Sunday, January 16, 2005

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What I bought and what I thought, week of January 12!

100 BULLETS 57
Satisfying conclusion to the excellent "Wylie Runs The Voodoo Down" arc, in which we find out what Mr. Tymes was so pissed-off about, and why he had Agent Sheppard tied to a chair for the last five issues. All the plot threads are tied up very nicely, we get a revealing look at what it takes to be a Minuteman, which I'm sure will be a factor down the road, and while I admit that little of this will make sense to new readers, at least one thing is always constant: the amazing art of Eduardo Risso, who just doesn't get enough attention for how good it is. A

Well, Giant-Man and the Hulk used to share a comic, y'know, back in the dim and distant days of a Marvel that today's "House of Ideas" bears absolutely no resemblance to, so I guess it's fitting that this Ultimate Hank Pym and Bruce Banner should strike up a fatalistic friendship. Again, Millar doesn't seem to have a fresh or original idea in his head (how many times have we had a "trial of the Hulk" in the last 40 years?), but he writes dramatics and snappy dialogue so well that it doesn't matter one bit. Another highlight this time out was the Captain America/Thor confrontation in the disco, and what I assume is our first look at Ultimate Captain Britain, in a cool undersea showcase for Iron Man with some funny dialogue from Jarvis. I'm firmly convinced that none of this would have half the gravity it does if not for Bryan Hitch's solid, realistic art- he subtly enhances the goings-on and makes Millar's scripts twice as good as they really are. A

We've been inching along, apparently in-between arcs, for several issues now, and this is more of the same: somewhat under-the-radar mystery is solved (and the resolution is kinda sad, in a way), other old plot threads are tied up and new ones begun, more Willingham cleverness as he once more twists his source material around, and then we find out that a "new story begins" next issue. Huh? This has been a story? Oh well, at least it's been an interesting, if ill-defined one. As always, I'm still not wild about the Buckingham/Leialoha art, but Buckingham does sneak in one clever idea: he draws one of Snow White's kids to look like Eddie Munster. A-

This umpteenth reworking of the venerable 30th century super-kid team is fine as far as it goes; Waid doesn't neglect what makes the LSH readable in the first place- character interaction. Not fight scenes, or sci-fi trappings, but plain ol' dialogue between the principals. I must confess to not really getting the power structure he's set up here- why is the United Planets (bear with me here, if you're unfamiliar with the Legion) at odds with the Science Police, and why do they covertly support the apparently renegade (the SP doesn't like 'em, anyway) Legion? I suppose all will be revealed eventually, but not understanding the new 30th C pecking order was a major annoyance. The art this time is by Barry Kitson, whose work isn't terrible, (especially the pencil sketches I've seen of his character designs, which are 100% looser and more dynamic than his finished art) but whose style is (in my eyes, anyway) stiff, bland and unexciting, very late-70s/early 80s in its approach. I'm surprised he's not drawing Vertigo books. OK, OK, once more I'm intrigued with this new Legion, and I guess I'll hang around for a while to see what happens. But as long as Kitson's on art, I can't ever see me giving this any higher than a B+.

As a showcase for Josie Mac, this works just fine. Even though she's allowed to be disagreeable and smart-assed, she comes across as likeable and I hope they can develop her character further. As a goodbye to the Catwoman character and the cast he created from Ed Brubaker, it's somewhat less successful, since we really don't get much of a showcase for either her or Slam Bradley. As an action-thriller, not too hot. As a showcase for the art of Jason Alexander, it's a failure- his awkward, splotchy art distracts the reader rather than compliments the story. And maybe he should have looked at a couple of Darwyn Cooke or Cam Stewart issues before trying to draw Bradley. C+

Gary Phillips just doesn't seem to know what he's trying to give us- is it a mystery, or just a straight-ahead crime thriller, or some sort of social satire, or all/none of the above? His dialogue is still clunky, his characters so ill-defined that you can't tell them apart without a scorecard, and there's precious little crime, or thrills, or mystery for that matter. All we can do is patiently follow along as the principal character, PI Hollis, and the mysterious badass babe ploddingly hunt down the NBA player who has been involved in some sort of nasty business in El Lay. We don't get enough pieces of the puzzle for this to be a functional mystery, and we precious little insight into any of them, so we don't really care about any of these people. Maybe I'm missing something here, but so far this is a damn poor excuse for a story and a waste of Shawn Martinbrough's estimable illustrative talent. C-

MIA: Love Fights Vol. 2 TPB. It didn't ship to my shop. Ship-shop! Hee. Anyway, hopefully it will come in soon.

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