Jason Schachat's Weekly Breakdown
Schachat forgot to say "Doctor Light"
at Brian's Books.
August 6, 2004
week, Jason Schachat takes you along for his ride on the
four-colored pulp pony. Feed the addiction, and the addiction
continues to flood the shelves with books in the hope of
pushing everyone else off the shelves, DC does the same
old same old, and Image wises up and starts re-printing
The Walking Dead issues for all the slackers out
there. What a wonderful time to be alive.
month, and another issue of Amazing Fantasy
limps through the door, still plodding through the origin
of a new Spider-Girl. This book may be the definition of
mediocre, as everything its doing has already been seen
in recent runs of Amazing Spider-Man and Ultimate
Spider-Man. Mark Brooks' art occasionally manages to
transcend the look of the latter title, but the story is
sadly eclipsed by Straczynski and Avery’s work on
the former, morphing the Spider-Man legend from outdated
pseudo-science to modern fantasy. This second issue lacks
the humor and charm it needs to get off the ground, and
its portrayal of teenagers is so forced and unrealistic
I don’t see how kids will even go for it. Well, smart
kids, at least. Maybe just smart kids with a sense of dignity.
on the other hand, has become a title I find myself extremely
guilty for enjoying and issue #3 is no exception to the
rule. We find young Hanna (a little girl who KNOWS she’ll
grow up to be a superhero and will write about it until
she does) ripped from the arms of her father after he’s
arrested for murdering his boss. Children’s Services
can’t retrieve her journal from their apartment, and
Hanna caves in on herself without the solace of writing
the adventures of Ant. However, her deadbeat mom finally
gets a clue and breaks into the apartment for her, only
to open the journal to be sucked into Hanna’s power-fantasy.
Mario Gully’s story and art are strongly reminiscent
of the glory days of Image comics and the ‘90’s
boom. In fact, from the start, it made me think of Todd
MacFarlane’s Spawn and Sam Keith’s
The Maxx (though it’s far closer to The
Maxx, story-wise). But in a good way. Of course, if
I ever say the same about the new X-Force mini,
feel free to send your flaming hate mail to Derek. (Because
by then we will have had Mr. Schachat "taken care of...")
The 12 Cent Adventure, much like Batman:
The 10 Cent Adventure of two years ago, starts off
this summer’s Bat-crossover with a prelude narrated
by a young woman struggling to understand the dark knight
as a new threat is unleashed upon Gotham City. But, this
time, that woman is Spoiler (aka the fourth Robin, until
two weeks ago) and writer Devin Grayson uses the situation
more to examine the role of Robin and Spoiler’s personal
battle than focus on the Kobra attack at a charity event
Bruce Wayne just happens to be attending (and, I’m
sorry, but does anyone else ever find they confuse DC’s
Kobra with Marvel’s Hydra terrorists as much as I
do?). The book makes an interesting read for newcomers and
fanboys alike, and, at only twelve cents, it’s a nearly
impossible impulse item to pass up.
Comic’s latest attempt, Fade from Grace
#1 hurt me on a number of levels. The story
is essentially a case of a man gaining super-powers and
the uncontrollable desire to be a hero after saving the
woman he loves from a burning building. But the whole issue
deals with her thinking something’s wrong with their
relationship. He seems to be able to become intangible or
super-dense at will, but we really don’t know anything
about him. Beckett’s attempt to structure their comics
differently than most mainstream companies makes it hard
to read at times, and Jeff Amano’s blocky art style
suits Gabriel Benson’s script just a little more than
the bizarre computer coloring. At times it looks like flash
animation, or some art hobbyist’s online portfolio.
