Few different things running this week.

Still trying to knock the kinks out of my new/revised features, so this will likely encompass the final test run. New Hotness appears in two versions, the abridged edition that I ran for about a year, and the extended cut that focuses on storylines rather than single issues. Best book of the week, and best arc or mini of the week respectively. Quotables are also here, which I think I’ll be keeping indefinitely, and there’s also a small eulogy in response to the passing of Gail Simone’s Agent X. Enjoy.

 


New Hotness-

Gotham Central #12 (Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka/Michael Lark)

This is the best Bat-title on the stands. Forget sales figures, forget hype, this is the premier Bat-book that DC has going. Two great writers and one amazing artist wrapped around a tight premise, apparently results in a criminally underrated title. Central is what the industry claims it wants, a strong character based work that isn’t overly reliant on capes and superheroes. Why isn’t it resting comfortably in the top 50 then? Maybe you’re all waiting for the trade. Maybe you just need a good jumping on point, or something. Well, there’s a sniper on the loose in Gotham City taking shots at high ranking officials, and it looks like a Major Crimes beef. In case the solicitations haven’t already spoiled the trigger man’s identity, I won’t spoil the ending for you, but the “reveal” is definitely an interesting turn that suggests that as good as this book has been, it will only get better. It’s time to get onboard and create new hype.

Three Strikes (Nunzio Defilippis & Christina Weir/Brian Hurtt)

I still think Skinwalker was one of the best series to drop last year, and there was little reason to doubt that the duo’s inventive storytelling and deep characterization wouldn’t translate into their newest offering Three Strikes. With the concluding chapter released last week, I find that there was absolutely nothing to worry about, as the story ends as strongly as it began. Something that Defilippis and Weir excel at is executing a story from multiple points of view, both of which happen to be enormously valid, making the question of “main character” decidedly cloudy, and creating a situation that slyly confuses the reader, as they don’t know which character to root for. And they seem to thrive in making that decision as difficult as possible.

Rey Quintana isn’t the same young man that we met in the first issue. There he was a guy who’d made a couple terrible mistakes, but was trying to get his life back together, until he screwed up again. Due to a punishment that hardly fit the crime, we sympathized with Rey’s decision to become a fugitive, and hoped he’d stay one step ahead of the bail enforcement officer, Noah Conway, on his tail. As things unfolded and Rey made another series of mistakes, that naturally ends in dead bodies, the sympathetic focus shifts to Conway, and the understanding he’s developed for his “skip,” and the fractured relationship with his daughter. I won’t spoil the final confrontation, but it’s completely unexpected, and yet completely obvious at the same time.

We’ve been given fully developed characters, who changed shape as the story evolved, but not so much that the collision course set into motion loses its impact, or its feeling of inevitability. Another inspired effort by the two scribes.


Under Construction-

Been one of those slow, uneventful, and potentially disheartening weeks. Finished up a script that took forever to revise, and PROJECT X is hitting some scheduling problems. My soon to be a superstar artist is slowly becoming over-committed, and our timetable may have to shift as a result. Shouldn’t be a problem, I’ve been working on this for nearly a year, another few months can’t hurt. Hopefully, before the month is over, I’ll have something cool to announce, and I also owe you Youngblood and Brigade pages.


Last Rites- Gail Simone’s Deadpool/Agent X (Marvel Comics)

So I guess that’s it, huh? To be honest, I headed into this, the final chapter of Agent X, without quite remembering that at this time next month, Gail Simone and UDON won’t be delivering any further tales from Agency X. I suppose we should be thankful that Marvel was kind enough to invite the original team back for a final arc, but I want my copy of Agent X #16 dammit, and I think a lot of you feel the same way.

This all started many months ago, when a humor columnist by the name of Gail Simone was tapped as the incoming scribe on Deadpool, with issue 65. The words internet columnist were enough to grab my attention, and coupled with my very positive response to her Killer Princesses series from Oni, I was definitely down to give her a couple issues worth of support. The self-proclaimed “merc with a mouth” wasn’t a character I often followed, and I hadn’t touched the title since Priest was writing it, but Gail only needed 22 pages to once again sell me on the concept, and her approach to it.

Her first issue, and what she later accomplished on the title is notable for a couple reasons. First, you have to take into account the large number of books we get to chose from on the monthly, and though an ever-increasing number are more than worth their cover price, not many of ’em are funny. We’ve got crime, we’ve got drama, we’ve got superheroes, we’ve got sci-fi, but where all the humor comics at? Not to insinuate that none of our modern writers have a sense of humor, but having one, and actually writing a book that relies heavily on humor is a bit different.

Gail Simone understands the difference.

With Deadpool, leading into Agent X, humor and a certain degree of absurdity were natural starting points, because seriously, what is more ridiculous than a scarred mercenary with a healing factor that refuses to shut up? But instead of turning the entire affair into one long gag, Simone and UDON populated their book with an expansive supporting cast that proved nearly as interesting as the series lead. Taskmaster, Sandi, Black Swan, Higashi, and Girl Zero created an ensemble environment that gave heart to the title, and it was this ultimately human element that provided Simone the opportunities for humor that were not only successful, but clever and unexpected.

The book had personality, heart, and brains, and I’ll miss reading it in the future. The back issues you’re looking for are Deadpool #65-#69, and Agent X #1-#7, and #13-#15. Find them and schedule a marathon reading session at your earliest convenience.


Quotables-

New X-Men #148 (Grant Morrison)-
“One time I survived for six months under a glacier by eating strips off my own arm…healing factor grew the flesh right back…there’s always a way, Jeannie.”- Wolverine

Avengers #71 (Geoff Johns)-
“All right, Jan…your turn.”- Hank Pym

Superman/Batman #3 (Jeph Loeb)-
“In many ways, Clark is the most human of us all. Then…he shoots fire from the skies and it is difficult not to think of him as a god. And how fortunate we all are that it does not occur to him.”- Batman

Daredevil #53 (David Mack)-
“You never know how much people get from your stories. How it affects them in the long run. Gives them food for thought, to help them in the future or just inspire them. Motivate them to find their purpose. Stories are magic.”- Chief

Agent X #15 (Gail Simone)-
“Everyone’s got the genes of a screw-up from somewhere. So I’m a corpse kept alive by a stolen healing factor. So is Joan Rivers. I can deal.”- Alex Hayden


More in seven…

Peace,

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