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Friday, August 06, 2004

One fucking big review post. 

It's huge, and you can't do anything about it. These are books I bought in the past couple weeks, a few omissions because I filed them away already and forgot... anyway, no particular order, specifically to drive neat-freaks crazy.

Batman: Order of the Beasts: Huzzah Eddie Campbell, but this had such a particular, plodding Victorian pacing to it, I really couldn't be interested. Watching Batman drink tea inside Scotland Yard is, I guess, pretty neat, but I really wish I'd read this before plunking down the cash.

Rating: Well, shit. That's $6 I coulda used on lunch.

Batman, the 12 Cent Adventure: Eh.

Rating: We're in for a long, dark winter, Bat-fans.

Birds of Prey #71: I got to say I'm pretty tired of people talking about how much fun they have with this book, and then quickly adding that it's a "guilty pleasure" or that they "should know better." Oh, shut up. You either enjoy the book or you don't. That kind of backtracking just says you aren't comfortable with your own tastes.

Rating: Oh, right, how I felt about it. I dig it, yeah. Great fun. Getting a wee bit tired of the Huntress just being the chump all the time, but it's good stuff.

Ex Machina #2: You really ought to get on board right the fuck now. Why? Because six issues from now this series will be The Talk of the Town, everywhere, and you won't be able to find the first two issues anymore. Vaughan continues to surprise me with his range and versatility, and with how comfortable he is in a wide variety of subject matter. This guy's going to go a long way, and this series could be his starmaker (above and beyond Y.)

Rating: Oh, yeah. I'm in for the long haul.

Batman #630: To quote Alec Baldwin in State & Main, "So that happened." That right there is the full weight and meaning of this story. I guess Scarecrow's all badass now, and there's some new villainess on the streets we'll never freakin' hear from again. Winick does what he does best: write a passable story. The real star is, to no one's surprise, Nguyen. He'd be a welcome regular on the Bat-book forever and ever, if I had my way.

Rating: Well, there you have it. A consequence-free bow-out right before we get dragged into months of insufferable Life Changing Events Wherein No One Will Be The Same, And None Shall Come Away Unscarred, a la "War Games." It really was pretty fun, though.

Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes #1: Wasn't expecting much, and not much is what I got. Enjoyable, I guess, but I think Ash is pretty much tapped-out as a character.

Rating: I'd enjoy it a lot more if it was free.

The Losers #14: This title's gotten some flak lately, mostly by people who I presume don't read comics to have a good time. Yes, it is a mish-mash of action movie clich├ęs, or whatever, but it's a very smartly written mish-mash, with enough surprises, energy, and innovation to keep things hurtling along on its trajectory.

Rating: Jock, we miss you. We didn't mean to hurt you, baby. Come back to us.

30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow #5: A hojillion issues later, Steve Niles finally writes an interesting 30 Days of Night mini. I say that, and now I'll say something very unpopular: this series works despite Templesmith. Now, I like Templesmith. He's a talented artist. But that's not the same thing as being an accomplished visual storyteller... and that, he's not. Anyway, there's a whole bunch going on in this series all the time, so it lacks the "blink and you'll miss it" feel of the previous 30 Days books.

Rating: And it's almost over. How ironic.

Dead@17: Rough Cut Vol. I: One thing you got to give Viper, they know how to package an attractive book. This is a collection of six vignettes detailing events surrounding those in Dead@17 and Blood of Saints, filling in the blanks and generally strengthening the mythology around the central storyline. The strongest is "Fight to Live," as written by David Hopkins and drawn by Sean Stephens, both unknowns to me. It's a fun little action piece, sort of a "passing the mantle" story, detailing an elder agent of the Protectorate taking his last stand as its newest promise rises from her grave. I have to confess I would have preferred some stories set all over the place, chronologically. Tell me what the Protectorate was doing in 1066, in the British Isles! Shit like that.

Rating: Oh, yeah, definitely recommended. But it's pretty much For Fans Only. Otherwise you won't know what the hell's going on.

Hard Time #7: Listen to Dorian, for he is wise: "How many times do I have to tell people that this is a really good book before they start listening to me?" The relationships are complicated. The circumstances and events natural and organic, and generally pretty damn surprising. None of the people are completely likeable, but none of them are total bastards, either; they're just a bunch of dogs in a kennel when you get right down to it. One of the most outright interesting books going.

Rating: I'll be very upset when this book gets cancelled.. no doubt in about 5 issues. Sure, there's a superpower involved... but "life in prison" isn't the sexiest thing to sell on the comics racks.

