Let's not read into this Eat More Bikes too much. Maybe not at all? Probably best not at all. More here.
Announcements! This column will not appear next week, but in its place, you can read other things on the internet, maybe even comics, or you can read what I'll be reading, which is The Long Ships: so far, it's pretty great! If things seem a little abrupt this week, it's probably because I decided to watch a little bit of that Captain America movie--did you see that? What a dumb movie. There's something really hilarious about how much time is spent ensuring that the audience realizes that not only does Steve Rogers love America, but that he's also an iconoclastic geek as well, the kind of guy who chooses to describe his hometown to the girl of his dreams by listing off all of the streets where he was beaten up, you know, by bullies--the same kinds of bullies that go out of their way to humiliate him on obstacle courses and hold grudges in the face of Nazism and oblivion, and so on, and so forth. Shame and embarrassment: you two can't come back soon enough!
Uncanny X-Force #29
By Rick Remender, Julian Totino Tedesco, Dean White, John Lucas
Published by Marvel Comics
Some great visual shit in here, most of it the work of colorist Dean White. White better be getting amazing Christmas presents from Julian Totino Tedesco, Phil Noto, Billy Tan, and Mark Brooks, as they are all being handed the best work of their careers by their colorist despite the fact that they’re barfing out the same remaindered shit they always do. Dialog wise, it’s got some funny moments, but you can tell Remender isn’t as excited to churn out the gags as he was back when he told this “look at this fucked up alternate reality” story the first time. 2011: it was the best of times!
Wonder Woman #12
By Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang
Published by DC Comics
It’s an old saw, but why not bring it out for the umpteenth time, if only to dismember a corpse, preferably Wonder Woman’s: the best thing that could happen to this title would be that it become about some different character, especially a male one, because DC’s female library consists of intellectual properties only marginally more interesting than a coma (and that’s often a neck and neck competition, because unlike a female DC superhero, a coma almost always has a solid backstory). As below, so above: take a look at the last two panels of this comic, where Cliff Chiang draws a silhouette of Jack Kirby’s Orion putting on his helmet and boom tubing his way somewhere. Who wouldn’t rather be reading that?
The Fantastic Four Marvel Masterworks Volume 7
By Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Joe Sinnott, Frank Giacoia, Michael Kelleher, Kellustration
Published by Marvel, 2011
Certain Fantastic Four comics can give off the same medicinal quality that laces an assigned text from middle school, no matter that today’s Masterworks are read mostly by choice. That’s not on the comics, of course, but the reader--there’s an actual need to bring your own bullshit into modern comics, they leave so much space for you to do so. But the old Lee and Kirby stuff is like a well-tiled bathroom, there is no give, no room to flex. Thankfully, old Marvel readers are some of the most laid back, easygoing people you’ll ever meet, especially the Kirby fans. Why, there’s no conversation an American will find more relaxing than one that involves whether or not a certain Fantastic Four story happens to be less engaging than another Fantastic Four story, and no dialectic has been invented yet that can compare with the sweet tones that emerge when gentlemen get together to discuss which era of Ben Grimm’s adventures might be the best showcase for this erstwhile creative partnership. Why, even using the word partnership to describe Lee and Kirby is sure to start up a back-and-forth that will rival Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal in its breadth of perspective and conviviality regarding the changing nature of beauty to be found in creation.
By Alan Moore, Garry Leach
Published by Eclipse Comics, 1985
Although the relative difficulty (read: expense) of obtaining copies of Miracleman might be why it isn’t referenced more often, there’s always going to be the possibility that it’s just tough to read on a purely physical level--the text in these early issues is incredibly small, and is rarely plastered into the panel in a way that lends itself to easy breezy summer reading. Being an Alan Moore comic--especially an early Alan Moore comic--means that, even more than usual, the words matter, and jesus, those words are a pain in the fucking ass to chase around the page. On the art front, Garry Leach is done little favors as well by the fashion with which his work is reproduced, with more than a few of his best drawings so poorly represented it can appear that the comic was produced in some pre-hipster garret, complete with retro mimeograph machines. And yet, of course: the comic is full of interesting moments, dynamic shifts--in keeping with the Journal's recent rethink on Morrison, the proportion of a certain groundbreaking Animal Man run that comes cockily yanked from this comic’s kitchen-sink discussions is now so obvious as to make its heisting audacious--and it's hard not to be excited by the promise of its final, savage panel, even knowing the anticlimaxes to come.
