Tuesday, April 27, 2010 03:44 PM
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's (semi-)weekly comic book review post.

This post covers new releases from the week of 4/21. Beware spoilers!

New releases
Captain America: Who Won't Wield the Shield #1
This is one of those weird, self-parodying, one-shot, anthology comics full of silly in-jokes that the comic creators themselves probably get a lot more of a kick out of than any reader could. Forbush Man - the main character of Marvel's parody comics from way back - takes the starring role in the frame story, assaulting some of Marvel's most popular and famous creators, who are skewered, and/or skewer themselves, in amusing fashion (it's even more amusing if you follow them on Twitter). They distract Forbush Man by showing him (and us) other parody comics. The first is a surreal, far out, drugged-up mashup of Doctor Strange and Captain America. It's certainly colorful, and occasionally funny, but mostly just odd. Next up is "The Golden Age Deadpool," which is a great concept, with plenty of fun art and plenty of ridiculously anachronistic hip-hop dialog from Deadpool, but which overall could have been executed better. Really the most brutal and effective self-parody in the book is the final page, which is a "Sleege" checklist that rips Marvel's publishing schedule, its characters, its storytelling, and all of its recent large-scale sagas in truly biting fashion.
Thumbs Sideways

Gravel #18
Gravel seems to have decided five people is enough to make a Minor Seven and he pulls all his recruits together for their first collective group meeting, where he sets some ground rules for them, gives them a general mission, and also takes them (and us) on a tour of his previous adventures. If Gravel were a TV show (which, oh my God, it totally should be), this would be the clip show episode. And as we all know, the clip show episode is a bit of a cop-out. Still, it's fun to get a quick reminder of all the crazy crap Gravel's been through, and to see it again through the eyes of his apprentices. Plus we get to learn more about what Gravel expects of his Minor Seven. Finally, near the end of the issue that crazy killer dude who's been trying to get Gravel's attention finally does, and our hero sets out on a new mission. Should be fun!
Thumbs Up

Joe the Barbarian #4
Joe meets a cult of wizards whose magic is really just half-understood bits of science and technology ("square root of eye of newt, over function of the cosine where EEE equals magic times the speed of all likelihood squared"). They think the fact that Joe has broken through into this reality is what's causing this reality to fall apart ("A door has been opened into the outer murk"). We end on a cliffhanger again as Joe seems to be simultaneously soaring down a cliff in an untested flying machine, pursued by monstrous agents of evil, and standing at the top of a flight of stairs in his house about to tumble down them. The magicians are a set of great, funny new characters, the story is well constructed and intriguing, the action is exciting, and the dialog is brilliant. Good times.
Thumbs Up

The Unwritten #12
Man, I love this comic. It is so, so good. I know I say that pretty much every month, but... wow. This issue is another one-shot, this time revealing what happens to those who piss off Wilson Taylor. Somehow he's trapped a couple of his enemies inside a children's story, which is sort of an amalgamation of all famous children's stories - Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit (the comic has almost the same opening line - "In a hole in the side of a hill, there lived a rabbit."), Winnie the Pooh, The Wind in the Willows, etc. It might sound like a fun time, living life in a children's story, but Carey depicts it, in a darkly hilarious way, as a truly hellish existence. It's clear right away that the rabbit doesn't belong in this story, because he starts stabbing himself, and screaming "Pauly Bruckner!" which is presumably his own true name, that he is trying desperately to hang onto. It is so wonderfully, horribly funny when he emits streams of terrible curses at all the kindly forest creatures he meets. He probes the edges of the fantasy world, trying to find a way out, but the story just brings him right back to where he started. Then he hatches a plan to kill the story's very creator, with the idea that it will burst the bubble once and for all. But what he doesn't realize about children's stories is that there's a dark space at the heart of every one, and it's not empty.

What I'm saying is, this is another amazing issue, containing another wonderful ode to another wonderful genre of literature, and another insightful and funny deconstruction of said genre, which also simultaneously advances the overall storyline (if only incrementally), and certainly gives us a closer look at the dark side of Wilson Taylor. I love this comic to bits.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): Books (Not), Captain America (Not), Comic books (Not), Dr. Strange (Not), Grant Morrison (Not), Gravel (Not), Jason Aaron (Not), Matt Fraction (Not), Mike Carey (Not), The Take (Not), Tolkien (Not), Warren Ellis (Not), Wonderland (Not)

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Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books. For a more detailed run-down of who I am and what goes on here, read this.

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