Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason, Rebecca Buchman, Tom Nguyen, Keith Champagne, Randy Mayor & Gabe Eltaeb
Published by DC Comics
This is the second issue of Green Lantern Corps where Guy Gardner flies around buck-fucking the holy hell out of alien zombies in full Christmas Regalia. It's exactly the same plot as the previous issue, except for the parts where the We Love You Lanterns Gray's Anatomy scenes have been replaced by multiple pages of a planet eating the zombies Guy Gardner hasn't re-killed yet. There's a veneer of professionalism here, one that's almost shiny enough to obscure a story that seems to have been pulled full cloth from the junior high notebooks of a couple of Green Lantern fanatics. Almost, but not quite.
Similar to the way DC refuses to give up on publishing Green Arrow comics despite the world's lack of interest, Marvel refuses to give up on the Sentry, a character whose always-expanding/never-interesting origin now somehow includes a Crossover Classics moment with the Original Bad Boys of Massive Continuity, oft referred to as "The Holy Bible". If it wasn't for the simple fact that super-hero comic books have spent so much of their existence struggling to survive against the onset of their fan's puberty, "think of the children" psychiatrists and nonstop developments in Truly Fantastic Technology, the Bendis/Marvel commitment might be an impressive case study in Can't Stop Won't Stop stubborness. It is a super-hero comic, and that's the one place where Doing The Same Thing might, someday, hope-hope, Produce A Different Result. Maybe throwing Moses in the blender isn't such a bad idea. (Next stop: jawbones!)
Somebody apparently pointed out to Matt Fraction that serialized comic books already had a craptastic Israel-as-analog series up and running, because this issue focuses mostly on Wolverine leading a team of Your Favorite Claremont Characters through a sewer, with a minor break so that Magneto could get started on the whole yoga subplot that will get full cover detail soon enough. Hopefully Greg Land can find the time to grab some new copies of Glamour and Elle, as he's traced that same over the shoulder moron smile about 34 times in the past year.
Amazing Spider-Man # 618
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Marcos Martin & Javier Rodriguez
Published by Marvel Comics
Jesus, that guy can draw some purty shit. It's like Family Circus, only you still want to have kids and be a human being after looking at it. Be nice if it wasn't on the Jay Leno of super-hero characters, but that's how it crumbles sometimes.
Captain America # 602
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Luke Ross
Published by Marvel Comics
Pretty standard stuff, for the most part. "Natasha was whining about your cold hands"? Wait a fucking second. Okay, that's just creepy.
Dark Wolverine 92 is one of those odd lightning strikes moments where Giuseppe Camuncoli throws out a bunch of tight-as-hell drawings of slice-em-up violence in the service of retelling parts of a larger story. While the method doesn't cohere very well--Wolverine keeps taking breaks to flirt with his mostly-male teammates, and the ending is clearing bullshit--it's a really nice looking chunk of violent comic book art. If it wasn't for Hellblazer, a comic where Camuncoli's flair for gore was married to actual plot, it might read as being a tad more special. But that issue of Hellblazer does exist, leaving this particular comic as little more than a half-ass The Art Of experience. It would be abnormally pleasurable if the ending was real, with Marvel following up the whole "finish Captain America Reborn without actually doing so" by killing off Norman Osborn in some offshoot Daken comic, but god knows nobody's that lucky.
The Batman comic that came out last week had a minor editing mistake, forgetting to place the word "is" in a dialog box. This week's Batman comic spells the word "connection" without using the middle c, producing "connetion", which actually isn't a word. Luckily, fill-in writer Mike Benson wrote a story where Batman gives Commissioner Gordon the sort of orders that any longtime Law & Order/CSI fan would, like "don't let those detectives contaminate the scene", and "check for connections between these multiple murder victims", making it clear that misspellings are the slightest of problems--apparently the entire Gotham police department is made up of incompetent children. In future Benson-written stories, Batman will also tell elderly people how babies are made and remind Robin not to swallow toothpaste leavings. According to the story here, he'll also revel in the torture deaths of safecrackers and cat burglars? Jesus, the Punisher even gives safecrackers a pass. New Batman is Fucking Raw.
The joke at the end is pretty funny, but that's to be expected--way too often, Big Two comics assume that character deaths have to be treated as big, ape-testicle maneuvers reflected in giant splash pages of horror and sadness, buried behind a cover that big-font-screams out some version of TRAGEDY STRIKES. Here, a classic point-blank gunshot to the face, delivered with a minimum of foreshadowing and a flashy wit, and done. It sure would have been nice for it to have been drawn better, but hey: it must be half-measures week. Call it a theme.
Leave it to Bill "Who put these fucking immigrants in my melting pot" Willingham to break through the Vertigo line and come closer to on-panel erect penis than anybody has in years. He had to turn to David "Nobody bought Young Liars except for Internet Psychos" Lapham to pull it off, but still: groundbreaking shit. It's almost like that time when they decided that abortions shouldn't be illegal, which is ironic. (Because....well, you know. Emotional problems, debates.)
