Saturday, October 18, 2003

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From all of me to all of you...COMICS REVIEWS!
What I bought and what I thought, week of August 13

Taut, gripping GCPD-vs.-unidentified-sniper story with outstanding Brubakerian use of the largish cast, especially Josie Mac, who is really beginnning to grow on me (I should go back and read her backup feature in those Detectives from a couple of years ago) and that fellow who runs around at night with the bat cowl on. Michael Lark's newer, looser style, which really shines in a couple of places (especially in the cliffhanger ending) is beginning to remind me of John Paul Leon, or Tony DeZuniga. Or maybe Leon inked by DeZuniga. Whatever. If Ed doesn't botch the ending, never a given, this is gonna be a real good one. And I didn't forget to pretend that there was snow falling while reading! A

Excellent until the copout ending, this finale to last issue's tale of an accountant who used the events of 9/11 as a way to escape from his crooked bosses still shows that Pete Milligan has more than one note to play when it comes to the title character. Javier Pulido also does another excellent job on art- his style may be simple, but his composition and pacing are second to none. You've gotta be good (like Pulido and Mike Lark) to shine over Lee Loughridge's colors. A

Part two of "Brothers in Arms", (God I hope Carey didn't intentionally swipe that from Dire Straits) in which a couple of Titans (not from Tennessee) with a lot more ambition than brains cause a lot more trouble for the title character and his cast, which includes the former hatcheck girl at Lucifer's piano bar...and I have no idea what's going on with her. The ending says one thing, but earlier events in the story suggest otherwise. Typically solid Mike Carey scripting, doing wondrous things with the various characters that's he's inherited and extrapolated from Neil Gaiman's long-ago blueprint. Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly sometimes seem to be aping the style of alternate artist Dean Ormston, and the result is sometimes a bit distracting. A-

JSA 53
Well, kiddies, here's my guilty pleasure book for the time being. Oddly enough, I was on the verge of dropping this a couple of months ago, after two bloated, convoluted, far-fetched and tedious multi-dimensional, time-spanning, spandex-laden slugfest epics, but for the time being anyway we're back to what attracted me to this book in the first place: the quiet stuff, favoring character interaction over all that other junk. I like the mix between the older characters and the newer ones that have sprung up in their place, and three pages of exchanges between Power Girl and Wildcat or Alan Scott and Jesse Quick are a hundred times more fascinating to me, in this setting, than a dozen issues of what we've had previously. We also get some extended face time with this new Crimson Avenger character that someone at DC really wants us to like- she's OK, but nothing special, and I found myself wishing the Spectre would show up and give her a beatdown- and more glimpses of the beginning of what may turn out to be another bloated, convoluted, far-fetched and tedious multi-dimensional, time-spanning, spandex-laden slugfest epic. Guilty pleasures, like I said. B+

Most of this reads like a Mad magazine-type parody of Lord of the Rings, but it's entertaining enough, with lotsa cutesy easter-eggs courtesy of artist Zander Cannon. Favorite cameo: Jonny Quest in the line to get permission to go on a...well, quest, and Stewie from Family Guy holding Maggie Simpson hostage in an alley. Favorite joke this issue: Toybox: "Jeff, you have to. Maybe it would be like, y'know, closure. Smax: "I don't need closure. You know what needs closure? Your mouth needs closure". Ba-da-bump...ching!Thankewverymuch! You've been a great audience! Don't forget to tip your bartender! B+

As is the nature of most anthologies, again a mixed bag, albeit better than last month's mixed bag. Great lead story by J.H. (Promethea) Williams and one Haden Blackman, which deals with the underdeveloped notion of Hellboy's sexuality and charisma. Mignola's always downplayed it in the past, but you just know that HB could be a chick magnet if he wanted to be. Next up is a typically well drawn C. Scott Morse tale about an encounter with a mysterious old man who hums jazz and bathes in an icy stream. I love Morse's art a lot, but this one has a ending that doesn't make a lot of sense. Third up is a better-than-you'd-think Jim Starlin-illo'd and Ron Marz-scripted story which is nothing earth-shatteringly different; the chief pleasure is in seeing Jim Starlin draw Hellboy, and he does a pretty darn good job, the best I've seen from him on anything in a good long while. A nifty Cam Stewart pinup is next, then another chapter in John Cassaday's retro, and somewhat pointless Lobster Johnson story. Where's Sammy Clay when you need him? B+

I was so underwhelmed by the Loeb/Sale team's previous go at revisionist history, Spider-Man: Blue, that I was gonna pass on this...but there was something about the cover graphics and interior art that made me decide to give it a go...and I'm not sorry I did, despite some dodgy character moments. Sale apes Jack Kirby as slavishly as he did Ditko and Romita Sr. in Blue, and this time the result comes across as clever, rather than falling short of the mark. A little overpriced, but not bad. Not all that good either. B

The first issue of David Mack's superhero story slash art lesson, with a healthy dollop of Native American studies to boot was exciting. Issue number two was as well illustrated as number one, but too much space was devoted to what we already knew about Mack's creation Echo and not enough space was devoted to advancing the story. We get more story advancement here as well, but the busy, painterly affectations of the artist have begun to distract more than delight, and that's not good. Nice to look at, and God knows I wish I could do it, but it's kinda like drinking tequila. A shot or two is fine, but if you try to drink a whole bottle you're gonna regret it. Mr. Mack, you've made your point. You're an excellent artist. Now will you please get on with it and wrap this up now? C+