Monday, June 20, 2011

COMICS READING FOR MAY: “Bend it like Bendis”

* NOW WITH STAR RATINGS (ala Wrestling Observer Newsletter PPV reports) *

***** Watchmen, Marvelman, V For Vendetta
**** From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?
*** League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
** Promethea
* WildC.A.T.S.
DUD (or lower) anything he’s written for Avatar or any of the non-comics drivel he shits out on a regular basis

1.-34. Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis Omnibus Vol. 1 (Marvel, 2008) ****½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Art: Alex Maleev & David Mack (plus a few cameos in #50)
- originally published as Daredevil #16-19, #26-50 & #56-60 (Marvel, 2001-04)
Holy crap! When Bendis is on, he’s ON! This is the best superhero yarn I’ve read in some time. More crime noir and character study than a tale of a blind guy who dresses up in a homemade devil suit.
Extra for May 2011 reading
35.-59. Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis Omnibus Vol. 2 (Marvel, 2009) ****½
- originally published in Daredevil #61-81, What If Karen Page Had Lived? and Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #6-8 (2001, 2004-06)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Alex maleeve, Michael Lark, Bill Sienkiewicz and friends
Simply stunning storytelling with a ball-tearing ending. Every story arc is fantastic but “Decalogue” (#71-75) may be the most unnerving multi-part tale I’ve read in a long time.
60.-64. Jinx by Brian Michael Bendis (Icon, 2011) ***
- originally published in Jinx 1-5 (Image, 1997)
Obviously, Bendis has improved greatly since this crime noir series was first published. Painfully awkward “natural” conversations (heavily influenced by Pulp Fiction) and photo-referenced art that’s more annoying than clever. Still, this hardcover was so affordable and so stylishly presented that I had to have it. Not too bad, even if the story of a bounty hunter, her criminal boyfriend and his loser partner chasing after $3 million is as old as the hills.

