Columns, Comics

New Comic Book Day: I’M MAD.

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Like, 3 issues near.

DC Comics

What a horrible, whirling tornado of bullshit. CBR released DC’s December solicits this week, and with them, the news that JLU, Doomed, both digital-first books, Gotham By Midnight, Lobo, and GODDAMN OMEGA MEN are cancelled, most of them after that magic number of 7 issues. Oh, and also, Genevieve Valentine is being replaced on Catwoman by Frank “Of Course I’m Available, Dan” Tieri. I’m sure he’s a decent dude, not some kind of constantly subtweeted serial harasser, but Fill-In Frank’s most memorable story is when he killed Maggot, ffs. He’s not a guy you put on a book when you have a long term plan for it. He’s the guy you put on a book when you’re announcing a new line and you need one last book to even out your releases across all 4 weeks :cough:

What really bothers me is the rationale that’s being thrown around for this (and not denied anywhere) – DC’s move out west cost the company a ton of money, and they can’t afford to float anything too experimental. Well, that’s stupid for 2 reasons: one, because when everyone was constantly crossing over and drawing in the same shitty, muddy style, you were still hemorrhaging readers; and two, you don’t get to brag about how expensive it was to move your comics vault and then cry poverty when you cancel your best comics.

This week in comics, I’m already pissed off, so let’s just keep that going.

Double Take: Genesis Super Pack (Double Take Comics)

Double Take, the comic arm of Take Two Interactive, video game publishing house behind AAA series like Bioshock, Grand Theft Auto, and the Sid Meier games, puts their first books out this week, and let’s start with the good, shall we? The packaging of this super pack, which collects the first issues of the 10 series they anticipate continuing to put out, looks terrific. It made me feel like a kid again, ripping the plastic wrap off of a brick of floppies. Also, the price point! It’s nice to see $2.50 on a cover again, even if this ends up being a first issue gimmick. Unfortunately, $2.50 is about thirty bucks an issue more than I would pay for these books.

Instead of publishing comics based on the huge, wonderful worlds of some of their more popular video games, Take Two decided to jump on the public domain rights to Night of the Living Dead (ugh) and crowdfund (DOUBLE UGH) an attempt at building a shared universe based on that 50 yea- old movie. I know you can’t see me as I write this, but I can assure you that I just screamed so loud I blew a hole in the side of my apartment building, and I’m now floating down the street, hair all pointy and gold, shouting “SCREW EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS PROJECT.”

I might be more charitable if the end product were better, but having read through them, I found an overwhelming sense of pointlessness to the entire line. Was there any clamor to find out what happened to the blonde woman in Night of the Living Dead? Do we need whole issues retconning deaths from the original movie? Who thought that neutering the zombies by just making them “hungry” (and thus sated by gnawing on the outside of a box of cereal at a supermarket) was a keen twist on the zombie concept?

And they’re packed with so many minor anachronisms (I know radar guns have been in use since the ‘60s, but I highly doubt some western-PA nobody sheriff had one in 1966), shoddy workmanship (the lettering is universally terrible – word balloons too big, everything in awful mixed-case Arial) and lazy storytelling (Spring is just Jaws with zombies, except it’s late April in a midwestern river, when, 72 degrees or not, LITERALLY NO ONE IS SWIMMING. Gidget’s Beach Blanket Bash sure as shit doesn’t spontaneously break out on the banks of the Allegheny when people have to dive into Appalachian snowmelt). Two things besides the lettering stand out as particularly bad: the covers, which at best follow the trend of modern comics covers by having nothing to do with what’s inside, and at worst have nothing to do with what’s inside and also have a ladycop in hot pants firing America bullets from next to her Harley; and Medic, 32 pages of pointless rambling over a panel by panel breakdown of an open something surgery where at one point it takes the doctor quite literally 10 minutes (they show the clock behind the doc’s head) to finish a 10 word sentence. If you find yourself NEEDING one of these books, get Home, a comic that made absolutely no sense as part of the larger narrative, but did have one foul-mouthed Stewie Griffin-style toddler who was so funny I thought it was a printing error. But really, you can do better.

You can pick up the Double Take: Genesis super pack online via Comixology. Or you can get each book individually at your friendly local comic shop.

Captain America: White #1 (Marvel Comics)

This title isn’t the groaner that Dark Knight III: Godwin’s Law is, but still, what with the in-canon history of the Super Soldier program and the prominent anti-establishment anti-authority thread running through global society at the moment, maybe picking another color or combination of colors might have been a good idea? I mean, even when this book was first announced way back when the Civil Rights Act passed (Note: 2008 was not the dawn of the civil rights movement in America – Cooler, 8 Hours Later Jim), Captain America: White would always be read by my head voice in a cartoonish Southern drawl with the H prominently pronounced. “Whhhhaaaaaaaaite,” like Leo DiCaprio in Django, but more obnoxious.

Anyway, I’m probably one of like, 8 people still alive on this planet who thinks The Long Halloween was complete and utter trash – I’ll try not to spoil it for people who still haven’t read a comic that’s like, iInternet pre-industrial (There were factories in 1996 – Future Jim), but good mystery stories seed the big reveal. They don’t spend 11 issues yanking their hand away shouting “PSYCH!” and then show the killer to be someone completely off the radar. And ever since then, I’ve been hyper-wary of anything Loeb writes for comics first. Tim Sale’s art is, as usual, stunning and energetic and stylish, and it is, as usual, wasted on something that makes me physically hurt to read/watch. Tune in for Heroes Reborn (Please don’t – Future Jim) on your local NBC affiliate this fall.

