Report what comic books you have read today--and tell us a little something about it while you're here!

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Captain America by Brubaker Vol. 4 TPB - Brubaker's final issues go out not with a bang but a whimper. #'s 15-18 detail the final battle between Cap and the new Madame Hydra/Bravo combo as very pedestrian. I guess I just expected a better climax than the one I got. This is possibly Brubaker's worst arc in his whole run on Cap and I'm not saying the story is terrible it just seems...forced, like he just wanted to get it over with.

#19, on the other hand, is a great story and brings Brubaker back into familiar territory: dealing with Cap's long past. It's a bit different as he doesn't kill anyone but it involves the crazy Cap from the 1950's, William Burnside. Great story and a nice way for Brubaker to end his Cap run. Can't wait for the Winter Soldier movie. Looks great! 

The Shadow Vol. 2 TPB - This trade collects issues 7-12 and the 4-parter (8-11) was a very good story, which I would recommend. Sandwiched between solo issues (7 & 12), the done-in-ones were ho-hum, nothing special but I would definitely recommend buying the trade for 8-11 or tracking down the single issues and purchasing those. I will definitely buy Vol. 3! Good stuff!

I just read the first miniseries of Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra's Just a Pilgrim, a 2001 series they did for Black Bull (Wizard's short-lived comics line) that I passed over because it looked superficially like just more Saint of Killers, and because it was $2.99 at a time when that was expensive. On the plus side, it only took 12 years for me to get all 5 issues for $2.50 at a con. (And the next series for $2.)

In the meantime, I'd forgotten all about it, and stopped reading Ennis comics in general -- the first few issues of The Boys didn't do much for me, and I lost track of his other stuff. (More for the back issue bins, eventually!) But this is exciting stuff -- dark as hell, of course -- about a post-apocalyptic world where the sun's burnt away all the oceans, and an ex-special forces religious fanatic (with a dark secret) who's helping a group of refugees traverse the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. It's got Ennis's trademark gross-out humor (always aplified when he works with Ezquerra), and most of the characters are paper-thin, but it's exciting and bombastic and has an over-the-top villain in Castenado (a go-for-broke pirate figure with two peglegs, two hooks, and no eyes) and a climactic battle on the hulk of the Titanic. I'm looking forward to the sequel, Garden of Eden, to see what Ennis and Ezquerra do to top it.

I'm at Myrtle Beach for the week, so I brought the first 30 Days of Night Omnibus along. It contains the original series and the first two sequels, which I've never read (although I have read several of the later books in the series). I'm going to start a thread on it.

I just burned through the sequel to Just a Pilgrim, Just a Pilgrim: Garden of Eden, and it was even better than the first. Set four years after the first book, in the Marianas Trench -- the only place far enough from the burning sun that plants will grow (albeit with artificial light), this story sees Pilgrim encounter a small colony that's planning to leave earth... but they're under seige by a new, parasitic lifeform. This one is less glib than the previous series, and is much better for it, in my opinion -- though I think it's important to read the first series to feel the weight of the decisions made here. (Ennis makes all the motivations and the past clear in the exposition -- but understanding something is different than feeling it.)

I'm really glad I finally read these.

an over-the-top villain in Castenado (a go-for-broke pirate figure with two peglegs, two hooks, and no eyes)

Like you, I Iargely stopped reading Ennis at some point, and didn't get excited about the first few issues of The Boys, either.  (maybe I love superheroes too much for that carry on?)

 

In any case, he is a wonderful writer and I laughed out loud at your description of Castenada there.  I'm sure there's plenty of good stuff out there I should try to catch up on.  I've only read the sequel btw, and liked it well enough.  Esquera, though a Spaniard, is a giant of UK comics, and the definitive Judge Dredd artist.  Ennis must have been so thrilled to work with him.

 

I read Jenny Blood lately, and it was an excellent blackly comic entertainment.

He was over the moon to work with him -- he mentioned it in just about every letters page. 

