Saturday Morning Comics

Weekly comics reviews are moving to Saturday mornings starting this week.

In honor of the move, the weekly review feature is getting a new name and a new look.

The Muppets #1 story and art by Roger Langridge; published by Disney Comics (a Marvel imprint). As Jesse mentioned earlier in the week, this is a story fans have been waiting for and worrying about. When BOOM! ended the series, shortly after Marvel was purchased by Disney, this (second to)last arc’s future was uncertain. Disney had already reprinted three of Langridge’s arcs in a large magazine format, and they promised Four Seasons would be on its way. The wait is finally over this week with Spring. True to the other arcs, it essentially follows the format of the television show: the back-stage story is broken up with on-stage acts in between. This particular issue celebrates spring with a love story between animal and a dancing gorilla. Like the previous issues and the current running Snarked!, the “musical” acts are poems made up by Langridge. Story and art-wise this issue is of the same high quality as the previous arcs.

I did have two problems on the production end. The first is that we’re deprived of the original Langridge cover. In its stead we are given  something less than satisfactory…almost…cute and cuddly. I’ll put both covers below in the cover section. The second problem is with the coloring. Kawaii Creative Studio is credited, and they should be ashamed. Outside of Fozzie not being the same color from page to page, the Pigs in Space uniforms are inexplicably red. RED? You see that Piggy’s skirt is also colored blue. The costume ends up looking more like one of those cheap Wonder Woman knock-off costumes. The last problem is that Statler’s suit appears grey/navy (as it should) in the first half of the book, but changes to a brown to match Waldorf’s in the latter half. This book appears to have been made piece-meal by a committee of people from around the world without any quality assurance. I’d have thought Disney might be a little more careful.

Wolverine and the X-Men #13 story by Jason Aaron; art by Nick Bradshaw(p/i), Walden Wong(i), and Cam Smith(i); published by Marvel Comics. Ugh. This issue gives us the back story of the Warbird assigned to protect Gladiator’s son while at Wolverine’s school. It’s really boring to read as all manner of interesting things appear to be going on in the background. Why aren’t we getting a view of what the students are doing/ feeling during all of this Phoenix foolishness? Again I say,”Ugh.”

Saucer Country #5 story by Paul Cornell; art Ryan Kelly; published by Vertigo (a DC imprint). After reading Jesse’s description of issue #1 some time ago, I decided to add it to my list. What’s not to like about the concept: popular and influential politician has encounters with UFO’s, decides to run for president, and conspiracy ensues. The problem is that there are two way to go with this concept. The fast paced exciting and interesting path or the slow plodding path. That Cornell is taking the second path sucks the life out of the book. This isn’t even story decompression. I read these issues and it feels like nothing has happened of interest. There is a story, but it’s pretty dull… I don’t know where this is coming from because I liked Cornell’s work on Action Comics and Captain Britain and MI-13. This is lacking his punchy dialogue and well developed characters.

CHEW: Secret Agent Poyo #1 story by John Layman; art by Rob Guillory; published by Image Comics. I’m working on a review for CHEW that will see the light of day next week, but for now you will have to be satisfied with a review of a one-shot. For those not in the know, Poyo is a rooster whose famed for his cockfighting skills. Not that the world of CHEW is a serious one or one with a firm basis in our reality, but this one-shot devoted to a rooster pushes the boundaries of plausibility within the world that Layman and Guillory have created. Still, it’s a helluva lot of fun. It’s got everything you never realized you wanted or needed in a comic book: a homicidal cybernetic rooster; farm animals as precipitation, a battle against the hordes of Hell itself. It’s a fun book and it doesn’t really require a working knowledge of the main book to enjoy. If you liked Hitmonkey, but felt it a little too serious, this is the comic for you.


This Week’s Comics

We’ve got another good batch of books this week.  Last week I passed on the Red Robin and Batgirl one-shots because I was picking up so much other stuff.  I don’t remember the last time that’s happened to me.  And now let’s take a look at this week.

