Sunday, September 30, 2007


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 Kate Hudson Shari Moon Zombie Sasa Lisi is so engaging. Gaga for Sasa? Sure. B+

**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-

Now playing: Jefferson Airplane - Twilight Double Leader
via FoxyTunes

Friday, September 28, 2007

Time once more for...FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

This time, Bahlactus is calling it "sucker punch"...but this is more of a Friday Night Brawl taken from the pages of Bat Lash #4, cover-dated April-May 1968, by Dennis O'Neil, Sergio Aragones, and Nick Cardy. In it, once more our violence-hating cowboy finds himself in a scuffle south of the border with some angry hombres- seems Mr. Lash has been flirting just a little too much with the local ladies. Also involved are a couple of undertakers, reoccuring characters who Cardy drew to look like Laurel and Hardy.

After reading the news that DC was going to try once more to do a Bat Lash comic, this time (at least) with Aragones as scripter, I decided it would be enjoyable to dig out the old Bats from the Vast Bacardi Archives...and they've aged very well, as well as illustrate why subsequent revivals have been mediocre at best. I'd like to do an overview of these issues someday. Don't get your hopes up.


Now playing: Donovan - Wild Witch Lady
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, September 27, 2007

And speaking of 1980's vintage series which grabbed me hard, by all means go read Jog's typically erudite take on Starstruck, one of my all-time favorites and another, like Zot! which kept me in the four-color funnybook habit as I navigated my way unsteadily throughout my twenties and beyond.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Interesting news today, via the Publishers Weekly website- Scott McCloud has announced that his 1980's series Zot! will be reprinted, enabling those who weren't fortunate or prudent enough to buy it when the singles were coming out, or those who saw the error of their ways too late and to weren't able to find back issues, to read most of one of the best series that decade had to offer. I say most, and more on that later.

Zot! was (at least early on) a fast-paced, light-hearted (which is not to say that there wasn't a fair amount of drama to be found, far from it) adventure series about a young adventurer in the alternate-dimension futuristic world of 1963, and the young girl who accidentally encounters him in our time and eventually joins him on the other side. It was bright, colorful, and quite imaginative, and well illustrated, even though you could tell that McCloud was growing into his craft early on. Originally published by Eclipse Comics, it was one of a handful of comics that re-ignited my interest in the early-mid 80's, when I was just about ready to find another way to spend what I laughingly referred to as my "discretionary income".

The first 10 issues were in color, and told a complete story; the book then got axed due to low sales but eventually Eclipse decided to give it another chance, this time in black & white. The next twenty-six issues came out in that format, and while, to me, they weren't always as enjoyable, due to McCloud's decision to steer away from superhero-style adventuring to more of an Afterschool Special-style approach- perfectly valid, but just not as entertaining.

And the "most" I referred to involves McCloud's decision to NOT include the first ten issues in this new collection, due to the fact that, according to him, "(He) believes the series really came together when he focused on working in black and white." Of course, I couldn't disagree more. The series, in my opinion, lost a lot of luster when it first went to B&W, necessary I know, and then went the "normal teen drama" route. Which is not to say that I don't recommend that you get this new collection, far from it...but I really regret and hate to hear that McCloud feels this way. Of course, the series has been reprinted before, in the '90s, and the first ten issues were among those collected. But they've been out of print for ages now, due to Kitchen Sink Publishing folding, so rotsa ruck finding them.

I also have a feeling that reprinting #'s 1-10 in color is a cost issue, hence their exclusion, although better in B&W than not at all.

The price point, $23, will keep me from buying, of course, but in spite of all this I encourage you to consider giving it a shot if you aren't thinking about it already- they're good comics, and all in one place. And perhaps someday McCloud will see the light about those early issues. I still have my complete run of all 36 (you wouldn't believe how much trouble I went to to get #36, though), but I can't believe the uninitiated wouldn't like the first ten as much as the last 25.

Now playing: Three Dog Night - Pieces Of April
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yeah, I know, there's been a serious lack of anything substantial here for a while now, and I don't want to go into another dreary explanation/apology type post so all I can say is I have things in draft stage, I'll get them done eventually, and please bear with.