You can pick up Captain America: Whhhhaaaaaaaaite #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

ivar9

Valiant Comics

Ivar, Timewalker #9 (Valiant Comics)

Thank god for Ivar. This book ended up being my blankie this week. Every three pages there was something just so clever or so absurd, all packed inside a time travel story that is telegraphing where it’s going so hard that Samuel Morse might as well be slapping you across the face with a telegraph machine, but you don’t care. Because the beauty of what Fred Van Lente and Pere Perez are doing isn’t making time travel sound reasonable or even make sense. The story, sure, probably has some larger shared-universe implications for the broader Valiant U, but the reason to read Ivar is to see how Neela and Ivar come out of everything.

Van Lente’s always been good at hiding emotion under a bunch of funny, and this series has been no different. In fact, this issue in particular is jammed with great jokes: I love many things, and good “Lorem Ipsum” jokes – the placeholder language for typesetting – are among those that I love the most. After, like, family and shit. And for those of you picking this issue up, I’m not going to spoil it, but you’re going to want to keep this Vine handy. It’s like Dark Side of the Moon and Wizard of Oz, only with a box of squeaking toy ducks and a comic book.

You can pick up Ivar, Timewalker #9 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Legendary Comics

Legendary Comics

The Infinite Adventures of Jonas Quantum #1 (Legendary Comics)

I think I like pretty much everything Marc Guggenheim’s ever written. I’m not really certain that I can pinpoint exactly why, but  I touched on part of it when I talked about Stringers – he structures his books like classic comics. That’s only part, though. Jonas Quantum crystallizes more of that reason for me – he writes really entertaining dialogue. Jonas Quantum is the smartest man in the world, capable of giving himself any range of super powers, with an intellect that’s more aggressive and advanced than some of the stuff Reed Richards has come up with in 60 years of Fantastic Four. In this, the opening issue of Guggenheim and Freddie Williams’ new series from Legendary, Quantum cures death and then deals with the fallout.

New 52 Captain Atom was dreadful except for Williams’ art. His layouts and his figures were exciting to look at, and it’s great to see him paired with a good writer who encourages him to be creative. The dimensional twists give Williams a chance to screw with his layouts and camera angles, and the effect is excellent. Guggenheim writes Quantum as the smartest man alive without ever making him annoying or condescending to the reader, and drops in a couple of humanizing tidbits that make him a great character. And here, check out a couple of preview pages from the inside of issue 1 if you don’t believe me.

Legendary Comics

Legendary Comics

You can pick up The Infinite Adventures of Jonas Quantum #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Image Comics

Image Comics

Tokyo Ghost #1 (Image Comics)

I forget where I heard it, but when it was first announced, I think a friend of mine called Tokyo Ghost “Rick Remender and Sean Murphy doing Akira,” and my eyes lit up because holy shit that sounds awesome, right? Well, having read the first issue, it’s nothing like that. I mean, it kind of is – Tokyo Ghost is hard cyberpunk, but it’s not really bleak and anti-authority the way Akira was, nor is it anywhere near as rubble-strewn. The reality of the first issue is a lot closer to Blade Runner/Neuromancer/Matrix cyberpunk, but holy shit is it still incredible.

Sean Murphy is one of the most talented artists out there, so good I almost read a Mark Millar book because of it. Every panel is so densely packed with information that I can’t believe the man actually meets deadlines. His work process must be drawing each page on a full wall, then photoshopping down a picture of the wall. This is where the Akira comparison is most apt – there were times when I was first reading it where I would just count the windows on the buildings. Otomo’s art is so meticulous and intricate on even the most trivial details, and while Murphy isn’t quite as jammed, I’d argue that he’s as good at directing the reader’s eye while still maintaining that big, operatic quality that Akira’s art had.

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but Uncanny X-Force is one of my favorite comics of all time, and arguably a top-5 X-story ever. Remender’s company-owned stuff has never come close to that level of quality otherwise, but his creator-owned comics have been at least as good. Deadly Class is punk as hell and just as personal, and both there and on Black Science, you get the real sense that he’s putting a lot of himself on the page. Tokyo Ghost is a balance – it’s still emotionally affecting (Debbie and Led, the two main characters, have a really sad relationship once you dig past the neon cyberpunk facade), but it feels a little less personal than the other two, and while Wes Craig and Mateo Scalera are incredible artists, neither is quite as good as Murphy.

You can pick up Tokyo Ghost #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Drawn & Quarterly

Drawn & Quarterly

Step Aside, Pops (Drawn & Quarterly)

Speaking as someone who has quite frequently disappeared down obscure reference holes, trying to make something funny out of a Robert Moses and Moses Magnum mash-up, I love everything about everything Kate Beaton has ever done.

Step Aside, Pops is the second collection of Beaton’s webcomic, Hark! A Vagrant, and I’ve yet to see a single strip that hasn’t made me laugh. Her humor is so smart and yet so unafraid to be loopy and banal or self-consciously cheesy (“I’ll Be Here All Night”). She finds obscure characters from history and lauds how awesome they are, and then two comics later will make fun of the entire foundation of Thor and the Enchantress’s opposition to each other, or poke holes in the absurdity of ancient mythology, or drop one of the best lines to shout in your headvoice (“GASLIGHTING SACK OF SHIT”) into a note-perfect Alice in Wonderland parody, all while matching the witty dialogue and razor sharp setups with facial expressions that look sketchy on their surface, but are in reality extremely refined and practiced. She’s an absolute treasure, and I hope that we get a lot more from her.

You can pick up Step Aside, Pops at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

No look back this week because I thought one of them had already come out but whatever! That’s what I’m reading this week. What are you picking up?

About Author

Jim Dandeneau is many things: motorcycle tech, plastics executive, accomplished Highlander. But above all else, he is a comic book fan, and has been reviewing comics and covering cons for TRV since 2014.