Monday, December 31, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
BACARDI SHOW BEST OF 2007 IN COMICS,
GRAPHIC NOVELS, ET CETERA!
Now, let me preface this as I always do...This is by no means a list which claims to be the absolute best of the past year, will brook no dissension, et cetera. There are many, many fine, outstanding, revelatory comics and graphic novels that I've read volumes about on other comics blogs- you know, the ones that get linked to by Dirk Deppey- that I simply have not read due to not being on a particular comp list and/or lack of funds and/or not knowing anybody that has a copy I could borrow. So this is a highly personal, idiosyncratic list which is by no means complete, but is the best I can do under the circumstances. I shall continue what has become my annual tradition, namely citing 10 best plus 2. Just because. Rather than divide my nominations into graphic novels, limited series, ongoings, etc., creating sets and subsets and making this more of a chore than it needs to be, I'll just lump 'em all together and let God sort 'em out, m'kay?
Maestro, if you please:
ABRAXAS AND THE EARTHMAN (Rick Veitch, King Hell): As imaginative and clever in 2007 as it was in 1981.
BLACK METAL V1 (Rick Spears, Chuck B.B.; Oni Press): Left-field surprise which I found completely enjoyable.
COURTNEY CRUMRIN AND THE FIRE THIEF's TALE (Ted Naifeh, Oni Press): It's been too long since Naifeh revisited Courtney, fortunately it didn't disappoint.
CRIMINAL (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips; Marvel/Icon): Brubaker and Phillips continue to make excellence look easy.
FABLES (Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steven Leialoha, various; DC/Vertigo): Fables has had an exceptionally solid year, with the current ongoing storyline ranking among the best in the series yet. How many series, 70-plus issues in, can make that claim?
THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST (Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, David Aja, various; Marvel): Good old-fashioned pulpy fun and martial arts action, with a high-quality blend of backup artists.
JLA/HITMAN (Garth Ennis, John McCrea; DC): Like I said the other day- this was the best series DC put out in, well, let's just say a long time. I liked Ennis' Superman more here than in the entire Morrison run of All-Star Superman, and as much as Supes' previous appearance in the Hitman world, unsurprisingly. Isn't it funny (strange, and ha-ha) how hardassed cynic Ennis can write one of the most upfront and heroic characters in modern fiction so well? A textbook display of how to have superhero characters interact and relate to each other, as well as a bittersweet valentine to those of us who loved Tommy Monaghan back in the day. I hope they collect this in one volume soon, I just might buy it again.
KANE VOL. 6: PARTNERS (Paul Grist, Image): While I'm sure many of you have already read the stories re-presented here, I hadn't, and to me this represents Paul Grist at the top of his game, which is saying something to me.
THE LAST SANE COWBOY AND OTHER STORIES (Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, AiT/PlanetLar): Absolutely inspired surrealist lunacy, the likes of which you just don't see all that often.
NAT TURNER: REVOLUTION BOOK 2 (Kyle Baker): Unforgettable conclusion to this historical saga, with some of Baker's best, and most committed, art in at least a decade.
SCOTT PILGRIM VOL. 4: SCOTT PILGRIM GETS IT TOGETHER (Bryan Lee O'Malley; Oni): Still clever, fresh and fun.
SHAZAM VS. THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL (Jeff Smith, DC): It takes a certain kind of writer and artist to capture the openhearted, benign vibe of the best Captain Marvel comics of the 40's, and DC was fortunate to find both in one person in Smith. Faltered a bit when Smith tried to shoehorn in commentary on current politics, but it never broke stride.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Catwoman, Dr. Strange: The Oath, Dr. Thirteen: Architecture and Morality, NextWave: Agents of H.A.T.E., Delphine #2, Meat Cake, All-Star Superman, Hawaiian Dick #1, Love and Rockets Vol.2, Powers, Jack Staff, Will Eisner's The Spirit, Superf*ckers, Hellboy: Darkness Calls, Batman #'s 667-669, Omega the Unknown #'s 1-3, The Brave and the Bold, Re-Gifters, 100 Bullets, Daredevil, Casanova, the short backing features by Colleen Coover and Jeff Parker in X-Men: First Class.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Found via Scott Cederlund's Secret of the Wednesday's Haul blog: the art blog of one Francesco Francavilla, named Pulp Sunday.
