Schachat's Occasional Breakdown
Schachat hopes to be played by Simon Pegg.
Interpret that any way you want.
big premiere issue this week is The Boys #1
because... well, mostly because it’s a slow week and
nobody thinks a Deadman series will last (more
on that later). All bitterness aside, it is nice to see
Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson team up on something not
pinned under the weight of a major franchise.
story kicks off when Hughie, a nice young Scottish bloke,
has his girlfriend ripped from his arms and pulverized out
of existence. Literally. By a superpowered “hero”.
the pond, a psychopath known as Butcher meets with the CIA
Director for an intel discussion– but only after he
has his way with her. What does she get out of it? He can
get to every superpowered being on the planet.
issue ends before Butcher can really form his team, but
we know Hughie will be on it and they’ll be taking
down heroes and villains alike. And we know it’s going
to be bloody, messy, and hopelessly offensive.
really the big problem with The Boys. Does it go
too far? Looking over Ennis’ Punisher run,
it really isn’t much worse than what he’s been
doing in recent years. However, Robinson brings his own
vices into the mix, so the gore factor is a bit less cheerful
than it might be if, say, Steve Dillon were on art duties.
If Vertigo were handling the title, we’d have a bit
more faith, but Wildstorm isn’t exactly as well known
for tasteful tastelessness.
end, it comes down to a question of who’s our hero.
Are we reading this book because we relate to Hughie and
want to see how things play out through his eyes, or are
we doomed to follow the irreverent yet utterly detestable
Butcher? That’s what next month’s issue needs
to get busy answering. Until then... well, it’s nicely
drawn gore, but it’s not Preacher.
know you’re asking for trouble when you pick up a
comic with “Wolverine and The Black Cat” printed
over the title Claws #1. Hell,
I have no way of defending my choice to read it. Sure, you
could say you came for the Joe Linsner art. Yes, it’s
always possible a fun concept could be squeezed out of such
disparate characters. You know it ain’t gonna happen,
then she popped the balloons in Logan's pants...
story opens with a tediously long chase sequence in which
Spider-Man tries to smooch Black Cat. She spurns him. Hilarity
does not ensue. Meanwhile, Logan has to get on a plane.
His skeleton sets off the alarm. No, the laughter is not
deafening; you’re just not hearing any.
just when it seems like these two will never come together,
they get hijacked through unnecessarily elaborate means
so a thought-to-be-dead character can host his own take
on “The Most Dangerous Game."
Palmiotti and Justin Gray have written their share of books,
and some have even started off quite well (Remember Monolith?
You don’t? Oh...). This is not one of them. The characterizations
are bizarre, the situation is ludicrous, and, sadly, it’s
close enough to Marvel’s status quo to be completely
that’s not entirely true. Linsner’s art has
a great buoyancy to it, even if the expressions don’t
always match the dialogue. If Black Cat can ditch the mask
and ears, her new look may even last past this miniseries.
That said, this
story should’ve been a single issue and nothing more.
Why they had to make an event of it, I cannot guess. The
thought of profit was there somewhere, but I just ain’t
Deadman #1 reminds me of a Warren
Ellis anecdote from years back where an editor very seriously
asked him if he wanted to relaunch Deadman. Yes, it would
be Boston Brand. Yes, he was still a dead albino in red
tights. No, he couldn’t make fun of the character.
As you might guess, that project died right there.
Deadman is reborn in a more contemporary style befitting
the Vertigo imprint.
Through a lovably
non-linear opening, we learn that Brandon Cayce was drugged
by his brother while they were piloting a 747, forcing them
to crash in the midst of London. When given the choice to
cross over into death or remain in his body, Brandon stays
firmly lodged in his corpse.
of flashbacks (presented as Brandon coming unstuck in time
as life fades from him) provide information about the strange
relationship between him and his brother, the early loss
of their father, and how that same perfect brother later
slept with Brandon’s fiancé. Still, he can’t
help but love her...
Truth be told,
I’ve never been a big Bruce Jones fan, so I’m
not sure how well this book will hold up in the next issues.
