We now have news that Al Pacino met with Kevin Feige at some point presumably to discuss a role in an upcoming Marvel movie, which pretty much requires us to speculate on what role they were talking about. It can’t be Ulysses Klaw (since he’s rumored to show up in AOU) ruling out Black Panther and it won’t be a TV show, because he’d be meeting with Jeph Loeb. So who’s it going to be? A lot of speculation has been focused on Dr. Strange villains (Baron Mordo is a terrible suggestion I heard, but Mephisto and/or Nightmare make slightly more sense), although Al Pacino and Bandicoot Cabbagepatch gnawing on the same piece of scenery like two dogs is not my idea of a good 2 hours. No, I think smart money says Pacino’s the main villain of Thor: Ragnarok. That’s right: Fenrir. DEAL WITH IT.
THIS WEEK IN COMICS: Robert Moses gets sainted, Roy Harper gets faded, Odin gets hammered, Roderick Kingsley gets flipped, Charles Rooks gets freaked out and the Winter Soldier gets called out. But first, Tina Belcher gets perved up.
Bob’s Burgers #5 (Dynamite Entertainment)
It shouldn’t come as any surprise to regular readers that I love Bob’s Burgers as a comic and as a TV show. It’s hilarious, and it’s always the little details – the burger names, or the name of the store next to Bob’s – that make the show. So yeah, Bob’s Burgers #5, created by many of the same people who make the show, is great. But I have an ulterior motive in bringing this up.
Have you seen the new book Humble Bundle? I bought the Oni bundle and the sci-fi bundle earlier this year and I’m still not done reading it, and this is like someone backing a car full of longboxes into my bedroom window and pouring them on top of my to-read pile. If you pay $15, you actually receive infinity comics. Even if you don’t like all of them (and statistically speaking, you probably won’t. That’s okay), there’s no way you can’t find $100 worth of value for that level of contribution, and it’s for charity so GO BUY IT ALL NOW.
Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City (Nobrow Press)
My thought process while I was reading this mirrored the story itself.
Chapter 1: Hope
The Power Broker is one of my favorite nonfiction books of all time. It’s an absolute brick of a book, roughly the size of a small foot stool, and even though it’s enormous, it’s the same font size as a high school paper with a strict page limit from a point grubber. I read it cover to cover (Infinite Jest-sized endnotes and all) in the space of about 2 weeks several years back. So I may have overhyped Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez’s biographical comic in my own head. A touch.
Chapter 2: Aw crap, this is gonna be a whitewash, isn’t it?
The Law of Congestion – “induced demand” in economics – says there are some things where increased supply will always lead to increased demand, traffic being one of them – has been so culturally internalized that it showed up in the first issue of the Flash reboot. You would never guess that from this biography, which waves this law off without even the slightest consideration. When you’re more likely to admit that Batman can do bad than the guy who created layers and layers of public authorities, unaccountable shadow governments that eventually nearly bankrupted the city of New York, I’m concerned that there’s maybe an agenda that I won’t agree with here.
Chapter 3: That’s it?
Robert Moses was a racist. The only place where this is in dispute is in the pages of this comic, who rather than using evidence or logic to try and dismiss it, resorts to “Was it racism? Eenh, probably, but the people he REALLY hated were the poor.” You have to do better than “He didn’t not-heat public pools to keep black people out as some may claim. On to the next topic!” if you’re going to write a graphic novel canonizing someone who was so clearly, unapologetically a bastard.
Chapter 4: It’s still a wonderful comic.
Lost in me getting the vapors about a junk-measuring contest between septuagenarian biographers is any discussion of the art, which is perfectly logical. A discussion of the art would ruin my perfectly good grump, because the art is absolutely magnificent. For all of the (justified) complaints about Moses, he did build some miraculous public works, which are illustrated carefully and lovingly here. The Verazano, the Whitestone, and the Throgs Neck bridges are all incredible additions to the public works pantheon in New York, and for all its faults, if you hit the BQE at just the right time, there’s a stretch in Red Hook that has the most breathtaking view of the downtown Manhattan skyline and waterfront. It’s one of those spots in the city that makes you realize just how improbable this place really is, that turns you from the jaded, “gawk to the right of the sidewalk you goddamn tourists” New Yorker back into the gawking goddamn tourist you were when you first got here. And the art reflects all of that. I need to leave something to write about for next week, because Balez’s work is good enough, rendered with enough care and love and attention to detail that this comic, despite it’s gaping flaws as a historical document, is one of the best of the year. So stay tuned until next week, folks, when I’ll tell you a little more about why I liked it. I’ll talk a little about the art, and hopefully with another week to plan I can come up with a sick burn to end with, like “For a writer who hints at a leftist anti-capitalism throughout the book, Christin shows a remarkably bourgeois disdain for the subjects of Moses’ ire.” OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH :snaps a z at Christin, walks away:.
