Funnybook Babylon

September 30, 2008

Pull List Analysis for October 1, 2008

I figured we might try doing these again. Here are some potentially interesting books hitting the shelves tomorrow!

The Alcoholic cover by Dean HaspielThe Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames & Dean Haspiel (DC/Vertigo): I saw last week’s spectacularly information-free article in The Village Voice and picked up a copy of this at Strand. All of these Vertigo OGNs have appealing aspects (like the flawed but entertaining Cairo, out in softcover this week) but I found The Alcoholic a frustrating read. I’m not well-versed in his work or persona, but the autobiographical alignment of the author Jonathan Ames and protagonist Jonathan A. are obvious.

According to Ames, “I based the character somewhat on myself, calling him “Jonathan A.”, with the idea that the “A” could stand for “alcoholic” or “alone” or “Ames.” In effect, I created a doppelganger for myself, which enabled me to write about things I hadn’t yet explored in my novels, like what happened to me in New York City on 9/11.” In terms of matters of public record, it seems like the only adjustments Ames made to his “doppelganger” are that they went to different Ivy League schools and have different bibliographies. This doesn’t really impact 80% of the book: his descriptions of the rollercoaster chemical abuse, the human scale of tragedy on 9/11 and all his relationship troubles work just as well fictionalized as they might in a straight memoir. But many of the shaggy dog bender stories, like a goofy dick joke involving Monica Lewinsky and Veselka, are really only interesting if they’re true, since there are plenty of better/crazier stories fabricated all over the place. Dean Haspiel turns in great work as normal, but his presence inevitably makes you think of more confident personal storytelling in his own Keyhole and various Harvey Pekar collaborations, making Dean’s presence a borderline handicap. I might not be giving this a fair shake, so here’s our resident Ames fan Pedro’s take:

Vertigo has been on a tear getting established prose writers to do original graphic novels: Percey Carey’s Sentences, Mat Johnson’s Incognegro, G. Willow Wilson’s Cairo and now Jonathan Ames’s The Alcoholic. The jump from prose to comics is not always smooth, but I like to give these books a shot. I was a big fan of Ames’s novel The Extra Man. There was something about his story of a young sexually confused New Yorker that reminded me of a realistic version of Peter Milligan’s recurring identity themes. I was excited to hear about this book, and with Dean Haspiel on art this is an automatic buy for me.

Batman 680 cover by Alex Ross

Batman #680 by Grant Morrison, Tony Daniel and Sandu Flores (DC Comics): Just a heads-up, the penultimate chapter of “Batman R.I.P.” is out tomorrow, “The Thin White Duke of Death”. I guess this is what Morrison was talking about, calling Joker a “European, David Bowie, 1970s type of character, you can see him stripped to suspenders, and he thinks he’s beautiful, but he’s horrible”. David will be on hand with annotations sharpish, you can catch up on them here.


Blue Beetle: Endgame cover by Rafael AlbuquerqueBlue Beetle v4: Endgame by John Rogers, Rafael Albuquerque & Others: Blue Beetle has been one of DC’s rare recent midlevel successes, featuring a talented new creative team and revitalizing a long-dormant property. I might be overstating things calling it a “success” given the title’s sales, but Rogers and Albuquerque (and Keith Giffen and Cully Hamner and a host of pinch-hitters) have already made Blue Beetle not only the longest-running title featuring the character, but the longest-running Big Two comic with a Latino lead. Endgame brings the Rogers run to a close. We’ve said it before, but these four collections are some of the most appealing and accessible “young superhero learns the ropes” comics to come out in recent memory. Fans of Ultimate Spider-Man, Invincible and Static ought to give it a shot. With Amazon discounts, the whole she-bang (over 600 pages!) is barely $40 on Amazon, and I doubt this is going to be receiving a swank hardcover treatment anytime soon.

Harvey Comics Classics Volume Four: Baby Huey edited by Leslie Carbarga (Dark Horse Comics): Despite hearing great things, I still haven’t checked out any of these Harvey reprints, but our Matt Jett has!

The Harvey Comics Classics series features faithful reproductions of their subject material, although it reprints them predominantly in black and white instead of their original color. The production values are high, with heavy glossy paper, as opposed to the newsprint stock Marvel and DC use for their black and white reprints. Jerry Beck’s informative introductions are worth the price of the book alone.

Supergirl #34 cover by Josh MiddletonSupergirl #34 by Sterling Gates & Jamal Igle: Hey! Are you tired of Supergirl being a book that “sucks” all about a “slut”? Well, Supergirl editor Matt Idelson sure was! I mean, granted he’s been editing Supergirl for a year and change, but come October he’d had enough! This month, he promises, Supergirl will not be a suck or be about a slut!

David “To Be Fair” Uzumeri wanted to chime in on this:

We here at Funnybook Babylon have been vocal fans of Kelley Puckett’s run on Supergirl. It was only nine issues, but it was new and different and daring and everything the book hadn’t been until then.

