Saturday, March 12, 2005

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

I always mention writers first, so I'll be different for once and inform you all that Philip Bond and colorist Brian Miller once again compliment each other very well and give us another great job. Bond's just-cartoony-enough style is perfect, and his Sofia is every bit as sexy and likeable as she's intended to be. Grant Morrison sometimes just can't help himself, I guess...once again, he gives us a dizzying array of clever and interesting characters, ideas, and concepts- some set up meticulously and some thrown away, and plunges right in at full speed ahead, hold on for dear life, and don't stop to ask "But what about...?". Maybe part of the problem, if you want to call it that, is that he only has 3 issues when you just know he could get 12 out of this whole concept without breaking a sweat. But three issues it is, and maybe this won't seem so supercompressed when its collected, so we could have it a lot worse, for sure. A

I don't read The Flash, so many of the characters we meet this time out are ciphers to me...but Greg Rucka works them in here seamlessly so we get an interesting look at Keystone Central (if you will) as the GCPD searches for help for an unfortunate policeman who has run afoul of a body-mutating booby trap set by Flash baddie Dr. Alchemy. Solid dramatics as well, especially with Detective Renee Montoya, whose sexuality has caused her estrangement from her family. Former tracer-only Steven Gaudiano does a great job in illustrating the proceedings, making a strong case for letting him remain in this capacity for the duration, which would be fine with me- but I have a feeling we'll get someone with a little higher profile down the road. This story arc is shaping up to be the best one in quite a while. A

It's Grant Morrison's world, and we're just living in it. I'm beginning to think perhaps DC should just give him his own imprint, like they did Alan Moore and ABC, and be done with it- and wouldn't that be cool? Anyway, Seven Soldiers chapter two/miniseries 1 continues in the same strong vein as the opening issue two weeks ago, giving us an updated, rethought Sir Justin of Camelot, along with the Ultimate Knights of the Round Table versus the apparent Big Bads of this whole thing, the Sheeda, which results in our Shining Knight being magically transported to the present day. Again, fast, breezy and sharp, with Justin's talking horse Vanguard coming across as the most immediately likeable member of the cast. This is my first look at artist Simone Bianchi's work, and while he's a little inconsistent with his figure drawing overall and just loose enough to be distracting, he's fine, imaginatively realizing Grant's involved script. So far, as they good. A-

Apparently the fast pace is all the rage now, perhaps a reaction to complaints about decompression, because like Morrison before him, Andy Diggle is following suit, stretching a thin plot as far as he can with a lot of action and DCU cameos and hoping nobody gets bored. I'm not bored, but I'm beginning to wonder if this couldn't perhaps have been done in 6. Anyway, I was never a L.E.G.I.O.N. reader, but I kinda like the uptight V'ril Dox and how he and Strange (a bit of a stick himself, let's face it) rub each other the wrong way from the outset. Artwise, fine, as Pascal Ferry keeps things moving along smartly and does nicely by Dox, conveying his personality with facial expressions and body english (otherwise not a strength for him, I'm afraid). I'm finding this series enjoyable- not Losers enjoyable, mind you, but it's compelling just the same. I don't think I'll ever list it in my 100 things, though. A-

Another nice art job by David Hahn graces this rushed "Jack B. Nimble Becomes a Major Player in Hollywood" finale, which (unlike Adam Strange) I wish could have been drawn out another issue or two perhaps. One also wishes that Willingham was up for a little more of an Action-style Tinseltown snarkfest, but apparently he just doesn't have it in him. B+

OK, now this makes more sense. Impatient cuss that I am, I bought the latest issue of 'Tec (#804) last week, knowing that it was part four of the multi-issue "City of Crime" storyline written by David Lapham, and read it first. And didn't really understand a frigging thing that happened in it. But after reading this, the first in the series (I have the others on hold, to buy later), at least I now have some of the whys and wherefores. Lapham gives us some excellent urban prose as Batman gets pulled this way and that on a busy night in Gotham, and the seeds of the C of C storyline are planted. My opinion last week still holds when it comes to the art, by Ramon Bachs and Nathan Massengill- competent, very good in places, but a bit distracting because it keeps reminding me of more accomplished artists. The backup feature, "The Barker" by Lucifer's Mike Carey and artist John Lucas, is sort of a non-supernatural Carnivalé premise, but Lucas' Wrightsonish art is not that interesting and Carey's script reads like he was experimenting in automatic writing. B+

I realize that Paul Chadwick is a heck of an artist and puts a lot of thought and time into his work. And I also realize that Chadwick is trying, in his own way, to fight the good fight and raise our consciousnesses about the pressing issues of the day. But each issue in this series has been progressively duller, despite #2's admittedly diverting "sex" scene, and this issue is about as lively as reading the Journal of American Medical Practice while listening to one of Brian Eno's ambient albums. Even the spectacle of Concrete's hopelessly clueless assistant Larry getting some strange doesn't enliven the proceedings. Overpopulation may be the Human Dilemma, but the Johnny B dilemma is "how do I stay interested enough to last six issues with this earnest and well-done but desert-dry comic book?" B

Another title which has squandered whatever interest I had in it at the beginning, featuring hijinks that aren't very high, adventure that isn't very adventurous, and jokey dialogue that just lies there on the page, shackled to the busy but pedestrian MignolaNaifehisms of artist "Hipp". I liked last issue enough to look forward to this, thinking it would at least reference it if not continue it right away, but inexplicably the (you'd think) world-changing events aren't even mentioned- instead we get a lame Hollywood satire which isn't even as sharp as Bill Willingham's. One of these days somebody's gonna make a witty, entertaining comic about a diverse group of musicians, but this ain't it, folks. C+


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