By Trevor Von Eeden, Bill Dubay, Tom Ziuko
Published by DC Comics, 1984
As this comic is a DC comic ruined by DC editing, here’s the best story about a DC editor I’ve ever heard: This colorist turned in a finished comic featuring a panel where an alarm had been set off. Following in the footsteps of classic comics, film, and you know, basic human comprehension of color, he colored the panel red — because the alarm was red. The note he got back from the editor was one of flabbergast, an all-caps “what the eff is going on?” response zeroed in on that one motherfucking panel: What the hell was he trying to pull? Why was it so fuckin’ red, man? After having it explained--because there was an alarm, because the alarm was red, because you know, life--a head was slowly shaken, and then a mouth was opened, and that mouth produced the words, “Well, okay... let’s give it a shot.”
I like that. “Let’s give it a shot.” Like it’s a big ass risk! That’s pretty much the way editing seems to work at Marvel and DC, actually--even when the evidence is right there, blunt and in one's face, the response isn’t one of “oh, yeah, of course, learn something new everyday,” it’s an expansion of the original bullshit delusion. Now the colorist has to pretend that the world we live in is a world where one of the most basic coloring choices has just been discovered for the first time and is now being trotted out by the graces (and at the risk) of a crusty old 20-something whose sole qualification looks to be that they grew up near something drawn by Neal Adams, and they preferred that thing over something drawn by Herb Trimpe.
Crossed Badlands #11
By David Lapham, Jacen Burrows, Digikore
Published by IDW
While the addition of artist Jacen Burrows may fool you otherwise, make no mistake, this is just another paycheck earned for David Lapham, a gross-out adventure with one sparse narrative thread, a thread laced around the same survival-by-cowardice moment that Garth Ennis included in his two runs on this title. The difference here is that was used in two panels of an Ennis comic as quick-and-easy character building has been stretched into an entire multi-issue story arc in Lapham, meaning you have two full comics wherein you get to watch a coward piss his pants and run away, leaving everyone who protects him (or foolishly relies on him for protection) to die in the most horrible fashion possible.
Detective Comics #493
By Cary Burkett, Don Newton, Dan Adkins, Adrienne Roy, J.M. Dematteis, Jose Delbo, Joe Giella, Gene D’Angelo, Jack C. Harris, Vince Colletta, Charlie Nicholas, Len Wein, Dick Giordano, Steve Mitchell, Glynis Wein
Published by DC Comics, 1980
Tons of comics in this column, but only one of them really gets out there and makes its presence known, that being the tasteful story where Red Tornado reveals he doesn’t understand much about money or class systems, as evidenced by the tone-deaf question ( “Why do you
people live like animals this way?”) he directs at an elderly African-American woman who lives in an inner city ghetto. Because of course it must be a choice, otherwise white people would live there too? In his defense, Red Tornado might have been in the robot version of emotional shock at the time, as he delivers the line right after the old lady invites him to “step over the junkies, fella," said junkies being the drug addicts who sleep on her stoop, whom then she then affectionately refers to as “junkies.”. Following that, a second mugger, unrelated to the first mugger, appears, calls Red Tornado a “spook” (hey-yo!) and Red Tornado heroically throws him down a flight of stairs, which is a move he probably learned from Superman and Green Lantern, two super-heroes well regarded for their ability to throw people down flights of stairs. After that, all the characters go to church ... which is when a guy named “Mr. Kool” shows up with a whole bunch of guys who then attack all the churchgoers because they want to use the church for churching, while the Mr. Kool wants to use it for The Drugs and The Pimping, and then...it just keeps going like that. For a really long time.
This is around the time that the Red Tornado cries actual tears, right after he sees the power of Christian forgiveness at work, which would, to him, probably be very similar to what it is to be a super-hero, except for the fact that at this point in the Red Tornado’s career, he thinks being a super-hero means you throw a drug addict down a flight of stairs and then stand around ineffectually watching a bunch of elderly Christians essentially shame gangbangers into a truce by using their decrepit old flesh as human shield. But let's be honest: racial and sociological weirdness aside, this issue of Detective Comics is this column’s "One To Beat" for the Best Comic Featuring Robots Crying title. The submissions desk remains open.
