NY Comic Con is almost upon us (technically, I think it starts today for industry folks) but there are still plenty of great issues and books to pick up at your local comic shop. The big news, of course, is the release of Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe, which I’ll be reviewing as soon as I have the time to read and write about it. Here are the books that I took home this week:
First up (in alphabetical order) is Buffy the Vampire Slayer #22, by Steven S. DeKnight and Georges Jeanty. The plot to turn public opinion against the Slayers continues, as new plush toy sensation “Vampy Cat” is released upon the public. These adorable little monsters dive inside your mouth and hijack your body, turning you into a puppet of the evil Twilight (take that, Stephanie Meyer!) It’s up to Satsu and Kennedy (and a contingent of slayer cavalry) to save first Japan, then the world from these Pokemon from Hell.
I went into this issue expecting to hate it, but DeKnight’s script was clever and funny enough to turn my frown upside down. The story is quite ridiculous, but in a very entertaining way. It’s a far cry from the usual angst-fest that is the Buffyverse, and perhaps that’s what I like so much about it. Whedon & Co. have created a Dark Reign-esque scenario, but with infinitely more charm and appeal (in my opinion, anyway.) Jeanty continues to deliver more high-quality art, so no surprises there. Expect plush Vampy Cats to hit the market sometime before the Holidays…
Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey’s Comic Book Comics #3 continues to prove that history books can be fun, funny and informative. I really wish that this series had been around when I was taking my Comics & American Culture course in college, because it would’ve been a fantastic study aid. Van Lente and Dunlavey break down comics’ most controversial years, and chronicle the rise and fall of E.C. comics as well as the creation of the Comics Code Authority. It’s really quite amazing to look back on the things that made comics such “objectionable material” in days gone by, considering the world that we live in today. My favorite moment of the book, though, was the “evolution of a superhero” that showed three versions of hypothetical hero The Flaming Cape: Golden Age (mystical powers, racist stereotype nemesis), Silver Age (sci-fi powers, Communist nemesis), and Modern Age (technobabble powers, unnecessary vulgarity, wanton violence, style over substance.) Run, don’t walk to your LCS and demand a copy of this issue!
It’s time to put on my Devils hat and raise a Grease Trucks sandwich to Glen Brunswick and Dan McDaid’s Jersey Gods #1. An hilarious blend of Kirby-esque space opera and Smith-esque slice-of-life romantic comedy, this is one of the most fun superhero books I’ve read in ages (and that includes Dynamo 5!) Then again, perhaps I’m biased because the setting is played up to the point of practically being its own character! Issue #1 falls somewhat victim to “pilot syndrome”, though, spending entirely too much time establishing the characters and setting with little plot development. The preview I read showed a scene with a married Barock (extraterrestrial god-hero) and Zoe (the everywoman heroine) struggling to keep a pitched superhero battle from ruining a visit from the in-laws, but it seems that Brunswick and McDaid have decided to begin the story with the couple’s first meeting instead. If it were my call, I’d have saved this for later in the run (possibly as a #0 issue), but the planners at Image are supposedly a bit smarter than I am. McDaid’s art is very clearly Kirby-influenced, but to me it seemed like it was Kirby filtered through a Darwyn Cooke lens and a touch of Erik Larsen on top. Mmmm, delicious! Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors are a perfect fit for the book; bright and vibrant enough for space opera, yet not feeling out of place in the “real world” scenes. I leave you with Brunswick’s words of wisdom:
“‘Why New Jersey?’ That seems to be the question I hear the most. I grew up in New York City, and for as long as I can remember, NJ has had this piss-poor reputation. ‘It’s a wasteland,’ they say. ‘Nothing of importance ever springs from there.’ You know what I think? New Jersey is an underdog. If nobody ever expects anything from you, you’re bound to surprise them. And nothing is more American than an underdog, right? So our Gods will MAKE DO in New Jersey, thank you very much.”
Transformers: All Hail Megatron #7 continues to surprise and delight me. Unlike that Michael Bay explodo-fest, Shane McCarthy and the good folks at IDW have really crafted an intriguing and gripping war story (albeit one with giant transforming robots for characters.) The Decepticons have won the war, and it’s all our heroes can do to even survive, let alone mount a counterattack. Couple that drama with the revelation that the Autobots were betrayed from within, and you’ve got a recipe for intrigue! Never mind that they’re giant robots, these are rich, developed characters (thanks to McCarthy’s fantastic writing and years of unused character traits and story hooks)! All Hail Megatron is the story we TransFans have been waiting decades for. It’s a shame the movie can’t even come close to matching it.
After CBC #3, I demand more Fred Van Lente! Thankfully, X-Men Noir #3 is there to satisfy my craving for fantastically clever and engaging storytelling. The plot builds, thickens, twists and turns as Pietro settles a score, Magnus calls in a favor, and the X-Men show up to ruin the Lensherrs’ best-laid plans. There’s more to everything than meets the eye, however… but I won’t spoil the fun for you. I’m still loving this version of the X-verse characters, completely devoid of superhuman powers yet so incredibly true to the character traits of the original. If only all alternate-reality tales were this spot-on! Unfortunately, I’m still a bit confused about who’s who in certain scenes. As great and noirish as Dennis Calero is, some of his pages are a bit confuddling. Perhaps once every character (and his/her stake in the story) has been revealed it will all make more sense, but for now I’m content to go with the flow and assume that all will be revealed eventually.
That’s it for periodicals for me for this week (although fans of Bart “Impulse/Kid Flash” Allen may want to pick up a copy of Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #3. I’m not sayin’ nothin, but I heard things…) Stay tuned for more reviews, and a Comic Con wrap-up report next week!