A Ben Cohen Ink Comic


By Ben Cohen a “legendary master of the left field.” -BRP!

“Unintentionally misunderstood since 1975.” –Anonymous

“A big f@#k you, to the audience.” -B. Pendarvis

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fall 2009 Comics Readings Reviews

It is within the pages of W.K. Brown's fictional fiction by Chris Ware that we finally get more then the predictable creep/nostalgia and "oh look what he did here" revelations (always brilliantly done, but now almost never living up to our expectations…the price of success for Ware).  The irony is it is a Science Fiction story that makes this the best comic I have read recently without the necessity of comparing it with its contemporaries.  It is this story that the Rusty Brown story expands enough to make me enjoy it, as I did the Jimmy Corigan plot.  Its all fantasy, although Mr. Ware appears in Rusty’s school in previous issues.  The explanation provided for W.K. and Rusty’s pathetics are provided skillfully in this issue.  However, all of that plays a secondary role to the introductory story about a Mars colonization.  It quite literally is everything comics should be.  Not because it is science fiction based, but because not an ink stroke, a word, a panel, a color is wasted.  Each is necessary and each supplants itself as a storytelling mechanism that provides revelations and reflections.  It is a well contained piece of fine art encapsulate in sci-fi nostalgia, the type you would suspect W.K. might have written, but also be paralyzed by.  While ACME Novelty Library No. 19 continues the dissection of people who deserve no sympathy, you are sympathetic to the Pulp art one of them creates as a dissection of people who deserve no sympathy.  It is redemption without appeasement. Grade: A

I don’t love Humbug, but I don’t have to.  It is rewardingly strange to look into this time capsule so precisely capsulated. In it you find explanations for context lost in time.  Nevertheless, the truth is you are seeing an artistry whose context can never be fully conceptualized because of that lost time.  You simply gaze at it with wonder and reverence for the influence it represents and the qualities you can pull from the depths of your nostalgia.  Harvey Kurtzman’s influence on American culture is legendary.  His band of skilled misfits, Will Elder, Arnold Roth, Al Jaffee and Jack Davis are all brilliantly displayed.  But for me packaging, joke nick knack adds, cleverness and influence aside.  I hold onto it with awe, because of Jack Davis’s line work.  I could just simply stare forever. Grade:A-
George Sprott is huge, the book is physically, making it hard to read in bed, but easy to enjoy.  Seth’s graphic design skills have been evident in his collections of Charles Shultz’s Peanuts; they continue here.  Apologetic nature of the storytelling fits the protagonist and his charming flaws.  This mystery lays out naturally awkward and meticulously refreshing.  There is nothing left secret beyond any storytellers knowledge, but there is no moment where you feel his era of muted exploitation and crassness is betrayed.  It is a book that is honest to the era in both revelations and social convention, despite being fiction.  Very Seth. Grade:  A-
J.H. Williams III’s work with Alan Moore has been inspiring, and occasionally bewildering.  With Greg Rucka it is has surprising clarity. Your mind is captured into Batwomen’s world with a innovative two-page layout, and you are not let go of the intense insanity she is subjected to. You catch onto what all the buzz is about. And just like that the dreaded words…”to be continued.”  Followed by a less then satisfactory story about and equally interesting character The Question…and once again you are reading the plight of superhero comics for the past 20 years.  You question why you have ventured back into the mainstream.  Grade:B
I realize Matt Madden, Jessica Abel and their guest Charles Burns have a new book out of The Best American Comics for 2009…but I will not be reading that till mid 2010.  In 2008, however, guest Lynda Barry pieced together a collection that ultimately left me critical of her selections.  But included much of my favorites, Ware, Seth, Jamie Hernandez, Alison Bechdel, Matt Groening ect… (of course I already had most of that already).  I pick this collection up to find that which I was unaware of.  Only one immerged from this, a story by Shawn Cheng and Sara Edward-Corbett.  Even more disappointing is there were many stories by cartoonists I admired that I just couldn’t get into and much by people I had not heard of, that I detested.  Then there is the list of notables not making the collection, people you are friends with and/or comics you loved.  Nevertheless, such is the way with art.  Don’t take my word for it, check it out.  Barry took on a thankless task and I can only hope I make the notables list myself someday. Grade: B-
I prefer to make silent comics.  I would also prefer that there were more of them.  It is more intimate.  The Goon by Eric Powell is a City of Lost Children meets On the Waterfront.  It exploits typical cartooning ventures, humor, violence, and sex.  However, it does not really matter that you have read or seen this story many times before.  It is fundamentally sound and well presented; so its fun.  So what?! Grade:  B-
This Fantastic Four story has two things going for it; being self contained and Bryan Hitch.  Not the best story, but it is well told.  Given the state of endless cross overs and hacks in comics, it is hard to not appreciate the quality here.  Just don’t get use to it.  You are setting yourself up for disappointment. Grade: B-  
Somehow, Williams channels Mazzuchelli in the flashback sequences in this issue of Detective Comics.  It is nice to have the time in this tale to explore her character more and balance of honor and sexuality.  Honestly though I could do without the Wolf Man…she does seem to be making a reluctant power play like Storm did with the Morlocks.  Which is always cool...but then more Question. Grade:  B-
At some point Burbaker and Hitch lost my interest…I think it was the always over acted final/to be continued splash page.  John Cassaday’s cover is brilliant and there is really beauty in Hitch’s work almost always.  I was surprised to enjoy the loosens of the inking. Grade: C+

