Jason Schachat's Weekly Breakdown
Schachat once slaughtered the entire Schachat Corps,
but it's okay now because he was such a beloved
October 29, 2004
week, Jason Schachat takes you along for his ride on the
four-colored pulp pony. Feed the addiction, and the addiction
“War Games” comes to a close, “Disassembled”
isn’t far behind, and Identity Crisis… okay,
Identity Crisis still has two more months to go, but two
out of three major crossover events are finally coming to
bad Green Lantern: Rebirth and New Avengers
are rearing their ill-conceived heads…
content to let their 30 Days of Night franchise
slog through another miniseries, Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith
expand their efforts with the ongoing 30 Days
of Night: Bloodsucker Tales. The first issue
kicks off two new stories starring the villainous vampires:
Billy Dead” pumps out a realtime narrative of a young
man unfortunate enough to cross paths with a lonely vampire
whose last companion died at the Barrow. As he bleeds to
death in an alley, Billy manages to strike the bloodsucker
in the head and relieve him of his immortal coil, but Billy’s
own death isn’t far off. Nor is his new life…
or Lex Nova & The Case of the 400 Dead Mexican Girls”
starts us off with a quirky, self-narrating hick detective
checking out the mysterious and bloody serial killings taking
place in Juarez, Mexico. The people seem scared to death
of the gang running amok in their town, but our gringo hero
manages to learn a certain Senora Cero (Spanish for “zero”)
is involved with the strange killings. And, wouldn’t
you know it, Zero happens to be the family name of a group
of traveling vampires!
and Templesmith’s divide and conquer approach to this
series makes sure both stories capture the eerie chemistry
of 30 Days of Night. Kody Chamberlain’s art
on the first story has a far more realistic, photo-referenced
appearance than Templesmith’s work, but it achieves
a gritty creepiness much like Alex Maleev’s work on
Daredevil. Just with huge fangs and buckets of
the second story, penned by Matt Fraction and drawn by Templesmith
tells much more story and hooks readers with one of the
most amusing private investigators we’ve seen lately.
The man is such a filthy, looney little bastard you can’t
help but enjoy his Hunter Thompson-esque dialogue and misguided
notions of detective work. Like so many IDW books, the price
is a little steep for the product, but you can be assured
that it’s quality work. Recommended.
Michael Bendis revs up his own dynasty, taking us into the
“Golden Age” with Daredevil #66
and opening the book on the original New York City Kingpin,
Alexander Bont. Our first flashback takes us to the early
days of vigilante heroes, when Bont was a mere street criminal
running precious gems between Nazi infiltrators and Lucky
Luciano. When the end of Lucky’s reign sends the New
York underworld into chaos, Bont recognizes it as his time
to make a move for control of the territory.
matter what the age, that damned billy club defies
all known laws of physics.
later, Bont meets a young, yellow-clad Daredevil fresh from
his showdown with The Fixer; the man responsible for the
death of Matt Murdock’s father. Of course, by now,
Murdock has learned that no one does anything without the
Kingpin’s say so, meaning Bont was ultimately to blame.
When the Feds come to arrest Bont moments later, it’s
easy for us to figure out what kept him from returning to
Hell’s Kitchen until now.
has set this one up well, and playing to his noir roots
is always a good thing. Artist Alex Maleev gets a rare chance
to display his versatility with the flashback sequences
and treats us to both a broadly painted black and white
pulp style and a bronze age four-color throwback that sings
of history much like the work Michael Gaydos did on Alias’
“Origin of Jessica Jones” flashbacks.
qualm with “Golden Age” is the fact it’s
yet another cold start that doesn’t pull from any
threads laid out earlier in the series. Bendis’ Daredevil
has always tended to separate itself from much of the lighter
superheroics in the franchise’s past, and I can see
that making it hard to pull old threads out of the archives
(especially when it’s been done so much in the past),
but he’s going to need to re-establish the flow he
had before “King of New York” if this series
is going to sing again. Definitely recommended, but not
as much as I’d like it to be.
