Sunday, June 28, 2009

You've Been Warned Vol II Issue XXIII

- Comic reviews by a fan, for the fans -

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

- OPENING REMARKS -

The Fart Party Vol. 2
by Julia Wertz
Atomic Book Company


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I consider myself a fairly loyal fan of Julia Wertz. Not huge, but loyal. I've never bought one of her mini-comics or paintings, and I've never donated to keep her website free. I did buy her first book though. Last year I also named her my choice for "Breakthrough Artist of the Year" (not that the title means much). Every working day I visit her website at least once to check for new material. I follow her damn blog which she never uses. Once I even solicited her for a Cat Will Mew strip (which to her credit, she ignored). So not a rabid follower, but loyal enough to buy The Fart Party Vol. 2. And as a respectively loyal fan, I can honestly say this book is the realization of a sophomore jinx if I've ever seen one.

First off, this book consists of roughly 1/4 "Stick Figure Travel Diaries," with an emphasis on stick figures. That really chapped my ass. I don't put a lot of emphasis on the visual qualities of a book, but I, nor anyone else, should tolerate anything less than the best an artist can do. It's one thing if an artist's style is sloppy and minimalistic to begin with, but when you've already cultured and established a specific, more evolved style and then backslide into publishing fucking doodles for fucking content, that's fucking another. You wanna put 45 pages of hastily scribbled layouts out for mass consumption? Put them online where people can get them for free. When you toss half-assed work in a collection and expect people to pay for it you can fucking go fuck off. Goddammit. Make me fucking pay for stick figures. Retarded monkeys can fucking draw that shit goddammit.

As far as the narrative content goes, it's more of the same as seen in Vol. 1, which is good or bad depending on your perception and taste. Lots of self-deprecation, lots of crude sentiments and alcohol consumption, and lots of random violence. I found myself cracking a few smiles while reading, but overall I struggled to sink into the flow of the story. Whether or not this is a failing of the book or a failing of the reader I can't say for sure. I have as of late been completely sick of autobiographical, "slice of life" books, especially when the author has little more to offer than the average blogger, so most likely I'm being ungenerous. I can say one thing objectively though: aside from a slowly evolving opinion of dating and the progression to a change of scenery, no artistic/spiritual/thematic growth is made in any way, shape or form.

Wertz is still on par with her previous works, but from my vantage point she's treading water. If you enjoy your slice o' life narratives (and don't mind some sloppy fucking penciling) you won't find a better example than this book. I on the other hand am a little tired of creators who can't write about anything but themselves. I know in my heart Wertz can do better than this. At least I hope she can. She's got a long, hard road ahead of her if this is as good as it gets.

Gotham City Sirens #1
by Paul Dini & Guillem March
DC Comics


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I don't like titty books. One look at this cover and you know that Gotham City Sirens is a titty book. There's nothing wrong with titties. It's just, y'know, when all your protagonists are exploding out of their shirts there's a lot of emphasis on the titties and a lot of nothing else. Just titties.

The dividing quality between this book and other titty books is Paul Dini. The man doesn't write about titties. He writes about women. He fleshes them out through dialogue and action, brings all their quirks, weaknesses, humors, and desires, warts and all to the surface, until they're actual women, not just fuck puppets. The women you're reading about in this book could very well be sitting next to you on the bus (minus the super powers, obviously). The fact that these women all possess gigantic titties is irrelevant (almost).

I almost didn't buy this book because I thought it was gonna be all about the titties. I'm glad I remembered that Paul Dini can write a female protagonist better than nearly anyone in the industry (*With exception to Greg Rucka. See impending review of Detective Comics #854). Now I don't know how I ever could have passed it up.

I said "titty," like, five hundred times in that review. Sorry. I got all adolescent for a second there. Titty.

Thunderbolts #133
by Andy Diggle & Miguel Sepulveda
Marvel Comics


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I wanted to take a brief moment to commend Andy Diggle and his superb handling of Black Widow II and her dialogue. I've never read such a perfect rendition of a Russian accent and/or speech mannerisms. No carrots or special fonts needed. It's all beats and attentive word choice. Diggle has it pegged and it's goddamn flawless. Take it from a guy who's around Russians a lot more than he desires to be. Well done, sir.

