Saturday, December 21, 2013


BEST: GØDLAND FINALE — After nine years, Casey & Scioli at last detonate this all-encompassing monolith upon their unsuspecting flock, a tour de force whirlwind that right out of the gate not only roars right up next to BATTLING BOY for best single release of the year but then also manages to be one of the most satisfying finales to any long-form story that I have ever experienced, a profound and moving celebration slash invocation of the human spirit itself, imagination!

I reread the entire epic from #1 again in something like three days to get ready right before this came out, so really had a both well-informed and up-to-date handle on how completely batshit insane this book tends to pop off at the drop of a hat, but these boys crank it up so much higher and harder this last glorious rip through, it produces the exact same effect as reading FLEX MENTALLO #4 for the first time obliterated on no less than three complementarily administered controlled substances and liberal really actually toxic amounts of alcohol running through your nervous system accelerating your mind to the point that you can just about almost work the inner eye of memory to recalling, in correct sequential order and mostly page for page, everything that has transpired up to this point in the first three issues and then, so primed, reading through that final chapter and realizing that it is in fact a manifesto and call to the wonder, a new age of imagination and intellectual curiosity tempered by the abiding desire to do right, letting this last sixty-something pages of GØDLAND wash over you is exactly like that, a finale realigning and optimizing previously unfiring neural networks into a more enlightened and positive viewpoint on everything outside of you, from the room you are currently occupying in physical space all the way out past the borders of the galaxy, a transformative piece of art that really will, if you open your eyes wide and let it come all the way inside, make you better.

THE SHAOLIN COWBOY #3 — Ahahahaha, well Brother Darrow certainly had me going. For that first little thirteen-page stretch, I fully believed that he was going to do us this issue just as he had last month, which would have tickled and delighted me to no end, but then he does us one better with some serious escalation that it would be awful to spoil, but man. This guy. Ultimate master of the craft, is kind of the only way to talk about him. Just, holy shit. This is required reading for anyone who cares about comic books.

(I should pause here and note that I reread GØDLAND #36 immediately before hitting #37 for the first time, meaning that at this point in the evening, it was already very early in the morning and I had made it through something like 155 pages of pretty much just frothing-at-the-mouth crazy shit on mostly every page, this just to provide a bit of perspective on the way the rest of this evening’s material hit my already seriously overloaded and potentially critically damaged narrative processor.)

WRAITH #2 — Now, that is certainly a memorable way to begin a particular issue and meet a certain character right away through candid dialogue, my goodness! What a singularly peculiar way to begin an issue. During the first page of his appearance, I incorrectly surmised that Dennis Sykes was Our Charles Talent Manx III, as they bear some physical resemblance, as well as a similarity of speech patterns, but Mister Sykes, in no short order, made himself memorably known as a unique individual with whom we had not yet been acquainted.

STAR WARS #12 — So, not the last one, then. That was a bit of a shock, it certainly felt like it. And would have been a hell of a thing to do, given the content of this issue, I really can’t imagine a more perfect finale than everything headed in this direction we’ve never conceived and only our imaginations to guide our own individual series of events back to what we know of EPISODE V and its ice planet. Tremendous work from all parties involved. And I am, of course, glad to get a few more issues of this. But, man. Perfect finale, right here.

CHEW #38 — More Layman/Guillory/Chu greatness. Savoy’s enemies-over-the-years montage is another one for the ages with the last one so over the top I had to stare at it for actual minutes to make sure that I wasn’t hallucinating. So much imagination packed into these, just the level of creativity to come up with three new powers alone. And that’s before all the malarkey with the Sucroformautare. I’ve been looking forward to this development in the plot of this particular character, ready to see what happens with him running around amidst all of this other madness.

ASTRO CITY #7 — Winged Victory is a terribly compelling character. This issue blows away the first six in terms of my engagement with the story and I have really dug every issue of this volume thus far. But, come on. This is nothing less than a companion piece for “A Dream of Flying,” the single issue that started it all. Not to mention who just darts back in at the end. Busiek appears to have been hammering home this book’s central conceit of everyman-level perspective of the superheroic for the first half year back, but here at the turn, he pulls some pretty big guns off the bench and swings hard.

THE ROCKETEER/THE SPIRIT #4 — A terrific finale to this swell team-up. Perfectly delightful, but my sole reservation is that as masterful of an artist as J. Bone is, I feel like this issue veered even more toward the extreme cartoony aspect of his style, to the point that a couple of wide shots with a dozen folks in them both looked like spreads lifted straight from MAD MAGAZINE. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but I can’t help but wonder what these pages would look like if Paul Smith had turned in all four issues.

