Saturday, March 05, 2005

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What I bought and what I thought, week of March 2!

The opening round of the eagerly awaited Morrison multi-book happening gets us off to a great start as a sad-sack group of has-beens and never-wases is recruited by the original Vigilante, ostensibly to hunt down a giant spider that's been terrorizing "Miracle Mesa"- but of course there's more there than meets the eye. Morrison is once again in fine form, giving us realistic reworkings of several old C-list DC characters (if any of these have been introduced before, like the Whip or Gimmix, I'm unaware of it, but then again I'm hardly a DC expert) with honest-to-goodness well-rounded personalities and quirks, and a dash of the good old trademark Morrison weirdness in the form of the behind-the-scenes organizers of this event, the "Seven Unknown Men". And there's an air of grim fatalism that runs through the book entire, like the age lines in grizzled Greg Saunders' face. The most impressive thing here is, as usual, the art of J.H. Williams III- who gives us his always-innovative page layouts, moody atmospherics, stellar figure drawings, and even works in some sly homages to the likes of Gil Kane and Howard Chaykin. Frankly, I'd have been happy to read a 12-issue series about this Six Soldiers team by this team, but Morrison has bigger fish to fry so it's not to be. I can't help but wonder who the seventh person, who got cold feet and turned the Vig down, was. Anyway, a great start to what promises to be a (for once) memorable multi-book crossover event. A

Brubaker slips in a little mainstream WildStorm universe on us in the form of the Grifter, a character which I have a slight knowledge of through my brief period of reading W.I.L.D. Cats when Alan Moore was writing it. Typically, he's used in an interesting way and is ten times as interesting as Jim Lee could have ever made him. Well, all I can say otherwise about this issue is that the twists get twistier, the plot gets thickerer, we get an unsurprising but still disappointing betrayal, and this just in- Sean Phillips is good. Real good. In related news, heat is hot and water is wet, and the sun will set in the west. A

Just when we think that Joe Kelly has put his worst tendencies behind him and is now dedicated to telling stories clearly, he whips out about five pages of classic Kelly incoherence to start things off in this issue. Fortunately, he settles down after that and we get a lot of Ellis-lite stuff that furthers all the ongoing plot threads, including some from Kelly's previous tenure on Superman about somebody named Manchester Black, which excites me not at all. Thank goodness Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen are so damn good that they can draw me in to all this and I don't feel cheated afterwards. And we get to see the return of their ├╝ber-sexy version of Wonder Woman! Yeah baby! B+

Upon the recommendation of commenter "bg", I decided to take a flyer on this, the fourth chapter of the David Lapham-scripted story arc entitled "City of Crime", and by some amazing stroke of luck my comics shop had the first three issues as well, an event of Red Sox-winning-World Series-type frequency. So what did I think? Well, I'm not quite sure. There's a lot going on here, but not having read the first three issues, I'm absolutely clueless about the significance of it all. Robin is fighting some guy who's apparently under some sort of mind control or something and is trying to kill his kid, Mr. Freeze is running amuck and has apparently kidnapped some young girl and is keeping her prisoner in a meat locker with the dead workforce of the processing plant hanging upside down on hooks above their heads, the Penguin seems to have been killed in an explosion, Batman goes to Arkham and asks some questions, the Mob seems to be trying to kill Freeze and Batman gets in the middle of it and is later apparently threatened by some sort of street gang...and all I can do is shake my head and go "...whuh...". I'm sure this will make more sense when I get the first three. Artwise, we get the team of Ramon Bachs (too bad Bernard Sachs is no longer with us, a Bachs-Sachs art team would be kinda fun) and Nathan Massengill (if he had been in the Marvel Bullpen back in the day, would Stan have nicknamed him Nathan "Disposable" Massengill? Nah, I don't think so either.), whose art reminds me of about a half dozen other artists such as Phil Winslade, Dave Gibbons, Steve Dillon, and Bart Sears...and while this cuisin-art style is very adequate, it's not terribly exciting either and the whole damn thing is colored too dark by Jason Wright. So I suppose I'll give this an incomplete, or a tentative B.

Boy, that Frank Cho is a hell of an artist, isn't he? What- do you mean there was a story accompanying this? Get out! C+

Pleased to report that there are NO MIA books this week! Whoo-hoo!

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