In the meantime, thanks to that nice guy and all around swell person Mark Evanier, you can go to and see the entire Jonathan Ross Steve Ditko documentary via YouTube. Mark's conveniently assembled the 8 parts into a cohesive whole, so you can watch it in one sitting.

Of course, as with all productions of this ilk, I want to step into the screen and say "No, it was actually like this" or "No, he did this then, not then, and not for that reason" because Mr. Ross wasn't living in my head when I was reading all those great Lee/Ditko Spider-Man and Dr. Strange stories, or the cool old pre-superhero fantasy stories that were being reprinted, or when I was getting issues of Hawk and Dove and Beware the Creeper not long afterwards. Or his wonderful inkwashed Warren stories. Or...anyway, all things considered it seems to have most of its facts straight, and contains wonderful interviews with the titans of comics such as Stan Lee, John Romita Sr., a really spooky-looking Alan Moore, and best of all...Flo Steinberg! Sometimes it threatens to turn into a Spider-Man documentary, I kinda wish someone had thought to mention that Jack Kirby did a lot of the preliminary sketches for Spidey at the beginning as well as the first cover when Steve's didn't suit, and Mr. Alan Moore (and everyone else out there who doesn't know) please know that the Creeper has enhanced, above-average strength and agility in addition to being able to laugh like the Shadow's demented cousin. Thank you.

You can watch it by going here.

Now playing: Flo & Eddie - You're A Lady
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Here's a special bonus TALPD image, ganked shamelessly from the great Golden Age Comic Book Stories blog because, well, it's always been a favorite panel of mine:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"No WAY that was a Grizzly bear."

One of the best things about the NFL season starting again is that it also means there will be new weekly TUESDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK columns by Gregg Easterbrook. But Mr. Easterbrook is a well-rounded individual, a man after my own heart as it were, and doesn't limit his writing to sports alone. He also takes occasion to opine on politics, science, TV and films- and in today's column, he writes a paragraph about the Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer movie (which I still haven't seen...), and it's quite amusing:

Many moments in the flick made no sense even if you're willing to accept superpowers. For instance, Sue Storm looks at star charts and announces that a planet orbiting Rigel was destroyed eight days after the Surfer appeared there. Rigel is 800 light years away -- the Surfer would have had to visit that system eight centuries ago for the light to be reaching Earth now. Mr. Fantastic's flying car traveled from Manhattan to Siberia in about 15 minutes. Even assuming super-rapid acceleration and braking, that would have required a speed of about 30,000 mph -- escape velocity for leaving this planet. But though capable of 30,000 miles per hour, Mr. Fantastic's flying car has no canopies! The Four's heads would not have stayed on, let alone their hair. My favorite moment of the movie: as the crawl announces "BLACK FOREST, GERMANY," our hero The Thing encounters a grizzly bear. Grizzlies are found only in North America. Maybe the bear was a Kodiak -- the scene was brief -- but you can guess the only place Kodiaks are found. Even brown bear, once indigenous to the Schwarzwald, have for generations been unknown there, although they are being reintroduced in Italy and Switzerland. See this Der Spiegel article about the national sensation caused in 2005 when a brown bear was spotted in a forest near the German border.

He also goes on to comment about the recent SF film Sunshine as well. Go HERE for the complete column.

Of course, the above is copyright ESPN or Easterbrook or both.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sometimes you never know what you're going to run across whilst surfing the Intarweb- over at the scans_daily LJ community, someone has posted a Venus story, from something called Marvel Valentine Special #1- which I've never seen before, and it sports art by none other than Dan DeCarlo of Archie Comics fame!

The story itself is no great shakes- it's got some of the worst dialogue I've read in ages (and I say as much in the comments) but it does have a nicely done happy ending, especially if you're familiar with the character's history.

So go read it already!

You gotta see this dept.: Sean Collins' David Bowie sketchbook, with Bowie illos from a host of distinguished artists. Above is my favorite by Bryan O'Malley; he really nailed Dave on that one.

I don't think I've ever tried to draw La Bowie, maybe I should someday.

Good gravy Marie. RIP Brett Somers.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


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 25 August to 11 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.