With a price of $.99, it’s hard to get so down on
a book, but the story just doesn’t go anywhere and
ultimately leaves you feeling no obligation to buy the next
enough, Guardians #2 STILL has
me wanting the next issue. I may have seen the plot twist
at the end of the last issue coming from a mile away, but
Mark Sumerak has somehow managed to work the interaction
between his characters so well, you can’t help but
be intrigued by this story of a group of children who meet
an alien and grow up with everyone thinking they’re
nuts for believing in such things. The realism of the situation
takes center stage while the aliens and spaceships hide
in the wings, yet I find myself more intrigued by the human
drama than the cosmic adventuring. And this is a Marvel
book, for god’s sake! Who ever saw that coming? A
strong read that hopefully won’t be cancelled in the
aftermath of Marvel’s market-flooding campaign.
if a cosmic story is what you desire, Majestic
#1 kicks off a four part mini-series dedicated
to the Wildstorm hero trapped in the DC Universe. After
some quick exposition for those who never read Abnett, Lanning,
and Kerschl’s run on Superman, they plunge into a
story that deftly alternates from humor to cosmic adventure.
Karl Kerschl’s pencil’s hit that rare balance
between stylized and realistic art that works so well on
DC books, but it’s the work of Carrie Strachan’s
coloring team that makes some of these images simply sing.
The cover may not do much for you, but crack it open to
that first page and you’ll see what I mean. I’d
like to think Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning will have cornered
the market on cosmic storylines by the time this mini finishes,
but, at the same time, their take on Mr. Majestic’s
struggle to escape the happy-go-lucky Earth of the DCU could
have a charm all its own. Whatever happens, I recommend
it, so far.
believe a man can fly onto the sales charts.
Milkman Murders #2 isn’t about milkmen.
It isn’t about murders, either. What is it? About
the creepiest damn horror comic I’ve read lately,
even though it has no zombies, bloodlettings, people with
extra appendages coming out of places they don’t belong,
or be-tentacled demon monsters. This story of a housewife
in one of the most f*cked up domestic situations imaginable
rolls along its own psychotic rollercoaster with an originality
that would make me want to shake writer Joe Casey’s
hand if not for the fact his mere presence might put me
in mortal terror. Of course, more credit may be due to Steve
Parkhouse, who makes every panel grimy with filth and designs
characters so subtly grotesque you just want to curl up
and die after looking at them for fifteen minutes. It’s
one of those cases of knowing something’s art, but
not knowing if you like it. Recommended? For anyone who
wants to be sincerely creeped out, hell yeah. Others, handle
less disturbing but suddenly unsettling book, Runaways
climaxes at #17 with an all-out, mindbending clash of heroes
and the long-winded villain lecture we’ve been waiting
for all this time that both explains how everything came
together but also leaves us weeping and shouting into the
night “Say, it ain’t so, Alex!”. If nothing
else, you have to admit Brian K. Vaughan has balls to first
come up with this book, then, at the last moment, reveal
the main character is really the bad guy, and NOW he ties
the whole series up, leaving just enough room for falling
action and reflection in next month’s conclusion to
the series (of course, sales skyrocketed when they put Runaways
in digest form, so volume two is due to start a bit later
this year). I have to admit that Alex’s betrayal hurts
more than a little; this kid was our hero from page one
of the first issue, and the sudden turn of events is so
jarring that it almost takes down the coolness factor a
notch. But, again, Vaughan and Adrian Alphona deliver an
ending with so much guts and glory you can’t help
but love it. Definitely one to get.