65. FCBD: Pep Comics featuring Betty & Veronica (Archie, 2011) *½
Writer: Dan Parent/Artists: Dan Parent & Jim Amash
Archie is Archie. How do these comics still keep going after all these years? Bland art, obnoxious “messages”, lame jokes. Sheeeeesh. Seriously, who buys this crap? Oh well, at least I can now say this is the first official comic I’ve given to my 4yo daughter Jones. I think she’ll enjoy the puzzle pages if nothing else.
66. FCBD: The Mis-Adventures Of Adam West (Bluewater, 2011) DUD
Writer: Russell Dauterman/Art: Reed Lackey
67. FCBD: Worlds Of Aspen 2011 (Aspen, 2011) ** (all for Lady Mechanica story)
Writers: various/Artists: various
68. FCBD: Loose Ends/ICE (12-Gauge, 2011) *** (for Loose Ends)/* (for ICE)
Writer: Doug Wagner/Artist: Jose Holder (ICE)
Writer: Jason Latour/Artist: Chris Brunner (Loose Ends)
69. FCBD: Silver Scorpion (Liquid Comics, 2011) ½*
Writers: a bunch of people (which explains a lot)/Artists: Mukesh Singh & Liquid Comics
Good intentions are fine – promoting disabled rights, while fostering better relations between the folk of Syria and the USA – but this is basically a rip-off of Stan Lee’s Soldier Zero (published by Boom Studios). And it’s crap., fail.
70. FCBD: The Dark Crystal/Mouse Guard (Archaia, 2011) ****
Writer/artist: David Petersen (Mouse Guard)
Overmind: Brian Froud/Writer: Brian Holguin/Art: Alex Sheikman & Lizzy John
71. FCBD: Captain America & Thor: The Mighty Fighting Avengers (Marvel, 2011) ****
Writer: Roger Langridge/Artist: Chris Samnee
Just a gorgeous team-up tale from the duo who brought us the greatly missed Thor series from last year. I suspect this is an unpublished tale that may have appeared in one of those issues if the series hadn’t been brutally cancelled. Either way it’s fab. The back-up tale is an excerpt from The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (writer: Christopher Yost/artists: Scott Wegener & Patrick Scherberger). Good stuff.
72. FCBD: The Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel, 2011) ***½
Writer: Dan Slott/Artist: Humberto Ramos
Plus a Fear Itself preview
73. FCBD: Baltimore/Criminal Macabre (Dark Horse, 2011) ***½
Writer: Steve Niles/Artist: Christopher Mitten (Criminal Macabre)
Writers: Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden/Artists: Mike Mignola (cover); Ben Senbeck (interior) (Baltimore)
74. FCBD: Young Justice/Batman: The Brave And The Bold (DC, 2011) ***¼
Writers: Art Baltazar & Franco/Artist: Mike Norton (Young Justice)
Writer: Sholly Fisch/Artist: Rick Burchett (B:TBATB)
75. FCBD: Rated Free For Everyone! (Oni Press, 2011) ***
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Vinny Navarrete (Sketch Monsters)
Writer: J. Torres/Artist: Dean Trippe (Power Lunch)
76. FCBD: Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse (Fantagraphics Books, 2011) ****¼
Writer/Artist: Floyd Gottfredson
77. FCBD: Green Lantern Special Edition (DC, 2011) **
Writer: Geoff Johns/Artist: Ivan Reis
Green Lantern is boring...there, I’ve said it. And the Flashpoint preview by Johns and Andy Kubert is yet another crappy “universe-changing” multi-title crossover series that will ultimately change nothing.
78. FCBD: Super Dinosaur #1 (Image, 2011) ***
Writer: Robert Kirkman/Artist: Jason Howard
79. FCBD: The Tick (NECP, 2011) ***¼
Concept: Ben Edlund/Writer: Benito Cereno/Artist: Les McClaine
80. FCBD: Top Shelf Kids Club (Top Shelf, 2011) ***
Writers/Artists: various
81. FCBD: Bongo Comics Free-For-All 2011 (Bongo Comics, 2011) ***
Writers/Artists: various
82. FCBD: Kizoic Presents (Ape Entertainment/Kizoic) **½
Writer: Jason M. Burns/Artist: Aurelio…or is it Dario? Mazzaro (Kung Fu Panda)
Writer: Quinn Johnson/Artist: Chris Houghton (Kung Fu Panda)
Writer: Jason M. Burns/Artists: Weldon Adams (cover); Tina Francisco (interior) (Richie Rich)
83. FCBD: Sonic The Hedgehog (Archie, 2011) **
Writer: Ian Flynn/Artists: Steven Butler & Rick Bryant
A mega-successful, long-running series with a rich back story and a detailed universe full of quirky characters.’s based on a stupid video game and stars a hedgehog in sneakers. I mean, WHY bother?