As people I love Amanda Connor and Jimmy Plamiatti, so I picked up Power Girl with high hopes.  It was ok in many respects, but ultimately I felt Connor’s style suited the story best when it was light and campy.  Which is actually a great thing if we are marketing towards a younger crowed.  But it is hard to make that case when you have useless panty shots and you do not fix Power Girls window issue (see other blogs).  So I walk away respectful, but kind of eh. Grade:  C+

Longshot is my favorite superhero, so naturally I have an affinity for Chris Claremont and Art Adams’ X-Babies and Mojo’s world. Jacob Chabot’s drawings are pitch perfect for a comic for kids about child versions of the X-Men.  The story doesn’t take itself seriously…its fun.  But I was disappointed by the introduction of another villain beyond Mojo…he was weekly designed and annoying.  I was even more disappointed at the sort of bla bla bla approach they took to one of my favorite villains ever, Spiral.  But hay its for kids. Grade: C+
Arkham Reborn in a vacuum might be a good book.  But just in contrast with Batwomen in Detective Comics you get the sense that they story, art and dialogue is forced.  That the idea was good in some meeting, but should have been pulled well before inks were added to the pages. Grade: C- 
When your favorite parts of the comic are the cover and six pages of a well acted talking head, you know you just aren’t digging the comic.  Honestly, I just read it and I can’t remember much about it.  I know the villains were not that compelling…also another sign that it’s not the book for you.  Sorry Tony…once again, I don’t get you.  You were great on the big screen. Grade:  C-

I hart Legion and have a soft spot for the New Mutant’s.  This was not the worst drawn book, nor was the writing always predictable.  Nevertheless, the over all story and storytelling just left me wondering, why are they wasting away such great characters with over done approaches. Grade: C-

 The cool thing about this book is the Joker’s line to Batman after watching him kick the crap out of some villain; “I know we have our differences, but I must admit it’s a pleasure to watch you work! Seriously.” There now you don’t have to buy this disappointment.  Thank goodness, things pick up in this series when Batwomen arrives. Grade: D

Honestly, I think I read this Astonishing X-Men story before, but enjoyed it.  It is a poorly tapestried collage of nostalgia, that is literally airbrushed into fooling you to think it is somehow more hip, because it looks so less cartooney.  We it is not, it is muddled and all that I love is washed away with this approach.  And I thought plot when the Uncanny X-Men moved to Oakland was bad…and I am from the East Bay. Grade: D-

The Amazing Spider-Man is Marvel’s flagship.  A cover by SKOTTIE YOUNG is absolutely deserving.  So why oh why is the inside about Expletives Deleted, emaciated spaghetti sex kittens, dead pool at his least funny, and spider-man drawn like plastic man gone on crack…and don’t get me started on the inking.  The entire comics is basically the cartoonist version of illegible.  This should be the highest quality and most accessible book…your owned by Disney now…would they do this to Mickey? Grade: F


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