Sean Maher's Quality Control

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Man Without Fear, The Man Drowned In Beer, and The Future Made Clear

Molly wants me to be sure and write today about how I'm a total loser 'cause I got drunk at work yesterday.

"I'm not saying I want you to write about that. I was just asking. Loser."

Well, I have to be a bit sheepish about this one, as the truth is: I got pretty fucking drunk at work yesterday. On the other hand, I learned how much I like Irish coffee, especially with a little Bailey's in there.

So, there it is, my indefatigable optimism. For every door shut a window opened, and such.



Daredevil #82 came out last week, and launched Ed Brubaker's run with artist Michael Lark.

It's fucking fantastic.

Brubaker's at his best, it seems, when dealing with characters in moral quandries. When there is no clear cut solution that'll make them a hero. His work with Foggy Nelson in particular is humanizing and compelling; the scene between him and Ben Urich is, in terms of character development, the strongest in the issue. Foggy's mistrust for Ben is understandable, and his cruelty to him at the end of the scene is uncharacteristic - this is a man under stress he's not sure how to handle. Ben, on the other hand, is given only a few lines but we see him hard at work trying to help in the way that makes most sense to him - figuring out the angles, following the new developments to the situation.

The structure here is denser than Brubaker's work on Captain America, bringing some of that episodic feel I loved so much in Sleeper. Lots of pieces are put in motion, setting up a dozen character relationships in short order and drawing the map for the forseeable future of the story. He did something similar in the opening issues of Sleeper (both times), and then threw that map away, bringing the stoy to places more intense and stark than we'd even come to expect. He's big on the ol' misdirection technique, and he uses it better than anybody plotting comics today. So, as intense as the cliffhanger here is (the repeated lines in the closing captions were hugely effective, I thought), I'm almost more excited to see what... well, what I don't see coming, if that makes sense.

Michael Lark, of course, is perfect for the title, matching Brubaker's scripts with a grimey feel, a sharp sense of character design, body language and facial expressions, and some amazing kinetics; the fight scene that opens the issue, and especially the prison fight (check out Matt's backflip over the guy who's moving to stab him) are visceral reads, pulling the reader into the scene without said reader's awareness. Brilliant, brilliant work, and easily Brubaker's best conspirator since Sean Phillips. All this, and amazingly consistent with the look that previous artist Alex Maleev had built for the title over the last few years.

I've heard some folks giving colorist Frank D'Armata some grief over his work here, but I don't get it. I think his work here is near-perfect, drawing attention to itself only in the closing pages and even then only to cue the reader that we're seeing the scene through Matt's "eyes," as set-up during the prison fight. It gives the closing scene a more claustrophobic, helpless feel, especially coupled with Lark's tight panel layout, and I think the man deserves some heavy credit for it.

In short order, this may be the best title in the current Marvel catalogue. It's certainly the one I'm most psyched about today.


So, while I was on about the printed indie solicits for April last week, we got online solicits from Marvel, DC and Image. A brief rundown, then, of highlights, since I'll be going over these at length when I get the magazine.

From DC:

CRISIS AFTERMATH: THE SPECTRE #1 features, I can only assume, the following to the Spectre's merging with Detective Crispus Allen, which would kinda interest me anyway, but with must-buy artist Cliff Chiang on the book and "don't mind him" writer Will Pfiefer on the title, this one's getting pull-listed.

JLA CLASSIFIED: NEW MAPS OF HELL TP collects the arc Warren Ellis wrote, so I'll likely pick that up at some point. The price is pretty solid - thirteen bucks for six issues is a pretty good value.

CAN'T GET NO SOFTCOVER is that Rick Veitch OGN we heard about at WonderCon, something about a guy getting drunk and stoned and that having something to do with 9/11. I'll be keeping my ears open to hear what folks think about it.

DMZ VOL. 1: ON THE GROUND TP collects the first five issues of the book for a mere ten bucks, the idea being (I'm sure) to let folks jump on the singles. I've been enjoying this one, for my part, especially the recent issue #4. (Zilla - yeah, I totally agree with you. Best one yet.)

