I was sitting around today and thought, "You know, it's been a while since I had fried chicken." So I went and got some fried chicken. Then I thought, "You know, it's been a while since I wrote a Bryant Has Issues."
In fact, it's been well over a month. Unacceptable! So: time to make amends and talk some comics.
First up is a title you won't see on the shelves at your local comic shop:
Haven: After the Storm is a thirteen-page mini-comic that is included with the Blu-ray set (and the DVD set) of the show's third season. It takes place immediately after the third-season finale, and involves Dwight being angry at Nathan for having seemingly prevented the end of the Troubles by way of killing Agent Howard.
The comic doesn't amount to a whole heck of a lot, to be honest. Dwight yells at Nathan; Nathan mopes; the two of them deal with a Troubled guy whose Trouble is threatening to level the town. Dwight talks to other members of The Guard, two of whom -- from the shadows, so we can't see them (natch) -- insist that none of that matters...that Nathan must nevertheless die. The implication is that these shadowy figures will be important to the fourth season, but we're about halfway through that season and they haven't shown up yet. So, yeah...not so much. Not yet, at least.
If for some strange reason you are considering buying the third season just to get this comic, I think I'd probably recommend that you consider not doing that. The comic isn't awful, but it adds nothing to the show's story.
Here's the recently-released Hundred Penny Press edition of Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft #1. It's just a reissue of the first issue of the series. No bells; no whistles. No need for you to buy it, unless you've got a spare buck or a mild social disorder that demands that you buy every edition of something you like.
I had the former.
By now, we're nearly halfway done with the series, and a pattern has definitely emerged: each issue begins with a prologue that takes place either in the distant past or in the future, and presents information that makes us lift our eyebrows in delighted bemusement.
The Wake #4 is no exception: 100,000 years ago, two tribal chieftains meet in some sort of diplomatic scenario, and one of them promptly levels the other with what appears to be a laser-cannon-armed tank. Did I mention that the tank seems to be drawn by a giant lizard? It does.
The rest of the issue returns to the present-day story, and involves the semi-futile efforts of the surviving members of the team of scientists to escape from the chaos unleashed in the previous issue.
I'd love to post the final panel of the issue. I won't, though. All I'll do is hint that if you've read the first issue, you find yourself vocalizing a knowing "Ohhhhhhhhhhh.........."
So let's have a look at a few random panels I liked instead:
Sean Murphy's art is terrific, but Scott Snyder's story is pretty terrific, too. Great stuff all around here.
Speaking of Snyder, here's the latest issue of his run on Batman. You can't tell from the cover, but it's a double-sized issue (complete with a double-sized $6.99 cover price), which indicates that this issue is intended to be something special.
And you know what? It kind of is.
Here's a few pages' worth of an example:
Odds are that if you are a Batman fan, part of the reason why you are a Batman fan is because of scenes like this one. As Kevin Smith might say, you want to see Batman doin' the kind of shit Batman would do. And you don't want to see someone faking it.
Snyder and artist Greg Capullo are decidedly not faking it. I haven't loved every single issue of Snyder's Bat-run, but cumulatively, it is a very impressive thing indeed, and it only grows moreso as time passes.
There is plenty going on in #24, and I'll give you this much of a hint: a great deal of it takes place inside Ace Chemical. And involves Red Hood One.
Say, we're talking about some pretty damn solid comics this time! With Saga, I sometimes feel that even if I thought the series itself was garbage, it'd be worth buying simply for the beautiful covers. There's nothing complicated going on there; it's just two characters, standing on a wind-swept hill. But damn if it isn't pretty.
In this issue: tabloid reporters meet Alana's "mom"; a cyclops vomits on an infant; flying paint-spattered sharks; a dead spider-woman talks a bald man into kissing a woman who has horns growing out of her head (not in the Joe Hill sense of things, I assume); Lying Cat makes a pronouncement; a weasel-man (or man-weasel) makes a telephone call; and a robot-man (or man-robot) uses a gas pump.
To call Saga eclectic is to undersell it in some ways, but know this: it hangs together beautifully, and is constantly surprising.
I cannot end this mini-review without showing you what a cyclops puking on a baby looks like. Impossible. Wouldn't dream of it.
I'm telling you, Fiona Staples is worth her weight in gold. These three panels are close to perfect, as far as I'm concerned. I especially love the fact that some of the puke appears to be coming out of Heist's nose. Awesome.
From one Brian K. Vaughan series to another, we get the long-awaited fourth issue of The Private Eye. And it's every bit as awesome as you'd hope. Before I delve further into that awesomeness, a plug: the issues of the series can all still be downloaded (on a pay-as-you-will basis) at the Panel Syndicate website. This is an endeavor that is well worth supporting.
