Bin There, Found That: Best Buddies in the Bargain BinA column article, Bin There Found That by: Chris Wunderlich
I hate the term “bromance.” In fact, I’m not much a “buddy flick” fan either. I’ve never seen any Lethal Weapon movies; I find The Odd Couple pales in comparison to other shows of its time and don’t get me started on the “buddy cop” formula.
Sure, there are some greats in the bunch (Dumb and Dumber has only gotten funnier with time) but when I find myself just waiting for that inevitable conflict that will tear the friends apart, only to be brought back together in the end—well, it gets tiring. As soon as the love interest makes an appearance, you know that woman will be what comes between them. We’ve seen it a hundred times and we’ll see it a hundred more. You root for the friendship, it dissolves and right at the end everything is solved and their friendship is stronger than ever. The audience cheers and yawns simultaneously.
But let’s not dwell on the negative here. Enlighten me, folks. I want to hear about the good buddy flicks. Perhaps the old Starsky and Hutch is awesome and I’m completely unaware. Perhaps I should watch Lethal Weapon. Here, I’ll get the ball rolling:
I still laugh at Tommy Boy.
Does The Big Lebowski qualify as a “buddy flick”?
The French Connection, a great movie whatever genre you consider it to be.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, if you’re in the mood.
The Blues Brothers, Wayne’s World, Easy Rider...
Despite my distaste for the formula, it’s clear that male friendship can be explored successfully in interesting, creative, often hilarious ways. In fact, if you dig deep enough into your local comic shop’s bargain bin, you just might be able to find some of the best “buddy stories” around!
Captain Marvel #27
Written by Peter David, Pencilled by ChrisCross, Inked by Anibal Rodrguez, Coloured by Chris Sotomayor
First things first—this issue has a cover by J.H. Williams III and it’s in the bargain bin. Your subconscious will tell you to buy this even before I do. Inside you’ll find one of my all-time favourite artists as well—ChrisCross. We don’t see much of his work anymore, but every time I pick up a book he’s drawn I’m instantly pleased. His characters are super expressive and straight lines appear only in the background. Everything is very curvy, cartoony and exciting. He also has one of those styles you recognize instantly, but without that “every face looks the same” syndrome. I love it.
If you’re unfamiliar with the writer Peter David, you probably don’t read too many Marvel comic books. David has played in almost every corner of Marvel’s playground, tackling the Hulk for 12 years, writing X-Factor for almost as long and even scripting Marvel’s comic book version of Stephen King’s Dark Tower. Besides great plots and some of the most consistently spot-on dialogue, David brings a healthy dose of humour to almost everything he writes. I find he’s one of the only creators I can count on to make me laugh, month after month. As strange as it sounds, even Dark Tower has a few quips—and they work! I appreciate that. Unfortunately, David also has something of a reputation for his cheap shots at others in the industry. Often he’ll find ways to sneak little insults into the dialogue. Sometimes they aren’t too glaring, other times they’re downright mean. He’s had some very vocal arguments and aired his grievances in some very unprofessional ways, but I still enjoy his storytelling. I still look for anything with his name on it in the bargain bin and I still read X-Factor every month (though it may be over by the time you read this).
So what makes the David/ChrisCross Captain Marvel such a great buddy book? It’s hilarious, for starters. David knows how to write a funny book and ChrisCross knows how to draw one. I doubt everyone will share my thoughts on that one, but I find the humour really elevates this series above your average superhero book.
The series revolves around the original Captain Marvel’s son, Genis, and Rick Jones, a character who was once sidekick to half the Marvel U. Genis resides in the Mircoverse while Rick lives in our normal dimension. When Rick bangs together his golden armbands, the two switch places. It’s not a complicated set-up, but David works wonders with it. Coming in at issue 27 may seem daunting, but although you won’t be able to catch up with everything that has come before it, this issue does a pretty good job of giving you the basics.
The interaction between Rick and Genis (or “Marv”, as Rick calls him) is great. The two share Firestorm-esque telepathic communications between dimensions and this issue shows just what kinds of issues that can cause. Can one see what the other is doing? Can one feel what the other is feeling? These questions are addressed to great effect. Let’s just say “cold shower.”
So what does issue 27 have to offer us? Turns out Starfox (aka Eros), a former Avenger, has gotten himself into a bit of trouble and is now leaking temporal energy. The climax of this issue comes when a toilet is flushed. If that sounds like your cup of tea, go grab this issue and start hunting for the rest of the “Time Flies” story arc. Great buddy interactions all around!
Quantum and Woody #0
Script by Christopher Priest, Pencilled by Mark D. Bright, Plot by Priest and Bright, Inked by Greg Adams, Coloured by Atomic Paintbrush
Speaking of funny books, Christopher Priest might have Peter David beat. Priest is one of my favourite writers and when it comes to hilarious dialogue, plot and characters, he’s a tough act to follow. That being said, he doesn’t even seem like a comedy writer. His plots are always very involved, heavy on theme, socio-political issue and structure. He wields the flashback scene like artists wield a pencil. His stories can hit you emotionally making you really feel for the characters, while only pages earlier you were laughing your head off. I will read anything this man has written and you can be sure more of his work will show up in this column.
