Schachat strained himself lifting a DC Archive edition...
Jason Schachat's Weekly Breakdown
July 30, 2004
week, Jason Schachat takes you along for his ride on the
four-colored pulp pony. Feed the addiction, and the addiction
Friends, you know you’ve been playing
too much City of Heroes when reading a couple dozen comics
in a row seems like a break. Of course, you know you’ve
been working too much when stressing out for hours on City
of Heroes seems like a break. Still, you can’t really
tell when you’ve been reading too many comics, ‘cause
work never feels like a break. I think. Dammit. Lost myself
in the metaphor…
original Army of Darkness graphic
novel adaptation was always a big disappointment for me.
It followed the plot of the film to a ‘t,' and the
painting was very well done, but the soul of the film was
completely lost. Nothing seemed funny or exciting. It just
read like an odd horror comic. Army of Darkness:
Ashes 2 Ashes does just the opposite by embracing
the cartoony wackiness that made Evil Dead 2 and
Army of Darkness stand out from the other low budget
Hartnell’s story starts right where we left Ash in
Army of Darkness, making out with a babe after
blasting away a deadite. But, wait; it seems that his mispronunciation
of the sacred words also dragged the old wise man forward
through time, where Ash still has yet to visit the cabin
which holds the Necronomicon. What WILL they do? Nick Bradshaw
draws Ash and company as outlandish caricatures, and Hartnell’s
dialogue paints him not as a hero but the arrogant, sarcastic
heel we’ve come to know and love. Unfortunately, some
of the paneling is a bit confusing, and the backgrounds
are so detailed they’ll almost give you a headache.
Still, there’s enough done right here to make Evil
Dead fans soil themselves in delight.
you’d rather get frustrated at the X-Men title that’s
actually good-- but could still be better; yes, Astonishing
X-Men #3 is the book for you, friends. John
Cassaday’s art is drool-worthy as ever, but the backgrounds
and, indeed, most of the scenes in general are too stark
for their own good, even pushing the limits of what Laura
Martin can do with her colors. Joss Whedon’s writing
manages to squeeze out some of his trademark wit after a
few misses, but a lot of the story is old territory, making
a better read for fans of the movies than the diehards.
It’s not bad and certainly better than most of the
X-books on the market, but they need to give us more. Especially
after the revelation on the last page. I’d refrain
from spoiling it, but when Marvel Previews blares “Which
mutant returns? Check Marvel.com on 8/25 and find out!”
what’s left for me to spoil?
The power to appear in every third title Marvel
Marvel spoiled Avengers #500 by
proudly proclaiming “one of these heroes will die
in this issue," I couldn’t help but be reminded
of a one-shot Grant Morrison and a slew of artists made
called Doom Force (an early ‘90’s parody
of Rob Liefeld’s X-Force barely tied-in with
Doom Patrol) that cheerfully announced the same
thing. And, considering how David Finch’s art sometimes
seems like what Liefeld would do if he could learn how to
draw, maybe that isn’t an entirely unfair assessment.
Though I have to admit Finch doesn’t really let down,
using his knack with explosions and big action-filled panels
to make the issue an exciting read. Sadly, it’s Bendis’
writing that feels a bit lackluster, here. I mean, how can
ANYONE write so many stories about superheroes being divided
and conquered by a mysterious foe in just one year without
it feeling old hat? It’s not bad, mind you, just not
as fresh and new as we might hope. The bigger sin is the
complete slap in the face to Avengers fans… but, no,
I’m not going to spoil that for you.
I can’t spoil the surprise for you in Batman
#630, either, since it’s really the
whole reason to read it, save to say Scarecrow will occupy
a new residence in the realm of fear as a new villain is
borne onto the streets of Gotham. Judd Winick’s arc
should satisfy fans of “Hush” who’ve been
hungering for more changes to the world of Batman without
losing the well-loved scum and villainy he hunts. I was
never a fan of “Hush," though, and this constant
hinting at the return of Jason Todd (aka the second
Robin) is proving more annoying than intriguing. Batman
resorting to powered-armor yet again also feels like more
of a hackneyed device than a special moment, but I’ll
be damned if Dustin Nguyen doesn’t draw one of the
slickest Batsuits to date - A perfect, Mignola-flavored
counterpart to the bristling, ragged Scarebeast. Not the
greatest issue we’ve seen in a while, but a worthy
conclusion to the four issue arc.
