Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bryant Has Issues #35

Tonight, on Bryant Has Issues: the author tries to set a new land-speed record for flying through his comic-book column!

I'm excited by this issue, not because the content thrills me particularly, but because my copy has two covers.  Obviously a mistake at the DC factory, but hey, I can hope that makes it super-valuable and rare, can't I?  These cats of mine ain't gonna put themselves through college.

Anyways, whether or not my copy of this issue has some misprint value (unlikely) or not (likely), it's an entertaining comic.  The first part takes place aboard a zeppelin, where the Red Hood gang is apparently stealing Wayne Enterprises weaponry from Oswald Cobblepot and some gangster named Falcone.  Except it isn't really Cobblepot; it's Bruce Wayne in disguise, and since part of that disguise involves making himself something like two feet shorter than normal, you're going to have to color me a little confused as to how the mechanics of this all works.

The issue progresses to find Bruce and Alfred having an argument over Bruce's tactics, and ends with Bruce's Uncle Philip throwing a surprise party announcing -- against Bruce's wishes -- that his nephew is back in Gotham.  Philip wants Bruce to take an active hand in Wayne Enterprises again, you see.

As Bruce is trying to duck out on the party, he has a run-in with Edward Nygma, who tells him that Philip is selling weapons to the Red Hood gang.  Part of this conversation involves a very cool page of art that depicts an ouroboros-esque circular design, with a series of art panels and dialogue panels running in a circle from the outside of the page to the inside.

Stunt art like this doesn't always work -- the big pullout poster in issue #1 of Scott Snyder's Superman Unchained, for example, fell flat on its face (as far as I'm concerned, at least) -- but here, it seems appropriate and integral.  Very cool.

The issue ends with a bang, and I guess we'll see what happens with that next month.

I was mostly unimpressed by the first issue of Superman Unchained, thanks in no small measure to an inflated price tag and to a lame stunt Jim Lee and Scott Snyder pulled on the art side of things (the aforementioned pullout poster).

I thought the second issue was a massive improvement in virtually every way.

The issue begins with Superman racing the clock to stop a robotic construction unit called Apollodorus from toppling the Dubai Tower.  Snyder does a great job writing the scene; it lasts seven pages, all but the last of which take place over the course of nineteen seconds.  Here, Superman is mentally calculating how much time he has to save the situation, and the disconnect between how fast the action is taking place in the story and how much longer it is taking us to read and view it is an awesome way of emphasizing the speed with which Superman moves.  That's the sort of thing that can never properly be done on film; only in prose or in a comic book can that work as well as it works here.  Jim Lee's art is equally up to the task.  Let's have a look at the first few pages of the sequence:

Later, Clark visits Bruce Wayne; this is a good sequence, and it, as much as anything in the actual Batman comic Snyder has been writing for the past two years, makes it clear that he has mastered the Dark Knight.  There are signs in this issue that he might be able to come to as complete a mastery of the Man of Steel, too; exciting!

Elsewhere, Superman has a confrontation with General Lane, who has a surprise cooked up for him.

And inside the prison he is in, Lex Luthor has a few surprises of his own cooked up.

My complaint about the book is that I have no notion of what Luthor has done to end up in jail.  Do I need to know?  Not really.  But it wouldn't hurt anything.

All in all, though, this was a satisfying read, and all of a sudden I'm looking forward to more Superman Unchained from Snyder and Lee.

You might recall that I was more than a bit iffy on the first issue of IDW's The X-Files Season 10.  A lot of that tentativeness had to do with the art, which I thought worked in some ways and fell flat on its face in others.  Part of what I thought worked about it was that it was cartoony enough the artist Michael Walsh was able to capture the essence of the characters without feeling the need to try to slavishly replicate the actors' looks in a realistic way.

Well, after the second issue, I am prepared to render a verdict:

I like this art.  In fact, I think I like it a lot.  Let's have a look at the first three pages, which feature a "woo-hoo!" moment in the way of the return of Agent John Doggett (one of my favorite characters from the show):

This both looks and -- more importantly -- feels like John Doggett to me.  And more importantly than that, it both looks and feels like The X-Files.

The bulk of the issue is taken up by Mulder meeting with the not-at-all-deceased Lone Gunmen, who are hiding out working for the government in a laboratory beneath their graves in Arlington National Cemetery.  Now that I type that, I realize that this particular plot point does not feel at all like The X-Files, but that I somehow not only don't mind it, but actively enjoy it.  It feels a bit like something that would never happen, but nevertheless feels right in some way I cannot immediately justify.

