Friday, June 13, 2008

MONSTRITIS!!


Loving this comic is easier than wrapping my narrow ass around an entire pizza and waking up hours later unsure of the decade. But like the above activity, I will most certainly regret it.

Unique by Marvel's standards, Skaar, Son of Hulk takes place on a planet full of tribal monsters at war. It's brimming with constant violence, fantastically expressive art and, best of all, is only superficially tied to the rest of the company's bipartisan universe. With this winning palette, Greg Pak (World War Hulk) and Ron Garney (Spider-Man) can do whatever they'd like.

For ten issues.
Then Skaar will be dropped into the same methane-belching pit as X-Statix, NextWave and The Order. Controversial books all, the best at what they did certainly, but far too subversive to be supported outside of DC's Vertigo line. One of Wolverine's six books, or better yet, a napkin like New Warriors, will instead totter along into perpetuity, allowing mediocre creators to sharpen their cliche-craft.

Well, now that I've expelled some of the rich green goo that is my faith in marketplace diversity, let's chat up Doc Banner's brat. During super-gestation in his mom's womb, invulnerability saved Skaar as his father's ship blew, nearly taking the planet with it. Hulk had already left for Earth, fueled by visions of a powerless Reed Richards wrastlin' an unarmored Tony Stark to the death (before revolutionizing zombie chic with their Feeding-Tube Diet, the Olsen twins always used to fight over the last Dorito- so anything can happen).

The planet Sakaar had been liberated in the classic Conan sense: a slave rose through numerous death-matches to become king. With the idyllic dreams of all that the Hulk represented gone to ash, this place only grew more brutal afterward. We see that as a toddler Skaar battles cattle-sized earwigs with his teeth and bare hands. And, while un-inked Ron Garney is quite rough and in need of real black, his art remains singularly epic. The arrival of AxeMan Bone on a tamed dragon is gorgeous.

Little happens in this issue aside from us finding the character in the hands of they who think him a savior. Then Barbarians show, and scrawny, bald Skaar becomes death-delivering hippie Skaar. Limbs fly and someone is boiled alive- a great first date, I'd say.

I didn't find this lacking in the slightest. Surely Greg Pak knows he's got to prove the necessity of this comic. He's having his cake with The Incredible Herc, but also continuing the Hyperborian free-form begun in WWH. It may not be a coincidence that this title launched during the brief hiatus between Conan volumes.

The attention to detail Pak flaunts with ease may never come into play here, and Garney's art may be a piss-take, but I'm with them until Quesada's thumb drops. 4/5 zagnuts.

And in keeping with this post's theme, we have the increasingly yummy Wonder Woman. Gail Simone, Aaron Lopresti and inker Matt Ryan have shifted gears and brought this title careening around several delightful corners.

Anyone remember the white gorillas from Simone's first arc, the ones hiding in Diana Prince's apartment? They finally return here, in time to welcome her partner Tresser, who's been tasked with finding out whether she and Etta Candy are Amazon sleepers. In the near future, should the gossiping, peppered-loaf-eating Candy accidentally take a few rounds to the computer, I'd consider Christmas and my birthday covered (not likely though, because what did I put in Simone's stocking last year? Peppered loaf).

That sub-plot takes up four pages. The rest, shared by Wondy and Beowulf, are some of this art teams most energetic and minutiae-driven. Both of their costumes are complex, as are those of the possessed horde they wade through. The pair then faces a Crom-worshipping meatwad, raven of hair, red of hand, and on whom the Lasso doesn't work. This may be because Diana's dropped Hephaestus in favor of Polynesian tanning diety Kane Milohai. The result is Diana's right hand becoming that of a red beast.

Had none of the above been kinky enough, the final page shows an enormous dead shark washed ashore at Themyscira, a triangle of flesh removed and Hippolyta taking the blame. So not only is Simone shuttling prior devices into play, but she's integrating them alongside the new- fundamental tasks not all writers bother to do. Thus, 5/5 zagnuts.

And how goes the jumbonium-infused effort that is Trinity? Bagley shoots for and scores in three gently segmented battles that each could have come from a solo issue of Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. The big three suffer calamities (miniature galaxy expanding over Metropolis, future Gotham policed by zealots, giant robots) that are deeply vulnerable to what makes each tick. Superman thinks out his problem, solving it with measured strength. Batman analyzes until a single word shatters the illusion surrounding him. And Wonder Woman, man-hating nutcracker that she is, uses faith and unbridled rage to finish the robots.

Methinks they're being tested. But there isn't time for lemon bundts and philosophy (unlike here in the Me Comics Read Good Pavilion). An alert tells them that John Stewart is yet again in trouble, since he refuses to buckle down and live off of that pesky architecture degree. Enter Fabian Nicieza and Tom Derenick for the comic's second half.

I usually loathe Derenick's work, with the weirdly simian faces he draws. Here, thankfully, he reins it in (or perhaps inker Wayne Faucher does). Konvikt and Graak, introduced last issue, show up in Massachusetts, not to get married, but to paint the Berkshires in BLOOD. That, and speak in the third person. Of note during the battle is Green Lantern's loss of control over his ring, as it's commandeered by an unseen force that could almost anything at this point (though Morgan le Fey and Enigma have my vote). My hopes are still high. 4/5 z-nuts.

14 comments:

Sam said...

WASN'T 'Trinity' good? It's still not really doing it for me, but it's likewise still hugely enjoyable.

But I don't understand this whole 'son of Hulk' thing. Bruce Banner gained his ability to transform into the Hulk via gamma radiation. That's an acquired trait, obviously. His children - whether conceived by Banner or his alter ego - would be completely normal, not green and invulnerable. I mean REALLY! What if Mendel were to stop by and read an issue? He'd be SCANDALIZED!

elmo said...

I feel the same way about Trinity. Maybe by issue twelve they'll have some momentum.

I can't really comment, since Peter David did Gog knows during his sixty-plus years on the title.
But if he had sex while being the Hulk...?

brian said...

...I don't think there'd be anything left of the poor gal.

elmo said...

We are talking about an indestructible alien warrior. Not some Anne Hathaway.

brian said...

Hathaway is tougher than you would think. In the sack, anyway.

Kevin said...

We'll have to go by the old standby, "The Gamma Radiation Fundamentally Altered His DNA", hence the Mendel-defying progeny.

That, or Unstable Molecules.

Perhaps he inherited all of his strength from his mother, She-Who-Bones-Hulk-And-Lives.

Wouldn't Unstable Molecules make a great band name?

elmo said...

I don't know- it made a crappy mini-series name.

Sam said...

Um, Hello? I'm the lead singer for Unstable Molecules, and I personally can't BELIEVE you haven't caught our act! Especially the part where I tightly gyrate my Union Jack-speedo-clad hips to our cover of "Lola" ... are you culturally backward, or WHAT?

Kevin said...

Elmo, you're not dissing "Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules", are ya?

You fool!

elmo said...

Kevin, if you're saying you'll send me free comics to glowingly review, then do it already.

And Sam, a bull elephant seal has more class than you.

Beepy said...

Thanks, Elmo, for a brilliant review of some things that I should probably read but never will. Too busy reading chick lit, I guess.

Beepy said...

Hey, guess what! I bought a graphic novel! I bought the first Fables book cause it kinda seemed up my alley.

What's next for me? Who knows!!

L. Simpson said...

Maybe Beepy will read Conan.

elmo said...

Fables, eh? Hope you like guns- Willingham sure does.