Conan #6 ends the series’
‘Hyperborea’ arc with an uncommon mastery. Kurt
Busiek’s expansion on the works of Robert E. Howard
capture the same sense of wild adventure, and Cary Nord’s
rough pencils still charge the work with that raw energy
we felt all the way back in issue #0. The bittersweet ending
strikes just the right chord and leaves us knowing that
Conan’s return to Hyperborea is inevitable. A true
must-buy, this week, whether you’re a Howard fan,
Savage Sword of Conan geek, or just a lover of
barbarians and bugs. Excellent.
know, for a second there, I thought I was going to enjoy
Green Lantern #179. Sure, it
starts out a bit slowly, and then forces a confrontation
between Kyle and John Stewart that feels a bit… forced.
But it was nice to see Kyle get some aggression out -- Until
Ron Marz reminds us why he’s such a maligned GL scribe:
this stuff is pointless, choppy, and inconsequential. I
don’t really give a damn about the feud between Kyle
and Major Force, and we’ve all gotten the message
that Kyle no longer fits in on Earth. Like I said before,
they should just keep this book with Kyle and put him in
space to continue re-building the Green Lantern Corps. Get
a writer who can handle sci-fi, and you’re golden.
But this slow, plodding journey to either his death or banishment
is both boring and frustrating. Marz once said in an interview
that the GLC should be like the Jedi, and I jumped at the
idea that he might do that with Green Lantern. Well, it
ain’t happening yet. At this rate, I wonder if it’ll
happen at all. The odds against seem damn high.
Nail has anything going against it, it’s
probably Rob Zombie’s name on the cover. Kinda ironic
when you consider it’s supposed to be the main selling
point of the book, I guess. But the Rob Zombie label brings
to mind half-assed attempts at horror comics, an obsession
with zombie splatter-films, those ugly action figures, and
the dancing midgets from the Dragula music video. Okay,
well, maybe that’s just me - point is it doesn’t
bring to mind a fun, intense horror story, which is what
#2 continues the hybrid zombie/slasher antics as our ‘70’s
wrestler heroes realize the true origins of the deadly biker
gang as the demons chase their Winnebago, torment the local
populace, and cover the town in blood. Steve Niles co-writes
a solid script, bringing his mastery of comicraft to what
could otherwise be another cheap Evil Dead ripoff.
Nat Jones art solidifies the work, occasionally layering
the cluttered textures we might expect from someone like
Sam Keith onto a style akin to Tony Moore’s work on
The Walking Dead.
Of course, it’s not the jaw-dropping paragon that
The Walking Dead is (more on that later). Still,
a definite recommendation.
been talking up DC: The New Frontier
for months now, so you probably don’t want to hear
more about how much I’m enjoying Darwyn Cooke’s
art or his inspired interpretation of the early Silver Age.
I’ll just note that, in issue #5, Hal Jordan fans
have yet another reason to hit the shop, as Cooke flings
both Hal and ourselves into the light of the Green Lantern.
It’s easy to forget that a lot of Hal’s strength
was drawn from the pure optimism of the character (which,
ultimately, explains why he couldn’t survive either
the Bronze Age or the Modern Age), but seeing him here,
youthful and unspoiled... Well, let’s just hope this
is the Hal we get back, rather than the mopey drifter or
seahorse goes insane,
and only the DC Heroes can stop him!
also hope that Planetary picks
up a little next time around, ‘cause this recent attempt
at doing an arc was just hurtful. Issue #20 will read great
when collected into trade paperback format, but, as a single
issue, it’s so simple and subtle it’s frustrating.
Unlike this month’s Astonishing X-Men, Cassaday’s
work here is absolutely flawless - gorgeous - wonderfu l-
orgasmic! Aliens, angels, hives of giant insects, mountainous
thrones of stone; it’s all here. …and now we
have to wait a few months for more of it.
Ellis does a great job of trusting his artist to carry the
story through silent panels and sparse exchanges of dialogue
(not always a wise move: see this month’s Ultimate
Fantastic Four), but he answers none of the questions
unanswered in issue #19 and doesn’t do enough to draw
us back for issue #21. We’ve now been introduced to
Jacob Greene (Planetary’s horrific answer
to the Fantastic Four’s Ben Grimm), but this feels
more like half an issue than a whole. Maybe Ellis split
his original story to accommodate Cassaday’s visuals,
but on a frequently late quarterly book, that’s a
risk you shouldn’t take.