The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty #2: Not as uniquely interesting as the first issue, and over in a heartbeat. The whole package is attractive, the cover haunting, the art solid, the price point unbeatable, but there's still a bit of zing missing.

Rating: It'll get another two issues out of me, but if it's not great by then...

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train Chapter 1: IDW, take note: this is how you put together a $3.99 book. You have to admire any book that puts Texas Hold 'Em in as the central point of tension, even goes so far as to explain the rules, and does it well. A great, great book. Order a copy.

Rating: One of those books where I put down the first issue and was eager to read the second one, right then and there.

District X #3: So, by the covers, I'm guessing Bishop is in this series? I'll go ahead and blaspheme: these first three issues have been far more entertaining than the first six of Gotham Central. I'm sorry, but I'll take an interesting, involving story over another boring, rote police procedural any day of the week. David Yardin is a solid talent, straight through; his city-within-a-city is entirely convincing, and vibrant, and alive... can you tell I like it?

Rating: Keep 'em coming.

Fallen Angel #13: Funny thing is, I like this book but couldn't tell you why. There's nothing particularly original going on here, but it's all just a little... off. A little strange. It's noir by way of the supernatural, but only hints of it. This issue, a one-off, condenses all the oddity that I like into one sitting. And I just like ghost stories anyway.

Rating: Probably not long for the world, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

Astonishing X-Men #3: I like this book an inordinate amount. I'm not, like, wild about it, but there's something about working in the comics field that strips away Joss Whedon's cutesiness and just makes him tell a fucking story. I'm buying an actual X-Men book, for god's sake. W. T. F?

Rating: Holy crap, Cyclops comes off like an okay guy? Where'd that come from?

The Walking Dead #9: Kirkman keeps this up, by issue 12 the only star of the series left alive will be the RV. I said it before, I'll say it again, because it sums up how I feel about Kirkman: when we think the man will zig, he zags like crazy. He's figured out the Romero formula for zombies. They're there, they frame the story and spur it along, but they're not the point of it. We could be saved a lot of really shitty horror if people figured that lesson out.

Rating: Mm. Crunchy.

Ultimate Nightmare #1: Just the kind of weirdness I expect and savor. Count me in.

Rating: Not much else to say, since it's prologue stuff.

Y: The Last Man #25: Filler. Good filler, but it's filler. And hey, Vaughan? Who I just got done praising up above? We all saw The Magdalene Sisters, too. I'm glad to see Beth again. I sorta hope they cliffhanger her for a few issues, just to fuck with us.

Rating: Ready for some meat, now...

Singularity 7 #1: Proof positive that having a bankable name is more important than having a good story to tell when it comes to getting published.

Rating: What, you need me to clarify that?

Runaways #17: I still feel a little manipulated. The traitor angle is fine, but the way it's done -- "I knew all along, I just acted totally innocent the whole time" -- basically means any one of the kids could have been the traitor and the story would remain exactly the same. Is this the last issue before things go on hiatus for awhile?

Rating: Not a bad ending, but given how things started off, it could have been stronger.

Scratch #3: Sam Kieth's kind of a one-trick pony, isn't he? Still, I'm intrigued, if only because no one is putting out art quite like he does. Think we could convince him to do art for someone else's script, for a change?

Rating: Only two more issues. I'm hooked enough to want to see how it ends, anyway.

Planetary #20: These books move too fast. I have no idea if that's because I always eagerly await the next and then fly through it in a frenzy, or if the pacing's intentional, or it's all those huge two-page splashes and silent panels filled with The Awe of Space, or what. I still like it. I just wish they'd come out as OGNs instead of "monthlies."

Rating: I guess it's not such a bad thing if my only complaint is "more!"

DC: The New Fronter #5: The past few issues were very pretty, but I confess I was slowly.. but surely.. nodding off.. to sleep... and then this one hits me in the face with a hammer and says "PAY ATTENTION! SHIT ACTUALLY HAPPENS AS OF NOW!" Cooke is a Grail Bearer of comics, so maybe that's why no one's getting on his ass for taking his sweet time getting anywhere.

Rating: This would have been an absolutely fantastic 3-parter.

The Monolith #7: Another fantastic one not nearly enough people are reading. Imagine a universe where a Batman crossover is actually very interesting and not just an obvious sales ploy. True believer, IT HAS HAPPENED! Seriously, pick it up. When was the last time you saw a series that relied on 2- or 3-part arcs? And were accordingly dense with story and innovation and idea?

Rating: Buy. Now.

Oh, holy shit. Time for my hands to fall off. I hope you bastards appreciate this.

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