Excalibur really needs to find
some kind of direction to move in. This is issue #6, and
it could be issue #2 for all the development we’ve
had. Claremont’s managed to introduce a lot of mutants
with all sorts of freaky powers, but the story’s stuck
in a tarpit like the dinosaur it is. No matter how much
new dressing it gets, you can tell this is just another
attempt at the standard mutant book Marvel’s been
peddling for decades.
we find that the Professor and his little gang have been
captured by a band of looters out to sell the mutants and
their Omega Sentinel pal to the highest bidder (Who knew
mutants were in such high demand?) What follows is a lot
of sitting around and mouthing of exposition as the looting
party try to figure out who Magneto is and how many parts
to cut Karima into.
are some fun moments, like the fight between the “Trolls”
and Freakshow in fire-breathing dragon form or the return
of a certain refugee from “The Age of Apocalypse”.
Callisto’s calamari arms get less stomach turning
as time goes by, and Wicked’s whining is miraculously
absent from this outing. But it isn’t enough for me
to recommend the choppy meandering mess that is Excalibur.
REALLY pissed at Geoff Johns this week (you’ll see
why in a bit), but Flash #215
does a decent job of delving into the ret-conned history
set up in the wake of Identity Crisis. Half the
issue retells Barry Allen’s written confession to
Wally of one of the JLA’s botched mind-tinkerings.
Yes, it turns out that The Top got his after taking control
of Barry’s father, back in the day. So, they reprogrammed
him to be a hero, fighting alongside Flash against the other
are plenty of little nods to events in Identity Crisis
and readers will get their money’s worth, but Johns’
reworking of The Top has always confused me. I could’ve
sworn the whole body-swapping ability was something granted
to him by the demon Neron in Underworld Unleashed,
so the historical reference doesn’t really work for
me. I got more out of the continuing search for Sue Dibny’s
has largely turned Flash from a book about the
history and legacy of the speedsters into Rogues Monthly.
Not necessarily a bad thing. And one of the big benefits
is that we can easily slip into the villains’ perspective
of Identity Crisis without it feeling contrived.
The “Secret of Barry Allen” arc will come to
a close next month, but I hope to see more of the effects
this scouring of the villain community has on both the Rogues
and Trickster’s little organization.
Green Lantern: Rebirth #1…
It pains me. Truly pains me. Ethan Van Sciver’s artwork
here is the best he’s done. Colorist Moose Baumann’s
palette is stunning, making for one of the best productions
DC is putting out. And Geoff Johns’ storytelling is
much like what he’s given us on JSA and The
fine line between brilliant and lame.
this issue is crap. Boring, patronizing, go-nowhere crap.
At the end, we aren’t much further along than we were
the last time Hal Jordan appeared in JSA. We ARE
three bucks poorer and have lost a precious half hour or
so of our lives, though.
story opens with what may or may not be the death of Kyle
Rayner: The Green Lantern. It’s cryptic enough to
let us believe Kyle survived the jaunt through the sun that
beat up his ship (Oh, and never ask why a Green Lantern
would need a spaceship) and left him in possession of a
conspicuous emerald coffin. We then join Carol Ferris as
she tools around the old test airfield. And she just sorta
hangs out for a while. Then we hang out with John Stewart
(current JLA GL, not host of The Daily Show) and
Guy Gardner (former JLA GL) for a baseball game.
Jordan (original former GL) materializes, too, but the crowd
reacts to his Spectre influence and goes nuts trying to
be absolved of their sins. Black Hand attempts to steal
a GL power ring from Green Arrow, Guy Gardner’s bar
gets blown up when his Vuldarian powers go berserk and start
to eat him alive, Coast City partially re-materializes,
and Hector Hammond starts cackling madly for some reason
we’re not smart enough to understand.
what do we know? Well, 1) Kyle dragged Hal’s remains
out of the sun. Anyone who remembers Final Night
can figure that out. 2) Whatever’s happening to Guy
is just an excuse to make him a GL again. 3) The DCU Yankees
beat the Sox, this year. So, maybe WE are the crazy alternate
reality… The rest of these events are jumbled and
I have to reserve judgment for after Johns has had a chance
to explain himself, but here’s my initial feeling:
Johns is such a drooling fool for Hal Jordan that he’s
concocted a book with horrible characterizations and cheap
thrills just to make Hal look bigger than Jesus. Guy Gardner
hated Hal. HATED him. Hal booted Guy out of the GL Corps,
destroyed his yellow power ring, murdered his best friend
and mentor Kilowog, and used him as a pawn during Zero Hour.
