From the back page essay, written by one of this comic's writers: "[Thief of Thieves] brings to the comics medium the same kind of story you'd get in a movie, novel or a TV show, but we're utilizing the strengths of what our medium has to offer in order to tell the story."
That statement is referring to a comic book constructed almost completely out of widescreen panels, most of which utilize the same basic film tricks that even the most low-grade television show has. Consistently featured are tricks like repeating an image of a blank expression so that the character being depicted can be seen pausing before delivering a punchline, or using stark, capitalized sentences atop the image to illustrate that the story has jumped to a different time or place. The story is--no kidding around here--about a weathered and wearied criminal who wants out of the crime racket while he still has his teeth intact. His possible thwarting may occur at the hands of his spunky hip chick protege, who has tattoos to go with her piercings, or it may occur at the hands of a balding, overweight crimelord/father figure who wants him out there pulling another big job. How much do you want to bet there's a black guy with glasses who is really good with computers coming around the corner? You should be able to spot him easily, as he'll be accompanied by a fat guy from the Middle East who handles weaponry and/or lives in a strip club.
Then again, maybe this comic really is "utilizing the strengths of what our medium has to offer". It just turns out that Robert Kirkman believes one of the medium's biggest "strengths" is that most comics readers are unsure of how to turn on a fucking television set. That's always possible.
This is the conclusion of the first story arc for the series, and it turned out to be the hipster douchebag version of that old Batman mini-series by Jim Starlin, The Cult. The Cult was DC's first post-Miller attempt to do a Serious, For Mature Adults story featuring Batman. In the end, that just meant watching Batman get himself physically and emotionally debased for multiple issues before rising up and returning the favor in full--which is exactly what this new story was as well. Here, the main violence done to Batman is at the hands of a character named Talon, a character who looks so much like Marvel's Nighthawk that it'll get your dog pregnant. Mostly, it's just a violent fight comic, which is the sort of thing that DC publishes a lot of. The difference this time around is that the Batman fight comic doesn't look like shit, and that somebody--a somebody with some actual sense, which is kind of a surprise--got the word count down to a manageable, less leave-me-the-fuck-alone number.
Featuring the best last seven pages of any comic you're likely to find, The Long Death would probably get called "A Return To Form" if the previous story, Russia, hadn't turned out to be as good as it was. On the strength of this one issue, The Long Death does seem like it's going to be even better than Russia was, as this looks to be the first BPRD story since that John Severin War On Frogs issue to be going for the Holy Fucking SHIT audience so hard that it sort of makes my teeth hurt, which is totally a good thing. If this were a poker game, I'd go all in: this one is just that fucking good.
The big comment this time around on Lobster Johnson is going to be the one about Tonci Zonjic, and it's totally obvious why: the guy is extremely talented. The way he sets up and delivers the final panel in this issue--where the old Chekhov adage is followed, and a first act fedora is finally removed--quite nearly bends the comic in upon itself, forcing one's attention to rest on a single image so well known to BPRD readers that its mere appearance behaves like a kidney punch to the memory. There's more going on than one panel, but basically, this is everything one could want, assuming that what one wants is good shit.
This is--jesus fucking christ, get ready--a Peter Pan story set in World War 2 era France, or at least, set in a gray color field littered with brown and green squares that people keep calling World War 2 era France. The main character (his name is Pete Panzerfaust) rescues some orphans...some lost boys...and then he helps them jump really far...almost like they're flying....all while generally behaving with the same cloying, inhuman perkiness that you always find in comic books trying to seperate themselves from the nasty antihero books that everybody else puts out. Or maybe the guy just won't grow up. Like the song from the movie. But hey, maybe you're into this sort of nonsense. Some people are! Those people should probably be put on a watch list. A suicide watch list. Because liking this will make you want to kill yourself. Clap if you believe in fairies!
