Monday, October 13, 2008

Slump and Skrulls

Here's how this works: I finish reading something, and I tell you about it, and I try not to bore you to death. This time, reviews, of sorts, of Dr. Slump vol. 16 (Viz, 2008) and Skrull Kill Krew (Marvel, 2006).

Well, now the last time that I spoke of Akira Toriyama's Dr. Slump in these pages, I was incredulous over the shark-jumping awfulness that was Turbo, the closest thing in Japanese comics to Scrappy-Doo that I'd ever seen. Of course, the problem with Scrappy-Doo was not the introduction of a new supporting character; it was the introduction of a new main character, knocking the existing cast into a gang of second bananas. So it was with Turbo, the magic baby that could do anything, except perhaps save a gag strip that had run its course for another year.

So I was in no particular rush to continue with Slump, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that after Turbo's initial three-month domination of the comic, he was quickly sidelined in favor of more fun Arale strips, particularly a three-parter where she and Senbei are turned into flies, along with some bizarre meta-commentary in which Toriyama, along with his assistant Takashi Matsuyama, interact with their characters, answer reader questions and look at life a decade down the road for the cast. This is definitely material past its prime, but I laughed more than once, and the work suggests that maybe if you've made it this far, you may as well see it to the end. (Volume 18, apparently.) Recommended for existing readers.

(Bonus: Rumic World has a 1986 interview with Toriyama and Rumiko Takahashi available on their site. You should check that out.)

Now here's a book I've been intentionally avoiding for better than ten years. In the mid-90s, Grant Morrison was co-writing a lot of subpar material with Mark Millar, and Marvel Comics had introduced a line called "Marvel Edge" where they could publish all their EXTREME!! stories. The mid-90s were a time for lots of EXTREME!! everything, and intentionally misspelled words, and comics that could be safely avoided. But for a buck and a half at one of the Great Escapes in Nashville, I figured the collected edition was worth it. And maybe it was, just.

So the idea here is that some people have contracted an alien virus that allows them to see the shapeshifting aliens who have infiltrated our society, but the virus is terminal and they are quickly dying. Five of these people resolve to spend their last days motorcycling around killing as many aliens as possible. There are nods towards such concepts as subplots and character development, and Steve Yeowell's art is occasionally very nice, if badly colored.

Skrull Kill Krew was intended as an ongoing set in the Marvel Universe, but was culled to a five-part miniseries before its launch. The second and third issues feature the Krew getting in the middle of a fight between Captain America and Baron Strucker, and perhaps the failure of this comic can be explained best by putting it this way: five days after I read this, I remember Cap and Strucker's verbal sparring and the dynamic work Yeowell put into their fight, but I couldn't pick any one of the Krew from a police lineup, nor tell you any of their names but one. Recommended if you've got a spare buck and a half.

(Originally posted October 13, 2008 at hipsterdad's LJ.)

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