Azrael # 4
This remains the weirdest looking comic book that DC publishes. The plots are pretty much Nightwing at the Marvel Knights imprint, but this is basically somebody trying to make a super-hero comic that might lead children to take a chance on Robert Crumb.
While it's unlikely that Smith pays attention to Dave Sim's current blog-as-comic publishing output, the opening pages of RASL 6 read a lot like a sarcastic rebuke to Glamourpuss, with its "here are drawings of real people and a first person narration describing why the speaker likes them". Exercised right up to the point where the reader's interest takes a turn towards exhaustion, the comic jerks into action, the story switching to theft and arrogance, and when the "here be history" returns, it's a marriage of deception. Exploration begets connection, both characters abusing the trust of other men, only to be betrayed by those who hold their financial lifelines.
While Giuseppe Camuncoli's pages of graphic violence is what will pop first, Milligan's "India" run on Hellblazer is cock-solid. The classic "sleazeball con-man turned successful cult leading con-man" continues to scrape out a survivor lifestyle, complete with a moment where he's busted trying to sneak out the back door with an overstuffed suitcase, and the Indian take on Dragnet partners remains a six panel wonder. Constantine himself seems finally on track with how unrealistic it is for him to keep caring about his dead short-term girlfriend, a development driven home when he ends up wallowing in actual shit. Like all good Hellblazer stories, you can't call this shit rad until the lens of history gets a nice wipe of nostalgia covered kleenex, but that doesn't mean it ain't worth practicing now.
Pluto # 7
By Naoki Urasawa & Takashi Nagasaki
Published by Viz
Aw, is the widdle manga book better than the wegular comic books and the expensive art comics your friend made?
Violins playing. Here comes the trombone.
A pretty straightforward story about a boy with a Chinatown problem--messed up parentage, not a plot to fuck with water prices--not simple tries to marry a cutesty indie-flick appearance while leaping as far into a Lifetime-tv-movie plot as one can before the manic depression pill companies start asking about the ad rates. While it ultimately achieves a bunch of specific objectives--most of them manipulative family horror tricks--it mixes those with a terrible framing story, an unwillingness to portray its main character as anything more than a brainless victim, and a nice chunk of ineptitude when it comes to dealing with its gaping plot holes. It's pretty to look at, but when the strongest portion of the book comes sullied with the implication that a former child rapist is still handing out handfuls of gum whenever his old victims stop by for a quick, revelatory, chat, then yeah, that shit better be fucking pretty. If Paul Gulacy had drawn this shit, you'd be clawing out your intestines.
Night Business # 3
By Benjamin Marra
Published by Traditional Comics
Torture can't stop Johnny. Torture is Johnny's fuel. Torture is how Johnny clambers up the side of a mountain of crates, torture is what gives Johnny the strength of character to execute, to seal-the-deal. And while the pimps and the slashers may seem to have the upper hand, while the streets of the city may be coated in a thick slime of blood, cum and some more blood as well as some beer, because fuck it, mama needs a beer if she's gonna dance for these sumbitches, ya'll out your cracker and curbing gums on the asphalt if you think anybody does this goddamned job sober, and yep, whoever you are, Monkey Dick, we all blame you, everybody who missed guilt-free hairwon is somebody who misses hairwon, they just haven't gathered their facts yet. "I only smoke when I drink", and "I prefer microbrews", and "I'm a foodie", and "I play video games ironically" and no, that ain't it. Ecstasy: you don't know how to party. Wine: you go to the wrong parties. Your parents: they shouldn't be making your lunch anymore.
-Tucker Stone, 2010
Okay, fine. You want to do this, we'll keep it fucking simple. Thinking caps!
Joe The Barbarian # 1
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Sean Murphy
Published by Vertigo Comics
Outsiders # 26
Written by Dan Didio
Art by Don Kramer, Philip Tan, Jonathan Glapion
Published by DC Comics
This guy isn't considered good enough by DC Comics to draw their super-hero comics, even the piece of shit shitty ones like Titans.
Do it again, over and over. Try it out with somebody besides Murphy. Try it with Giuseppe Camuncoli, who draws great Hellblazer for Vertigo and great Wolverine for Marvel, while Tony Daniel depicts Batman's cape parallel to the ground despite the character being in a stationary position. Try it with Jason Aaron, who bides his time on a Vertigo book while Marvel gives him the opportunity to make a garbage appearance-only character like Ghost Rider into something worth reading. Try it with Garth Ennis, who publishes the most successful new Wildstorm launch in years, only to end up with The Boys keeping the lights on at the Dynamite Red Sonja factory. Try it with DC's best recent grab being a cover artist spat out of a time machine connected to late-90's steroid fiestas.
It's not the best they can do. It's the best that they're willing to do.