The more-or-less ongoing feature in which I opine upon various works of sequential fiction that I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted said opinions upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately 12 to 22 September, some of which may even still be on sale at finer comics selling establishments worldwide if you're lucky. Or not, as the case may be.
**- newer reviews.
100 BULLETS #85:The Standard Review: Another well-done issue what will engage the already engaged, baffle the uninitiated, and even baffle the initiated upon occasion. I think I'll just cut and paste this review for the next 15 issues. Kudos to Azzarello for bringing back a minor character from what seems like a small eternity ago and making her very interesting. A-
BPRD: KILLING GROUND #2: Lots of stuff going on all at once in this mini, which is less of an entity unto itself and more of an ongoing that simply retitles itself every four months or so. If you're a fan of all this, as I am, then I'm sure you'll be just as delighted as I'm sure you've been for the last year or two. If not, well, it's going to be hard to get you up to speed. Fortunately, everything here is never less than engaging, and of course Guy Davis is drawing it so the storytelling is el perfecto. I must admit being amused by Johann the former Ghost in a Containment Suit and his adventures in his new artificial body; kinda reminds me of this Futurama episode. A-
DAREDEVIL #100: The main story has pretty much devolved into an yet another as-always illustratively accomplished exercise in "how much misery can we dump on Matt Murdock until he eventually drags himself up from the depths of his despair and triumphs a la Frank Miller's holy writ", and this approach, no matter how skillfully and believably written, has become Ouroboros-like in its dreary inevitability. Of more interest, and even more perplexedly so to your humble scribe, is the inclusion, enabled via the extra-large size of this anniversary issue, of two Gerry Conway and Gene Colan 1970's stories which he read back when he was twelve years old and really liked (as he recalls), pitting DD and the Black Widow against Mr. Fear, the main story's out-of-the-blue adversary. Dropping the third person now, you're welcome... I had forgotten them for the most part, but found they were fast-paced and enjoyable enough (even though wince-inducingly dialogued, in that imitation Roy Thomas style all Marvel writers employed back then except for Don McGregor) to make me reconsider my long-held belief that Conway was a hack of the highest order- a perhaps-unjust opinion established by the hundreds of awful stories he later wrote for DC. Plus, there are pinups and Lark-pencilled pages, and I suppose all things considered, the extra buck for a history lesson isn't too much to ask. A-
**CASANOVA #9: As usual, even as I admire the characters and concepts, this remains a chore to read. There's just something about those concepts, and the outstanding art by Gab and now Fab, that keeps me coming back every issue for varying degrees of pleasure...but I get weary of feeling like the densest kid in the room after I've done so. Alas, poor Moon- where brother Ba got a subdued olive green coloration for his tenure, Fabio gets a truly eye-hurting Cerulean blue. Somebody really shoulda looked at a press proof before moving forward with that. Still, I'll bump this up a notch because his sexy
**DMZ #23: In case you were wondering what happened to all the taggers in NYC during Civil War II, well, wonder no further. This one focuses on one particularly independent fellow who has a grand scheme in mind which he sees through to the surprisingly satisfying ending. Artist Burchielli's style has begun to morph somehow, becoming less fussy- not necessarily better, just looser. B+
**DOKTOR SLEEPLESS #2: If they ever decided to publish a Metafilter comic book, then surely as day follows night Warren Ellis would be the man to script it, and here's the proof. Ellis continues to recycle the multitudes of internet trivia that he seems to gather like prospectors panned for gold, and Sleepless, with its Shriekyware and Biometrs and other Gibsonesque contrivances, seems to be the repository for all the minutiae that he collects like a fanboy collects #1 issues of X-Men comics. Fortunately, as always, he is bailed out by his terse dialogue and matter-of-fact presentation, which makes this a lot more involving than it probably should be. I especially liked the flashback to the encounter with "Don Bastardos" on the Amazon, and its welcome humor. Ellis isn't helped much by Ivan "Pudge" Rodgriguez' meticulously rendered, but lifeless, sterile and stiffly posed artwork. An artist with some spark, or even a recognizable style that aspires to something other than Chris Weston-lite, would really make this title sing. Oh well, what do you want, perfection? B+
**FABLES #65: Fables keeps rolling on, as good now (if not better) than it's ever been with this Arthurian, but not only thus, storyline. Buckingham and Leialoha are looking more like Jack Kirby than ever before on art as well. By now, this book has entered that zone of "consistently consistent in its consistent excellence" realm. Which is good for readers, but hell on reviewers... A-
**FAKER #3: This keeps getting progressively wiggier, and I remain mildly interested in what is at the bottom of all. Of course, this is another example of a moderately interesting idea being thrown in the deep end and being expected to swim; it's almost predestined to fail simply by coming out given the market these days. The only way it could be worse is if it was a WildStorm title. It's too bad that anthology titles don't sell either; this would have been perfect for something along the lines of DC's old Time Warp SF antho book. Oh well, if its and buts were candies and nuts... B+
JONAH HEX #23 Mashup of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and the obscure HBO films' El Diablo, more engrossing than you'd think and graced with typically outstanding Jordi Bernet art. How Bernet manages to depict grim events with such a lively and graceful line is beyond me, but of such is talent made. A-
LOBSTER JOHNSON: THE IRON PROMETHEUS #1: I think I must be the only person in the world who finds this Shadow/Doc Savage pastiche to be one of Mignola's least inspired creations. Jason Armstrong, who I last saw, using a cleaner, more Timm-esque style on Legion of Super-Heroes back in the late '90s, does a creditable Guy Davis impersonation on art here. So, if you're fond of pastiches and imitation, well, knock yourself out. Me, I'm kind of a Hellboy completist, so I will continue to buy but it's gonna have to do something mighty special to make me like. C+
METAL MEN #2: I like the spirit and the fresh new character designs (except his still wonky-looking Doc Magnus), but the execution is cluttered, claustrophobic and chaotic, to coin a few "c" words, and this is a lot more of a chore to read than I would think a Metal Men comic should be. I will admit the admittedly neat Kanigheresque "Balloonatic" badguy is fun, but he feels like he has to give us Escher-like layouts in service of an over, under, sideways, down flash-back and flash-forward storytelling approach which purports to explain the whys and wherefores of Doc Magnus' robot crew but only engenders confusion and disinclination to read further, at least in your humble scribe here. I want to like this, really I do, but I don't think I want to like it this much. C+
NARCOLEPTIC SUNDAY Young man afflicted with narcolepsy (hence the title, although the character denies it) sleeps with a girl, wakes up, and discovers his bedmate was murdered while he slumbered. Young man proceeds to get mixed up in a murder mystery with all the usual late night Skinemax action thriller elements- transvestites, drugs and drug money, strippers, crooked cops, suitcases full of cash, you know the rest. This first-time scripting effort by Jeremy Haun, usually known as an artist on such efforts as The Leading Man, isn't bad- he's not going to make anybody forget Raymond Chandler or even Frank Miller, but the dialogue's fine and there's a good twist at the end which isn't too far out of left field. Problem is, he gets stuck with an absolutely awful art job by one Brian Koschak, whose mangaesque stylings would be all wrong for this sort of story anyway but compounds the problem with providing only minimal detail on his figures and backgrounds, and surrounding all of the former with a thick black line, perfectly fine when done right but completely overdone and misused here. Better luck next time, Jeremy. C
SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST #2: Graymiotti are throwing big hunks of pulp against the wall, and are wisely keeping the pace fast so we don't notice how slight it all is. Khari Evans does a great job, but needs to work on drawing Shanna's head in proportion to the rest of her body- maybe her colossal boobs are creating this illusion, but I doubt it...her head looks a size and a half too small, even when you cover up her breasts. Not the kind of distraction they're aiming for, I don't think. B-
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