Many shocks!

*C’mon everyone. There’s no creative team. There’s no script. It’s not in pre-production. It hasn’t even been optioned yet, and options hardly guarantee a finished film. It’s just negotiations.

Besides, everyone knows it should be fully animated, in 2D/3D fusion style, taking its storytelling cues from the blood-drenched anime of the mid-‘80s. I want to hear an overexcited announcer chattering a plot synopsis over the trailer while a shitty glittery pop tune plays in the background and heads roll on the screen. Slap a text crawl on the bottom. Sold!

But Seaguy should come first.

To be more precise, additional Seaguy comics should come out first.



*No Bete Noire this week; didn’t show up at the shop. Maybe that’s ok, since literally half of the books I wound up purchasing today (two out of four) weren’t on Diamond’s list for the week; I guess my shop is just one of those lucky East Coast ducks that gets the stuff earlier. Better one half’s shipment gets dubbed ‘early’ than the other’s half’s ‘late’.

*Among the unexpected books was Following Cerebus #4, the Will Eisner tribute issue. I like how producers Craig Miller and John Thorne pretty much admit in the inside back cover that the book has transformed from a Cerebus-centric magazine into ‘Dave Sim Quarterly’, going beyond the text to tackle broader topics like copyright law as applied to independent comics (though given the path of Sim’s career I don’t think it’s possible to separate any of his interests too much from Cerebus). So anyway, this issue we get a lengthy appreciation/reminisce by Sim (different from his essay in the recent Eisner issue of The Comics Journal), another reprinting of that Cerebus/Spirit jam strip (now with bonus pencil roughs), and a lot more. Next issue promises a discussion of the role of editorial oversight in graphic novel production, in which Sim will chat with Eisner, Frank Miller, Craig Thompson, Paul Pope, Chester Brown, Andy Runton, Joe Matt, and others. This little publication has turned out to be a lot more interesting than I expected…

*What’s out? Ice Haven!!! I know I just mentioned the book yesterday, but today I actually got to flip though the damned thing (kind of smaller in dimension than I‘d expected). Of the new material, a bunch of it is deployed at the beginning. Harry Naybors, the comics critic character, now has a little speech at the beginning that compliments his spiel at the end (and I still think his tense confrontation with the cuckold detective character is one of the best scenes in the book). There’s also a new epilogue, kind of like the added material Chris Ware slipped into the softcover version of Jimmy Corrigan in that it doesn’t really add to the plot but it tightens up some of the character work. I still prefer the original final image, with Naybors wondering if his creator/subject likes him at all. Still: it’s good.


The Punisher MAX #22

It was with mild interest that I noted the little sign my local shop had posted next to the other week’s The Punisher: The Cell, screaming “Prequel to The End!” Obviously, others picked up on the implications of the book (and it’s slightly unexpected to discover that enough customers still remember The Punisher: The End, technically a What If type thing; I think I’m not the only one who’s taking it as the ‘true’ end to Ennis’ run on the character, at least as far as the self-contained MAX run goes). I still don’t see why it wasn’t just held over as a two-issue closing arc (which it seems to be structured as, all things considered) instead of being released as a one-shot in the middle of this story, but whatever.

Maybe it’s not a big deal. This particular storyline is feeling like a farewell arc too, though I have no evidence that the book’s actually ending. Frank’s coming apart at the seams, surviving villains from various past stories are hooking up in interesting ways, and there’s an excellent fantasy scene near the beginning of this issue that sorta-kinda plays off of the very last panels of The End (foreshadowing with an eye toward the trade?). Also, there’s a funny bit with the Mayor of NYC trying to sort the whole mess out with his advisors (“This is one of those times when I don’t give a fuck what people put in their memoirs, Peter”). Maybe these scenes, all packed near the beginning, are a little too effective; the rest of the issue seems flaccid in comparison, though there’s some serious plot movement. Well, there’s also the fact that Nicky’s amended master scheme doesn’t make a damned lick of sense (and what was his original plan anyway?), but it’s mostly just an excuse to get all the players in one place anyway.

This is starting to remind of the later issues of Alan Moore’s run on Tom Strong, where the book had built up enough of a cast and continuity that it could start playing off of its own earlier stories, essentially tailoring its latter installments to established readers, and casting off its prior instant accessibility. I think that’s what’s happening here. Maybe House of M is going to whisk Frank back into the good old Marvel U. I wonder.

Frank Miller’s Robocop #8 (of 9)

And here’s the other book that showed up early.

Let’s pause and appreciate the irony of that sentence.


The darkest, dustiest corner of my comics-lovin’ soul is kind of upset that my shop was all sold out of the Frank Miller cover, so I had to settle for the Juan Jose Ryp wraparound variant, totally messing up the unity of my collection. There’s three additional covers out there too. None could assuage my wounded spirit. Just say No to variants, comics publishers. It’s bad for everyone.

There’s a colorist change this issue, with Austin McKinley taking over from the recently-departed Nimbus Studios (Greg Waller of Nimbus remains colorist for the cover, which I presume has been completed for a while considering that I saw it in the solicitations back in February of 2004). It’s not a seamless transition; McKinley’s hues are a little muddier and flatter. Nimbus gave everything a chromium sheen, with everything from metal to flesh to fire glistening with computer enhancement. It was ultra-rich and glossy work, and did a lot toward establishing a ‘house’ look for Avatar’s output, but I think a slightly dirtier style works with Ryp’s ‘oh heck, why not draw every pebble of gravel flung into the air by that car crash?’ aesthetic just a little better.

I’m also not sure if Ryp is calming himself down a bit visually, or if the less flashy colors have managed to remove some heretofore unappreciated layer of distraction from the visual mix (maybe all that sheen and all those lines don‘t mix so well after all). This issue seems a bit lighter, easier to follow. There’s some genuinely well-mounted movement in this issue (not Ryp’s strongest area), with slashing panels and characters lunging toward the reader with genuine drive. The bit with Lewis chewing bubble gum then jumping out of hiding with Murphy belies a smart sense of complimentary layouts on consecutive pages, and I suddenly have a new fondness for the slightly exaggerated expressiveness of the characters’ faces. Maybe Steven Grant’s sequential adaptation was laying this all out in detail, saving the big beats for the climax? Maybe Ryp is developing a stronger sense of when to hold back on the insane linework? Or maybe some grittier coloring really does make all the difference for an artist like Ryp; everything pops a little better with a superior compliment.

As for the plot, Murphy and one of the ED units spring into action to save Detroit’s Finest from the evil rented police of Rehabilitation Concepts, whose purpose in this convoluted scheme is suddenly becoming clearer. Meanwhile, Robocop 2 is airlifted into action, controlled by the wicked Margaret Love: censor, pop psychiatrist, hypocritical anti-aggression liberal, and now power-crazed automaton of destruction. At this point, very little of the Robocop 2 movie is recognizable, though you can still see flashes of Miller’s stuff subsumed into the final product. The near-undivided focus here is on shooting and explosions, and that’s done pretty nicely. That’s all this series is: ultra-violence and dabs of sledgehammer satire, over and over and over, building up to what I guess is a 'crescendo' in this particular issue, though such language might be giving too much credit to the pacing, which is essentially forward-forward-forward. It just feels like a climax because some of the bigger villains are being shot, and we know it’s the penultimate issue.

Or maybe the art just looks better.

The book’s a pleasure, but always a guilty one.