Friday, January 2, 2009

The Tokyo Comics Report 2009: Now More Then Ever!

I just got back from Tokyo and boy are my thighs tired. There's no joke there; my thighs are aching from all the walking around I did. I managed to buy comics in Tokyo on my first night while in Harajuku to hit H&M for some happenin' new threads so all the chicks will dig me.

As far as I know, there's only one place in Tokyo to buy monthly comics. And that's what I bought, monthly comics. I know I swore I wouldn't but the monkey was on my back and he started gnawing my neck dangerously close to the jugular and I had to go to the hospital for some stitches and a tetanus shot. But before I went to have my artery sutured by expert surgeons, I performed my own emergency monkeydectomy at Tokyo's only American comic source worth a damn, Blister.

Here's what I bought along with mini-reviews based on my first readings:

Batgirl #6: I only bought this to complete the set and so I could rag on it later. Adam Beechen takes Batgirl down the "Redemption Road," but it's more like he takes her down a sewer pipe even with the sappy feel-good ending. Wait, was that a spoiler? Can you spoil something that's already rotten? Also, J. Calafiore draws the pointiest people. Or else Jack Purcell inks them pointy. Whoever is to blame for these razor-edged figures, don't brush up against anyone in this book because you might get your skin abrased, as if you'd rubbed a shark's hide the wrong way.

BPRD #5: Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Guy Davis are doing something but I don't know what it is because I missed the first four issues of this story. It's cool, though and I could look at Davis' loose and lively renderings all day. And I frequently do.

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #1: Finally, I buy a Hellboy book at the story's beginning; that's something I hadn't accomplished in years. Hellboy goes to jolly ol' England to join a bunch of noblemen in their giant hunt. Giant hunt, as in hunting giants. Duncan Fregedo turns in some Mignola-esque artwork with a lot of jagged shadows and geometrical figures. You know why this works, whereas Calafiore's doesn't? Well, partially because he actually has a story worth illustrating, and he knows how to pace a page. And also because he can draw stuff other than grimacing steroid-junkies punching each other in a generic cityscape. Sorry... that was more ragging on Batgirl #6.

Poor Batgirl. She certainly deserves better. But holy shit, that miniseries stinks. Did I say that already? The Wild Hunt is about a billion times fresher and more interesting.

Gen13 #24: Why the hell did I buy this? Maybe nostalgia. Why did they print this? For that, I have no answer.

Will Eisner's The Spirit #23: Too bad about Frank Miller's evidently shitty movie version. This comes much closer to the true... er... Eisnerian spirit. It's by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier, two people I believe hung the comic book moon. I haven't even read it yet but Aluir Amancio's art looks neat-o. At first glance, it appears clean and inviting, with clear storytelling and some Eisner-style clothing wrinkles.

And it's got a Joe Kubert cover!

Will Eisner's The Spirit #24: I bought this because of the Aragones and Evanier names on the cover. No Kubert this time, though. I haven't read it yet but I'm willing to bet you anything it's better than Batgirl #6.

Hell, I blew my nose this morning and it was... Sorry!

Chad Hardin and Wayne Faucher do the art this time and it's more clean, cartoony adventure stuff a la Will Eisner. I don't think I would ever want to draw a comic based on an Eisner character. How can you ever hope to measure up? Hat's off to the artists who give it their best, though.

Madman #11 and #12: Note to DC/Wildstorm's Gen13 crew-- I've missed a ton of issues in this series and yet I picked up #11 and pretty quickly got up to speed. Read this and learn how Mike Allred does it. Mike's art is gorgeous and Laura's coloring may be the best there is in comics right now. In #11, Madman confronts a spirit in a haunted house, and in #12 he runs back to the laboratory to see if Dr. Flem has actually succeeded in something for a change. Then a crazed bald, blue psycho attacks. Cool!

Astonishing X-Men #27: Cyclops says the f-dash-dash-dash word while helping the Old Man change the tire... I've enjoyed Warren Ellis' work and he's entertaining me here but I'm getting really tired of all these X-people joking about their sex lives in front of their friends and all the post-ironic smart-assery. But mostly I'm worn out by the smarmy sex jokes. They were cute when Joss Whedon used them to mock the Scott Summers and Emma Frost coupling, but now that the Beast and that green haired S.W.O.R.D. person are screwing each other and everyone is giggling about it to their faces (and ours), this vein of humor has been thoroughly mined. Strip-mined.

Get it? Strip as in "to strip," meaning to remove one's clothes and... with the... sex and then... Oh to hell with it. Lots of heady concepts here. Almost too many what with the spaceship graveyards and the oh-no-more-alternate-universes stuff. But the smirking characterizations undermine the sci-fi and the urgency.

Conan the Cimmerian #6: I'm not a Frank Cho fan by any means but the man can draw and his covers for this series have been the best stuff I've seen from him. This one is a static pose that's a little boring but he rendered the bejeezus out of it. I haven't read this yet, either, but Tomas Giorello is already one of my favorite post-Marvel Conan artists. As an extra bonus, you get some Richard Corben! Evidently, there's just one more issue of this snowy Cimmerian wasteland stuff and then maybe we'll get some high adventure in some decadent Hyborian urban landscape.

Showcase Presents: Batman and the Outsiders 1: I got this because I love Jim Aparo's art. Also I enjoy the succinct, sincere but somewhat silly storytelling. I also love alliteration.

Not really. I loathe alliteration. These are mid-80s/post-Uncanny X-Men comics so you get Batman putting together a team of international misfits. His reasoning for this is suspect and so are many of the plot points. But it's still better than Batgirl #6!

Also, this is a book I found at Tower Records in Shibuya on New Year's Day. Blister was closed. Tower has a good selection of Fantagraphics, by the way. Lots of Love and Rockets and Dan Clowes stuff, plus much much more.

Astonishing X-Men: Unstoppable: Joss Whedon and John Cassaday wind up their X-run with an outer space epic. Usually I hate outer space epics, but this one is gorgeous to behold and the pay-off is truly huge in scope yet imbued with human tragedy. The last couple of pages are blistering. It's only missing end credits and a symphonic score.

Nana 12 and 13: I haven't read these yet but I'm confident these are the best two comics I bought this time out. It's Nana! f you're not reading Nana... den to hell wid you, Crom!

I bought Astonishing X-Men and Nana at Kinokuniya, behind Takashimaya Times Square in Shinjuku because I only had about 30 minutes to shop before heading back to my hotel to pick up my suitcase. I saw the Emperor's New Year's greeting and that killed my entire morning schedule; culture trumps comics.

Kinokuniya has every volume of the Fantagraphics The Complete Peanuts series. I almost bought the first one, but then I'd become a junkie and those babies ain't cheap!

Hey... Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is coming on one of my movie channels. Finally, something that makes Batgirl #6 look good! Time to pop in that David Fincher Zodiac DVD I bought for 1350 yen...


Jessie said...

omigod, yes! I'm so happy batgirl that miniseries is over. It was soo awful. I hope Tony Daniel does her some justice in Battle for the Cowl (squee! She's on the cover of issue #2)

Joel Bryan said...

I just looked at Tony Daniel's blog and some of that stuff is pretty darn good! Kinda looks like Jim Lee meets Alfredo Alcala.

I'll check this out if I can find it! Thanks for the comment, too. It's greatly appreciated!