He specializes in illustrating adventures of pulp heroes such as the Shadow, as you'll see if you click on the link. Scott compares his work to such luminaries as Alfredo Alcala and Steve Bissette, valid enough, especially in the blackspotting area...but I don't think his inkline is as blocky as Alcala's was, or as loose as Bissette's pencil work. To me, it looks a lot like the inkwash efforts Gene Colan turned in for Warren in the 60's- those things were beautiful- and I'm also reminded a lot of David Mazzuchelli's 80's work via Batman: Year 1. I'm also reminded a little of former DC Shadow artist Eduardo Barretto, except Francavilla's art is much more dynamic and less fussy.
I like it a lot, and boy would I like to read more Shadow comics by this guy. And I hope someday he gets interested in the Avenger as well...
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
CONFESSIONS OF A SPINNER RACK JUNKIE: THE GARGANTUAN MONSTER HEAD-CRUSHING YEAR-END REVIEW BLOWOUT EPISODE!!!
Well, here we go again. This is going to be my big 2007 catch-up review post, in which I write a line or two about the comics I've read since the last time I reviewed comics sometime back in October. Some of these, I'll have more to say than others; if you want in-depth insight go read Jog. Does this mean I'll be doing this on a regular basis again? Probably maybe definitely. Either way, remember, I never said I was going away forever- I just wanted to take a break, and I have. Also coming before the end of the year, a best of 2007 list- nobody does THOSE, now do they? Anyway, without any further ado...
100 BULLETS #86: 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 14 issues. A-
ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #9 Generally, the quality level of A-SS has been high, but occasionally Grant and Frank have dropped a stinker on us, and none so pungent as this puzzling episode, which seems to be missing pages in the middle- otherwise how to explain the abrupt and offputting shift in the central concept and the hasty resolution? And while I think Quitely is one of the best there is these days, and laud his intent to draw realistic superhero costumes, is it necessary to draw Supes' costume so baggy and ill-fitting? Better than just looking like lines drawn on paper, but he looks so sad-sack that the effect is amusing rather than inspiring, and I still think Supes oughtta be a little inspiring, call me old-fashioned. Frank, get thee to a Gray Morrow art book forthwith. He's someone who knew how to draw realistic superpeople. C+
AMERICAN VIRGIN #20, 21: Figures- just as this gets interesting, it gets canceled. Despite still dancing all around a real defining point for the series as a whole, it's been rewarding on a "what happens to whom and why" basis for those of us who have been along since the beginning, and I would imagine puzzling to those who haven't. One thing remains constantly good, and that's Becky Cloonan's art, nicely inked for the last few issues by Jim Rugg. B+
THE ATHEIST #4 Remember this? Don't blame you if you don't- it's only been about a year and eight months since #3 came out. Guess artist John McCrea (no doubt burdened with higher profile and better paying gigs) was the reason for the delay because this concluding issue has a different (not bad, better than McCrea in places) illustrator on board, and against all odds is gripping and solid. Writer Phil Hester is to be commended for remaining true to his character- we knew had the potential to be as matter of fact hardcore as this issue's resolution necessitates, and he does not disappoint, making him all the more interesting because of it. I, for one, hope to see further stories...but I won't hold my breath. A-
BAT LASH #1: OK, so original co-plotter Sergio Aragones is supposed to be somewhere on board. Perhaps he made a suggestion or two in regards to plot, but if his genial touch is evident anywhere else in this umpteenth wrongheaded attempt to show modern audiences that this Bat Lash character a small group of people loved back in the 60's (myself included) is pretty cool and worthy of wider-spread attention, I don't see it. This is bland, by-the-numbers cowboy stuff, and this Brandvold guy, supposedly some sort of hot-shit western novel writer, brings absolutely none of the wit and panache that Dennis O'Neil did to the character- and it sports some of the most godawful attempts to write Old West slang I've ever read. I mean "Sure as tequila on a bean-eater's breath" and "They ain't gonna know whether to build him a wooden overcoat or toss him into a stew pot" - is he kidding me? And of course, how could we do without that new DC tradition, a potential rape cliffhanger? We've all come so far, haven't we? On art, God bless John Severin- he still has the mojo after all these years, and this looks fine, but his stiff, dry style isn't exactly conducive to bringing out the best in the lackluster script. One reason why Bat was so good in those meager nine issues was the lively, playful art of Nick Cardy, at that's almost a 180 degree shift from Severin. This is not a promising start. In fact, it's quite depressing, something a Bat Lash comic shouldn't be. C-
