Friday, November 21, 2003

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What I bought and what I thought, week of November 19!

More angels vs. everybody else, including demigods and even a mortal woman in the finale of the current story arc. Oh yeah, and the title character, too. It must be difficult to make such an amoral, self-absorbed and solipsistic character so interesting and even sympathetic, but month after month Mike Carey pulls it off. Lucifer isn't a very reader friendly narrative, but for those of us who got an early start, it's a pleasure to read the paces he puts his cast through. The art by Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly is as servicable as always. A

In which a superstar baseball player unexpectedly commits suicide after hitting a game winning homer, and the owner of the team hires Chris Chance to impersonate a teammate and find out why. Can our hero hit a major league curve ball well enough to carry off his deception? Stay tuned... Actually, I feel somewhat more qualified than usual to critique this because I follow sports pretty closely, and often comic book (or prose novel, for that matter) attempts to depict the world of big time athletics fail miserably because the writers don't understand the nuances and vocabulary, and the artists don't want to take the time to draw things properly, resulting in generic, clumsy looking ballplayers- and said creators figure that the readers won't know the difference or care. But I am the exception to that line of reasoning, and I am pleased to report that Pete Milligan gets almost everything right, to his credit, except for one major plot point: A veteran ballplayer, who's not exactly fresh off the boat from Cuba (and in the narration Ruben Valdez says that "every year" he's the "New Yorkers' MVP"), would have an agent savvy enough to advise him about how to deal with a steroids rap, assuming he didn't know how himself. These days, players stonewall a la Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, the player's union stonewalls, and little gets done except perhaps a shortish suspension and fine...then the player writes a book after he retires and cleans up, so to speak, even more. It stretches credibility a bit that any modern major league baseball player, fictional or not, would think that suicide was the only way out of this particular situation. I know, I's more dramatic that way. But it's a glaring mistake. Fortunately, ol' reliable Javier Pulido does an acceptable job drawing MLB uniforms, though he's saddled with having to try to draw a Yankees-ish uni instead of the real thing. His action and dialogue scenes are first-rate as always. No home run this time out, but a two-out, bases clearing triple. A-

Pretty much status quo: a humorous in places, atmospheric and creepy in others Maggie story by Jaime, excellently paced and drawn, and three more chapters, in varying lengths, of 'Beto's ongoing serials: "the High Soft Lisp", in which we witness big breasted, lisping heroine Fritz in three more dysfunctional relationships; "Julio's Day", an odd throwaway; and "Me For the Unknown", a collaboration with other brother Mario which to me was the best of the three, actually working up a little dramatic tension. Myself, I wish the ratio was reversed, but what can ya do? A-

Our no-nonsense cowgirl hero forms an unlikely alliance, and gets mixed up in some sort of slavery/porn ring and a senator's runaway niece...and of course there's bound to be more than meets the eye. Not exactly the freshest plot in the world, but Jen Van Meter pulls it off well enough. I suppose I've gotten used to the subpar art, which is Risso lite and often reminds me of the early efforts of Mike Mignola. B+

Here's a rarity: a Secret Files that is actually relevant to the title it's profiling. In some ways a continuation of Legion 26, for the most part it's a fairly routine "Legion through the eyes of a news reporter" story, the bulk of which is capably drawn by Leonard Kirk and Elayne Riggs' better half but is also interspersed with occasional pages and one-panel character profiles by regular cover artists Tony Harris and Tom Feister, done in such a grotesquely cartoonish fashion that they almost sink the whole project. I loved Harris' work on Starman, of course, and the duo's covers have been top notch so far...but the facial expressions and gestures on pgs. 7-8 and 29-30 are just awful. B

...and boy does it stink. I didn't sign up for this when the pre-order was solicited, and I didn't remember why so I plunked down my three bucks. Hey, it's the BPRD! But after I finished it, I think I must have had a psychic flash or something because this is really bad. Silly, far-fetched (even for a Hellboy-related tale) script by one Joe Harris, with whom I'm unfamiliar and based on this will probably never get familiar, and poorly drawn in a sketchy hodgepodge of styles by Adam Pollina, whose reach apparently exceeds his grasp. I was one of the two or three people who bought the first couple of issues of his cartoon-style, but weepy and boring masked wrestler opus Big Daddy Danger, and I applaud him for at least trying to be diverse, but unfortunately he's just not successful at either. When future list makers sit down and try to name the best of the Hellboy spinoffs for posterity, I think it's safe to say that this won't be one of them. C

Pretty pictures. And it's got Wolverine in it, too! Yawn. C-