Wisdom #6 (of 6) — Writer: Paul Cornell; Pencils: Manuel Garcia; Inks: Mark Farmer
The final issue of a mini-series that could never quite find an audience — maybe because of the obscure character, or the British setting (although it was one of the few series set in England that actually felt like it was England, as an actual place), or just because it kept throwing out so many concepts and ideas that it was hard to follow. That’s true here at the end, too, as it’s revealed that one of the character’s sons is destined to become Killraven, from the ’70s War of the Worlds series. That’s interesting to the 20 of us who actually remember that comic, but everyone else is going to end up scratching their heads and going “Bwuh?” It doesn’t help that the ending is clunky — it seems both wrenched into place, and annoyingly predictable. Overall, a failed experiment, but showing enough potential that I’d like to see the next project Cornell works on.
Shadowpact #13 — Writer: Bill Willingham; Artist: Scott Hampton
Not so much a story as a “here’s what’s coming” issue, as Willingham clears out his notebooks and gives glimpses of the next year’s worth of foes for the team. Interesting, up to a point, although there’s a whiff of desperation about it — sort of like “Here’s what we’ll be doing, if enough of you buy this to let us keep publishing it.” Willingham knows his way around magical combat and concepts, but this has always seemed like the “B” book to his Fables (and Jack of Fables), where the really good ideas end up.
Superman/Batman #35 — Writers: Mark Verheiden and Marc Guggenheim; Penciller: Pat Lee; Inker: Craig Yeung
Superman/Batman vs. Will Magnus and the Metal Men, who eventually get taken over by Braniac, in the second of a (three? four?) part arc. The story would be better if it had better art to present it (Lee/Yeung keep putting random scratchy lines on their characters’ faces, in the manner of a ’90s Image comic, and the atmosphere is annoyingly murky). On the other hand, the art would probably look better if it had a better story to tell — it’s still not clear what the history of these Metal Men is supposed to be, or how they fit into continuity, since Batman acts like he’s never heard of them before, but Superman mentions Magnus “rebuilding” his creations. Too, the dialogue seems to be channeling Bendis, especially in one conversation between underlings, and that’s off-putting. Later, the words “nanites” and “Omac” come up, and either of those is reason enough for a reader to bail out.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man Annual #1 — Writer: Peter David; Penciler: Roanan Cliquet; Inker: Rob Stull
The title is “Sandman: Year One,” and that’s just what it is — the childhood and origin story of that character. There’s a little too much “sand” symbolism, although that’s to be expected, and I’m not sure what I think about the whole “he was actually a pretty sensitive, arty kid who eventually hardened into a thug” idea; sometimes, you end up with too much information about these creations, when they’d be more fun as just one-dimensional villains with a cool power (although, Lord knows, Sandman’s a character who’s been all over the place — bad guy, good bad guy, bad good guy, back to bad guy, etc.). The back-up story is fine for what it is, with nice art by Colleen Doran, but all I could think of when reading it was how much it owed to “The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man.”
Birds of Prey #106 — Writer: Gail Simone; Artist: Nicola Scott
Continuing the team’s fight against the Secret Six (now with Harley Quinn) in Russia, as they try to rescue the apparently-resurrected Ice. Pretty good, actually — Simone knows both teams very well, and the dialogue and individual battles are presented effectively; BOP is just one of those titles I’ve always kept up with but never felt that compelled to keep.
American Virgin #15 — Writer: Steven T. Seagle; Artist: Becky Cloonan; Inker: Jim Rugg
For a story about a virgin, there’s sure a lot of T&A, and actual sex, in this comic, although to be fair it’s bending over backwards to be non-exploitive about it (hmmm… that’s probably not the best image, but whatever). It’s a sympathetic portrayal of a devout Christian, but readers who share that character’s beliefs wouldn’t be thrilled at a nipple count of… um, 17, I think (not to mention the dildo, which I’m only mentioning here because we’re now off the main page, after the jump).
Satan’s $@#%* Baby (at least, according to the outer cover; the inner one and the indicia have it as “Satan’s Sodomy Baby“) — Writer/Artist: Eric Powell
Speaking of things that can’t be mentioned until after the jump, there’s this comic, which does, in fact, feature a hillbilly who’s anally raped by Satan, and subsequently gives “birth” to a cute demon baby (don’t even ask how, although there’s lots of flying feces involved). The demon kid looks like a bucktoothed Hot Stuff, although with a much more exposed penis, one which (a) shoots fire, and (b) keeps getting longer and longer as the issue progresses. Then, there’s the pedophile priest and the method of exorcism… suffice it to say that Dark Horse isn’t kidding by putting an “extra” front cover on this book to warn away practically everyone — and even then, I can just see some retailers getting into trouble for this book.
Is it any good? Eh. As an episode of The Goon, it’s just OK, since the regular characters and plot don’t get that much attention, Powell being too concerned with going over the top with the doody and the blasphemy and whatever else he can work in. It’s all cheerful enough, but a book like this probably needs more sheer joy in transgression, the kind of oomph that the underground comics offered, and in today’s world that’s hard to generate; instead, it all seems just a little too desperate for attention, and that makes the whole thing more creepy than fun.