Sean Maher's Quality Control

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Hmm. Did a full re-read of Frank Miller's notorious Dark Knight Strikes Again books yesterday. I enjoyed it a lot more this time around, as I expected I might - it's the first time I think I've read 'em since they came out - but I started wondering something as I finished the read... what is it with The Great Comics Writers and psychedelia?

Frank Miller? Half of DKSA reads like it was written on acid.

Neil Gaiman? Leans more towards fantasy than psychedelia, but Neverwhere is a fucking trip and did anyone read the Despair story in Sandman: Endless Nights?

Grant Morrison? Don't get me started.

Peter Milligan?

Alan Moore?

So, what's the deal? Do these guys get "fed up" with more lucid storytelling? Makes you wonder if there's something about comics in particular that appeals to more unusual styles...


I've also been knee-deep in re-reading Mike Carey's runs on Hellblazer and Lucifer. And I swear, Carey is the single best writer of epic comics working today. I'm actually so excited about his work right now that I'm signing up for his runs on both X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four, whatever my reservations about super-hero books might be.


Larry called me a monkey and told me to review Sky Ape: King of Girls, so I'm gonna have to go ahead and ask:

Where the hell is the gorilla flying around with a jetpack? I mean, he's right there on the cover, and on the first page of the comic, but then he disappears until the pin-up art at the back!

"If the phrase 'gorilla with a jetpack' doesn't do it for you, I don't know what we gotta do." Right?

But that's not what's here! Mostly here are jokes about how comics nerds need to get laid, and some ideas for goofball superheroes - ideas that were explored more subtly in Larry's own Planet of the Capes and to stronger comedic effect in Hench (which remains my favorite AiT publication). There's a lot of attitude, but for the most part, as Smoke and Guns writer Kirsten Baldock is quoted on the back cover, "Sky Ape... escapes any attempt at explanation."

I thought the timing and phrasing here were funny at points. There's a Julia Roberts joke I actually haven't heard before - and a clever one at that. The homeless minotaur is pretty funny. I enjoyed the Brown Sommersault, whose "acrobatic ability is second to none... except for some circus acrobats!" And I learned some new vocabulary from The Deliquicing Man, though his name is misspelled according to, where I had to look it up. To deliquesce, you see, means to dissolve or melt away, or to become soft or liquid with age -- used of plant structures (as mushrooms). Actually, there were a number of words here I had to go and look up, which brought back memories of my early days reading comics, learning words nobody else in school knew - usually from Doctor Doom.

Sky Ape - if this is any indication - is probably not for me. But I can't help feeling something's missing in this installment... some ass-kicking gorilla jetpack action (perhaps with a cigar) would have been welcome. Perhaps the creators, having already put together three full-length Sky Ape stories prior to this one (as Josh Richardson's great ad in the back pages reminds us), decided to mix things up. Mix away, fellows, but just remember: you've got a gorilla with a jetpack as your main character. Use him. Both parts.


  • At 6:21 PM, Blogger cecil bethlahem jr. said…

    Hey, Sean,

    Thanks for the review of SKY APE. Sorry it was exactly your cup of tea, but you said some nice things anyway, the stuff you didn't agree with has its value.

    Cheers, dude, and don't forget to order Wrestlemania. I think Triple HHH is battling a giant panda.

    - Phil

  • At 9:32 AM, Blogger Sean Maher said…

    Cheers, Phil. I'll look for that epic battle...

    Reminds me. Y'know, one of the things I've always prayed I get to see before I die is a tiger fighting a bear.


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