Oh. This makes me happy, yes it does.
Now I just need plane fare to Toronto so I can buy one.
The only thing that might make me even happier than this perfect melding of Scott Pilgrim with my misspent youth? The fact that Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness should be on store shelves in less than a month.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
[Note: This post contains spoilers for Desolation Jones #6.]
YOU SEE, YOU AND YOUR LITTLE FRIENDS STOLE SOMETHING FROM SOMEONE I KNOW. NOW, HE WANTS IT RETURNED QUIETLY AND NEVER WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU AGAIN. SO HIS LAWYER HIRED ME. BUT, SEE, THAT WAS A TERRIBLE MISTAKE. I JUST KILL PEOPLE FRANK. I KILL THEM AND FUCK THEIR HEADS AND LEAVE THEIR BODIES IN THE STREET AS A WARNING.
Desolation Jones holds a special place for me. One of the first pieces I wrote here was a discussion of the second issue, and it's still one of the posts here I'm most proud of. It's easy to forget this book, shuffled off into a steady bimonthly rhythm in a the odd Wildstorm Signature line. It's easy to forget that this little noir book by Warren Ellis and JH Williams III is really one of the best comics on the stands, and stands as an example of exactly how good Ellis can be when he's really on his game. Rereading the series, the open emotion of the second issue still stands out but there are flashes of complexity scattered throughout the series that subvert Ellis' now-stereotypical Hard Man tropes. Michael Jones is a complex figure who is as deeply flawed as his spiritual ancestors: Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. In the fifth issue, however, Jones makes it clear that he is neither of those men:
I'M NOT A SMART BLOKE, TAPPER. I'M NOT A GREAT DETECTIVE. I DON'T HAVE AMAZING DEDUCTIVE SKILLS. NONE OF THAT. I ENDED UP DOING WHAT I'M DOING BECAUSE I HAVE A TINY BIT OF CONSCIENCE THAT SNEAKS UP ON ME IN THE NIGHT. I'D LOVE TO BE ABLE TO SIT AT HOME AND LIGHT UP A PIPE AND PUZZLE IT OUT. I REALLY WOULD. BUT THAT'S NOT ME, IS IT?
SO WHAT I'M GOING TO DO, TAPPER, IS WHAT I WAS TAUGHT TO DO BY THE GOOD OLD BRITISH SECRET SERVICE. I'M GOING TO TORTURE AND KILL SOME MOTHERFUCKER UNTIL THEY TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO KNOW.
Which all goes to say that the ultraviolence of the sixth issue came as no surprise. Jones wasn't going to talk them to death, explicating their crimes and waiting for the cops to show. Jones is operating outside the law, as a conscience-driven scourge of a community the traditional authorities can't even see, much less handle. If he ever knew anything beyond violence and death, he lost it in the Desolation test. He's our hero, but he's a horribly disfigured soul who has been crippled by doing work that needs to be done. His cold blooded killings of the main characters in the mystery is a shock, but seems inevitable in retrospect.
Then there's the other death: Robina. Jones' aide-de-camp, drug procurer, demolitionist, and sometime chauffeur gets a bullet in the brainpan in an almost random coda to the story. We've been introduced to her throughout the series as another member of the ex-intelligence community imprisoned in Los Angeles, but she's always been shown as someone softer, more human than Jones. Ellis' intentions are clear here: Jones' violence has repercussions. It's this idea of repercussions that makes Michael Jones different from, say Wolverine or some other "pervert suit". Violence is not easy, and it's never one-way. I understand the point Ellis is making ... I just think it's poorly made here with a "shock" death that actually belittles the message.
There's a wonderful exchange before Robina's death where she's horrified by what she's seen Jones do. She realizes he's a operating on a whole different emotional level than she can accept, and wants nothing more to do with it:
I'M TAKING YOU HOME AND THEN DON'T CALL ME AGAIN FOR A WHILE. IF EVER. CLEAR?
It's cold, raw, and emotionally honest. This is the price Jones pays: the fact that he'll drive away even those close to him by his sheer inhumanity. He's a bastard, and simply being "our" bastard won't be enough. There's no cold beer and a cigar after this, bub.
