Saturday, January 14, 2006

Time once more for
Ruminations, castigations, disseminations and assorted frustratingly exiguous meandering observations in regard to comics I have read, weeks of December 28th through January 11th!

S: Warren Ellis; A: J.H. Williams III
After probing the assorted miasmata of a number of tangential characters, Ellis now lets us become privy to the nightmarish event which made Mr. Jones the way his is today, and it's brought to wonderful, horrible life by J.H. Williams, bringing all the perceptual tricks he honed in his stint on Promethea to bear. Jones is, and was even before this, a pathetic specimen- and the antithesis of the typical Ellis Hero- he's not confident, not cool, not especially smart, charismatic, or even pissed off. He's a shambling wreck, actually. But knowing that this deeply flawed protagonist will somehow rise above the morass of his situation, and watching him go about it, is (well, besides the superlative Williams' art, that is) all the fun of this most atypical, yet familiar just the same, Warren Ellis character...and I hope there will be many more issues to come. A

S: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti. A: Khari Evans, Palmiotti.
Ah, the Garth Ennis school of comics-making (remember Fury?) is NOT dead. Just in time to become a great example of the very thing that Lea Hernandez and others have been railing against, we get a Spike-TV-flavored resurrection of the Misty Knight/Colleen Wing team, who first came to our attention in the long-ago '70s issues of Iron Fist- and they were intriguing enough to be fondly remembered by a lot of aging comics geeks, myself included. I don't know about them, but the last thing I was hoping for was a sophomoric T&A fest, kinda like that one panel of All-Star Batman that's got everyone so worked up except that it goes on much longer as artist Evans displays the girls in various convoluted booty-call poses and the Gray/Palmiotti team, doing so well on Jonah Hex, giving us lesbian innuendo and smirky jokes. Too bad, because the girls are compelling in spite of the tawdriness, and the humor, when it's not nudging us in the ribs, works well- especially with the sad-sack group of villains we meet here ("Eightball", heh), kinda like a less-clever She-Hulk. If Evans could restrain himself (herself?)- his/her work reminds me of Phil Winslade except not as polished, and Graymiotti could get their noses out of FHM magazine, they could give us fun, exciting junk...but based on this issue, it seems they're only interested in junk. C+

DMZ #3 (DC/Vertigo)
S: Brian Wood, A: Riccardo Burchielli & Wood
Three issues in, and I still don't have any kind of a feel for what this is supposed to be about, other than lead Matt encountering weird people and asshole soldiers, and getting shot at or leaping out of the way when things explode. Still, Matty is likeable and interesting enough to keep me buying, for now. Burchielli's art is solid, especially in the first four or five pages as he gives us some diverting action shots as Manhattan gets bombed. B+

S: Grant Morrison, A: Doug Mahnke
Lively mix of Mary Shelly, Burroughs, and Lovecraft as Franky breaks up Mister Melmoth's (late of Klarion) little mining operation on Mars, and Grant fills in a few more blanks in the process. As always, I remain in awe of the powerful, yet nuanced, art of Doug Mahnke, who can draw the most dire events in superlative fashion, even achieving a kind of lyrical poetry in the opening sequences on the Martian plain, with Frankie and his lantern and his trusty bug-beast steeds...but can't hide the light, humorous touch which keeps everything from becoming ponderous and dull. The world's a better place, as far as I'm concerned, when Mr. Mahnke draws comics. A

100 BULLETS 68 (DC/Vertigo)
S: Brian Azzarello, A: Eduardo Risso
Best thing about this issue is the final panel, a neat twist which Azzarello patiently and cleverly sets up throughout the whole narrative. Also, we get a lot of flashback activity this time out, which actually enhances our knowledge of the cumbersome plot instead of muddying the waters further. Risso does a typically great job of illustrating the early '60s setting of these flashbacks, but unfortunately caricature isn't among his prodigious talents- he totally whiffs when called upon to draw Frank Sinatra on the cover of his Come Swing With Me album. Oh well, nobody's perfect. A

S: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti; A: Luke Ross
Bat Lash makes a guest appearance this time out, in another tale of frontier corruption and harsh Hex-style justice. Gotta understand, I'm a huge fan of the original 60's run, sadly unreprinted, and I'm mighty picky about how he's used...and I'm pleased to say that Graymiotti acquit themselves well on that score, even though they just don't really have the James Garner-as-Maverick-inspired mix of sincerity and insouciance that Dennis O'Neil and Sergio Aragones were somehow able to bring to the table, and no one's really touched since. Artist Ross is still coming across as a bit of a soft-focus poor man's John Cassaday, but really, he's better than that. A-

S: Greg Rucka, A: Kano, Steven Gaudiano
Excellent dramatics throughout, as Rucka works his cast skillfully and Kano/Gaudiano bring out all the drama inherit in this account of the aftermath of the murder of Detective Allen. This comic hasn't always been this good, but I'll really miss its down-to-earth tone- another in the long list of "best comics nobody bought". A

FABLES #45 (DC/Vertigo)
S: Bill Willingham, A: Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha
A number of intriguing twists and turns in the lives of all these characters, that will mean a lot to you if you've been reading for a while, and will mean nothing if you haven't...competently drawn by the Buckingham/Leialoha team. A-

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