Friday, September 12, 2003

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What I bought and what I thought, week of September 10

I was somewhat disappointed in this after my first's methodical and workmanlike and far from the cathartic finale which one would expect from such a epic-in-scope tale. What redeems this for me is the deepening Moore's done to the Mr. Hyde character, transforming him from a sarcastic, brutish engine of destruction to a more sympathetic sarcastic, brutish engine of destruction by insinuating that the Jekyll side of him has perhaps reasserted itself a bit. Turnabout's fair play, I suppose. Another triumph for Mr. Moore and his collaborator Kevin O'Neill, and if the sequel didn't hit many of the high notes its predecessor did, at least it hit some other, equally nice ones. A

Enjoyable catch-your-breath issue which focuses on the quirky, cute girl whose job it is to turn on the Bat-signal. The idea that someone not affiliated with the GCPD has to turn on the signal for legal reasons is smart and nicely done, and this is pretty well drawn by fill-in guy Brian Hurtt, who's no Michael Lark but will do in a pinch. Don't get me started about the coloring. A-

JLA 86
Combine Joe Kelly's sharpest scripting in quite some time with typically great art by Mahnke and Nguyen, and you get one of the most enjoyable mainstream spandex books I've read in a long time. Kelly's set up a credible menace- a little over-familiar perhaps (Martians again? Sigh.), but he's taken pains to make sure it's different enough to be interesting. Unless Joe totally botches the ending, he's come up with a real winner this time out, and hopefully his detractors will lay off for a little while. A-

JSA 52
Another inbetween-er type issue, in which we get several character-interaction interludes and setups for forthcoming storylines...and thankfully no fighting until the very end, when we get re-introduced to Johns' revamped Crimson Avenger, who's interesting enough, I suppose. This title's always been best when it's doing character stuff, and minimizing the grand cosmic throwdowns. Well, to me, anyway. A-

If Buckingham and Leialoha had taken pains to make sure that their figures' facial expressions matched the goings on they depict, then this would have been a lot better...but as it is, this is pretty darn good. Some plotlines get resolved, some are launched, and so it goes. Clever and involving, but as always I wish the art was better. A-

H-E-R-O 8
A bit slight- but this storyline, featuring a crew of Jackass-style video makers who use the Hero dial to create superheroes who they then film doing dangerous stunts, is fun enough and the art reminds me a lot of the Mahnke/Nguyen team. B+

1602 2
I'm trying real hard to appreciate this, really I am, but I'm having a hard time because this glorified What If? is not only more of the same old Marvel self-mythologizing, but Neil Gaiman is being as pretentious as only he can be in writing it. Neil, when you had the Endless and all those mythological characters spouting this florid dialogue, it worked because they were, well, mythological characters and archetypes. We come to expect it and it sounds natural. When you do it here it fails miserably because these are simply reimagined Marvel comic book superheroes, hardly myths despite what Stan and Joe Q want us to believe. Andy Kubert is trying real hard to draw real purty-like, but it's just beyond his capabilities. It's blurry, not especially well staged, and reminds me in places of John Buscema at his Weirdworld-era worst. C