Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bam! Biff! Pow! Time once more for
Frustratingly brief comments about floppy pamphlets I have purchased and perused from the period that encompasses 2 through 18 April. Not just for kids anymore.

100 BULLETS 71 (DC/Vertigo)
S: Brian Azzarello; A: Eduardo Risso
Just when I was beginning to wonder why I was sticking with this book, Azzarello delivers a knockout scene between psychopathic brute Lono and the conniving Megan Dietrich. Then, we go back to the other ongoing storyline involving a meat processing plant worker who has been the recipient of one of Agent Graves' briefcases, and once more I'm in Whothewhatthe land. B+

THE WINTER MEN 4 (DC/Wildstorm)
S: Brett Lewis; A: John Paul Leon
Gorky Park meets Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Sort of a "Day in the life" episode as nominal hero Kris and "colleague" Nikki spend a day escorting a black market software seller of some dubious nature, and generally performing the sort of tasks that presumably all good Russian gangsters perform, carrying on an ongoing conversation which is alternately amusing and often very clever in Lewis' fractured English/Russkie scripted dialect. Often a bit hard to follow, true, but at the end of the day I came away entertained by all the character stuff and atmosphere, and a bit shocked at the surprising outcome. Once more, Leon gives us another exceptional effort; like Risso on 100 Bullets, he's invaluable as our guide through the Land of Convoluted Plotting. A-

DMZ #6 (DC/Vertigo)
S: Brian Wood; A: Riccardo Burchielli
Back to the big overarching plotline, and I was a lot less engaged this time than I was with last issue's one-and-done character piece. I am still no less convinced of the validity of the premise- I mean, really, how the hell could you have what is practically the nerve center of arguably the most powerful country in the world secede, and not see that country collapse? I mean, telecommunications, the arts, the ocean docks and airports, the frigging Mets, Yankees, Knicks and Rangers (The Giants and Jets are presumably safe in Jersey)?!? Of course, we're not really shown how the rest of the country is getting along, now are we- I suppose the Yankees are now the San Antonio Yankees or some such. Wood's too good a writer not to have thought all this out, but I just can't see it based on what we've been given so far. Either way, it's just too far-fetched for my increasing skepticism to bear, and if not for Demo and Local I would have bailed long ago. What's a poor cynic to do? B-

SHAOLIN COWBOY 5 (Burlyman Entertainment)
S: Geoff Darrow, Andy and Larry Wachowski; A: Darrow
Anytime you get this much of Darrow's insanely meticulous art, you can never complain with too much legitimacy. But really- this much absurdity without the saving grace of a coherent plotline is like eating cake icing and washing it down with Jones creme soda...after a while, one wants something a bit more substantial. Plus it's hard on the teeth and stomach, but I digress. But boy howdy, this is really good icing! A-

S/A: Nick Bertozzi, Mike Dawson, Dean Trippe; Cover: Hope Larson
Two reasons to pick this up: Dean Trippe's enjoyable Butterfly story (most of which I'd already read online) and Hope Larson's lovely-if-strange and very colorful cover. We also get a somewhat amusing, albeit crudely drawn, tale about a superhero convenience store, admittedly a clever idea, and another about a schoolteacher with robotic arms which is even more lifeless and stiff, art-wise, than its predecessor. Caveat emptor, as the saying goes. B-

SUPER REAL 1 & 2 (Super Real Graphics)
S/A: Jason Martin
If good intentions netted you an Eisner or a Harvey, then this would be a shoo-in- and this account of a group of character traits who are assembled for what appears to be a Real World-type reality show, but is in actuality someting more sinister, has its moments for sure- the concept is clever enough, and there are some fine satiric shots taken at the usual suspects: the Administration, TV Execs, bimbo starlets, etc., etc.- but there just aren't enough of them, nor does the Humberto Ramos by-way-of Ted McKeever art, with its multitudes of Photoshop cut-and-pasted facial expressions and figures (and how do those girls stand up on those ankles, anyway?) make it any easier to read. Martin shows some promise, I think, perhaps more as a scripter than an illustrator, and despite what I've said I do believe this is worth your time, if the premise sounds interesting to you. Better things may be on the horizon, and maybe even in this book if he keeps at it long enough. C+

That's all for now; next I'll opine upon Batman Year 100 3, Desolation Jones 6, B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine #1, and many other titles you've probably already read weeks ago.

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