In which I wreck all the good bits.

*Sure, Seven Soldiers itself probably won’t be ending until sometime around the winter solstice from the looks of things, but that can’t stop the trivia train from rumbling forward! Remember back when Marc Singer noted that a certain bit of Klarion the Witch Boy seemed inspired by the Shamen’s tune Ebeneezer Goode (dubbed by Marc “possibly the most precious single of all time”)? Well guess which music video Tim O’Neil just posted? Remember: there are no drug references in this song! Any thoughts to that effect are purely the product of your deviant brains!

*Suprises Dept: Two of them today.

First, it appears that a goodly number of comics stores have gotten in their copies of the new Renée French graphic novel The Ticking, so I think I’ll toss up a link to my pre-release review from a while back. This book is very good stuff, and I’ll add that the package design is quite lovely too - well worth buying.

Secondly, you might recall my mentioning the other day that Ron Regé Jr. has two new books coming up: a Drawn and Quarterly release titled The Awake Field, and a new installment of his ongoing series Yeast Hoist, #12, from Buenaventura Press. Well just imagine my expression as I picked up a copy of the former, released to shops just today, only to find out that it’s actually… Yeast Hoist #13! Such information is listed inside the book, on the spine, and on D&Q’s included informational ribbon attached to the back cover, though I didn't catch it at all in the promotional material I viewed. Not that it matters a whit - Yeast Hoist is simply Regé’s regular space to do what he wants, and has taken a whole lot of forms over the years, from its early minicomic incarnations to #9’s presence as a 4-page color contribution to the SPX 2001 anthology (I believe it existed as a minicomic before that as well) to #11’s being a supple standalone book published by Highwater. Having two different issues arrive in different formats from different publishers, only one directly utilizing the title ‘Yeast Hoist,’ seems about right. For the record, #12 should be available through the Buenaventura store soon.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #4

Well, this book has officially changed its name in the legal indicia, so that’s what I’ll now call it. Despite the title augmentation, there remains a certain familiarity about this series, four issues in. There’s random laughs, lots of fast violence, bits of self-effacement (whether targeted at the genre itself or writer Warren Ellis), and then the issue ends. It almost doesn’t matter if we’re on an issue that begins or ends one of the book’s two-part sagas - even among cotton candy comics, this is extremely light. As usual, this particular issue is a mixed bag. Being a surface-oriented book, I guess I’ll skip some stones across said surface, via the magic of lists. I do like lists.


- The issue opens with a nicely rueful analysis of its own agenda: “Selling you a huge crazy mutant cop menacing an attractive young woman and calling it Fun.” Cynical, but I laughed.

- The image of a giant anime robot looming over the city whilst shouting out clichés. Between this and the giant monster attack last storyline, I get the feeling that Ellis is eager to get some more Japanese pop culture influence out of his system and onto the page.

- One great sight gag: Boom Boom stealing the telescope to take a peek. You’ll know it when you see it.

- Actual character humor! Thus far, the various members of the team have been sort of difficult to tell apart in terms of dialogue, save for Machine Man. But this time Ellis makes some effort at milking mirth out of the differences among the characters, particularly in how they all act before the badge of authority. It’s successful.


- I am getting to like the running gag in the front-of-issue Primer regarding how the book’s new extended title makes little sense given the book’s premise.

- And the excuse in the letters column as to why there even is an extended title got me snickering.


- “Tick tick tick. Boom.” Bad catchphrase! Bad.

- The whole three page flashback with the kindly aliens fell entirely flat, since it was so utterly predictable. At this point it’s obvious that anything smacking of genre camp or earnestness is going to get steamrolled over, and such inevitability kind of takes the fun out of the experience. It might be viewed as a logical, comedy-centric extension of writer Ellis’ general discomfort around superhero tropes that haven’t been filtered through his particular sensibility.

- You also might as well count on cute critters getting killed too, whenever they appear.


- Penciler Stuart Immonen and inker Wade von Grawbadger manage some fleet movement in the action sequences, and never sacrifice expressive character art in the process. My favorite page in the book was the one where Monica gets clocked by the manhole cover, and a simplified Boom Boom (all dot eyes and circle mouth) tries to wake her up. Lovely.

- However, the many explosions of this issue kind of trip over the line of monotony. I prefer seeing the characters move about and engage in more visually diverse antics - there’s two bits in here where characters simply stand around and fire things at villains, causing them to ignite, which is one too many for as quick-reading an issue as this.

- On the other hand, the whole sequence beginning with the Captain flying into the gun and ending with the manholes flying manages to marry the exploding to a diversified set of images - it’s a lot more effective, I think, while retaining that magic blowing-things-up appeal.

And that’s that, you know?

Well, I’ll also note that I’m beginning to come around to Ian Brill’s perspective in sensing a certain visual kinship here with the now-cancelled Joe Casey book The Intimates - something about the flippant flashback this issue suddenly connected with the constant deployment of title banners throughout the story to trigger a sense of nostalgia that I didn’t get before. The visual stylization is not nearly as mannered here as it was in the Casey book, and it doesn’t really provide anything save for a few more jokes and an added dollop of surface pleasure - but that mostly fits the intent of Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E., looking pretty and not sticking around long enough for its welcome to be worn out too thoroughly. It just occurs to me now that Ellis may have succeeded best here in beating back the tide of stretched-out storytelling in comics: he’s written a series that’s almost certainly best taken in very small doses.