Best Wolverine Story, 2011: Charlie Huston & Juan Jose Ryp’s Wolverine: The Best There Is

February 2nd, 2012 Posted by david brothers

In the beginning was Wolverine. He was without form and void, a mystery man with sharp claws and hard edges. He was particularly interesting when compared to Cyclops, a strait-laced and fairly open leader. As time went on, Wolverine’s mysteries faded, only to be replaced by ninjas, samurai codes, globe-trotting espionage, and more. While we once knew next to nothing about Wolverine, we began to know entirely too much. Still later, we discovered Wolverine’s actual origin, and all was lost. Lamentation. Lamentation.

Wolverine tales since have tended to focus on his history and past. His son, Daken, returns to haunt him. A secret mastermind behind a group of clawed mutants emerges from the darkness to try to kill him. He discovers that he has sired several children over the years shortly after killing them while battling an enemy composed of people from his past. Too many Wolverine stories tend to be about Wolverine and things that he has done, rather than placing Wolverine into new situations and seeing what happens.

The reason why Wolverine: The Best There Is is the best Wolverine story of 2011 is simple. It takes a very Wolverine-unfriendly idea–immortal enemies that cannot be killed with claws and the threat of apocalyptic germ warfare–and throws Wolverine directly into the middle of it. Wolverine’s traditional methods, like berserker rages and healing from any wound, are weaknesses here. The enemies, code-named “Unkillables,” are a motley crew of regenerators and immortals. Madcap and Suicide, the Ghost Rider Villain, are the highest profile villains in the crew. The rest are new creations, fifty-year old characters who appeared in comics once (twice if you count reprints), and people like Mortigan Goth, who appeared in Marvel UK’s attempt at getting in on some of Vertigo’s market share in the early ’90s. A couple supporting characters show up later on who are from ’70s-era cosmic Marvel comics. Everyone involved is as obscure as obscure gets, basically.

And yet–the story works. Rather than being a story where Wolverine is the absolute best there is at what he does, and what he does is tear through anyone and everyone with ease, we get a story where Wolverine is forced to slow down, change his tactics, and think things through before really getting loose (because we have expectations for Wolverine stories, of course).

Charlie Huston’s one of the best at depicting urgency, nervousness, and confusion. His dialogue comes in clipped, rapid-fire sentences that beg for you to fill in the blank, like an obfuscated James Ellroy. People interrupt and talk over each other, speak half-formed thoughts out into the ether, and argue incessantly. Not only is Wolverine out of his depth, but he’s forced to conversate with people he had would otherwise cross the street to avoid (spacemen, mainly) and deal with the theatrics of the lead villain. The speedy patter gives the entire book the feel of a train headed straight for a collision with the end of the world. Something is going to go down–it’s just a matter of what and when.

Juan Jose Ryp’s artwork and Andres Mossa’s colors are great, too. This is much uglier than Wolverine has been in years. Buildings are cluttered with litter and walls are pockmarked with age. Everything is rusted and water damaged. It’s filthy, and it looks so good. Ryp and Mossa render gore and cheesecake/beefcake with equal skill (this is despite the rating of the book preventing actual nudity, resulting in wisps of smoke and cleverly placed obstructions over everyone’s crotch). Together, they have sort of a Geof Darrow with OCD style. Everything goes hyper-detailed, for better or for worse. (Sometimes for worse, but the better is so good that I don’t mind.)

Wolverine: The Best There Is is gross. It’s gross in all the right ways. It throws a character we all know well into new situations and provided a welcome respite from the rather dour nature of Wolverine comics these days. It’s funny, it’s violent, and it doesn’t feel like a regular old Marvel comic. It’s a little dirtier, and a little more juvenile, but even more enjoyable than usual for those exact reasons.

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The Cipher 04/13/11: “Golf Wang”

April 13th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

this is what the devil plays before he goes to sleep

created: I haven’t been sleeping well. My throat hurts, so every time I swallow, I wince. Apparently, every time I swallow in my sleep, I wake up. That’s right: I’m the guy who wakes up an hour after taking sleeping pills. It’s had the odd effect of increasing my productivity, though. I’ve been dashing out stuff at work and at home like mad. I’m this close to getting out in front of every deadline I have control over. Crazy.

-Got a lot of irons in the fire (two, in fact, with another probably coming tonight), but all that’s up now is a little bit about Stan Sakai

-and ten Marvel books for June

go to school with this

consumed: But forreal though WHY DOES MY THROAT STILL HURT!!!!!

-Have I linked this Charlie Huston piece at Mulholland Books yet? I like this cat a whole lot, and the conclusion he comes to is interesting. I like his commentary on the piece over here, too.

