well as contrast him with Aram the Strong (guess which titular character that is!). There’s more character to
the villains, while the shadowy group of them maintains the vacuous simulacrum of “Obvious Satirical Metaphor™” all the while, not forcing the plot to revolve around the satire.

Quite pleased overall and, though I know it’s pissing some people off, I like that they are associating the universe with itself openly, as Bloodshot and Harada have been mentioned, while another character has appeared for relatively obvious reasons (I still haven’t read my classic stuff, so this was a surprise to me, and a nice one, so I’ll leave that to you to read, if you want–I figure if you want to know, you will, and if you aren’t interested in reading, why would you care anyway?).

Anyway, that’s all for the even…night. It’s definitely night here.

 

¹This title is still in focus groups.

²I suppose this might be to “further” the satire, but that’s up there with Ebert’s nonsense about suggesting you have to be a friggin’ genius to realize the Three Stooges gags in Evil Dead 2 are comedic. Pretentious dim-wittery, that.

³I actually found a “G” copy of an original Howard the Duck comic for about $.90 today (I got cut a lot of deals over the volume of shit I was buying, so any prices would be estimated). I think I will like it, despite my distaste for his work on Sensational She-Hulk.

Wednesday’s New Books

This was supposed to be published days ago. Been havin’ some WordPress issues recently…

Because I haven’t been reading comics for, oh, I don’t know…ten years?–barring stop-offs for trades, collections, and occasional cliff’s notes, anyway–I have an interesting dilemma on my hands when it comes to new books.

A bit of time spent with, ah, digital copies (ahem) means I’ve been reading most things from the beginning, as it’s a luxury that method afforded me readily. So when, say, Daredevil #6 came out this past Wednesday, I had a choice. I knew I had a slew of Bendis/Maleev (Volume 2 authors for ~26-81) and Brubaker (~82-119) in boxes or on their way but unread. I had a good chunk of the last volume, but not a complete run. Skipping Bendis and Brubaker for now seemed reasonable, but the fact that Mark Waid wrote it (and Samnee even illustrated much of it!) made it feel “wrong” to skip over those 37 (including a “.1”) issues. But, I felt like it was kind of a crap day (for similar reasons I’ll address in a moment) if I could read only one of my new books. So, I started the new volume, crossing my fingers and hoping that the re-numbering wasn’t pure nonsense, and it would function as an entry point. Having “0.1” and 1.5 was beneficial in this: .1 served to introduce me to the Waid/Samnee approach to Daredevil.

I was hooked almost immediately. Waid focuses on clarifying how Matt Murdock experiences the world, and Samnee brings his own talents to even further elucidating the unique way that he experiences things. It’s somewhere between the “He’s a super hero” banality of earlier Daredevil (which I just can’t get myself through, much like early Silver Age Green Lantern) and the grit and “street” of the Miller and Bendis runs. It works exceptionally well–there’s the gravitas of the latter, but clean, clear and imaginative art that keeps it from being unfortunately dark. Number six is, as is the habit (I know from more cliff’s notes-type reading…) with Marvel now (Marvel Now!, i guess, in fact), tied in to Original Sin, which has had numerous secrets revealed to characters and readers about major heroes.

What Matt learns is…well, it’s a big change from what we’ve seen, but doesn’t come across as a violation of what we know. It’s a kind of shift that could go either way: appreciating the multi-dimensional reality, or criticizing the familiarity of the end result. I think the former is appropriate because of how Waid handles it, though some of my other recent reading would lend itself to the latter.

Still, that’s not a fair knock on the book itself, which, after 6+2 (.1, 1.5) issues, I’m really into.

Also picked up was Archer & Armstrong #22. I have a disturbingly huge pile of both first run and current Valiant books. I’ve read roughly none of them (barring the first two Solar trades, which doesn’t help anything, since the character reverted to Gold Key and isn’t being published by Valiant in this day and age anyway). I’m trapped with these because of how “reasonable” acquiring back issues was, and also currently seems. I’ve got a lot of them– A&A is actually one I could read most of (I’ve got a five issue gap before this issue, though), but I just haven’t gotten to it.

It is joined by Armor Hunters: Bloodshot #1, the first of a three-issue miniseries that I now understand will function as a stop-gap between runs of Bloodshot proper. Yeah. This is going to sit for a while, sadly. I’ve heard amazingly good things about these books, but I just feel like a max of 25-ish issues for ever title is so reasonable to collect before reading…

Lastly, we have the book I was actually capable of picking up and reading, because I’d already read all three of the preceding issues: All-New Doop #4. I didn’t read the last part of the first volume of X-Force when Milligan and Allred took over from the Liefeldian inanities it started as¹ and X-Statix baffled and confused me when I saw it. It looked all “wrong” for an X-book–not a “this looks boring and I don’t want to read it” like X-Factor² the X-Force that preceded theirs, but just…wrong. My love for the Allred-pencilled (and later co-written) FF made me reconsider when I saw those series-ending issues, and snapped them up (except 3-4) for $1 each. I picked up the Wolverine|Doop 2-issue miniseries, and the entirety of this current series, too. It was all just intriguing.