BIFF BAM POW #1: I wanted to like this a lot more than I did- Evan Dorkin has really become a reliably good storyteller, and the lead character and her world was fun, but there's just something unexciting about the concept itself, or unexciting to me anyway. A misfire, but a mildly entertaining one, and I will always take a chance on a Dorkin (especially in tandem with Sara) project, because odds are that I won't be disappointed. B
B.P.R.D.: KILLING GROUND #3, 4, 5: Speaking of reliable franchises, the whole B.P.R.D. arm of the Hellboy saga rolls right on with this particularly frenzied and bloody chapter, which ended somewhat ambiguously but not disappointingly so. I'm sure they'll get back to it. Oh, and Guy Davis is still a genius, did you know? A-
BRAVE AND THE BOLD #7, 8: The Supergirl/Power Girl teamup was tasty, like cotton candy, and just about as substantial. The Flash/Metamorpho/Doom Patrol teamup was dragged down by the curious decision to rewrite the DP as the Addams Family, but it moved along at a decent clip, so it was fine. Waid writes his ass off, Perez provides his usual claustrophobic, but well-crafted, art job. This comic manages to curious trick of being absolutely inessential, but yet somehow infinitely more enjoyable than the rank and file DC book these days. Just how long they get to walk that tightrope is anybody's guess. B+
CASANOVA #10, 11: Remains clever and inchoate in damn near equal measures. The enthusiasm of the creators is infectious, but too often this just noodles along like a mid-70's Steve Howe eight minute guitar solo, something that I doubt, very strongly, is what Fraction has in mind. B+
CATWOMAN #72, 73: It speaks to DC's collective creative bankruptcy, not to mention the myopia of the Great Unwashed of Fandom, that this title remains (disheartening, but logical, character developments aside) one of DC's very best, but most anonymous and disappointing sales-wise, superhero titles. How much longer can this go on? A-
COURTNEY CRUMRIN AND THE FIRE THIEF'S TALE: It's been too long since we've had a new Courtney story, and it picks up right where the last one left off, with Miss Crumrin and her Uncle Aloysius traveling together. In this story, they end up getting involved with Romanian gypsies and werewolves, and a somewhat novel and definitely dramatic lover's triangle. Great little character moments abound, and the easy resolution option is not taken, which makes this another outstanding chapter in this series. I've been enjoying other Naifeh's other projects such as Death, Jr., written by Gary Whitta, and his own Barrie-oque fantasy Polly and the Pirates, but it's on Courtney that his talents shine most brightly. One odd thing about Naifeh's otherwise evocative and nicely inked art: are you familiar with the method by which many cartoonists check their art- by holding it up to the light backwards, enabling the artist to see anatomy and perspective mistakes better? When one does this, even though these things may be correct, the figures themselves look oddly slanted when reversed. Naifeh's work often looks like that to me, even when viewed from the front. Pardon my digression. A
CRIMINAL #10: Criminal remains a solid, mature, thoughtful work by two creators at the top of their game, and the latest arc was no exception as this issue's resolution was as satisfying as it was resonant, in keeping with the characters and their backgrounds. Sometimes I wish it was a little less staid and resolutely ordinary (sometimes excellence in craftsmanship only goes so far), something I could say about the whole Noir genre, in prose, film or comics...but that's just the contrarian in me. A
DAREDEVIL #101, 102, DAREDEVIL ANNUAL #1: The misery parade continues for ol' Hornhead, and although the dramatics are well done it's becoming a drag to read. As a kid whose early collection included V1 #6, as well as the Marvel Tales reprint of this, I like what Ed's doing with Mr. Fear, and I was happy to see the Enforcers return too. As it has for most of Brubaker and Lark/Gaudiano's tenure, this remains a solid A-. But the hobgoblins of consistency are beginning to make themselves known.