#2, another frequently late book (though,
if you lost track, this is the second volume, now) further
develops the story of Retro Girl’s return from the
dead, the changes that come in a world where even heroic
use of superpowers is illegal, and the continually strained
relationship between detectives Walker and Pilgrim. Bendis
just… wow. You may need to have followed Powers
from the first arc to understand the impact of this issue
(and, my god, the man FINALLY managed to tie up the only
thread annoyingly hanging from “Who Killed Retro Girl?”),
but what’s happening here is simply brilliant.
Pulling from the last arc of volume one,
we can now understand that Retro Girl is truly more than
an icon of innocent superheroics or a sacrificial lamb for
a world lost to us: she is the spirit of justice and altruism
in the human heart that will never die. While most of the
issue slings some standard cop drama and politics around,
the flowing theme and Retro Girl scenes at beginning and
end will leave you ravening for the next issue.
Templesmith presents us with a creepy post-apocalyptic tale
in the first issue of Singularity 7,
a new series that could be great if it’s limited,
but may run into trouble if it’s meant to be ongoing
(seems Diamond Distributors listed it as ongoing, but it’s
hard to imagine the story lasting long). Set in a nightmare
future where a few strong individuals stand up against an
all powerful tyrant, it harkens close to elements of The
Matrix, The Terminator, and 12 Monkeys, but
manages to distance itself enough to not seem derivative.
If anything, it owes more to anime and manga with its biotech
foundation and ronin warriors. However, Templesmith’s
scrawly, swirling, splattered painting style (familiar to
us from 30 Days of Night) distances it from practically
any work in the genre we’ve seen before. Singularity
7 may not have enough juice to run for years, but this
first issue is promising and I’ll be waiting on the
despite being a hardcore Warren Ellis fan, I won’t
be waiting on next month’s Ultimate Fantastic
Four with bated breath. Issue #9 left me so
cold, I had to swaddle myself in heating blankets just to
get moving again (hey, that’s a significant metaphor
when you’re in So Cal in July). Stuart Immonen’s
pencils looked sloppy and painfully undetailed, and far
too many of the characters appear inconsistent and inexpressive.
Maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much if Ellis hadn’t
made the entire issue a formless race through the Baxter
Building as our heroes fight a swarm of Dr. Doom’s
robot insects rather than the fascinating mix of pseudo-science
and drama he’s given us the last two months. The dialogue
is still witty and maintains just enough of that hard sci-fi/out-there
fantasy amalgam to keep me interested, but this is not an
issue I’d really recommend.
want to grow up and be Sir Lancelot..."
what the hell’s with all the kiddie advertising, here?
Does anyone else feel dirty seeing Ellis’ writing
crammed between adverts for the Disney Channel and Nicktoons
magazine? At least tell me I’m not the only one perplexed
to see a Justice League DVD ad in Ultimate
be told, the only thing I’m REALLY confused about
is why all of you didn’t pre-order The
Walking Dead #9. No, seriously! Well, you
sure as hell better hunt it down, people, cause this is
why we’re reading comics. The Walking Dead
is the new gold standard, and you don’t wanna miss
a single issue. Kirkman’s social drama is a pure and
chilling example of graphic narrative, binding us to the
characters in such subtle ways that we can’t know
how much we feel for them until he brings harsh realities
crashing down upon them. Issue #9 gives us a perfect taste
of the bittersweet recipe that makes The Walking Dead
the best comic out there. The supreme effort it takes not
to rush through this pulse-pounding issue is overwhelming,
and the blows Kirkman lands to our fragile sensibilities
are unexpected and heart-wrenching.
just remember: if you can’t set aside a few measly
dollars from X-book spending to treat yourself to The
Walking Dead, you will burn in hell for all eternity
like the foul, worthless beast you are.
Predictions for Next Week: Blue Monday: Painted
Moon #2, Queen & Country #26, Runaways #17, Ultimate
Nightmare #1, and Ultimate Spider-Man #63.
Note: Starting on August 4, 2004, to August 17,
2004, if you walk in to Brian's Books (see ad on our sidebar)
in Santa Clara and drop the code phrase "Doctor Light,"
you get 15% off of all DC hardbacks.