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Thursday, April 08, 2004

The weekly tally. 

In no particular order:

Supreme Power #9 -- Shane had it right. Wow. Except, every single issue of this book makes me say "wow." Why wow this time? Because Hyperion is one scary motherfucker, that's why. All the same, I gotta ask: when the hell are they going to bring in Power Princess, already? I want Straczysnki writing Superman once Azzarello's done. Frank's art is pretty, perhaps just the right kind of superhero styling for this book, even if a lot of the characters look perpetually bug-eyed.

Rating: Wow!

Rob Zombie's Spookshow International #6 -- Rob Zombie ain't no dabbling celebrity type. This man lives and breathes comics. He has a 20 year old Howard the Duck tattoo on his forearm (I've seen it.) Having said that, this book fluctuates from fucking hysterical to just "all right." This one's somewhere in between there, and I must say I'm rather sad to see artist Kieron Gwyer go. I do kinda miss the stories that were reminiscent of old EC Comics that permeated the first few issues, but que sera.

Anyway. You want some good laughs and some weirdass hijinks (and not a little bit of skin)? Then this is your book. I realize I'm probaby the only person in the "comics blogoscope" or whatever that reads this book (or admits to it), but c'mon. Don't be a snob. It's fun!

Rating: Good for a laugh.

BPRD: Plague of Frogs #2 -- Mike Mignola is incapable of writing an uninteresting story. Guy Davis is incapable of drawing out an uninteresting panel. Put that together and you have a pretty tight little mini-series, though it does not rank among either of their best. I did always wonder about those frogs in Seed of Destruction... and hey, what's this comment about Hellboy "not being around" anymore in the BPRD? Can someone fill me in?

Rating: Froggy!

The Monolith #3 -- A very solid series that has yet to blossom into the full-on kickassness awaiting it just around the next bend. There's little hiccups here and there -- The Monolith as a character is quite interesting, though that bit about having a little shard of someone else's soul inside, mournfully looking out, is kind of tired. The heroines avoid killing someone so they don't "sink down to his level" (and it will never be too soon before writers in all mediums stop using THAT old chestnut), but the guy ends up getting killed anyway, to satisfy the audience. Boy, has Winslade grown from his Goddess days or what? That guy's art is a treat.

Rating: So.. close...

Hard Time #3 -- I don't know what it is about prison stories that are so fascinating. Is it because the morality is so shady to begin with, the idea of identifying with any character is morally risky and thus exciting? Is it that every waking, breathing, living moment may be the one you make that move that gets you beaten to a pulp or killed? The constant reminder in this book that "no one is your friend or ever will be" is starting to feel a bit forced ("okay, we GET it already!"), but damn if the characters just don't get more and more vivid with each issue. The washed-out coloration, while muchly bitched about, is exactly perfect for this book. Not exactly a wide palette of colors in Shawshank Redemption either, right? And that movie seemed to work out okay for everyone.

I recommend you get in now, because before long it'll be impossible to just leap in to the series. Plus, it needs sales.

Rating: BUY IT!

Engine Head #1 -- Ted McKeever is also incapable of drawing an uninteresting panel. Joe Kelly is a writer who is in complete control of his form, and, somewhere along the way, learned to write very well nuanced dialogue for characters we barely know, instantly drawing us into interesting (and odd) situations. That being said, I don't really know what the hell happened at the end here, but what I know about the DCU (aside from Batman's part of it) could be squeezed into a termite's scrotum. So. I'll be checking out the next issue.

Rating: Eenteresting.

Batman: Death and the Maidens #8 -- Buying it just because I've spent this much damn money on it so far, I should at least see how it ends. That bit with Bruce talking to his dead parents had potential that got a bit squandered, and the rest just got dull and dragged on and on.. eyelids.. getting.. heavy...

And then something actually happened in this issue. Something of mild importance. Will it actually stick? Only one more issue to go.

Rating: Just when I thought I was out...

30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow #1 -- They're milking the crap out of this, aren't they? Got to say, though, this one's at least on par with Dark Days and better than 30 Days of Night from the first issue alone. Niles' dialogue has never sounded more natural, and Templesmith's art has really hit its stride: not too abstract, but never approaching "dull," either. And such a pretty, pretty cover, too.

Rating: ...they pull me back in.

Swamp Thing #2 -- Remember that thing I said about knowing nothing about the DCU? Yeah, here too. Doesn't matter, I know just enough about the Swamp Thing and Tefé Holland and the Green to enjoy this, and even with a sparse handful of panels, John Constantine still comes off as vividly as he ever has. Diggle is a star on the rise, and this title, along with The Losers, will be his public crucible. Breccia's people are just plain oddly proportioned, but for this book, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Rating: I have no clever thing to put here. It's good.

Y The Last Man
#21 -- Coming off the last arc, "Safe Word," just about anything would seem a bit less. "Safe Word" is without a doubt the best arc in the entire series, right on par with the first six issues, and far outshining the fairly worthless astronaut stuff. This arc, "Widow's Pass," looks like it's going to be pretty straightforward fare, though Vaughan has a gift for turning the obvious into the totally unknown with a few quick strokes of narrative. But I've got to ask: What the hell is up with Dr. Mann?

I confess I completely missed that Goran Parlov was guest pencilling in place of Pia Guerra until I saw the front cover and the names listed. I could not, to tell you the truth, tell the difference.

Rating: Still one of the best series going, but I'm a bit skeptical about the next two issues.

Wolverine: The End
#3 -- BOOOORing!

Elektra #35 -- I stuck around because this is the last issue, and I came this far, so why not? We get pretty much what you'd expect: Elektra standing at her grave (designed by Frank Miller), reminiscing about events in her past (written by Frank Miller), and Matt Murdock shows up at the end to do nothing of importance. Kind of lackluster, and the art from Jon Proctor is actively terrible. This book was depressing to me, but not because it was "the end of an era." No, this book was depressing because it showed that nothing interesting or unique has been done with this character since the mid-fucking-1980's. A crime.

Rating: Eh. For the completist only.

Punisher: The End -- You ever read one of those comic books where you go through it at lightning speed, totally absorbed, and then set it down? And then five minutes later, you look back at it again, take in the cover image, reminisce about what took place inside... and then find yourself doing that over and over again for the next half hour or so? That's what this book did to me. This character, as written by Ennis, makes more sense to me than any single other character in the Marvel Universe, or perhaps in all of comicdom. Wow. Yes, the book is unrelentingly grim. Yes, Richard Corben's people have always looked vaguely grotesque. But it all adds up to an inevitable conclusion. I wouldn't dream of telling you how this book ends, though; instead, I'll just say Frank Castle's story ends in the only way it possibly could. Bravo, Corben. Take a bow, Ennis.

Rating: ...Jesus.

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