DMZ #24, 25: The last couple of issues have seen Brian Wood spending (marking?) time with single-story examinations of some of the peripheral players in the saga as a whole. Regular artist Burchielli is on board for #24's look at terrorist pawn Amina, and his style gets looser and looser. Some good dramatics get it over. #25 features Danijel Zezelj, last seen on the AWOL Desolation Jones, and his stark, sketchy, expressionistic style makes its tale of the Godfatheresque "Ghost Protector of Chinatown", merely named "Wilson" very compelling. 25 issues in, the time seems to be right for this sort of horizon-broadening, but it also unfortunately causes my admittedly tentative interest to wander a bit. Those who may be harder of core about this series won't understand what I'm talking about. B+
DOKTOR SLEEPLESS #3: OK as far as it goes, but despite an occasional clever quip this reads like Ellis on autopilot. I don't care for the art at all- it's too stiff and clumsy. Unfortunately, finding a distinctive and sympathetic collaborator isn't high on Ellis' priority list; when paired with a Williams or Cassaday, he's often magic. When paired with lesser talents, he becomes quite ordinary, no matter how many "mad ideas" he borrows from Metafilter or Boing Boing. C+
FABLES #66, 67, 68: Fables continues to be one of the more enjoyable reads out there, and now that I've gotten used to the art, which is impeccably designed but bland in style, it has become one of the few books I look forward to reading. The latest storyline, in which former Mundy world janitor "Flycatcher" (the Frog Prince, get it) goes into the enemy kingdom via the Land of the Dead and becomes a major irritant to the enemy has been one of the best arcs yet. A-
FAKER #4, 5: As I said last time, this would have been better served as part of an SF anthology title- as is, Carey and (most dismayingly) Jock seem to be sleepwalking and the concept is derivative and blah. Barring a bravura finish, this has been a disappointment. C+
GREEN ARROW: YEAR ONE #6: I suspect this meant more to old diehard Losers fans than the aficionados of 52 and the like. Despite borrowing a little too much from James Bond movies, this wasn't bad overall and had me liking a character I've been mostly indifferent to for 40 plus years. B+
GLISTER #2: This one's a little more imaginative than issue #1 and a tad less fey and cutesy, but it's still awfully precious and Watson's newish scratchy-line art style just doesn't satisfy my eye like it oughtta. If you like cutesy-poo stories about precocious kids, illustrated in faux-1950's children's book fashion but by someone who apparently needs to clean out his nibs and brushes, then by all means have at it. B-
HATE ANNUAL #7: Bagge's decision to have Buddy Bradley dress up like some demented 1960's Saturday morning local TV kiddie show host remains a puzzler and smacks of goofy-for-goofy's sake and therefore grates, but the lead story is the best Buddy tale I've read in a long time. Bat Boy loses something, to me anyway, when I don't read it while waiting in line at the grocery store, and the other reruns of his work in other venues doesn't leave much of an impression. 1994 seems like a million years ago, doesn't it? B-
HAWAIIAN DICK: SCREAMING BLACK THUNDER #1: New artist Scott (Northwest Passage) Chantler comes on board in the latest iteration of what has to be the absolute best private eye-set-in-Hawaii series in the history of comics, and he acquits himself very well in the first chapter, which involves the clever idea (not necessarily original, mind you, but in this setting...) of ghosts of WWII Japanese aviators that are apparently haunting a group of aerial daredevils that Byrd has befriended. Original artist Steven Griffin contributes art to a nifty backup story featuring Girl Friday Kahami. So far so good. A-
HIGHWAYMEN #5: The poster child for the fucked-up comics climate these days ended on a fairly high note, and was resolved in fine fashion. Don't know what could have made this more noteworthy; a different artist, with a more dynamic, less derivative style might have helped, at least on the covers anyway...oh well. I'd like to see more, but I won't stand on one leg waiting. B
HELLBLAZER #237, 238: Diggle made a misstep in #237, giving us something which never fails to irritate your humble scribe: The resolution that isn't, not yet. Still, I like the villains the Diggle's cooked up to plague our John, and he still is doing a wonderful job of keeping him in character. But none of this is especially gripping reading, and I can't exactly say why. Guess it's just me. B+
