Saturday, November 29, 2003

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What I bought and what I thought, week of November 26!

The cover of this penultimate installment of the best comic you're probably not reading is very appropriate, and sums up this series quite nicely. Is Carver behind bars looking out, or is he outside looking in? Actually, it's both and I'll be darned if I can see how he's going to get out of the corner he's painted himself into, which is exactly what Brubaker wants. Can't wait to see what happens next month, when you'd think that we will get a resolution...but you can't be sure of even that. A

Part two of what is shaping up to be the best John Constantine story in quite some time in which Conjob and a parcel of rogue mystics prepare for the coming of a Big Bad, and things don't exctly go as planned. Excellent dialogue by Mike Carey, and nicely drawn with the fattest brushstrokes possible by Marcelo Frusin, who has eschewed the finesse of his earlier stint on this title for something a bit more earthy. For once, the murky hues of Lee Loughridge add to the feeling of oppression rather than fight with the art. I also want to see more of Nathan Arcane when this is finished. A

The emphasis this time out is more action and not as much talk as the Legion runs around trying to defend itself against powerful beings that resemble the JLA while trying figure out what we already know- said beings are engaged in the pursuit of reviving Darkseid. Nicely scripted by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, who figure if they keep things moving along at a lively pace, then the discerning reader won't take as much time to think about what's happening, and nicely drawn by Chris Batista, Lanning and Chip Wallace. Batista's work is slick enough to look streamlined and futuristic, but his figures have a nice expressiveness and organic-ivity (is that a word?) he draws crowded action panels as well as anybody these days, a good thing when your title has a cast as large as The Legion does. Great cover by the Harris/Feister team, as well, which almost makes up for their shortcomings on last week's Legion Secret Files 3003. B+

JLA 90
You see, early in Joe Kelly's run as writer on this book he had this neat little scene in which Batman and Wonder Woman sparred, while bantering the whole time in a teasing way which turned sexual in nature before it was over. Many readers, myself included, thought "Wow! Kelly's actually gonna hook up WW and Bats! What a great idea!". Of course, many other fans of both characters were equally as horrified that such a thing could ever happen. Kelly proceeded to expand and develop this relationship over the course of his tenure, but now it seems that since this tenure's at its end, he gives us this issue which resolves this "will they or won't they" subplot via a plot contrivance which damn near sinks the book but contains enough touching human moments to get it by for me, anyway. Fill-in artist Chris Cross makes me wanna jump,, seriously, is fair-to-middling and gets a big boost from regular inker Tom Nguyen. If Kelly's gotta go, I at least hope that Doug Mahnke and Nguyen stay on for a while. B

Anybody remember the scene in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure where Pee-Wee and the hobo sing "Jimmy Crack Corn" while they ride on the train? And how PW was having a blast at first, then the hobo kept singing, and singing, and singing and Pee-Wee couldn't stand it any more...? That's how I felt reading this, the latest chapter of this soulless, tedious, claustrophobic exercise which some choose to view as "old-school superheroics", but honestly- that does a disservice to those old-school epics that were actually worth reading. Still, I can't deny the craft that George Perez brings (hell, the cover should be made into a poster which will hide the holes in many a fanboy's wall for years to come), and will admit to getting a tiny kick out of seeing the Phantom Stranger and Gypsy make an appearance. C-

Well, here's the thing. I've never really had a problem with the poor man's Steranko stylings of Paul Gulacy, and actually even liked his 70's stint doing Master of Kung Fu. Unlike Steranko, though, Gulacy's never been particularly clever or inventive in his storytelling style, and there are times, to be frank, that his anatomy and perspective are really off. It was that way in his recent Master of Kung Fu comeback miniseries, and it's that way here. But that has nothing to do, really, with why I disliked this book so much. Gulacy does a fine job. He does! But the choice to utilize him as the new penciller is so wrongheaded, and it's so totally opposite of everything behind the relaunch of the Catwoman character, plus the script by Ed Brubaker is so routine and lifeless and so like a run-of-the-mill Batman script that all one can assume is that word must have come down from "on high" that since Catwoman isn't selling as well as the other Bat-titles, then it must be redone and rethought to resemble the other Bat-titles. Of course, that means that this is now totally devoid of anything that made this title so much fun to begin with, and I suppose all the fanboys who dug Selina's big tits and purple spandex look are rejoicing. Me, I'm bailing. I've had enough. D+

I also picked up issue 1 of The Walking Dead, and I'm kinda glad I read #2 first because as good as that issue was, it was nowhere near as horrifying or as cleverly scripted as this premiere issue, and I would have viewed #2 as a bit of a letdown in comparison. Funny bit: the first name of Mr. Jones' son. Sympathetic and somewhat moving moment: the plight of the zombie bicyclist. Grade: A. Also, my friend and fellow Stupid Llama Mik Cary loaned me the Sei: Death and Legend one shot that came out a couple of weeks ago, which had provoked my interest based on some previews I had seen. It's beautifully illustrated, but the dialogue comes across as juvenile in tone, and works against the art. By the time things get more serious, at the end, whatever profundity the author intends gets completely lost in the translation. Can't give it better than a C+.