Monday, October 06, 2003

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At long last...COMICS REVIEWS!
What I bought and what I thought, week of October 1

Another tight chapter in the ever-increasingly bleak saga of Holden Carver, as another of his hopes for "coming in from the cold" goes up in smoke, literally. I dont really have one particular reason for naming this best of the week, other than the fact that it was once again the most solidly written and drawn book I bought. Brubaker and Phillips effectively convey and sustain the mood of desperation that the title character feels, as well as the feeling of a labyrinthian tangle of events slowly but surely building to what will be, I'm sure, a doozy of a finale. A

The bwah-ha-ha is back as the poor man's League gets out of the pickle it was in last issue, in typical ludicrous fashion- which is what the dodgy concept of Roulette and her House deserves. Here's my weekly snarky comment on colorist Lee Loughridge: he actually did a pretty good job this time out, in spite of his jaundiced color palette. A-

The Six (or actually, Five) bust out, and one of them shows his true colors in an effective, and surprising, scene. Hairsine & Miki's Hitch impersonation is better this time out than last, and the Bendis dialogue is typically good. While I wish I knew what had been going on in Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man (This is the Green Goblin?), it doesn't hamper me too much. So far, so good. A-

In which we find Christian Walker in a Thirties milieu, with an Einstein cameo no less, and we wind up with a gory finale. From the very beginning, one of the biggest questions I had was exactly what Walker's problem was with his lost abilities, and we're slowly but surely getting an answer on that score...and I'm hoping it will tie in with the "present" of the book in smashing fashion- and I think it will because, y'know, that Bendis fella is a pretty good writer...and that Oeming guy is a damn fine artist. A-

Again, a pretty good script (which would have made a snazzy Nickelodeon special, but then again I probably wouldn't have watched it there) and outstanding art by Christine Norrie and Jason Bone, nestled snugly inside another kick ass Darwyn Cooke cover. Yes, I'm buying this for the art. So what? One bad omen, though- I see where someone with the last name "Krall", and I'm assuming this isn't the jazz singer, is listed in the credits for next issue and Bone's name is nowhere to be found. B+

Courtroom drama (with a dash of The Sopranos) this time in the Astro City world, involving a nerdy lawyer (who may be more than he seems) who comes up with an unprecidented defense for his obviously guilty client, and runs afoul of the Mob in the process. Involving, if somewhat secondhand. B+

What started out so promisingly devolved into a convoluted mess, which at least manages to get a somewhat satisfying resolution here. Perhaps writer Dan Slott got a little ambitious and bit off a bit more than he could chew, perhaps there was editorial interference and changes which always results in disorder, perhaps he's got a lot to learn about comics writing... who can say? Anyway, the upshot is that he took the most compelling character and made him into yet another Arkham freak, which will only be seen whenever we have those ever-present Arkham mass jailbreak scenes in future issues of Bat-family books...and at the beginning it seemed like he had more possibilities than that. I really don't understand why he didn't bleed like a stuck pig after his treatment at the hands of Jane Doe, either. Perhaps that blame, and some of the blame for the incoherence as well, can be laid at the feet of Ryan Sook and his inkers. Sook is a solid illustrator, but the artists' job is often to help make the vague and indistinct clearer and he failed miserably on this count. The Demon cameo in this ish was OK, even though he didn't do very much...I think it's time to declare a retcon on the Alan Moore-created "rhyming demon" shtick- it's rare when a writer, any writer, not just Slott, doesn't fall into the trap of crafting lazy, off-meter, contrived prose for Etrigan to spout. You folks can do what you like, but if you've been thinking about picking this up when it's collected, remember I said don't bother. This issue: C+. Entire series: C.

And, one from days gone by:

TEEN TITANS (1968) 17
Well, I wish I could tell you that this was a groove, man...but it really wasn't. It's a very episodic tale of the Mad Mod (his second appearance, and the last for a long time, "Mod" having already become passe by 1968), who has his evil eyes set on stealing the Queen's jeweled sceptre, which he does at a command performance to which the Titans have been invited. He steals the sceptre right under everyone's noses at the very beginning, in the most clever scene in the book, and the Titans pursue. Unbeknownst to the foursome, the Mod had rigged their costumes to inhibit their powers (don't you just love that DC science back then?)...and gets an unexpected boost when Robin gets himself locked in a dungeon in the Tower of London and misses the proceedings entirely! The Mod, helpfully (and stupidly) gives the Titans a clue to where the sceptre is hidden every time they manage to find it, and after the requisite underwater scene (for Aqualad, of course, but at least it features the Loch Ness monster...) they catch him for good in his boutique, "The Ungrotty Grotto". The Batman TV-show inspired, contrived, full-of-lame "with it" dialogue-laden script by the redoubtable Bob Haney (who wrote about a hundred million issues of Brave & Bold, which I collected for a very long time) may have been kinda fun in '68 but is very quaint by modern standards. Nick Cardy's art is mostly very good (especially in the opening scenes), if a little rushed-looking, but one gets the idea he was just on the cusp of busting loose with more inspired stuff soon- and in fact two issues later he delivered the excellent Christmas Carol-inspired Titans Christmas story, as well as some of his best Aquaman stuff and of course, Bat Lash. They just don't make 'em like this anymore, thank goodness. C+