Barack the Barbarian #1
by Larry Hama & Christopher Schons
Devil's Due Publishing


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How could this book not be fucking stupid, right? How?! Look at it? Who fucking comes up with this shit? Who BUYS this shit? Fuck you, man. I buy this shit. Of course I knew it was going to be an abomination, and in some ways I was unfortunately correct. Christopher Schons' art is extremely amateurish for one, to the point where it's painful to just glance at a page. But if you actually read the book ... it's pretty damn clever. Satirically chronicling the last presidential election in an obviously Conanesque fashion, the first issue of Barack the Barbarian has proven to be a lot of fun. There's some genius jokes about fossil fuels, Washington lobbyists, Hilary Clinton supporters, and of course, Sarah Palin. In the end it's going to no doubt be predictable and leftist, as Barack is on a quest to procure something that's simultaneously "a treasure AND a goddess," which will no doubt be Liberty or some other overused American symbol. But this initial issue was more fun than it had any right to be.

Now listen to me carefully: if you're looking to pick this up you need to really, REALLY enjoy political satire. 'Cause I do, and I know I'd never recommend this book in a million years to someone who could give two flying fucks about politics. On that note, as far as Obama comics go, this is the only book featuring him that I picked up or am picking up, and I'm happy with that choice.

- PICK OF THE WEEK -
Detective Comics #854
by Greg Rucka, J.H. Williams, & Cully Hamner
DC Comics


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For a few years Batwoman existed solely to be the token gay/lesbian character in the DCU. She was homosexual sure, but in a non-threatening, lipstick lesbian way that was acceptable to mainstream society. She got tossed into continuity with very little development, had a few spats with equally attractive lesbian lovers, got the smackdown a few times, and limped off into obscurity. DC was very, very wise to take this character, who has little more to offer but potential, and put her in the hands of Greg Rucka, the man who brought Renee Montoya out of the closet. As I'm sure we all remember from a few years back, Rucka got his hands on Wonder Woman and cranked out one of the best goddamn super-hero comics of the damn decade. He's already promising to take this character and make her the darling of the Bat universe by hijacking this relatively blank slate and injecting it with a fat fucking dose of alternative lifestyle noir. If anyone can write a strong lesbian protagonist, it's this man. Yeah, I just implied that Wonder Woman is a lesbian. She's a freakin' Amazon. What are you, a bigot? Don't oppress Wonder Woman and her lifestyle choices.

And if that didn't sell you, J.H. Williams' work in this book is incredible. In-fucking-credible. If you asked me to point out a more beautifully drawn book than this, I couldn't. This blows every artists working in the medium completely out of the fucking water. All of them. Right the fuck away.

This issue marks my first purchase of a DC book with a back-up story as well. I have to say that, despite the buck increase, it's not so bad. At least I know I'm getting a little something extra for the money. Marvel'd do well to take a lesson from this example (but they won't, 'cause they're assholes).

This book is gonna take off, and I'm glad I was on it from the beginning. I don't want to miss a second of this.

- PAN OF THE WEEK -
Terror Inc. #3
by David Lapham, Koi Turnbull, & Xurxo G. Penalta
MAX (Marvel) Comics


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This WAS a decent book. It had everything you'd expect from a MAX comic (i.e. gore, nudity, naughty words, and so on). But in the span of one flip of a page and one absolutely boneheaded editorial move, we went from an artist who draws like this ...

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... to an artist who draws like this.

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What the holy fuck? I know the book's tanking in the financial spectrum of things, but whatever happened to artistic integrity? For whatever reason it was necessary to change up artists right in the middle of a goddamn story, could we have at least gotten someone with a similar style? Just where the fuck did this Penalta person come from, and who jumped on his fingers before he started drawing?

I didn't see this change coming at all. When I turned to Penalta's first page, after growing accustomed to Turnbull's art, which is far superior in comparison, it was like someone jabbed a huge, droopy dick in my eyeballs. What a clusterfuck.

Way to fuck up yet another otherwise acceptable book, Marvel. There's apparently no end to how hard youse guys suck it.

You've been warned.

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