AMERICAN VIRGIN #18: Even though I'm delighted (and apprehensive in equal measure) that our Adam and super-likable Vanessa are now back together, Seagle really whips out the heavy hand this issue and rubs our noses in the sex- and while I'm thinking (even as I type) that that doesn't necessarily sound bad, heh heh, after a while I began to find my patience being tested. Still, after over a dozen issues of neither-here-nor-there, it's good that he seems to have found a direction to go in...but for the luvva mike I wish he wouldn't be so damn tunnel-visioned about it now that he has. As with Batman, see below, none of this would be as palatable without the lively, expressive Cloonan/Rugg art- it really helps a would-be satire-slash-commentary about sexual and religious mores if your main characters are attractive in the first place. B+

BATMAN #668: It doesn't take any special genius, necessarily, to shoehorn Batman and Co. into Ten Little Indians...but it does help a lot to be fortunate enough to have an illustrator on board that is as clever and gifted as J.H. Williams III (Can II or I draw? Sign 'em up!). Can you imagine how much duller this would be if say, oh, Ed Benes or Barry Kitson or Jesus Saiz or (insert your favorite DC Art Drone here) had been tabbed to draw it? Well, I can. So, anyway, back to the matter at hand, and this is "second verse, same as the first" as in real damn good. Plus, more SQUIRE! I LIKE! A

GREEN ARROW: YEAR ONE #4: Spectacularly illustrated and nicely dialogued, this still doesn't provide much in the way of innovation or emotional resonance. It's kind of the comic-book equivalent of a direct-to-DVD or 2 AM Cinemax action thriller starring someone like Eric Roberts or some other Hollywood C-lister. And at first I thought that the character deserves better...but then I realized that wait- this is Green Arrow. No he doesn't; this is exactly what he deserves! And if the script isn't exactly inspiring, it is solid and Jock impressionistic work has no peer when it comes to this sort of action-thriller hijinx. B+

HELLBOY: DARKNESS CALLS #5: Duncan Fregredo is turning in a masterful job on what amounts to a whole issue of alternating glum pronouncements and monsters hitting each other; he's adapted the basic Mignola style and expanded it, making it more dynamic than Mike could ever be, if you believe such a thing is possible. Best of all, I can't even begin to predict where and how it will end. As usual, all good. A

IMMORTAL IRON FIST #8: Hoo-tah! I suppose all Kung-Fu movie roads lead to this: the Big Martial Arts Tournament in which the hero must defeat all comers and claim his destiny or heritage or whatever. And if we must have this, the uber-cliche of all martial arts movies, then they should be as well-drawn and scripted as this, the Best Iron Fist Comic Ever, is. How can you not like Fat Cobra, who could spend the rest of his career henching for Marvel or James Bond villains if he plays his cards right. I must say for the record as well that I liked the static, but nicely detailed, art of Roy Allan Martinez in the flashback sequences. A-

LUCHA LIBRE: INTRODUCING THE LUCHADORES FIVE #1: Anybody remember Mucha Lucha? Of course, that clever kids' cartoon doesn't have much to do with this, save the pint-sized masked wrestlers, but this reminds me a lot of what it would look like if Ricochet, the Flea, and friends were all grown up and living on welfare in the slums. I don't really know what to make of this- it tries awfully hard to be offbeat and clever, and a lot of what is flung at the wall sticks, but as I read this there was a randomness and an incoherence that really kept me at arms' length. The art, in the main feature anyway, is mostly scratchily-inked semi-manga that benefits from good coloring and layout sense- if only the characters didn't seem to have their chins glued to their chest all the time. In addition to the main feature, you get quirky text pieces and quirky short pieces by different artists that remind me of the likes of Gilbert Hernandez and Stephen DeStefano and quirky maquette pages and the whole thing's just so damn desperately quirky that it becomes really tiresome after a while. The price point of $6, even though you get a lot of content for your peso, doesn't help much either. I'm signed up for #2; let's see how this work-in-progress goes. C+

WILL EISNER'S THE SPIRIT #9: At first I was a bit offput by the blatant supernatural elements that were jammed into this first of two parts, but then I remembered that Eisner often mixed the fantastical into his stories with just as much of a straight face- heck, one of my favorite Spirit stories ever featured a Katherine Hepburn lookalike who just happened to be a spy from frigging Mars, ferhevvinsake- so that's OK. And it is certainly done in a creepy sort of 1940's Universal B-movie kind of way. But once I sorted that out, I was then a bit offput at how bloody and violent this was, and that was something Eisner and co. never had to do. Ordinarily, I don't really have a problem with gore in my comics, but it just didn't fit in here, even though it was beautifully drawn, as always, by Cooke and Bone. So I liked, with reservations. What- did you think I was going to drop it or something? A-

