Thursday, March 24, 2011


So we been doin’ a lotta clearin’ out of the storehouses here on the Dork Forty lately. We had funnybooks backed up clear to Jesus in there, and even after a week and a half of clearin‘, we keep findin’ more. Just this mornin' we ran across a whole pile of stuff we ain't even read yet! So it's time to put this thing into high gear. We gotta review more comics faster, and there's only one way we know of to do somethin' like that: Quickies! So strap yourselves in, folks. Things might get a little crazy before we're done...

Deadpool MAX #4-6
by David Lapham and Kyle Baker

If you’d told me a year ago that one day soon I’d be reading a Deadpool comic that I liked more and more with each passing issue, I’d have said you were a damn dirty liar. But here we are. Consistently funny and profoundly wrong, this book is a genuine jewel in Marvel’s publishing crown. And it’s not just transgressive slapstick, either; Dave Lapham is actually, against all sense, building a story here. The secrets of Deadpool’s past actually tell a story, as do the secrets of Hydra Bob, who as it turns out may actually be working for Hydra after all.

I think I read recently that Marvel's decided that this book is a limited series, and I'm kinda glad. I don’t think anyone could successfully follow Lapham and Baker’s lead on this book, and I frankly don’t wanna see anyone try.

Grade: A

Jennifer Blood
by Garth Ennis and Adriano Batista

Somehow, I missed the fact that Jennifer Blood was a comedy. I mean, I should have twigged to it as soon as I opened the cover. The “War Journal” title floating so seriously over the butterfly-encrusted diary, the juxtaposition of prosaic suburban motherhood with vigilante justice, the freaking wig… But somehow, against all sense… no. So there I was, sitting there and trying to read this thing like it was the Punisher with boobs.

I… am an idiot. It’s a funny book (hey, literally this time!), and on the second read, after my sense of humor finally activated itself properly, I laughed my ass off. Whether it’ll be the sort of Ennis book that I get tired of after a few issues remains to be seen. I suspect it will be, but until then… I’ll enjoy the ride.

Grade: B+

Next Men #4
by John Byrne

This issue, Byrne begins to fill in the gaps of his disjointed narrative, at least for Jack (now John) and Bethany. Not everything is clear yet, of course. And thank god.

I think, when and if the sideways storytelling ends and we get into a more straightforward narrative, I’ll very swiftly lose interest. For now, though, this issue’s lack of laughable historical stereotypes makes it far better than the last couple of issues have been. And so my journey back into the world of John Byrne continues…

Grade: B

Who is Jake Ellis? #2 (of 5)
by Nathan Edmondson and Tonci Zonjic

More stylish and well-cartooned stuff this issue. I’ve seen this book criticized for being somebody’s movie pitch done in comics form, and maybe, but… Eh. So what if it is? Tonci Zonjic has a really classic art style, with a much better funnybook pedigree than most of the guys working in mainstream comics these days. So fuck that action! This book is a cool and well-designed action-thriller with a single neat super-natural twist. I’ll take all of that I can get, thanks.

Grade: B+

Iron Man 2.0 #1&2
by Nick Spencer, Barry Kitson, Kano, and Carmine Di Giandomenico

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I really want to like Nick Spencer’s stuff. He has a sort of glib, smart-ass tone that I like, and he’s one of the few writers in comics today who seem to have a good grasp of the 21st Century. He writes technology like it’s second-nature to do so, and he has a knack for characters that capture the imminently practical and impatient “can-do” attitude of the currently rising generation. Their attitudes are reflected in the way he writes, as well: his work isn’t just fast-paced, it simply doesn’t have time for anybody who wants it to slow down. Sometimes it needs to, though, and that’s been my problem with much of it. While I like the smart-assed glibness of his writing, sometimes it feels like that’s all his characters have going for them. I need a bit more depth, and Spencer doesn’t always deliver it.

All of which brings me to Iron Man 2.0, Spencer’s new War Machine series for Marvel. Why’s it called “Iron Man 2.0” if the lead character’s still called War Machine? I dunno. Maybe because books called “War Machine” have a history of selling like condoms at a Pope convention, and books called “Iron Man” do pretty well? And to be fair, Spencer is avoiding calling him War Machine at every turn. Mostly, he’s being referred to as “James” or “Jim” or “Rhodey” (variations on his real name of Jim Rhodes, for the dork-impaired among you), and anytime they talk about the armor it’s referred to as an Iron Man suit. Which I suppose takes the War Machine curse off, but if they’re not careful could have the detrimental side effect of making the character just “the other Iron Man.” Or “the black Iron Man.” But what the hell, right? It works pretty damn well for Green Lantern, so why not go for it?

Spencer’s doing a better job with character here than I’ve seen in some of his other work, though how much of that is Spencer and how much of that is the established character history of Jim Rhodes, I couldn’t tell you. In part, that’s because I haven’t read any Rhodey stories since Denny O’Neil first put him in the Iron Man armor back in the 80s (yes, I am old), and don‘t really remember those stories too well anymore to begin with (again: OLD! Thanks for reminding me!).

But either way, Iron Man 2.0 is some pretty ultra-mega OK funnybooks. The plot is interesting if not intriguing, the artwork is nice if not inspiring, and… Actually, there is no and. That’s it. Just some perfectly solid, mid-range super hero funnybooks. And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

Grade: B

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