What gives it life is the format. Hopping back and forth
in time plays to the strengths of the medium, and that’s
where Deadman succeeds. John Watkiss and colorist Jeremy
Cox’s gorgeously simple art make those transitions
smooth and clear, but the story loses its edge when it becomes
If the series
can retain the creative plotting that made the first half
of the issue such a treat, I’d say it’ll work
out. If they take comfort in merely using that as a gimmick
and de-emphasize time-shifting, it’s hard to say where
this book is going. Seems like it’s on the right track
Sometimes you start reading a comic and it makes your eyes
do the equivalent of a dog’s ears perking up... possibly
rapid pulsing of the cornea, but that sounds painful, dirty,
or both – whatever it was, that’s what Phonogram
#1 did to me.
the simple concept of “magic in music” as applied
to the club scene. Pretty frequently used as background
in Morrison, Ellis, Ennis, and Gaiman comics, it's been
rarely delved into beyond a few pages (though Morrison’s
work on The Invisibles might imply more).
The plot of this
issue stays simple: a Phonomancer/music critic goes to a
club to meet another powerful Phonomancer he’s heard
of. However, being a randy male lurking around a female-dominated
club, he soon incites the wrath of the local temple goddess.
And, no, that doesn’t mean some unwashed chick in
Birkenstocks; this is a real goddess who’s perfectly
willing to rend him into a bloody pile for defiling her
runs a bit long and loose (to the point where the author
adds a glossary and mission statement to explain the madness),
but it may be onto something. Writers have often explored
the way pop music was wrangled from art into business and
somehow mutates back into art just when no one is watching.
There is a strange magic there. Something simple that makes
the temple worshippers fall to their knees. This idea has
the first issue of Phonogram certainly plants the
seeds for that larger examination. Kieron Gillen’s
prattling anti-hero may be just a bit too pretentious to
last, but Jamie McKelvie’s slick art makes this a
great entree onto the indie scene. We’ll have to wait
until next issue to see if it can wrestle a more straightforward
plot out of the mysticism and pop music encyclopedism, but
this book has promise.
most encouraging thing about Runaways #19
may be that the words “The End”never tarnish
its pages. We may have lost yet another member of our original
crew, and The Pride have been foiled again... even though
they were already dead... time travel... something...
But this issue
respectfully mourns the loss of Gert, then alllows the kids
to fall apart in their own unique ways. Nico sleeps with
Victor and hates herself for it, Molly asks the Leapfrog
if Gert is in Heaven (and Froggy’s headlights get
pupils and eyelids for the occasion), Karolina tries to
explain to Xavin how the loss of one friend can outweigh
the deaths of millions of countrymen, and Chase goes all
lone avenger on us.
just looks so much like SLG's Haunted Mansion
aside, that’s basically what one would expect to happen,
but writer Brian K.Vaughan plants the seeds for more posthumous
destruction courtesy of The Pride. Though Mike Norton’s
pencils are pretty different from Adrian Alphona’s,
he keeps to the perspectives we associate with Runaways,
and Christina Strain’s colors make us feel right at
fear what’s to come, however. Trading Alex and Gert,
our brainy yet powerless characters, for Victor and Xavin
has given the team a huge boost in power, but we’re
going to need major character development to fill in the
“who do we identify with” void. In the first
series, it was clearly Alex. With the introduction of Future
Gert, Gert stepped into more of a leadership role and became
Nico’s still all screwed up inside, Molly’s
a little kid, nobody trusts Victor, nobody likes Xavin,
and Karolina’s... Karolina. That puts the weight on
Chase, and it seems like he could become the next leader
of the crew – or the next betrayer.
issue’s a cold start, and it suffers for it. Not a
bad place for new readers, but not an exciting one, either.
Since it’s Vaughan, we know it won’t end badly.
We also know it could take us on vacation from larger conflicts
for a couple months, if we’re not careful. Still,
with no teenage vampires in sight and a giant Gibborim beast
rampaging in L.A., things seem hunky dory.