BEST OF THE WEEK
What I bought and what I thought, week of May 5
B.P.R.D.: PLAGUE OF FROGS 3
Sure, it's great that Mike Mignola rather than this writer or that is doing the scripting honors himself on this one, and this Lovecraftian adventure story is all the better for it...but the real star of this particular show is artist Guy Davis, who is doing some of the best work of his career here, or at least some of the best work I've ever seen him do, anyway. Love the depiction of Johann, the "Ghost in a Bag", after his containment suit gets shredded. Dave Stewart is doing a wonderful job on the colors, as well, giving us a vivid palette, even when he's depicting murkiness. Lee Loughridge could do worse than to get with Sewart and exchange trade secrets. The BPRD are hip deep in the middle of trouble involving the frog creatures we saw way back in the first Hellboy story, Seeds of Destruction, and despite the fact that you pretty much know they'll get out eventually, at least Mignola's managed to work up a decent amount of suspense in regards to how and at what cost. A
SWAMP THING 3
OK, in this issue Swampy encounters a relative of Abigail Arcane, who has been transformed by her evil uncle Anton into the grotesque, shambling Patchwork Man. Oh, wait. Wrong Swamp Thing 3. Sorry. I kid, but it is odd seeing these issues come out in a new restarted numbering. In this issue, we find out more about the plans of all the particulars, Tef?, Swampy, Sargon, and John Constantine, who has a nice Abbott and Costello thing going on with a reanimated corpse bearing Alec Holland's spirit. Andy Diggle is proving his tepid Lady Constantine miniseries an aberration, providing sharp dialogue, and Enrique Breccia once again gives us effective atmospherics and poor figure drawing. A-
SECRET WAR 1
My guilty pleasure purchase of the week is a diverting little piece of superheroic spystuff, featuring all the usual Bendis strong points: great dialogue, ironic humor, and a neat little idea at its center- where do all those super bad guys, who never seem to be able to pull off that one big score, get all those swell toys? Looks like Nick Fury wants to find out, and that's where this begins...but who the heck knows where it's gonna go? Between the atmospheric (but awfully dark and murky) painted art of the much-hyped Gabriele Dell'otto and the usual terse, dialogue-heavy Bendis scripting, this could pass for an issue of Daredevil, and if you (like me) like that sort of thing, you should check this out. Makes me wish for two things: one, that Bendis try his hand at writing a S.H.I.E.L.D. series someday, and tow, that they had titled this something else- the very name "Secret Wars" made me associate this with the ?ber-wretched 12-issue series back in the 80s...enough to make me want to pass. Fortunately, this has absolutely nothing to do with Beyonders. A-
SANDMAN PRESENTS: THESSALY, WITCH FOR HIRE 4
Kinda ends with a whimper instead of a bang, as Willingham chooses to give us the climactic event that the past three issues have been leading up to "off-screen" in favor of a would-be clever retribution scene...then ends the whole thing proper on a dismayingly ambiguous note, all the better to make you want to buy a sequel, my dear. Even so, I enjoyed this mini for the most part- I like the title character in spite of herself and Willingham certainly puts a lot of imagination into her exploits. But all tease and no money shot is not a good way to build reader goodwill. This issue: B+. Entire series: B.
TOM STRONG 26
No Alan Moore, no Chris Sprouse, except on the cover. Will the last person to leave ABC turn out the lights? Taken on its own terms, what we have here is a not-bad, not-especially-good script based on a clever idea by one Mark Schultz and solid Madrueira-inspired art from Pascual Ferry, and really, this issue isn't that terrible. But it's kinda like when Gary Cerrone took over the vocal chores for Van Halen, or Ronnie James Dio replaced Ozzy Osbourne. Those fellas were fine vocalists, but they weren't Dave (hell, or Sammy for that matter) or Ozzy, so the same buzz just isn't there. And it's with this that I bid a forlorn farewell to the printed adventures of Tom and his Strongmen of America- it was fun while it lasted. C+
Biggest disappointment this week: no Scurvy Dogs. No surprise, but a disappointment.