This is Nate preaching the truth right here. You'll see what I mean.
By Rob Williams, Trevor Hairsine, Chris Blythe, Alan Grant, Carlos Ezquerra, Pat Mills, Leigh Gallagher, Dan Abnett, John Burns, David Baillie, Will Morris
Published by Rebellion
2000AD gets a free pass almost all of the time because its standard for "acceptable" is higher than the one utilized by the people who publish American genre comics, meaning that even when a story in 2000AD is a piece of shit, it's a readable piece of shit, whereas when Teen Titans gets bad, mothers drive into lakes with trunks full of baby. While this issue isn't a barn burner that'll have you proselytizing in the streets for the good folks at Rebellion, there's some really nice stuff going on in the first part of the new Defoe storyline. It's a zombie comic, sure, but unlike another black and white zombie comic that exists, Defoe is genuinely frightening to look at. It also doesn't read like it's ever going to produce a cliffhanger page like this:
Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 20
By John Wagner, Grant Morrisson, Mark Millar, John Smith, Alan McKenzie, Gordon Rennie, Carlos Ezquerra, Ron Smith, Clint Langley, Peter Doherty, Greg Staples, Mick McMahon, John Higgins, Mick Austin
Published by Rebellion
This is the 20th installment in a bestselling series that chronologically reprints Judge Dredd stories, and anything I say about it should be read with the foreknowledge that I will continue buying and reading these volumes until they run out of them or until I die, and I have every intention of outliving Judge Dredd, who, unlike Batman or his ilk, happens to age, albeit slowly. In other words: while I would prefer to read good Judge Dredd, I will settle for bad Judge Dredd. Almost everything in this volume is the latter, ranging from a terrible Dredd Versus The Mummy story by Grant Morrison to an as-bad riff on Frankenstein by Mark Millar. There's one of those bizarrely offensive Dredd-goes-to-Mexico stories where people are named Gonzalez and they pronounce stinking as "steenkeeng", and there's one of those who-fucking-likes-these alt-cartoonist Dredd stories. It's all bad, the kind of comics people should apologize for, and awesomely enough: they all totally have! Except for John Wagner, but he never has to, because his success rate is so unbelievably high that he would have to be caught boiling golden retrievers before anybody would even consider harshly tousling his hair. They outta knight that guy if they're still doing that silly shit.
Red Team #4
By Garth Ennis, Craig Cermak, Adriano Lucas
Published by Dynamite Comics
This isn't the worst thing Garth Ennis has ever been involved with, but it still kind of feels like it is just because it so consistently showed up around Fury: My War Gone By, which--despite a surprisingly limp conclusion--was one of the writer's strongest achievements. Red Team's so devoid of originality and enthusiasm that it has a tendency to read like it's the outline of a story in need of actual dialog. Despite the physical differences between the three male characters--one is black and athletic, one is older and mustached, one is young and slender--there's rarely a time when you can remember anybody's name. And hey: how is it "spoiling" a dog to give it water?
By Ted May
Published by Revival House Press
This short black and white comic features eight stories, three of which feature bowel movements (not counting the back cover illustration), and it is my favorite thing I have read in the current calendar year. While there's the immediate pleasure of humor to be found in men going to the bathroom, it's the tiny mechanics of the thing that make it so rewarding--the fact that the pizza delivery guy doesn't say "C'mon dude!", but whispers it, the strange inhuman speech pattern of a group of poker players, the way May draws tears like runny house paint--this is everything you could want out of a comic. It's an uncategorizable pleasure, and there isn't a stroke in it that feels out of place.
By Sloane Leong
"Everything about this comic has been considered" is the first phrase that comes to mind when setting down Clutch, a short, wordless bit of horror by Sloane Leong, one of the many talented freelance cartoonists currently residing in Portland. Nothing in it feels taken for granted. There's a dirty shadow offsetting the title, a title that is itself beginning to disappear by its final letter, followed by bookending pages coated in smog, and then a comic, beginning at the end of the day, tracing the death of an unnamed youth in a small house in the woods. It feels worked, hewn, finished; a well-made thing designed more to engross than to entertain. The audience for this will most likely be prepared for Clutch, they'll be used to the brevity of idea, and their grunts of admiration for its more bravura illustrations will be the best kind, because they'll come from a place of knowing how difficult it is to produce those illustrations. Excellent.
