Friday, April 11, 2003

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Time now for
What I bought and what I thought, week of April 9

For me, it's getting harder every week to pick a clear cut 1 through 3. Maybe I need to start buying more crappy comics.


1. JACK STAFF (Image) 2
Sure, Paul Grist is taking a little time developing his characters, and the abrupt time shifts he uses can be jarring, but nobody else can (or is willing to) take the chances he does, both script and art-wise. And maybe it's because my longtime comics-reading eyes have gotten jaded to the comics status quo these days, and unusual stuff stands out to me like a diamond in a trash heap, but I always get a charge out of the little things Grist does in the course of a story such as the two-page scene in which we join the adult Becky Braddock with the voice-over narration dominating the panels, or the neat idea of having Becky witness Jack's first battle with the Hurricane as a young girl twenty years earlier. I'm still adjusting to the color after two years of reading B&W Grist art, but that's not really a problem. Unless he completely sells out and becomes conventional (which I can't see him doing even if he tries), I'll always grade his work with an A.

Not as much about Barbara this time as about two of Batman's less stellar adversaries, this was still a fun and well written spotlight for Killer Moth (who must be a old favorite of Chuck Dixon- he used KM in the Robin: Year One mini as well) and the Firefly, for once as interesting as in his B:TAS appearances. The art is "cartoony", true, but it's also graceful and expressive and skillfully done and I think it's magnificent. The cover, especially, was beautiful. I almost ranked it first just so I could put it at the top of the column! A

This one squeaks by for third place over Evil Eye 10 by virtue of its clever twist on all those old Lois Lane-tries-to-expose-Clark-as-Superman stories of yore . Even Brent Anderson, whose sloppy pseudo-Neal Adams stylings usually bore me, has some nice moments. I wish Busiek would try this hard when he writes other stuff; I'd buy more of his books if he did. A

4. EVIL EYE 10
It's been a while since the last issue of Richard Sala's outlet for his quirky imagination, and for the most part this is worth the wait. We get a more engaging than usual episode of the somewhat meandering lead feature, "Reflections in a Glass Scorpion", and the Peculia backup is, as usual, the funny highlight of the book. Somebody remarked that this comic comes across as Nancy Drew done by Charles Addams, and while I think Edward Gorey is more like it, I agree and wish I'd thought to say it first! A-

5. FABLES 12
Another clever installment of Willingham's fractured fairy tales. I thought the notion of the principles dealing with a mortal who thinks he's discovered their secret was a great idea, and I'm eager to see how it's resolved. The art was a little stiff, but I think that's just a by-product of Craig Hamilton's inking style...he tends to make pencillers' work look like it's been covered in lacquer. A-

It's becoming apparent to me that this book will come to life only when Ed Brubaker's writing it. Still, this isn't too bad until we get to the eye-rolling "terrible secret" of Det. Montoya. Oh, the horror! Some may not like Michael Lark's art, but personally I think he's as good as it gets, new inking style notwithstanding. B+

Honorable mentions this week were H-E-R-O 1 and the second collection of Paul Grist's pre-Jack Staff police story KANE, titled RABBIT HUNT. I'll spare you the "Grist is a Genius" spiel this time, but it was a hell of a read and a razor-sharp Frank Miller satire for about half the duration of the five issues represented. I'm looking forward to getting the next two trades, when I can scare them up. H-E-R-O 1 cost me too damn much (had to get it on eBay, y'know) which tempered my enjoyment a bit, but it was still a fine first issue of what is looking like the best new book to come from DC in a while. If only I had picked it up two months ago...