Red Hood & the Outlaws #37 (DC Comics)
This issue explores the New 52 backstory between Ollie and Roy, and considering all of DC’s comics have been trying to hew a little closer to their othermedia counterparts, that’s a good thing. Roy and Ollie have become surprisingly fun to watch on the show.
If I somehow invented a time machine that let me communicate with my past self in a non-bullshit way, I would under no circumstances go back and say “Hey, self. In X years time, you’re going to watch a Green Arrow show on the CW and it’s going to be awesome.” I would not do that because I assume past me would pull future me through the time portal and beat future me to within an inch of my life for lying and because I still will haven’t have figuring out time paradoxes.
Axis: Hobgoblin #3 (Marvel Comics)
Kevin Shinick and Javier Rodriguez have been getting a lot of really good reviews out of their Axis tie in. Roderick Kingsley gets flipped to a good guy and turns himself into a self help guru and franchiser of superhero teams.
It’s not incredibly surprising that this is good: most of Marvel’s last few big crossovers have been outshined by one or two out-of-the-way tie ins, and Rodriguez’s art, which exists somewhere in the Paolo Rivera/Steve Lieber quadrant of comic artists, is terrific when paired with a writer who can handle humor. Shinick, on staff at Robot Chicken, can definitely handle that. I only wish that this book could be extended into like, Superior Friends of Spider-Man though.
Wytches #3 (Image Comics)
The further along this story moves, the more comfortable I feel calling it “like ‘Salem’s Lot with witches.” The same way that King’s vampire story was more about how evil could spread through Smallville, Maine, Snyder is writing a story about how little it takes for us to show our evil side. If you read issue 3 and you read our interview with Snyder, I think you can figure out some informed speculation as to the direction the story is going to move in the next couple of issues.
Jock and Matt Hollingsworth are doing the work of their careers here. The past few years have seen some real leaps in what colorists bring to books, and no one book embodies that better than Wytches. The spatters are designed to follow the story: the more disoriented the characters feel, the crazier the spatters get, making it a little harder to read and follow. That kind of interactive experience is incredibly rare in a comic, and for it to be driven by the colorist is the innovation I was talking about on Twitter the other day.
Wytches isn’t just a comic you should have on your to read list; it’s one of the comics that should be dragging you to the shop every month. And like I said, you can see where Snyder and team are going with the story if you stare really hard at the issue and the interview. You just have to unfocus your eyes a little.
|Dark Horse Comics|
Dark Horse Presents 2014 #5 (Dark Horse Comics)
I’m coming around on anthology books. It might be because I’ve had a good run with them lately: going back to Aces Weekly for the column was fun, and I only just recently finished my con haul of Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures and Judge Dredd Case Files 1 which (don’t judge me) I didn’t realize was a series of 2 or 3 page shorts before I bought it.
So I’m past worrying about brevity issues, and I only care about quality when I’m looking for an anthology. One that has Declan Shalvey drawing a murder noir story and has this preview art that looks like it’s going to be an Odin/Attack on Titan crossover is more than enough to make me comfortable buying it.
You can pick up Dark Horse Presents #5 at your friendly local comic shop or online via the Dark Horse app.
ONE THAT GOT AWAY
Every week there are way too many comics for me to read and keep track of. So in every column, I’m going to take a look at a book that came out in the last few weeks, but that I only just had a chance to read.
This week, it’s Oni Press’ Ciudad, from the guys who gave us the paintball episode of Community (oh and btw also the best Marvel movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier GO AHEAD AND ARGUE) the Russo Brothers, along with Ande Parks scripting and Fernando Leon Gonzalez handling art.
This was an interesting piece of comic art. The story isn’t groundbreaking: it’s basically a grumpier, gorier, more violent Taken, which made a scene later in the book a little odd. But the art was, for the most part, very good. The inks were the standout: the stark contrast between shadow and light in every scene was amazing. It had an almost Sin Cityish feel to it, which heightened the violence and made a story about a presumably very brightly lit South American city full of things exploding and murders seem moody and noirish. There was an occasional awkward figure in there, but the art was the highlight of the reading experience for me. It did make me want to update my Linkedin page, though.
That’s what I’m reading this week. What are you picking up?