Coming later: Oni's NARCOLEPTIC SUNDAY, as soon as I finish reading it, anyway.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My "SQUEE" for today: I was reading at Heidi's that the fine folks at are launching a webcomics initiative...interesting enough, I guess- I'm kinda selective about the webcomics I do read, but read them I do and my interest really perked up when I noticed THIS title among the list of features:

...Fashion In Action...

FiA, by J.K. Snyder III (Dr. Mid-Night, Mister E), started up as a back feature in Eclipse Comics' Scout, and never had an ongoing series of its own, although two double-sized specials (see above) came out in '86 and '87. Dealing with globe-hopping mercenary soldiers who also happened to be fashion models, it was high-concept fun that never took itself too seriously (as I recall) and I liked it a lot. I'm excited to see it just may be coming back.

Also, I was delighted to see names like Marc Hempel, Trevor Von Eeden and Ian Gibson among the creators listed.

So far, sounds like this little endeavor could be something special. We shall see...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

You just GOTTA see this department:

Talented young Nashville artist Chad Thomas just proposed to his girlfriend Saturday night, and she accepted! Congrats, Chad.

But what makes this especially noteworthy is that he shared the news on his LJ, and also shared the charming way he did so...a 17-panel comic that is outstandingly innovative in its layout, clever in its character design, and absolutely adorable (for lack of a better adjective) in its execution. Above is one panel, and you should check out the rest by clicking this here link.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


That kinda-sorta popular 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 16 August to 24 August, 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.

BATMAN #667: In which Grant and the supremely gifted J.H. Williams collaborate on an Old Dark House/Ten Little Indians style story, featuring the Batmen of All Nations, believe it or not. You've read everywhere by now how good this first part of the 3-part story is, so I won't bore you with the obvious- believe the hype is all I'm saying. One thing I will make a small note of, since no one else has: THE BERYL HUTCHINSON SQUIRE IS BACK! Woo hoo ha ha! I love me some Squire. A

THE BOYS #9: In these uncertain times in wich we live, it's good to know that Garth Ennis will always be the same ol' "Who me? No, mate, I'm not an arrested adolescent, I just write like one for the funnybooks!" and give us poo-poo and buggery jokes because he likes superheroes only slightly more than Frank Miller does. Fortunately for us as well, he isn't as condescending and as hateful as Miller is, so his Boys remain entertaining, for the most part- kinda like the immature jerk at the bar who's a ball to share a glass or two with, but you don't want him to accompany you when you leave. And as far as Robertson's stunningly adequate work goes, well, I like it here about as much as I liked it on Transmetropolitan. B+

B.P.R.D.: KILLING GROUND #1: Gotta take my hat off to writer John Arcudi; taking Mignola's story ideas and running with them- and not seeming mawkish and even worse, boring- surely is not as easy as it seems; the only other work of his I've enjoyed as much was the late, lamented Major Bummer. This issue is mostly character stuff and scene-setting; sometimes funny, as with Johann the ghost-in-a-"bag"'s new synthetic body, and sometimes "aww"-inducing scene with Liz Sherman and new cast member Panya. And, as always, Guy Davis = brilliant. A-

BRAVE AND THE BOLD #6: It's really hard to dislike this straight-outta-1979-style superhero opus; it's so determined to try to show everybody why people liked comics by Gerry Conway and Dick Dillin back then that it wins you over through sheer persistence if nothing else. For my part it is at least entertaining, if one can overlook the egregious comic-book science, cliched dialogue, and Perez's cluttered, claustrophobic art. This gets by, but I hate to break this to the aging fanboys out there: there's a reason why they don't make 'em like this anymore. It's played out. B+

CASANOVA #8: Fabio Moon's inkline and layout sense is just a little bit more lively than brother Gabriel's, which is not to say that I don't like both men's work, and it helps that Fraction has at least temporarily curbed his tendency for chaos for chaos' sake, making this a more accessible read. However, I sincerely hope that we don't revisit this issue's cerulean blue color pallete anytime soon- it was harsh and glaring and just plain ugly. A-

