Thursday, March 13, 2003

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Time now for
What I bought and what I thought, week of March 12

1. BATGIRL YEAR 1 4 In which young Barbara is given an audition of sorts by the head Bat himself, with somewhat unexpected and charming results. I've been buying a lot of Bat-books over the last few years, and I think this is one of the best I've ever read...and that includes many of the fine Rucka/Martinbrough Detective Comics stories. Special kudos to the artists, Marcos Martín and Alvaro Lopez, for their superlative renditions of Batman and Batgirl. A

2. H-E-R-O 2 Sockamagee! By smartly approaching this from a character-driven, rather than plot or gimmick-driven angle, Will Pfiefer gives us a interesting new take on this hoary old DC staple. I'm really liking the art of this Kano fellow, which looks something like Duncan Fregredo mixed with John Paul Leon, with a dash of Will Eisner to add spice. I don't know why I didn't pick up #1– just overlooked it I suppose, and now it's probably too late unless I'm willing to pay out the ass, but I do know this-I'm on board now until the inevitable cancellation, which I figure to be around issue 9. A

3. GOTHAM CENTRAL 5 Hugely satisfying finale to Ed Brubaker's run, with all the plot threads tied up nicely and many things which didn't read right to me at the beginning getting clarified. Again, well drawn by Michael Lark, who seems to be growing into this sloppy style he's adopted. Rucka's got a hard act to follow! A

4. ULTIMATES 9 I don't read the Ultimate-bashing message board threads anymore, but I can imagine that the haters are still out in force and they won't be placated by this issue. On the one hand, you've got Cap acting like a sanctimonious prig at the outset, only to get shot down and embarrassed by the Wasp at the end. I liked the latter and hated the former– But you know, that's OK. These aren't your father's Marvel Super Heroes (or the ones from my youth, for that matter!), and these events are perfectly logical and consistent with what's been laid down before in this title. It's all about context. I suppose Giant-Man had it coming, and it pains me as a longtime fan of the character of my childhood to see this. But as it was from day one, the characters are diverse, multi-dimensional, and come across as real like 'em or no and I will always appreciate that approach. What I don't like is feeling that I have to justify my support of this book every time I review an issue! The art? The art is, as usual, great. A

5. FABLES 11 In which Bill Willingham cobbles a story out of old Civil War, hillbilly, and plantation legends, and pretty much gets away with it, although he needs to work on writing out southern dialect, fake or not. I've never been a fan of Bryan Talbot's stiff and mannered art, and nothing I see here changes that. B+

6. THE FILTH 9 I think next time Grant Morrison decides to do a "getting the reader up to speed" issue, he would be better served by having much of the exposition voiced by a character that doesn't speak in such a deep Scottish brogue. 'Twas damn near unreadable, it was. Weston and Erskine did a nice job, especially on the more hallucinatory aspects of the script. That's got to be a hell of a task, illustrating Morrison's wacked out ideas... B+

7. HELLBLAZER SPECIAL: LADY CONSTANTINE 4 Take a character with zero charisma, put her in a story that's not terrible in itself but seems stitched together from all sorts of sources, illustrate it in a pedestrian manner, and this is what you end up with. I had a feeling I wouldn't like this very much when it first came out, and I wasn't wrong. I've got to learn to pay attention to my instincts more. C+

8. JSA 46 This series seemed to be on the upswing a month or two ago, but that momentum is gone and I will be soon as well. Dumb, dull, cliche-ridden script that features way too much expository dialogue and has characters constantly referring to themselves by their names (a pet peeve of mine) along with busier than usual and sloppily inked art. The only reason I'm hanging around is to see the return of a longtime favorite character, Eclipso (although I don't think I'm gonna be too happy at the way he's written-call it a hunch)...then I'm outta here like Vladimir, but not before they soak me for a double-size #50, I'll bet! C

9. KILLRAVEN 6 That I ranked this below JSA should give you an idea about what I thought of it. On its own terms, this was a well drawn, poorly scripted Mad Max knockoff that existed merely as a bargaining chip for Alan Davis to get more scripting work as well as art assignments. Problem is for me, this isn't like some obscure Marvel character I never cared about, this is a concept, character and series that meant a lot to me growing up and so I'm inclined to judge it unfairly. I probably shouldn't have bought it in the first place...but like I said in one of the first reviews I wrote of this series, KR was a friend of mine, and I felt like I needed to be there for him through good times and bad. C-