I have found some comics!

July 17, 2008 at 12:21 am (1)

And here are some:

Batman/Hellboy/Starman #1-2


Wow. Normally I am not one to brag, but when at the comic shop yesterday I found these two comics for a quarter over cover, $2.75, each. Mignola is way too good an artist to have such expensive work, right? Don’t prices only go up, like, three decades after publication!?! Top Ten and all of ABC are still at cover, and I can still easily find even Morrison’s Doom Patrol and Animal Man at prices just over retail for each trade, but Hellboy!?! Those comics are ridiculously expensive, even the newer mini-series. I’m never going to get a reasonably priced set of Seed of Destruction, or the Dark Horse Presents Hellboy comics, am I?



And if you’re looking to get a copy of the two, I’d wait for as great a find as mine because they really aren’t very good. Only two issues gives the books a rushed pacing: threats and their terrible eldritch might are introduced and defeated a couple pages later because Hellboy knows a Lemurian prayer or the energy filled Nazi zombies explode to no effect in a crowded room. Robinson spends his entire time setting up the action of the second issue in the first but ends up with inconsequential punching and superheroes yelling. There are no wondrous full page spreads of Hellboy fighting monsters as there are in, say, any Mignola written Hellboy tale.


Plus the dialogue is Robinson at his worst; Hellboy: “He’s a chip off the old block,” to which Starman ripostes “I’d like to chip his block.” My groans woke up the neighbors. And Robinson doesn’t even give that much good stuff to draw. The Nazis appearing out of bushes in the forest is creepy enough, but then tremendous energy bars are thrown across a page with almost no detail to the drawings.


There is also one unforgivable sin in a book such as this. A crime wave engineered by the Joker does two important things in the book, it lures Batman away from its plot and it compares what could be such an awesome story, Mignola drawing a Joker horror story, to what the story actually is, Hellboy fighting Nazis, again. Lines that are meant to be funny (“Fucking Nazis again.”or “I hate fucking nazis”) actually emphasize the repetition of the story against the wonderful tapestry already woven.


But, then again, the story will never be reprinted, ever, and it has Jack Knight drawn by Mike Mignola, who can out-Tony-Harris Tony Harris any comic of the month, and it has Mignola’s awesome Batman who broods over shadows depressed with his belly hanging out, along with more chiaroscuros than any mainstream comic should ever have. Definitely recommended at cover price, but not five times such.


And now for a completely different comic:


Hyperbox #3


Full disclosure: Me and Mr. Cardini? Same womb, different exit times.


This is the third mini-comic from William Cardini, which can be purchased by e-mailing the artist at markphensel@gmail.com and are available through Atomic Books’ online catalogue. They run $3 each and are totally worth it, and you don’t have to find an amazing bargain to secure them for that price.


Most of the action takes place not in panels but on pages, and Mr. Cardini offers strange and terrifying creatures on each page. A lot happens over the course of the comic (The Lizzard gives his eaten and crystallized prey, Mark, to his master, the Wojrollox to be processed while Mark dreams of trudging his way through a blizzard ), but it does not feel burdened by its plot. In fact, every twist seems to lighten its load, to provide a new avenue to explore. Reading this comic is not so much exploring the intricacies of a canyon as running to an edge, and finding a new river and diving into it.


This lightness may be because of a rapid plot, but it also comes from a very large emotional distance to its denizens. All of the characters of which I’ve written, the Lizzard, the Wojrollox, and Mark, have almost no emotions given to them on the page, and they are truly bizarre, alien life forms. Why does the Wojrollox process Human Earth squares? Why does the Lizzard do his bidding, and why does Mark disappear? This is an entirely foreign ecology presented to us, similar to Marder’s Beanworld but without a tour guide as narrator. We must navigate its fantastical landscape on our own!


And it really is a fantastical landscape with a wondrous population. Issue one had a cigar smoking frog as Mark’s sidekick, issue two had the Lizzard glibly, nonchalantly eat our hero as black and white invert on the page in a moment of sheer terror!


And this is definitely a comic of landscapes and not single objects in the landscape. There are no panel borders of which to speak, and most pages only convey a single action, which seems like a missed opportunity at times. It rarely takes advantage of any medium specific tricks, like having a row of shifting emotions in characters’ faces to stretch out a moment, and the comic has a very linear path going through it. With one exception, its narrative has only followed one character and his actions instead of setting up large events with suspense, but these things will come with time.


This is not the work of a master but a very quickly learning, newly emergent cartoonist who has the power and energy of Kirby with a Fort Thunder willingness to do absolutely anything on a page. It’s really going somewhere special.


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