The book is weird. Super-weird. It’s functioning outside expectations for an X-Men book entirely, but everyone’s familiarity with Doop, and his interactions with Kitty especially, make it work despite this–that, and the fact that his “marginal” existence means it’s supposed to be metafiction anyway (of a kind), so it all works out perfectly well, somehow being both utterly wrong and completely acceptable at the same time. We’re an issue away from its end–whether it was intended to end the series or just the story, it’s ending the series now. I’d say that’s sad, but I think he’s a character that “should” stay in this format. Overexposure would be his ruin–bad enough that he’s learned a new language…

I’ve been reading Secret Avengers (the first volume) and Venom (as in “Agent”) and Scarlet Spider and such in the “background” to try and catch myself up to reading other series (like the current New Warriors), but I’ll spare any comments there, other than Remender made Avengers  and Venom both super good, and Bunn took Venom down to the end quite well after him. Shame that book’s gone–and a bit of a shame the first Secret Avengers aren’t the ones that stuck. But such is life, with these things!

¹To be fair, I’ve got some issues from grab bags and such, as well as cross-over issues, but still largely avoided that book like the plague, despite growing up on X-Men, as I thought the team was composed of stupid, boring, 90s characters. Even as a kid in the 90s. I know that it escaped that mentality at some point, somewhat, at least.

²The clearest sign of my changing tastes. Thanks to Peter David, I think I own more X-Factor than any other single title, now.

Oh No, Can It Be? We’re Heading for a Heatwave

My listening has been really passive and boring–oddly, close to the listening I did years ago, which I’ve been wanting to get back to. A shuffle of 5 or so albums in the car (a burnt copy of No Coast which includes my digital copies of the Forgetters 2×7″ and J.
Robbins’s Abandoned Mansions acoustic EPThe Wombats Present…This Modern GlitchWhile a Nation Sleeps, etc) and at home just the set-it-and-forget-it approach to my digital collection (a few hours of chronological Fall, Cure, Smiths thanks to an issue of Secret Avengers (pictured right!).

I’d like to talk about music, but continue to feel as if I’m just continuously attempting to catch myself up on comics. I had to stop where I was reading (while listening to XTC straight through, incidentally–still in the White Music and Go 2 era stuff right now) and comment on Yost’s New Warriors. I never found any interest in the original–it wasn’t the eye-rolling 90’s glut of dark ‘n’ gritty, but it definitely carried (I thought¹) the feeling of forced new heroes with questionable depth (Hey! Another mutant! Who has fire powers! Because we haven’t done that…repeatedly…). It wasn’t fair (and it still isn’t!) but I never read the book as a result. I accepted the characters readily but I felt most of them weren’t going to last (in many cases, I was right).

This leaves the new book in an awkward place. I picked it up because it continues the Scarlet Spider², whose solo book Yost also wrote, and maybe someone else will pick it up for Sam, the new Nova, or what have you. But commentary and reviews are not encouraging–we have angered old-New Warriors fans³, and lame reviews (lookin’ at you, CBR).

After finishing issue 5, I was so amused by the dynamics and the approach to the book–it’s fun, but with post-Penance Robbie and Kaine here, there’s no shortage of undercurrents–that I had to say something. I was hoping others would find the book’s quality, as I got that feeling of dread–the suspicion that the book may not last. The comments around are NOT encouraging.

So, if anyone stumbles into this post: read the new New Warriors book! Give it a chance! Please!

It’s modern story-telling, so it’s not chock full of exposition to explain everything⁴, but Yost does the best thing that can be done with this style: characters are serendipitously engaged with each other, but not unreasonably so, and immediately begin grating or gelling, and developing interplay and dynamics. We get some emotional shorthand for all that lost exposition to explain why every character is who they are, and nudges to tell us there’s more going on if it’s going to be an ongoing mystery or development. I know modern Kaine pretty well, having read most of his solo book, and I read Civil War so I know something of what’s in Speedball’s history, but almost everyone else is a complete mystery to me–at best, I knew some of them existed. But I’m already getting a good feel for them, and that includes a nicely realized idea of who they are, with no prior knowledge.

The humour, the darkness, they’re contrasted appropriately–not a meted balance, but a properly paced one. It’s a fun book that doesn’t ignore the stained history of the New Warriors name (in-universe), but doesn’t linger on it, either. Stakes are high at start, giving everyone reason to gather (largely unintentionally), and reason to join together, though it remains tentative at best for now.