Since the Empress cover from last month was originally solicited as being one of Puckett’s issues, I can only assume he had further plans, but the Super-Braintrust of Geoff Johns and James Robinson wanted to bring in Sterling Gates and hook Supergirl into the other books, and Puckett is gone. Considering the low sales of his run and the poor response to his first few largely-silent issues, I can understand from this from a business perspective, even though I’ll really miss Puckett’s Supergirl.

But anyway! Supergirl #34! It comes out tomorrow! It’s the first issue by the new creative team of Gates and Jamal Igle. Gates is new to the business, and is currently Johns’s personal assistant. His full CV includes a handful of Green Lantern stories. They were competent but pedestrian, just dipping his toes in the water, and there’s only so much to do with the story outlines he was given.

But Johns seems to think Gates has the stuff, and Robinson seemed impressed too, though he’s has been pretty disappointing on Superman himself. Gates’s plotting will be in lockstep with both of them, so this is almost an apprenticeship. I’m fairly optimistic about this. The concept – Cat Grant writes a Supergirl hitpiece – is logical, interesting and set up in Johns’s Action Comics. I’m looking forward to this. If nothing else, it’ll probably look gorgeous, as Igle has been on fire lately

Stay positive, David! A few more notables, in brief:

Black Jack Vol 1 by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical): I picked this up last week after seeing Chris Butcher’s review, but it’s on the shipping list this week, so who knows? It’s a late-period serial from Tezuka, which feels like House if it existed in some weird sci-fi/fantasy world.

EVIL TUMOR: Ha ha, Dr. [House/Black Jack], I am a sentient tumor, and you cannot remove me! If I die, the patient dies!
DR. [HOUSE/BLACK JACK]: Fair enough. (draw revolver, shoots patient in chest, removes tumor, revives patient)

The most amazing thing? That’s not even the twist to the story!

Against Pain by Ron Rege Jr. (Drawn & Quarterly)
My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down by David Heatley (Pantheon):
If you follow art comics at all, you’re probably familiar with Rege & Heatley; their work has been featured everywhere from that McSweeney’s I told everyone to buy to a Tylenol marketing campaign. My only hesitation about buying either of these is that I’m pretty sure I’ve already seen 80% of both in McSwy’s, Kramer’s Ergot, MOME etc. They’re both worth picking up, though.

Aya of Yop City by Abouet & Oubrerie (Drawn & Quarterly): Joe really liked Aya, and has been bugging me to read it. Hopefully the sequel is as good as the first, and I can borrow both in one swoop. A preview is available here.

The Spirit Volume 2 by Darwyn Cooke & J. Bone (DC Comics): This collects the back half Cooke’s short-lived revamp of Will Eisner’s character. I have the first collection (damnably fragile die-cut dust jacket and all!) and while I’m looking forward to more Cooke/Bone Spirit, I can’t say I’m heartbroken by their hasty departure; like my experience with Eisner’s original run, all the characters of The Spirit are really just coathangers for a bunch of high-flying sequential storytelling derring-do. I’ll enjoy the stories, I’ll follow Cooke & Bone to their next projects, I’ll probably even give their successors a fair shake when the next collection comes out, but unlike a lot of other stillborn “runs”, I won’t really mourn what could’ve been.

Top 10 Season 2 #1 by Zander Cannon & Gene Ha (DC/Wildstorm/America’s Best Comics):Wow! this is finally coming out! I don’t know much about this besides it being the two guys who provided art for Top 10 doing a follow-up with Moore’s apparent blessing. I hope it will be fun. I’ll probably wait for the collection. Has it really been nine years since this book debuted?

Gus & His Gang by Chris Blain (First Second): A new First Second book! Somehow I couldn’t get a copy of this before it got released, but it looks like a cute comedy/Western. You can check out a preview.


  1. For some reason, my shop didn’t get the Blue Beetle trade, but I heartily agree that it’s about 50 kinds of awesome.

    Batman was excellent, as usual.

    Supergirl was a lot of fun. I’ve never had more than a passing interest in the character, but Gates’ first issue has hooked me in a big way. A great jumping on point and new beginning for the Girl of Steel.

    Keep up the great work…I love this site!

    Comment by Chris Ayers — October 1, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

  2. Coming out of Baltimore, I am totally jazzed for the entire Superman line. Johns has some great ideas, and I’ve loved most of his stuff on Action so far, and Gates is in lock-step with Johns. Even Johns will admit that Robinson’s first arc wasn’t the greatest thing ever, but he thinks that Robinson is getting the hang of this new Superman, and he’ll shed his 90’s perspective on the character sooner rather than later.

    It’s probably just the All-Star Superman residue talking, but I’m pretty excited about all of their upcoming work on the character(s).

    Comment by TimCallahan — October 1, 2008 @ 4:46 pm

  3. Gates really did a great job on Supergirl #34, and if Robinson comes around consider my excitement dialed to eleven.

    Comment by David Uzumeri — October 1, 2008 @ 5:36 pm

  4. Any Argento fans out there? This week’s Batman features a pretty explicit nod to Suspiria, putting the whole “Black Glove” thing in an interesting light. I’ve slapped together a few thoughts on the subject here.

    Comment by Ryan — October 1, 2008 @ 8:08 pm

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