Robina's abandonment of Jones is a far more chilling "death" than her killing at the hands of a minor character from a few issues back. Looking back at the second issue, we see in Emily Crowe a character who inspires revulsion in everyone but Jones. In this issue, we learn that Jones himself can inspire the same revulsion. That sniper's bullet that ends Robina's life is a cheap shock trick that lets Jones off the hook: it's no longer his fault that Robina's left him.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
WeboComicsBlogoNet, you have disappointed me. During my blogging sabbatical, you neglected a truly charming and delightful book that deserves more notice. New-to-the-blogroll Comics-and-More noticed it, but that was about it. Strangetown is a new Oni Press series by Ian Shaughnesy and Chynna Clugston that revolves around a strange girl whose origins are touched my magic, and her adventures as she begins a new life in the town of Grangeton a.k.a. Strangetown. It is flying under the radar, and it shouldn't be. This title is performing an act of synthesis that should be studied and appreciated.
Strangetown is an odd title in today's marketplace. It's neither superhero nor navelgazer nor fight comix nor "new mainstream". There's a mystery at the heart of the book, but it's not a thriller. There's the difficulty of living on your own and finding your way, but it's not autobiography. There's magic, but not much. The art isn't manga enough to be called OEL, but it's too polished and clean to comfortably fit in "indy".
In fact, it's a bit of a surprise to see this published as a "floppy". If this were in a tankobon format, it might be hailed as a breakthrough translation of manga sensibilities to Western concepts. Though the art and writing doesn't proclaim the book as a manga homage, if I were pressed to compare Strangetown to any other comic ... it would be Fruits Basket. The setup is inverted here: instead of a normal girl living with a magical family, we have a magical girl living with a normal family (of sorts). It has much the same feel, though: intimate soap opera with hints of mystery and wonder. By pulling its mythology and setting from Europe, though, it avoids the feeling of slavish imitation that often can plague OEL, as artists and writers try to imitate the culture of manga. Strangetown avoids that, and it was only on a second read that I began to see the parallels. It's not wearing its influences on its sleeve, but the manga is definitely there.
Don't believe me? Want to see for yourself? There's an excellent PDF preview available of the opening sequence at the Strangetown site.
If those first pages puzzle you and you'd like a little background (and maybe a spoiler), you could do worse than to head to Wikipedia.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Tomorrow I'll take a spin by 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics to pick up the week's releases, then head to my performance of Uncle Vanya.
I like those kind of days.
And what looks good this week? Well, the penultimate chapter of Seven Soldiers certainly looks tasty, and I'll probably now haul the whole kit 'n' kaboodle out of the file cabinet and reread it as one great big spewing of Morrison goodness. All the better to prepare for the last issue, whenever it approaches. Checkmate looks interesting, a return to Gail Simone's Villains United is a treat, and the OYL escapades of Batman, Hawkgirl, and the Legion Of Super-Heroes have me hooked so far. I'm also picking up a surprising amount of marvel books this week, with Astonishing X-Men being the leader of the pack.
- Batman #652
- Checkmate #1
- Hawkgirl #51
- Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #4
- Supergirl And The Legion Of Super-Heroes #17
- Villains United Infinite Crisis Special
- Godland #10
- Amazing Spider-Man #531
- Astonishing X-Men #14
- Fantastic Four #537
- Incredible Hulk #94
- Iron Man: The Inevitable #5
- New Avengers Annual #1
- Ultimate Fantastic Four #29
- X-Factor #6
Monday, April 24, 2006
I've always maintained that when I decide to close up shop here, there will be no final firework tirade. No last screed against the establishment, no lament for a lost Golden Age. I'll simply disappear.
As evinced by posts like this and this, that's horseshit of a terribly pure variety. Comics bloggery isn't publishing, it's community. I missed y'all ... but needed a few weeks to deal with lifematters. Crushing deadlines to vacations, I saw it all:
- Does not the phrase "Controversial Sports Videogame Review" seem oxymoronic? Yet, in the wilds of teh IntarWub, such things exist. I, in fact, created one my own self: go, see for yourselves. Only in the strange world of the die-hard sportsgamer is it controversial to point out "the game crashes frequently".
- On our way to the zoo, we stopped by 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics and had a family comics day. I picked up a couple of weeks worth of books. My eldest daughter (age 6) picked up Justice League Unlimited. My youngest (age 3) used a radar known only to little girls and immediately located her purchase within seconds of entering the store: My Little Pony. I think they both made excellent choices, and we're all looking forward to a return trip on May 6th ... perhaps with some nephews in tow.
