RandoMonday: Clean Room #15

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Clean Room 15

Clean Room #15 by Gail Simone, Sanya Anwar, Quinton Winter, Todd Klein, Maggie Howell, Molly Mahan, and Jenny Frison (cover)

“All the Pretty Edges”

Clean Room was a wonderful series that began in 2015 but ended all too quickly. This issue is an interlude from the main story, but it’s still a wonderful tale of loss, grief, and the lies we tell each other and ourselves. But first, a bit about the series from DC Comics’ website:

Astrid Mueller is the enigmatic and compelling guru of a giant self-help organization—a devastatingly powerful figure in the industry between psychology and religion. Journalist Chloe Pierce’s fiancé decided to pick up Astrid’s book, and within three months he was dead. Something in Astrid Mueller’s book made Philip blow his brains out all over Chloe’s new kitchen.

Now Chloe is on a mission to find out who Astrid Mueller really is. What is this Clean Room she’s been hearing about where your deepest fear and worst moments are revealed? Chloe intends to immerse herself in the Clean Room and wreak havoc on Astrid’s empire.

In this issue, the story is told from the point of view of one of Astrid’s converts, Mary Carmody. She lost her husband in a suicide pact that she didn’t complete, and later she thinks she’s going crazy because she keeps seeing her husband’s broken and bloody corpse. This leads her to the An Honest World organization and Astrid herself. After she learns the truth about why she is there, she reaches a breaking point. Astrid helps her by having Mary relive her “bereft day” (think Star Trek‘s holodeck) and gifting Mary a final goodbye to her husband, apparently leading her down the path of recovery.

Putting the haunting aspect aside, this story is about grief and acceptance, and the storytelling team do a good job at conveying those facets — I feel I know this woman and what she’s going through. I could quibble about the art not being “spooky” enough, but I like that the somewhat “cartoony” style sufficiently navigates between the horror and  slice of life elements. The one thing artistically that doesn’t fit as well to me is the Frison cover. While well done, it doesn’t really have much to do with either the story or Mary’s journey.

Clean Room was one of my favorite Vertigo titles of the last several years, and I hope I see an eventual return of the book. There was a trade released that contains this issue, but it would be easier to it and the entire series on Comixology.

New Comics Wednesday (3/11/20)

Happy New Comics Wednesday!

Go here for a complete list of comics releasing this week.

What are you getting this week?

My comics

  • JOIN THE FUTURE #1 – I forgot to mention this last week.
  • KNIGHTS TEMPORAL TP – I also forgot to mention this one last week.
  • GREEN LANTERN SEASON 2 #2
  • HAWKMAN #22 – I’m loving the Pasarin art!
  • SUPERMAN #21
  • DECORUM #1

Other comics

  • ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GHOSTS ORIGINAL GN – A younger readers book that sounds like a fun read.
  • JUST IMAGINE STAN LEE CREATING THE DC UNIVERSE TP BOOK 01 – I’ve read a few of these issues and was not wowed by them, but it’s an interesting piece of history.
  • STEALTH #1 – I almost preordered this, thinking if I hear some good buzz about it I’d get the trade. Let me know how you like it, yeah?
  • HISTORY OF MARVEL UNIV TREASURY ED TP – I so very much want to read this, but I’ll wait for the trade paperback.
  • DAIRY RESTAURANT GN – I totally missed this before, but now I’m intrigued. This is an example of the power of comic book/graphic storytelling knowing no bounds!
  • NICNEVIN AND BLOODY QUEEN GN – This book was on my short list, but I ultimately passed on it.
  • SWEET HEART #1 – Another book I seriously thought about ordering.

What are some other comics I missed that I should buy?

Best comic I read recently

JUSTICE LEAGUE #40 by Robert Venditti, Doug Mahnke, Richard Friend, David Baron, Tom Napolitano, Andrea Shea, and Alex R Carr, with cover by Bryan Hitch and Jeremiah Skipper

Justice League returns to my pull list because Robert Venditti is writing it. I dropped this title shortly after the Rebirth relaunch because I just don’t really care for Scott Snyder stories. But Venditti is awesome, and he’s got Doug Mahnke visualizing the story, so there’s a great team here. I understand that this story takes place prior to the story Snyder and company were telling that ended (for now) in issue 39, but it does occur after recent events in the Superman and Batman titles (i.e., Superman having revealed his identity to the world and the death of Alfred), so that’s not confusing. I don’t particularly care for yet another Eradicator story, but I do like the interaction between the characters, especially the conflict between Batman and Flash. Even better, Madame Xanadu makes an appearance, though it’s a different take of the character than the one shown in Hawkman last year, but I don’t mind the apparent incongruity — continuity isn’t that important to me anymore. I heard Venditti on a podcast explain that DC wants him to tell shorter stories, so I’m looking forward to where he takes these characters.

RandoMonday: Xombi #1

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Xombi #1 by John Rozum, Frazer Irving, Dave Sharpe, and Rachel Gluckstern

“The Ninth Stronghold, Part One: Prison of Industry”

I’ve written about Xombi before, but it was such a great series that I’ll let this duplication of a sort pass. Plus, how does this issue hold up after almost 10 years? But first, some plot!

Xombi is David Kim, a man infected (imbued?) with nanomachines that help keep him in peak physical condition and can rearrange the molecular structure of things he touches (in this case, paper to popcorn). David gets a tip from an associate to go to the Prison of Industry and prevent a prisoner from escaping. When David arrives, he is greeted by some rather extraordinary (superpowered) nuns. They investigate the prison, which is located on a long table because the prison is shrunk down to model size, but the prisoner David came to see is not there. The group is then attacked by snow angels and the issue ends with evil spirit-possessed children coming to (presumably) kill them all.

