Thursday, February 27, 2003

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What I bought and what I thought, week of February 26

1. NEVERMEN: STREETS OF BLOOD 2 A very close call this week, but I just got a bigger charge out of the surreal weirdness of Amara and Davis' story than I did from the (somewhat) more grounded drama of Bendis and Carey. Amara's dialogue is odd, but somehow fits in just right with all the strange characters and situations, and Davis' work is sensational. He has completely reversed my opinion of his art based on his Sandman Mystery Theatre stint. If you're not buying the seperate books, you should at least consider the trade collection. A

2. DAREDEVIL 44 Bendis is superb as usual, especially in the opening scenes, and Alex Maleev steps up this time and delivers such outstanding stuff in the first half of the story that for once I don't mind his Owlverine. I find myself wondering what people who have only seen the movie think upon picking these comics up out of curiosity. A

3. JOHN CONSTANTINE: HELLBLAZER 181 Essentially John vs. demons in a game of cat-and-mouse, a scenario we've seen a few times, but Mike Carey's gift is such that he can fill it with enough twists and excellent dialogue/characterization that it seems fresh again. The art, by someone named Jock, is hit and miss– mostly hit, fortunately. A

4. CATWOMAN 16 Frankly, I've been bored to tears by Brubaker's latest Big Life Changing Episode in Selina's imagine my surprise when I found myself totally engrossed in this, the big grand finale issue! That being said, I found it a tad far-fetched that she posessed the kind of physical strength that enabled her to escape the clutches of the Black Mask, but I can overlook it this time. I'll chalk it up to andrenaline, not writer contrivance. And a book that was on the verge of being dropped from my list survives! A-

5. LEGION 17 In which we catch up on R'as Al Ghul, and Abnett/Lanning begin to address a grievous mistake made by previous which essentially spit on an older Legion character and has enraged, divided and alienated (no pun intended) Legion fans for several years. About damn time. Overall, great characterization, wonky science, and hit-or-miss (mostly hit) art by a newcomer who is a complete unknown to me. Another strong issue. A-

6. JLA 78 I had originally panned this issue, but I have since found out I was mistaken. In my copy, page 17 was bound in between 6 & 7, and since I tend to be feeble-minded and easily confused, it threw me for a loop and I thought Joe Kelly was back to his old, haphazardly scripted tricks. When I allow for this mistake, this issue becomes a pretty well-written prelude to another story arc, with sharp dialogue and characterization, always Kelly strengths. As always, Mahnke and Nguyen shine. Hey, when I make a mistake, I admit it! A-

7. VERTIGO X PREVIEW A grab bag of stuff from creators past and present, with previews of upcoming titles...some of which (Zatanna, the Wintermen, Cliff Chiang's Beware the Creeper) look interesting and some (the aptly titled Losers, Blood and Water, and Barnum) that don't. Well worth the price, especially for those of us who were there at the beginning (MIlligan & Allred's Shade story is a nice look back) and like to reminisce. A-

8. GLOBAL FREQUENCY 5 Pretty much status quo again this time out...great idea, developed pretty well by Warren Ellis with his typically terse and clever dialogue. The artist this time is Jon J. Muth, doing a rare pen-and-ink job. Well done all around, but strangely uninvolving. B+

9. STRANGERS IN PARADISE V2 56 More of that ongoing will-they-or-won't-they soap opera. Most of the usual annoying Terry Moore pretensions are here; poetry, faux journal pages, etc., all of which stop the narrative dead in its tracks...but I guess he's wearing me down because I made it through without losing my temper. The things I put up with because I like his characters. B+

10. X-STATIX 8 Probably shouldn't have ranked this dead last, but I can't help it- I was bored by this issue. In fact, I've been bored by the last couple of issues, and at this rate I won't be buying much longer. Its not badly drawn or written per se; it's just that Allred's not the type of artist that can consistently breathe life into Milligan's bone-dry scripts. B-