There's so many wonderfully tiny images in this comic--a smudged bit of darkness to stand in for a shadow, a sihoulette of a gun being covered in snow, a scribble that stands in for a hand, degrading fragments when an image gets blown up too many times...it's all very much in a Steranko vein, but it's so much less enamoured by the world in which its contained. It would be over the top to claim it for something other than Marvel, and it's only a matter of time before their insane release schedule cripples this title the same way that upcoming Punisher crossover is going to kneecap Daredevil, but that's just the way these kinds of comics are going to be from now on, apparently. All minutes, no hours.
Nice issue and all, but really, this fucking foodie thing...like, there's a reason most of the people who buy Daredevil and read Marvel Comics don't pay attention to conventions, twitter feeds, this blog or the thousands of others like it, and that reason is all wrapped up and personified in this letters column, which features a picture of the writer of the comic being carted off by the corporate cargo shorts guy to said guy's current most-preferred trough. Like, do we really need to do this? Why not just shit on a child's face at his mother's funeral for a couple of hours, post a video of that? Either method is as repugnant. Seriously, clap if you believe in fairies.
This is a flashback issue that fills in the gap where "how these two people know each other" was, with the two people being Jason Todd (the Red Hood) and Starfire (the hardbody orange girl who wears the metal bikini). The backstory is, no fooling, a naked shipwreck that results in the two best things that a young man can experience, which is A) playing with superguns and B) getting crazy laid, thus proving once again that Red Hood and the Outlaws is the number one DC book if the contest were Not Being Completely Full of Shit About What the DC Audience Likes To Read.
One of the many weird things that goes with reading super-hero comics is the acceptance that, while all super-heroes can be categorically organized as being essentially indistinguishable beyond their differences in costumes, there will always be a few specific ones that you just fucking despise to such a disproportionate degree that it will make you feel a little bit insane every time you remember said hatred. Example? Captain Britain and his second rate Captain America outfit. Is there any super-hero character as pathetic as this guy? Even that joke version of Captain America from the JLI, General Glory, was more inspiring than Captain Britain, and General Glory spent half of his existence as an old man with his speckled ass hanging out of a hospital gown. It's not that this particular hatred comes from the realization that Captain Britain represents some dunderheaded criticism of the UK as a place so devoid of ingenuity and innovation that the best hero they could hope for and create is a half-ass imitation of Captain America--in fact, that explanation is one that only exists after the fact. The guy is just eye cancer, which is the opposite of eye candy.
The fourth volume of these Plastic Man reprints flagged a bit, with the moment where the character takes on the form of an amorous whale (submarine sized, mind you) the only Gold Medal of Weirdness on display. But whatever it was that had killed Cole's enthusiasm seems to have been removed from his diet by 1946, as the stories from this period are right back up there with the cartoonist's previous high points. This time around, Plas goes after the likes of a man who can send anyone (except Woozy) into a deep coma merely by mentioning that a nap might be a good idea, a gun-wielding psychotic who likes to masquerade as a bespectacled infant and a couple of goons who go pretty far into Jack Bauer territory on a small child, all so they can get a magic lamp working. Although it's a waste of time to pretend that the audience for this volume aren't going to read Volume 4 no matter what let's go ahead and do so: this one makes that one look like the proverbial piece, and if there's only minutes left to choose? You know what to do.
This is another installment of Lone Wolf and Cub where the Wolf deals with the fallout from an earlier battle--specifically, he has to face off against the widow of a samurai he'd killed a ways back. She's been laying in wait for him since that day, weaving and crying (hence the title of the story), and as there's never even an implication that she'll serve as a dangerous opponent, Koike and Kojima utilize the battle as a chance to drive one of the saga's pet moments home once more. That moment comes up when little Daigoro falls through the ice into a nearby pond (at this point in the story, a bitterly cold winter has set in), only for the Wolf to ignore his drowning son's cries completely. Stoic even in the face of possible tragedy, he explains the true way of vengeance to the woman as he has numerous times in the story so far. His explanation is then echoed in Daigoro's own actions, as the little boy refuses the offer of rescue the widow almost immediately provides. As she has shown herself to be his father's villain, any help she offers is to be rejected, even if one's own death is the result. It isn't the first time in the series that Daigoro's burgeoning metal has been put on display, but that doesn't make it any less potent. Another excellent installment.
-Tucker Stone, 2012