Graffic Traffic – As Our Story Continues – Column

Graffic Traffic

“As Our Story Continues…”

By Ryk McIntyre

Forever on the lookout for something to massage and otherwise rouse my poor grey matter (yeah, like reading comics for review isn’t enough), how ’bout this month we do it alphabetically, right here on the floor.

From those Sci-lovin’ Fi’s at Sirius is Akiko #12 (Mark Crilley/story and art), a goofy adventure story set in a wintery world, with dinosaurs, yet. Over all, a fun read, helped along by a four-page “The Story So Far,” as told by resident smart guy, Mr. Beeba, in the back, which brings you basically up to date while trying to hustle up some back issue sales. It be worth your money.

Basement Comics has collected the six early, self-published issues of Bud Root’s CaveWoman, a well-drawn mix of Good Girl cheesecake, lots and lots of dinosaurs (I don’t know what it is… comics go better with ‘saurs), and an American town that gets sucked back into time. The series is now coming out from Caliber, and at only $13.99, this is a better way to complete your collection than milling around some convention somewhere.

Back to Sirius books again, this time with the Penthouse-ish Dawn #5 (Joseph Michael Linsner/story and art), a tight-clothing bit of spiritual mishmash with Goddess in one hand while the other hand seems busy mastur…uh… busy.

If it weren’t for books like Dork #4 (Salve Labor/words, Evan Dorkin/art), sometimes I think I’d just give up. With its semi-regular features, “The Murder Family” and “The Eltingville Comic Book, Science-Fiction, Horror, and Role-Playing Club,” along with pages and pages of Evan’s little gag strips, it’s not really $2.75 worth of printed material, it’s a necessary item in coping with today’s angst-on-ephedrine world.

Gay Comics #24 (Gay Comics, PO Box 3226 Portland, OR 97208-3226/various writers and artists) is the latest issue of that very respectable anthology. Featured is the lead story “The Maxx – Out Here On My Own” ( Andy Mangels/ words, Daerick Gross, Sr./art) a sad story involving one of the supporting characters from the comic (or the MTV cartoon, whichever you’re more familiar with), and the young man’s struggle with coming out in high school. Heavy and spooky. The other ten stories range from normal to comic-strip to super-hero, but they all share a solid worth.

For a comic that praises itself on its front cover as “Your One-Stop Shop For Non-Stop Hilarity,” Hate #27 (Fantagraphics, Peter Bagge/words and art) is one steadily depressing issue, from Stinky’s accident/suicide, to the dissolving of Buddy and Jay’s business partnership, and finally, to Buddy and Butch’s grave-top dialogue which closes out the story, the wheeling is a little dark and sticky, not that Hate has ever been a lite snack.

Riding a Polysorbate-80 wave into their second collected book, Over The Hedge 2 ( Andrews and McMeel, cartoons by Michael Fry and T. Lewis), R.J., the raccoon underachiever, and his gnocchi-shaped turtle pal Verne romp ’round the suburban jungle with only TV, golf, sugar, more TV, more and more sugar, the Internet, and Verne’s sad faith in Martha Stewart as a force for good in the universe to guide and watch over them. And it’s the humans who should worry…

DC Comics has tried the “hero with random, wacky powers” thing before with such not-to-be-notables as “Dial H For Hero” or the first Immortal Man who just hung around long enough each time to get killed, foiling one of Vandal Savage’s foul plots, yadda yadda. This time it’s different, kinda. Immortal Man #1 (Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning/words, various artists) tries a merging of the two in Mitchell Shelley, who apparently used to be a lawyer, is definitely amnesiac (convenient…), and each time he dies he is reborn, but with a different power. So there’s some intrigue as to his current state and how he got there. Also there seem to be other immortal types out there and at least one is a serial killer. This is so far just a sub-plot in issues #1 and #2 (probably by issue #4 or #5 we’ll meet him) with a great fight in #2 between the JLA and Amazo, the big killer skull-face robot, where Mitch plays a behind the scenes role (no “meeting of the heroes”) and has a great moment where he channels empathically the terror and anger of the common people caught in the cross-fire of gods. So far a nice bit of neo-Vertigo storytelling, we’ll see how it develops since the writers, while capable of works like The Lords Of Misrule (Dark Horse), also have been known to write suburban Punisher stories.

Last this month, see if you can pick-up the three issues out so far of the Starman spinoff mini-series The Shade (DC, James Robinson/ words, various artists), where we learn much of the background, if not the origin, of the stellar supporting character from James Robinson’s Starman. We learn of the family that has been sworn for hundreds of years, generation after generation, to kill the Shade, even those of the lineage who come to like or even love him. In issue #3 we get an inside glimpse of the relationship between hero and villain, between Jay Garrick, the mercury-helmeted Flash, and Shade. It’s more a jousting of noble adversaries than it is any real hatred or vendetta. Robinson’s strength is that his characters walk and breathe from deep inside, and that is right where we want to know them. Issue #4 can only be a week or two away and the first three should still be available. Your comic dollars could hardly find better.

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