Transformers vs. G.I. Joe: The Movie Adaptation is a comic book tie-in to the non-existant movie adaptation of writer and artist’s previous comic, Transformers vs. G.I. Joe. That series got long in the tooth for me. The “Movie Adaptation” doesn’t exactly. It’s hurried, nonsensical–like so many comic book movie adaptations of yore–but it’s got some great art and some amusing scenes. It’s probably for interested parties only; it’s too hurried with the art for it really to be a succulent visual reading experience.
Writer, artist, colorist, and letterer, Tom Scioli; editor, Carlos Guzman; publisher, IDW Publishing.
Lemire gets Hammer’s second storyline–with Black Hammer’s (the dead hero, not the comic itself) daughter showing up in the farm. There’s a lot of comedy, there’s a lot of tenderness (which Lemire and Ormston handle quite well), there’s a lot of flashback on Black Hammer. It’s a great issue with a way too effective soft cliffhanger. It’s like you’ve got an all-new series to read.
Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dean Ormston; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Cardner Clark, Brendan Wright, and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.
Another long stretch between episodes so we talk a lot for almost two hours.
We talk about these comics: Extremity, Redline, Royal City, Grass Kings, Crime Destroyer, Loose Ends, Flintstones, God Country, Nights Dominion, Rat Queens, Dead Inside, Empowered Soldier of Love, Cinema Purgatorio, Motor Crush, Lady Killer, Copperhead, Ether, War Stories, Slam, Supergirl Being Super, New Super Man, Lake of Fire, and Demonic. We also talk about a couple more, but we didn’t have them on the outline so I don’t remember.
Then we talk about superhero movies and TV and get somewhat dejected.
In his foreword, writer and publisher Bruce Jones talks about his goals for Somerset Holmes. It’s a lot of text and a lot of ego, but I think the point is he wanted to go to Hollywood and thanks to Brent Anderson’s amazing artwork, he was able to get there on Somerset Holmes. Though I’m sure, given the ego, there’s a lot about his writing and publishing.
And Jones isn’t wrong. Somerset Holmes is pretty awesome. It gets long in places, but once Jones has established his style–even if the comic is supposed to be cinematic, his narrative plotting is so episodic each episode has a different guest star, you can wait it out. You can just look at the art a little more. You can wonder who had the forethought to put the little bowl under the leaky stop valve in the scummy small town bar where the pig bartender wouldn’t lend the distressed lead a dime to make a phone call.
Because there’s always at least two things going on with Somerset Holmes–Anderson’s exceptionally thoughtful artwork; Jones might think it’s cinematic or whatever but it’s beyond cinema, it’s comics, it’s sight gags, it’s understanding how a reader processes information. And it’s raw. Anderson’s experimenting, often because Jones has such “movie” moments, so he has to change the visual tone immediately. It’s awesome.
The other thing always going on is how every guy in Somerset Holmes is kind of a complete scumbag. Or insane. Because the introduction of the book isn’t the eventual action thriller it becomes, it’s a psychological horror thriller. In the context of a comic book issue, it might seem a little less weird–Somerset Holmes originally had an Al Williamson serial backup, which maybe sort of could affect how the feature reads after a certain reveal–but in the Graphic Album? It’s relentless. Jones is positively cruel with how naively he portrays the protagonist; even her daredevil prowess, which saves her life multiple times, is derided. The supporting cast treats it like a disability. It’s heavy.
Because the book is called Somerset Holmes. Okay, it’s called Somerset Holmes: The Graphic Album, which is appropriate, because it’s see Brent Anderson draw Somerset Holmes. Occasionally too much of her because it’s an early eighties Bruce Jones production and there’s going to be some cheesecake only it gets to be a little much in the collected setting. Especially after the bisexual prostitute she ends up partnering with scopes her out. Somerset Holmes passes Bechdel with flying colors, only it then turns around to be really homophobic but in a “sexy” way since it’s ladies after all.
And then they walk some of that back and they get away with it because Brent Anderson. And also because, even though there are literally men speaking exposition all the time–some of it just dangerous nonsense (Somerset Holmes would be great if Jones weren’t just a pragmatic writer)–Jones does work on Somerset’s character development. It’s “on page” but it never gets the dialogue time it deserves because there are all these dudes explaining, lying, or apologizing. Usually the same dude. The sidekick.
Somerset. Okay. Let’s talk about Somerset first, then deal with the sidekick situation.
The comic opens with a woman getting hit by a car. She’s walking down the road, gets hit by a car. Beautiful art, setting expectations high for what Anderson is going to do. The comic becomes about whether or not it’s always going to look so amazing, as well as Somerset. The two things are tied, especially since Anderson is so careful with her presentation. She’s the visual star of the book, even when the dudes are talking. She’s navigating through their noise. And word balloons.