And now we get this warm and fuzzy nostalgia for Hal from
Guy? I can accept some forgiveness, but there’s no
way he’d forget.
yet, Johns tries to turn the fans against Batman, and not
in a funny way. He has Bats rant and rave about Hal coming
back again as a bad guy, and, while that does fit his standard
paranoia, the psycho emotional response is totally out of
character. Johns digs even deeper by having John Stewart
reprimand him, saying “I’m tired of the disrespect
Batman slings Hal’s way.”
only is Bats infamous for keeping silent, but it’s
hard for me to recall him tossing insults Hal’s way.
And, doesn’t Hal deserve it? He’s one of the
most heinous villains in DCU history; traitor, madman, mass
murderer, and wannabe God. Hal doesn’t deserve any
respect, even after his work as the Spectre, because he
still just runs around killing in the name of vengeance.
I will be glad to see Guy Gardner rejoin the GL ranks (and
they damn well better come through on THAT one) everything
else in Green Lantern: Rebirth is tired and uninspiring.
If you’re going to give us back Hal Jordan, give us
the young, untarnished optimist we saw in DC: The New
Frontier. This issue gives us no reason to welcome
him back and no hope for the future of the Green Lantern
franchise. If the next issue doesn’t get better…
well, maybe Green Lantern really is dead.
Johnson’s racy pulp adventuring kicks
the bucket this month with issue #2 of 2, and I couldn’t
be more sad if… well… no, I could be a lot more
sad, but I’m really gonna miss this book. We’ve
seen plenty of attempts at self-aware, tongue in cheek humor
before. Tons of attempts. Certainly a plethora of attempts.
But I can’t recall the last time it not only worked
but worked THIS well. Arabs, boobs, Nazis, boobs, Indiana
Jones/Sam Spade-hybrid parody hero, and, my god, what ridiculous
a very convenient rescue from the waterfall he was plummeting
off last time around, Harry and bumbling sidekick Dhalabil
meet up with insanely sexy bikini-clad American agent Amber
Gale. On the surface, the scene doesn’t really do
more than show off Amber’s curves, but they distract
the reader enough to make the sudden introduction of Nazi
villains completely logical. This kicks off a chase scene
that would be ripped directly out of Raiders of the
Lost Ark if not for its striking resemblance to one
in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. From there,
we get a swift jaunt to a Nazi castle, a fight with a Nazi
uber-babe, and that dopey little professor Johnson’s
been after all this time. But what is it the Nazis kidnapped
thought I’d like a book named “Harry Johnson”,
much less find myself eagerly waiting for a sequel. I mean,
it just seemed like it would be a toned down version of
a Playboy cartoon or something. Who knew the comic timing
would be so right? Who could guess a comic filled with bizarrely
voluptuous woman could still be genuinely funny? I may be
pretty jaded, but Harry Johnson got to me. In an above-the-waist
sort of way. Definitely hunt this one down if you want some
good laughs. With an extra helping of boob.
Niles, prolific bastard behind the deluge of horror comics
in recent years, adds another notch to his bedpost with
The Lurkers. Run as part of the
Meeednight Pulp Presents line of IDW, it joins Secret
Skull as one of the new breed of Zombie Noir with a
south of the border/Angelino art influence. The opening
scenes in both books feel like scenes the studio cut from
Touch of Evil, but then Niles veers off towards the graveyard,
where headstones disappear over the horizon while the dead
underneath them rest uneasily.
like Secret Skull, this book owes its identity
to the vivid work of the artist. Hector Casanova’s
lush painting carries the issue, filling the reader’s
eye with a bold and atmospheric Los Angeles trapped somewhere
between the 40s and the present. Steve Niles story lays
a firm groundwork, but Casanova does the heavy-lifting that
makes The Lurkers worth taking a look at. His style
is at the same time wholely different from the scratchy,
dirty style of Chuck BB’s Secret Skull yet
more like it than anything else on the market.
worry is that the $3.99 price tag will chase prospective
buyers off. Especially with the simplified cover art. Trust
me on this one, kids: crack it open and take a look. The
Lurkers won’t appeal to everyone, but the art
is definitely worth a trip to the store. Recommended.
cover of Planetary #21 says it
all: this is one drugged out trip through the swirly delights
of the world underneath. Whatever that means. Ellis drags
us through the familiar territory of mixing science, pseudo-science,
shamanism, and surrealism to answer a question: how can
Elijah Snow take out the surviving members of The Four?
