Comic Picks By The Glick

…and then there was this time I bought a lot of comics at WonderCon!

May 23, 2014

I believe the title here is pretty self-explanatory.  While there are a few titles I plan to give a full review of at some point, there were several things that I at least wanted to write something about.  Also, with the solicitations coming out this week instead of the previous one, I needed to start banking posts in advance of my trip to Fanime.  I’m still going strong there after twelve years!  So what can you expect to find after the break?  Just some Ennis, Aaron, Arcudi, Hine, Kane, Garney, Robinson, Jimenez and more.

While I’ll normally buy anything Garth Ennis has written as soon as it comes out, I didn’t get The Chronicles of Wormwood vol. 2:  The Last Battle until I picked it up at the con for half-off.  (This is true of the rest of the titles I’ll be talking about here.)  The first volume about Danny Wormwood, the Antichrist turned TV-producer, and his friend Jay, a.k.a. Brain-Damaged Jesus, had its moments but managed to be incredibly crude and tasteless even by the writer’s normal standards.  So this one just sat around on my Amazon Wish List in the hopes that someone would save me the trouble of spending money to find out if this one was any better.

Now that I’ve read it, the volume turned out better than I was expecting.  As Wormwood faces impending fatherhood he agonizes about things in a way that feels like Ennis is working out his own issues as well.  Yet he does this with a welcome amount of honesty and humor, most of it involving a talking rabbit, and has his characters work out their issues like adults instead of screechy ciphers trying to create drama.  Though it’s a shame that artist Oscar Jimenez’s heavily-detailed style is miscast on the scenes involving just humans interacting (he’s much better suited to the books hellish supernatural side), you can see the man throwing himself into making them work that his efforts come off as pretty admirable.

The Bulletproof Coffin probably deserves more words than I’m giving it here as it’s a bravura work of metafiction that makes me want to pick up its second volume.  Its genius is that nearly every part of the series is devoted to creating its own ersatz comics universe that is stumbled upon by a garbageman named Steve who used to read the comics that came from it.  Each issue has a story featuring the likes of “The Unforgiving Eye,” “Ramona, Queen of the Stone Age,” and “The Coffin Fly,” as Steve finds out that the worlds made by the people who created these comics are not only real but in danger of being consumed by Big 2 Publishing.  Creators David Hine and Shaky Kane are not only a key part of the narrative whose self-insertion is actually pulled off quite well and with a real sense of tragedy at the end.  Even though the ending we get here works quite well, I’m genuinely curious to see where these two are going to take things next.

Kurtis Wiebe and Riley Rossmo did an interesting little miniseries called “Debris” a while back that would’ve benefitted greatly from having more space to tell its story than four issues.  However, they had five to work with in the first volume of their previous collaboration Green Wake and the end result was a giant mess.  Morely Mack is a resident of the mysterious title town, a place for lost souls and frogs, with the story of this collection centering around the efforts of him and his partner, Krieger, to solve a recent string of murders.  The plot is full of contrivances, with the world in particular feeling like a half-baked collection, and Rossmo’s art looks really unfocused and sloppy most of the time.  Even if things do start making sense in the end, the payoff isn’t enough to make me want to come back for the second volume.

Speaking of payoffs, the ones that pepper the final issue of Ultimate Comics Captain America make it a satisfying read.  Things start off with Jason Aaron showing us he’s got a good handle on the more angry and violent version of Cap from the Ultimate Universe as he goes up against the Captain America of the Vietnam war.  Or, Ultimate Nuke for those of us familiar with the character’s original incarnation.  We see Cap put through the wringer to the point where we find out that this version of him has a strong religious side as well.  Fortunately Aaron keeps things from getting preachy with deus-ex-machina involving a snake that has the character questioning his actions.  Art is from Ron Garney, who continues to show that he and the writer can do no wrong together.

“It’s ‘Harry Potter’ for the children of assassins,” is the central idea behind this series involving the son of a legendary who enrolls at the School of Five Weapons.  Five Weapons vol. 1:  Making the Grade gets lot of mileage out of the fact that this kid, Tyler, won’t actually pick up a weapon yet manages to turn the power structure of the school on its ear through his clever mind.  There’s also a lot to like about Tyler and the rest of the cast as well as Robinson’s energetic art.  Of course, this all hinges on the reader not thinking too much about how fact that these kids are being trained as killers themselves is being treated as blithely as possible with no thought of the eventual consequences of such a thing.  Otherwise the book becomes unreadable.

The easy way to dismiss something like Dead Space is to say that it’s about as good as you’d expect a videogame tie-in comic to be.  Particularly when the game it’s tying into was never really known for its story.  While that’s quite true, I still wish writer Antony Johnston had put as much effort into the actual narrative as he does with the character profiles that kick off this collection.  The volume does have one real saving grace:  Ben Templesmith.  His creepy style is perfect for this world of Lovecraftian outer space horrors, and it’s worth picking this up if you’re a fan of Templesmith’s work.  If you’re only a fan of the games and you haven’t yet picked this up, then you’re still not missing all that much.

So it turns out that in the waning days of DC’s Wildstorm imprint, future “B.P.R.D.” creators John Arcudi and Peter Snejbjerg created a graphic novel called A God Somewhere.  Subsequently re-published by Vertigo, it tells the story of a man who gains superpowers through the eyes of his closest friend.  The story is set in the “real” world and as you’d expect these kinds of stories to go, the human with superpowers slowly starts to become disconnected from and then turns on humanity.  Even with this predictable arc, Arcudi’s characters are so well-defined that you’re likely to become involved in their struggle even if the outcome is obvious.  Peter Snejberg’s art also enhances the experience, perfectly capturing the wonder and horror of the narrative.

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