Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bryant Has Issues #23

Guess what?







Yep.  
 
You guessed it: 
 
"Bryant Has Issues" is back!

Not sure about the McRib; it might be, for all I know.  You're on your own as far as that goes.  In any case, I have returned to blather nonsense about comic books, and I've got a solid month's worth of issues to work my way through in this post.

I intend to be as brief and non-specific as possible.  We'll see how that works out.

*****

Up first, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez begin the sure-to-be-epic final arc of Locke & Key, "Omega."




Locke & Key has thus far been nothing short of a classic.  Nothing that happens in the final arc is likely to change that; instead, what will be answered by "Omega" is the question of whether the overall series is a mere classic, or an outright masterpiece.

Based on this first issue, I can't quite get a read on which way things are leaning.  "Omega" #1 feels very much like a prologue, which is okay by me.  There's definitely nothing bad here, and -- as always -- there's plenty to enjoy, starting with exceptional art by Rodriguez.

The emphasis here is on character, and a decent amount of time is spent with minor characters like Kavanaugh and Jordan, both of whom I'd kinda forgotten existed, somehow.  Let's blame me for that, and not Hill.

Although...

Part of the peril inherent in a long-form comics tale like Locke & Key is that if a leisurely publishing schedule is combined with characters who go absent from the story for a few chapters, the result is that said characters can easily be forgotten.  If my calculations are correct, Kavanaugh has not appeared in an issue of Locke & Key since roughly November of 2010.  That's a two-year absence for anyone who has been reading the comic issue-by-issue since its beginning.  (Which is not me, by the way; I didn't jump on board until sometime in 2011, and the first issue I bought as it came out was "Clockworks" #1.)

But that's okay.  At this point in the history of comics consumption, the audience for any given title will consist of way more people who read it as a set of graphic novels than as a series of single issues.  Most of them will not read it until the entire series is finished, and for them, Kavanaugh's absence won't seem nearly as lengthy.  Nor will it for me when I settle down to reread the entire thing once it's finished.  It seemed mildly problematic here, but since I was able to recognize the difficulties for what they were -- my memory being slow to shake the rust off -- I was able to just roll with it.

Not much more to say, except to point out that the issue begins and ends with very ominous beats involving Bode/Dodge.  And also to point out a Joe Hill cameo in the art:




Heh.


American Vampire #33 wraps up the "Blacklist" arc with a bang, as the confrontation between Pearl and Hattie comes to a head.  The cover indicates that things might not end all that happily.  Covers cannot always be relied upon in comics; whether that is the case this time, I shall leave for you to find out.

It's a good issue, although it didn't read as well solo as I suspect it will read in its eventual collected form.




Scott Snyder's Joker-centric new arc of Batman, "Death of the Family," rolls on with issue #14.  Issue #13 ended with Alfred being menaced by the Joker, his fate unresolved; here, it seems that the faceless wonder has merely abducted Alfred, rather than killing him.

It's a testament to the excellent work Snyder and artist Greg Capullo are doing on this series that it seemed plausible even for a moment that Alfred might be killed off.  Surely DC would balk at that.  Right?  No way they allow Snyder to kill off a character as entrenched in Batman lore as Alfred Pennyworth.

Or is there?

Another character is seriously threatened in #14, and while I suspect there is even less chance that this one will actually die, there are moments when I wonder a bit.

Snyder is clearly out for blood in this arc, and I feel almost certain that somebody is going six feet under for good.  I don't know who yet, but I'm definitely looking forward to finding out.

Good stuff.





On the other hand, I was rather bored by the #14 issues of both Swamp Thing and Animal Man.  This "Rotworld" story has zero inertia; I'll be glad when it's over.

It's been so lame, in fact, that I feel myself losing interest in both titles individually.  I'm going to stick with them to see what direction they appear to be headed in once "Rotworld" finishes; if I don't like the looks of it, that might be enough to get me to pull the plugs.  I've got to start saving to buy a new car within probably the next year or so; competition for my comics dollars is going to be quite fierce, and if "Rotworld" seems to be the best that DC editorial is willing to give me from Snyder and Lemire on these books, then I know of roughly six dollars that can be freed up on a monthly basis real damn quick.

Speaking of which...