-You know what’s nice about comics? There’s so many good ones that I can be well-versed in the greats and have a fantastic library without having to give Will Eisner any props for The Spirit and Ebony White. “It was just the times! Ha ha! Not racist!” Nah son, that looks pretty racist, especially for 1972, but I guess ’cause Ebony was an Upstanding Honorable Guy Who Gets The Job Done it’s okay that he’s drawn like a pickaninny. Doing a smug strip like this is dumb, too. Why should I give you the time of day? Sheer skill only goes so far, man. Spotted at Diversions of the Groovy Kind.

-While I’m on the subject I guess:

Jonathan Hickman is the guest on the new Word Balloon podcast. Skip ahead to 1:13:00, when Hickman answers a question and goes into things he wouldn’t feel comfortable writing.

-I can respect Hickman’s point (glibly paraphrased: “I’m not completely comfortable writing black guys because I feel like a faker, and that’s not the kind of writer I want to be”), but at the same time… at a certain point, you gotta man up, man. I (inelegantly) talked about this a while back, but you can’t let the possible reception throw you off your game.

-What’s more, black people aren’t so different from other people. You know what black people hate? Taxes and nagging moms. You know what black people love? …if you do, let me know, ’cause I’m real uncomfortable with the concept the concept of love.

-But seriously, if you can write space aliens, secret histories of the world, and time travel, I’m pretty sure you can write a believable black guy. Just go for it, man. Do some reading. Take a look at some magazines. Flip through a history book. Research it like you would anything else. Run it by a friend. Some people will not like it, others will, so just soak up the feedback (“Oh, so I was a little wrong when I did ______”) and keep it moving. You’ll get better.

-Also, please add some more colored folks to SHIELD. The world’s a big place. Thanks in advance.

-Ellen Page is pretty interesting. I liked her AV Club interview, particularly the stuff on how she chooses to go about her career, and all of these sketches of her by dope artists is pretty cool. As far as Inception goes, her and Joseph Gordon-Levitt shared the only real moment of humanity in the entire movie (the stolen kiss) so I’m pro-Page.

-This is mind-boggling:

-If I tried to pull this as a kid (“Oh, that was a lie. I didn’t mean it, I just wanted to say something.”) my mom would’ve beaten me in the street and I would’ve deserved it. Jon Kyl is either a hero or scum. The country we live in, man. We keep electing creeps.

-Colbert cracks up during this bit, and I really can’t blame him:

-That’s really, really funny stuff, and it gets even funnier because of Colbert breaking character.

-Did anybody see Norm Macdonald’s new show last night? I missed it.

-Norm wasn’t funny to me at all when I was a kid, but he’s legendary these days. Me Doing Stand-Up was funny, and so is stuff like this:

-I pay three bucks a month for Yen Press’s Yen Plus. It’s pretty okay, but the highlight by far is still Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&!. Funniest comic, man. I liked this bit from the new chapter. Read it right to left.

-So much of Yotsuba&!‘s humor revolves around being mean to Fuuka.

-Tyler, the Creator’s Bastard came up this morning while it was raining. It triggered a funny thought. I latched onto Jay-Z in a big way once he started talking about his experiences as the child of a single mother. “Where Have You Been?” was incredible to me. I was what, 16? 17? Whenever that Dynasty joint dropped. I was putting that on mix CDs like it was going out of style and at all appropriate to give to a girl you liked. I was that high on it.


Do you even remember the tender boy you turned into a cold young man?
with one goal and one plan: get mommy out of some jam
She was always in one
Always short with the income, always late with the rent
You said that you was comin through
I would stay in the hallway (waitin), always playin the bench (waitin)
And that day came and went
Fuck You! very much you showed me the worst kind of pain
but I’m stronger, and trust me I will never hurt again

-So tell me if this exceprt from Tyler’s Bastard” is all that different from “Where Have You Been?”:

My mother raised me a single parent so it’s apparent
That I got love for my mother, none of you other fuckers
Are much important, I’m getting angrier while recording
I’m feeling like the Bulls, I’ve got a Gang of Wolves
Odd Future is children that’s fucked up on they mental
Simple but probably not, fuck ’em

-Being able to relate to music in some way is vital for me, whether through the pleasure of living someone else’s life or affirming some aspect of my own, and Tyler’s rapping about the same stuff I’ve been struggling with for years. I think I would’ve been an Odd Future fan in high school.

-The beat on “Yonkers” is so hard. I bought it off iTunes a while back, just because.

-Video ain’t safe for work, I guess.

-Wolf Gang.

losers can never win me, you can never offend me

David: Uncanny X-Force 7
Esther: Yes: Batgirl 20 Maybe: Batman and Robin 22, Red Robin 22, Superboy 6 (would have been a yes, but ugh, crossover) New Artist and a Story About Huntress and Catman? Oh, HELL Yes: Birds of Prey 11
Gavin: Batman And Robin 22, Booster Gold 43, Justice League Generation Lost 23, Captain America Fighting Avenger 1, Carnage 4, Deadpool 35, Incredible Hulks 626, Iron Man 2.0 3, New Avengers 11, Punisher MAX 12, Secret Warriors 26, Ultimate Comics Avengers vs New Ultimates 3, Uncanny X-Force 7

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Free.99 Monday Linkblogging

December 7th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Free things are awesome, yes? I think so, anyway. Here are some free things that you should check out and enjoy.