  • BATMAN AND ROBIN #15 – I don’t even remember where we are with this one.  That can’t be a good sign.
  • BATMAN BEYOND #5 (OF 6) – On the other hand, the Hush Beyond arc here is really picking up steam.  The big reveal wasn’t as surprising as I would have liked, but it makes sense.  I just wish SOMEONE in the Bat-universe could get a happy ending.  Sheesh.
  • BRUCE WAYNE THE ROAD HOME CATWOMAN #1 and COMMISSIONER GORDON #1 – Like last week, these will depend on the creators involved and a flip test, but I’m game.
  • CHAOS WAR #2 (OF 5) – Man, I really loved issue #1, and I’m glad Matt talked me into it.  Don’t let anyone tell you “Event Fatigue” isn’t a real thing, especially if they’re working for a publisher putting out three (!) at the same time.  But this book has all of the Herc madness we’ve come to love.
  • MUPPET SHOW #11 – This is a good reminder that I haven’t read #10 yet. As always, this comes with the highest possible recommendation by both of us.

Last week’s Return of Bruce Wayne #5 proves that you can never, EVER say Grant Morrison doesn’t know what he’s doing, and to quote the big man (Bruce, not Grant) himself “The plot’s got a few holes, but I think it’s starting to make sense”.  I suspect by the end we’ll get the answers to everything we’ve wanted to know about Dr. Hurt and the Waynes, and Thomas and Martha will return to their normal sainted status in the DCU.

In other review news, I was pleasantly surprised by Superior #1, and apologize to Mark Millar for calling it Superman when, in fact, it is Captain Marvel.  Like with Nemesis, though, I still take issue with Millar’s boasts about creating new characters when he’s just rehashing old ones.  He does it very well, but what’s the last truly original character he’s written?

That’s it for me this week.  What are YOU looking at?

This Week’s Comics

We’ve got a decent week this time around.  Here’s what I’m looking at.

  • IMAGE FIRSTS I KILL GIANTS #1 – I think I’ve heard good things about this one, so yeah, I’ll try it for a buck.  Thanks Image.
  • MUPPET SHOW #10 – Rather than blindly repeating myself about how good it is, here’s everything we’ve said about this book in the past.  I’m sure it will all still apply.
  • NEMESIS #3 (OF 4) – I’ve really been enjoying this book, even if the third issue is super-late.  Was it always only 4 issues, though?  That doesn’t sound right…
  • SKULLKICKERS #1 – I dunno, why not?  It’s only $3.  (See how easy that is, Marvel and DC?)

Well, that was brief. Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet #2 from last week was brief, but great.  It’s not very action-oriented, but it is hilarious.  With that in mind I present the top 4 quotes from that issue.

  1. Doctor Doom – “As the only ruler of a sovereign nation to embark upon this journey,
    DOOM shall take the coveted “shotgun” seat.”
  2. Spider-Man – “Wait.  There’s ASTROcrows?”  Ace (sadly) – “Not a day goes by I wish there WEREN’T…”
  3. Spider-Man – “Warp Factor 9, Mr. Spock!” Doom – “Sulu.”
  4. Ace – “That ain’t no space blimp.  That’s a space ZEPPELIN.”

That’s it for me.  What are YOU looking at?

This Week’s Comics

It’s a pretty disappointing week in terms of new comics this week. Here’s what I’m looking at.

  • BUZZARD #2 (OF 3) – The story of The Goon’s Buzzard continues here. If you like The Goon, you know what you’ll be getting with this one.
  • MUPPET SHOW #8 – The last story arc, featuring “Scooter’s sister” was great, and even though I never cared for Skeeter in the past I liked her here.  I just can’t figure out what “story reason” they would have for not saying her name until the end of issue 7.  Anyone who saw a certain early-80’s cartoon would already know who she was, and anyone who didn’t wouldn’t care.  At any rate, The Muppet Show is hilarious, and a great example of stories that stand alone while still working as part of a larger arc.  I just hope Roger Langridge does the art on this new story.  As much as I love Mebberson’s art, Langridge conveys a wonderful sense of kinetic energy and claustrophobia in the Muppet Theater, and his panels always contain tons of background jokes.

Even though it’s a light week, I’ve picked up plenty of back issues this weekend that I’ll be catching up on, including the little-known yet strangely hard-to-find Flashpoint Elseworlds mini and wrapping up the Shed story from Amazing Spider-Man that everyone has been raving about.

I also just finished the first “season” of Sleeper, and while I won’t do a full review here, I will say that every good thing you’ve heard about this title is true and well-deserved.

