A different sort of mass this time, Wednesday Faithful, usually I burn the barn down every week roaring through the new books and drinking all of the Lone Star and letting them both hit me full-force, certainly making instantaneous critical judgments but recording nothing, just bathing in the sweet Lazarus Pit glory of comic books that I wasn’t able to read the night before. Then, I’ll go back over the course of the week or all at once and read through them again to peel back the curtain, poke at the armature, and generally absorb the craft of the creators to the best of my ability. Then, I write the reviews.
That’s all out the window this week, you loony birds! Because this week is actually last week is actually . . . the thing is, I was in New York City all last week and though it might seem counter-intuitive that I failed to indulge in this holiest of holy Wednesday night pursuits while within the boundaries of the capital city of comic books, if you’ve ever been, it’s really not such a wonder. Last Wednesday, I was actually in Peter Parker’s old stomping grounds watching my little brother and some folks he plays with smoking some soul and blues and country standards. If you have the opportunity to witness Shelley Wade & the Dimestore Romeos at The Dog & Duck Pub in the Sunnyside neighborhood in Queens, I sincerely urge you to avail yourself of it. There is no cover and the music is impeccable. The gentleman who plays guitar has been the drummer in Woody Allen’s Dixieland band for decades and even loaned me his instrument so that I could play Miles Davis and The Meters music with the little brother, and my little girl got to see us play music in a bar for the first time. All wonderful! But now, I’m back, in a bubble of alternate history, it’s really Tuesday the 24th everywhere else, almost the 25th, come to think on it, now, but here, in this room, it’s Wednesday the 18th in the parallel universe where I was not playing Trane licks on a decades-old hollow-body in Sunnyside hours before retiring, as ever, to The Band and their last waltz.
BATMAN ’66 #3 — (and I meant to say, that means no filter, no multiple readings, tonight/this week/last week, I know more than ever how poor Jack Bauer feels because We’re Running Out Of Time!, new books are upon us again tomorrow already, what you see is what you get, let the havoc commence and release the Hunger Dogs, as the saying goes!) WHAT’S THIS? Quinones & Wicks on art? This is the team who banged out that superior Harley & Ivy story a couple of weeks back in BLACK AND WHITE, no? With Wicks scripting, I believe? Quinones’s style again veering in an Allredian direction. Holy Ghost Artist, Batman, will we ever see young Michael Allred on interiors for this title? But, wait! Quinones! I love your Batman, brother. It looks a hell of a lot like Pope’s. That’s high high praise from this direction, my man, but you gave him the white eye-slits. This isn’t that book. And but wow, the Boy Wonder manages two Holy. . .s ! in as many panels, that is some fine work. And it ends . . . with a wink. That Jeff Parker is one damn sly individual all the way around. If the impromptu physics lesson doesn’t carry the day, then we will always have the Egg Zeppelin. And, “I don’t mean to sound negative, Batman, but we’re still plummeting towards the earth!” as delivered by Burt Ward is the line of dialogue to beat tonight.
CLAYFACE #23.3 — Layman always does economical work imbuing characters that at first blush seem stock with humanity, peppering just enough details through narration or spoken dialogue to make them come alive. Such is the case here, the content of this story doesn’t punch you in the face to anywhere near the degree that the cover does, but it’s a character study that respects both subject and reader.
SCARECROW #23.3 — All right, I’m not going to type the whole thing out tonight, but Tomasi’s Scarecrow’s line about Two-Face’s Hamletesque duality takes the dialogue prize from the Boy Wonder’s plummeting. Perfect. And then, the “Bane problem,” can’t help but think of John Locke and what a problem that turned out not to be, at least in his original incarnation. At the end of the day, or the twentieth page, I should say, I could give less than a damn about FOREVER EVIL: ARKHAM WAR, but this was a hell of an issue, these two in a row, actually, quite a rousing combination.
UNCANNY X-MEN #012—Am digging on Hill as the antagonist in this series, nice to see Bendis dancing with her again on a regular basis. Professor K as an advocate for the kids rings true and makes for a great dynamic against the rest of the people who have pretty much raised her. Emma boils it all down to perfection, it is in fact the ultimate get for Scott. And don’t know how I didn’t see this coming, what a damn set-up for telepathic throwdown payback coming right up.
FABLES # 133 — Willingham/Buckingham/Leialoha keep the storytelling engine rolling at full capacity as Rose burns pretty much every bridge with Snow all at once and we get three pages of mostly horrifying seven dwarves flashback. I’m guessing that was Randy who got skewered?
CONAN THE BARBARIAN #20 — It is still very much a creepy ghost story in the woods for Conan and Bêlit, directly emphasized by the former’s horrifying tale by the campfire in the opening pages, just in case anyone is dubious about the situation. This whole thing has a Joe Landsdale vibe about it, which, Wood could do much worse than be evoking that kind of mood. And then we just fire off into what-the-hell? supernatural territory at the end there, good fun and madness. I had no problem with the last poppy fever-dream arc but am digging this one much more.
MORNING GLORIES #31 — This is solid character work with Hunter, who of course we all love. I am, though, experiencing compression pains, or whatever’s the opposite of growing pains, but after everything went so fucking ballistic and insane for months and months there at the end of Season One, I’m having a bit of trouble just suddenly settling down and zooming the scope back down to –centrics set in this school that they’re suddenly supposed to be attending again, hitting daily classes and so forth. This sounds more like bitching than I mean it to, I certainly enjoyed the issue, it’s just a bit jarring that suddenly we’re not all time-traveling and dimension-hopping and getting our lives saved by older versions of ourselves in disguise. And I still totally can’t figure out which character is supposed to be the smoke monster, which is becoming aggravating. But that’s on me.
DAREDEVIL #31 — No surprise here, nothing but quality from Waid/Samnee/Rodriguez as Matt deals with a Serpent Society-incited riot stemming from a case that was Ripped From The Headlines! These guys are just so good, man, even if, if your internal chemistry is so damaged to the point that somehow you hate Daredevil and everything he stands for, you’ll still love this book. Is that supposed to be Foggy on the last page, though? Unacceptable, Mr. Waid!
BEST OF WEEK: NEW AVENGERS #10 — I’m still really in love with the premise and roster of this book, it isn’t getting anywhere near the attention or love it deserves in the flood of superhero books hitting the racks every month. It was impossible not to hear T’Challa deliver that “convenience or providence” line in the library with Fishburne Morpheus inflections, that “three ships, three objectives” pep talk he gives on the verge of the third act to RELOADED. So much going on here, incredible to believe the Avengers are off in space dealing with the Avengers and all the shit going down here has seemingly nothing to do with it, shit is just erupting all over the place at once. That page with Namor, though, man. Tough to read. Stiff upper lip, your Imperius Rexness. What escalation, though! In three pages, the spy in Strange locates the son of Thanos and we get another incursion. I love how Ebony Man is just like whatever, I’m with Thanos. No, Ebony Man! Listen to the Stephen Strange, the red-skies incursion is really such a very big deal!
INFINITY #3 — I cannot overstate the emotional impact of seeing Kenneth Connell’s Star Brand insignia that I drew on my left hand easily three or four dozen times in the middle of class during fourth grade, having that particular cosmic energy serve as a turning point is really just about almost too much for me, oh no goodnight but so wonderful. I miss Royce Ching.