Comics this week was a crazy high and low bag.
I read some stuff I really liked more than usual this week: Zatanna #6 has finally turned a corner for me and turned into a book I might just like – mostly due to some gorgeous Jesus Saiz art – I hope he stays on. I thought Dini stepped it up here as well as the story was more fun and had much more pop (and much less borderline sexist weird stuff) than the previous 5 issues. Here’s hoping it holds.
The Hellboy/Beasts of Burden one-shot was hilarious, adorable, and more fun than 98% of comics I read…how I wish this book existed as an ongoing…or at least another/a new mini-series. Jill Thompson’s art is spectacular and Evan Dorkin (with an assist from Mike Mignola) nailed the story.
Madame Xanadu #28 was a nice strong close to the ‘extra sensory’ series, it’s too bad MX isn’t going to continue (this issue confirms that #29 with Wagner and Reeder is the last)…especially as by the end of this issue I was super intrigued to see the continuation of character Charlotte’s story. Nice work by both Matt Wagner and guest penciller Marian Churchland. Greg mentioned in his What I Bought column that this issue is a blatant rip off of Chew…which I believe, but as someone that doesn’t read Chew and only kind of vaguely knows the premise, it didn’t really bother me. Also, as someone who has had (for more than 10 years now) a very specific idea for a novel and who recently found out that someone else is shortly publishing a book with a VERY similar very specific idea…I guess I feel like this kind of thing probably happens all the time. I agree with Greg that it’s odd DC/Vertigo would publish anyway…but what do I know?
Additionally, though I don’t usually read Action Comics, Death’s guest appearance was fun in Action Comics #894 and showcased some lovely art by Pete Woods.
Clay Mann continues to deliver an X-Men (and especially a Rogue and Magneto) I really enjoy looking at in X-Men Legacy #241, though I confess that I did not love how this arc wrapped up. But it wasn’t bad, just my expectations were perhaps too high for the cliffhanger I was left with in #240.
The Supergirl Annual #2 while not super interesting to me (annuals rarely are), was well done and the pencils by Matt Camp were quite good (also, Amy Reeder cover for the win!).
On the other hand: Superman #704 was a cliche borderline offensive trainwreck – on both the writing and art front. I don’t even read Superman regularly and this book felt like a retread of thoughts and ideas…just cliche filler, penciled atrociously.
Black Widow #7 was wonderfully written, but full of objectifying imagery (that’s also pretty fucking ugly…which is quite a feat) and at one point (the last page) was so bad it had me laughing out loud at the absolute sexist ridiculousness of it.
Detective Comics #870 felt really off to me in the writing. In my personal take on Batman, which in fairness I have created personally by picking and choosing which stories I consider canon to who Bats is, Batman rarely every speaks in exclamation points, which this issue is littered with. Even if not every reader sees eye to eye with my version of Bats, can we at least agree that Batman doesn’t just go around yelling ALL his dialogue? Additionally the story felt like something we’ve seen a million times before. Really, the villain became a villain because something horrible happened to someone he loved? Never seen that before. /sarcasm. Also, I don’t mind revisiting the idea of “did Bats create the villains, or did the villains create Bats” but you’ve got to do something interesting with it or it just feels like noise. This felt like noise.
Wonder Woman #604 continues to be definitively not good and uninteresting and the art slips with every issue – not that I was every really on board with the art anyway – the giant pushed up boobs really annoy me, as do some of the action poses – and I’ve mentioned the costume sucks too, right? Yeah, I thought so.
Uncanny X-Men #529 is so ugly that despite being interested in some of the things Fraction is doing, I just have to drop it…it’s scarring my eyes and I worry for their future if I keep reading this ugly ass book. It’s gone.
However, Uncanny’s ugliness is nothing compared to X-Men Curse of The Mutants: Mutants vs Vampires #2 (of 2, thank god) which though it has cute, fun, nearly wordless short (Call Me Santo by Simon Spurrier and Gabriel Hernandez Walta) and a fun reprint of Uncanny 159 (by Claremont and Sienkiewicz) also has two of the most offensive, myopic, ignorant short stories I’ve read in comics recently.
Flesh Fangs and Burnt Rubber by Mike Benson is a fucking nightmare that basically equates hunting (and killing) hot vampire chicks with wooing a woman and falling in love (and falling out of love). Equating falling out of love with beheading a hot vampire is fucking offensive and ignorant and doesn’t take half a brain to figure out not to fucking print. Gambit, who I loved as a 15 year old girl and have slowly been falling out of love with over the years, has NEVER looked like a bigger asshat than in these 6 or so pages, which is saying a lot.
And then we have Skin Deep, a story written and drawn by Henry Chaykin, which I was delighted to see featured Xi’an Man Coy, a character always underused. And if this story existed in a world (or medium/genre) in which women weren’t treated as sexual objects 24/7, that must always look an exact and perfect stereotypical way in order to be considered worthy of existing 100% of the time then maybe it would be a funny little tale. But since it’s set in a world in which women are treated this way all the time, I find it offensive and unnecessary to try to do a funny insignificant short that makes light of significant issues and clearly didn’t take the time to work towards finding some insight into a real woman’s life, motivations, and pressures, but instead boils it all down to “gotta look good in the costume, gotta lose a few pounds”. It’s poorly researched and lazy work that’s fairly offensive when set in the current context of women in comics.*
So all that said, among the good book and bad books there were too many good covers this week to pick just one, but I narrowed us down to three four:
#1. This Mark Buckingham Madame Xanadu #28 is GORGEOUS. It’s one of my favorite covers of the year, hands down. And I guarantee it will be showing up in my 52 covers of the year list next summer.
#2. Jill Thompson’s cover to the Hellboy/Beasts Of Burden one-shot, which I think we can all agree is just MADE OF AWESOME**:
#3. I am LOVING these gorgeous Travel Foreman covers for Black Widow. And Frankly, I loved his Sif cover this past year as well, it even made my 52 covers list. He’s got a great style and he’s surprisingly good so far with keeping the objectification to a minimum:
#4. A bit of a cheat because I didn’t actually buy the book, though if my shop had had this variant cover available, I would have. I don’t buy Secret Avengers because despite my very high interest in Valkyrie, I just can’t get past the Mike Deodato art. But the variant cover of Valkyrie on Secret Avengers #6 by Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic (confirmed by commenter James – thanks!) is just lovely. It’s a simple cover but I just love it…the boob plates ALMOST work even.
I so wish someone would give Valkyrie an ongoing with a great writer and artist, I’d be so excited by it:
Also, while we’re here…how amazing would a Valkyrie penciled by Chris Bachalo be? OH GOD. WANT!
*of note is that Batman: Bruce Wayne The Road Home: Oracle #1, was sold out at my shop, so I can’t say one way or another, but chatter on the twitter leads me to believe I might be pissed…time will tell…
**it’s also worth noting that Mignola’s Hellboy/Beasts of Burden cover is quite fantastic as well.