Sunday, October 30, 2005

And now, Johnny Bacardi brings you...COMICS!

Thought I'd write some short reviews of books I've received since I submitted Friday's LAST CALL column over at CBG. You see, since I started getting books via DCBS and not from my local comics shop on Wednesday, I've been receiving most of my comics on Friday, too late to add to the column so I have to wait a whole week to review them. I'm thinking it might be a good idea to write about them here, then if needs must expand on these capsules for the column. So here goes nothing. Beware of spoilers.

Finally, signs of life! After two issues which just seemed off somehow, we get a series of events which bodes well for the remaining two. Beginning with an effectively imagined dream sequence with Liz Sherman, to the striking Nevermen-ish bad guy who seems to be doing his darndest to exacerbate the frog-creaure problem, to an explosive finale, Arcudi finally begins to hit some correct scripting notes- but all would be for naught if not for Guy Davis. I can't think of an artist who's doing better work right now than him. I wish he would hook up with Alan Moore on something right now. A

This was a good read, with Selina interacting with all sorts of characters including (of course) Batman as she attempts to run a scam on the band of supervillains who have invaded her beloved East Side of Gotham, and elegantly illustrated by Pete Woods. And it boasts a sudden finale which involved our heroine getting a plastic 90 degree angle stuck in her forehead. Ouch. But c'mon, Will- nobody thinks for a minute that Selina's gonna actually be dead, and it's kinda offputting that you'd try to make us think so, not to mention all the annoying contrivance you're gonna have to indulge in to keep the licensed property functional. B+

Pretty much standard-issue Bendis/Maleev DD, as we revisit all that "Matt Murdock's secret identity outed" jazz yet again. Bendis has written some 50-odd issues of this, and he's never really seemed to be able to move beyond it, admittedly a good idea and well-handled the first time...but geez. Pretty much saved by some lively dialogue between Elektra, the Black Widow, the new White Tiger, and DD as well as an interesting interlude with Foggy Nelson. But even then, Bendis can't resist sticking Iron Fist and Luke Cage in. It may get better, but so far for me this storyline is like eating last night's pizza for supper. Tastes good, but not as good as last night and boy, did I want something besides pizza. B

Bit of a changeup, as we are given a Star Trek: Mirror Mirror-style premise in which Dormammu has recreated our world with evil opposites of the Marvel superhero community, and sics 'em on Namor and Doc Strange. Lots and lots and lots of talk, as usual, (Giffen & DeMatteis, the letterer's best friend and patron) but also a lot more engaging and enjoyable than last issue, which pointed towards the fizz going out of the pop. And the last page with the Silver Surfer made me laugh out loud. A-

This wasn't terrible, but for some reason I expected more than a rehash of The Outlaw Josey Wales with contemporary comic-book slang- "fucksticks" indeed. And when compared to the hightoned Shakespearean discourse of Deadwood, apples and oranges, I know, but don't think for a minute that this is anything but an attempt to capitalize on the Deadwood-inspired renewed interest in the Western, it's abysmal. This sort of stuff works well in the here-and-now world of 100 Bullets, but not here. Another outstanding art job by Marcelo Frusin, who I miss on Hellblazer, but the coloring is so murky and dank that it was hard to parse sometimes. Still, it's early, and if nothing else Azzarello is a good plotter so I'll hold out hope that it will get better. C+

The extended "darkest hour before the dawn" continues, as the apparently defeated Legion continues to struggle against the menace which has killed (or so we're led to believe, anyway) one team member and has stranded the splintered team in several places acorss the galaxy. This wasn't as muddled, narrative-wise, as the last couple of issues have been, and several interesting ideas are presented to good effect. Even Barry Kitson seemed to be alert and awake. Then Waid goes and shoots himself in the foot with a coda that scolds the very fanboys and the collector mentality that 2005 DC seems to be bending over backwards to cater to. Mixed messages, biting feeding hands, et cetera. B

God, what a gyp. This is gonna resolve the whole Power Girl origin mess, trust us, they said- and they deliver, sort of, except they don't really because everything's gotta be tied into all the Identity Bullshit. Bah. The saving grace for this whole series was Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti's expressive art. C-

Losers, on the other hand, rarely disappoints, and this issue is no exception. Really just a stage setting chapter in the final story arc, but still full of great characterization and dialogue, and the welcome return of Jock to the art chores. A

This, too, is a bit livelier than the last couple of issues, as our hero Reizo consolidates his plans and finds someone who can tell him what's what with his new armored body. Leinil Yu's art is pretty, but for some reason (which I can't quite put my finger on) it absolutely embalms Diggle's scripts, sucks the life right out. B-

What's puzzling about this is why they had to remove the Adam West Batman from the cover when a pretty good facsimile appears on the back cover and one of the stories inside. Oh well, the replacement illo isn't bad, with Wonder Girl "shaking a pretty mean cape" instead. Yes, it's Mike Allred's turn in the spotlight, and he gives us pretty much what you'd expect- amusing, if slight, takes on DC's Gold-and-Silver Age characters with a plethora of well-known, as well as obscure and forgotten, characters- everyone from Superman and Batman to the Mad Mod and the Fox/Sekowsky Robin of Earth-2. We get an amusing Hourman story, chaotic but likeable 60's Doom Patrol/Teen Titans team-up of sorts, fun New Gods 2-pager...but he darn near squanders whatever good will he's evoked with an overlong and hamfisted plea (actually written by his older brother Lee) which uses a sort of amalgamation of today's and the 60's Batman for a return to the lighthearted and noble DC of yore or at least that of his childhood. Their hearts are in the right place, and I can't say I disagree that there's precious little fun to be had at DC these days to its detriment, but fellas, there's a reason why they stopped making comics like that, and that particular genie won't go back into the bottle no matter how much we might wish it were so. And it's best to lead by example, rather than come across didactic as you do here. I mean jeez- I loved Scooter, the Inferior Five, Metamorpho and Super-Hip as much as anybody who grew up in the '60s, but there's no way in hell that trying to inhabit that long-gone mindset once more on a regular basis is going to save anything or anybody. A-

Don't be surprised if you see a couple of these again...

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