Monday, May 19, 2014

Reviews of Comics from 5/14 & A Special Announcement

Abe Sapien #13
Story: Mike Mignola & Scott Allie
Art: Max Fiumara

This is not a normal issue of Abe Sapien. This is not a normal issue of most mainstream comics. While our titular protagonist does appear in the issue, he is by no means the center of the story. This is a story in the classic Eisner Spirit vein, where Abe steps into a situation and it is more the story of the people who are in that situation. This is the story of a man driven mad by his own past and by the changes in the world that have been wrought in the past few years throughout the books featuring the B.P.R.D. and their allies, and the woman he has kidnapped. He believes they are the last man and woman on Earth, and she has been broken by the losses she suffered when the horrors came out of the ground. The issue has no dialogue; it is told entirely through narrative that goes into the head of these two characters. It isn't first person narrative either, but a sort of third person omniscient that allows you to see without the bias of a first person narration. Throughout the issue, you get to know these two characters well, you see the man's background and the woman's pain. You see him first spot Abe and view him as the serpent in his new garden of Eden. The art of Max Fiumara is dark and perfect for this particularly dark story. Abe Sapien has been the most introspective book in the Mignolaverse since its inception, and this issue does such interesting things with point of view that it is something well worth checking out.

Batgirl #31
Story: Gail Simone
Art: Fernando Pasarin

So, first a quick discussion of the actual issue. This is a great creepy horror movie kind of story, with people trapped in a building with a monster chasing them. Barbara has a reunion of sorts with her sorta boyfriend Ricky, only to have things go very wrong; I guess when your dad shoots your boyfriend, things aren't going to go so well. And the issue ties nicely with both the rivalry between Batgirl and her main nemesis in this current series, Knightfall, and the new mastermind from the recent annual, Mr. Rain. And the story is done in one, so it makes a good starting point for new readers. But, as good as any issue of Gail Simone's Batgirl is, let's talk about what I came into this issue really excited for: Ragdoll! For those of you who don't know Ragdoll, and shame on you, Ragdoll was created by Simone as part of her Villains United mini-series, which lead into the ongoing Secret Six. Ragdoll is a man who had extensive surgery dome to himself to allow all his joints to move freely in any and all directions, making him the ultimate contortionist. He is also completely out of hiss mind, having little to no morality and saying things that qualify at best as random and at worst as creepy to the extreme. Being his first full appearance in the New 52 (he has appeared in the background in Arkham scenes before), I was a little worried. Despite being written by his creator, I admit to being worried that he might be changed in this new world. Boy was I wrong! Ragdoll is still the complete, unpredictable madman that he was before the change.Simone hasn't lost any of the voice, and artist Fernando Pasarin draws a creepily bendy Ragdoll. If you loved Secret Six, or just like great, weird villains, this is a great issue to jump on.

Tales From the Con: Year One
Story: Brad Guigar
Art: Chris Giarrusso

This issue is a collection of comic strips published on the website of Emerald City Comic Con. They're fun little one offs poking gentle fun at fandom and con culture. It's hard to write a full on review of something like this, since there's no continuity or continuing narratives, and trying to describe the strips would be like explaining a joke; it just doesn't work. But I can say writer Brad Guigar writes some very funny material without sinking into snark or nastiness, like so many strips about comic book culture do.And the art is by Chris Giarrusso, best known for his amazingly funny Mini-Marvels strips that appeared in Marvel comics throughout the 90s and for G-Man, his all ages creator owned superhero comic published through Image. His art is a delight, fun and whimsical, and its what got me to pick up this book. I'm glad to say the words lived up to the art, and if you're in the mood for a good laugh, Tales from the Con is a good book to sit back and chuckle your way through.

Now, for this week's special announcement: over the weekend, Matt Signal contributor Dan Grote and I joined the regulars on the Shut Up Kids Podcast for their superhero extravaganza. Check out the podcast here at to hear a discussion of comic books, movies, and TV, as well as super hero music and the madness of Alan Moore. Oh, and for those of you who read this blog at work (and I know some of you do, don't deny it) there's is some stronger language than I use here and some suggestive dialogue, so plug in those headphones or wait until you get home before you listen, k? Thanks to Dan Milczarski, Nick Nightly, and the Colonel for having us on!

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