Saturday, November 27, 2004

Image Hosted by 
<br />


What I bought and what I thought, week of November 24

The Losers dig themselves a deeper hole in part two of "The Pass", the told-in-flashback tale of how our embattled group came to find themselves in their current predicament. Yeah, true, it's one big action-movie simulacrum all the way...but longtime readers are rewarded with a gripping sequence in which we finally get to see silent marksman Cougar meet the figure in the dark which has been haunting his dreams since issue one, plus the usual snappy, sharp dialogue and lotsa fast-paced and exciting action. As with last issue, there were probably better-written and drawn and more deeply significant stories told this week, but I know for damn sure that none of them were as entertaining. And kids, don't adjust your comic book or your eyeballs- the color's like that because it's a flashback. A

I know this may come as a big surprise to most of you, but sometimes I have been known to be wrong. Yep, it's true. Here's a great example of my latest incorrect assumption. I was not exactly looking forward to this new Jingle Belle mini; I was extremely disappointed with the lackluster cartooning and heavy handed satire in 2002's Cool Yule collection and last year's Dash Away All suffered from a yawn-inducing, seen-that script and really horrible, barely-legible pencil art from Jose Garibaldi. With Garibaldi coming back, I considered not even picking this up, like I did with Dash Away All- but such is my love for the character from the beginning that I added it to my holds anyway...and boys and girls, I'm very glad I did. Paul Dini has rarely, if ever, written sharper and funnier satire than this issue's lead, in which Jing creates an animated holiday video to increase her profile among the kids of the world, but is soon confronted with the studio "creative" types who make wholesale changes. Very nice, especially after previous Jingle Belles and the equally obvious and heavy-handed Batman: Harley and Ivy issue 4. And oh my God- Garibaldi does a GREAT job on the art! Gasp! His work looks much better fully colored than it did in its previous two outings, no doubt about it. He does a wonderful job visually satirizing those Rankin-Bass characters of yore as well. Mea culpa, Mr. Garibaldi. And my losing streak continues with the second story, a spotlight for Dini's teenage witch Polly Green which sees her dealing with her greedy and thoughtless family, who want her to conjure up extravagant Christmas presents for all of them. A bit like Harry Potter's Muggle family, I suppose. It's innocuous, sitcom-ish humor, a little far-fetched and not terrible if not especially great. But again, Dini gets a fine art job from Stephanie Gladden, who recently expressed her bemusement or perhaps annoyance at my faint-praise-damning via Phil-Foglio-comparison of her art. Steph, I was wrong. Your art, while still strongly reminiscent of Foglio's cartooning (of which I'm not really a fan), also shows a strong Barks influence and I found it lively and enjoyable in the service of the story. Ya did good, and I hope to see more someday. See? I don't mind being wrong, if I'm entertained in the process! A good start, and hopefully the next three will be as strong as the first. A

In which we begin to see that Holden has his devious side, as well, and he takes a huge risk by bringing in his psychopathic lover Miss Misery into his plan. Another rock-solid chapter, marred only slightly by a diversion in which we meet a character named "Fag Hag", who gets powers by draining the life energy from homosexuals. Har har. But y'know, I trust Ed Brubaker enough to think that this will have a point somewhere down the line. It becomes redundant to praise Sean Phillips' art, but I especially liked this issue's bright, eye-catching cover with its sharply representative image of Miss M snogging our "hero" even as she prepares to stab him in the back. That's our girl. A-

Deena comes to grips with her imposed abilities, while the other powered beings of the world, currently suppressed and outlawed, begin to resist. I still maintain that no matter how thin Bendis spreads himself, he saves his best for this book. Mike Avon Oeming is solid as usual. And as usual, this issue isn't likely to convert any unbelievers, but for we faithful, it will suffice. A-

You can say many things about this diverting Space Opera, but you can't say that it's dull. Adam tangles with nasty Thanagarians, including a kinky female ship's captain who doesn't get along with her superiors and has a thing for our boy as well. Call me crazy, but I think she's gonna help out our hero eventually at some point. Great action and sharp dialogue, or a typical Andy Diggle script. Pascual Ferry shines as well, with his low-key and muted but always kinetic and dynamic art. A-

More flashbacks, as we find out more about the history between Matt Murdock and the first Kingpin, Mr. Bont, who has DD at his mercy with a reluctant Gladiator serving as his weapon. The Legion of Bendis Detractors will, I'm sure, find numerous nits to pick in their charming wannabe "Little-Boy-Who-Points-Out-the-Emperor-is-Naked" manner, but I'm having none of it... I see fascinating character interaction, a bit talky maybe but so effing what, and clever, imaginative art by Alex Maleev. You say potato, I say po-tah-to. A-

Strong rebound from the last two issues, as we begin to find out exactly how nasty Johnny-boy's demon-spawned kiddies can be. Mike Carey is doing a fine job of constructing trouble mazes out of JC's past history. Still disappointing is Leo Manco's art, which isn't terrible but has all the rough edges he's shown previously all sanded off, and it's the worse for it, almost looking John Ridgeway-ish, which brings us back to the title's beginnings for what that's worth. B+

No comments: