Rude Chapbooks 05.16.11 | Not a Flash(point) in the Pan

Against all odds, our columnist, who customarily hates, loathes, and otherwise reviles “events,” applauds Flashpoint #1. (We’ve summoned the staff shrink.) He also bids a fond farewell to a certain masked rider of the Plains and analyzes three other floppies issued during the past week.

 
Fallen Angel: Return of the Son #4 exemplifies the quirky glory of writer/co-creator Peter David’s celestial conception—perhaps needlessly. In its original incarnation, after all, the series managed to relocate from DC, where it seemed underappreciated and misunderstood, to IDW Publishing, a feat by and large previously unthinkable. Moreover, the misadventures of David’s red-tressed heavenly hellion have invariably embraced the unexpected with unbridled gusto and often perverse glee. (An example? “As always, I have a plan,” God Herself this issue assures Liandra, the eponymous angel. “I just never said it was to benefit anyone but myself.”) In that respect, appositely, this finale to the latest Fallen Angel miniseries, which features customarily moody yet solid visuals from J.K. Woodward, involves the most macabre coin toss ever, a brief tale of Eve, a disquisition on a tennis racket, the Serpent as savior—and fundamental change for Bete Noire, “the city that shapes the world.” Fallen Angel likely still remains one of the mainstream’s most underappreciated titles, alas. Sample it and learn why that oughtn’t be the case.
 
Since its inception, “Rude Chapbooks” has never concealed its contempt for the “events” and crossovertures whereby, during the past decade or so, Marvel and DC have sought to glut the market. Nonetheless, the latter publisher’s Flashpoint #1 merits an unqualified recommendation as an event worthy of that designation. It does so, in part, because of bravura art from penciller Andy Kubert and inker Sandra Hope, who balance big, bold superheroics with more sotto voce sequences like one involving a pratfall and a touching hug. In the main, though, the debut of this five-part miniseries succeeds so admirably because writer Geoff Johns has firmly founded his alternate-world saga in character, from the opening focused on the Flash (Flashpoint’s flashpoint) through the central-casting assembly of heroes (a “money shot” of “events,” finally handled here with something like logic) to an intriguing final reveal. Although this column still deplores the flood of Flashpoint ancillary publications soon to swamp comics shops everywhere, this particular debut constitutes as graceful an exemplar of mainstream comics as a discerning reader could desire.
 
“Rude Chapbooks” readers tempted to fuss about the frequency with which writer/creator Mike Mignola’s stogie-smokin’ devil-on-the-side-of-the-angels earns approbation in these precincts should first reflect on (a) the generally superlative talent of Mignola’s artistic collaborators and (b) the similarly superlative products common to such collaborations. Case in point: Hellboy: Being Human. Like last November’s Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil, the Dark Horse singleton boasts art from the great Richard Corben, and if anything, Kansas City’s reigning panjandrum of panels and gutters tops even that earlier effort with his visualization here of a ruined South Carolina mansion overgrown with vegetation and (duh!) plagued by paranormalities, including a weeping skeleton. Set in 2000, the one-shot also co-stars Roger, Mignola’s hapless homunculus, shown in a delightful touch at the outset of this issue reading John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men; the one-shot’s title, of course, derives from poor Roger’s ongoing battle with his past, even as, in the narrative’s present, he battles first a steroidal zombie in a cemetery adjoining the mansion, then a lunatic voodoo priestess. Glorious stuff.
 
It should speak volumes that The Lone Ranger #25, fairly or not, enjoys exemption from what would be an otherwise automatic “Rude Chapbooks” denunciation for the unspeakable number of months separating the prior issue and this, the Dynamite Entertainment series’ finale. Quite simply, writer Brett Matthews and artist Sergio Cariello have succeeded just that extraordinarily at updating for the new millennium the title character and, of course, Tonto. (Indeed, The Lone Ranger has done right everything that DC’s Doc Savage has done so thunderously wrong.) With this issue, which sports a highly idiosyncratic but apropos cover from John Cassaday, Matthews and Cariello almost necessarily conclude the Western legend’s longtime conflict with the psychopathic Cavendish in a satisfying fashion—and close with a denouement that points not to an ending but to a new beginning. In an age sorely lacking in heroes, they have given us just that. One can easily envision the shades of Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels reading not just this issue but the entire series and smiling more than a little wistfully.
 
Hello, Eddy. Your nose here. Forgive me for snooping, but have I done something to offend or embarrass you? I ask because seemingly every comic that bears the credit “Eddy Barrows, penciller” fosters that impression. By way of example, consider DC’s Superman #711 from you with writers J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Roberson and inker J.P. Mayer. In almost every panel portraying a profile, one feature of that profile appears to be retreating into the facial plane. Yes—the poor proboscis. Furthermore, at the risk of sounding snotty, this visual tic of yours really detracts from the title’s narrative, wherein the Man of Steel continues strolling across the U.S., but pauses from pontificating like a total jackass to do something Supermanly—battle an out-of-control Livewire. Given the centrality of fact to olfactory, Eddy, I trust you’ll forgive me for sticking my…well, my self in where I might not belong by inquiring what troubles you nasally. As a lad, were you traumatized by Basil Wolverton’s Lena the Hyena? What, Eddy, what? Talk to the schnoz, buddy! | Bryan A. Hollerbach
 
Click here for a preview of Hellboy: Being Human, courtesy of Dark Horse.
Click here for a preview of Lone Ranger #25, courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment.

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