Saturday, July 17, 2004


What I bought and what I thought, week of July 14

There's something to be said for consistency, and this issue of GC is a great example. Like Johanna Draper Carlson says, if you like recent issues of this title, then you'll like's as consistently good as the previous Brubaker/Lark issues have been. It helps that there's an honest-to-goodness mystery to solve here; I have no clue who's behind the crime that's driving the plot, and I'm enjoying watching the GCPD go through the paces of figuring it out. We get good dramatics between the characters, especially in scenes involving disgraced former cop Harvey Bullock, and even the Arkham action (is it me, or are Arkham scenarios getting overused and tired?) seems fresh. And as always, the ugly Loughridge colors are a serious drawback, making the story harder to read than it should be. Consistency is one thing, I suppose, but perfection is another. A

100 BULLETS 51
We get reacquainted with self-loathing potential Minuteman Wylie Times in this issue, set in New Orleans and given a jazz theme from its brief dissertation on Miles Davis to this issue's title. To continue with the jazz metaphors, this issue is a veritable compendium of the riffs Azzurello and Risso have used so far to great effect, in its pacing, dialogue and style. Risso is amazing as always- he seems to channel the best impulses of Will Eisner effortlessly, placing realism and grotesque caricature side by side with no difficulty, and oh, boy those shadows and crazy camera angles. I suppose if I were to continue the jazz theme, I would rate this album as Miles Smiles, a solid, innovative album that continued in the interesting direction that Davis was working towards with his second Quintet. A

The grande finale of "March of the Wooden Soldiers", and it stacks up as this series' finest moment to date, even though I was a bit dismayed at how rushed the last half of the story seemed to be. I didn't see the identity of the Big Bad (and I don't mean Wolf, he's a good guy) coming, either, and that's good...but I didn't really buy the motivations of the character who defeated her, not after her conflict with Snow White and that's not so good. Oh well, minor quibbles. Nice work by all involved, including the Buckingham/Leialoha duo, whose work on this book has finally begun to grow on me. A-

So that's why they called it "Challengers of the Unknown"! Seems that Rocky, Red, Prof and Ace were just four of a group of operatives that has existed for years and years...but apparently they're designed to be sleeper agents or somesuch. Anyway, it's pretty clear that as is evidenced by the complicated plot, cynical characters with snarky dialogue, and complex art that Howard hasn't lost much, if anything, from his 80s heyday. Looking forward to what he brings next. A-

Didn't really plan on picking these Schwartz tribute comics up, but after I saw the creators involved with this one I couldn't pass it up. Taking a cue from the Adam Strange cover story in the Schwartz-edited Mystery In Space 82, two writers and two artists are asked to provide stories with their own spin. Elliot S! Maggin, MIA for too long, and Promethea's J.H. Williams III are up first, and they provide a fun story tempered somewhat by recent events in the DCU involving co-stars Sue and Ralph Dibny, making this story much more ironic and pathos-filled than it really should be. Still, Maggin does a great job emulating that stiff Fox/Broome dialogue style, and Williams is amazing as always. Story two finds Grant Morrison working with Jerry Ordway, and turns in a winning tale with Kavalier and Clay-style captions which describe the background behind DC's early 60s sci-fi/superhero renaissance. Ordway illustrates in his solid, in unexciting fashion, but the end result is actually a bit moving. I don't know if I'll buy any others in this series, but for my money this is as good a tribute to Schwartz as one could ask for. A-

After giving us four straight issues of inspired straightfaced lunacy, it was inevitable that there would be a letdown sometimes, and this issue is the closest that Boyd & Yount have come so far. There are still plenty of laughs and strangeness, especially at the expense of poor Rod Stewart...but the TV satires are a little past their born-on date, and their hiatus announcement comes as no big surprise. Oh, if only more creators would step back for a while when inspiration wanes! Hurry back, mateys, I'll be here when you do. A-

BEWARE OF SPOILERS...hard to be neutral about this series, I suppose. Writer Brad Meltzer, apparently not content with killing off an obscure but well-liked female character, has upped the outrage ante by revealing that she was raped some time previous, and the League at the time decided to magically mess with the perpretator's mind as payback, all in the name of dramatic heft. All that's left for him to do is have heinous acts committed to children, and at this stage it wouldn't surprise me a bit if that wasn't next. Still, ya gotta be objective about this- it's only a story, and they're only superhero characters after all- but it's gonna make it damn hard to read about many of these corporate properties in the future, if this remains canonical. I can't dislike this comic as it is, 'cause it definitely sets out to involve the reader and succeeds, and even introduces some interesting ideas like the merc's club set up in the Injustice Gang's old satellite. And I am interested in the core mystery- I didn't think it was Doc Light what did the deed, murder that is, but I still don't have any idea and I kinda wanna know. It's also full of well-done character interaction such as the back-and-forth between Hawkman, Wally West-Flash, Kyle Raynor-GL, and Green Arrow. Plus, this is excellently illustrated by the Rags Morales-Michael Bair team. I suppose if I were inclined to indulge myself in wistful nostalgia for the characters of my teenage years, I'd be more upset about this series than I am...but everything changes, and I learned long ago that it's rarely for the better. I'm probably more annoyed that this series has pretty much killed any possibility of getting any new Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League- now that's a shame. I remain a Identity Crisis reader...but I can't say if I'll respect myself in the morning. B+

H-E-R-O 18
In which Pfiefer gives us a book-long fight scene, and I get bored about four pages in. It's well-drawn. despite what would appear to be a major gaffe on the last page. But this is essentially a twenty-some-odd page book full of explosions and punching and hitting and boom and argh and blood got real monotonous after a while. I've been interested in this story arc so far, and I suppose an issue like this was inevitable...but that didn't make it any easier to get through. Here's hoping my interest perks up again real soon. C+

I don't know, maybe it's me. This should be a lot of fun, but it's just kinda...dead. Appropriate, I guess, for a book about the Vampire Mafia, but that doesn't make it any easier for me to stay interested. The ChaykinTischman script tries really hard at maintaining the right tone, and sometimes characters like Risa, by far the one that Tischman seems most interested in, do or say something noteworthy. But Tischman isn't Chaykin, and he just can't output that sort of dialogue by just isn't in him, as one look at Angel and the Ape or American Century bears out. Mostly this just seems to be a lot of HBO-movie types walking and driving around, talking to each other with dramatic one-liners at the end of the conversation, and boy does that get old after a while. The art by David Hahn doesn't help a bit- I like his style well enough, he's not terrible; but it's too stiff, lifeless and bland to give these proceedings the goose it needs. He may kick ass on other projects, but he's all wrong for this, as I've said before. And the colors- gah! Perhaps this Bryan Miller should change his name to Bryan Crayola. C

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