Saturday, January 04, 2003

Comics Review Time!

Here's what I bought and what I thought on January 3, featuring capsules and letter grades a la good ol' Bob Christgau:

1. JACK STAFF 11 Continuation of the multiple storylines that Paul Grist introduced back in #9, and of course it is flat out brilliant, especially the minimalist sequences featuring Charlie Raven, the "Greatest Escapist of the Victorian Age", which bookend this issue. They're done with a minimum of pictures, only showing Raven escaping from a straight jacket and a jail cell, but Grist fills the four or five pages with an ongoing dialogue which builds anticipation as you go along until the resolution of the seemingly different, but actually quite similar events. Sometimes, a thousand words can be worth one picture! It's a bravura job, and one that I suspect was done in this fashion simply to help Grist get caught up with the enormous workload he talks about in the inside front cover. Keep this man busy! A+

2. HAWAAIAN DICK 1 Enjoyable pastiche of 50s film noir and the supernatural, with a novel setting. This one actually came out a couple of weeks ago, but it slipped under my radar until I read a couple of reviews, and thought it sounded worth a shot. It is, of course, about a private eye in Hawaii who gets mixed up with some crooks and a stolen car, but it takes a severe left turn towards the end (in more ways than one) and really gets interesting. Written and drawn by a couple of guys who I've never heard of, but who bear watching. I especially like the art by Steven Griffen, which reminds me of old EC Comics work by people like Krigstein and Johnny Craig. A

3. BATGIRL YEAR ONE 2 You just know that the creators have got it going on when they can take a silly old 60s villain like Killer Moth and make him interesting. I used to have the first Batgirl appearance years ago, but I don't remember much about it. It would be interesting to compare events in that long-ago issue of Detective with this mini series. The art in this issue is better than the last one, and that was pretty damn good. A

4. DAREDEVIL 40 Surprising, and sad finale to the White Tiger on trial story arc. Again, I like it when I can still be surprised while reading a comic. The rushed-looking art by the Dodsons, however, was not up to par. B+

5. HELLBLAZER SPECIAL: LADY CONSTANTINE 2 Has it been a month already since #1 came out? Anyway, I was less than glowing in my evaluation of the first issue, and maybe I was a bit hasty...this issue went down a lot better. Still poorly dialogued, and not as sharply scripted as I'd like, and the art is functional, as is the case with too many Vertigo books these days. Still, I feel better about this mini than I did a few weeks ago. B

That's it! My wallet got a well-deserved rest this week.

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