LONE WOLF & CUB v4: "The Bell Warden" - "Unfaithful Retainers" - "Parting Frost" - "Performer"
AHOY! COMICS EDITION
BLACK'S MYTH #1: This is the AHOY! title I mentioned last week flew in completely under my radar. I bought it today without knowing anything about it: not the writer, not the artist, not the premise. The only thing I knew about it was that it was an AHOY! comic, and that was enough for me. It's black and white (which was a surprise), and the art 9and even the story, to an extent) reminds me of Dave Lapham. Specifically, Black's Myth is about a werewolf detective and her djinn sidekick. If you're undecided, read just the first page and see if that doesn't convince you.
Because I was so late reading this one, I have only one week to wait until #2. And I just found out that our own Rob Staeger will have another one of his short stories published in the second issue, so I'd recommend buying them both.
SNELSON #1: The first comic book series about a standup comedian since DC cancelled The Adventures of Bob Hope in 1968. Snelson has appeared before, as a back-up feature in five issues of Hashtag: Danger, but those seven-page shots Didn't do the character/concept justice.
THE WRONG EARTH: NIGHT & DAY #6: The mini-series ends with Dragonflyman and Stinger stuck on Earth-Zeta, but that's okay; it just means more of The Wrong Earth in our future. (The cover features a "animated" Dragonfly vs. "pixilated" Dragonflyman.)
And of course, as usual, all of these AHOY! comics feature short prose pieces as well as great comics.
SUPERMAN: RED & BLUE #4: This is the issue I realized I missed when I read #5 last week. I don't know how I could have missed that Simonson cover! Five more timeless tales rendered in duo-tone by a variety of writers and artists. I'll miss this series when it's gone.
IMMORTAL HULK #49: The penultimate issue goes illustrated prose from the POV of Jackie McGee. Plot-wise, it reminds me of Hulk #300, but with science rather than magic. this series will skip a month and come back with a quadruple-sized finale in October.
HAHA #5: This is the issue I realized I missed when I read #6 last week. This story is really quite touching, about an elderly female clown named Pound Foolish. It's a bit like Paper Girls... but with clowns.
FIRE POWER #14: Recommended.
THE OTHER HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE: BOOK FIVE: With Book Five, the OHOTDCU series comes full-circle with Anissa Pierce, the daughter of Black Lightning. What can I say? If you've read the previous four volumes, you already have a pretty good idea of what to expect, and if you haven't, you probably aren't interested in the concluding chapter, anyway. As with previous volumes in this series, my only "complaint" (if you can call it that) is that all of these first person narratives are written in the same voice. Other than that (also like the previous volumes), writer John Ridley takes some pretty shitty DC series and incorporates them into his narrative, acknowledging what made them shitty, but focusing on the subtext.
LONE WOLF & CUB v5: "Trail Markers" - "Executioner's Hill" - "Black Wind" - "Decapitator Asaemon" - "The Guns of Sakai"
One of these days I suspect I will read all the First Comics versions, just to compare how they look at a larger size. I'm not certain how complete First's run is: 45 issues vs. Dark Horse's 28 volumes. I know exactly which box they're in (along with Crying Freeman and 2001 Nights), but it is also the box that is the most difficult to get to. I'd have to move... I don't know, a lot... of boxes just to get to it, then I'd have to move them all back.
The Dark Horse volumes are occasionally supplemented with text features (such as "The Ronin Report"), but the first 12 issues of the First Comics series feature essays by Frank Miller. Those are what I want to read. I'm currently restricted from lifting anything heavier than 20 lbs. due to my recent surgeries, so moving multiple longboxes to get to them is out.
I wish I were more familiar with which stories have been adapted into which films. I've watched the first film recently, but I would prefer not to see the movie until I know I've read the story. Maybe I'll wait until the end; I've got plenty of other movies to keep me occupied.
I came across a trade collection of an indie comic called Toupydoops, and even though I have the individual issues, I bought it anyway, 'cause it was cheap. (Plus, they're buried with my accumulation collection, and as Cap says, if you can't put your hands on it when you want it, you don't own it.)
Toupydoops borrows a conceit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, in that humans and toons co-exist in the world. Toupydoops himself, the lead character, is a toon, with blue skin, a pompadour, and two thin antennae that protrude from his forehead. But where Who Framed Roger Rabbit is set in the film industry in the 1940s, and source novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? is set in the comics strip world in contemporary times (the 1980s), Toupydoops substitutes the comic book industry for the movie industry. In other words, instead of studios like Paramount or Warner Bros. or Disney making movies, they make comic books, with actors and directors and sets and special effects and stuntmen and location shooting and such.
As the series begins, Toupydoops, an aspiring actor, is moving from Ohio to Hollywood because he's got an audition to play the villain in an issue of Superman. Along for the move is best bud Teetereater, who also is a toon (and part bear), and their pet monkey, the cigar-smoking Mr. Bananas. The two guys move into a crappy apartment and settle into life in their new environs.