Dungeon Quest Book Three
By Joe Daly
Published by Fantagraphics
There’s a great case to be made for comics most of the time, but it does seem like it’s been a little while since the case could be made purely on the basis of a comic being entertaining. Case in point: The Comics Journal is now doing long-form satire in which one of its more esteemed writers is pretending he likes Jonah Hex, while across the hall, prolific Comics Alliance contributor Chris Sims was recently forced to follow up his infamous proclamation that “I bet you didn’t know Archie’s Mega Men comics were better than Fun Home” with an article claiming that the Pinocchio Vampire Slayer comics constitute a “saga” and are “actually really really good”. Thankfully, Joe Daly has returned from wherever it is he goes when he goes away, and Dungeon Quest--the mumbling stoner counterpart to its methed up metal freak cousin, Prison Pit--has a whole new stack of penis-obsessed pages to play with. It's tempting to single out one part of this volume to label as best, but that temptation dissipates upon the realization that it's going to be impossible to pick a winner. Is it the scene where each ass cheek is named? The one where a tiny man is given a handjob? The POV shot of a naked giant, who brings his own shade? Here's the thing: there's a contender on nearly every page. Don't let the back cover praise from Publishers Weekly fool you: this comic is actually worth the paper it was printed on.
The Incredible Hulk #12
By Jason Aaron, Carlos Pacheco, Roger Bonet, Frank Martin
Published by Marvel Comics
This comic is part of a storyline called “Stay Angry”, which initially began as what seemed to be a homage/open rip-off of the Neveldine/Taylor Crank films, themselves ripped off once before in one of Marvel’s post-Ennis Punisher Max comics. But as the story has continued (“progressed” isn’t really the right word to use for Jason Aaron’s Hulk comics; the stories have just accumulated in number), the comic has become just that, a comic entire: the Hulk roams around the Marvel universe, different artistic teams attempt to make it look interesting, and sometimes a fight occurs. It’s probably the most faithful Marvel project Aaron has ever been involved with, a straight clone of the issues that Stan Lee and a rotating cast of artists churned out at the character’s inception: shitty comics across the board about a wandering moron, now pumped out by a never ending string of people who don’t care and couldn’t even if they wanted to. In this issue, the Thing gets part of his face ripped off, Wolverine makes a joke about it, and the Hulk gets confused. Such a missed opportunity--if it wasn't so bad, this comic really could have been terrible.
Walking Dead #101
By Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard
Published by Image Comics
The best joke in Sean's review for The Walking Dead was in the comments section, all of which squirted out the same old Walking Dead praise one always hears: which is that in this comic, characters can die, and isn't that the most dramatically satisfying thing fiction can accomplish? In deference to the glaring truth that yes, everything the Walking Dead does is right, because the only thing in comics that matters to anyone is that they be popular enough to embarrass whatever imagined childhood slights have shaped one's emotional adulthood, we'll cede the point. After all, killing off a major character has been the primary song for the last few issues of the Dead, meaning its time to jump to the sturdy number two this piece of fucking shit always relies on, which is when Charlie Adlard draws a really boring and confusing splash page, and the surrounding context makes it clear that the reader is supposed to have some kind of SPIT TAKE reaction, but due to Adlard's fundamental inability to draw something that any human could care about past the length of time it takes the optic nerve to register whatever information is being delivered, you just end up flipping around in the issue or giving up and waiting until the next issue, which will have a recap page, which we assume is written by someone who knows what the fuck that shit was supposed to mean.
COMIC'S BIGGEST (AND ONLY) NEWS STORY THIS PAST WEEK WAS THE DEATH OF JOE KUBERT. ABHAY KHOSLA HAS YOUR COVERAGE:
Joe Kubert passed away on Sunday, August 12th, 2012, at the age of 85. Kubert was, among many other things, one of comic's more instantly recognizable artists, with a rich career that lasted from about 1942 to the present day. Indeed, for many readers, at least this author, Joe Kubert was one of the earliest comic artists a reader would likely encounter, separate and apart from comics which featured his creations, and one of the earliest examples that comics were made by actual human hands, thanks to his column Joe Kubert's Corner in the elementary/middle school-oriented publication Dynamite Magazine. Of course, Joe Kubert's Corner was only one small example of a life Kubert spent educating subsequent generations of comic artists.
