I try not to clog up these columns with anecdotes about friends, but apparently this month marks the nine year anniversary of my friends Ed and Jesse teaming up to make a “lost” Stan Lee/Jack Chick, Galactus-themed Chick Tract. Chick Tracts have been a neverending source of hilarity to me, and they nailed the tone of both the preachy little comic strips and a silver age Marvel book. And now that I’m reminiscing about something that’s almost 10 real world years old from the Internet, I feel ancient.
You know who else is ancient? Santa Claus, and in this week’s comics, reading his new book will definitely put some wear on your ticker.
Klaus #1 (BOOM! Studios)
I wasn’t being fair to Klaus yesterday when I called it a “gritty Santa reboot.” It’s not gritty or grim, not really. That…doesn’t make it good though.
Like I said, huge Grant Morrison fanboi over here. I loved how he integrated all the goofy shit from Batman’s past into one big, ongoing tapestry. He tries to do the same here – coal, naughty children, bowls full of jelly, etc. But for some reason the mix of it, having Santa and his direwolf stab a giant moose in the neck for food, then later that night making wooden alligators for Norwegian kids, is just a little much for me. It felt like he was twisting himself around to try and cleverly fit all of these aspects of the Santa myth into one fantasy story, and every part of that entire equation is hackneyed and not worth the effort. Dan Mora’s art is mostly fine, with a couple of experience-breaking mistakes: one, a panel sequence that goes from Santa knocking out a handful of the “naughty” kids’ guards to immediately being on his knees and held up by those same guards…I think; and the other being the aforementioned alligator toy that Santa sleep-made, because there are a ton of reptiles hanging around in the fjords.
If you like camp and pretty-looking art that doesn’t really challenge you to follow along too closely, or if you’re some kind of strange Santa completist, then I guess you should buy Klaus. If not, hang tight while I come up with some kind of tortured Christmas metaphor for how bad this comic was.
Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift #1 (Legendary Comics)
The latest comic prequel from the Pacific Rim universe shows us Duc and Kaori and their Jaeger, Tacit Ronin, as they fight from their Japan-based Shatterdome to protect Earth from the giant monsters coming through the rift.
I liked it a lot. Marcos Marz does a great job with the kaiju – they’re as visually interesting as the movie, but Marcelo Maiolo’s colors make them pop. Maiolo does really fantastic work here: especially on the main monster, the three different-colored columns of eyes look excellent. Joshua Hale Fialkov does well poking around the edges of established continuity and playing with Duc and Kaori’s relationship. Plus it’s got giant robots and giant monsters punching each other. You can’t really go wrong there.
James Bond #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
I figured I’d like this. When Warren Ellis is on his game, there are maybe two or three writers in all of comics who are better. I was not prepared to enjoy Dynamite’s reboot of Bond as much as I did, though.
It’s based on less on the movies and more on Fleming’s novel, which means we get a hard, mean, stabby James Bond. All of those things are right up Ellis’ alley. I’m not sure if it was the writing or a combination of the writing and Jason Masters’s character design for Bond, but I got a very “Sterling Archer-but-competent” vibe from the story – it’s a lot funnier than I expected it to be, but still a dry, British humor. Q in particular gets a lot of laugh lines. And Guy Major’s coloring is all kinds of cool – the little dots like it’s a newspaper strip are one of my favorite effects in all of comics. Even though it has nothing to do with the movies, this comic was great, and made me more excited for SPECTRE.
Justice League: Gods And Men – Superman (DC Comics)
Following the events of the Darkseid War, a bunch of Leaguers are taking the place of New Gods. Last week, Batman became Metron. This week, Flash turns into Black Racer, and Superman turns into Kalibak. That’s awesome.
I can’t really put my finger on why I think that’s awesome – Superman’s been turned into a mindless punching machine before. I think it’s largely my faith in Francis Manapul and Bong Dazo to make something gorgeous. Either way, I’m digging this, even if it’s obviously not going to last very long. I GOT IT! You can pick up Klaus #1 at your friendly local FIREPLACE because it’s a lump of COAL YOU GET IT?
Dammit, I can do better.
Monstress #1 (Image Comics)
Let me lead with this: Marjorie Liu is a badass. She spoke at the gender diversity panel I went to at NYCC, and she was so passionate and smart and take-no-bullshit that as soon as I got home, I started going through her run on X-23. And it was great! You should go read that. So I was very excited for her creator-owned team up with her X-23 collaborator, Sana Takeda.
This week’s first issue was a great start. It’s hard not to draw parallels between Maika, the main character in Monstress, and Laura. But I think those comparisons are worthwhile, and point to one of Liu’s strengths as a writer – she does an excellent job of portraying damaged characters without softening or victimizing them. Laura was dealing with an incredible amount of scar tissue from her years of being used as a weapon: Maika’s circumstances are different, but Liu uses her trauma to fill in color on a damaged, fragile world full of magic and war and adorable little squeaky voiced fox kids. Takeda’s art is excellent: angular, manga-esque figures, but a grimy, lived-in, steampunk world. This was a great, great first issue.
James Patterson’s Max Ride: Ultimate Flight #1 (Marvel Comics)
Confession time: except for a handful of people who live there, I miss none of the things I expected to miss about New York. I found decent pizza where I am now. We have (very, very different but still good) bagels. The beer is better, and nothing’s covered in garbage except for the city-collected compost heap, and that’s SUPPOSED to be covered in garbage.
The things I do miss are newscasters who cover the Halloween parade dressed as Jem (Yes I know they were probably doing a Hedwig and the Angry Inch group costume, let me have this), and the absolutely bugfuck insane TV commercials for James Patterson books. LOOK AT THESE THINGS. He’s Crazy Al from Crazy Al’s Liquors, dressed up like a lion because his prices are so low they’ll make you ROAR, only he’s actually a bestselling novelist. There is literally nothing he will refuse to do if it’ll sell his books – dress like a pirate, toss copies of his book back and forth pretending it’s on fire, dress up like a butler, dress up like a rich white dude. And now he’s licensing out his books to Marvel to make comics from them.
People. Go buy these comics. Just on the off chance that we’ll get Patterson to do a TV commercial where he A-Ha’s his way onto the page before the book slams shut on his face.
ONE THAT GOT AWAY
Every week there are way too many comics that have been naughty so they get a bag of salt instead of a subscription, KLAUS. :ahem: As I was saying, there are usually 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 Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T. by Bejamin Marra. It was a book I desperately wanted to like, but when all was said and done, it was just too flawed for me to wholeheartedly recommend.
First thing’s first: if you’re conservative or conservative-leaning, just skip this. Terror Assaulter (the character) is a parody of the John McClane types filtered through a post 9/11 America. He kills just about everyone in the comic except for the people he has sex with. He saves the world from terror, then (off panel, of course) the terrorists take over America and he has to kill them.
My problem with the book wasn’t its politics, or the gore, or the many, many detailed scenes of penetration. The biggest issue I found was that it was repetitive. This kind of joke is funny for 10 minutes at a clip, but to make an hour and a half reading experience out of it just turns it into a little bit of a slog. It’s making a lot of the same points as the “Blackwatch Plaid” episode of Harvey Birdman, but again, that just kind of illustrates my point – that took 15 minutes and was hilarious. This was hilarious for 15 minutes, but past that it just wasn’t very good.
That’s what I’m reading this week. Do me a favor, leave your best Santa-related burn for Klaus in the comments? I think I used all my good snark on First Take in my Walking Dead recap. What are you picking up?