DC's Cover of the Month has gotta be Batman: Secrets #3. I mean, holy Christ, I couldn't get this on my desktop fast enough:

From Marvel:

Aw, Christ. I hope Civil War doesn't tie up She-Hulk for too long.

LAST PLANET STANDING #1 & #2 (of 5) are about Galactus, and written by Tom "Remember how cool his FF run was? Seriously, it was really fun!" DeFalco, so I'm almost certainly buying them.

FANTASTIC FOUR - A DEATH IN THE FAMILY ONE-SHOT is written by Karl Kesel, who's a bit touch and go with me, but drawn by Lee Weeks, who is always a selling point. Includes FF issue #245. which doesn't mean much to me without more information. Come on, Marvel. We're not all insane fanboys.

Well, maybe. After all, when I read that Oeming is writing "the legendary Grasscutter sword" into ARES #5 I did do a little jump and exclaimn to myself, "That was the best Usagi Yojimbo ever!" So maybe we are all insane fanboys.

PUNISHER: THE TYGER is the third in that series of one-shots Ennis has been doing that have all been completely fucking awesome. Remember "The Cell" and "The End"? How fucking rad were those? This one has John Severin artwork and looks into some of Frank Castle's tortured past. It was originally solicited last year but I'm just happy to see it again.

HAUNT OF HORROR: EDGAR ALLAN POE #1 (OF 3) is Richard Corben doing adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe poems in black-and-white on the MAX imprint. Is there any question of whether or not to buy this? Anybody who thinks there is is a communist.

PUNISHER MAX VOL. 5: THE SLAVERS TPB collects easily one of the two or three best Punisher stories I've ever read. Ennis wrote all the other ones, too.

SKRULL KILL KREW TPB sounds fun, one of those Grant Morrison / Mark Millar projects. I heard some noise that this was an ongoing that got cancelled and ends weirdly, which is cause for pause, but I've still got a good feeling about it.

Just as with DC, Marvel's Cover of the Month is a no-contest. Hulk vs. Silver Surfer Gladiator style by Ladronn? Uh, yeah, I'll take some.

From Image:

EMISSARY #1 is the return of Small Gods' creative team - writer Jason Rand and artist Juan Ferreyra - in the Jim Valentino project they'd been teasing. The Valentino part made me nervous, but the Authority-esque examination of power that looks to be part of the premise here is fertile ground for this team, who pulled off a similar sort of world-building in Small Gods. These two guys have the potential to be the next Ennis & Dillon, and I'm sticking around for the ride so I can laugh at everybody else when it turns out I'm right.

FIVE FISTS OF SCIENCE GN is sort of a no-brainer. Matt Fraction is a funny writer who's also done some strong action books, and the art is awful pretty. I've been waiting for this one for a little while and I'm psyched to see it at such a solid price point. Sold.

NEGATIVE BURN #1, I'll buy just for Phil Hester's work. What's that? Eric Powell is in here too? Well, shit. I guess I'm just screwed.

STAGGER LEE GN looks like a fun take on an old legend I've always enjoyed. Western outlaw tales are tricky to do right - they can get real generic, real fast - but I'll be keeping my eyes open for preview pages and interviews 'cause this could be a good one.

THE WALKING DEAD, VOL 5: THE BEST DEFENSE TP collects issues that haven't even come out yet; they're really aggressive with their trades, which has worked out fine for my house 'cause that's the only way Molly'll read 'em and she's as anxious as me to find out What Happens Next.

Image's Cover of the Month is harder. Tony Moore's Fear Agent #6 cover is almost my favorite; that guy's been really bringing an A-game to this book. But come on; that's Geof Darrow doing the cover for The Last Christmas #1. And just look at it:

That's it for today, brothers and sisters.


  • At 3:19 PM, Blogger Eric Chattom said…

    Darrow's "Last Christmas" gives a whole new meaning to 'Toy Gun'.


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