I am officially sick and fucking tired of Before Watchmen.  Let me be clear: I'm planning on continuing to buy it, at least until the final issue of The Minutemen comes out.  However, DC, I'm telling you right now: if you announce a single additional title -- even if it's just a one-shot -- between now and then, I'll just pull the plug on the whole damn thing.  I've enjoyed The Minutemen, so I'm in for the final two issues of that miniseries, but the rest... well, now that Silk Spectre -- which I liked a lot -- has concluded, all we're left with apart from The Minutemen is stuff that I basically don't give a shit about, because it's been mediocre at best.

My OCD is beefy enough that I want to see things through to the end.  But DC, I swear to Doctor Manhattan himself, I will not buy this series in perpetuity.  So if you have it somewhere in the back of your sleazy little skull that you can just keep announcing new titles under the Before Watchmen imprint, and keep getting my money monthly, you can forget that shit right now.  Unless Darwyn Cooke and/or Amanda Conner are writing/drawing them, that's gonna be a no-go, gents.

Quickly, a few specifics about he three issues shown above.

J Michael Straczynski's Moloch #1 is awful.  Here's the thing about Moloch as a villain in Watchmen: he works -- to the extent he works at all -- only because we know very little about him.  What we do know is pathetic, which is befitting someone who is being used by Moore and Dave Gibbons to purposely evoke z-grade comics villains of a bygone era.  The whole point is that he sucks, and we know that he sucks, and because of that understanding between Moore/Gibbons and audience, there is really no need to go into any detail about the specifics of that suck.

An yet, here come two issues from DC and JMS, telling us all about Moloch, trying to make him interesting when the fact that he isn't interesting was built into the character by Alan Moore three decades ago.

There are a few interesting moments, few of them courtesy of artist Eduardo Riso, whose work here does not impress me.

As for Silk Spectre #4 and Ozymandias #4, they serve as excellent counterpoints for the potential inherent in a series like Before Watchmen.  Done well -- as in Silk Spectre -- you get a story that enriches the original characters without intruding on or invalidating the original tale.  Done poorly -- as in Ozymandias -- you get a story that not only adds nothing in the way of a greater appreciation for the original characters, but also manages to remind me on a panel-by-panel basis of just how inferior what you are reading is to the original.  I even find myself growing rather annoyed by Jae Lee's art.  He has certain tics and tendencies that are really rather grating, and he seems to be either incapable of or unwilling to get rid of them.

As if that isn't evidence enough that DC is bungling Before Watchmen, it's also worth pointing out that they have recently lost a handle on their shipping schedule.  Or their printing schedule, or something.  Each issue of the series has included a two-page backup story, an installment in a pirate story called "The Curse of the Crimson Corsair."  Lately, that has been presented as a substory, called "Wide Were His Dragon Wings."  Part one of that appeared in Dr. Manhattan #2, which was published on October 10.  The following week, The Minutemen #4 presented part two of WWHDW.

Up until that point, an issue of Before Watchmen had appeared, like clockwork, every week, but what happened next was a two-week break, followed by Moloch #1, which included not part three of WWHDW, but part four!  Part three would not appear until after another two-week layoff, in the back of the final issue of Silk Spectre.  Part five appeared in Ozymandias #4, which also shipped the same week.

So, somehow, DC managed to print their own backup stories out of order.  Either that, or they printed their whole issues out of order.  Frankly, neither surprises me.  It's indicative of the paltry skill running rampant through the comics industry as a whole, and through DC in particular.  There's only so much of this type of bullshit incompetence I'm going to be willing to underwrite, fellas.




Speaking of bullshit, here's something that is definitively something other.  Saga returns after a several-months break, custom designed to allow artist Fiona Staples to catch up.  Take all the time you need on this one, Fiona; the wait is worth it, whatever the wait may be.

It's another great issue, one which has a splash page so mind-wreckingly horrible between its covers that it makes me plain old happy just to think about how awful it is.  Does that seem like a contradiction?  Well, trust me when I tell you, it kinda is.

I'm sore tempted to replicate that page here, but I just can't do it.  I try to keep the number of scrotums to a minimum on my blog, and this page would definitely up the total.

So read it for yourself, and be horrified/delighted just as I was.







