Sunday, October 28, 2007

Occasional Reviews: The Emerald Giantess Edition

She-Hulk #22
Writer: Peter David
Artists: Shawn Moll & Victor Olazaba
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Peter David's take on the emerald giantess starts off not that unsimilar from previous writer Dan Slott's run...quirky criminals & a quirky, self-effacing narrative by Jen Walters (tinted green in the caption boxes, natch). Then it takes a sharp left-turn somewhere in David Lynch territory, and the sudden ending -- reminiscent of the "Sopranos" finale -- will leave you guessing. I literally turned my comic book upside down and shook it to find the missing page that I assumed followed the blackout. Then I checked my cable box. Art by Shawn Moll & Victor Olazaba is effective & dynamic and makes Jen/She-Hulk attractive without making her look like an underwear model.
Rating: A

Justice League of America #14
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Artists: Ed Benes & Sandra Hope
I want to love this new era for the series as much as the next person, but please don't flame me for saying that this and the last issue have been a little on the "thin" side. The narrative -- regarding the new Injustice League -- is starting to drag out in that decompressed way that makes you feel as if you've missed something at the end of the issue...or that the story should have been completed by now. Considering the textured and well-written McDuffie "Justice League Unlimited" animated episodes, I don't know what the problem is here. In the old days, a story like this could have been done in one issue. It makes me wonder if the arc has been artificially prolonged to match up with some "Countdown" endpoint. Plus: an extended role for Black Lightning & more excessive Geo Force abuse. So it's not all bad. Rating: B-

Breathers Book One
Writer & Artist: Justin Madson
Publisher: Just Mad Books
Hey, I don't even know this Justin Madson guy; this isn't a shill or nothin.' Just found this in BF's pile of goodies from SPX. The story is about a dystopia unsettlingly familiar to our own world where people are forced to wear breathing masks outside. There is a quiet ticking desperation about the characters and their lives that is both captivating and really sad. Madson's one of these guys that you know will be "indie hotness of the month" before too long, so catch him before he gets famous so you can say you discovered him. Rating: A
You can purchase "Breathers" here...for only $5! $7 if you include #0! More with shipping! Eeep!

Uzumaki: Viz Signature Edition

Writer & Artist: Junji Ito
Publisher: Viz Media
This classic horror manga -- released in a smart new "signature edition" -- just about made me vomit on the subway train, it was so creepy. That's my roundabout way of saying, "I heartily recommend it." The story is about a small town whose inhabitants are going crazy because of a "spiral-obsession." This obsession drives them to, among other things, engage in really bizarre forms of body modification. It's like that one scene in "Nightmare on Elm Street" with the tongue coming out of the phone, for the entire book. By the way, if you're looking for this edition in the stores, it's an all-black cover with red lettering and art in a varnished outline. Rating: A+

Penance: Relentless #2
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Paul Gulacy
Thunderbolts #117
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Mike Deodato
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Non-stop emo action with everybody's favorite "cutter," Robbie Baldwin. To me, the sheer Grand Guignol DeSadian excess of Penance's self-mutilation overshadows everything else about his solo miniseries, with the possible exception of Paul Gulacy's artwork. Take the 16-page "grid" panel of Penance putting on his "Iron Maiden" (dude! Iron Maiden!) outfit. Geez-Louise. Next up, in "Thunderbolts," Doc Samson (who apparently has issues of his own), has a man-to-boy talk with Penance, outlining the "cutter" philosophy for the readers at home in great detail. As they are apparently setting up Penance/Robbie to be the next "key player" in the Marvel Universe, for some reason I kept thinking of Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy with nipple-clamps.
Rating: Penance: B Thunderbolts: A

Robin #167

Writer: Brandon Thomas
Artist: Freddie Williams III
Publisher: DC Comics
This fill-in by writer Brandon Thomas ("Fantastic Four Adventures," "Shatterstar") is a poignant character study of Robin and why he does what he does. He's gets beaten to a bloody pulp quite a bit in this issue (alert "Scans Daily"), but recovers just in time to have a touching scene at his father's grave. Batman makes a rare non-goddamn appearance and wraps up the issue nicely.
Rating: A

The Professor's Daughter

Writer: Joann Sfar
Artist: Emmanuel Guibert
Publisher: First Second
This is a lovely little graphic novel that has that "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen" charm without the martians or fatal buggery. A museum mummy with impeccible manners and a proper Englishwoman form a unlikely romance. Despite the murder mystery plot and potential for darkness, always keeps a cheerful stiff upper lip to the very end of the volume. The perfect graphic novel for yourself or to buy for a girlfriend/wife/mom who might not be too impressed with your "Sinestro Corps" collection.
Rating: A


  1. Fun fact: Uzumaki, in addition to being awesome in and of itself, is also cited by James Gunn as being one of the major inspirations for the best horror movie of the last decade, 'Slither'.

  2. And then there's actual film adaptation, "Uzumaki," which isn't quite as creepy as the comic, but is still pretty whacked out, like pre-Mars Attacks Tim Burton doing J-horror.

  3. Hey, this is Brandon Thomas (writer of robin 167) and I just wanted to say thanks for the support. Hopefully it'll be the first of many comics from DC...

  4. Justin Madson is good stuff. His transitions are weird, but otherwise, good stuff. Check out HAPPY TOWN. I found him at SPX last year.

  5. Anonymous12:59 PM

    I'm willing to bet that the problem with JLA is more editorial than it is McDuffie. Either they want a nice juicy trade, or there's something going on with Countdown, or something.


  6. JLA: I found Superman less humble than I like to think of him in the current JL. Did it really seem right to have Superman say he's never lost anyone? I still like the story, but... yeah... lots of weekpoints. I'm riding with McD a little while longer, though.

  7. Penance! WHYYYYY!!!!!!!