Finally finished my humongous haul from Wednesday. And so, without further ado-age, "What I bought and what I thought".
Ranked in order of preference, with letter grades at the end a la good ol' Bob Christgau.
1. LUCIFER 33: Wonderful mix of Lovecraft and O. Henry, ably illustrated by Dean Ormston. Mike Carey is in such a groove now, both here and on John Constantine, and it's a pleasure to behold. A
2. BATGIRL YEAR ONE 1: I've never been what you could call a fan of Batgirl; she's always seemed second-hand, redundant and unnecessary in the 30 plus years she's existed as a character. It took the Joker busting a cap in her and her subsequent rebirth as Oracle to make the Barbara Gordon character interesting to me. But here, the script approach by Chuck DIxon and Scott Beatty, focusing on Barbara the person, is a winner and the art by newcomers (to me, anyway, I've never heard of 'em) Marcos Martin & Alvaro Lopez is fluid and expressive, channeling both Robin Year One artist Javier Pulido and the more conservative tendencies of Tim Sale. Me like. A
3. FABLES 8: While it's a little talky, and the tendency of artists Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha to resemble Tom Grummet trying to imitate Jack Kirby is a little annoying, this is such a clever idea, and it's executed in such a winning fashion, that I like it in spite of myself. Nice cover. A-
4. SHANG-CHI, MASTER OF KUNG FU 4: Gulacy's best art job yet, and if the overly-deriviative-of-Bond plot is offering nothing new, at least it seems to be building to a grand finale, and it would be churlish of me to ask for more. A-
5. JSA 43: God help me, I actually liked this issue. Everything worked. I don't know who really drew this issue, but that's not the vanilla Leonard Kirk & Keith Champagne art I've seen previously...it's actually pretty good. Don't know what happened, but I hope they can keep it up. I'm still more interested in the Dr. Fate/Gemworld subplot (and I've got my fingers crossed that we won't get evil Amy) than I am the ancient Egypt storyline, but at least this time out both were compelling. A-
6. REID FLEMING, WORLD'S TOUGHEST MILKMAN/FLAMING CARROT CROSSOVER 1: This one snuck up on me. I totally overlooked whatever sparse hype it was given and if it hadn't been for the lovely Erica at my comics shop, I would have missed it completely. I've never paid any attention to the Reid Fleming character before and probably won't again, although I'm sure he has its admirers...I'm a Carrot man all the way, haven't missed any of his apearances yet, and I wasn't about to pass this up. Wish I could say I was richly rewarded for my devotion, but while it's cleverly written by Bob Burden and is often hilarious, the art by Fleming's creator (with inking assists from Burden) is amateurish and crude. But hey-it's impossible to dislike a comic with not only the Carrot but Christopher Walken, the Girl From Ipanema, Fabio, and a vampire collie on a skateboard. Well, maybe you can dislike it but I can't. B+
7. LOVE & ROCKETS V2 6: As always, Jaime is excellent and Gilbert (who gets 3/4 of the book this time out) is hit and miss. I'm not so sure that reuniting the Bros. Hernandez in the same book and killing their individual titles was such a good idea. B+
8. SPIDER-MAN BLUE 5: it had been so long between this and #4 that I thought it had been cancelled. While I still consider this a huge disappointment, given the track record of the Loeb/Sale team, this one was better than the first four. Sale channels Ditko a lot more sucessfully than he does Romita Sr., and there are several blatant and clever Ditko swipes herein. B+
9. AUTHORITY: SCORCHED EARTH: It's great to see the Authority back again. So great, that I can overlook the often sloppy and ininspired art that accompanies this overpriced one-shot. I think that DC's black sheep of its comics family is in good hands with Robbie Morrison. B+
10. Y: THE LAST MAN 6: Overpraised and underwhelming, this continues on in its not-bad but not-outstanding way. I'm still interested in where it's all going, so I still buy and shall continue to do so for the time being. B
11. THE TRUTH 2: All of Robert Morales' good intentions are being completely undone by Kyle Baker's slapdash, convention-doodle level art. Hope he buys himself something nice for Christmas with the paycheck he obviously didn't earn. C+
12. HELLBLAZER SPECIAL-LADY CONSTANTINE 1: Can't say which is worse- the cliche-ridden, horribly dialogued script or the bland, grubby looking, uninspired art. I liked the clever idea of throwing the puzzle box from Hellraiser in the mix, but it's a shame when one begins to think that the best thing that could happen in this miniseries is that Pinhead shows up at the end. C-