Another week has gone by and I’ve knocked out another pile of comics, most of which came from my local library system. As you can see, we’ve got a mix of amazing indie artists, classic comic visionaries, crossovers and newer books. Hit the jump to see what I had to say on this batch! Continue reading Trade Post: Frank, Midnighter, Constantine, Spirit & Batman/TMNT
Every few weeks I find myself requesting any number of trades from the local library system. They come in in spurts and I get to them as I can. I can’t think of much in the way of connections between Harrow County Volume 1, First Wave and Black Widow: The Finely Woven Thread, but I enjoyed them all, so there’s that, I guess!
Harrow County is a witchy horror comic by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook from Dark Horse. This first book — officially titled Harrow County Volume 1: Countless Haints — compiles the first four issues of the series which follows Emmy, a young woman who comes to realize that her fellow country denizens might want to murder her for being the reincarnation of a witch they killed about 18 years ago.
Packed with characters I want to learn more about, a slowly unfolding mythology and some amazingly creepy art by Crook (whose style reminds me a bit of Jeff Lemire’s, but with a more comic strip shape if that makes sense) I’m definitely hooked and want to find out what else happens to Emmy, her dad and the unusual creatures she’s come into contact with. In a way, it reminds me of a smaller-in-scope Hellboy with a young woman protagonist which adds a new, interesting angle that I’m sold on. Time to see if the second volume is available at the library!
Back in my Wizard days, DC seemed to be snatching up random characters or rebooting old imprints and trying to incorporate them into the DCU with little success. They brought back Milestone and Tangent and also tried to bring the THUNDER Agents into the fold. I actually preferred what they did with First Wave, which mixed classic pulp-inspired characters like Doc Savage, The Spirit and Justice Inc. with non-powered DC folks like Batman and the Blackhawks into a new universe. Things kicked off with the Batman/Doc Savage Special by Brian Azzarello and Phil Noto and then moved into the six issue series called First Wave by Azzarello and Rags Morales.
I wasn’t very familiar with Doc or Spirit the first time I read these issues, but have read a few things since then. I think Azz does a great job of bringing in all these different characters and not only keeping them clear, but also giving them business that works for them. I had a little trouble keeping track of all the balls in the air towards the end, but I still enjoyed the pulp-y quality to the tale which was enhanced by Rags’ art which always excels at capturing facial expressions while also drafting solid action scenes. Reading this made me want to dig up the issues of the Doc Savage and Spirit series’ that launched out of this as well as the Batman/Spirit one-shot by Jeph Loeb, Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone which I remember being a lot of fun.
Finally, let’s wrap things up with Black Widow Volume 1: The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto. THis is the rare comic that I picked up just to check out the artwork. I like Edmondson and have interviewed him a number of times for Marvel.com and also dig Black Widow as a character, but you just don’t get enough Noto-drawn comics! I mostly see his stuff online and on covers, so getting to really dive into a book that plays to his strong suits — beautiful but dangerous women, great action — was a lot of fun and a treat for the eyes. I especially like how he outlines various elements in a spidery red that draws the eye from object to object.
Story-wise this book focuses on Black Widow’s desire to make amends for the bad things she did in her past by taking on various jobs around the world and using that money to support her victims’ families as well as a web of support around the world. The one-and-dones are a nice change of pace, but I admit to having trouble reconciling an international killer who is also a member in good standing with the Avengers. Then again, that’s probably just be getting too much in my own shared universe-loving head!
I’m not sure what it is about this pulpy noir pocket universe that DC’s got brewing with First Wave, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes out of it. It started with the Brian Azzarello-written, Phil Noto-drawn Batman/Doc Savage Special 1-shot which was both beautiful and a ton of fun to read. I’m no fan of Doc Savage, not because I dislike the character, but because I haven’t been exposed to him. I tried reading Tom Strong who takes more than a few plays from the Savage playbook and never got into it, but I did really like the pulpy stories in the Lobster Johnson mini series from Dark Horse and the Orson Randall stories in Immortal Iron Fist which were also inspired Savage. The aspects of those two stories that I really dug were the heroes’ network of helpers and of course, that’s something Savage brought to the table and show up in the special.
See, the idea is to take badass, powerless characters like Batman, Doc, Black Canary, The Spirit, the Blackhawks, Justice Inc. and Rima The Jungle Girl and tossing them up against some crazy villains while keeping the books and characters securely rooted in the pulp/noir/crime playground. And don’t think of this as your regular Batman, this is some pure Golden Age Batman goodness with him packing heat and firing on anyone who messes with him. If the list of characters above left you scratching your head, check out this link which has scans of character sketches and descriptions from Batman/Doc Savage. After the 1-shot kicks things off, we’ll be getting into the First Wave miniseries in March which will be written by Azz and drawn by Rags Morales who hasn’t done much of interest or real quality lately, but the pages they’ve been posting over on DC’s The Source have looked pretty fantastic, just check out this page starring a giant robot. Then in March the empire expands with two ongoings: Doc Savage written by Paul Malmont with Howard Porter art and The Spirit by Jason Starr and Scott Hampton with Justice Inc. backup stories. Now, I don’t know anything about these writers other than the fact that they’re crime novelists, but I’m hoping they’re good at this whole comics thing. I’m sure some people don’t want another universe to keep track of, but at least this way it’ll be easy to ignore them if you don’t like the books or just don’t care. Frankly, I prefer this course of action to shoehorning outside characters into the established comic universe like DC did with the Red Circle and Milestone characters. I’m looking forward to seeing Azzarello doing what he’s really good at, telling complex, fast paced and absorbing stories with badass characters. 100 Bullets is one of my favorite comics of all time, but his other superhero stuff hasn’t been so great (except Doctor 13, which is amazing), so I’m hoping he’ll be able to play to his real strong suit with First Wave. After that? Who knows? I don’t know much about the characters, but something about this project has me really really intrigued and excited for some hopefully great comics.