With comedy in mind, Quantum and Woody might be Priest’s funniest outing. We get our basic Odd Couple set-up, with Quantum being the serious, level headed type and Woody being the ridiculous, womanizing clown. Black and white race issues are tossed around quite a bit and characters can be both offensive and side-splitting, but it always feels like Priest has it under control.
Quantum and Woody actually has quite an interesting back story. How the two gained their powers, became friends and manage to somehow work together is all very clever and well structured, but it’s not to be found here. In fact, issue 0 isn’t even a full book, but this is the bargain bin. What we find is what we buy! The issue starts with a quick flashback, giving us a scene where the two are childhood friends sneaking into the girl’s change-room. It’s short, funny and a perfect introduction to the characters. We then flash-forward and get a very quick “falling out of a plan” routine. There’s no telling exactly why they’re in a plane filled with bad guys as it catches fire and starts to crash, but it’s not important either. The focus here is on the character interaction, and it’s simply top-notch.
Just as quickly as it starts, it ends, and the other half of this issue is a sketchbook. Now, I’m not a sketchbook kind of guy. Preliminary designs and old character models don’t exactly thrill me. Fortunately, they up the ante here and give us “Mark’s Silly Sketchbook.” The commentary alone makes this worth flipping through.
After getting this tiny taste, you’ll want to grab as much Quantum and Woody as you can find, and you should! Without Priest’s involvement in Valiant’s new Quantum and Woody series (coming soon, or possibly out already) I am skeptical, but these are some solid characters so it just might be worth checking out. Let me know if you guys dig it.
Written by Tom Peyer, Pencilled by Rags Morales, Inked by Dave Meikis & Claude St. Aubin, Coloured by John Kalisz
Now why on earth would I suggest the last issue of the series? Well, when you’re diving into the bargain bin, you rarely have a choice. Sometimes it’s daunting picking up a series without starting at issue 1, but this last issue of Hourman will make you want to go out and hunt for the rest. The emotional impact of this final issue would certainly be greater had you read the previous 24, but the message about friendship and the lessons we learn stands on its own. This is a buddy book without the heavy emphasis on humour.
Writer Tom Peyer really isn’t a household name. I wasn’t familiar with him before picking up Hourman, and I still find myself looking for more of his work. He wrote some Legion of Superhero books in the 90s, tackled Magnus: Robot Fighter during Acclaim’s revival of the Valiant heroes and his name shows up every now and then on fill-in issues for both Marvel and DC. After reading Hourman, I’m not sure why we don’t see more work from him. In 25 issues Peyer crafted an amazing, original story, fitting neatly into DC continuity with recognizable characters, smart plots and tight dialogue. He made what could have been a fairly mediocre, forgettable JLA spinoff a book worth collecting.
Rags Morales should be familiar to most of you. You know him from Identity Crisis and the New52 re-launch of Action Comics. If you’re a fan of his work, you need to read this book. If you’ve never heard the name, you need to read this book. If you hate his work—look again and read this book! Every time I open an issue of Hourman I find myself stunned that such a talented artist was assigned such a B-class book. I mean, I know the series is amazing, but the fact that Morales was assigned Hourman and not something more prolific is perplexing. I am glad he’s finally got his due, but back in Hourman he was showing off some of his finest work. Beautifully detailed, expressive characters with unique identities were just the beginning. This guy could draw awesome looking tech, engaging action and had an amazing sense of sequence.
Hourman follows buddies Snapper Carr and android Tyler (aka Hourman). Snapper is probably best known as the kid mascot of the early Justice League, while Hourman is probably better known as the super-heroic identity of Rex and son Rick Tyler. Tyler the android is a product of the future incarnation of the Tyler family industries. He was given near omnipotence by Metron and briefly joined both the Justice League and Justice Society. The series treats past continuity with great respect and even pulls some surprising storylines out of things other writers may have thought better left dead (Blasters anyone?). If this is your first Hourman issue, you need not know any of this to enjoy the story.
Issue 25 says a lot about friendship. Snapper and Tyler have been through a lot in their 25 issue adventure, and seeing it all wrap up is heartwarming. I hate to spoil anything, but let’s just say as hard as it is to say goodbye to a friend, Peyer shows us the silver lining. Snapper and Tyler are perfectly written as two friends that mess with each other, learn from each other and grow. It’s the growth of this friendship that culminates here. Sometimes your friend says exactly what you need to hear; sometimes they try to screw with your circuits for fun. Sometimes they have to leave, taking everything you’ve given them, to make a difference in someone else’s life. What more can be said? Go out and buy this series.