Friday, February 21, 2003

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Time now for
What I bought and what I thought, week of February 19

1. LUCIFER 35 It is such a joy to see the skill with which Mike Carey handles all the myriad plot threads that he's set up. This month's dalliance with Norse mythology (like last month's excellent Loki cameo) was the highlight of the book for me. Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly's art is servicable, often very good. This, kiddies, is the work of gifted professionals at the top of their game. A

2. JACK STAFF (IMAGE) 1 Speaking of gifted creators at the top of their game, here's Paul Grist with the big full-color first issue of his British super-hero Jack Staff. Longtime readers might be a bit surprised to see me rank this second, but I have my reasons...make no mistake, this is an excellent comic- but it's a getting acquainted type issue, which means that Grist felt the need to showcase almost all the principal players...and while it's cleverly done (when we first meet Becky Braddock- Vampire Reporter, for example, it's an almost scene-by-scene recreation of the first meeting of Jack and Becky from JS (Dancing Elephant) 1), it's not terribly exciting. Also, while the coloring is excellent I'm so accustomed to Grist's masterful B&W technique that it's going to take a while for me to get used to it. It's a bit episodic, true, but that's Grist's storytelling style. One doesn't get a lot of warning when he decides to change scenes. It may drive some up the wall, but I love it...keeps things from getting monotonous and sometimes the abrupt segues themselves are cleverly done. Finally, I'm more than a bit bugged that we saw Image issue #1 before we got Dancing Elephant issue #12, which means that there are all sorts of dangling plotlines that I'm dying to see resolved! Still, this is an overall outstanding book, and I'm hoping that those who are disinclined to try B&W comics will give this a chance now that it's in color. A

3. GRRL SCOUTS: WORK SUCKS 1 They're back, Jim Mahfood's drug dealing mercenary alternachicks and this reminiscent-of-old-underground-comics book is fun and well drawn in his pointy style. The Grrls are trying to adjust to life in the aftermath of the last miniseries, and it will be interesting to see what happens. A

4. THE TRUTH: RED, WHITE AND BLACK 4 Some may disagree, but I'm thinking that this is hitting its stride and is often gripping, despite the mostly indifferent Kyle Baker art. And heck, in this issue I get the distinct impression that he was actually trying on a couple of pages. A-

5. SLEEPER 2 Again, as in #1, it would help if I had a better knowledge of the Wildstorm mainstream universe...but taken at face value, this low-key exploration of the seamier side of said universe hits more often than it misses and this issue read a heck of a lot better than #1. The colorist in this issue doesn't do the otherwise excellent (as always) Sean Phillips any favors this time out...all the colors are muted, dingy, ugly mauves and greens and browns, and while I suppose it's intended to further illustrate the ugly goings-on depicted, it makes this story more of a slog than it should be. B+

6. SHANG-CHI, MASTER OF KUNG FU 6 This is the big grand finale of this retro spectacular, and it doesn't disappoint. It doesn't shock, surprise, or amaze, either...and it doesn't make me want to read it again anytime soon. B+

7. TOM STRONG 19 For a few minutes I thought I was reading mediocre sister book Terrific Tales again, since this issue had almost the same format. It's wonderful to see new Howard Chaykin interior art again, his first in ages, but it's saddled to a dumb story that didn't make a lot of sense on a lot of levels. There's also a not-bad, not-great second story which doesn't really amount to much one way or the other...this issue is redeemed at the end, though, by a clever, amusing third story excellently drawn by regular artist Chris Sprouse and inker Karl Story. B

8. Y: THE LAST MAN 8 No better or no worse than previous issues, this title has sort of settled into a bland complacency. It's not poorly done, and it's readable, but I'm losing interest fast, and I'm thinking that this will be my last issue. I really didn't buy Yorick's reaction at the end, either, especially considering the circumstances. B

9. HAWKMAN #12 I'm just not getting much of a pulse out of this increasingly dull superhero saga...even the normally reliable Rags Morales seems off this time out.This is where I get off. C