It's a well-written and well-drawn series, and Toupydoops is a likeable everyman trying to make it big, and getting into the kinds of situations aspiring actors get into -- getting low-paying gigs just to cover the rent, like being a producer's office assistant or being a background extra, and having crappy luck with women.
Loyal buddy Teetereater is Fonzie to Toupydoops' Ritchie Cunningham: macho, charming and can get any girl he wants. One issue zeroes in on this dynamic when Toupydoops loses an audition to Teetereater, who wasn't even trying; the casting director was looking for a tough guy for the role, and where Toupydoops had to act like a tough guy (unconvincingly), Teetereater was just being himself. What Toopydoops subsequently does to Teetereater out of jealousy comes back to bite him, of course.
It's an amusing and well-written and -drawn series, and if you're interested, writer/artist Kevin McShane has made the whole series available on the Toupydoops website, viewable and downloadable for free (here). It's a good thing, too; that trade collection has only the first five issues, but the whole series is only six issues. Why? I don't know. Maybe at the time McShane thought he would do more. But why the collection wasn't re-issued with the sixth issue included I don't understand.
(What about that audition for Superman? Let's just say that some guys can't win for losing. Read it for yourself here.)
I've got that book. However, Three Fingers has a sinister undertone that Toupydoops doesn't have, being an exposé of Hollywood secrets (specifically, "Why do toons wear the white gloves?"). I love the way Bugs Bunny is portrayed here.
Toupydoops is far sunnier, although it doesn't omit some people (and one major star) exhibiting jerk-like behavior. It gives you a little guy to root for.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
"Why do toons wear the white gloves?"
Yeah, Three Fingers is decidedly dark.
LONE WOLF & CUB v6: "Lanterns for the Dead" - "Deer Chaser" - "Hunger Town" - "The Soldier is the Castle" - "One Stone Bridge"
The first time I read these dark Horse volumes, I found myself continually referring to the glossary. It was frustrating if I looked for a word that wasn't listed and the practice didn't make for a good reading experience. This time, I'm barely consulting the glossary at all, until the end. (I use it as kind of a quiz.) I find that most of the unfamiliar words, except proper names, are explained in context. I had a similar experience when I read From Hell for the first and second times. the first time, I consulted the endnotes after every page, but the second time, not until I was finished with the volume at hand. In both cases, not flipping to the back provides for a better reading experience.
DEFENDERS #1: I'll cut the suspense and delcare this my "Pick of the Week" right off the bat. I have followed every versions of The Defenders, I think (except the execrable Secret Defenders). I like Al Ewing, and his writing here is quite different from Immortal Hulk. the art, by Javier Rodriguez, reminds me most of that short "Marvel Kights" run by (first) Tony Harris and (then) Paul Chadwick. Every once in a while, whatever writer gets it into his head to "define" Dr. Strange's powers. These approaches seldom interest me and seldom last. I don't recall Dr. Strange ever using the Tarot before, but he does here and it's all right by me because Ewing has done his research. It reads very much like a Steve Englehart Dr. Strange, to cite a writer who incorporated Tarot cards into a series or two in the past. We finally get a payoff (the beginning of one, anyway) to Marvel Comics #1000 a year and a half ago.
FANTASTIC FOUR: LIFE STORY #3: No "flammable/inflammable" confusion this month, although the Human Torch is the issue's POV character. [SPOLIER] He dies this issue [END SPOILER] and, from a technical standpoint, his narration continues three years beyond his death, but it's only a page so I guess I'll let it pass without further comment.
X-MEN LEGENDS #6: I didn't read much of Peter David's run, as I think I mentioned last month, but I think these [truly] "ret-con" series by the original writers (such as X-Men Forever) are generally better than their original runs. I used to not like Todd Nauck's work, but it has improved greatly in recent years.
BLACK'S MYTH #2: ""Vampires?... Why does it have to be vampires?" Plus a short story by our own Rob Staeger!
LONE WOLF & CUB v7: "Dragnet" - "Night Stalker" - "Cloud Dragon, Wind Tiger" - "Inn of the Last Chrysanthemum" - ""Penal Code Article Seventy-Nine"
"Dragnet"? "Night Stalker"? No, this volume has nothing to do with American television, but "Cloud Dragon, Wind Tiger" reminds me that I should move on to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon when I finish up with Lone Wolf & Cub.
I never did quite finish reading Lone Wolf & Cub. I read most of the First Comics series, but dropped off after a couple of volumes of the Dark Horse series. I like reading a "satisfying chunk" of story, and I would rather wait until a series is complete (and I am in the mood) to read the whole thing, rather than wait between monthly installments. Although there are some stories from the First series I haven't yet gotten to in Dark Horse, I am now moving into some stories I have never read before. This tells me I read the first six volumes, then decided to wait (two decades as it turned out).
The Ronin Report: This volume's essay is "The Women of Lone Wolf & Cub."