THE BACARDI SHOW NEW COMICS REVUE!
Periodic ruminations, castigations, disseminations and assorted frustratingly exiguous semi-cogent observations in regard to comics I have read, weeks of February 16-28!
Part The First.
WAR OF THE WORLDS: SECOND WAVE #1 (Boom! Studios)
S: Michael Alan Nelson; A: "Chee"
The Boom!ers have certainly been churning out the titles lately, haven't they? And for the most part, they've been of generally high quality, taking established fantasy fiction tropes and getting them across with enthusiasm and spirit, which does count for something. Unfortunately, this also means that once in a while, they drop a bomb on our unsuspecting heads, and this is one of them. Completely derivative and uninspired in execution, there's absolutely nothing here that you haven't seen or read before if you're even marginally familiar with the numerous extrapolations of Wells' long-ago novel. And while it certainly seems like our boy "Chee" has labored mightily (along with his colorist, Matt Webb), it unfortunately just makes it look mighty labored and utterly unremarkable. Nice cover by Jeff Rebner and Ron Riley, though. Couldn't help but think it would be highly amusing if the Martians keep coming back at the end of every issue... C
ZOMBIE TALES: DEATH VALLEY #2 (Boom!)
S: Andrew Cosby, Johanna Stokes; A: Rhoald Marcellus.
#2? I never saw #1! Oh well. This was still an enjoyable Night of the Comet-esque tale of four LA teenagers who are on the run from your basic zombie plague, and it's never dull, mostly thanks to Stokes's lively dialogue and the passable manga stylings of Marcellus, kinda stiff but not static. All things considered, though, despite Boom!'s admittedly better-than-most takes on the genre, I think I could quite happily live the rest of my life and never read another story with reanimated dead people in it. B+
JOHN CONSTANTINE: HELLBLAZER #217 (DC/Vertigo)
S: Denise Mina; A: Leo Manco
Not-bad second chapter from new writer Mina. Nice to see Constantine as an active, rather than passive, protagonist again. Manco's art even looks better, although it's still very sloppy. Howzat for a short-n-sweet review? B+
LOVELESS #4 (DC/Vertigo)
S: Brian Azzarello; A: Marcelo Frusin
I usually give new titles six issues to win me over, but I've had enough this time after four. Despite actually engaging my interest last time out, this one sinks back in the murk of Azzarello's ever-mannered circuitous dialogue and too-gnarly-for-its-own-good plotting. Bendis is fucking Shakespeare compared to him. Frusin is as solid as always, but he's wasted here. I miss him on Hellblazer. Here's where I get off. Happy trails, podner. C+
STRANGE GIRL #6 (Image)
S: Rick Remender; A: Eric Nguyen
This is readable enough, fast-paced and enjoyable, and once in a while Remender gives us the impression that he's been thinking about the nature of religion and belief, just enough to make you wish he'd dig a little deeper. It may be beyond him, though, because really all he seems to want to do is Mad Max-meets-Highway to Hell. I know, I know, we can't all be Alan Moore. This is Nguyen's last issue for the forseeable future, he's off to play with the big boys at Marvel, just as he had learned to rein in his chaotic style so it complimented, rather than struggled with, the story. That's comics for ya. B+
TESTAMENT #3 (DC/Vertigo)
S: Douglas Rushkoff, A: Liam Sharp
Here's another title which promises much but delivers little other than a blend of Orwell and C.S. Lewis, with art that delivers a decent Quitely impersonation, neither of which is as exciting as it sounds. Somebody better flick the "on" switch in my head pretty soon, or I'm bailing on this one as well. C+
DAREDEVIL #82 (Marvel)
S: Ed Brubaker; A: Michael Lark
Playing the cards that Bendis dealt him before he folded and left the table, Brubaker does the best he can with a grindingly tired premise and the same old same old cast of characters. What I wouldn't give for a nice Matador or Leap-Frog battle! Oh well, fortunately this is the Brube we're talking about, and he can wring some genuine tension and pathos out of the situation, mostly by virtue of Foggy Nelson and his tribulations in the wake of his partner's escapades. Guess we better enjoy him while we can. Lark is rock-steady as always, a really talented and nuanced artist, even when someone is clumsily Photoshopping the hell out of him. B+
