Friday, June 27, 2003

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What I bought and what I thought, week of June 25!

CATWOMAN 20 After the emotional sturm und drang of the last few issues, we get a lighter touch as Selina and Holly do a Thelma and Louise and hit the road for what seems to be shaping up as a guest-star-per issue run. This issue gives us Wildcat, who offers to help train Holly (a character Brubaker obviously has affection for) in self-defense, and brawls with some literal Thugs along with Selina. With lesser creators, this could become cliche and dull pretty fast– but with Brubaker and Cameron Stewart (who does a great job artwise) I don't think that's going to be the case. A

PLANETARY/BATMAN: NIGHT ON EARTH Some have greeted this with a shrug, but I thought it was a fine, imaginative and above all fun story. And of course, well drawn by John Cassaday, especially the various incarnations of the Batman. I also thought Warren Ellis' idea of a character who can serve as an axis around which dimensions revolve was a clever one. I especially got a kick out of the meeting between Jakita and the Adam West Batman–"Bat-apologies", indeed. It was great to see the Planetary crew back in action again, and rendered by the original as far as I'm concerned this is a winner. Guess I'm more easily entertained than some. A

LEGION 21 While this was an improvement over last issue's dream sequences, we still get illusions and red herrings, and I'm wondering exactly where Abnett & Lanning are going. But on the plus side we get more nice Chris Batista art, a vitally important team-up with two interesting characters previously unintroduced (to each other) as far as I can remember, the promise of two more previously AWOL characters next issue, and damned if the illusion sequences weren't exciting, too. B+

HELLBLAZER 185 Here's another one I just didn't quite connect with, although all things considered it's quite good. Perhaps it's because it's part two of an extended story arc, and while it's a well-done chapter of what I'm certain will be an outstanding story (this is Mike Carey we're talking about here) on its own it was interesting, but not a great story in itself. The resolution poses more questions than it answers. Another great art job by artist Marcelo Frusin, who in my opinion is one of the top three John Constantine artists, just behind Sean Phillips and Steve Dillon. Just a note: Frusin's line has gotten a lot fatter, and it takes a bit of getting used to on my part. B+

ASTRO CITY: LOCAL HEROES 3 This story of a big city teenager who has to go out and live with her relatives in the boonies (and encounters, apparently, the only rural superhero in the Astro City mythos) was strangely uninvolving somehow, but it was still crafted with enough care to make it worthwhile. Even artist Brent Anderson, whose sloppy pseudo-Neal Adams style just doesn't excite me much, does a fine job. Maybe if I lived in the city and not in a rural area, I would connect more strongly. Who knows. Nicer-than-usual Alex Ross cover, too. B

HELLBOY: WEIRD TALES 3 Outstanding lead story with creepy art by Alex Maleev. So-so, but fun, second story by Bob Fingerman. Cute pinup, then a convoluted and poorly drawn tale by Sarah Ryan and Steve Lieber, whose art didn't impress me much on Detective, either. Finally, a pretty good pinup by Wm. Stout and another odd chapter of Lobster Johnson round out this likeable but uneven anthology issue. But hey, anthologies tend to be that way. B

JLA 82 Not great but not terrible finale of Kelly's endeavor to flesh out his Faith character's background. After a poor beginning, I thought fill-in artists Duncan Rouleau and Aaron Sowd's work got much better. This had some acceptable dramatics and a somewhat surprising finale, but nothing really got resolved outside of the JLA's law trouble. Even more dismaying was the news that there will be another fill-in artist next month. B

INHUMANS V6 2 OK, let's see. Inhumans being chosen to live among humans for a time. I think that's been done at least once before, and this is not a particularly fresh or clever take on that premise. Oh, the thing is that they're teenagers this time. Well. That makes a lot of difference. The art team of Matthew Clark and (ooh! one name! how mysterious and cool) "Nelson" is capable but rarely rises above generic Adams-inspired superhero art. Why am I buying this? I'm not's residual good will from the Jenkins/Lee series of a few years ago, I suppose, plus I'm inclined to like the concept and characters of the Inhumans. That's the problem with limited series like this...I hate to bail on them in the middle. Knowing when they will end always dangles that "it might get better before it's done" carrot in front of my nose. C+

Also, I completely overlooked the new issue of Startling Stories: The Thing-Night Falls on Yancy Street Wednesday...hopefully there will be copies left for me to buy next week. I gave a long look to The Losers, the new Vertigo book by Andy Diggle and "Jock". First Kano, then Nelson, now Jock. This pretentious one-name stuff is annoying. I wasn't terribly impressed with Diggle's previous effort, the Lady Constantine limited series, and I didn't care for Jock's slovenly, underdrawn art very much either so I put it back. However, it's gotten a lot of good reviews, so maybe there's something there that's not obvious to me. I also remember that I passed on a lot of first issues of series I love now, including H-E-R-O, Jack Staff, and maybe I'll give it another once-over.