Of course, this is a big ol’ drug trip, so what we
get is more of a blurry examination of life, death, and
the afterlife and how Elijah manages to simultaneously fit
into none of these realms.
get a contact high from
the actual cover.
issue proudly proclaims “2004 Eisner Award Winner
for Best Artist”, though the rest of the cover may
not clue non-readers into that. But the interior of the
book… Damn, John Cassaday’s good. Anyone who’s
fallen for the work he and Laura Martin do on Astonishing
X-Men should be reading Planetary regularly.
Planetary , the oversized glossy hardcover collection,
comes out in two weeks, so prepare to empty your wallet,
preferably through the provided link here
on Fanboy Planet .)
like Derek said in this week’s Spotlight,
this isn’t a very good jumping on point. Ellis fans,
Morrison fans, and Planetary fans should enjoy
the abstract philosophizing. Newbies should buy the trade
paperbacks to bring themselves up to speed before hoping
to conquer material this heavy.
#2 of Strange doesn’t give
us any reason to cheer. The Doc is still a self-absorbed
bastard, only now his hands aren’t in good enough
shape to practice surgery. So, we spend two thirds of the
story watching him fall into self pity, lash out at those
around him, and desperately search for a doctor who can
restore his manual dexterity. Would ya believe he doesn’t
have any luck?
Straczynski delivers a cute dose of irony towards the end,
but it doesn’t make up for the lack of sympathy we
have for the character or the lack of direction to be found
in the series. The minor magical talents he seemed to display
in the first outing are nowhere to be found, and there are
no signs of the Ancient One, Dormammu, or any other elements
familiar to the franchise. Instead, we get a mean snob who
gets himself in trouble and then needs others to get him
out of it. And he doesn’t even learn his lesson.
this story wouldn’t be so irritating if we weren’t
waiting for him to be a hero in the end. The expectations
surely wouldn’t be so high. And then there’s
the tension built up by the number of years this mini was
being promised to us; to get THIS as a result… ugh.
If you want Dr. Strange, dig through the bins at your local
shop for some old issues. Or even watch Venture Brothers
on Cartoon Network for their hilarious parody, Dr. Orpheus.
Strange has no connection to previous Strange stories
or the magic that made them fun.
#2, like the previous issue, is the best comic
of the week. And not just because everything else that came
out sucked. This book is f**king amazing. I read a lot of
comics. Far more than is healthy. But I can’t remember
the last time reading one set my pulse racing and made it
hard to breathe. WE3 is the product of two of the
hottest creators in the industry, totally unfettered by
market demographics or comic book formulas. And it is glorious.
plotline continues the dark lab-animal interpretation of
The Incredible Journey, rushing us along the sojourn
of a dog, cat, and rabbit turned into bio-weapons by the
government. Now, freed by their creator, they sweep across
the countryside, hoping to go “home”. Homes
which, by the lost pet signs that serve as series covers,
they can never return to. Still, the innocent creatures
push onward, plowing through soldiers that ambush them in
gory, visceral action scenes, only to be overcome by their
simple animal natures.
what makes this so powerful is Grant Morrison’s choice
to make the animals the true stars of this mini. They ARE
animals. We know this. Morrison never attempts to make them
socially aware human-wannabes. They act like a trusting
dog, a resentful cat, and a simple rabbit. Or, at least,
how those creatures would act if they’d unwittingly
been turned into living tanks. And that makes it feel so
much more real than what we usually read in comics it’s
Frank Quitely deserves the lion’s share of credit
for this mostly silent story. This is the finest work he’s
ever done, playing to his strengths and shoving his weaknesses
firmly to one side. As graphic storytelling goes, this is
the most perfect combination of bold experimentation and
simple, easy flow we’ve seen all year. You could be
reading this during a bus accident and never once feel the
urge to look up. But it’s also a traumatizing read.
You FEEL it. When tragedy strikes, it may even get you crying.
I offer this as the book we all must buy… but with
a warning. If you can’t bear to see an animal hurt…
if the sight of blood offends you… if the idea of
an innocent creature being mistreated and caught up in events
it can neither understand nor deal with is too upsetting
for you, don’t buy WE3. But if you want to
feel something from a comic… Something honest, real,
and powerful… You MUST buy this book.
gears, how is it Greg Rucka’s Adventures of Superman
can be so muddled and confused while his run on Wonder
Woman has made such a compelling move to the
mythological elements that so often serve as mere backdrop?