LUCIFER #71 (DC/Vertigo)
S: Mike Carey; A: Peter Gross, Aaron Alexander
Carey continues to lock all the doors and turn out the lights, as he slowly works towards the series finale in #75. This time out he resolves the situation with the piano bar that he started waaay back in the Sandman days, as well as the acolytes which had gathered outside. Gave me a tiny twinge of nostalgia, it did. Nicely understated story, noting Eisnerworthy but another satisfying chapter in a book that I'll certainly miss. A-
CATWOMAN #52 (DC)
S: Will Pfiefer; A: Pete Woods
Maybe I'm just being contrary, but I'm more interested in the Slam Bradley and his armor-wearing son subplot than I am in the whole Selina vs. Black Mask thing, which, let's face it, has been done already. And didn't she drop him off a building then? Oh well, doesn't matter anyway, any of it, because next up is...ONE YEAR LATER! Still, I don't blame Pfiefer, who's doing a good job and is just playing by the House rules, but I'm not finding a lot of reasons to keep buying, especially because one powerful incentive, the art of Woods, is no longer going to be featured in this title. We shall see, I guess. B
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #15 (DC)
S: Stuart Moore, Mark Waid; A: Pat Oliffe, "Livesay", Somebody DeKraker, Rodney(?) Ramos
I don't know, it's like they just don't want me to like this title. The lead story is a cluttered, messy, chaotic fill-in involving time travel and various incarnations of the LSH, including the Disco-era Tyroc, possessor of one of the dumbest costumes in comics history, and members of the Secret Society of Super-Villains...and if I was 14 years old I might have dug it but at my age I just found it tiresome. It's not helped by the workmanlike and uninspired Oliffe art- as an illustrator he makes a good colorist. Substitute scripter Stuart Moore's a better writer than this, I know. There's an extended letters section as well, but no Amanda Connor this time and it's even duller than the lead feature. I think it's quite apparent that this is not going to be the Legion of Super-Heroes that I want to read, so I think it's best if I moved on now, before we both do something we might regret. C-
F.PAUL WILSON'S THE KEEP #4 (IDW)
S: Wilson, A: Matt Smith
After this, the penultimate issue, all I can say is that there's a lot to be said for sticking with the source material. Kiddies, just read the book. It's better than this DOA exercise. Rarely have I felt as let down by an artist whose work I had previously admired. C+
POLLY AND THE PIRATES #4 (Oni Press)
S/A: Ted Naifeh
Polly, still smarting from being put through the wringer last time out, sets about making things right, and even comes across, oddly enough, as a bit more likeable. Another enjoyable gothic Peter Pan-inspired chapter of what has been a pretty good read so far, despite Naifeh's predilection for drawing hands like claws and giving Polly gingerbread-man feet. A
HATTER M: THE LOOKING GLASS WARS (Desperado)
S: Frank Beddor, Liz Cavalier; A: Ben Templesmith
Ordinarily I look forward to revisionist spins on classic fairytale characters, Fables notwithstanding, with the same enthusiasm as I approach root canal surgery or standing in line at the grocery store, that is, not at all. But this is another exception- a genuinely clever spin on a number of sources, mostly but not limited to Lewis Carroll, kinda like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Dark City at the intersection of Lemony Snicket and Interview With the Vampire. I think most of the credit must go to Templesmith, whose witty and exaggerated cartoonishness is given free rein and is often amazing- I like him better here than on Fell, and he's pretty good there, too. I think this was a preview of #2- credits were hard to find on the advance copy I received and I had to go to the website to find out who was publishing it. As far as I can tell, this is an illustrated graphic novel sequel or spinoff or something to a novel by Beddor. I never saw #1, but I'm intrigued enough to look for it, subsequent releases, and the "official" #2 as well. Mysteries upon mysteries! A
And that's all I got for now; look for part two sooner or later, after the Buzzscope column sees the light of day. After it sees light of day I HOPE, that is.