Friday, April 25, 2003

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What I bought and what I thought, week of April 23!

Month in and month out, this has become a consistent #1 book on the strength of Brian Bendis' sharp, insightful scripting, always consistent in tone and always able to find room for little human touches like Matt & Foggy's humorous exchange on pages 17-19. Alex Maleev, fast becoming one of the best in the biz in my opinion, is able to amplify and highlight every nuance and little touches like the Kingpin's expression on page 6 add volumes to Bendis' words. I'm not sure what's been done with Typhoid Mary since her first 80s appearance and the 4 issue mini series from the 90s, so I'm a little uncertain what she brings to the table...the last page threw me for a minute. I'll tell you this, though, I'm looking forward to finding out. A

I wanted to list this #1, really I did, but Daredevil was so damn good again that I just couldn't. Not to take away from this, the delayed but worth the wait finale to the first of what I hope are many more published adventures of 50's Hawaiian private eye Byrd and his friends (and enemies). The resolution was a bit out of left field, but worked within the context of the story so that's fine. I hope we see more of creepy, but flamboyant druglord Bishop Masaki. Gotta give kudos to the excellent art of Steven Griffen, often very expressionistic in places and highly reminiscent, at least to me and especially on the first page, of some of the old Warren/EC artists like Angelo Torres, Johnny Craig and (again, on the first page) Jerry Grandenetti. A

High quality throughout, with humorous stories by Joe Casey, British comics stalwart Steve Parkhouse and previously unknown to me Eric Powell standing out. I would have liked the "Haunted Doily" story a lot more if it had had a more satisfying payoff. So far, so good! A-

All the usual ingedients– Carey script, art by Ormston, Kelly and Gross (with Ormston being prevalent, all the better as far as I'm concerned), high adventure, mythology, theology, and fantasy– are intact but do not explain why this issue is a bit of a letdown. It's been noted by other reviewers that this has the feel of a "in between significant events" story, and I agree. So while this may mean that it will read better as part of a collection, I can't be bothered with that since I still deal with these things issue by issue, and the only conclusion I can come to is that while this may be a weak issue, this book by these creators at less than their best is still superior to over three quarters of what else is out there. It'll be just fine, wait and see. A-

More urban paranoia from Warren Ellis this time around, with a somewhat less-than-fresh story being redeemed by strong characters and a welcome infusion of humor, which leavened the grisly turn it took. Fine art job by Blighty's answer to Bill Sienkiewicz, Simon Bisley, who really brings that humor out in his exaggerated, scratchy style. He especially shines in the last few pages, featuring the Mexican standoff between Chinese intelligence operative Lau Jia and the terrorist, which becomes more abstract and more intense as the events progress. Heck of a step up from the last issue, for sure. B+

I'll give Alan Moore credit: I began this not knowing, or wanting to know, who the heck Tom Stone was and getting very bored and impatient, not to mention annoyed because let's face it– I buy this book because I like the Tom STRONG character, and am a little weary of the endless variations on the central cast of this book that Moore seems to delight in constantly re-imagining in the process...but before it was over, I slowly became drawn in and fascinated at yet another alternate universe-type story, so I guess I can give this one a pass. The prissy art of Jerry Ordway helped enhance the epic feel of this opening chapter...but he's an artist whose work just doesn't excite me. He's obviously very good, a true craftsman, but most of the time I need more than just craft and chops. B+

It's always great to see new Peter Bagge work, but there's just a second-hand, stale feel to this, and while there's a funny line here and there it just didn't really work for me. It was fun, however, to see the excellent-in-his-own-way Stephen DeStefano ape Bagge's style in the second story. So while I'm less than impressed, I'll give it time to get better. B-