It's funny: These weird little side projects Ennis would do -- Adventures of the Rifle Brigade, Bloody Mary, etc -- never really clicked for me when they were coming out. But I've since reacquainted myself with Judge Dredd, and read some Robo-Hunter and even some old Gibbons-era Doctor Who comics, and suddenly it's apparent that I was just approaching them from the wrong comics tradition. Ennis has done some great American-style comics, but these are U.K. strips, through and through. I was just too thick to realize it at the time.

At any rate, these really clicked for me. 

I'll have to look for Jenny Blood, and all the War Stories installments I missed.

I'm going through The Complete Strangers in Paradise, Volume 3, Part 3. This was a series I completely missed when it was "live." A few years back, I read an introductory trade paperback that had the first strips, and a couple years ago, I read The Complete Strangers in Paradise, Volume 3, Part 2. I kind of liked it.

It was kind of soap-opera-ish, but the story of the unrequited and very complicated love between BFFs Francine and Katchoo was interesting and compelling. Francine and Katchoo have know each other since high school. Francine wears her heart on her sleeve, and her self-esteem is so low that she steps on it all the time. Katchoo -- Katina Choovanski -- is a "bad girl" but she's that way because she has a abusive background. She has walls up against everyone but Francine, and she's a lesbian and loves Francine .... who is not a lesbian, but loves Katchoo more than anything. It's very complicated.

But in The Complete Strangers in Paradise, Volume 3, Part 3, things take a weird left turn at Albuquerque. It stops being about the relationship between Francine and Katchoo and there's all this out-of-nowhere stuff about industrial espionage and crime cartels and manipulation of the financial markets and revenge and Katchoo is some kind of spy trying to get out of that life and her enemies keep trying to strike at each other through her or strike at her through Francine. It's even more bizarre than that stretch in Christopher Priest's Black Panther when it stopped being about T'challa, King of Wakanda, and instead was about some wannabe who was an NYPD detective fighting corrupt officers in his precinct. It might have been interesting -- in another title. Here, it's just out of place.

I've reread all the Vertigo ones in the last couple years. Although I still have mixed feelings about Adventures of the Rifle Brigade--and it may be the Britishness of it that is largely at fault--I absolutely loved almost all of the War Stories. Ennis really seemed to have his heart in them. The best of them are terrific, and even the lesser ones are much better than average.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

He was over the moon to work with him -- he mentioned it in just about every letters page. 

It's funny: These weird little side projects Ennis would do -- Adventures of the Rifle Brigade, Bloody Mary, etc -- never really clicked for me when they were coming out. But I've since reacquainted myself with Judge Dredd, and read some Robo-Hunter and even some old Gibbons-era Doctor Who comics, and suddenly it's apparent that I was just approaching them from the wrong comics tradition. Ennis has done some great American-style comics, but these are U.K. strips, through and through. I was just too thick to realize it at the time.

At any rate, these really clicked for me. 

I'll have to look for Jenny Blood, and all the War Stories installments I missed.

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

I've reread all the Vertigo ones in the last couple years. Although I still have mixed feelings about Adventures of the Rifle Brigade--and it may be the Britishness of it that is largely at fault--I absolutely loved almost all of the War Stories. Ennis really seemed to have his heart in them. The best of them are terrific, and even the lesser ones are much better than average.

What he said.

The Rifle Brigade parodies the whole genre of War comics in Britain that ran from about  the 60s just into the 80s (although there is a series of pocketbooks called "Commando" that still continues to be published).  The lazy national stereotypes and the goofy way that the characters don't seem to be affected by the war are part of the point.

 

Ennis is really disconnected from US comics generally.  He just doesn't grok them.  But he's made a career partly by finding little corners of US comics that align with his interests (Things like the Haunted Tank, Punisher etc.) and partly he almost singlehandedly created a whole market for the comics he wanted to write.   

 

No-one was interested in Western Noir and Clint Eastwood Gothic when he started to write Preacher.

 

Yes, sometimes he's just having a laugh, but the war comics of his I've read are very fine.  The final scenes of story of the crew of the HMS NIghtingale were as powerful as anything I've read/seen anywhere.

The stories in the two War Stories trade paperbacks are terrific. I should reread them -- they're much more human than the Rifle Brigade, and consequently are able to touch the reader, rather than just amusing him.

... or her.  I'm sure the world is full of female war comic enthusiasts.  Maybe.

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