Saturday, August 19, 2006


Well, a mini-BSNCR anyway, I just got my new comics shipment yesterday, when all my trouble seemed so far away. But I do have a few I've gotten since last wit:

S: Will Pfiefer; A: Los Lopez David y Alvaro. (DC, $2.99)

Another witty and typically outstanding Adam Hughes cover ushers us into the latest chapter, as CW brings in Zatanna, no less, to act as Winston Wolf to Selina's Vince Vega and deal with the Angle Man and the Film Freak, who have figured out who she is and where she lives. The other subplots aren't ignored, either- the police continue to confront Holly GoCatwoman about the murder of the Black Mask (she didn't do it, they know, but they're trying to smoke out the "real" CW) and we get some more "One Year Ago" events. Pfiefer nimbly skips around with all of this; I was amused to find myself distrusting Zatanna, of all people, since she was taking so darn long to do her mindfuck thing on the evil duo, and I totally admire the neat curve he throws when giving us Film Freak's eventual reaction to Zee's ministrations. This is how to do downbeat spandex (or leather, I guess) without being oppressive or leaden. Artwise, I wish David L was a bit more facile and had a bit more spark to his style, but he's competent enough and Alvaro L's inks make him look all purty. I thought the neat little Steranko rip at the end was very nicely done. I suppose those who dwell upon such things should be a little pleased to note that two of DC's best ongoing pamphlets right now feature lead female characters not Amazonian in lineage. A

S: Greg Rucka; A: Jesus Saiz, Fernando Blanco. (DC, $2.99)

All right, who put the soap opera in my spandex espionage? Aw, I know, Rucka did in an effort to make this thing look well-rounded and dramatically valid, but geez- do we really need this sort of thing in a book like this? Anyway, all the weepy froofraw darn near but doesn't completely drag down a not-bad main story of aspiring Checkmate agents. The characters still annoy the hell out of me by constantly referring to each other as chess pieces, but this wasn't as noticeable this time out. Saiz and Blanco continue to give us pretty much what passes for DC House Style these days- once in a while we get a panel or page where some personality peeks out, but mostly it's all done in the same monotone competence. Raised a notch because we get Count Vertigo, a character I've always kinda liked (probably because of his Von Eeden pedigree) acting as bastardly as he oughtta should. B-

S: Bruce Jones; A: John Watkiss (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Although Jones has been doing a lotta scripting in the last few years, I've managed to ignore most of it. Not being a regular Marvel, especially X-whatever or Hulk reader will have that effect I guess. Anyway, I mostly recall the good stuff he did back in the 70's for Warren, and while I'm happy for him that he's able to still command work when many of his contemporaries (Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Don McGregor come to mind) are unjustly ignored, this is a hell of a long way from the likes of "Jenifer". Of course, this isn't Boston Brand we're talkin' about here; I'm pretty much convinced that character is played out and so is the braintrust at National. So we get a new fellow, who, through a series of utterly convoluted and confusing is-it-real-or-is-it-ain't-reality flashbacks, becomes a literal living dead man who just wants to find out what the hell's going on. The reader shares this sentiment. The astute reader also will realize immediately that Keith Giffen has already beaten him to this particular punch via Tag. Another strike against this is the art of John Watkiss, whose sloppy, skewed and oddly proportioned style just gets on my nerves nine times out of ten. Somebody at Vertigo likes his stuff, so he keeps getting work...when it comes to unpopular artists who Vertigo champions, Watkiss falls somewhere between Steve Yeowell (absolute dislike on my part) to Warren Pleece (whose work, when self-inked, I like a LOT), closer to the former than the latter. There's nothing about this take on the "Deadman" name that I haven't seen before in other TV shows and films (well, OK, the post-mortem boner scene...maybe on HBO); in fact, the whole premise is so TV-ish that it wouldn't surprise me if this didn't start its life as a proposal of some sort. Who knows- Jones may have a million interesting directions in which he intends to go with this...but I doubt it. C

S: Garth Ennis; A: Darick Robertson. (DC/Wildstorm, $2.99)

Ever since Ennis wrapped Hitman, and some might say that even before that, he's been on autopilot- while his Punisher had some highlights (quite a few, actually), it was just more of the same smart-ass and sophomoric, and I grew really weary of it about twelve issues in. I've been in Ennis-ignore mode since 2002 or so, and quite content to be so. He's a one-trick pony, with only the saving grace of humor, as juvenile as it may be, keeping him from becoming the poor man's Frank Miller. However, the synopsis of this one kinda pushed some of those long-dormant Hitman buttons in my head, and I signed up. Am I sorry? A little. It does have its moments of cleverness, but at the end of the day it's just more pointless superhero bashing a la the Authority, done to death and fresh ten-fifteen years ago but tres redundant now- why another piss-take on capes when Dan Didio and his merry henchmen are trashing them a lot more effectively and just as savagely for keeps in the rank-and-file titles? Ennis also flashes a not-so-good misogynistic streak in a couple of instances, disappointing from the creator of Tulip and Deborah Tiegel, for sure. I've never really been a fan of Darick Robertson's art, either...I bought Transmetropolitan for years in spite of his art, because of my admiration for Ellis's writing. He just has a not-quite-realistic-enough-to-not-be-cartoonish style that strikes me as awkward and stiff. He's not the worst on this score, but there's no real sense of an individual style or wit there, and so I remain mostly unimpressed. He's OK here, typically not-bad/not-good either...although I thought it was neat that he drew the unfortunate Wee Hughie to resemble Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg. I don't know- there could be some sub-Hitman-style lunkheaded thrills and laffs to come in subsequent issues, but I kinda doubt it. I might stick around for a couple more just to see. C+

S: B. Clay Moore; A: Jeremy Haun. (Oni Press, $3.50)

Pretty good for an issue which comes across as (essentially) a repeat of #1! I like the idea of the lead character and his support system (very TV-ish in a good, 1960's way, as Universal will attest), and as usual Moore is good with the character interaction and dialogue. Haun's art is minimal (backgrounds? I don't need no steenkin' backgrounds!) and functional; I don't know if I like his scratchy ink line but he's steadily improving overall. So far, so good.

S: Andrew Cosby, Johanna Stokes; A: Rafael Albequerque. (Boom!, $3.99)

I'm fairly certain by now that Ross Richie and Boom! will receive the coveted Zombie Nobel Prize for going above and beyond the call of duty in exploring new and innovative ways to keep the living dead genre "alive" and kicking. Set in uf cuss yet another grimy, hot, grubby looking dystopian future scenario, replete with decimated cities (Atlanta gets the honors here- hope it was after football season!) in which some sort of mysterious plague has caused a significant portion of the populace to become living dead people, we've seen this a million times just in the last two or three years. The mercenary Brothers, who kinda look like country music singers ("Dreadneks", if you will, hoo...) and hunt and kill zombies for fun and profit, get mixed up in some sort of conflict between standard issue shadowy government agents (dark suits, sunglasses, you know) over a zombie who apparently used to be somebody important. The Bros. were hired to find him and bring him back, and some other dark suits apparently don't want this. While we're digesting this, we suddenly get introduced to some grade-a weirdness with human sacrifice and a Futurama-esque talking head in a jar. I though Albequerque's art here was a lot looser here than on Jeremiah Harm, and therefore much better. As with so many Boom! projects, they're able to whip up their leftovers in such a way that would make Rachael Ray proud, and this time it's the Brothers themselves, kinda like a low-budget white trash Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, that make the difference. B+

More eventually!

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