Sunday, April 24, 2005

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What I bought and what I thought, week of April 20

100 BULLETS 60
More players, many of which we haven't seen for quite some time now, converge on Miami for more Minutemen/Trust hijinx- and things don't look so good for one of them right off the bat. Myself, I hope he makes it because I kinda liked that character, Mr. Branch, who's been living in exile in Paris for some time now since running afoul of the Trust. Or was it the Minutemen? That's really the only problem I have with this series- sometimes it's a challenge to tell the players without a scorecard, and I don't always have my earlier issues on hand to refer to and refresh my memory. I've read where some will accumulate several issues in a row and read them like that, which makes sense but I'm an impatient sort. Anyway, none of this is Azzurello's problem- he seems to have gotten his second wind and things are really humming right now. And, as always, artist Ed Risso is amazing. This time out, he throws in a whole bunch of cameos by people that I don't recognize...but they look like someone beside generic comic book bystanders which is puzzling but not bothersome. A

Once again, we have The Grant in straightforward storytelling mode, where he sets up the characters and the situation...and while I don't exactly remember the backstory Jack Kirby gave his witchboy way back in 1973, I don't think he would have been too upset by what he's given us. As with We3, Grant steps back and lets his artist show his stuff, and while the Corbenisms of Frazer Irving aren't quite as complimentary as Frank Quitely is, he still does a fine job of showing us Klarion's dank, gloomy world and conveys his fey sense of detached menace very well. I especially got a kick out of the doe-eyed insouciance on page eight, panel four. I think we can all agree that Morrison and Co. are giving us a lot more bang for our bucks, and doing it with a whole lot less angst and hype, than his associates who are busy dragging the rest of the company through the mud. A-

Which is a nice segue, I suppose, to this- by far the biggest victim of the new "Death Wish" DC Comics' approach to superheroics. If you clear your mind and deliberately forget all the Identity Fiasco bullshit, you can have a good time with this. It's just as breezy and fun as the old series was when it was in full vigor- and the Guy Gardner-Power Girl scenes were a hoot. In fact, this issue is probably the most enjoyable one yet, with another great job by the Maguire/Rubenstein team, especially in their portrayal of Etrigan and his little corner of Hell. But my biggest problem is that I can't get all the Identity Fiasco bullshit out of my mind, and I'll bet you can't either. A-

Jill Presto finally has her baby, as the forces of the Lilim hook up with a bunch of renegade angels for one big assault on the gates of the Jehovah-less Heaven...and we don't get to see the titular character until the very last page. Which is not necessarily a problem per se...but I buy this comic because I'm interested in Mike Carey's take on Gaiman's Lucifer Morningstar character, and not all his supporting cast who are not an especially charismatic lot, compared to him. Oh well. Right now, Lucifer is one of those titles, and we all have them, that I've invested a lot of time and interest in, and know that it will eventually come to an end at a predetermined time, and am reasonably intrigued at all the storylines involving all these characters, some of which I like more than others-so I'm enjoying it just enough to stay interested in how it all turns out. It's kinda late to bail now, even if I wanted to. Whether or not this is a good thing I'll leave up to you. B+

Hoo boy, I don't know what to think about this. Everything gets resolved, and credibility remains unstrained, but geez Louise, does this require a lot of talking and shouting and explaining to the reader, and some nice character stuff at the end involving the Q, Superman and Lois doesn't quite compensate for the rambling, ramshackle finale we get before. The way I understand it, this was originally intended to be one of a group of miniseries involving the satellite characters in the current Superman storylines, and editorial complications made this unworkable, and that's why this seems (to me, anyway) Frankensteined together with a lot of stitches showing. Whichis not to say that this is Tommy Lee Edwards' fault... he's done a spectacular job of illustrating all these goings-on. Wish he could be consigned to do a regular title. Anyway, this was good, not great, the changes Veitch made to the character didn't bother me all that much- but if we should get a sequel, and Edwards doesn't draw it, I won't buy. Guess we should all be glad that someone didn't decide to put a bullet in Vic Sage's head. B+

Amusing first story, which features Buddy Bradley, no big surprise there. Can't figure out, like Lisa, why he wanted to sport the Popeye look, since Popeye didn't have an eyepatch, but it was amusing just the same. Next up is a text feature with illos that would probably have been more interesting if I had ever lived in Seattle. Bagge sounds cranky and judgmental here, and I didn't dig it. Then we get reprinted Bat Boy strips from the Weekly World News, which I had already read- yes, that's right, first thing I do when standing in line at the grocery is grab the latest WWN and look for "Bat Boy". One gets the funniest looks when he laughs out loud. Anyway, those strips are fun, but are way too reliant on topical and celebrity jokes which date quickly and don't always hit home, and eventually read like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch. I was kinda hoping Fantagraphics might put all these out in their own trade collection, but I guess this is the next best thing. Finally, we get a "Lovey" strip which isn't especially funny, but is at least brief so that's a virtue. I'm beginning to get a little disenchanted with our boy Pete...his Buddy Bradley stories are still entertaining, but his recent work for Marvel and DC was just bland and hokey, and while his Reason strips have been at least interesting, they're rarely anything to get excited about. He's beginning to remind me of Dale Murphy a bit- the former Atlanta Braves slugger who was as good as it got for a good ten year span, but when he lost it, he lost it fast and never got it back...struggling for almost five years before giving it up for good. I'm not saying that Bagge should give it up, but I really wish he could get his mojo back somehow. C+

MIA: LIVEWIRES 3. Hopefully it will drag its sorry ass in next week.

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