Saturday, January 10, 2004

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What I bought and what I thought, week of January 7!

Another light week for me.

The main buzz on this title so far has been about the back-feature- about a waifish but not-as-innocent-as-she-seems young lady named Peculia and the odd and frequently dangerous world she inhabits. She even got a trade collection a few months ago. The lead, a typically Sala-ish rambling and gnarly gothic murder mystery titled "Reflections in a Glass Scorpion", starring his skewed and shrewish Nancy Drew homage Judy Drood, has not been quite as engaging as its support feature- but that changes this time out, because after finding nothing but conundrums wrapped in enigmas for 10 issues, suddenly we get a lot of puzzle pieces all at once, plus a nifty cliffhanger to boot. None of this is especially reader-friendly, so the curious would be advised to, as they say, "wait for the trade". But for those of us who've been there since issue one, the penultimate chapter was worth the wait. The Peculia feature this time out is fine, too, but is less a story and more of a collection of single page illustrations, excellent as always. Richard Sala's an acquired taste, for sure, but thankfully I acquired it long ago. A

Actually, this should be titled (as far as I'm concerned) "My Faith in Mike Carey", because whether or not I really enjoy this light fantasy/comedy/romance book will depend on how skillfully he can handle this sort of story, which (to my knowledge) he's never tried before- other than a couple of instances in Lucifer. So far, so good as he sets up the main characters and manages to make them all likeable...and if it's more than a little reminiscent of the likes of Keith Giffen's Vext, or the film Drop Dead Fred, well, it's early and I have no doubt that Carey will take this in some interesting directions before he's done, like he has so far in Lucifer and John Constantine: Hellblazer. The art, by someone named Sonny Liew (who I'm completely unfamiliar with) and cover artist/interior inker Marc Hempel (whose story-form work I love) is sprightly and energetic and suits the mood perfectly. I doubt that this humble book is going to take the comics world by storm, but it's one that will come to be highly regarded by those who are inclined to seek this sort of thing out. A-

My curiosity got the better of me, and I broke down and signed up for the trade, which collects the first six issues, and picked this up, mostly because I thought it might be a good jumping-on point, plus it had art by Shawn Martinbrough, whose stints on The Creeper and Detective Comics were outstanding. So did I like it? Well, yeah, pretty much- it was basically a "getting acquainted" type issue, except that since the leads had already been introduced we were just privy to how they spent the aftermath of the presumed big mission in #'s 1-6. It's all like a lot of Alias or 24-type TV shows and movies that have been popular lately- lots of double dealing, edginess and grimness throughout (except at the beginning, a nutty scene which I guess, again, would make more sense if I'd read the other issues). Regardless, the characterization is interesting, and I really like the East Indian "Loser" depicted on the cover, but until I read the trade I suppose the jury will be out. B+