THIS WEEK IN COMICS... but first, our scene shifts to Washington:
“This is the Secretary of Energy, Teddy Ruxpin,” said Billy’s trusted aide.
“Oh, didn’t you used to entertain and educate children?” asked President Billy.
“I did,” replied Teddy, “But now I educate everyone as to the relative benefits of increased domestic oil reliance in conjunction with alternative energy development.“
His lips moved in perfect timing with the cassette tape.
“Like magic,” whispered President Billy.
“Say!” chirped the Secretary of Defense, “Want to know the nuclear launch codes?”
“You just type in 'xy' on your desktop computer.”
“But… but what if I want to write an e-mail about xylophones?”
The room grew silent as the tomb. President Billy felt every eye searing the pores of his face.
“We do not write about xylophones in Washington,” whispered the Secretary of Defense, with a
“Oh… well… can I write about comics?”
“I suppose. Yes… I suppose.”
I’ve already read Jason’s new 64-page book: “You Can’t Get There from Here”. I’ll have comments up tomorrow because I want to go through it again, but right now I think it’s his best overall story since “Hey, Wait”. More to come!
DC Comics Presents: Superman #1
I totally missed the Hawkman installment of this tribute project last week so I’m not sure if the Harlan Ellison obit also ran there or if Alan Moore’s obit was in its place. Regardless, Alan Moore eulogizes Julie Schwartz in the back of this issue. The comments were originally written for Schwartz’s memorial service and read by Neil Gaiman, who then, with permission, posted the text to his blog. It’s good to see Moore’s affectionate words in print as part of this series. The first story is written by a Mr. Stan Lee, who I think may be a new talent from the minicomics circuit. Darwyn Cooke provides the visuals with J. Bone. Predictably, the art looks sweet. The story as a whole is also sweet, with Stan the Man obviously having fun packing in one-liners and verbal gags; why, the story’s even Torn from a Twisted Tapestry! Terrific. A gently dorkish Superman must deal with a misguided scientist and his invisible football minion. It’s total piffle, but it works well as a charming tribute. Also light but not quite as appealing is the Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen second story, with Al Milgrom on inks. In this one Superman must… stop another misguided soul. Good old Supes, the big blue and red corrective! Nothing offensive or defective, it just attempts the same feel as the first story and pales in comparison. All of it’s wrapped under an Adam Hughes cover. The perspective on the football the Phantom Quarterback is carrying makes it look just like a basketball. Or maybe he just brought the wrong equipment to the game?
Joe R. Lansdale’s By Bizarre Hands #3 (of 6)
This isn’t a continuing series like “The Drive-In”, but a series of ’sequential adaptations’ (here by Neal Barrett, Jr.) of hand-picked Lansdale short stories by various artists. This particular issue features art by Andres Guinaldo, who also worked on “The Drive-In”. The story’s called “The Pit”, and it’s about young men fighting each other to the death in redneck gladiatorial games, supervised by a maniac preacher. Racial strife and promises of earthly gratification turn men into fighting dogs, and religion only serves to justify our most cruel impulses, until we die as badly as those we‘ve killed along the way. Cheerful stuff. Guinaldo’s art makes the book resemble some strange lost 1980’s b&w boom title, which sort of adds to the ugly feel of the story. I’ll confess that I was entertained, but it’ll give me a bellyache tomorrow…
Sorry about "Ultimate Nightmare"
Decided to pass. I flipped through it and remembered exactly how much stuff was already in that preview and the rest didn't look tempting enough to get on my still-limited budget. I never got that "Sock Monkey" book, or the Winsor McCay collection... Jason kinda threw me off.And From Last Week:
Singularity 7 #1 (of 4)
This did look pretty neat on the shelves, and I got curious. Ben Templesmith is probably best known for his art on the Steve Niles-written “30 Days of Night” and its spin-offs. This is Templesmith’s first book as a writer in addition to his art, but the results are not promising. Mysterious microscopic space machines, ’Nanites’, arrive on Earth and grant young Bobby Hennigan amazing powers. He can shape and reshape the world with his thoughts, and eventually goes nuts. Much of mankind is wiped out and Bobby (now called The Singularity), who can sense everything on a molecular level, begins to twist surviving humans into his slaves. He’s now like a god, holed up in a dark tower, and his all-seeing eye rules the land. And luckily for him, he doesn’t even have worry about any fucking Hobbits! However, certain humans are beginning to develop a strange resistance to Nanite possession, a cellular rebellion that grants them strange powers and a desire to dress in black leather and carry samurai swords. They are the Specials, and they must journey to the final underground outposts of mankind, along with a fresh recruit who tucked away in his cozy underground reality thought The Singularity was only a myth BUT EVERYTHING HE KNEW WAS WRONG and now he must (presumably) learn to control his amazing powers! And what’s more, a peek at the synopsis of upcoming issues indicates that our Fellowship of the Specials will have to carry an important item right into the heart of evil! Whoa!
As you may have guessed, originality is not among the book’s strengths.
Neither is scripting, as the classic 'old man telling tales to the kids' trick is deployed to dump exposition at the issue’s top, and then additional (presumably omniscient) captions are later used to fill in the gaps. There’s plenty of tough-talking from our gruff heroes (“Lemme put a bullet in the socketfucker. He‘ll only slow us down.”) and villainous ranting from the baddie ("Yes… praise me! Praise me as I feast on you, my children!"). With such boredom working against it, Templesmith’s art is the book’s only hope, but he’s just not good enough to jolt life into it. There’s lots of moody hues and simple (or nonexistent) backgrounds, but his character art doesn’t quite have the sketchy energy that Ashley Wood brings to his own similar approach. Templesmith’s characters have a more rounded look (vaguely similar to Sam Kieth’s character work), and they don’t pop out from their surroundings as effectively; the look is sometimes slightly dull. Templesmith does have an eye for action, though, and he certainly deploys color effectively. But it’s not in the service of anything particularly worthwhile as evidenced by this issue.
“So,” asked President Billy, “What if there’s a crippling shortage of Xylitol?”
With that, the Secretary of Defense socked the President right in the kisser.
“Billy! Billy! You’re asleep in class again!” shouted Billy’s teacher.
“Gosh!” exclaimed Billy, darting up from his desk in Social Studies class, “It was all a dream!”
“It was, Billy, and now you’re expelled.”
And that is why Billy turned to the streets.