84. FCBD: Geronimo Stilton/The Smurfs (Papercutz, 2011) *
Writers/artists: a fucking army (Geronimo Stilton)
Writer/Artist: Peyo (The Smurfs)
Classic anthropomorphic action from Italy, followed by classic blue-elfed fun from Belgium. If only it wasn’t so shit.
85. FCBD: Inspector Gadget (Viper Comics, 2011) *
Writer: Dale Mettam/Artist: Jose Coba (Inspector Gadget)
Writer: Dale Mettam/Artist: Ivan Escalante (Johnny Test)
Is there a bunch of unemployed Mexican artists so desperate for work they wind up being hired for pesos to work on crap like this? I suspect so.
86. FCBD: 2000AD (Rebellion, 2011) ****
Writers/Artists: various
87. FCBD: Magic: The Gathering; Path Of The Planeswalker II (Magic, 2011) **½
Writer/artists: a lot
I’m not a fan of the game, but this fantasy tale is passable and the art is quite nice.
88: FCBD: Spontaneous #1 (Oni Press, 2011) ***½
Writer: Joe Harris/Artist: Brett Weldele
Intriguing tale about a driven young man and an ambitious female journo trying to solve the mystery surrounding some cases of spontaneous combustion. I liked the Ben Templesmith-style artwork, too.
89. FCBD: John Stanley’s Summer Fun (Drawn & Quarterly, 2011) ***
90. FCBD: Star Wars: The Clone Wars/Avatar: The Last Airbender (Dark Horse, 2011) **¾
Writer: Ryder Windham/Art: Ben Dewey & Dan Parsons (Star Wars)
Writer: J. Torres/Art: Gurihiru (interior); Bryan Konietzko, Hye Jung Kim & Bryan Evans (cover) (Airbender)
91. FCBD: Darkwing Duck/Chip’n’Dale Rescue Rangers (kaboom!, 2011) ***¼ (Darkwing Duck)/*¼ (Chip’n’Dale)
Writer: Ian Brill/Art: James Silvani (Darkwing Duck)
Writer: Ian Brill/Art: Leonel Castellani (Chip’n’Dale)
92: FCBD: Future Shock (Image, 2011) **
Writers/Art: various
A bunch of dissatisfying four-page vignettes for some of Image’s top series including Godland, Fear Agent, Noble Causes, etc. None of them grabbed my attention or made me want to read these series.
93: FCBD: Jake The Dreaming (Radical Books, 2011) ***
Writers: Adam Freeman & Marc Bernardin/Art: Andrew Jones
Ho-hum teenage fantasy fiction accompanied by some stunning colour art spreads. Awesome paintings by Jones, but the story didn’t grab me at all.
94. FCBD: Atomic Robo (Red 5 Comics, 2011) *** (except *½ for Foster Broussard)
Writer: Brian Clevinger/Art: Scott Wegener (Atomic Robo)
Creator: Trevor Pryce/Writer: David Ziebart/Art: Dan Glasl & Ambert Gant (Foster Broussard)
Writers: Tony Trov & Johnny Zito/Art: The Rahzzah (Moon Girl)
95. FCBD: Locke & Key (IDW, 2011) ***¾
Writer: Joe Hill/Art: Gabriel Rodriguez
I really liked this tale – to the point that I’m gonna buy the first TPB now.
96. FCBD: The Stuff Of Legend/The Intrepid Escape Goat (Th3rd World Studios, 2011) ***¼
Writer/Artist: Brian Smith (Escape Goat)
Writers: Mike Raicht & Brian Smith/Art; Charles Paul Wilson III (The Stuff Of Legend)
97. FCBD: The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Comics (Gemstone Publishing, 2011) *
Writers/Artists: various
The point of Free Comic Book Day is to encourage new readers (especially kids) to pick up comics. So what’s the point of putting out a comic that encourages the hoarding, bag’n’board adult wankers who’ve ruined much of the comic book biz in the past 30 years? Way to go, Gemstone. Grind the love the of comics out of these kids by telling them that it’s all about buying and selling collections just for an extra few bucks. Pathetic.
98. FCBD: Civil War Adventure (History Graphics Press, 2011) ***
Writers/Artists: various
99. FCBD: Dinosaurs And Prehistoric Predators/Top 10 Deadliest Sharks (The Discovery Channel, 2011) **
Writers/Artists: various
100. FCBD: Michael Moorcock’s Elric: The Balance Lost (Boom!, 2011) **½
Writer: Chris Roberson/Artist: Francesco Biagini
101. FCBD: Witch & Wizard (Yen Press, 2011) **¾
Writers: James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet/Artist: Svetlana Chmakova
As faux manga goes, this book adaptation is pretty enjoyable – I guess the solid writing by Patterson explains that.

