Haven’t been keeping up with comics news, lately, because why bother? Most of it is press releases, and the remainder is taken up with fans, writers and artists, or someone in the “business” section of the business proving to be skeevy or unethical or just plain whackadoodle (which, by the way, Chuck Dixon and the other guy writing in the Wall Street Journal? Okay…). Jack Kirby’s family may get their case to the Supreme Court–the same Supreme Court which just today ruled it’s okay for big business to refuse to cover birth control (subtext: women have less rights than corporations, and [probably ((definitely))] so do you). I’d be more than a little worried if I were one of the Kirbys. Entertainment journalism as a whole is dire, but comics breeds a certain level of disgust, even before we get certain people being okay with an indie comix guy getting ripped off by Shia LeBeouf or being totally fine with Marvel/DC continuing to screw over the old pros who got them to the point where they could be the arms of billion dollar empires as long as we get more Avengers movies and shut up all you people who keep bringing it up, because we just want to get the Water Vapor Deadpool variant cover for Avengers World #1 before it gets relaunched three months from now and we have to get the Macaroni & Cheese Deadpool variant cover.
Right. No more of that. For the next month, anyway. Hopefully.
All-New Ultimates #4
Art by Amilcar Pinna and Nolan Woodard
Writing by Michel Fiffe
Published by Marvel
Fiffe, Pinna, and Woodard’s humanist love letter to 80s comics gets its first downtime issue. Since it isn’t told from a dog’s perspective and doesn’t try to emulate Chris Ware, it likely won’t get praised to the heavens, but it also comes with no pretension. Largely devoted to the team girls going to Coney Island (Cloak and Spider-Man only cameo) and discussing their various dramas while seeds are planted for the next couple issues. Pinna draws teenagers with Ditkoesque dimensions (tall and lean with angular faces), giving them a natural awkwardness well-suited to Kitty Pryde attempting to politely misdirect some fans looking for a photo op, Bombshell and Dagger talking about their boyfriends, or Black Widow discussing her origins as a clone of Peter Parker (and the latent lesbianism implied by having a boy’s memories and attractions hardwired into her). Even when they get away from crowds and horny boys trying out pickup lines, they’re still framed in squarish, close-cropped panels. Coupled with the frankness of Fiffe’s dialogue and Nolan Woodard dialing back the neon of previous issues in favor of warmer tans and reds, the effect is heightened intimacy. It’s only when one of them leaves the space that superhero tropes kick back in, and any sense of safety and normalcy is shattered.
This is how you do it.
Art by Fiona Staples
Writing by Brian K. Vaughan
Published by Image
Saga‘s beats, perfect as they are for serialization, have become entirely too familiar. Opening splash showing some kinky space opera sex, a soft middle emphasizing the quirky, mildly-progressive family dynamic, a violent closer (often barely-related, if at all, to the preceding scenes) to keep readers jonesing for the next installment. Even when Fiona Staples breaks from her usual backdrops (digitally-painted and emphasizing two or three colors) for a psychedelic drug trip–with runaway soldier/mother Alana curled in the fetal position, entwined with the words “Fuck yes”–this is a breezy read. Sometimes even dull, and likely to have diminishing returns. It’s certainly a dad comic, as Vaughan has made clear, a phase which usually isn’t when we get someone’s best work. There’s even an awareness of this fact in the script, where Vaughan has Alana’s boss talking about how entertainment can only “change the way we feel, and never for very long.” Deeply cynical as this is, it comes from somewhere heartfelt. Perhaps it’s a reminder, for himself as much as the audience, to not spend so much time mainlining.