While the grid pages in this installment of Bendis Still Watches The Real World, Avengers Version are lame and obnoxious, that allegedly might be because Bachalo said "fuck you for making me draw all these heads, nobody wants to buy the original art when it's a page full of talking heads, and Baby Bachalo needs bangers and mash", so he subsequently added entire extra lines of grid heads which Bendis was then forced to write extra dialog for, after the fact. And god bless comic book writers, we all love comic book writers, but man: isn't it nice to see the guy who does the actual hard part--which is the drawing! drawing comics is harder than writing them! the only people who tell you different are comic book writers and bloggers who want to write comic books!--swinging his I-draw-this-shit dick right around and slapping his writer counterparts all around the mouth and facial regions? There's supposedly a similar thing happening between Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo on the upcoming Detective Comics, and guys like Dustin Nguyen and Sean Murphy have pretty much given up on having careers made out of taking shit constantly--this isn't the makings of a great, sexy future quite yet, but if it results in a reordering of priorities--one wherethe heavy lifter types start getting treated with some respect again--that'll be good enough.
PS: Don't read this issue if it's important to you that Steve Rogers (the fictional character) remain intelligent (fictionally), because in this issue, Steve Rogers response to finding out that the Incredible Hulk has been given even more power, to the point where he's the answer to "Thor + Hulk equals what", is to send a team made up of Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman and The Protector to handle the situation. And this isn't an long conversation about powers kind of a thing, it's just the memory of a seven year old, meaning: seven years ago the Hulk, without god-like powers, was strong enough to take over the entire continent of North America for the purposes of humiliating and shitkicking every super-hero alive. Being able to take everybody on and hold your own means that you're able to take on three of those people pretty fucking easily.
The switch from Mignola to Fegredo on Hellboy might have been difficult at first, but the change itself was never that jarring. But a switch to the BPRD? That was always going to be a little bit harder to swallow. Whereas Hellboy comics have always been one where we were just mere observers to Mignola's story, Abe, Liz, Kate, Roger, Johann and Benjamin's struggles unfolded all around us, and Guy Davis was the sure hand that enveloped it all. You knew how to read a BPRD story because of Guy Davis, because he was there to tell you what everybody felt, etching into every line that creased their face. The shock of appearance, the wearied collapse of sleep starved eyes, the sound of a cry dictated by the shape of a mouth...it was Davis, over and over again, who made those moments palpable ones. Losing him--even for reasons as respectable as the ones that have been mentioned--hurts, and it should.
Tyler Crook's transition isn't likely to be as smooth as Fegredo's was. He just doesn't have the same body of work, accepting him here requires a leap of faith in Mignola's judgment. And yet, there's no real reason given in these pages to be worried. This one is a dark, ugly story, and Tyler's contribution--specifically the horror that closes the book or the cocked head frog who reminds us, briefly, of what came before--ends up being stronger than expected. Serial comics have never been the go-to product for those who like change, no matter the kind. But for now, this particular iteration of that dreaded moment isn't one to cry about.
Walking Dead irritates me nowadays because it's just so fucking pedestrian in its attempts to shock. Women get raped, beat up, shot, or they lose their boyfriends. Little kids get their heads cut off, sometimes people threaten to rape them, or they get shot. Likeable black guys, fat people, auto mechanics, crybabies and testosterone junkies: it's all the same end. Everybody does these same tricks--television, Dennis Lehane, Native American dreamweavers, Japanese folklore. Kirkman's got a captive audience, he could be writing about robots and fisting, he could be the guy who reintroduces the world to Tcheky Karyo. Instead he's just resending the same text messages over and over again, and even worse, he's doing it really fucking slowly.
While it probably wasn't intended to be a "hey Dan, here's how you fucking do it", you can't help but read Daredevil #1 and see the comic as a general up yours to the Distinguished Competition. Think about it: saddled with a solid period of comics that were both terribly received AND actually terrible to boot, Mark Waid and Marcos Martin--incidentally, two creators whose historical treatment by DC editorial is remarkably wearisome even by today's hideous, comics-killing standard--have teamed up with Paolo Rivera and delivered the best looking super-hero comic of recent memory while still aggressively embracing all the horrible stories that came before. It's still a New Number One stunt, and Marvel's still the same Gene Colan killing scumfucks they were two weeks prior, but hey: at least some middle fingers were thrown up. And come September, DC's going to publish 52 attempts at being what Daredevil #1 is right fucking now: how you think that's going to work out?
You know, I actually used to get Batman and Detective Comics in the mail when I was a little kid, and one time I ganked the cash from my mom's Sunday School class--she was the treasurer, so they never found out--and used it to buy some old Batman comics. (Also some Detroit era Justice Leagues, which were better comics than most people seem willing to admit, but that's neither here nor there.) And I know, us buy-Batman-anyway junkies are part of the problem, we're definitely a huge percentage of the people-who-fucked-up-super-hero-comics, we'll just buy anything, fuck us, blah blah blah, why can't we be grown ups and buy comics like Ex Machina and Sandman weenus weenus skeet skeet skeet. But from here on my little moron stool, let me tell you the one thing that all the other I Own A Copy of #39 and The Animated Series Defined Post Miller Batman guys keep pretending isn't happening:
The Tony Daniel era of Batman comics--the ones that he's drawn, these ones that he's writing--are the absolute worst the comic has seen in the last 30 years. And while some of those comics were written by Grant Morrison, the fundamental, linewide damage that's been done by allowing an at best B-, but more often than not just a C-, level artist on these books for this long (to say nothing of the hideous line-up of new characters he's added to the book in the last few months that he's been writing it) is basically irreparable. If you want to know where Batman and Detective will be in the next few years, take a look at the current status of Superman, Wonder Woman or the Flash, and you'll have an idea. An endless string of baby reboots and renumbering games, and the constant feeling that you're seeing somebody's mouth struggling to stay above water. A congratulations is probably in order. Because after years of missing the mark, Batman can finally get in line with the rest of DC's line--all second tier, all the time.
-Tucker Stone, 2011