That’s it for me.  What are YOU looking at?

This Week’s Comics — And Some Quickie Reviews

AVENGERS VS ATLAS #3 (OF 4) – Any week with a new Atlas book is a week that I’m drooling for getting to the comic shop.  Thank you Jeff Parker.
BATMAN #697 – I wish I could stop getting this boring, boring book, but getting Batman every month is like breathing.
JOE THE BARBARIAN #3 (OF 8 ) – I haven’t gotten the first issue yet so I haven’t read the second, but I’m really looking forward to sitting down with this and reading a big chunk of it.  It’s been getting stellar reviews everywhere else.
MARVEL BOY URANIAN #3 (OF 3) – I still maintain that this is one of those “throw it at the wall and see if it sticks” books Marvel’s been doing, but it’s sticking for me.  This is the conclusion of the story of our weirdest agent of Atlas in the 1950’s, with some surprisingly good Golden Age reprints in the back.  This proves Marvel CAN print a $4 book that gives us enough extra bang for our buck.
MUPPET SHOW #3 – Oh, crud.  The reminder that I haven’t sent Matt his copy of #2 yet, and I swore to myself I wouldn’t read it until I do. This is the other drool-worthy book of the week.
SIEGE #3 (OF 4) – The first two issues of this were surprisingly good: fast-paced, full of action, and with a definite goal at the end. Hopefully this bookend can put the last 8 years of Marvel’s weirdness behind us.

I’ve read some really solid stuff the past week, including new comics!  Ex Machina #48 isn’t the last issue after all, but it was the strongest in ages as Mitchell Hundred and his evil counterpart start getting closer and closer to each other.  Weekly World News #3 is experiencing diminishing returns, as Ed Anger basically just crosses the country being a conservative hate-monger.  We get it already.  Based on the talk from the back of the book, more minis aren’t guaranteed.  It would be nice to see more stories, but  perhaps 3 issues each would be enough.  Batman and Robin #10 was the hit of last week, kicking off the Return of Bruce Wayne with a new mystery that will tie in nicely with the “Batman Through the Ages” theme they’ll be doing. I find it a little hard to believe that with as many times as the manor has been destroyed that there are any secrets still hidden, but I’ll suspend that disbelief, even as I wish this story was in the main title rather than some dull “Long Halloween” rehash.  I find myself amazed to start liking Damian, almost as amazed as I am that he’s liking being Robin.

I picked up the Ghost Riders: Heaven’s On Fire mini and was thrilled to see that Jason Aaron wrapped everything up very nicely.  There’s too much coolness in there to go into in brief, but if you liked his run on the main series, this won’t disappoint.

So that’s it for me.  What are YOU getting?

Random Reviews — Finally, I have things to compliment!

Finally!  A chance to spread the good word on some good comics rather than complaining that X-Babies exists!

Avengers vs Atlas #1 – If Matt and Hannah Montana have taught me anything, it’s that there are only 7 plots in literature,* so I wasn’t terribly concerned when I read his review of this book before I got a chance to read the book itself. I wouldn’t even say that this book fits the category of “teams meet, fight, realize they’re on the same side, then team up” unless you count earlier issues of the AoA ongoing and X-Men vs Atlas (which is fair because if you read comics then you should have been reading already). Recycled plots or no, it’s the way Parker puts them together than makes AoA so special. The humor, banter, and situations always feel fresh and novel, as if it’s the first time we’re seeing a Human Robot interact with a Gorilla Man. I don’t have much to say about this book that Matt didn’t say first, but I definitely second how great this was. The Namora backup was a weak story we’ve seen dozens of times before, but there’s still a lot of bang in here for your 4 bucks.

The Muppet Show #1 – This book? Well, if our frequent shilling for Roger Langridge and BOOM!’s Muppet Show books haven’t sold you yet it won’t now, but this continues to be the funniest comic on the stands. Langridge really gets a) comedy, and b) Muppets, and doing both is apparently harder to do than you’d think. After the damage done to the theater in “The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson”, the Muppets take their show on the road to any gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse that will have them. Fozzie, meanwhile, has temporarily gone his own way to rediscover standup (the alphabet at the end of the book was brilliant!). It’s a spectacular read, as always. The next issue should have the Muppets rolling into Little Statwald, which I can only hope is a town full of Stadlers and Waldorfs.