- Some rehearsing was also being done, for Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. It's just a staged reading, but I hope to make a full return to the acting this fall. I'm enjoying myself tremendously. I did this role in scene study class when I was 21, and the characters' concerns about age seemed completely alien to me. I said at the time that I needed 15 years to begin to appreciate the character. 15 years later, I'm getting the chance to revisit the role and beginning to get an inkling of how the character should be done.
- I missed much controversy and conversation and even the solicits. Did I notice JSA is ending? I assume it's going to relaunch immediately, but what's the story there?
- It's back to full steam here this week, and I hope to get around to a look at the last issue of Desolation Jones, a review of The Lost Colony from First Second, and a partial redress of the shocking silence which greeted the delightful Strangetown.
Friday, April 07, 2006
My Punks T-Shirt came. That's my happy thing this Friday - Dog, Abe, Skull, and Fist.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
That's the glory of the Multiverse. This simple panel. Some version of the JLA/JSA, all in G.I. uniforms from World War II. I pick it over, trying to see what characters I can identify. I theorize about the fact the women are in traditional superheroic garb, while the men are in uniform. There's a Wonder Woman, a Green Arrow, a Robin, a Star-Spangled Girl (?), a Flash (who appears to be punching out an American G.I.).
For all it's faults, Infinite Crisis finally delivered. This is the feeling I was wanting, the moment of experience that I hoped the series would bring. This small panel is the legacy of Crisis on Infinite Earths. That simple moment where you freeze over a panel, with the immediate though of "what is that? I want to see more of that!"
EDIT: Spandex Justice has the scoop on the women.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
It was only half a life, but I wanted it.
There's no new Planetary Day in sight, so enjoy it while it lasts. The conclusion to the eighth issue is one of my favorite points in the series, as Ellis whiplashed me by taking the Giant Ants of 50's sci-fi and making it poignant. Beautiful.
For previous Planetary Day entries, click here or click here.
(By the way ... I injured my Absolute Planetary making this scan. That's how much I love you people.)
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
I'll be able to hit 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics on Wednesday this week. Seems it's been a few weeks since I've been able to do that.
It's Planetary Day, so that's something I look forward to. Like a solar eclipse, rarity makes it special.
Even beyond Planetary, it's a good lookin' week. The real All-Star Batman (Matt Wagner's Batman and the Monster Men) wraps it's run, Infinite Crisis heads to a close, and the much-ballyhooed Moon Knight relaunch kicks off. I'm also looking forward to Oni's Strangetown, by Chynna Clugston and Ian Shaughnessy.
- Aquaman: Sword Of Atlantis #41
- Batman And The Monster Men #6
- Batman: Secrets #2
- Detective Comics #818
- Infinite Crisis #6
- JSA #84
- OMAC Project Infinite Crisis Special
- Outsiders #35
- Planetary #25
- Teen Titans #34
- Moon Knight #1
- Young Avengers #11
- Superior Showcase #1
- Strangetown #1
- A trailer is up for Justice League Heroes, which I've mentioned before.
- My thoughts on Oblivion are up at Operation Sports.
- Don't know how I missed it, but Creator Direct is a damn cool groupblog by a damn cool group of creators. Kody Chamberlain, Joshua Hale Fialkov, and Tony Lee are the three I know, but I'll be looking out for work from the rest.
- Looks like I missed alerting you about the Punks giveaway before the deadline passed. Sign up anyways, whydontcha?
- Noel Tuazon draws Punks. Then draws some more Punks.
- I plan to devour the Isotope Legal Download Fest. After all the talk of digital comics distribution, the whole concept seems to be getting a kick in the ass the past seven days. Both AiT and Isotope in the past week have done more for the cause of downloadable distribution than years of theory and blather have come close to doing. Instead of talking about it, they just said "fuck it" and went right ahead. Between last week's Continuity release and this week's festival, the issue is front and center and past debate. Maybe it's something in the water, but Larry and James are operating on a similar wavelength, and it's a damn good one. Good on ya, Messers Sime and Young.
- Why does it make me so happy to read Penny Arcade's "Tycho" pimping Scott Pilgrim and Sharknife?