May 28, 2012
Adventure Time #4
Kaboom!/Boom! Studios. Written by Ryan North. Illustrated by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb.
Did Pendleton Ward conceive of Adventure Time as turning into the perverse, twitchy-thighed teenager it’s become? This is still the fantasy series of choice for hipster doofuses — after all, it stars a boy who thinks jean shorts and an ironic(?) hat are okay to wear whenever, to say nothing of Marceline — but the mask of sanity keeps slipping. A dog with no genitals picks up a living candy heart whose chest says “TUG ME” and dissolves his lower half, effectively candy-castrating him. No one seems to regard this as a particularly vile crime, and then the dog crossdresses for a panel. It ends with leading an army of girls made of sand — no feminine softness — into a giant hole and leaving them there, forever, after depriving them of life itself. Adventure Time is the comic book Buffalo Bill would make if he hadn’t turned to tailoring.
Avengers vs. X-Men #4
Marvel Comics. Plotted by Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and Jonathan Hickman. Scripted by Jonathan Hickman. Penciled by John Romita Jr. Inked by Scott Hanna. Colored by Laura Martin.
Avengers vs. X-Men #4, courtesy of Hickman and Friends and JRJR, is an aggressively stupid comic book. It devotes more thought to explaining why it is that Hope Summers, Phoenix Girl-Child, has a fake ID than it does to anything remotely resembling the metaplot of the series. It’s just more clanging and banging, death and destruction, riding tightly until yet another person gets to utter those immortal, near-meaningless lines, “It’s here.” It even tries to be witty — not really. It’s as if Hickman braved the abyss of the fanboy soul, realized that pleasing them was as simple as delivering more content, and whispered into that sweaty collective ear, “Fine.” The worst part, though, is that maybe he’s not just kowtowing to stupor — maybe he means it. Romita’s stress fractures are starting to show, and the only person holding the boat together is Laura Martin, the colorist, who’s dynamite.
Mind the Gap #1
Image Comics. Written by Jim McCann. Illustrated by Rodin Esquejo. Colored by Sonia Oback.
Mind the Gap #1 reads like a TV show. Not in its technique — certainly, it doesn’t read like the afterbirth of a failed TV pitch, which is more than I can say for some. McCann and Esquejo are creating a world represented almost entirely on television. There’s no comic-book equivalent to the self-conscious speedfreak banter of Gilmore Girls, or the pop-culture-gratia-pop-culture wrist-deep jill-off of Glee. Mind the Gap comes close. These people live in Esquejo’s pretty, uncluttered landscapes and never look like they have a feeling-not-so-fashionable day. The things they talk and care about — shout-outs to TMC and Lionel Richie and ringtones, a coma ghost devoting half a page to Pink Floyd trivia… This is a comic written for young people who think Tumblr is essential to first-world civilization. Is it? I’m in my late 20s. Maybe I’m out of touch, and this just might be the truth.
Image Comics. Written by Brian K. Vaughan. Illustrated by Fiona Staples.
The gift of Brian K. Vaughan is that one of the most likable characters in comics recently is a disemboweled child rebel soldier ghost who appears to be half monkey, half Dorothy Spinner, even though she commits unforgivable crimes like saying “whatevs.” He and Fiona Staples have loosened their collars and really settled into the vibe of Saga, which still has a terrible title but makes up for it everywhere else. Unlike, say, Mind the Gap, it takes the sort of TV-friendly genre roles that inspire suicide-vest devotion amongst Twitterers and spins it into something that can’t be found outside of comic books — at least, not without losing a significant amount of charm. There’s violence and politics and funny animals and jokes and breasts and everything. I’d ask why we can’t have more books like this, but honestly, I don’t want to see the money-scenting hacks even try it.