Give it a go–drop preconceptions and just run with it.

¹I’m continually surprised to find out how old the character of Richard Rider (Nova) is. And Speedball was no real-world spring chicken, either.

²To clarify, if you’re out of the loop, this is the Kaine Scarlet Spider, not the Ben Reilly one. Kaine, of course, used to look like this and murder people, like Doc Ock (made for a fun Superior Spider-Man story…). His power set is slightly shifted (no Spider-Sense, more strength, “stingers” in his wrists, that kind of thing) and his attitude is shittier. Cold, acerbic, self-loathing. Good times!

³Has any Marvel team ever been truly stable? Even the fucking Fantastic Four haven’t been able to retain all four members, having traded Ben for She-Hulk in the 80s, to start with. The Avengers–good lord, just TRY to find a definitive core team. Ain’t happening. And now, like the X-Men, they’ve split into 37 splinter versions, so don’t even. In other words: get over it, New Warriors fans.

⁴This irritates me to no end. Yes, you can do it badly, and you can do it not-as-badly, but the point is to allow people to jump in and not be confused out of their minds. There’s a lot of history to pretty much any given Marvel character. This would be easier to follow for people who were given some notes as they read. We don’t even get many editor’s notes anymore 😐

The Sensational She-Hulk (Part 1) and Other Stories

A long story, in truth, but She-Hulk is–somewhat indirectly, though shared with Thanos (and Jim Starlin/Ron Lim’s recent annual, specifically)–the reason I am after comic books again. In the process, I found that not only was one run of the last series (before the current one) written by Peter David (basically always a good thing), but that John Byrne had written her as Deadpool before Deadpool (and, in both that originality and the semi-forgotten nature of it, devoid of the obnoxious aura surrounding that character), breaking the fourth wall and acting as a comedic series.

Sensational_She-Hulk_Vol_1_1I’ve got most of Sensational now, as well as most of the 2005 and even 2004 purely eponymous serieses, and chunks of miniseries and alternate appearances (it increased my ownership heavily when it came to Fantastic Four and Avengers, neither of which I’d really ever looked at collecting, as she was a team member of each for a time). But for the moment, it’s Sensational that occupies my attention.

It turns out that, while the series is known for Byrne’s involvement and approach, he only wrote about half of its 60 issue run, and initially left after only 8 issues. Peter David wrote one, future lettering mogul Richard Starkings co-wrote one with Gregory Wright, and then Steve Gerber took over with issue #10 (pencils from the not-yet-so-famous Brian Hitch).

Gerber was the inventor of Howard the Duck, and author of many of his inventions–including a four part story in this very book.

Byrne’s run is most famous–it’s often considered Byrne’s book, despitSensational_She-Hulk_Vol_1_10e his limited authorship of the book, so discussing his writing is not where I’m at–I’m not quite halfway through the series, and he hasn’t returned. For eight issues he defined the book through its fourth wall breaking approach, with Jennifer Walters answering fan mail in addition to making asides to readers, editor Bobbie Chase or directly to Byrne. When Gerber took over, the stories themselves no longer acknowledged any of this–but Jen kept answering letters for a few issues. And then she stopped.

The book was completely divorced, now, from its origins. But this wasn’t the major issue–the most positive thing I can possibly say about Gerber’s run is that he didn’t force this approach into his writing. There’s nothing worse than someone who doesn’t know how to write or can’t write or doesn’t like writing a specific style trying to do it anyway. But the problem is that Gerber’s writing on these books is like what I’ve seen of his Howard the Sensational_She-Hulk_Vol_1_14Duck–admittedly, exclusively through his latter-era Max (ie “mature”) Marvel series of that title. It’s satire and parody–but really, really ham-fisted. It’s kind of appropriate considering what he’s satirizing (he has seemingly always had issues with consumerism in particular, as it’s been mentioned in everything I’ve read of his so far), but it’s tiring. One story is multiple issues on a Superman parody (Pseudoman and Lexington Loopner!) that’s centered on the proliferation of hollow symbolism. Another is four issues of Howard and Walters dealing with an attempt to stop mediocrity from overtaking everything (via the crash of “encroachiverses” squishing together until mediocrity is all that remains). I just explained the satire in a sentence. The story took four issues. It’s too long. I open the next book and actually curse aloud when I see Gerber’s name.

The thing that worked about his Howard Max series is that Howard is the acerbic commentator around which the satire and parody revolves. Jen’s not shifted into that role–which, oddly, I guess, makes sense. Again, he’s not forcing something, which is nice. But it means that it turns into a Howard book as long as he’s around, and then an un-centered mess, a book that’s about satire and parody first, and, actually not even incidentally about Jennifer. She’s just…there.

