Saturday, April 19, 2008


Well, it's not quite time for a proper "Confessions" yet, but I have several published (or soon to be published) endeavors that I have read and probably should opine upon before my next shipment arrives. So here's an in-betweener. **-REVIEWS ADDED 4/19

HOLMES: Omaha Perez and Holmes are back, in a spiffy new trade from AiT/PlanetLar. I reviewed the first issue, which was combined with another of Perez' self-pub efforts, Periphery, back in 2005; my opinion hasn't changed a lot. It is of course a revisionist take on the Master Detective, with Sherlock behaving like Johnny Depp's portrayal of Hunter Thompson in Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, all crazed and drug-addled and oblivious to the world around him, and of course blindly obsessed with the fiendish Moriarty. Watson, here, is his brutish enabler and longsuffering toady, equally obsessed with maintaining the legend of the Detective. It's akin to, but more satirical than, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen...although I think Moore's intentions were a bit more benign. Still, I suppose it's a valid enough approach, and there is a manic energy to this that keeps one reading, if nothing else but to see how (and if) this will tie in to the underlying mystery plot device of Josef Haydn's skull, which has turned up missing- unfortunately, this aspect of the story gets lost, too, before it's eventually resolved in somewhat desultory fashion. Perez' art stumbles all over a very wide line that reminds me, sometimes in the same page, of Richard Case, Mike Mignola, S. Clay Wilson, and the fellow that drew Struwwelpeter (Hans Hoffman?)...and I know that makes it sound more interesting than it is. However, it tells the story effectively in its crude fashion, there's some effective etching and/or scratchboarding used on the cover illos (reproduced on the back) and in an opium dream scene...and when all is said and done it suits this ragged, patched-together shaggy dog story as well as it deserves, I think. When it comes to Holmes stories, Seven Per Cent Solution notwithstanding, I prefer my Sherlock cool, calm, and Basil Rathbone collected. This isn't terrible, but this revisionist Holmes thing has been done better, and more skillfully- with more restraint, that is- in the past. C+

THE BOYS 11-17 That's right, it's not a typo- I somehow managed to miss seven freaking issues of this title, mostly because DCBS listed it under the section heading of "D.E.", and ever-observant me just looked right over it. Anyway, I suppose it's telling that I didn't notice for seven months...but honestly, I like this series, really I do. As long as its emotional center remains focused on Simon Pegg lookalike and everyman Wee Hughie and his reactions to the insanity around him, not to mention the intriguing little romance (gross-out humor included) he seems to have going with one of the "other side", this will be fine- especially if Ennis continues to make the supposed "good guy" spandex-busting crew as reprehensible in their way as the hypocrites they harass. In these seven issues, Garth wavers in this a bit as the Boys get mixed up with a tiny nympho woman who runs most of Russia's organized crime, and the superhero-slaughter scheme she is hatching with one of those ubiquitous shadow US government operations...and of course they are also mixed up with the Justice Leagueish superteam that they've been hassling in the first ten or so issues. I especially liked the big Russkie bartender who used to be one of a Soviet super-team "Glorious Five-Year Plan"- he and Hughie bond over drinking an especially potent liquor. And lest you think Garth's getting all sentimental, just check out his code-name: "Love Sausage". It's a very apt nickname, too. In the last two, Hugh decides to try and learn more about his teammates, and the aforementioned romance moves up to the next level. Will it end in tears, even though it's by far the most intriguing subplot yet? So, after 17 issues, you pretty much know what Ennis is going for, and what the tone is. While I generally deplore excessively negative takes on superhero comics, Ennis was doing it before it was fashionable, and knows how to leaven it with randy good humor, which keeps it from being offputting, even though it certainly falls more often as not on the sophomoric side. As far as the artwork goes, most of these were drawn by series regular Darick Robertson, whose work generally leaves me cold but is talented enough to make this all look pretty good. His style just doesn't excite me much. A couple of issues were fill-ins by Peter (Starman) Snejbjerg (and boy, it's been a while since I had to type THAT!), and I enjoyed them quite a bit- he was able to mimic Robertson's established style just enough to maintain visual continuity, but his style is much more expressive. All in all, this was a pretty good trade collection-size read, but I don't really care to have to hunt down (and purchase at slightly more than cover price, damn it) a clutch of back issues again so I'll have to do a better job of paying attention when I make out my monthly order, for sure. I think I can fudge a little and give every issue a B+, even though one or two were slightly better than the others.

BLUE BEETLE 7-10: When I read #'s 1-6 a few weeks ago, I was intrigued but not blown away; there were little flaws and such that held me back. I must say, though, that after reading the next four issues I'm still not born again hard in the Blue Beetle religion, but I really do want to keep buying for a while because this has shaped up to be a very enjoyable, light-read kinda book- just the sort of superhero comic that so many people lament the perceived lack of in the Big Two's output these days. Its tone is down-to-earth, but not excessively serious; to be expected with Giffen riding herd, but John Rogers's dialogue is quite good, working much better as the series goes on, without the disconnect I encountered in one or two scenes in the first half-dozen. Art in these four issues was again done by committee- ostensible regular artist Cully Hamner does two (he just can't seem to contribute on a regular basis), Metal Men's Duncan Rouleau does one, and Hamner splits #10 with eventual successor Rafael Albequerque. All of them work in a similar style, light but dynamic, and are very efficient when it comes to keeping the script moving at a fast clip. #10 is the first part of a multi-issue tale in which our new Beetle's friend Brenda gets accidentally transported to New Genesis via a Mother Box her crime-lord aunt (who also has a strong interest in supernatural and metapowered people and artifcats) happened to leave lying on her desk- and it was at that point I realized that I'm hooked. I should wait for the trades, but I gotta get at least two more issues, looks like. Sigh. B+

**SALT WATER TAFFY: Here's the latest from Matt Loux, whose Sidescrollers I found very enjoyable, even though it was made up from overly familiar elements. In this, Loux gives us a more novel (well, unless you read a lot of Stephen King books) setting for his follow-up; a Maine coastal town, in which two tweens find themselves involved with fantastical adventure while on vacation with their typically-oblivious parents. Once you get acclimated to Matthew's everpresent pointy chins and oddball art style, you'll find yourself having a good time with this story of a giant lobster with sinister designs on not only the surface world but his own fellow lobsters as well, and how the boys team up with a wizened old fisherman to battle it. For some reason, I kept thinking of Savage Steve Holland's One Crazy Summer, which also took place in a New England coastal town, and had a lot of surreal craziness as well. First of what appears to be a very enjoyable series. A-

**RESURRECTION #'s 1-3 I reviewed #1 back in October; didn't hate it, didn't love it either. It's just too derivative of at least a dozen different sources in comics, TV, and film- War of the Worlds, the Cruise version; Mad Max, Walking Dead, Jericho to name just a few- to impress on its own merits. It's as if someone gave writer Guggenheim a list of things to cobble together into a story, and he dutifully, and without enthusiasm, did just that. The thriller aspects don't thrill, the political humor isn't especially pointed or clever, the character interaction is flat. Also, it's very poorly drawn, especially the figures of the multiple protagonists. If you're desperate for this sort of post-apocalyptic scenario, complete with semi-zombies, alien tech gone bad, and other stuff you've seen before, you might get some enjoyment out of this. It's just too uninspired for me to recommend, though. C-

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