Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rapid. Fire. Reviews.

I read a metric ton of comics worth talking about.  Because of the volume, I'm going to attempt efficiency.    When I start to go long....tell me to shut up!

The Auteur # 5.

HOLY SHIT.  I want to write many paragraphs on Auteur.  I may at some point.  For now, let me just sum it up thusly...this is the series of the year for me.  There are a few months for something to knock it off the King of the Mountain, but it would have to work awfully damn hard.

We talked about Auteur a couple of times on Chronic Insomnia, always in a positive light.  Auteur kinda dresses itself up as an untamed stallion - the spectacle is refreshing, but in the end it's hard to know what to do with pure chaos other than smile, clap, and move on.  Auteur is absolutely NOT a mad stallion, and it is not chaos.  I hesitate to use the "G" word, but I'm calling it a work of subversive genius. I think it's best to read Auteur and be surprised about what it's doing.  So for now, I'll say no more.

Black Market # 1

Black Market is not genius, but it is pretty entertaining.  It's also a very rare jewel in the comics scene - it does not bend the knee to the Bunny Briar.  The hook is that medicine has discovered a potential cure-all in the form of superhuman DNA.  Our POV characters are involved in extrapolating said DNA from said supers....whether they like it or not.  They incapacitate, capture, and violently rob DNA from largely innocent victims.  You understand why some of these regular folks would want to do that, but they're portrayed as total dicks.

The obvious parallel here is stem cell research...which would lend itself toward poking at the Religious Right.  That's not actually how the book operates, though.  It's functioning more as a bitch-slap to the lazier end of the 99%, believing they're owed something from the exceptional just cuz.  That makes it extra interesting to me, although I would have to say that stripped of the political score-keeping, Black Market is just middle-of-the-road in plot and character. 

Sinestro # 4

Echhh, what a waste.  I love Sinestro the character very much, and he spends a lot of time tripping over interesting things that are never properly explored.  As a small of Sinestro's core elements is a fierce loyalty to all things Korugar.

So he's been introduced to a handful of his own people, once believed lost forever.  There's a lot to be mined from interacting with those folks and deciding what to do with them.  If you wanted to, you could really paint from the current Palestine/Israel canvas.  That would take giant brass testicles, so one might eschew that option and just add depth to the character by having him really get involved with these people's lives.  My point is that he just carries these people around like inanimate trophies.  There's plenty of juice there, but it's just ignored.

What we get instead is more nonsense about emotion colors and things that counter-act emotion colors, (still not clear when "willpower" became an emotion exactly, but I'm willing to let that go) and posturing, and an incredibly pedantic love/hate relationship with his Green Lantern daughter.  And look, next issue he talks to Hal! (The cover would have you believe this issue is about that.  It's not.  The cover is a liar head) Which admittedly will be far more entertaining than anything that's happened in the first four issues, but man.  Talk about going back to the whip a little too often.  This comic should be a lot better than it is.

Grimm Tales of Terror # 1

On the other end of the pool, here's a comic a lot better than it should be.  Zenescope gets a bad wrap for it's shameless cheese-cakery and empty contents.  I have dropped trow and pooped on these comics myself, mainly because I find the interiors of Zenescope books tend to pale when compared to the covers, and I generally find the stories to be empty calories.

I don't know if they're just putting their best foot forward for a new # 1 or if this comic is indicative of the current Zenescope, but I was delighted by Tales of Terror # 1.  The unnamed narrator may look like a giant whore on the cover, (we have to sell these things in a tough market, dig?) but inside she's dressed tastefully, speaks eloquently, and genuinely seems to have her shit together.

The story inside was competently executed on all counts.  They're updating classic horror stories the way they updated fairy tales in the flagship book.  This comic puts a fresh twist on Poe's "Telltale Heart", which in this case means blending it with Stephen King's "Boogeyman".  Are they re-inventing the wheel?  Probably not.  This played out like an above-average episode of Tales From the Darkside, and jinkies, I'm in for that as long as they'd like to publish it.

Weird Love # 2

Man, this book is great.  If you just can't tolerate one more second of the bullshit-dripping 21st Century and it's obsession with avoiding hurt feelings.... you MUST buy this comic.

Craig Yoe is pulling the most bizarre gems from the romance genre, much of it from the pre-code era.  The standout in this issue was absolutely "Too Fat For Love", which is exactly what you're thinking it's about, and even more awesome than you're hoping it is.  The ending is so absurd you just want to punch yourself in the face, and by the way, that's precisely what I want out of these comics.

In the horrifyingly stifled modern era, every one of these stories comes off as so fresh, unashamed, and honest.  I never want this to stop.

Armor Hunters # 1

I worry about Valiant now, and I was dreading this when I saw the solicitations.  I don't really want Events out of Valiant, I want them to continue to be Valiant.  That means the Events are born from the consequences of the rich characters and their decisions, not some impossibly obvious title that sounds suitably violent and action-packed. It smells like money-driven desperation from a distance.

Once I got a good close sniff, though, I was pretty much worried about nothing.  The Armor Hunters themselves are coming from a little out of left field and not from an established place, I guess, but that's no crime..  The hook is that galactically speaking, X-O armors are not neutral tools that can be used positively or negatively.  X-O armors are giant assholes that always end up taking over their hosts and ripping shit apart.  So the Armor Hunters are bad asses devoted to wiping these things out.

Needless to say, Aric is not going to buy into any of that, and he isn't going to just hand over his good skin.  That's way more than enough to hang a nice event on, and it does so while strengthening the X-O mythos in a new way.  I still worry about Valiant, because the sales aren't there.  The quality, though?  That has been remarkably consistent.

