This Week’s Haul

Hey, it’s my 150th comic book haul entry!

  • Booster Gold #24, by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund (DC)
  • Green Lantern Corps #40, by Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Rebecca Buchman, Tom Nguyen & Prentis Rollins (DC)
  • Secret Six #13, by Gail Simone, Nicola Scott & Doug Hazlewood (DC)
  • The Unwritten #5, by Mike Carey & Peter Gross (DC/Vertigo)
  • Wednesday Comics #10 of 12, by many hands (DC)
  • The Incredible Hercules #134, by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Reilly Brown & Nelson DeCastro (Marvel)
  • The Marvels Project #2 of 8, by Ed Brubaker & Steve Epting (Marvel)
  • B.P.R.D.: 1947 #3 of 5, by Mike Mignola, Joshua Dysart & Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)
  • Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #6 of 8, by Mike Mignola & Duncan Fegredo (Dark Horse)
  • The Life and Times of Savior 28 #5 of 5, by J.M. DeMatteis & Mike Cavallaro (IDW)
The Unwritten #5 An interesting twist to The Unwritten this month: Rather than starting a new story (the first one having ended on something of a double cliffhanger) with Tom Taylor, instead we’re presented the shadow history of Rudyard Kipling, who seems to have sold a bit of his soul for his successful fiction and poetry, but eventually turned against the people he bargained with, and they brought him low for it.

If this sounds like a dark twist on the bargain Shakespeare made with Morpheus in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, well, other folks have noticed this too, only in this case the bargain seems to be with a secret cabal – who may or may not be human – who are using fiction and writers thereof for their own purposes. So there’s more to this secret history than Kipling’s story, he’s just how we’re getting our first direct exposure to it. Tom Taylor’s father clearly knew something of them as well, so I expect we – and Tom – will be learning more about them in the months to come.

Peter Gross does some excellent work with his period art for this issue, less cartoony than his usual style, which is a good thing.

Wednesday Comics #10 My old bud Jason Sacks (whom I know from my APAhacking days) wrote a thoughtful piece about the different creators in Wednesday Comics, with particular attention to Paul Pope on Strange Adventures. There’s a lot he says that I don’t agree with (the statement “We can’t expect an auteur approach from Busiek” I think shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Busiek’s career; and as I’ve said before I find Ben Caldwell’s Wonder Woman strip to be truly terrible, making the least out of the series’ format), but it’s still an article well worth reading.

(By the by, the “Unhand me, you pink furless thing!” panel Jason lauds in Pope’s page this week looks like a direct homage to the famous Charlton Heston line in Planet of the Apes. And inasmuch as Pope has taken Adam Strange back to his roots as a twist on the John Carter of Mars premise, I think Pope’s showing his influences rather clearly rather than being a straightforward auteur as Jason sees him.)

Deadman reaches its climax this week, but it’s something of a routine thing (“That’s it?”). On the other hand, Green Lantern and Metamorpho are both aiming for their climaxes next week, and they do so in different ways, with a darkest-before-the-dawn moment in Metamorpho, while GL defines the dawn through sheer bravado. And Karl Kerschl draws a gorgeous Flash page this week (which Jason reprints in his aforelinked article), though the story has fragmented a bit and I hope he can pull it together into a big finish.

And as for Pope’s Strange Adventures, well, it also reaches its climax this week, and it’s a rather clever one. I almost lament that Pope wasn’t given a larger canvas (in number of pages, not page size) to play out the ideas he’s presented here, as it’s perhaps the most interesting take on Adam Strange in decades. With two pages left to go for the denouement, I’m curious as to what other gems Pope can present in this milieu.

The Life and Times of Savior 28 #5 I nearly stopped buying The Life and Times of Savior 28 after last issue, but #4 was just interesting enough to make me buy another issue. I guess that’s a good thing, as it turns out it was a 5-issue mini-series, which I didn’t realize; I’d thought it was going to be a longer-form, ongoing series, and that this was still essentially the prologue.

I’ve never been a big fan of J.M. DeMatteis’ writing, as it tends toward the portentious while being simultaneously quite shallow. Savior 28 meets both of these criteria, being a retrospective of a Superman-like figure who strode unevenly through the 20th century before being killed by his former protege, just when he was trying his best to unify the world peacefully. Savior 28 was a sometime-drunk, once had a nervous breakdown, never quite left the ideals he fought for in World War II behind, and thus seemed utterly obsolete and ineffective – despite his great powers – in the 21st century. All of this is presented without any subtlety at all, right down to his uplifting speech to the United Nations being cynically dismissed by the world at large. Realistic? Perhaps, but it’s as unmoving a portrayal of superheroes brought low by real-world concerns as any I can recall, made all the less effective by the larger-than-life, Kirbyesque art of Mike Cavallaro, which seems appropriate to this story only in that it’s as unsubtle as the writing.

While I can see what DeMatteis was going for here, I think it ended up as a simple hodge-podge of ideas, with heavy-handed presentation right down to the series’ grace note on its last two pages. This territory has been worked much better in series like Astro City (with the Silver Agent storyline), Kingdom Come, or even the largely-forgotten Doctor Tomorrow from Acclaim Comics. If this had been merely the set-up for a longer form story, then there could have been some promise here, but as it turned out Savior 28 was a pretty simple, and not very fun or insightful, series.

Greg Burgas liked it, though, as did Rich Johnston.

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