Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #21

Item the first: has anyone ever named a cat Korben Dallas?  If not, somebody should.  If not a cat, then a beagle.  I give unto you this idea, the world; use it wisely, use it well.

Item the second: I am on vacation, and my agenda over these seven remaining days is to Get Shit Done.  So let's Get some Shit Done right now.

The Man in Black?!?  That don't look like Johnny Cash to me; doesn't look like Will Smith, either.  Hell, doesn't even look like Tommy Lee Jones!

No, that's Stephen King's Man In Black, he of the being pursued through the desert by one R. Deschain, Gunslinger not for hire.

And with this issue, the latest -- and, so far as I can tell, final -- arc in Marvel's run at The Dark Tower comes to an end.  As anyone who reads this column knows, I have been less than pleased with "The Man In Black" in comics form, much of the blame for which can be laid at the feet of artist Alex Maleev, who turned in some seriously lazy and uninspired work.  That's my perception, at least; perhaps yours might be different.  I was dreading this final issue, which consists of the palaver scene from the novel.  That scene is one of my favorites in King's entire canon, and given how poorly I felt Maleev had done with his first four issues, this fifth and final one seemed like an abomination waiting to be born.

With that in mind, I am pleased to report that Maleev seemingly stepped his game up a bit here.  It still isn't what I'd call a win, exactly, but it's certainly better than I expected it to be.  It doesn't quite capture the majesty and the mystery of King's novel -- I think the comic might have needed a script by Alan Moore to accomplish that -- but it avoids being an outright failure, and that's something, at least.

At some point, these comics ought to receive a lengthy dissection/appreciation/evisceration (they deserve all three) here, but goodness me, that seems like a lot of work, and I'm on vacation.  So, it shall wait.

The inside back cover of this issue, however, promises that the long-delayed one-shot "Sheemie's Tale" is coming soon.  Word on the interwebs is that it will ship in January, and that it may end up being a two-parter.

So we are not, apparently, quite done with Mid-World-flavored comics just yet.

I am prepared now to state definitively that Jason Ciaramella needs a relief pitcher; he does not appear to be capable of closing.

I was unimpressed by the fourth and final issue of his adaptation of Joe Hill's short story The Cape; the first three issues were quite good, and then the fourth devolved into anticlimax.

Well, now the exact same thing has happened on the prequel, The Cape: 1969.  This one is better than the climax to The Cape, thanks to some good art, but it brings the overall prequel to an unsatisfying conclusion.  It's maybe the only conclusion it could have come to, but does that make for satisfying fiction?  I'm going to go with "no."  Now that it's all over, here's the explanation for why the guy in The Cape could fly: well, see, in Vietnam his dad met a witch who could fly, and got his powers from him, and then they transferred back to America via a piece of his uniform after he died.  Along the way, a fight between a flame thrower and a helicopter was involved.

If that's your idea of enhancing a great story like "The Cape," then you should check this out.  Me, I found it to be kinda pointless.  I hope this is the last trip to the Cape well that IDW will take.

And while we're on the subject of disappointing finales...

I believe this may be the only time I have ever flat-out disliked a Scott Snyder comic.  As a consequence of the resolution falling flat (which it decidedly does), I would have to characterize Lord of Nightmares as a failure overall.  It's got some great moments, and the art by Dustin Nguyen is very good, but it never actually goes anywhere, storywise.  Dracula is built up to be the biggest badass ever, and when he finally shows up, it's ... let's just call in anticlimactic and leave it at that, shall we.

So Scott Snyder finally disappoints.  I suppose it had to happen eventually.

Meanwhile, Darwyn Cooke delivers what is quite probably the best issue of Before Watchmen to date.  In this issue: Hollis helps Byron fix his wings; our heroes go to a funeral; we find out what happened to Ursula; Sally takes something personally; Eddie has a rough time overseas; we get a sort of Silhouette origin story; and Hooded Justice has a bad dream.

Part of me feels like the Ursula storyline here is handled wrong; I wish it had been dealt with straightforward, rather than in chopped-up flashbacks.  It's good, though, and presenting it that way probably makes her loss seem a bit more like a loss.  Cooke, as always, draws her exceptionally well.  His art overall on this series has been spectacular, and this issue is the best one yet.

Two Minutemen issues remain; if they are as good as this, then at least one arm of Before Watchmen will have been an unqualified success.

Three issues in, and I'm still enjoying Victor Gischler and Paul Lee's Spike: A Dark Place.  In this issue, we get a flashback to 1953 --where I'm not sure the phrase "bite-size" existed yet, but no matter -- for a brief interlude in which Spike meets Pearl and Nash, the baddies who showed up at the end of the last issue (and who have been active over in Angel & Faith).  Back in the present day, they fight a bit, and then Spike and his new succubus friend Morgan haul ass back to the bugship and take off.

It's all breezy fun, with the requisite chucklers in the dialogue and some pretty good art.  The story doesn't go much of anywhere here, but that's par for the course in issue #3 of a five-part miniseries.

I'm still kinda bummed it didn't end up beinf a Spike-centric ripoff of Farscape, but hey, since when do we get everything we want?  What's here is pretty good, and that's good enough for me.

In this issue of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Miles helps Captain America defend against an attack on S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters.  I don't have much more to say than that; good issue, although it seems to me that Miles' fighting prowess has developed much too quickly, and ought to have been more of a process.  That's a mild complaint, though; this continues to be an enjoyable read on a monthly basis.

As for our final book this week, Captain Marvel #5, I continue to want to enjoy it moreso than I actually enjoy it.  I believe I may have said that before in regards to this series; well, hey, look, I don't have many thoughts, so sometimes I repeat myself.  I believe I may have said that before in regards to this series.  Uh...

Anyways, there is a new artist onboard this month, which is good news, as I disliked the previous artist's work rather intensely.  Sadly, the new artist isn't a heck of a lot better.  She does well in some panels, but also has a tendency to not be able to draw faces terribly well.

The story continues to interest me, though; it's not a home run, by any means, but it gets on base pretty much every issue, and so I keep wanting to give it one more issue just to see if the whole thing'll finally snap into focus.  I believe I may have said that before in regards to this series.

And on that Alzheimery note, let's call it a week.  See y'all later.

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