PS:  I bought a chromium cover for this issue, and I apologize for nothing. 

Devilers # 1 (Dyanamite)

Dynamite is clearly trying to re-make a piece of themselves in the image of Image with their new "creators unleashed" line.  That's not the worst idea in the world, actually.  I never really understood the licensing angle myself.  You're going to pay licensing fees on top of the creator costs and then sell 6,500 copies of Duke Nukem or whatever?  I don't know where the profit is hiding in that arrangement.  But I digress.

UPDATE:  I guess this is how you find the profit - you get yourself a pony license and then sell half a million "fun packs"

The Devilers are not a licensed property, but a bunch of new demon-hunters from the mind of Joshua Hale Fialkov.  Go, Creators Unleashed! The gist is that The Vatican cut a literal deal with The Devil to keep Hell out of earth.  Since The Devil is not really a reliable dude, he welshes on the arrangement and the expected sort of global level hijinx ensue.

I'm not in love with any of these characters yet, but the stakes are high, things are moving, and there might be a really good book in here somewhere.  I like the tone.  It's not quite as footloose as say, Buckaroo Banzai, but neither does it take itself too seriously.  That feels about right.  If the price point stays at $2.99, I might stick around to see if it's going somewhere.  These reviews are getting too long.  Doh!

Supreme: Blue Rose # 1

Lately I like to tout Fiona Staple's Alana as the sexiest woman in comics.  Turns out, that is incorrect.  Turns out, the sexiest woman in comics is actually Tula Lotay's Diana Dane.  That's not the reason to read this comic, but it certainly is a reason.

I had to catch up with Supreme on his wiki page in order to glean what I needed to get within 30 miles of whatever the fuck is going on here.  If that sounds unkind, let me be clear - I really, really enjoyed this issue.  It's simply not one of those vaunted "great jumping on points."  If you're familiar with the Supreme mythos, my assumption is that you'll find this a shockingly sophisticated, welcome addition.

PS:  Warren is back with a vengeance and taking different paths in his newer work.  You can still catch a strong scent of the old dialogue for sure, but also twists.  This Diana Dane voice....I don't believe we've gotten that from Warren yet.  I'm in for the series, and also glad that this isn't pretending to be an ongoing.  It's not pretending to be an ongoing, is it?  This should just be a wonderful little thing that lives on its own in one trade paperback.

Nightbreed # 3

I have a fondness for these characters, so I've been enjoying this a great deal.  If you don't know or care about Boone or Peloquin, I can't imagine you giving a shit about what goes on here.

On the plus side, one of the Midianites has a bunch of babies hatch from eggs, and the torch/pitchfork wielding yokels are given pause in their murderous intent when one of the babies begins reciting The Lord's Prayer.  Yikeez.  So I think on some level Clive Barker would be proud.

The Woods #3

A bunch of high school kids get spontaneously transported to an alien world.  They are given some non-verbal cues to enter this Thicket of Impending Doom.  A scant few do take on this challenge.  The rest retreat into the school and start recreating those old Stanford prison experiments.

If you thought you were going to like Morning Glories and then dropped it after 7 issues because it was just getting too deep and too might want to try out The Woods.  It has a lot of similar interests, but the path is far more straight, and the engine is moving more quickly.

Afterlife With Archie # 6

We take a break from Riverdale and catch up with Sabrina, who of course got the ol' gulag from her aunts when she resorted to dark sorcery.  So what's up with 'Brina these days?  Well, she's being constantly harried and pyschologically tortured by the most Cthhulhian agents of all - HP Lovecraft and Arthur Machen themselves!
 I won't ruin any more of the surprises in this comic, but they are big, and they are bold.  If the objective was to make me interested in the upcoming Sabrina series....mission accomplished.  Every time I think this series can't get better, it taps me on the shoulder and says

"Hey.  I'm better".

Then I smile and remark inwardly to myself

"I can't believe that Archie is actually producing this comic.  We are going to remember this for ages."

And that's a good thing.


Ryan said...

A book to look at for Market Spotlight: And Then Emily Was Gone. I think this has everything needed to become a cash book. Small publisher: Comix Tribe, great story, unique art, limited print run... maybe something to look into man. Interested to hear your thoughts.

Chronic Insomnia said...

Emily is very buzzy, and a strong play. (I have 3 copies) Should that property ever get goes boom in spectacular fashion because nobody will have one. I'm guessing the print run on that book is less than 3,000. It's an insta-buy at cover price, not sure how I feel about it past that.

A lot of interesting speculative stuff came out this week, and it looks like top of the heap is Wool # 1. The novels provide a ready-made fan base, and prices are already absurd. I saw this yesterday and didn't grab one. That was stupid.

Warrior Chicken Poyo is a nice play (Poyo is great, surprise Walking Dead crossovers are great) and I also really like the long term on The Shadow Over Innsmouth. You've got Shadow fans and Lovecraft fans interested in that. (once they know it exists!) I don't think you every make a million dollar on that comic, but I bet you can sell copies at well above cover until the end of time.

Mike said...

No joke with the MLP Fun Packs. I didn't realize this was a thing until my girls had a bunch of them and were begging for more. 4 comics with 16 different random posters = kiddie-crack. But, comics are comics, and if the girls like them, I'm a happy dad.

Our Book World just had their magazine supplier go out of business, and during the transition to a new one they're selling all their magazines at 70% off (including comics). We ended up with about 5 different Archie digests for pennies, and they're loving those too. Unfortunately, they stopped carrying Marvel a few years ago, and DC a year ago, so no discount comics for me to grab.