Once upon a time, whenever a major holiday like Independence Day landed in the middle of a week, new comics would usually come out a day later than usual. It was agony. Now though, comics are shipped to stores earlier in the week so regardless of the holiday we can buy our books on Wednesdays, as god intended. So for this July 4th I made my normal pilgrimage into Manhattan to get my stuff, only to be confronted by the horror that is the Holiday Store Hours. I went to Midtown Comics: Closed. I walked down to Jim Hanley’s on 34th: also closed. Maybe I shouldn’t have waited until it was almost 8pm to go buy comics, but I was busy watching Amazing Spider-Man and BEING AN AMERICAN. So finally, with the heat of the night bearing down on me, I hopped on the downtown train and made my way to a store I knew would be open: Forbidden Planet. And open it was, its tight spaces blowing cool air on me as I picked up this week’s haul. My mission was a success, my Independence Day finished off right.
Action Comics #11
Written by Grant Morrison and Sholly Fisch, Illustrated by Rags Morales & Rick Bryant, Brad Walker, and CAFU. Colored by Brad Anderson and Jay David Ramos, Lettered by Carlos M. Mangual, Cover by Morales and Anderson, Edited by Will Moss and Matt Idelson
I was really happy to see Artist Brad Walker return to Action Comics this month, helping Rags Morales to tell Grant Morrison’s story of Superman and his new life. I loved his work on the final chapter of the Brainiac arc, but I just wish he would do a whole issue now. Anyway,”Superman’s New Secret Identity” attended to a lot of business in Morrison’s classic high energy style, establishing Kal-El’s new role, building his relationship with Batman, and introducing a new villain who is really small potatoes compared to real big bad on the way. Superman’s new status quo is interesting in the way it reflects on his role as Metropolis’ defender, as well as the way he has struggled to maximize his abilities in the best way possible. Morrison also continued to strongly explore the different facets of The Man of Steel and the way he is trying to evolve as both man and Superman.
Once again the backup story narrowed its focus with the “story” of how Superman got those cool T-shirts he wears all the time while beating up abusive landlords. It was kind of slight but it showed how much the city’s perception of him has changed the last few issues. Just a few months ago people were afraid of him because he was an alien. Now kids are dressing up like him and every Copy Shop in Metropolis is trying to take a piece of his fame for themselves.
Animal Man # 11
Written by Jeff Lemire, Penciled by Alberto Ponticelli, Inked by Wayne Faucher, Colored by Lovern Kindzierski, Lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, Cover by Steve Pugh, Edited by Kate Stewart and Joey Cavalieri
In the latest episode of Extreme Makeover: The Red Edition, the Totem’s tailors gave Buddy Baker a brand new look complete with sexy new abilities in order to save his son Cliff from the Rot agent who took over his old body a couple of issues ago. Buddy has been smacked around a lot in this series emotionally and physically, so it was nice to see him gain an advantage for once thanks to his upgrade. His battle with his undead doppelganger was triumphant and kind of cathartic, even if the victory was small compared to what he has possibly lost. I also liked how Lemire gave a nod to Animal Man’s past during Buddy’s brutal transformation sequence in the opening of the comic. Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. artist Alberto Ponticelli pinch hit in this issue, and his light, scratchy style gave an extra layer of texture and grotesqueness to all of the twisted bodies and mangled corpses. Nothing comes without a price in this series, whether it’s the pain of rebirth or the loss of someone very close. The Bakers are in a darker place than ever before and with the Rotworld crossover looming, things are only going to get worse.
Earth 2 #3
Written by James Robinson, Penciled by Nicola Scott, Inked by Trevor Scott, Colored by Alex Sinclair & Pete Pantazis, Lettered by Dezi Sienty, Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis, Edited by Sean Mackiewicz and Pat McCallum
“The Jade Knight” explored a few beginnings: the start of Alan Scott’s new life as Earth’s protector, The birth of Flash and Hawkgirl’s partnership, and the arrival of a threat that will eventually unite them. James Robinson’s story took its time to focus on Scott’s rebirth, giving the comic a sluggish pace that it struggled to recover from. However, it eventually did as the final couple of pages were pretty charged thanks to the debut of a longtime Justice Society villain that should lead to some cool action next month. One of the things I did like about Issue Three was how Robinson revamped the Green Lantern concept to tie it closer conceptually to the main New 52 Universe while still making it unique to Earth 2. I just wish the new Green Lantern had a uniform that wasn’t such a snoozefest. The original GL costume was pretty garish but at least it had some flair. That was the only blemish for Nicola Scott and the rest of the art team because they did an excellent job otherwise. The coloring especially brought the comic to life, with bold rendering throughout that heightened the drama of the story. The extended sequence involving Scott’s transformation stood out particularly. With the introduction of a number of heroes and a baddie to throw them against, the world of Earth 2 is beginning to take shape.
Sweet Tooth #35
Written and Illustrated by Jeff Lemire, Colored by Jose Villarrubia, Lettered by Carlos M. Mangual, Cover by Jeff Lemire, Edited by Gregory Lockhard and Mark Doyle
Myths and legends tend to obscure the fact that the subjects behind them were just ordinary people once upon a time. There was a lot of mystery surrounding the origins of Gus and the story of his so-called birth parents, and the truth turned out to be equal parts humanizing and super freaking creepy.
“The Singh Tapes Vol. 3″ told two parallel tales, one of Dr. Singh’s present day exploration of the Alaskan outpost where Gus was born, and the other of the man who called himself Gus’ father. Lemire’s story slowly built up the tension as the doctor explored the ruins of the facility, inching closer to the truth he has been desperate to discover. For someone like me who’s been reading this series almost since the beginning, there was also a sense of anticipation and excitement as the comic got close and closer to the Big Answer. But instead of a huge emotional moment, Lemire went in a more understated route, letting his pictures tell the story while allowing everything to sink in slowly. Singh was kind of like the audience surrogate here. We know as much as he does at this point. His confusion and shock is our confusion and shock. On the flashback track, the story of Gus’ father, Richard Fox, was one of an ordinary man thrust into an extraordinary situation. Kind of like how Abbot and Johnny were transformed, so was Fox. Issue Thirty Five humanized him greatly, showing his normal, if not mundane, existence before he made a choice to save a life that wasn’t his. The plague transformed everyone. Some became killers. Others became would be prophets. The plague transformed Richard Fox into a father, affirming his humanity before ultimately taking his life.
Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8
By Michael Kupperman
It’s kind of hard for me to describe Tales Designed to Thrizzle, a semi regular comic book series created by humorist Michael Kupperman. The comic is definitely weird. There’s lots of references to old pop culture, filtered through Kupperman’s odd and precise sense of humor. But its one of those things where you don’t need to know who someone like Angela Lansbury is. Its really funny regardless. Speaking of Lansbury, the Murder, She Goat story found her mystery writer/amateur detective character scaring the spit out of a group of socialites at a private house party with her predilection for leaving a trail of death in her footsteps. Murder, She Goat, and the other stories that comprised Issue 8 all started from a weird place and just got crazier from there. The entire book was carefully and precisely constructed, from the stories like Red Warren’s Train and Bus Coloring Book, to the fake ads that pop up throughout. That goes from the art as well. Kupperman’s style evokes the work of artists from a couple of generations ago with his deceptively simple linework. Everything looks pretty normal and unassuming and then all of a sudden some old dude starts talking about trains and buses having sex and you’re like guh? Kupperman exploits the juxtaposition between the mundane and the bizarre especially well to create great comedy, and Tales Designed to Thrizzle is a must read because of that.