SATELLITE SAM #5 — Fraction & Chaykin serve up two blowjobs, some hot jazz, and the first named suspect in our “central series mystery.” Smokin’!

UNCANNY X-MEN #15INH — Now, I didn’t even realize this was one of those weird letters-in-the-issue-number things until I got home, but I guess the whole point of these mythos is to accept the freaky things that seem like they shouldn’t exist right along with the natural births? And as long as Bendis is scripting, yah? This Kris Anka, too, pretty terrifying, hangs with all the artistic sickness we’ve come to expect from this run. This is a reprise of the all-time classic UNCANNY X-MEN #244, the original ladies’ night out that resulted in the first appearance of one Jubilation Lee. Only this time, a Hickman Terrigen Bomb has been detonated and the new mutant our strong women encounter is a mutie-hatin’ Latverian. A real terrible sort, too, with one hell of a power set. This is that rare random tie-in that’s actually worth it and of the same caliber as the main title.

WOLVERINE #12 — This creative team continues to blow it out of the water. Alan Davis delivers a couple of heartstopping shots of Kitty Pryde reaction-shot acting, when she’s horrified at the latest thing that Logan has done/cut into pieces. Of course the splash reveal of Sabretooth is entirely worth the wait. Man is sportin’ one hell of a classy suit. I don’t know how Logan’s going to get out of this one, you guys!

JUSTICE LEAGUE 3000 #1 — Huh. I was as indignant as everybody else when DC bounced Kevin Maguire off of this reunion with his old eighties JL(I) writers but certainly wasn’t going to write this book off because Howard Porter was suddenly the guy. And the art is terrific. Unfortunately, while the premise has potential, I’m not overly fond of the execution. A team of Cadmus clones made up of the actual DNA of the classic crew only without the Kansas or Pennyworth/European upbringing so crucial to the characters’ core is a cool idea but so far, everybody’s just squabbling with one another and that’s as deep as it gets, at least this first time out. Which is interesting, that was always the thing back in ’87, how these guys just wrote a JL book like it was in the Marvel Universe with all the in-fighting and interpersonal drama that was more often displayed in that other universe. It’s not quite so charming twenty-five years later, at least thus far. A cute little nod to some future Wonder Twins is certainly not a reveal that carries the day. At the end of this issue, I’m pretty much not hooked at all. Out of respect and fondness for Giffen/DeMatteis, and their somewhat serial televisual style that admittedly lends itself better to post-pilot episodes, I’m going to hang out with this one for one or two more, but it’s early days chopping block out of the gate.

BATMAN: L’IL GOTHAM #9 — Shenanigans with Clayface and then, as far as I can tell, a new character who is actually a pretty cool idea, the lady who handles the physical infrastructure for all of Gotham’s rogues. Once again, this book is nothing but terrific and I recommend it to fans of all ages.

BATMAN #26 — I came down with a hard case of ZERO YEAR fatigue this issue. It’s all of course still immaculately rendered from a visual storytelling standpoint, Capullo doesn’t know how to stop being a beast, but it’s been how many months now? Is this series supposed to be released in real time and we actually have to spend twelve months reading about all these deeply poignant encounters that Bruce had with Gordon and Lucius, etc that will supposedly pay off years down the line if we can ever get back to the ding-dang present? I mean, the cliffhanger is Batman getting shot from behind by some of Gotham Central’s finest. The final panel is two serious globs of blood splashing to the floor in all the stop-frame balletic glory of Woo at his finest. Why do we care? We know he’s going to be fine, even more so than usual. We need a lot more meat in the plot besides cute-or-ironic-because-of-what-we-know-now-that-the-characters-don’t encounters to justify staying back here or just fast-forward this book back to the present, already. Please.

BATMAN: BLACK AND WHITE #4 — Maybe I’m just getting spoiled or overloaded, that is probably certainly it here tonight, I mean GØDLAND, but while this issue hit me all right, it didn’t really blow me away. I liked Dustin Nguyen’s story best, that perfect last page in particular. And always want to see more interior work from Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, really do dig that dude’s style. Oh, and of course Kenneth Rocafort’s work is amazing and sickening in black-and-white. Overall, though, this one didn’t steamroll me like these usually do but maybe it’s actually the poor old crashed and crashing narrative processor that doesn’t work so good any

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