You guys know I love TV, so I figured I’d write about it in one big post (unless something really knocks my socks off). So here’s a quick rundown of what I watched this week on the idiot box.
Unfortunately both Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother were re-runs last week. Still had fun watching these episodes again, though.
Castle is really growing on me. It’s the one procedural in our weekly line-up, but damnitall of Nathan Fillion isn’t super-charming. His partner is even growing on me (she kind of scared me the first few episodes). What started out as a show we’d watch because nothing else is on has turned into a new weekly favorite.
I’m really glad Fringe is back. I actually missed it while it was on hiatus, plus, it’s really the only thing we watch on Tuesdays. This episode was interesting enough on its own, but also offered a deeper level of mystery and connection that will hopefully explode with craziness as the first season wraps.
I caught about 20 minutes of The Unusuals. I really liked what I saw, but wanted to watch Josie and the Pussycats without falling asleep, so it lost out. I’m still rooting for the show’s success.
As all the Losties know, there wasn’t a new episode last week, but a clip show. This one looked at the Oceanic 6 and showed all the flashforwards and flashbacks in chronological order. It wasn’t necessary to watch, but it reminded me of a few things I had forgotten. I’m still not clear on the time frame of Locke visiting Jack, Locke getting killed, Jack flying around with a scruffy beard and Jack running into Ben at Locke’s showing. It seems like there’s too much time there for all these events to happen in a realistic fashion. I’m not saying they don’t have everything figured out, it’s just nagging at me a bit. I’m sure there’s an explanation.
The Duel 2 continues to offer up a level of conspiracy that is always hilarious. I’d really love someone who has studied game theory to either analyze the show or, better yet, make it onto the show. I myself did not take the game theory class my college offered (too much math and science for this English major), but it sounded fascinating when friends would talk about it. Without getting into spoilers, the guy duel was pretty intense. Unfortunately, the guy we were rooting for didn’t win, and thus the status quo continues.
I don’t talk about My Name Is Earl a lot, but it’s a consistently good show that I enjoy every week. I’m impressed that they’ve been able to keep such a solid show going with what seemed like an easily exhausted premise, but I’m always happy to see Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly (anyone else remember Poison Ivy 3?), Nadine Velazquez (Catalina) and Eddie Steeples (Crabman)every week.
Last week’s Parks and Recreation was the best episode yet. But that’s not really saying much. To be completely honest, we’re only still watching this show because it’s between two other shows we like and I’m pretty sure nothing else is on. I wish they would keep the cast, scrap this concept and just start over because watching Poehler act like a Michael Scott clone for 22 minutes is just painful.
We finally get a resolution to the doomed-from-the-start Michael Scott Paper Company and it was a lot more fist pumping than I thought it would be. That being said, I was totally worried that Michael would screw things up in the meeting.
30 Rock is awesome. As much as I love the plots and larger jokes, it’s really the smaller jokes that get me. Like when Kenneth is passing out and says something like “My name is Dick Whitman.” Awesome. Or a few weeks back after seeing the world through Kenneth’s eyes and then seeing the real Liz walk-running like a Muppet. I am a bit worried that Tracey and Jenna are turning into cartoon characters instead of actual real characters. Oh, I’m also sad to see Salma Hayek leaving the show, both because she was really funny and hot.
I totally meant to watch all of Harper’s Island last week. After all, it’s essentially a show about a slasher killing wedding guests off one by one on an island. I was all into last week’s episode (the second of the season I believe), but I fell asleep in the last 10 minutes and completely missed the ending. Luckily, this week, I didn’t fall asleep. I’m not sure yet how I feel about Harper’s Island. I’ve given up watching my favorite Girl Next Door Bridget on her new bikini-filled show Bridget’s Sexiest Beaches to check it out. I did have a hard time keeping track of the characters (lots have the same hair color and look too similar). But I think I’ll stick with it for now.
After sloshing through the first 20 minutes of The Spirit (more on that later), we gave up and watched some Cartoon Network. Saw a Batman: Brave and the Bold episode that focused on the Blue Beetle legacy (even showing Dan Garret, the Golden Age BB!). As always, it was a rad episode. Then I checked out an episode of the Clone Wars CGI show that was kinda cool and made me want to check the show out on DVD. After that The Soup was awesome.
Later that Night…
We watched the end of the Red Sox/Yankees game. Being from New England, Em is, of course, a Red Sox fan and hates the Yankees. Being something of a Tiger’s fan and initially not being all that happy about moving to New York, I hated most NY sports teams (and still do, really). So, even though I don’t particularly like the Sox, I like watching the Yankees lose. And lose they did. In overtime. This reminded me of college when Em would come over and we’d watch from inning 8 or 9 on of the Sox World Series. Now, that’s baseball.
While hanging out in Nyack we kept an eye on the game. Didn’t see the end, but the Sox took it.
Em and I have become pretty big fans of the Amazing Race. We stumbled upon it when The Simpsons was in reruns last season, but this is the first season we’ve watching, mostly, from beginning to the soon-to-be end. Better than every reality show game except Real World/Road Rules.
Em fell asleep watching the game, but I was in it till the end. A dude freaking stole home! I’ve never seen that before. It was awesome. See for yourself:
The Yankees play the Tigers next, so hopefully I can see them get beat up on Detroit style (but without guns and knives).