Monday, September 27, 2004


What I bought and what I thought, week of September 22

Hey, kids, look! Ed and Sean have put a big, ugly robot dude on the cover so maybe you'll pay attention to their excellent comic book! Aaah, I know better so once again I'll preach to the choir: great, nuanced, layered storytelling by Ed Brubaker, especially when it comes to the increasingly complicated Carver/Lynch/Tao relationship, and the usual solid storytelling by Sean Phillips. Sleeper: the Dr. Pepper of comic books. A

I know, this came out a couple of weeks ago, and I swear I meant to pick it up then but it wasn't on my pull list and I just plain old overlooked it on the rack. Don't know how I managed that trick- the J.H. Williams cover is beautiful and eye-catching. You all should know by now that I've been a long-time admirer of this character, especially when written by Jim Starlin; however, I think perhaps he (and Marvel) had gone just about as far as they could go with his version of the Being Formerly Known as Him. So it seems to me that the time has never been righter for an imaginative, efficient re-thinking of the Warlock character, and I was very impressed with how writer Greg Pak laid out new ideas even as he paid tribute to the past- plus I'm a sucker for a story with a comic that has a cute painter/animator/designer as its lead. And make no mistake- it's through her eyes that we'll get to see what kind of effect, good or bad, this new Adam W will have. Charlie Adlard does yet another fine art job- I think it must be his goal to illustrate every comic book from every publisher. And y'know, that might not be so bad. A great start to a promising series, but I understand sales weren't all that hot so guess we better enjoy it while we can. A

Plas and friends, while on vacation, get stuck in a house occupied by a vampire family. Pretty simple premise, and Kyle Baker makes the most of it, giving us a Mad magazine-style romp with several funny jokes (including a good one aimed at the Bush administration), some of which work, some of which don't. This is pretty much what Baker's been doing for a long time now, and I guess either you like it or you don't. I kinda like. The art? Well...I suppose Baker's slovenliness is growing on me, 'cause I'm finding myself admiring the odd pose here or the odd facial expression there. Another title to be enjoyed, while we can. A-

H-E-R-O 20
This has been an up-and-down story arc for me, for the most part- I was bored silly by the one or two issues of non-stop fighting, but in between throwdowns we get issues which actually advance the plot and introduce interesting ideas. I like how Pfiefer's connecting all the characters he introduced over his run- it promises to give his readers a sense of closure, something you don't always get with lame-duck titles. It's got me interested, anyway. Also, I'm liking the not-bad art of Dale Eaglesham; it's a bit awkward in its proportions sometimes, but he has a nice sense of dramatics and visual flair. This issue also has the best Michael Golden cover he never did, by one Kelsey Shannon. B+

Solid and involving as always, but I hate to admit that I'm kinda glad that Kirkman seems to be narrowing down his burgeoning cast a bit- this issue, I was struggling to figure out who were the bite-rs and who were the bite-ees, and I was having to dig a bit to remember who was who among the survivors. Some of this is Adlard's fault, I suppose...but he's pretty damn good on everything else so I'll give him a mulligan. B+

Big disappointment this time out with a less-than-satisfying ending to what, at the beginning, promised to be a grand story arc. Nothing much gets resolved, a major character gets a "death" that he's actually come back from at least once, if memory serves, and even though a big red "end" is placed on the last page nothing is resolved and almost everything is left open-ended. Sure, I know that this is an ongoing, and usually I like how Mike Carey strings his plots along, but I felt a little cheated when this one was over. Oh well, it's not like I'm gonna drop the book or anything- I'm in too deep to bail now! One thing's always constant- the good-to-pretty good Peter Gross/Ryan Kelly art is always there to depict the proceedings in their almost not not exceptional fashion. B

This book continues to keep me at arm's length, although I did manage to stay interested through the at-first intriguing mystery of who's killing the snow-plow drivers, through the usual banter between Mayor Hundred and the Police Commissioner (bet they'll be snogging by issue #7), through one of the stiffest and most contrived ideological exchanges I've read in a while (Hundred's intern and the artist, who should be careful with blowtorches) and a reveal at the end which came as absolutely no surprise, and ruined the snow-plow killer mystery. Art-wise, very good, although I wish I didn't get the impression that Tony Harris keeps facial expressions as clip-art, and pastes them on when he needs them. Two more issues to win me over. B-

Soon- Atomeka reviews.

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