Sunday, May 31, 2009

You've Been Warned Vol II Issue XIX

- Comic reviews by a fan, for the fans! -

**As always, mind the spoilers, fanboy.**

- OPENING REMARKS -

Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine
by Damon Lindelof & Leinil Francis Yu
Marvel Comics


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In the time it took this series to come completely into existence one could have earned a degree in medical billing from the University of Phoenix and been on the way to a successful, rewarding career. We all know who's to blame for this (Damon Lindelof, duh). It's hardly surprising. Any time some Hollywood dingleberry decides to go slumming in the business called comic, it's pretty much expected their book's gonna be fifty kinds of fucking late. This particular author was no exception to that rule. I took solace in remembering he managed to do a better job than Kevin Smith with his goddamn Spider-Man nonsense.

Amazingly, tardiness is this title's sole shortcoming (aside from its intention, if you're gonna get snotty about it). Wolverine vs. Hulk turned out to be a surprisingly amusing read. You're not going to be holding a lot of analytical debates about its social implications (or any other deep, scholarly gibberish). It's sole purpose was to pit two nigh-invulnerable characters against one another in an entertaining, action-packed way. It succeeded. In particular I enjoyed the author's attention and expansion of the two character's personalities and powers. A lot of creative stuff happened throughout, pushing the boundaries of each character's limits, like Wolverine's healing factor and Hulk's love of loose women. All the carnage and development was also amazingly enhanced by a healthy dose of humor throughout the title, which in itself was unexpected and quite welcome.

You're not gonna procure an honorary degree from reading this comic. But if you're in the market for a mindless, slap-happy slug fest, you could do a lot worse. A LOT worse.

Mouse Guard - Winter: 1152
by David Petersen

Archaia

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If I were a betting man, I would have bet on Archaia folding under the stress of Diamond Distribution's new and improved sales requirements before Petersen was able to finish this series. Obviously I'm a shitty gambler. But if I had, my loss would have been the world's gain, as the second Mouse Guard storyline reached its conclusion this week despite unexpected obstacles.

Petersen really picked up the pace of his narrative with Winter: 1152, introducing a vast array of antagonists and supporting characters to liven up the conflicts with our small, furry heroes. One of this series' continued genius devices are the use of scale concerning the characters. All our protagonists are mice (duh). Be they in contact with bats, owls, or even friendly bunnies, every conflict is crisp and harrowing due to one hell of a size disproportion. As we all know from our many English classes, conflict is only truly enjoyable when the good guy faces insurmountable odds, and nothing says insurmountable like a foe who's six or seven times bigger than you are. This book is a shining example of this constant, and I appreciate the deft execution of it with each new issue.

Mouse Guard is epic. The tone of the book, the nature of the storylines, even the manner of speech the characters use demands that it be placed in the same category as Cerebus or Bone. Whether or not it can keep up the pace and ultimately be found worthy of such praise remains to be seen. I can tell you one thing for certain though: if Archaia can hang in there long enough to keep publishing the book, I can hang in there long enough to keep buying it.

Funny Misshapen Body: A Memoir
by Jeffrey Brown
Touchstone Books


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Y'know, this bloody book was released all over god's green earth before it hit my local shop. Heaven forbid a fucking comic should be in the specialty shops at the same time it hits in all the cocksucking conglomerate chain book stores. Gimme a fucking break Touchstone, or Diamond, or whoever the fuck is responsible.

Was it worth the wait, pinning away the weeks waiting for my copy to come in, gnashing my teeth and lamenting with impatience, knowing full well that out in the world hundreds upon hundreds of folks who patronized freakin' Barnes and Noble had already read their copy of Funny Misshapen Body (possibly twice) and were discussing it at that very moment? Yes, it was worth the wait.

Brown's back in rare form with this latest autobiographical tome, covering every subject from breaking into the comic business to Crohn's disease to abusing illegal substances. Stylistically no new ground is explored, other than I don't recall any big black blotches from where the author scribbled out a lettering mistake. Thematically however, he's never been more on his game. For the voyeurs, the book delivers a massive amount of filthy, embarrassing anecdotes, such as post-surgery commode use and drunken frat parties (please note that one particular sequence depicting a series of blackouts is stylistically the most effective and visually powerful sequence I've ever seen the author do). For the fanboys, there's a few fun tales about growing up obsessed with the industry, and some heartwarming stories involving Chris Ware. But the most rewarding read would be for those aspiring to break into the industry. Brown goes over, in painstaking detail, his many artistic falls before he eventual ascension: harsh art critiques, endless rejections, habitual lack of direction and self-esteem issues. It's almost as if this particular portion of the piece is directed straight at those thirsting for acceptance withing the comic book industry, saying optimistically that if you really want it you can get there because I did. Anyone who's trying to make a living through this bitch goddess of an industry should read this book (if you know what's good for you).

So yes, quite worth the wait.

- PICK(S) OF THE WEEK -
(Yes there's two of them. I couldn't decide. Deal with it.)

Bayou
by Jeremy Love
Zuda (DC) Comics


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I'm so glad I ordered this book. I almost didn't. When it was offered in the Previews I took one good look at the art and figured it was for nerd girls and whiny pre-teens in special-ed reading classes. Holy fucking crapfuck was I totally wrong.

This. Book. Is. Amazing. AMAZING!

The easiest way to sum up the plot would be saying it's like Alice in Wonderland written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm if said brothers grew up in the southern United States. That doesn't do the book justice though. Bayou takes the conventional fable style of storytelling and goes apeshit with it. Jeremy Love fleshes out his characters until they're tangible as a sharpened razor. He lets you feel the character's pain, and he does not let you politely turn your head when something horrible happens. Not for a second.

Two problems with this book. First, it's printed on some incredibly shitty paper. I imagine it was to keep the cost of the book down, but I've used discount toilet paper more refined than what this book's printed on. Secondly, for reasons unknown to me, the author, who does not shy away from visually assailing the reader with quite a few violent or disturbing images, has chosen in the dialogue to use "n*****" instead of just saying "nigger." While I understand that no one likes this word, given the setting and subject matter of the piece, I believe the readers could handle it. I found that utilizing "n*****" pulled me more than once from the narrative's flow, albeit briefly.

This is a surreal, gut-wrenching story that I can't recommend enough. More unbelievably, it's a goddamn web comic that you can read for free right now by clicking here. Somebody give this man and his series a goddamn Eisner already.

Northlanders #17
by Brian Wood & Vasilis Lolos
Vertigo (DC) Comics

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How much can we learn from two smelly barbarians fighting a death duel on some cold, gray beach? Near everything, believe it or not.

Brian Wood & Vasilis Lolos take a blood feud and deliver an unflinching existential clinic on the human dilemma. It's been a long time since a comic book made me this depressed. This issue's so full of content you could write a goddamn doctorate thesis on it. Anyone you've ever known who claimed comics were the preferred medium of children and the mentally challenged would be silenced on the subject forever after reading it. College courses could spend weeks discussing its implications. This is a dark, unflinching look at our existence, and it made me wanna crawl back into bed for the rest of the day. Read at your own risk.

- NO PAN OF THE WEEK -

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And I had a buttload of books in my bin too. It's a goddamn miracle.


YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.

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