Thunderbolts #140 – This is more like what I was expecting from Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts run. The Agents of Atlas/Thunderbolts battle is resolved and Jimmy Woo proves he’s willing to do anything to take down Norman Osborne, with unexpected results. Hopefully it doesn’t make me a bad person that the horror and shock of what happened was matched by thinking it was pretty funny (and a relatively ingenious twist). The dichotomy between the lighter Atlas team and the darker T-Bolts is certainly fascinating, though I’m afraid Parker may have made the Agents too powerful. We’re starting to see a lot of psych-outs by Marvel Boy and characters who are unaffected by Venus’ song. Still, we’ve had 3 AoA books this month, which is proof that Marvel either recognizes quality, is still working their “throw it on the wall and see if it sticks” publishing philosophy, or is just willing to print anything Jeff Parker wants to write.

Weekly World News #1 – I was amazed by how much I like this comic! The first story arc, “The Irredemption of Ed Anger” follows the regular WWN columnist (who tends to get “madder than a <NOUN> in a <RELATED NOUN>) and television pundit as he rails against the freaks and illegal (space) aliens that the WWN specializes in. Of course, this puts Bat Boy at the center of his rage. Chris Ryall puts together a very funny story here, and weaves in more disparate WWN regulars than you would think possible (and thankfully annotates them in the back).  Alan  Robinson’s art was quite good, as well: consistent, well laid out, and with only one facial expression for Bat Boy (as it should be). Ryall’s text piece in the back relates a history with Weekly World News that Matt and I can definitely relate to. I’m looking forward to more issues, especially after the last-page reveal. Anyone with a fondness for the WWN should be pleased by the comic, and I’m curious to see how far they can take it.

*Hannah Montana is “Man vs. Self”.

Game Tape

Wednesday has come and gone. The heroes have fought their battles and villains have hinted at things to come. Now it’s time to review the game tape…

I know this is from last week, but I had to wait to get my copy of M.O.D.O.K.: Reign Delay. It’s pretty good in that cartoony, funny book way. It speaks to the nerd angst/ impotence that is probably pretty common amongst the sort of people who might pick this book off the shelf. Ever wonder how this guy goes to the bathroom? Wonder no more! Be warned though, it ain’t pretty.

I don’t know about you, but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop after FF #571. You’ve got a secret consortium of Reed Richardses helping the multiverse with multiple Infinity Gauntlets, a basement full of lobotomized Dr. Dooms, and a guy with some of Doom’s DNA spliced into him. Surely something is going to go horribly wrong here shortly (I mean after the issues on the last page are resolved). The story still holds my attention with interesting ideas, but I could have done without the seemingly obligatory Reed and Sue arguement over how much time he spends in his lab. The art still bugs me. Over muscled is not a look for Reed Richards. Toward the end he also poorly channels Kirby in the face department.

Jack Kirby was brilliant in a lot of ways. Faces were not an area of brilliance for The King. Everyone looks like Sue Storm, Professor X, or Darkseid; they just wear different wigs. Head shots of Johnny Storm, Warren Worthington III, and Steve Rogers would be indistinguishable. If you copy Kirby, copy the brilliance not the weakness. But I digress… Suffice it to say if you can get around the art, the story was solid. Your mileage may vary though.

I’m not going to retread old ground talking about the Langridge Muppet book. Just accept the fact that it’s great and move on. Instead I’ll talk about this week’s other Muppet book. Muppet Peter Pan is starting off much better than its predecessor. It’s fast and funny. The book shows respect for the source material and the inserted Muppet characters.The art is also miles above and beyond here. I’m all for stylized looks and your own personal take, but last arc (Robin Hood) never stuck to the artist’s own model.

In all fairness though, I’ve got a bit of a crush on writer Grace Randolph, but I promise that’s more a function of the smart writing and clear understanding of the Muppet voices… honestly. It has NOTHING to do with her silky blonde hair, her symmetrical face and features, pleasant contra alto voice, or her apparent wit, charm, and love of Muppets. Really…nothing to do with this review at all.