102. The Boys #54 (Dynamite, 2011) ***½
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artists: John McCrea & Darick Robertson
103. FAME: Lady Gaga #2 (Bluewater Comics, 2011) DUD
Writers: CW Cooke & PR McCormack/Artists: Michal Szyksznian (cover B); Dan Glasl (interior)
Whereas the first issue was a surprisingly inventive tale about a long-time music critic becoming a die-hard Gaga fan, the second ish is a strictly by-the-numbers bio-comic. No new info, pedestrian photo-referenced art and some of the worst writing I’ve come across in mainstream comics. Repetitive, dull – how this crap took TWO writers to churn out remains a mystery to me. At least the cover’s kinda cool.
104. R.P.M. #4 (12-Gauge, 2011) *
Writers: Mick Foley & Shane Riches/Artists: Brian Stelfreeze (cover); Jose Holder (interior)
Mick can go back to his day job now. Thank fuck.
105. Suicide Girls #1 (IDW, 2011) *½
Writers: Steve Niles, Missy Suicide & Brea Grant/Artists: David Hahn & Cameron Stewart
Seriously, if IDW asked Steve Niles to write a miniseries about a bucket of shit and waved lots of dollar bills under his wet nose, the guy would start banging out a script. Does he have no shame? Is he the Bendis of the indy scene? I just can’t believe it took THREE people to churn out this dull, been-there-done-that tale of “right-on” fabulous femmes, tattooed and packing heat, espousing individual freedom and feminist rights while showing off their tits and arse in skimpy outfits. It’s insane, it’s hypocritical, it’s dumb. But at least the good-girl art is hot and the nudie illos by Stewart at the end of the mag make the SuicideGirls skanks look half-way fuckable. Oh yeah…I’ll buy the second issue (I have no shame either).
106. Origins Of Siege (Marvel, 2010) **¾
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Olivier Coipel & friends
107. Siege: Storming Asgard: Heroes & Villains (Marvel, 2010) **¾
Writers/Artists: various
These two freebies almost made me want to buy the Siege miniseries. Almost.
108. War Of Kings Saga (Marvel, 2009) **½
Writers/Artists: various
No, nice try. But I won’t be buying this miniseries and all the affiliated collected works. Nice recap of a very convoluted back story, though.
109. William Katt Presents Sparks: Limited Preview Ashcan (Catastrophic Comics, 2008) **
Writer: Christopher Folino/Artist: JM Ringuet
110. Tales Designed To Thrizzle #5 (Fantagraphics, 2009) **½
Writer/Artist: Michael Kupperman
This surreal humour comic is not half as clever as Mr Kupperman thinks it is.
111. Sinner Vol. 1 No. 1 (Fantagraphics, 1987)
Creators: Jose Munoz & Carlos Sampayo
Only took me 24 years to get my hands on this comic. It wasn’t worth the wait.
112. Sidekick #4 (free with Comic Heroes #5, 2011) **½
Writers/Artists: various
113. XIII: The Day Of The Black Sun (Cinebook, free with Comic Heroes #5, 2011) **
Writer: Jean Van Hamme/Artist: William Vance
114. Dark Entries: A John Constantine Novel (Vertigo, 2009) ***¼
Writer: Ian Rankin/Artist: Werther Dell’edera
115. Gladstone’s School For World Conquerors #1 (Image, 2011) ****
Writer: Mark A. Smith/Artist: Armand Villavert
116. Doris Danger: Giant Monster Adventures (SLG, 2004) **
Writer/Artist: Chris Wisnia. Inks: Dick Ayers. Posters: Hernandez brothers, Gene Colan, etc.
Pastiche of the old Lee/Kirby monster tales from the late 50s and early 60s. The gag wears thin after a few pages. But the pin-ups by Ramona Fradon, Arthur Adams, etc are kinda cool.
117. Jennifer Blood #3 (Dynamite, 2011) ***
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artists: Adriano Batista & Marcos Marz
Less-than-stellar art is the only thing that mars this MILF-by-day/vigilante-avenger-by-night yarn. Plenty violent stuff – what you expect from Mr Ennis.

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