Sure, we always get a “By Hera!” or “In
Athena’s name!” when the Amazon princess is
around, but how often do we actually see Athena moving players
around on her chessboard, using Diana and company as tools
in a bid for the throne of Olympus?
admit it. It's the best book I'm not reading, but
if Rucka would return
of issue #209 continues the all-out brawl between Diana
and the newly resurrected Gorgon Medusa, but, as we’ve
seen for more than a year, now, the book is more about the
massive cast than Diana herself. When Medusa invades the
Themysciran embassy, the battle shifts from a contest of
demigoddesses to an attack on the family that keeps Wonder
Woman going. And a life is lost.
said Phil Jimenez’s run on Wonder Woman was
the closest the character got to George Perez’s beloved
take. I can only imagine how those fans must have felt when
Rucka came along and turned the book into the superhero
equivalent of The West Wing. But, while the story
now suffers the problem of being a solo book that doesn’t
give the hero the majority of screentime, it does give Rucka
the ability to never cap Diana’s physical power or
force her to be modest.
freedom is gained by having Diana viewed through the eyes
of the supporting cast, making it easy for us to see a perfect
goddess without her having to do much. Creating a sense
of worship from the world around her makes Wonder Woman
appear awesomely powerful. And it’s done without forcing
her to wrestle a fire-breathing hellbeast every month! A
smart strategy, indeed.
combination of clever writing and great art makes it a damn
shame this book is having so much trouble getting into the
top 50. Especially since it’s so much better than
Green Lantern, Adventures of Superman, Action Comics,
and many of the other books that beat it out every month.
Wonder Woman deserves better than that. I’d
give it a look, if I were you. Definitely recommended.
okay with the last issue of X-Men.
Might even have recommended it. Chuck Austen’s still
at the helm, but he gave us some action and intrigue for
a change. Or at least he tried to. #163 returns us to the
ineffectual team’s whining and pathetic attempts to
defend themselves without really moving the story along.
The new Brotherhood of Mutants begins its rampage through
the Xavier Institute, raining destruction and mayhem upon
the unsuspecting students, but all they manage to do is
give Sabretooth heartburn and trash the same buildings that
get rebuilt every week.
death of Sammy last month has been confirmed as something
quite real, and I have to give Austen credit for actually
making me feel something. This? This is just more dull banter
and back and forth. The characters aren’t interesting,
the fight isn’t choreographed, and all we get out
of this installment is a nice “Go team!” by
the end. And I still can’t figure out when or why
Rogue absorbed Wolvie’s mutant powers, much less how
doing so gave her metal claws.
Larocca’s art is the same mediocre fare we’ve
been dealt since he and Chuckles came onboard Uncanny X-men.
There’s nothing intrinsically exciting or involving
about it. Much as I malign Austen, I think one of the valuable
things I learned in my recent marathon read of Mark Waid’s
run on The Flash is Larocca’s uncanny ability
to suck the humor and excitement right out of a script.
That’s the case here.
Review of the Week
trying a new feature out here on the Weekly Breakdown: You,
the readers, request
a comic you’d like to see reviewed and I, the
walrus, will do my best to hunt it down. Earlier this week,
I responded to RAM’s request for a review of an Awesome
Universe book and took a look at Defex #1.
ask. We answer.
I made a broad interpretation of greynite1’s request
to hear about more independent books and found the indie-est
damn book in the shop: Students of the Unusual
#2. This little horror anthology crams six
short stories into 24 full color pages. The tales range
from realistic prison drama to a joking tribute to EC-style
urban legends to cheap bathroom humor to a ghostly pirate
story to the formation of the ultimate zombie rock band.
one of the stories takes itself too seriously, and the zombie
band story outstays its welcome, but Students of the
Unusual makes for an entertaining outing. If I’d
say there’s one fundamental problem, it’s a
tendency for the short stories to abruptly end, leaving
readers feeling like a page went missing. Aside from some
amateur art and unimpressive lettering, that’s the
ultimate sign this is more of a college art rag than a professional
comic. But the material’s fun and more ambitious than
a lot of the mainstream fare. I’m not going to say
you should run to your local shop and blow $2.95 on this
quirky little book, but it is worth a five minute flip.
if there’s anything you want us to take a look at,
head to the
forums and say so!
Predictions for Next Week: Astonishing X-Men #6,
Fallen Angel #17, JLA: Classified #1, Rising Stars #22,
and Y: The Last Man #28.