Meanwhile, over in the Buffyverse, Dark Horse has apparently decided to pull a Before Watchmen and release an issue roughly once a week.  Guys, I love ya, and you're producing quality books, but did I mention I need to start saving for a new car?  I can't buy four Buffyverse titles a month; I just can't do it.  So pretty please, once the Willow mini is finished, let's hold off on those spinoffs for a while, howsabout?

All four of these issues were pretty good.  I think I even managed to read the issue of Angel & Faith eventually, as opposed to just staring at the cover for a while with the sound of a springy doorstopper reverberating in my head for some unknown reason.




I do not care about this weird Hydra-spawned civil war that is going on in the Ultimate universe.  Not even a little bit.  So the fact that this month's Ultimate Comics Spider-Man dove right into it annoyed me.  Not quite as much as the "Rotworld" stuff over at DC, but close; close.  I hope it goes away real quick; if it doesn't, hey, found me three more monthly car dollars.

*****

Final note: I recently managed to get caught up on The Walking Dead in its comics form.




Caught up in terms of the trade collections, at least; I think there are maybe two single issues that have come out that are not represnted in the trades.  But that's as close to caught up as it gets for me with this particular series; I am not planning on buying the single issues, as the trades are plenty good enough for me.

I won't get into any specifics, since I figure a few of my readers are probably content to stick to the television series, and wouldn't appreciate me issuing what could be spoilers by discussing things that happen in the comics.  Never let it be said that I am not sensitive.  I'm sensitive as fuck, y'all.

Speaking of which, there was a happening in this trade that made me have to put the book down and go walk it off for a while.  It was upsetting on a level that recalled certain events in, say, The Dark Tower VII.  Yep; that bad.  And earlier in the book, there was one which was maybe not AS bad, but was still pretty dadgum bad in its own right.

For a horror comic, of course, that is a mark of excellence.  I'm not a huge fan of this series, but since I've bought seventeen volumes of it so far, I certainly like it reasonably well.  And I'm continually amazed by how well Robert Kirkman is able to keep the story moving in a logical direction.  He's not flawless in that regard, but when he gets it right, he gets it very right; here, he gets it very right.

And thus endeth the most recent installment of "Bryant Has Issues," which does indeed seem destined to live on, despite the uncertainty of a few weeks ago.  Time considerations have eased up a bit; I still seem likely to not have the amount of time for blogging that I wish I had, but for now, I think time still permits these little sojourns into the world of funny-books.

3 comments:

  1. Death of the Family? Is that a conscious callback to "Death In the Family?" I hope there's no 800 number to call where bloodthirsty fanboys can kill Alfred!

    The infamous-death-of-Jason-Todd issue is the last valuable comic I bought at cover price, come to think of it. Maybe not, but that was one I got off the racks at the five and dime. Which seems as quaint to me now as a pilgrim-recreation village.

    "It's indicative of the paltry skill running rampant through the comics industry as a whole, and through DC in particular. There's only so much of this type of bullshit incompetence I'm going to be willing to underwrite, fellas."

    Amen to those sentiments. I sailed on that boat a ways back and the reliability of things like this Before-Watchmen-publishing-hiccup (not to mention the endless 'events' at Marvel) never tempt me back.

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  2. So wait, does this mean you get to keep the interet and, hopefully, keep posting on Truth Inside Lie?

    'Cause for a time there with the new job requirements I was wondering if things were going to come to a halt with this site.

    ChrisC

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    Replies
    1. Oh, I'm definitely not shuttering the blog. The only way that would happen is if my car dies soon, which, granted, it is threatening to do. If THAT were to happen, then money would suddenly become tight to the extent that I'd have to shut the old internet off for a year or so.

      I don't think that's going to happen, though. (And yes, I did indeed just knock on every piece of wood within my grasp immediately after typing that sentence!)

      As for the work issues, they've settled down somewhat. We're going to be losing additional manpower at the end of the month, though, and it remains to be seen what sort of effect that is going to have on my hours. It's totally out of my grasp. Worst-case scenario as far as that goes, though, is that I'll simply have to reduce the amount of time I devote to blogging.

      Heck, even if the internet gets turned off, I'll post from somebody else's computer every once in a while.

      Essentially: I might end up being around less frequently, but I'm definitely not going away.

      Thanks for asking!

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