Satellite Sam #1
By Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin
Published by Image Comics
I emailed Howard Chaykin a single sentence one time and he wrote a single sentence back correcting my grammar, and it was at that moment that I knew I had won the contest of who gets to have the best conversation with Howard Chaykin, because I would rather have that one sentence back and forth than any long conversation where I told him about how much I liked The Shadow and he pretended he cared and then maybe I brought up some random part of his career that I bet not a lot of people ask him about and oh aren't I so clever that I asked the question that a lot of people don't ask, unlike all those proles who bring up American Flagg, everybody talks about American Flagg, look at me how special it is that I know the name of the thing that is different from the other thing and now maybe I can be best friends with the comics artist or cup my hot mouth on him or just hold his head down in a bowl of warm sand or whatever, however that fantasy plays out. This is God-kin's newest one, and it's him teamed up with Matt Fraction: and the thing about that is that those two guys (plus Rick Remender) did some really odd and wonderful Punisher comics that nobody talks about anymore because part of what made them wonderful was how they just sprang up out of regular Punisher comics and then almost immediately wilted, like a flower that bloomed while dying. The first issue reads pretty much exactly like what you would think it would--pulling back the curtain on the Golden Age of Television, look at all this sex, ego and sleaze--but that straightforwardness allows for density, and that's clearly what Chaykin and Fraction are going for in this one. If this was in color, it would be too much. Too much! This is the best thing either of these guys have done in a while, and considering one of them is a legitimate on-paper genius, that's a big fucking deal. (That better be the last Network reference though. That's some undergrad shit.)
Masters of the Universe: The Origin of Hordak #1
By Keith Giffen, Brian Keene, Scott Koblish, Hi-Fi
Published by DC Entertainment (Not "DC Comics". They make that really clear without really explaining why.)
In the '90s, Garth Ennis wrote a comic called Loaded, which came free with other comics by way of a plastic poly bag. It was a comic that worked a story out of the Loaded video game, and the hope was to make one aware of the video game, and maybe even to convince you to go and buy it. That's what this one-shot will remind you most of--an advertisement that the company doesn't have any interest in hiding. The thing is, it's not really clear what this is an advertisement for--it's the origin of Hordak, sure, but who is Hordak, and why should one care about his origin? Is Hordak the Wolverine of Masters of the Universe, as in, is he the most popular character and thereby the one being drawn out for the purpose of a one-shot cash-grab? Shouldn't that be Skeletor? Or Man-At-Arms? These were toys I used to have when I was a little boy. Why don't I remember Hordak? I remember everybody else. I remember Orko, and I remember Evil-Lyn, and I remember Tee-La, and I remember how every time I had the two armies fight, it always ended with He-Man and Evil-Lyn, and I always made sure they hooked up even though I didn't know what hooking up really was. But they always hooked up, and I think I even got early pre- and half-bones from those hook-ups, although that was in the old house at Anna Court, and it wasn't until we moved to Churchill Commons that I started humping the pillow. The point being: if anybody is going to remember Hordak and know whether or not he is a big deal, it would be me.
Daredevil Dark Knights #2
By Lee Weeks & Lee Loughridge
Published By Marvel Comics
You go through phases when you're reading these sorts of comics, and one of those phases is where you enjoy something out of proportion to its actual quality for purely mechanical reasons, like the fact that it was constructed under ethical conditions, or the fact that it appeals to people outside of the stereotypical customer base, or the fact that it's drawn well when so many others are not, or the fact that its made by somebody who doesn't get a whole lot of work and could definitely use a paycheck.
So two out of four, this time around.