HELLBOY: DARKNESS CALLS #6: Storywise, this is pretty standard Mignola Hellboy stuff, full of gnomes and witches and fairies and big pighead monsters, all standing around calmly and making terse pronouncements. In fact, my biggest quibble with this otherwise outstanding miniseries is that there was a definite air of seen-this-hit-that throughout. Saving grace: getting Duncan Fregredo to do the art chores- he remained true to the whole established Hellboy ethos throughout, while deftly working in his usual dynamic perspective and anatomy. In the hands of lesser talents, this could have been a disaster. A-
IRON MAN: ENTER THE MANDARIN #3: You know, this is a stylish and damn smart little series- Casey's script doesn't betray how padded it is, thanks to some nifty character work that makes someone who remembers back in the day, before Civil Wars and Bob Layton and even George Tuska, happy. Star of the show here, though, is the dynamic Eric Canete art; it's no looser than it needs to be and really makes the script sing. A-
JLA/HITMAN #2: This and #1 are the best frigging superhero books released by DC in 2007. Or 2006 and 2005, for that matter. From Garth Ennis, oh the irony. What next? A+
JONAH HEX #24, 25: #24 is a freewheeling and lively, but awkwardly constructed and ultimately unsatisfying, Halloween tale that features Bat Lash and El Diablo running afoul of a witch who manages to channel the demonic side of the latter. The art, by one David Michael Beck, is stiff and awkward with an ugly grainy look. #25 unintentionally reminded me of the old song "A Boy Named Sue" as a senior-aged Jonah encounters his estranged son. It's nicely drawn by reliable old pro Russ Heath, whose work always makes me sit up and notice. Heath has lost a little of his dexterity, it seems, but none of his skill. #24: B-; #25: B+
THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST #10: This remains fun in the way that Daredevil apparently can't be, and coherent in the way Casanova apparently doesn't want to be, and must be considered one of the best-ever Pulp/Comics blends ever. Even the rotating backup artists enhance rather than frustrate, and that's a rarity indeed. A.
THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: THE BLACK DOSSIER: It's as if Moore thought to himself, "Self, if they thought creating an entire comics line out of scratch and writing each and every title was a titanic act of hubris, then following it up with the metaphysicalities of the final issues of Promethea was more of the same, just wait until I show them how well versed I am in the classics, and how I can bend and twist them to my every whim! Bwah ha ha!" Which is, of course, kinda overstating it a bit but really, this is not just gilding the lily, but it's encrusting the fucker with diamonds and rubies and placing it on display at the Louvre. Loved the first two Gentlemen series, really I did, it reinforced that which did not really need reinforcing: Messire Alan Moore is a clever fella and an imaginative writer. The scene in the final issue, in which the previously reprehensible Mr. Hyde resignedly, yet aggressively, goes primeval on Martian asses, is one of the most appropriate finales I've ever read in a comic book. But Moore isn't really trying to tell much of a story here, and on that score he succeeds- the underlying storyline in this is pretty good for the most part, with smirking takes on James Bond and some clever cameos- I was especially gratified, Avengers (and no, I don't mean Marvel Comics) fan that I am, to see Emma Peel worked into the mix. But the problem is yet another non-resolution resolution; Moore is content to have his protagonists escape into some sort of convoluted Never-Never Land, presumably to be seen again at some point in the future but a little annoying when considering how much the faithful punters have gone through to experience the latest from the Guru himself. Not quite good-faith bargaining. Of course, admirers will counter with the argument that all the peripheral stuff, all the homages and pastiches of Tijuana Bibles, the overlong and overwrought saga of Orlando, and (the especially ghastly) Kerouac/Ginsburg section and such is of such high quality and therefore an enhancement of the complete package...and while I agree to a point, like I said, much of the text pieces are a real slog to get through (I don't think I'll ever be able to read the aforementioned Ginsburg "homage" in this lifetime), and the Kevin O'Neill art is only effective on this stuff up to a point. And at this point I'll give it up to Mr. O'Neill; frankly, I don't find his art style pleasing, never have, but I completely admire his dedication and craft and storytelling chops. So, to sum, as always I'm as put off by yet admiring of, in equal measures, Moore's apparent need to remind us these days how well-read and esoteric he is and salute Mr. O'Neill for making it all work as well it does. I don't think this is a success by any means, but neither do I wish I had my money back, and I guess that makes this a qualified success. But it won't make my best of 2007 list. B
