Saturday, June 12, 2004


What I bought and what I thought, week of June 9

Meirda santa! Maybe you can resist such cheerful, straightfaced nonsense, but I know I sure can't. My biggest concern about this issue was if it would be able to achieve the same goofy tone as issue 1, and I'll be damned if they didn't go out and top it. Highlights include the somewhat dim and definitely Angel-whipped ninjas (who should be pissed that pirates and monkeys seem to be hogging all the attention these days), the seedy Australian Buzz Lightyear type, sexy fishnets on the Incan deity's secretary, a Surgeon General's warning for young impressionable readers, Spanish conquistadors and virgins (always useful) I am often slack-jawed in amazement. I'm sometimes slack-jawed anyway, but that's neither here nor there. I want an Inti, the Sun God bobble-head doll right now. He's too cool for school. I also wish for a crossover with the Scurvy Dogs...but that might cause my brain to explode so best leave well enough alone. A

100 BULLETS 50
The prodigal title returneth with the usual tough-talking barflies, gun battles, and Machiavellian machinations that Azz and Rizz are known for, except this time a lot more of it. We also get some welcome light shed on the Trust and its history, which apparently goes waaay back a lot farther than I imagined. Picking up like they left off when they went to play with Batman, another good-sized piece of a far-from-complete puzzle. A

Not much happens this time out, characterization-wise, but as if to make up for that shortcoming we get a surfeit of battlefield goings on, as the beleaguered residents of Fabletown fight for their lives against the wooden soldiers of the Adversary. One surprise death (at least as far as these characters can "die") that I didn't see coming, some amusing confrontations during the melee, and a great re-appearance of a missing fable at the end add up to another satisfying chapter of a tale that I think will read better collected. A-

Another bigger-than-usual issue, squarebound no less, for no apparent reason than the Bros. were feeling their creative oats this time. We get more "Julio's Day", continuing Beto's preoccupation with poor Mexican dirt farmers; the conclusion of the somewhat convoluted "Me For The Unknown", a great one-shot "Roy and His Pals", which sends up superheroics in fine, absurd fashion and proves that the Street Angel guys and Grant Morrison have nothing on Gilbert when it comes to surreal absurdity;, and a fun feature in which we "catch up" with many of Beto's characters from years past. Jaime is represented by one story only, but it's a doozy- A long Maggie tale in which she deals with Izzy's house burning down and some occult-loving geeks that think she has some sort of special powers since she was her friend, then eventually becomes a manic flashback sequence, then ends up at Mag's apartment building. Lots of evocative images, and you're never really sure what's real and what isn't- and that is both a strength and a bit of weakness. I understand Jaime's storytelling quirks somewhat after having read them for almost 20 years, so I'm not especially annoyed, but I would kinda like to know for sure what is actually going on here. Maybe we'll find out more eventually. Also of note is a three-page feature in which Jaime, Gilbert and Mario list their favorite comics, trés mucho fascinating. I also bump this up a notch for Gilbert's right-on-the-money assessment of the 70s career of David Bowie in a four-panel throwaway strip, in which he also gets even more on my good side by giving Marc Bolan props for pioneering glam. Right effing on, Gilbert. A-

An impulse purchase on Thursday, when I went back in to check on a couple of MIA books from Wednesday. You probably already know the Big Significant Plot-Driving Event behind this, and I won't mention who dies in case you haven't. Part of me deplores that it was considered necessary to kill this particular character, who was one of the more pleasant stories in the DCU, but I can't think of a single character with a low profile whose death would be more affecting and regrettable. So if that's what writer Brad Metzger was aiming for, then he succeeded in spades. The funeral scenes were, frankly, quite touching, in no small part because I grew up with those characters (the victim and his/her significant other) in the 60s and 70s and kinda liked them. So mission accomplished, he now has my attention. I'm not especially familar with Metzger's previous work- I've didn't read his Green Arrow, nor have I sampled his prose work. I will say that he does a nice job with the relationships and dialogue here, and while I will confess to wondering exactly what the point of the street-level events of the stakeout which eventually proved to be a distraction was, and if there will be repercussions to the shooting of second-string super villain Bolt, I'm willing to go along for now. The art is first-rate- few are better at depicting action and extreme emotions better than Rags Morales, even when he's under the tight-assed line of Michael Bair. So far, pretty darn good for one of those Big Summer Event series. B+

The exceptional art of Gene Ha gets this, the final chapter of Warren Ellis' extended TV series proposal, over. That's usually the case- the scripts Warren has given us for this series are fairly rote and formulaic- only one or two issues have deviated from the "menace is discovered, Miranda Zero barks at Aleph, Aleph barks at a bunch of people we've never met before, said people deal with menace quickly and efficiently" format...and when the artist is on, as with Chris Sprouse a while back or Jason Pearson last issue in one of the more atypical storylines, the events are much more interesting. If not, then the routineness becomes grating. Fortunately, I tend to like this sort of thing, but for others, your mileage may vary. Good luck with the TV series. A- Entire series: B+

H-E-R-O 17
Unlike Tegan, this concept works best for me when there's some sort of connecting thread. I was frankly getting bored until Pfiefer finally whipped out Robby Reed and brought back the most interesting, or just most likeable, recent owner of the H-dial yet and gave them something to do. We've got a plausible "is-he-or-isn't-he nuts" thing going on, and while Robby appears on the level, we are given just enough to have our doubts about his motives. For the first time, we have a motivation and a purpose instead of aimless vignettes. And new artist Dale Eaglesham does a very nice, painstaking job on the art- I'm enjoying his style more and more as the series progresses. We may be back to "owner-and-power-of-the-month" before long, but for now I'm finally digging this series again. A-

Another impulse buy, and 150% more wisely compiled than the baffling Golden Age sampler we got a few moths ago. I'm always up for a Fox/Sekowsky Justice League story, and it's been a hell of a long time since I read this one, in which Green Arrow joins the club. The script is episodic and stiff, but always extremely imaginative, and I never get tired of Mike Sekowsky's solid and dynamic, if oddly proportioned, art. The second feature has never been among my favorites, since I've never really been a fan of the early 60s Curt Swan and Wayne Boring-era Superbooks. They always struck me as quaint, stiff and dull, and the first appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes, as historic as it may or may not be, is no exception. *I'm sure this read better when I was 4 or 5 than it does now. Finally, we get the first ever appearance of DC's long-running soldier boy, Sgt. Rock- here called "Sgt. Rocky", and it's a corker. Primo Ross Andru and Mike Esposito art (has there ever been a more sympatico penciller-inker team?), and a typically breathless Bob Haney script which reads more like a folk tale than a comic book war story. First-rate. A-

Y'know, I'm just not caught up in this despite a typically gnarly plotline, a diverse enough cast and dialogue with the requisite snark (and the occasional chuckle-inducing zinger) factor in full effect. Hard to say why, too. Maybe it's the lets-face-it-it's-all-wrong-for-the-book art by David Hahn, which is actually very good in his Linda Medley-meets-Trina Robbins style. I like Hahn's work, I just don't know if it's up to the task of this grubby script. Everybody's just too clean, pretty and neat. The monochromatic coloring is odd, and for once I agree with Johanna Draper Carlson's assessment that it reminds her of a box of crayons. Interesting choice, but it definitely works against the mood. Maybe Chaykin would have been better off pitching this to HBO instead; I think a live-action TV approach would work a lot better than this. Anyway, I'm interested, if not completely won over, so I'm gonna stick around to see if it gets better. Kinda doubt it, but I'm feeling optimistic today for some reason. B-

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