Sunday, February 12, 2006

Time once more for
Ruminations, castigations, disseminations and assorted frustratingly exiguous meandering observations in regard to comics I have read, weeks of January 27- February 11!

Part The First.

JEREMIAH HARM #1 (Boom! Studios)
S: Keith Giffen, Alan Grant; A: Rael Lyra
I'm not going to go the cheap, cynical route and say that this is an old Lobo script that Giffen dusted off and presented to his new buddies at Boom!. Whoops, just did, didn't I? OK, it may not be, but it sure reads like one, and despite the fact that I never liked the cartoonish, oafish Lobo character I found this a pretty good read all things considered- like something from Heavy Metal or Warren's 1984/1994 magazine. By far the best thing about this book is the hyperdetailed and dynamic art of Lyra, who was unknown to me previous. His efforts push this into another level, and make me want to read more. Nice Clint Eastwood homage on the cover, too. B+

HAUNTED MANSION #2 (Slave Labor)
S: Christopher, Roman Dirge, Serena Valentino, Jon "Bean" Hastings, and Dan Vado; A: Christopher, Dirge, "FSc", Jon Morris, and David Hedgecock
Another issue of the lighthearted horror anthology series featuring stories inspired by the Disney attraction (which I actually visited, about 33 years ago, Jesus God), and those attuned to the Gloom Cookie/Lenore/Johnny the Homicidal Maniac vibe will eat it up and ask for seconds. Best here actually features Lenore, by creator Roman Dirge, in which she visits the Mansion and, naturally, takes over in her fashion. Also noteworthy is a story about "The Woman in Black" by GloomCookie's Valentino, drawn in a scratchy hodgepodge of goth and manga styles by someone or something called "FSc", which at least wasn't predictable. It figures that the people who've had the most experience at this sort of thing come across the best here. If you see this while you're browsing for black fingernail polish and silver studded dog collars at Hot Topic, you could do worse than to check it out. B

A TRIP TO RUNDBERG (Frequency Press)
S: Nate Southard; A: Shawn Richter
If you are still digging The Walking Dead, then you might enjoy this- but for everyone else, this wil be a dreary rehash of every zombie story written in the last thirty years, poorly drawn and with a nihilistic ending which renders everything we'd read to that point and any emotional investment we'd made in the plight of the characters meaningless. The team's previous effort, Drive, was no less poorly illustrated but had its moments...however, I can't recommend this at all. This is one Trip you should decline. C-

S/A: Michael Kupperman
Positive word-of-mouth from many other, finer reviewers than I on #1 led me to check this out, and while I can't say I was impressed as some, this was still fun in places. An droll, oddball blend of Griffith, Seth, Clowes, Chris Ware, Bob Burden and Tom Tomorrow, the hit-to-miss ratio of the plentiful sight gags is about 3-to-1, with the most amusing (to me, anyway) being the Captain Marvel satire (The Silver Knight! Starring Merlin!) and the business with Fireman Octopus, his potential licensing character. Guess I was thrizzled, but not to the point of distraction. A-

HELLBOY: MAKOMA #1 (Dark Horse)
S: Mike Mignola; A: Mignola, Richard Corben
I don't know if any of you remember Childcraft, a series of kid-oriented themed reference books which were published by World Book Encyclopedia and usually came bundled with them when you ordered a set- but I had them, and one of my favorite volumes was the one which contained folklore from different lands. Of those represented, among the most interesting were the tales from Africa, and that's what Mignola taps in this, the latest Hellboy mini (or should that be micro) -series, which thankfully sports several (more than I expected) pages with his art in a framing sequence that blends perfectly into the bulk of the tale told by that mummy, an adaptation of one of those old folk stories, this time starring HB and wonderfully drawn by Corben in what must surely be regarded as one of the best art jobs of his long and storied career. His rendition of HB is second to only Mignola, and he brings out the inherent humor as well as the impending danger and of course the underlying menace and tragedy of Hellboy's backstory, as well as some wonderfully detailed renditions of the African terrain. Stellar job by all concerned, and maybe the best Hellboy story since Corpse and the Iron Shoes. A

S: Earl Mac Rauch, Joe Gentile; A: Steven Thompson, Keith Williams
Any of you who've read my rantings for any length of time know how much I loved the Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai film, for its unconventional storytelling and its wonderful cast, and like any Blue Blaze Irregular worth his salt, have long hoped for some sort of continuation, even if it is without Peter Weller and John Lithgow (we gave up on that sometime in the early 90s). Due to a long, complicated series of events, nicely detailed in the text essay in the back of this book, this has not come to pass. But Moonstone has somehow gotten the rights to release another comic book version, the first since the godawful Marvel Comics movie adaptation of 1984, and after a long delay, we have finally gotten this preview. I wish I could say it was worth the wait. Working from a story idea by Buckaroo creator Mac Rauch, it gives us an updated group of Hong Kong Cavaliers, with Perfect Tommy, New Jersey, Reno Nevada, and of course Buckaroo remaining from the classic version. 3/4 dream sequence, and 1/4 setup for the upcoming series (or is that a one-shot? It's kinda vague on that score), the dialogue is clumsy and flat, laden with exposition, and the art is flat-out bad, awkwardly posed and clumsily inked. Well, in all fairness, the Thompson/Williams team do a good job on Buckaroo's jet car. Makes me wonder if this isn't just another Red Lectroid or World Crime League plot to discredit the great Dr. Banzai. But all seriousness aside, if the ongoing/oneshot isn't any better than this, here's one BBI that will break ranks and decline to support Team Banzai in this incarnation, anyway. C+, with the plus being the price point of 50 cents.

S: Mike Carey, A: Glenn Fabry
Speaking of adaptations, this is that rarest of rare things, a comic book adaptation of not only a TV movie but a prose novel as well that manages to transcend its source and become something greater, and this is due for the most part to the excellent work that Fabry is doing-, adding layer after layer of meticulously rendered innovation to already established characters...and everything he's doing works. For those, like me, that were used to Fabry as a cover artist it's quite the revelation. Not much more to say, other than to once more repeat for the record that more people should be talking about this book, for that reason if nothing else. A

More to come, including Bluesman V2, The Middle Man, and Seven Soldiers presents: Bulleteer #3.

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