I’m hoping for this to end as soon as possible, to be honest. I can give anyone a chance after this–not that I wouldn’t anyway, but I just can’t wait for Gerber to go somewhere else.


I’ve been reaching a breaking point on sorting the piles of stuff I’ve got (a massive order from eBay just arrived, for instance, of scattered issues of various series I’ve been or started collecting) so I’ve been reading limited series and the like instead. I’ve got the first three issues of Justice League Classified under my belt right now (Grant Morrison’s brief run on the book, after his acclaimed one on JLA), though I started picking the series up more because of Giffen/DeMatteis’s run (4-9), though Ellis takes over after that for 10-15 (I have 10-14!). Apparently Gail Simone took over after that–I can only conclude that this series was intended as some kind of showcase, but it’s probably just the writers they chose. Still not sure what the book is supposed to be, but after picking up 4-9, it just seemed like I should collect around it (especially once finding who’d written those surrounding issues.

But, speaking of limited series, the other one I started last night was Keith Giffen’s Ambush Bug. Giffen’s first work I read was Trencher, his creator-owned book for Image 22877-3435-25523-1-ambush-bugback when it was the goofy, ultra-violent, substance-less company it started as, rather than the indie powerhouse it has become. I loved his writing and art, but it was very much its own unique entity. I had no idea, for most of my life, that Giffen was respected for his work like he is–that is, his work on Justice League (etc)¹–or as a known humour writer, or any of that. I saw Ambush Bug and was reminded of Forbush and Hembeck and such goofiness, stuff I figured I’d enjoy here or there, but wasn’t going to take the time to purchase. I started seeing all these connections come together and realized that the issues of that first miniseries I’d ignored I probably shouldn’t have, but now they were gone from the local shop I saw them in. But, hey! All four in this set of lots I bought from a guy in Atlanta! Awesome!

Ambush Bug actually makes a point, in all of its oddities, of mentioning how much more difficult its style of humour is than many people think–as a fan of absurd humour, I could only nod sagely (if I didn’t understand its difficulty, I’d be attempting to slip something in here–amateur hour, that). It breaks the fourth wall less in conversational sense, than in the one where ads are suddenly sprinkled in for non-existent Ambush Bug products. Overall, I was really pleased with the first two issues before I found myself needing to pass out for the night. It was interesting in that it used satire, too–and basically showed the right way to do it, since both of the books I’ve mentioned deal with some satire regarding their own medium–comic books.

 

¹Let’s not get started on the ridiculousness of that title’s titles. Again.

New Titles and Some Other Stuff!

Yesterday I got in my copy of Braid’s No Coast on vinyl, which means I release myself to listen to my digital copy, too (why I have this “rule”, I don’t know–I guess so the vinyl has freshness, like sticking to getting something the day it’s officially released. Some ritual is nice!).

It’s really good, living up to the rather excellent lead ‘single’ “Bang”.

 

 

Most of what I did while listening to it was sort my now 10ish longboxes (yeek) of comics. But it showed up around Wednesday, which means new comics! I started on Hawkeye thanks to reading the first issue online (I have a bad feeling about 2,3, and 7, the issues I couldn’t get a hold of…). I also picked up She-Hulk #6, which meant I finally read the new series yesterday–holy cow, it’s really good. Pulido’s art is the kind of creative layout usually reserved for the “indie” segment of independent books, experimental and unusual. Wemberley took over on the last two issues and kinda got into that same territory as Andrade did on Captain Marvel (not a great thing here, either–mostly just disappointing after Pulido’s four issues, though I understand Javier is thankfully back for at least the next few).

My modern Valiant collection continues to grow and remain thoroughly unread–I should probably do something about that, but I stopped off first to read X finally (my Dark Horse Heroes reboot books–also ignored!) and it’s also really, really good. Swierczynski keeps X in a nicely unclarified ground of being someone superhuman but humanly breakable, brutal and unrelenting, but not completely super powered. And the swirling corruption seems to be keeping itself light on its feet without turning too obviously toward cliché or expectation. I’m really looking forward to the next issue of that one.

As it stands, I’m currently pouring over Byrne’s Sensational She-Hulk mostly, while still trying to get everything sorted.

Valiant gets its own box, and D.C. has two (one is the “colour box”, as it contains Blue BeetleBlue DevilGreen Arrow, and Green Lantern), and there’s probably going to be a box of “other stuff”–but Marvel is proving to be a pain. After acquiring all those Thunderbolts, and all the X-Factor from Peter David–they kind of dominate boxes they go in. I worked out X-books in their own box (a tight fit that won’t last at all), but everything else is still kind of funky. Spidey was gonna be its own box (with Venom, Scarlet Spider, and the like), but that means I’ve got Midnight Sons stuff and Daredevil with unclear homes.

I guess I’ll figure it out eventually…