-Charlie Huston has more free books for you. This time, it’s the first Joe Pitt casebook, Already Dead. I recently finished the last book in this series, and overall I’m pretty pleased.

It’s available in several formats, all for free, so fire up the ebook reader and get to getting. It’s vampire fiction for people who like it bloody, pulpy, and vulgar, so hey. Get some.

-Takehiko Inoue, creator of Vagabond (my current obsession), has done two basketball manga: Slam Dunk and Real.

No, that isn’t true. He’s done three. Buzzer Beater is online-only, released during a time when people said “World Wide Web,” drawn left-to-right, and in (sometimes garish) computer color. It’s also free. Check the characters here, then click here to begin the first chapter.

It’s a weird basketball manga, and aliens are treated very matter of factly, but it’s pretty enjoyable. I read half of it in one burst and the other half in one sitting, so it’s also pretty gripping. It may have been my first sports manga, because I doubt that Hikaru no Go counts as sports. The story is incomplete, but ends on a note that could easily be a real ending, rather than a cliffhanger.

Metal Gear Solid is almost definitely my favorite non-Madden game franchise. I love the way that Kojima came up with this amazing story and groundbreaking gameplay, and then wrapped it all up in bizarre plot twists, baffling storytelling decisions, and a thick film of “This is art, that is why this is happening, do you get it?”

And I mean, I love it all unironically and unconditionally. MGS horrifically flawed and amazingly self-indulgent, but it’s given me four games that were some of my favorite gameplay experiences.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have a sense of humor about it all, though. That sense of humor got a workout when a friend pointed me to livejournal user hiimdaisy and her Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater strips. She’s gone through the whole series, so here are some links to posts that are simultaneously huge and hilarious:

MGS: one, two, three, four
MGS2: one, two, three, four
MGS3: one, two, three, four
MGS Portable Ops: one

There are ones for other games (incuding Persona 4!), so poke around the LJ a little bit. All are pretty much hilarious.

Tim Callahan and Chad Nevett are back with their Splash Page. This time, the question is, “Are Mainstream Comics Increasingly Lame, or is it Just Us?” Parts one and two.

My answer? They’re increasingly lame. DC needed ugly plastic rings to move units and Marvel’s digging this heinous villain hole even deeper and wrecking believability in the process. When your Top Dog Villain kills sixty-thousand people just to get his way, you’re probably a little too extreme, possibly bordering on unbelievably dumb. But hey, keep sliding those colorforms around on the page. Rake in that money.

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October 21st, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Thanks to my PCS cohort Jon Haehnle for the link.

I’m pretty much done talking about race in comics forever for the foreseeable future, and I’m kind of mad at comics. I made the mistake of catching up on a lot of books I don’t usually read (Secret Six, JSA, Action Comics, Superman) and I realized that I’d tricked myself into thinking that quality as a whole was on the rise. Untrue. DC publishes an astonishing amount of mediocre books. Marvel has a slightly better track record, even though Uncanny X-Men is ugly and Astonishing X-Men is annoying.

I don’t like reading mediocre books, and I’m starting to think that Saul Williams was right when he said, “Your current frequencies of understanding outweigh that which as been given for you to understand. The current standard is the equivalent of an adolescent restricted to the diet of an infant.”

I don’t like the idea of reading the literary equivalent of applesauce and crushed pears just to find something to blog about. I’d rather be quiet and keep listening to this Anthony Hamilton album (Comin’ Where I’m From) and Nas’s latest album over and over again. I’d rather spend another couple hours on Nike iD designing some sneakers. I’d rather read Charlie Huston’s new novel, or download a free PDF of Caught Stealing, the first novel in the Hank Thompson series. Maybe I could buy these for my birthday instead.

If I had to choose between blogging about Nightwing/Dini’s ‘Tec/Batgirl’s latest issue/that new issue of Mighty Avengers where Captain Marvel cries for a million pages/Superman screaming about how his dog is a good dog worship him WORSHIP HIM HU-MANS or making a flow chart/liveblog about yet another 100 Bullets read through, I’d choose the flow chart. It’d be interesting and about something good, rather than something not worth reading.

I’ll take anything but mediocre comics. In a way, they’re worse than bad comics. Mediocre books at least have some kind of potential or pedigree or talent that hints at a better result than what we got. They’re the very definition of wasted potential. No one expected anything great from Ultimates 3. Geoff Johns on Action Comics, though? I thought I was going to get more than the millionth Superman vs Brainiac fight, with the added bonus of the third death of Jon Kent in the past fifteen years.

Anyway, I need new things to talk about. All that other stuff is old and busted. If I have to keep talking about crap, I’m going to burn out.

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