Comics Presents Superman #1 gives us two
different tales based on the concept cover of Supes fighting
“The Phantom Quarterback”. Stan Lee wisely chooses
to tell the more lighthearted of the two tales, with Darwyn
Cooke delivery a cartoony style of illustration that balances
with Lee’s jabs at Silver Age conventions. Still,
the story tends to drag a little and lacks the laugh-out-loud
humor of Brian Azzarello’s contribution to DC
Comics Presents Green Lantern #1. The second story,
unfortunately, is even weaker, and nothing Paul Levitz and
Keith Giffen do seem to help it take off. While there’s
some charm to this issue, I’d hold out for next week’s
more promising DC Comics Presents Flash #1 if I
what’s the big gun, this week? The one you have to
get or your fellow comic geeks will give you a swirly in
the foulest toilet at the bathroom on the far side of campus
(woah… flashback). Why, Ultimate Nightmare
#1, of course. Trevor Hairsine’s eye-popping
art alone is worth the price of admission, but combining
it with Warren Ellis’ blend of real-world sci-fi,
covert ops, and otherwordly creepiness makes it the most
promising Marvel mini we’ve seen in a long time. Is
the world coming to an end? Has an alien power crashed to
earth? Are psychics around the world committing suicide
because a traumatized mutant teenager is having bad dreams?
The amount of mystery introduced here could end up hurting
the story later on, but if these guys can give Sam Wilson
one of the coolest re-imagined debuts we’ve seen in
an Ultimate book, the sky’s the limit.
doesn't look a thing like my ultimate nightmare...
Spider-man #63 continues it’s “Carnage”
arc with part four, reaffirming right away that the Ultimate
Universe’s Gwen Stacy is truly dead, leaving both
Peter Parker and Aunt May devastated at their failure to
save the unfortunate new member of their troubled household.
Though Bagley doesn’t quite deliver on the staggering
number of facial expressions he has to give us, the pacing
of the panels appropriately brings down the tension after
last issue’s harrowing climax. This is probably the
best arc of Ultimate Spidey we’ve seen, and Bendis’
nail-biting murder of Gwen (almost offscreen; reminding
us of the tease he gave us with Mary Jane’s “death”
a few years ago) makes this such a must buy, I don’t
think you need me to tell you.
since I clearly haven’t done enough Ultimate titles
this week, let’s talk about Ultimate X-Men
#50 for a while. The good? Well, despite losing
Brandon Peterson’s fine skills, I’m glad to
see Andy Kubert back on art duties for an Ultimate book.
Brian K. Vaughan is still filling the title with that great
X-Men feel, but he goes deeper into the lives of these teenage
X-Men and their raging hormones, which actually proves to
be a good thing. However, this is the long awaited issue
where they introduce Gambit to the team. I hate Gambit.
Oh, I understand there are tons of Gambit fans out there
who’ll rally to defend their favorite Cajun, but,
honestly, what’s so special about him? The accent?
C’mon! What disturbs me even more is that I’m
forced to defend Chuck Austen (*cringe*), who first introduced
the character to the Ultimate Universe as a friendly street
kid forced into heroism. Vaughan and Kubert’s Gambit
is NOTHING like the one we met a few years ago, and I just
don’t care enough about him to ask why. I’ll
chalk some of this up to personal bias, and I still recommend
the issue, but let’s just pray Vaughan isn’t
going to bring in Ultimate Cable next.
and , since I clearly haven’t done enough titles by
Brian K. Vaughan this week-- picking up on a theme, here?
Y: The Last Man #25 concludes
the two-part “Tongues of Flame” arc, ruminating
on sex, the sexes, and their place in organized religion.
Oh, and Yorick also has to deal with the fact that he finally
slept with someone for the first time since all the other
men died two years ago, even though he still believes his
girlfriend is alive in Australia. All the ideas and arguments
brought forth in this story make it one of the best jumping-on
points in the series. Brian K. Vaughan’s script is
just so smart it hurts, and, even though I had some doubts
after reading the last issue, events are still in motion
and paths are crossing. Somehow, he keeps finding just the
right way to keep us from expecting what will happen next-
but it still makes perfect sense. As long as he and penciller
Pia Guerra can keep the threads weaving back and forth (unlike
the numerous, almost unconnected arcs since “One Small
Step”), the third year of this series will be irresistible.
Definitely the best book of the week.
a minute...garden...snake...what could this mean?
Predictions for Next Week: District X # 4, Fables
#28, Identity Crisis #3, Powers #3, and Supreme Power #12.
Until 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.