Given the opportunity to eulogize an artist with whom they had worked for nearly seventy years, DC Comics initially issued the following statement: "'We are saddened to learn of the death of our colleague and friend Joe Kubert. An absolute legend in the industry, his legacy will not only live on with his sons, but with the many artists who have passed through the storied halls of his celebrated school. His latest work on BEFORE WATCHMEN: NITE OWL was among his best, and we are so honored to have worked side-by-side with such an unforgettable force in both comics and in life. – DC ENTERTAINMENT EXECUTIVE TEAM."
After complaints, DC (hypothetically) issued a revised statement: "We are saddened to learn of the death of our colleague and friend Joe Kubert, inker of the hit series BEFORE WATCHMEN: NIGHT OWL, now on sale at comic stores everywhere. What is the secret of NIGHT OWL's mother? Before the tragic events of WATCHMEN, did NIGHT OWL have other adventures that were important although not important enough for the character to have ever thought about during the events featured in WATCHMEN? How many licks does it take to get to the center of NIGHT OWL's vengeance? Be there for BEFORE WATCHMEN: NIGHT OWL or be as square as a panel from WATCHMEN, the best selling graphic novel of all time! We will never forget you, Joe Kubert -- DC ENTERTAINMENT EXECUTIVE TEAM."
After further complaints, DC then (hypothetically) revised the statement further: "NIGHT OWL-- the hit star character of WATCHMEN is now not only the star of his own solo series in NIGHT OWL: BEFORE WATCHMEN: HOWL OF THE OWL, but now leaps from the pages of the comics onto your shelf, in this special action-figure box set based on the blockbusting blockbuster written by J. Michael Straczynski (NINJA ASSASSIN). Each thrilling set includes Classic Nite Owl, Cyberpunk Nite Owl 2.0, Lady Death Owl, Nite Owl: Noir, Nite Owl: German Expressionism, Nite Owl: Kate Hudson Romantic Comedy, and a limited-edition $243 Owl dropping. Go, like Jeff Goldblum, into the Nite... Owl, with all of DC's thrilling Nite Owl offerings, soon to be at comic shops everywhere. P.S. Joe Kubert: deceased; bummer -- DC ENTERTAINMENT EXECUTIVE TEAM."
But comic people just like to bitch, so more complaints. DC (hypothetically) decided it best to go with something short and sweet: "NITE OWL comics, statues, games, trading cards, novelizations, jewelry, apparel, perfume, cologne-aftershave hybrid, and NITE OWL-collectible Owl Goggles are now on sale throughout the United States-- DC ENTERTAINMENT EXECUTIVE TEAM (which does not include Joe Kubert because he is dead now; RIP)."
And yet the complaints continued to come in-- there's just no pleasing people! Shamed into focusing on the life of Joe Kubert, DC (hypothetically) revised its response: "We are extremely sad to learn that Joe Kubert has passed away. An absolute legend in the industry. As we understand it, he died surrounded by his family, by his loved ones. And we are informed his final words were, 'I just want the best for you so please promise me, promise me that you'll buy Nite Owl. Please never stop buying Nite Owl because you deserve only the best things in life.' We hope that people reading this honor his memory and pay extremely close attention to this absolute legend in the industry's dying words, which involved the purchase of NITE OWL, which as it coincidentally happens is now on sale. Thank you, Joe Kubert-- DC EXECUTIVE ENTERTAINMENT TEAM."
Finally, DC issued its current response, which finally got comic fans and creators off their back and focused on the usual grieving process that (hypothetically) greets the passing of legendary comic creators: overly dramatic drawings of their characters shedding a single tear in front of rainy graveyards at sunset, mixed in with internet chatter about how "We really should start saying nice things about old guys BEFORE they die, you guys." That usually lasts about ten days.