LOBSTER JOHNSON: THE IRON PROMETHEUS #2, 3, 4: I love Hellboy and the assorted spinoffs, but Lobster Johnson, that Pulp magazine pastiche, has never seemed all that clever or even necessary- it's as if Mike wanted to do a Pulp hero a la the Shadow, Doc Savage, or the Avenger so bad that he couldn't help himself- he just had to drop Johnson in the middle of his most popular book, no matter how incongruous he was. And this miniseries has defied my every attempt to warm up to it- it's decently illustrated by Jason Armstrong, channeling Guy Davis for all he's worth- but the story is just to cluttered and haphazardly constructed, and just plain old doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Maybe it will all be tied up in #5 to my satisfaction, who knows. Not holding my breath. C+
MEAT CAKE #16: That Dame Darcy, she's a national treasure, the horny Grandma Moses of her g-g-generation. A-
METAL MEN #3, 4: This looks bright and shiny in its mangaesque pretensions, but it is simply too muddled and overscripted for me to stay interested, so I intend to drop it after #5, my next pre-ordered issue. I like that new Copper robot, though. C+
MIDDLEMAN VOL 3: THE THIRD VOLUME INESCAPABILITY: Threatens to drown in a deluge of jokey, hamfisted pop-culture references, but the characterization and a couple of nifty twists save the day. And of course, artist Les McLaine makes it all look great with his deft style. This still has a ways to go before wearing out its welcome, but I sure didn't enjoy this one as much as I did the previous two miniseries. B+
NORTHLANDERS #1: Even though the dialogue is nowhere near as hightoned, and there are echoes of Hamlet and dare I say The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent contained therein, this postmodern Viking saga seems to be trying to do for the Norsemen what Deadwood did for cowboys (and thugs, whores and politicians), which is to say elevate the genre (if that's what it is) above the cliche and make something out of it that today's twentysomethings can read and not smirk as they do so. It certainly helps that (yet another- what, do they genetically breed new artists these days?) newcomer Davide Gianfelice is able to illustrate the mud, the blood and the mead with style, even though I wish it was a bit less fussy and a little more propulsive. Of course, it's way too early to make a definitive judgment about how good this may or may not be- much will hinge, I do believe, on how much charisma and reader identification Wood can wring out of his lead- and right now, he comes across as hard to like, not the first impression I'd think he wants. Anyway, we shall see what we will see. A-
OMEGA THE UNKNOWN #3: I don't know if anybody's paying attention, but this has become, against all odds, a very interesting read. Having not read the original (as I said when reviewing this months ago), I'm not sure how much this is deviating from the Gerber version by now, but I like the dry tone and real-scanning dialogue, aided by Faryl Dalrymple's deadpan anti-Kirby Marvel House Style art. It's not very often that a revisiting of an older comic series surpasses the original, but we just might have a winner here. Stay tuned. A-
POWERS #26, 27: The book that Bendis seems to care about suffers a little from his deliberate approach, but when things do happen, they have weight and resonance and goose the story further on. After all this time, I still care about Deena and Christian and what's going to happen to them, and therefore I keep reading. The art definitely helps- Oeming's streamlined style sometimes gets away from him and chaos ensues, but in terms of mood and expression, he is first rate. A-
THE RIDE: HALLOWEEN SPECIAL; Murky and unpleasant ripoff of both Tarantino and John Carpenter (or Tobe Hooper, even). The Ride series so far has been a guilty pleasure, but this just made me feel guilty for spending good money on it. C
SCOTT PILGRIM VOL 4: SCOTT PILGRIM GETS IT TOGETHER: By now, I'd imagine most people have made up their mind about the Scott Pilgrim series- I'm far from the target demographic, I would think, but I've always had a soft spot for imaginative, fun comics that have that certain je'nais se quis and as far as I'm concerned Scott certainly fills that bill. O'Malley's unusual art style is very expressive and easy on the eyes, and I believe he's really improving as a storyteller as well, really coming into his own. I wish that Scott's circle of friends could convince me of why they continue to hang out together, and I wish Scott wasn't such a clueless dumbass as much as he seems to be, but those are minor quibbles and Scott Pilgrim remains a must-read as far as I'm concerned. A
SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST #3, 4: This should have been good, in a trash-cinema kinda way, but it was just dull, silly, and felt padded-out. The Daughters of the Dragon team of Graymiotti and Khari Evans (some really dodgy anatomy this time, Khari, especially on Shanna) proved once more that lightning rarely strikes twice. C-
UNCLE SAM AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS #2, 3: There's just no charm or excitement here, like most of DC's offerings these days, but it's hard to say what the problem is exactly. It uses Grant's 7 Soldiers: Spawn of Frankenstein concept as its springboard, just like the previous series, and that's far from the worst idea they could use; but with the exception of Uncle Sam, nobody is half as interesting as they were before. Perhaps it's just as simple as the artist change; Renato Arlem's sloppy cut-and-pasting isn't as easy on the eye as Daniel Acuna's airbrushed sheen. The first series (which I liked, overall) rambled, climaxed too many times, and really could have stood to have been six issues instead of eight, but this one just seems too deliberately paced and unfocused somehow, as if they're literally making it up as they go along...and my patience wears thin quickly these days so I think I will just stop here before anymore time and money are spent. C
WILL EISNER'S THE SPIRIT #11: The grande finale of issue #9, which read a little better- nothing about this issue (why was the totally irrelevant #10 sandwiched in between? Deadline issues?) works very well at all. The straight-up horror elements clash incongruously with the cotton-candy Timm-inspired cartoonishness of Cooke's style, the out-of-nowhere Ellen Dolan ex-boyfriend plot resolver seems random and arbitrary, as well as a sop thrown to gay readers; and why exactly did Ebony drive his cab off the bridge? Eisner and his collaborators, while never averse to the occasional fantastical tale, never bothered with grim goings-on like this, and once more he's proven correct in his (and their) convictions. Of course, it's all gorgeously illustrated, and often that's enough for me, but not even the art can make this palatable. C+
WORLD OF WARCRAFT #1: I'm probably the least qualified person to judge how successful this is at what it's intended to do- in essence, pique the potential reading interest of the legion of World of Warcraft gamers. All I know about WoW is that my son spends a lot of time playing it, and if he lived at home I would have solicited his opinion. There's first-class talent involved; Walt Simonson is the writer, and while he's never been the writer that he is the illustrator he has a no-frills, solid style. Sandra Hope is an experienced inker, whose specialty is inking the pseudomanga stylings of the likes of Humberto Ramos, and new-to-me penciller Ludo Lullabi (say what now?) is right in that stylistic ballpark. Despite the talent involved, it struck me, after I read it, as generic Tolkienesque swords vs. big ugly Orcish creatures and unknown/undetermined sorcery type stuff, the likes of which we've all read before and got tired of at about the same time we bacame of legal drinking age. But this may be an advantage to the gamer who picks this up out of curiosity and is gratified to see that it remains faithful to the subject matter. So all I can do is shrug my shoulders and tell you I've seen worse, and I've seen better, and make up your own mind- it won't burn you if you attempt to pick it up and read it. C+
OK, that is all for now. Thanks for your patience, and comments are always welcome. Tell your friends! "Oh crap, he's doing it again..."
Coming in the next couple of days, my TOP 12 of 2007, and I'll include LUCHA LIBRE 2 and SUPER SPY in my next Spinner Rack Junkie, up in the next two weeks!
Monday, December 24, 2007
From all of me to all of you:
Even though it's not particularly festive, especially with the Hate-Monger's ugly mug featured so prominently, I've always liked that clever S.H.I.E.L.D. cover from the post-Steranko Frank Springer run. Besides, what with all the people posting Christmas-themed comics covers these days, I figure they've all been used anyway.
I still have about 8 reviews to add to the Monster Spinner Rack Junkie post, and will be doing so soon. So if you see it back at the top of the page, skim down, they'll be in there, just like the dozen or so new ones I've put in there over the past week!
Peace on Earth to all y'all.