Sunday, October 31, 2004


What I bought and what I thought, week of October 27

WE3 2
Grant Morrison at his most minimal, as he gives us a pretty much bare-bones (well, for Grant, anyway) story of escaped animals-cum-weapons of mass destruction, then steps back and lets Frank Quitely take over. In this issue (as in the last), Quitely plays around effectively with sequential storytelling, specifically the depiction of synchronous events (kinda like split-screen to the Nth degree), and also manages to "humanize" the protagonists (as opposed to "anthropomorphize", which is far more specific) and make them very sympathetic, even the cat (just like I wouldn't want to be a child in a Stephen King story, neither would I wish to be a cat in a Morrison tale), whose surly disposition is quite understandable. Just like with kids in stories, it's easy to work up sympathy for animals, especially a good ol' houn'dog, a bunny, and a kitty- but it's not so easy to do so with such an oddball twist. So far, so memorable, and perhaps soon to be regarded as among Morrison's (and Quitely's) very best efforts. A

Further revelations about the ill-fated mission in Iraq that caused our "heroes" to become "Losers" in the first place, plus, we seem to be about to find out what the deal is with the event that haunts silent marksman Cougar. As we've come to expect with this book, crisp dialogue, sharp art. The buzz has died down a bit, but I'm in until the bitter end, or the return of Nick Dragotta. A

If We3 is a tour-de-force for Frank Quitely, then this book, and this issue in particular, is the same for John Cassaday, who gives us an imaginative and involving depiction of Elijah Snow's visit to a scientist/magician/shaman/oracle/something, and his concurrent imbibing of some "magic tea"...and the important revelations that are revealed to him. It's nice to have this book out again on something approaching a regular schedule (even though I've never been one to get bent out of shape about long delays between singles), and it's even nicer to have things of import happening. A

My how time flies. It was with #6 of the first, black and white, self-published series that I acquired my jones for the work of Paul Grist, and now here we are five years later with another #6, this time in nicely done color. I wish I could say that I was as blown away by this #6 as I was by the first one, but unfortunately this continues the mildly disappointing rut that this book has been in since the color series was launched. The main story features Father-and-son vampire hunters Bramble and Son, two characters I was hoping to see more of, and also involves nominal love-interest-for-Jack Becky Burdock, Vampire Reporter, and taken on its own it's an involving chapter of a much bigger story. So far so good, but then we get a WWII flashback with Jack and the Freedom Fighters (including not-so-good guy Sgt. States, before his true state was revealed), and it's OK but nothing special- seems like it was jammed in so that the title character would make an appearance in his own book; a pointless and puzzling (in more ways than one) interlude with the Q agency and its mysterious operative Helen Morgan, and the first in a series of "Beats" cards, not a series about 50's jazz musicians and writers, but a nifty-but-somewhat-(again)-pointless attempt to give us cards for a game of some sort featuring the Staff cast. Not a terrible idea per se, but maybe it should have been saved for a collection...and who the heck's gonna cut the cards out of their $3.50 investment? Four pages that could have been used to flesh out the Q story, if nothing else. Oh well- I'm still enjoying JS, and it's as cleverly dialogued and drawn as ever. But I wanna be blown away again. A-

The theme for this week seems to be the "artistic showcase". This issue once again brings us the graceful, yet frenetic art of Pascual Ferry...and if we gotta have an issue's worth of swooping and booming and shooting and mouths agape and so on, then please Lord, let'em all be like this one. A-

In which we meet former Kingpin Wilson Fisk's predecessor, who has just been released from a long stretch in prison and is a little pissed at DD for sending him up. All the usual Bendis pros and cons apply, and this isn't going to convert any unbelievers. Me, I still have no real problem with his dialogue and I think the notion of showing us Kingpin prior is a good one. Alex Maleev, for his part, gets to demonstrate a little stylistic variety as he draws each longish flashback in a different, yet equally scratchy style- first one kinda Guy Davis in b & w, second one kinda Davis-inked by John Watkiss or Tony Salmons in color. I think he pulls it off nicely. A-

After the gloom and doom of the last few issues, Brian Wood lightens the tone a lot, and wonder of wonders, he actually gives us a complete story, with no dangling questions, unexplained events, and a complete beginning and complete end! I think I would like this a lot more if I was closer to the age of its characters, but I can certainly understand their motivations, and was amused by many of the verbal jabs they delivered to each other as everything played out. Becky Cloonan once again
goes all manga on us, but it's just fine as she successfully conveys the ambience of a large supermarket in the wee hours. I'm not used to having this reaction after reading Demo- make me think I must have missed something somewhere! A-

More like duet, or trio, as Tim Sale, an artist whose work repels me as much as it attracts me, gets a whole book to showcase his interpretations of scripts by Darwyn Cooke (far-fetched and silly Catwoman/Batman), Diana Schutz (Meh Supergirl/slash/Young Romance), Jeph Loeb (not-bad, proving perhaps that Superman For All Seasons was no fluke and perhaps should get a sequel), and Brian Azzurello (reads like warmed-over 100 Bullets). He does do writing honors for two short tales, neither of which make much of an impression although the second, "I Concentrate on You" is a bit heart-warming. Sale draws his ass off throughout, so this isn't a waste of your time...but for $4.95 I kinda want a bit more. This looks like a series I'll pick up if I'm a fan of the particular spotlighted artist, and will leave alone when I'm not. Next issue: Richard Corben, whose work is good but doesn't excite me much so it looks like it's incomplete run-city for me! B

Not bad-not great debut for Leo Manco as JC:HB regular artist, as he illos a feels-like-a-inventory-fill-in or a nicked-from-an-old House of Mystery/Secrets Mike Carey story about the fate of some unfortunate lowlives who steal some stuff John has stashed away in a storage building in the city. Predictably, they don't fare too well and John is a minimal presence in his own book. Better days ahead, I hope... C+

Didn't get Daisy Kutter 3 in my holds (hopefully it will show up next week), and I chose not to buy Astro City: A Visitor's Guide- however, my shop's having a sidewalk sale next weekend (25% off everything inside), so I'll probably pick it up then.

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