Over the course of the story, there are all sorts of revelations–including some where Jones doesn’t even slow down to look at the connotations (though it turns out the Graphic Album isn’t a full reprinting of the six issues, so maybe things got cut)–and it turns out Somerset’s a great protagonist. Jones basically uses her like a Technicolor Hitchcock damsel only she’s an active lead. She’s not waiting for her manly sidekick to rescue her, which is good for a couple reasons. He’s a dope and he also tries to rape her the first time they meet.
But in a playful, wrestling sort of way.
And I just now realized how gross it turns out to be when you factor in the later revelations. Jones’s lack of character continuity is a problem. It’s more a problem with his writing in general than anything in Somerset Holmes because to mess up Brett Anderson’s art on this book, you’d have to be intentionally malicious. And Jones isn’t malicious, he’s just not interested enough. Not in making the characters have internal logic, not in the flow of the story. Maybe it reads better in the floppies, but collected, it’s start and stop, start and stop.
But it doesn’t really matter, because Brett Anderson.
So the dude sidekick is a gross, rapist, early eighties cheeseball. Turns out he’s even worse. But he’s still her sidekick who ostensibly is helpful in Somerset’s attempts to find herself.
I forgot to mention she has amnesia, didn’t I? Sorry. She has amnesia.
The other sidekick, the bisexual prostitute turned Somerset stan–is so much better. Jones’s handling over everything is so exploitative, but it’s still better than “if she’s not wearing a wedding ring, she must want it” man. Somerset Holmes is kind of jaw dropping in how messed up it gets just because Jones is so disinterested in writing it well as opposed to packaging it right for Anderson. But the female sidekick is at least nice. She’s at least a nice character to have in the comic. Once she forces herself on a sleeping Somerset… well, okay. She at least apologizes. She gets a lot better after that turn. The dude sidekick just keeps explaining, lying, and apologizing.
So. It’s problematic. Somerset Holmes is a problematic, exceptional piece of work. Jones mixes a bunch of genre elements, bunch of genres, throws it all to Anderson, who makes that mess visually seamless. And, despite his other problems, Jones does give Anderson all the right material to make Somerset Holmes a captivating experience.
Writers, April Campbell, Brent Anderson, and Bruce Jones; artist, Anderson; colorists, Anderson and Joe Chiodo; letterers, Gary Cody and Ed King; editor, Campbell; publisher, Eclipse Books.
There’s nothing wrong with Crime Destroyer exactly. It’s set in the seventies, about a black Vietnam vet (and POW) turned crime fighter. He’s lost his family and he kills people and he’s a vet, so Punisher. He also swings around and has gadgets, so Batman. He bickers and fights with a Superman stand-in called Atlas before they team up and fight the real bad guys. It’s pretty fun to read, given the Herb Trimpe pencils, but Josh Bayer’s script sometimes gets in the way. It’s a thoughtful enough script, it’s just not significant. Crime Destroyer amuses thanks to Trimpe, nothing else. Except maybe Benjamin Marra’s inks. On Trimpe.
Human Sacrifice; writer and editor, Josh Bayer; penciller, Herb Trimpe; inker, Benjamin Marra; colorist, Alessandro Echevarria; letterer, Rick Parker; publisher, Fantagraphics Books.
I Hate Fairyland returns on a high point, with Skottie Young embracing the “done-in-one” narrative while still developing Gert a little. She has to progress towards something now without a question. It’s very interesting to see in comics–the meandering narrative–but Young nails it. The issue itself is fun without getting too gory. Young’s expanding Gert’s snark, which has consequences. It’s great to have it back.
Writer and artist, Skottie Young; colorist, Jean-Francois Bealieu; letterer, Nate Piekos; publisher, Image Comics.
It’s an unpleasant issue; well, it’s more rough than unpleasant. Bad things happening, page after page, as Arcudi moves Dead Inside towards its conclusion. And it’s hard to say where it’s going after this issue. Some really nice art Fejzula, some nice twists from Arcudi. Again, not reinventing the wheel, just solidly rolling it.
Writer, John Arcudi; artist, Toni Fejzula; colorist, André May; letterer, Joe Sabino; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.
Copperhead is back with a new artist, Drew Moss, who brings a lot of motion to the proceedings. The sheriff is running around town trying to figure out who killed the mayor, with a visitor in tow, and Moss really makes it move. Meanwhile, Boo’s got his own future to think about. It’s a quick read, but a solid one. Faerber’s comfortable, even after the hiatus.
Writer, Jay Faerber; artist, Drew Moss; colorist, Ron Riley; letterer, Thomas Mauer; publisher, Image Comics.
You know what happens to Motor Crush when Babs Tarr doesn’t get a lot to draw? It plods. This issue plods almost the entire way though, with Domino confronting her dad about her past and her dad storming off. She then pushes away the ex-girlfriend before robbing a rival gang of their speed drug. There’s a chase scene, but it’s complicated by Domino ripping off the drugs. The weak characterizations and scenes–and lack of Tarr dynamism–make this one a snoozer.