Last Week in the Comics I Read: March 9-17 (including Thoreau at Walden, Hulk #30, and New Avengers #10)

faked by Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Batman and Robin #21
Batman Incorporated #3
BPRD: Hell on Earth: Gods #3
Captain America and the First 13 #1

Hulk #30. Hand it to Jeff Parker: If he is writing a comic whose cover promises a compound red-green Hulk, then by golly he is going to give you a compound red-green Hulk on the inside. In this Parker, perhaps unwittingly, helps make up for one of the great disappointments of my youthful comics reading life, West Coast Avengers #30:

Come on, doesn’t that look amazing? Wouldn’t you have flipped out over that if you were 13? But o villainy most foul: There is no composite Avenger inside. So my thanks to Jeff Parker for healing the psychic paper cuts of my adolescence.

Incredible Hulks #624

New Avengers #10. Hey, so this Avengers book has Howard Chaykin drawing Dominic Fortune narrowly escaping being murdered by a sexy Nazi spy in stockings. Can you imagine how much better every Avengers book would be if it featured a Chaykin protagonist doing something so distinctively Chaykin-y? What if, at the end of the Kree-Skrull War, instead of Rick Jones extruding a bunch of golden age heroes from his psyche, a transvestite prostitute murdered a vampire with a Nazi blowjob and then listened to some jazz records? The Kree-Skrull War would definitely deserve its reputation then.

Punisher: In the Blood #4. I cannot believe how much Rick Remender has made me care about the Punisher.

Thoreau at Walden. I loved reading this book panel-by-panel; the muted brown tones allow Porcellino to pull off some lovely low-tech chiaroscuro effects, and Porcellino’s rendering of subtle moments—Thoreau lying in bed listening to a whip-poor-will—are achingly effective. Yet I couldn’t help but feel that in focusing so much on Thoreau’s transcendent communion with nature, Porcellino does a disservice to the complex voice that Thoreau develops in Walden. Thoreau is in awe of nature, sure, and maybe that’s even the dominant mode. But he’s also snarky, caustic, and sarcastic—coming across sometimes, frankly, as a self-righteous prick. And it wasn’t until I picked up on that side of Thoreau that I really began to appreciate Walden as a great work of literature instead of an interminable collection of platitudes about living simply, its only contemporary relevance as a source of material to be quoted endlessly over images of flocks of geese at the end of CBS Sunday Morning.

To be sure, no one’s afternoon is going to be wasted by spending an hour or two with Porcellino’s adaptation; and as the adapter, it’s his prerogative to pick and choose which elements to highlight. But I do wish Porcellino had grappled with the thornier aspects of Thoreau—I think it would have been a more interesting book, and I’d be curious to see how such a critical engagement might inflect Porcellino’s voice in his own comics.

Venom #1

Sunday funnies in the Baton Rouge Advocate
Assorted webcomics (same as last week)

One Response to “Last Week in the Comics I Read: March 9-17 (including Thoreau at Walden, Hulk #30, and New Avengers #10)”

  1. Alex says:

    Hulk has always been my favorite