CATWOMAN #70: CW takes care of the unfinished Amazons Attack crossover business in fine fashion, then realizes what I was trying to tell her months ago: the life of a costumed adventurer just isn't conducive to good parenting! Anyway, it's solid and well-written as always, and the Lopezes turn in another outstanding job on art. A-

CLICK/FLYTRAP #3: The latest mini-comics from Sara Ryan and collaborators, and they're every bit as engaging and well-written as the outstanding Me and Edith Head and Flytrap #1 were (I never got Flytrap #2, but I have no reason to believe it wasn't as good). Click assays a situation which has happened to a great many of us, especially at a certain age it seems: one make a friend suddenly, all is great for a while, then just as suddenly the "friend" no longer seems to want to have anything to do with you, and worst of all won't explain why. This happens to the story's main character, and I don't know how Ryan could have done it any better. We get a remarkably vivid sense of the frustration and confusion she feels, and artist Dylan Meconis is up to the task, enhancing and adding nuance. Flytrap has developed, it seems, into less of a focus on the young lady who has wound up managing and promoting an alternative circus, and shifted to some of the performers in the circus itself; this time we get the backstory of Bishop, who had to make some difficult choices to be where he is today. I wish it had been a little clearer about what Bishop actually does in the circus, but that's just a nitpick- we find out what we need to know about him well enough. Ryan has a spare, matter-of-fact style that scans naturalistically, but still manages to convey a multitude of feelings and impressions- and that surely isn't easy to do. I look forward to reading her work like this in the future, and I think I better dig out $2 so I can get that issue of Flytrap I missed... CLICK: A; FLYTRAP #3: A-.

CRIMINAL #8: Tracy, Tracy, Tracy. Don't you ever watch noir gangster movies? Once more, some well-meaning (relatively speaking, of course) slob who's good in a fight falls for some dame who you just know will double cross him, or break his heart, or both. For the first time, Brubaker embraces, rather than subverts, a noir trope and that's troubling. Fortunately, he's got Sean Phillips on hand to make it look wonderful. A-

DAREDEVIL #99: If I have to have superhero soap opera, then for my money let it be superhero soap opera written with the deft hand and ear for dialogue that Ed Brubaker has. Plus, we get a surprising twist at the end which (unless it's a trick of some sort) doesn't bode well for poor Milla Murdock. Mike Lark and Steven Gaudiano are as outstanding as always. A-

FABLES #64: Aaron Alexovich's stylized art, which reminds me of Rick Geary trying to do manga, distinguishes yet another inventory-filler issue involving Snow White, Bigby Wolf, and that pack of wolf-wind kids. I'm not so sure it was 100% successful or even appropriate, I do applaud the taking of the chance by the editor to give him the gig anyway. And, since Bill Willingham's still on board for quality control, you can bet that he's not focusing on those kids so much for nothing. B+

FAKER #2: At first, I thought it was a mistake for cary to have all his protagonists be so unlikeable; but after this issue's increasingly weirder turn, I think he has method to his madness. At least I hope he has. While we wait for Cary to get where he's going, at least we have Jock art to look at. B

GLISTER #1: Andi Watson is back, with an account of a precocious young lady who acquires a haunted teapot, and the shenanigans that ensue. It's very twee, and almost too cute by half, but features a nice twist towards the end and is still enjoyable, even though the title character really has no discernible personality to speak of. Watson's newish scratchy style, redolent of 1950's and early '60s children's book and magazine illustration, just isn't as pleasing to the eye as work he's done with a more substantial ink line. Also, I found myself wondering why the hapless antique dealer who tries to auction the teapot just didn't leave the room rather than allow the ghost to force him to bid against himself, and what kind of auctioneer would allow him to do so. And while I'm at it, what IS it with Watson and fine china anyway, between this and Breakfast After Noon and (if memory serves) a small part of Love Fights? However, despite all this, what makes it worthwhile for me is the long-overdue return of Skeleton Key's Kitsune and Tamsin in a short supernatural-themed tale as the backfeature. It tries half as hard, and is twice as much fun, as the lead. B+