Dixon’s GI Joe #9 is finally picking up some steam. The problem early on was that he had two or three plot threads going, but only focused on one per issue. Now he’s weaving them together better. It helps that the Mainframe/ Snake Eyes connection was explored and explained quite well in last weeks Origin issue. At this pace, we might actually see Cobra Commander sometime early next year. Dare we hope for issue 12 to be the culmination of this arc?

That’s all I have to say about this week’s books. There were others, but nothing else good or bad. Good morning America.

Game Tape

Wednesday (Thursday this week…grumble…grumble)  has come and gone. The heroes have fought their battles and villains have hinted at things to come. Now it’s time to review the game tape…

I don’t know about you, but there wasn’t anything coming out this week that got my fires really hot. I almost didn’t get books this week because I knew it would cut into my precious time with Beatles: Rock Band. In the end, habit won out. While nothing is god-awful, nothing stood out for me (unfortunately, I didn’t get my copy of Doom Patrol #2). Let’s just do this thing.

Booster Gold #24 is a satisfactory wrap-up to this arc. Since I’m a sucker for time-travel stories and alternate realities in comics, this plays right to me. On the whole I really like this book. This week’s just left me lukewarm. Oh…and apparently there are multiple colors of Scarab…like a certain instrument for lighting dark places. Hela-lame.

I should have enjoyed Muppet Robin Hood more than I did. The Muppets have appeared in 2 previous (and enjoyable) retellings of Robin Hood: once in print and once on the original Show. While I don’t really like the characters from Muppets Tonight (Pepe and Co. leave me cold), this only marginally affected my enjoyment, but speaks to the bigger issue of the issue. I’ve mentioned this before, but it takes a certain sensibility to write the Muppets well. The writers of Muppet Treasure Island didn’t have it, neither does the writer of this mini. It comes off more as a bland gag riddled book that happened to have Muppets in the roles. It wasn’t a “Muppet” book though. I’ve been getting it mostly because it’s important for me to support books with Muppets in them. I will say this positively: this week’s issue exhibits unexpected moments of metafiction. From a reference to the next story starring the Muppets to the narration text being a character, this issue rivaled Grant Morrison for self-awareness.

Not much else to say on this week’s stuff. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a gig to play this evening in my living room with the Fab Four.

This Week’s Comics

Diamond Releases for 8/26/09

  • BATMAN AND ROBIN #3 – I sure am enjoying this book; it’s just pure, pop superhero fun. Morrison doesn’t seem to be worrying about metatext or overarching plots or storylines, and is just telling good Batman stories. Meanwhile, Frank Quitely (whose work I don’t tend to care for) is turning in some excellent artwork. I don’t know how long it will last, but like with all quality pop, I’m just enjoying it while it’s here.
  • FLASH REBIRTH #4 (OF 6) – Still solid work from Johns and van Sciver. Strangely, I don’t have much to say about this one. I didn’t miss Barry Allen in the same way I missed Hal Jordan.  I just don’t find his character that interesting, honestly. I’m hoping this mini will change things, but I also have some concerns about there being way too many Flashes in the DCU these days.
  • GREEN LANTERN #45 – This may be where I get most of my Blackest Night reading done. I’ve really been enjoying GL over the past year or two. The multiple Corps seems like an inspired idea, I just hope DC keeps using writers of Johns’ caliber when they inevitably keep stories of the Seven Corps going after Blackest Night wraps up.
  • BONEYARD #28 (OF 28) – Boneyard #27 came out in April 2008, so I’ve been looking forward to this book for quite some time. I wasn’t expecting it to be the last issue, though. This is a shame, since Boneyard (when it came out) was a consistently well-told and funny story and I hope we see it again sometime. I highly recommend the trades for anyone interested in reading about a guy who inherits an inhabited graveyard.
  • MUPPET SHOW TREASURE OF PEG LEG WILSON #2 (OF 4) – There’s something strange going on in the Muppet Theater. Everyone notices that Animal is wearing a suit and can’t play the drums any more, but nobody has commented on Kermit’s change in appearance and attitude yet. Things are just…askew.  And I can’t wait to find out why. Add in an overarching plot of hidden treasure bookending the sketches and acts that made the first miniseries so great, and this book is one I’m REALLY looking forward to. Oh, and check out Roger Langridge’s site.  He’s cool.