I dunno, maybe I'm just in a good mood or something today.


Anyways, I liked the issue a lot, and am now looking forward to the next one.

As usual, I have little to say about this series.  This was a good issue, though, from start to finish.

Here's a panel (depicting Spike making a phone call to Xander) that does a tidy job of summing up why I, as a Buffy fan, find the comic to be well worth reading on a monthly basis:

Lols aplenty at that one.


And that's it for this week, True Believers!  I've got plans for a supplementary edition soon, wherein I cover some '90s Image work Alan Moore did, but I'm not entirely sure that's actually going to happen.  Especially since I haven't even finished reading it yet.

Time well tell!

Anyways, if I don't talk to you before, I'll be back next week with a review of the fifth episode of Under the Dome.


  1. I've never got into the whole Buffy world. I suppose I could give it another shot.


    1. It's like brie; you either love or think the people who love it are weirdos.

      For what it's worth, it took me a while to really get into it. A friend, when we were first getting to know one another, pestered me into watching it because it was her then-favorite show. I resisted, and kept on resisting most of the way through the first season, but at some point it clicked with me. Now, I love it. Lurve it, even. I'm kinda itching to do a rewatch on that and "Angel" both, but my plate is full, and I don't know when the hell I'll ever find time for it at this rate.

  2. Well, I'm sort of torn on the X Files comic.

    On the one hand, I'm not so sure where there is to go with this idea, on the other, the chance to see the Lone Gunmen Again...oh dear.

    Part of my cautious enthusiasm of that plot development is the conviction that the final seasons of the show can be summed up in a two word review: Totally Abortive.

    I'm not alone, either, King went on record as saying the show went downhill when Ducovny walked. I don't disagree, rather I'd add also the fact that the show always labored under the handicap of less than well thought out over-arching main storyline.

    As I've said before, unlike, say, Breaking Bad, Files alien idea, while potentially promising, somehow never managed to be as well conceived, realized, or interesting than the stand alone episodes.

    The reason for that I think goes back to the Wallace Stevens line about how "The Column of Reality has a Hole in it." That in a nutshell is the Files and also what makes it great. It was show about exploring that "Hole" in reality, and how people react to or with it, both good, bad, and ambiguous.

    For whatever reason, it's almost an idea strong enough to stand up on it's own. Attaching an alien invasion storyline just seems to have cheapen it in some way.

    I will say one thing, thank Heaven for Dreamcatcher. It's easy to imagine that book as centered around the invasion that was supposed to be a the center of Files and tie up all the loose ends the show unjustly left hanging.

    Plus, wouldn't it be cool if the alien of Dreamcatcher was the Bounty Hunter from Files?

    Just a thought.


    1. My history with "The X-Files" is complicated, but I think I can sum it up relatively succinctly:

      (1) Became a fan during season 3; fandom became HUGE
      (2) Became disgruntled by show during season 6, when every week Fox promised that all the secrets would be revealed, but never were
      (3) Did not watch final three seasons
      (4) Became interested again when I decided to buy DVDs as a means of completing my Stephen King DVD collection; season box sets were on sale big-time, so I bought all nine
      (5) A friend -- same one referenced in above Buffy comment -- expressed some interest, so we started watching; I issued a warning that show began sucking hardcore around season 6
      (6) We proceeded to massively enjoy the first five seasons, and then...season 6 as well!
      (7) Despite obvious plotting gaps and actor issues, we also enjoyed season 7
      (8) SURE that the show would be awful without Mulder, we plunged ahead, only to find that we both LOVED season 8, and -- despite a somewhat unsatisfying finale -- much of season 9
      (9) Then the second movie was mediocre as hell, and I figured that was that.

      So, long story short: when I returned to the show circa 2004-2007 (which is about how long it took us to work our way through it), I was surprised -- maybe even shocked -- at how well it held up for me. And much of what I'd tuned out for in the latter seasons pleased me just fine, too. Even the overarching mythology. Yeah, it falls on its face here and there; but I think more of it works than I'd ever given it credit for.

      With it being the 20th anniversary this year, it feels like the show is in the zeitgeist again. I'd love for there to be a third movie, one that was written by Vince Gilligan and took the show back to the alien plotline. The standalones were arguably when the show was at its best, but I think most fans at heart want there to be aliens in the story. THAT'S what "The X-Files" is really all about.

      Bryant votes no to the "Dreamcatcher" connection; he is not a fan of that book, and even less a fan of the movie.

    2. Aww. I DUDDITS!

      Speaking of Mulder and Scully:

      (Poor Doggett.)