So, how does this issue fair after all these years? Quite well, it turns out. Frazer Irving’s art is the standout (I had, at that time, encountered his work first in Batman and Robin, shortly before this series debuted), but Rozum’s ideas (at least, I assume they were Rozum’s — was any of the wacky stuff from the Milestone edition of Xombi?) are pretty on par. It’s rare for me to find a comic book whose writing/plot/ideas mesh so well with the art/presentation, and Xombi was one of those books. It’s a real pity that Xombi did not continue as part of the New 52 relaunch in 2011.

There was a trade released in 2012, but is now out of print. However, it is available on Comixology and on the DC Universe app. If you’re looking for something quirky and intelligent, try Xombi.

New Comics Wednesday (3/4/20)

Happy New Comics Wednesday!

Go here for a complete list of comics releasing this week.

What are you getting this week?

My comics

  • KING OF NOWHERE #1 – I usually avoid stories whose descriptions include “has no memory of how he got there”, but the cover image of the guy holding a balloon fish and the other part of the description (“Lovable drunken lowlife Denis awakens on the outskirts of a mysterious village called Nowhere, home to a friendly populace of deformed, mutated, just-left-of-normal citizens…”) had me intrigued enough to buy it.
  • WYRD TP – Finally!
  • DREAMING #19
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE #42
  • STRANGE ADVENTURES #1 – Looking forward to this.
  • MARKED #5
  • BLACK WIDOW WAID/SAMNEE COMPLETE COLLECTION TP – I got the first few issues of this, dropped it, and regretted that decision.
  • DRYAD #1 – This was the sort-of-like Saga book that I decided to try.

Other comics

  • FLASH #750 – Should I have bought this? I love milestone issues, but the Flash, especially Barry Allen, just doesn’t interest me.
  • ROBIN YEAR ONE TP NEW EDITION – The original release was a fun read.
  • EMBARRASSMENT OF WITCHES GN VOL 01 – I can’t decide based on the solicitation if this is something I want to read, but I am intrigued.
  • MARVEL #1 – I’ll get this when it’s collected.
  • POWER PACK CLASSIC OMNIBUS HC – I almost ordered this.
  • STRANGE ACADEMY #1 – Another book I’ll read in trade eventually.

What are some other comics I missed that I should add to my Buy list?

Best comic I read recently

STAR TREK: YEAR 5 V1

Episode One writing and art by Jackson Lansing, Collin Kelly, Stephen Thompson, and Charlie Kirchoff

Episode Two writing and art by Brandon Easton, Martin Coccolo, and Fran Gamboa

Episode Three writing and art by Jody Houser, Silvia Califano, and Thomas Deer

Letterer: Neil Uyetake and Cover Artist: J.J. Lendl

Star Trek Year 5 v1

What a fantastic adaptation and continuation of the live-action sci-fi series that I have loved since I was five! The artists actor likenesses are great but not appearing photoshopped, and the various styles mesh well between the episodes, giving us a visual continuity. Also, they all draw the Enterprise very well, something not all artists who have worked on Star Trek comic books can do and is something I demand, dammit!

I like how these collected six issues involve elements from the original series (Tholians, a return to the “A Piece of the Action” planet, and an unknown alien presence), as well as introducing or expanding on new elements. Uhura is shown as more integral to the bridge crew and a leader. The banter between Sulu and Chekov about Spock was a fun twist on the humorous aspects of the franchise. And we get to see more of the crew — in fact, this Enterprise is full of personnel, as it should be.

I may do a spotlight podcast episode on this trade in the future, but if you are a Star Trek fan, you should read this comic book!

RandoMonday: Batman and Robin #23

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

BatmanandRobin23

Batman and Robin #23 by Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, Mark Irwin, John Kalisz, Carlos M. Mangual, Darren Shan, and Rachel Cluckstern

“Acceptance”. *sigh* This issue came six months (!) after Damian Wayne/Robin was murdered by his clone in the epic battle between Talia Al Ghul and Batman (as seen in Batman, Incorporated, specifically issue 8). In this issue, for the past three days, Batman is using virtual technology to prove he could have saved his son, so Alfred calls Dick Grayson in to talk his mentor out of this futile exercise. But because Dick knows Bruce so well (and in many ways, better than anybody), he doesn’t talk Bruce out of it, he joins him. Together, Batman and the former Robin are able to save Damian, allowing Bruce to reach a form of acceptance. But there is another man who’s needs to reach that stage of grief: Alfred. He runs a simulation where he prevented Damian from leaving Wayne Manor in the first place, thus preventing his death. Bruce then tells Alfred he is sorry, “I was too selfish to realize we both lost a son.” Reading that again after six years still gets to me.

This volume of Batman and Robin is one of the best Batman series ever. Gleason, Tomasi, and the others paint a haunting portrait of a man who lost a son and cannot really move past it. Yes, in this issue, Bruce does come to a form of acceptance, but it is a only a step that allows him to move to a different obsessive stage, setting up the next story arc.

The art in this issue is spectacular. We see some events of Batman, Incorporated #8 retold in ways that make the story even more poignant and personal for Batman. The one panel of Batman on the ground, unable to save his son as we hear the sickening sound effect of “SHUNNK” and the look on his face, especially his one exposed eye, is SO DAMN GOOD. It’s a feint, because Nightwing is the one stabbing Robin’s killer, saving the boy in this simulation, but I also read this as Bruce’s reaction to Nightwing killing to save his son. Imagine how Batman must feel to see his first son kill to save his younger son? It’s a part of the story that goes unexplored, but only serves to highlight how good of a comic book series this is to me.

If you have not read this volume, I highly recommend it.