GREEN ARROW: YEAR ONE #3: On the one hand, we have the usual sharp dialogue from Diggle and outstanding expressionistic art from Jock. On the other we have an "exotic" villainess named China White and a opium operation inside a dormant volcano, which places us squarely in James Bond-land. Still, heck- this is Green Arrow here, who's "died" and come back to life, met Stanley's uncle of Stanley and Monster fame and Darkseid, and lived on an orbiting satellite. So what am I complaining about again? A-

HELLBLAZER #235: Speaking of Diggle, here he is again, and although he sometimes seems to want to channel James Bond when writing big, explody action stuff, he has his head screwed on straight when it comes to writing the more earthy exploits of John Constantine- no doubt about it. The latest storyline, involving possessed street toughs (but of course there's more than meets the eye) is tightening up, and there's a great John C out-of-body scene as well. Manco, for his part, is adequate- better than last issue. B+

HIGHWAYMEN #3: Wonder of wonders, we actually get some explanations and answers in only the third chapter, something which flies in the face of normal shoot-em-up comics/movies/TV series of this ilk. Livelier than last issue, to boot, oddly enough, with fewer improbable stunts. I think this one is going to be all right. B+

JONAH HEX #22: Somebody's been watching The Prestige, haven't they? Ordinarily, I like a little turn-of-the-century technology mixed into my Western adventure, and this qualifies on that count. By steadfastly refusing to excite or engage, though, and I have to blame the prosaic art of Phil Noto here, this is less than successful. C+

OUTSIDERS FIVE OF A KIND: METAMORPHO/AQUAMAN #1: Main attraction for me here is the fine-line, soft-focus illustration work of Josh Middleton, who provides wonderfully expressive takes on Metamorpho and a young Aquaman with whom I'm totally unfamiliar. Placing them in the desert is a most unusual move, and thanks to Middleton's gauzy style it works very well. It's not your typical DC Art Drone job, that's for sure, and I'd like to see more. I was also surprised by the sharp, naturalistic, non-cliched script by one G. Willow Wilson, whose work is completely unknown to me- and that should change. I would buy a Metamorpho book by this team; I would perhpas buy an Outsiders book by this team. Hell, I might even buy an Aquaman book by these creators. Of course, I know that isn't going to happen either, but I will keep an eye out for Wilson. A-

POWERS #25: The fact that this a double-sized issue that still doesn't resolve anything further underscores how long and drawn-out this at-first interesting storyline has become, and maybe I'm just being too impatient in this decompressed age, but jeez I wish Bendis would get to the climax already. Sometimes too much foreplay is too much foreplay, if you know what I mean. Oeming isn't helping- he's solid as usual but is showing a distressing tendency towards chaotic, unreadable layouts. I'm still interested in where this is going, but Jesus Mary and Joseph I wish it would get there already. B-

SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST #1: Hoping for a little Daughters of the Dragon magic here as that series' creative team is reunited in what amounts to a direct sequel to the Frank Cho Shanna series of a couple of years ago. I don't really get it- the script is nothing special despite some clever exchanges here and there, and Khari Evans doesn't look sharp, despite Palmiotti's inks. Oh well, as I recall I wasn't especially impressed with DotD #1 either. But it got better. C+

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS #3: Parker's lively script in the opener is done in by blah, cookie-cutter pseudo-manga art, but as everybody knows by now the real reason to buy this is the wonderful Parker-scripted and Colleen Coover-illustrated Marvel Girl/Scarlet Witch backup feature, which is far too short at four pages but more satisfying than some series' entire runs. B

BEST IN SHOW: BATMAN #667. Edged out CLICK by a tiny margin.

DOG OF THE WEEK(S): JONAH HEX #22. Missing a certain spark, heh heh.

I only had a small DCBS order last Friday, including BATMAN #668, so hopefully I'll get those reviews up a little bit quicker than I did these. Thanks for reading, and I appreciate your patience.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monday, September 03, 2007

I wonder how many kids in the '40s grew up wanting their very own cheetah to ride beside them in their automobile?

This is just a small part of this whacked-out early Mac Raboy story that the fine folks over at the appropriately titled Golden Age Comic Book Stories posted, featuring "Zoro the Mystery Man". Who he is- whence he comes- whither he goes- nobody knows!

Here's part one.
Here's part two.