In this issue: Patrick and his client search for clues as to why Taj was murdered. They go nym shopping, pay an illegal visit to the library, and are involved in a rather surprisingly massive car wreck. Later, someone is offered oral satisfaction, and politely accepts. There are also Frenchmen with Chinese food, a reference to the "Paul administration," and some encouraging news for the U.S. Postal service. It's all delightful, with superb Marcos Martin art and beyond-superb Muntsa Vincete colors. Let's have us a look at some panels that delighted me above-and-beyond the norm:
And again -- again! -- I marvel that Vaughan also wrote the pilot for Under the Dome. Hand to God, I think he's using that series to just punk us all.
Next up: the third issue of the miniseries Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril. I thought the first two issues were a complete blast, but I was less enchanted by this one. The story involves Tom and Val continuing to look for Tom Strange, and not making a huge amount of progress.
Mostly, what this issue is is an excuse to show off a bunch of cool Terra Obscura characters. And I'm okay with that; this isn't a bad issue. It has plenty of imagination. It just doesn't have much in the way or forward momentum.
However, this issue is also the midpoint of the miniseries, so it might simply be a case of write Peter Hogan needing to find a way to transition from one phase into another. When #4 rolls around, I guess we'll see whether that happens or not.
"Season 10" of The X-Files has been fairly good so far, and that continues to be the case with issue #4. It begins with a bang (by which I mean that it begins with someone getting shot), and then works its way back in time to show us how said shooting came about. Suffice it to say that it involves telepathy, aliens, Mulder riding an ATV, a convenience store staffed by a little old lady with enormous glasses, and a plot twist. Duh-duh-DUMMMMM!!!!!
It's not bad. The art has continued to grow on me, and while I'm undecided on whether or not I feel this is actually doing its job as a "tenth season" for the series, I'm enjoying it enough to find it to be worth my time and money.
Trillium #3 continues the trippy fun-with-the-comics-medium goodness that has been a hallmark of the series to date. As with previous issues, the third splits its time between the two main characters, and each time the perspective shifts away from the futuristic sci-fi plotline to the past-set jungle-exploration plotline, Lemire turns the layouts upside down, causing those of us reading a physical copy of the book to have to flip it over.
I find this to be kind of fun. However, I don't think the tactic works quite as well in this issue as it did in the first two, and I would be understanding if you told me that you thought it was an annoying bit of tomfoolery. I can imagine some people feeling like it distracts from the story, instead of enhancing it. I wouldn't agree; but I could sympathize.
For me, though, I find that this is still a strong recommend. The sci-fi elements are becoming more and more interesting each issue, as are the character scenes. Lemire's art strikes a good balance between cartoonish and realistic, and doesn't entirely look like the work of anyone else with who I am familiar.
I don't have much to say apart from that, apart from pointing out that this seems destined to be one of those series that lives or dies based on how well it all ties together in the end. I suspect that Lemire has something solid in the works.
But I've been wrong before.
I enjoyed the first issue of this miniseries, which is an adaptation of George Lucas's first-draft screenplay of the film we know as Star Wars. That first draft was immensely different than the finished product, with different characters, a different plot, and, really, an entirely different feel.
I enjoyed the first issue a lot. I enjoyed the second issue less. In both cases, the art is a big part of the reason why.
Artist Mike Mayhew is, unless I am very badly mistaken, using a technique that involves taking photos of people who model for him the basic postures and facial expressions that wants to use in his panels. He then uses those photos as a reference. A lot of artists do this; nothing weird about it. It helps create a more realistic look, and also helps to individuate characters. If that's what Mayhew is doing, it worked very well for the first issue. For the second, there are numerous panels where the result is, to be blunt, too photo-realistic. By which I mean that it looks like a photo someone drew over the top of. Now, let's be clear; I'm not saying that's what Mayhew did. All I'm saying is that there are maybe a dozen or so panels in this issue in which it looks like it, to my eyes.
If that's the case, then it says one thing to me: Dark Horse has this series on a too-fast schedule, and the art is going to suffer as a result. I am purely speculating on all of that, though, and as for the suffering of the art, let's hope that what I'm describing is something that will prove to be an aberration.
Let's look at an example:
That middle panel is especially egregious. Uh-oh indeed.
In other respects, though, the second issue continues to be fairly cool. A moon-sized space fortress shows up, as do a pair of familiar-looking robots (one of whom speaks whereas it -- he? -- never has spoken before):
I like how old goldenrod has been given a visual design that looks a lot like the robot in Fritz Lang's Metropolis, which is what Lucas is said to have based C-3PO on in the first place. Nice touch, guys.
And with that, this installment of Bryant Has Issues has reached its conclusion. Please place your 3D glasses in the recycling bin, and drive carefully.