Saturday, November 06, 2004


What I bought and what I thought, week of November 3

Biggest difference this time out is new artist Nick Derington, a not-bad illustrator in his own right, who steps in for former artist Steven Griffin, who is now doing the color only. Got it? Anyway, Derington gives us a pretty good Griffin impersonation- his art is not as loosey-goosey as his predecessor, but he does a great job just the same. Typically, since this is the in-between chapter, not a lot really happens except exposition...but we are set up nicely for the climactic issue 3, when it comes out. Likeable characters, great, snappy dialogue, novel setting...pretty much another standard issue of the Hawaiian Dick series! A

In which we get the background info on the Lynch-Tao relationship, not to mention the beginning of how the title character came to be what he is. Can't say enough about Sean Phillips' art- I thought it was interesting how he chose to frame each page of this issue in a thick black box...perhaps to suggest claustrophobia, or simply to say "Hey! This is a flashback!" Or maybe so he could turn in smaller art. Whatever the reason, it definitely adds to the the dark mood of an already darkly moody story. A

Deceptively presented as a new mini-series, it merely picks up from where the previous series, A Plague of Frogs, left off. We get a new B.P.R.D. member, of dubious origin, who is a zombie of sorts and placed in charge of the ongoing struggle with the frog-beings to boot; more of Abe and Liz trying to find out what is obvious to anybody who's paying attention about Abe's previous life, plus the Bureau abruptly moves to a new location. There's some cutesy character stuff, with an annoyingly dense (at least compared to when Mignola writes him) Roger the homonculus (the other cast members get cheap chuckles at his naivete, which just didn't seem right to me) and page after page of energetic, sharp Guy Davis art which makes the whole darn thing worth the price of admission. B+

Tommy Lee Edwards does a great job, for the most part, of trying to help us make sense out of a Rick Veitch script that is just fine when dealing with the here-and-now physical world of the Question, but is saddled with a bunch of new-agey metaphysical bullshit narration which only adds confusion and nothing else...not mood, not mystery, nothing but head-scratching. I still have no idea what befell this issue's nominal adversary, the "Psycho-Pomp", even after two readings. This being said, I like what Veitch seems to be setting up- the trip to Metropolis, Lois Lane's perception of Vic Sage and Sage's suspicions about Superman, even the bit at the beginning with Sage and the kid and his puzzle. But if the "question" in question is a question mark that's gonna be floating over my head after I finish each issue, then that's not a very funny joke and I want my money back. B

Grant Morrison, after giving us some of the most thought-provoking, challenging, and fun comics in ages with WE3, Seaguy, and New X-Men, is entitled to slum from time to time, I would think...and here's an example of what he gives us when he chooses to do so. This is an entertaining, fast-paced yarn with a definite 60's DC vibe, and like those great Fox/Broome tales of yore, the less you think about them the better they are. Much of this sounds like it was written by an eager-to-please 15-year old wannabe comics writer: "There's an alternate team of JLA-types! Yeah! And GORILLA GRODD traps them! And they have to call the REAL JLA for help! Cool! But...but they're not there! But wait! Uh...Batman's there! Yeah! And he's got a flying saucer, and a secret base on Pluto, and next issue, and next issue...ROBOT JUSTICE LEAGUE! Cool!" See what I mean? At least Grant doesn't even try to take it seriously, and neither should the reader. Strengths include Morrison's always hyper-confident-and-capable Batman, the nudge-nudge-wink-wink humor, best typified by the "Sci-Fi closet" remark Batman makes; the aforementioned fast pace which gets the reader swept up in the proceedings, and a neat kinda Robin-slash-Oracle sidekick for the alternate JLA (named the "Ultra-Marines", holdovers from Grant's previous tenure on the JLA proper title- and I thought "Intimates" was a stupid name for a superhero team) Batman named "the Squire", real name Beryl, who is cute, smart and competent as all get out with her feathered tam and long braid- and if she's a little Harley Quinn-esque, well, so what? I liked her. Serous weakness: the Ed Mcguinness/Dexter Vines art, which is in that vaguely manga-ish, overly mannered style that was kinda popular in the wake of Joe Maduriera (sp?) and Humberto Ramos, but I think the only people that liked it all that much were the editors at DC and Marvel, 'cause it seemed like every other new artist's style for about a three year stretch looked exactly like that. Anyway, it's way too busy for such an already busy script, plus nearly everybody looks like they're wearing balloon suits- chins, muscles, noses, everything is exaggerated and roundish, and it annoys the heck out of me. I was entertained by Classified...but that's all. Morrison can, and will, do better. The artists, though, I'm not so sure. B-

Still MIA: Daisy Kutter 3.

I also picked up collections of Peculia by Richard Sala, and Jetcat Clubhouse by Jay Stephens for 75% off today at the sidewalk sale my shop had. I also took advantage of the indoor 25% off to pick up Astro City: A Visitor's Guide, but I haven't read them yet.

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