Saturday, March 28, 2009


Here I go again with CONFESSIONS OF A SPINNER RACK JUNKIE, that more-or-less ongoing and often overdue feature in which I write shortish reviews of various works of sequential fiction that I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted such reviews upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately March 6 through 20, 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. Apologies for the brevity of some of these; my writing time has been at a premium lately.

AGENTS OF ATLAS #2: It's Jeff Parker's world, and the rest of us are just living in it. Another outstanding chapter in the ongoing saga, which I wish Leonard Kirk could have been on board for, but Carlo Pagulayan and Gabriel Hardman are good enough. Nice and brief showcase for Marvel Boy, or Bob, or Uranus Boy, or whatever they call him, at the end. In fact, Parker settles right in with these characters; he's as comfortable with them and their world as a big, soft couch. I hope he gets many, many issues to explore it and them. A-

AGE OF THE SENTRY #6: So, and Jumpin' Jaysis I hope you've read this by now because I SPOIL, it seems that Reed Richards has been making up comic book stories for the American Comics Group (not to be confused with America's Best Comics) under the pseudonym of Shane O'Shea. Anyway, the last few issues have featured some fun comic book pastiches, not especially clever or world-beating in and of themselves but overall enjoyable, with some kinda-stiff but nicely-retro art by a multitude of illustrators, most notably Nick Dragotta. It will make a good trade, for those of you who would be interested. B+

THE BOYS #28: Hughie's undercover mission goes pear-shaped, with predictably bloody results, and I don't mean bloody like a few issues ago. This storyline needs to end, though, it's been dragging on for what seems like a year now- and let's face it, X-Men sendups are so 1997. B-

B.P.R.D.: BLACK GODDESS #3: I don't this stage, these B.P.R.D. stories are pretty much review-proof, chock full of all the giant monster shenanigans and vaguely sinister supernatural machinations that Arcudi and Mignola can conjure up, and as always wonderfully drawn by the great Guy Davis. And if it all seems a bit formulaic at times, well, at least it's a good formula. A-

CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI13 #11: Let's face it, its hard to top vampires launched from the Moon, and to Cornell's credit he doesn't even try, concentrating on the character stuff this time out. Much face time for Excalibur-wielding Faiza Hussein, who's a very interesting character anyway and whose parents were targeted by Dracula. We also get some good interludes with Pete Wisdom, Blade, and Spitfire, who looks like she's going to be on the wrong side in this conflict, and not her fault. I had a hard time buying Faiza healing herself, and the Black Knight, a split second after falling from hundreds of feet in the air, but that's comics for ya. The art, by tag team pencillers and inkers, is given a harder edge than I'm used to seeing from Leonard Kirk and Robin Riggs, anyway, but both teams do a nice job of blending well together, and moving the story along briskly as well. Very much an intermediate chapter in the ongoing story, but no less engrossing because of it. A-

DAREDEVIL #116: Jesus. The Kingpin again. That's progressive. I'm sure Gentleman Bullseye isn't far behind, and it's lather, rinse, repeat for DD all over again. That said, some fine dramatics are to be found here, as well as solid art. But talk about being stuck in an endless loop of misery and violence- it makes me tired to read this comic sometimes. B+

FABLES #82: This one's a fill-in by David Hahn, whose angular style, at least for me, works pretty well on this book. I'd like to see him do more, and get comfortable with the characters. Otherwise, a lot of talk talk talk as our cast spends a lot of time musing on relationships, both interpersonal and with the Mundane world as well. We also get a not-quite-Jean-level painted cover by regular series artist Mark Buckingham, and the conclusion of the Pete Gross-drawn back feature starring Mowgli, to no real great effect. Hate to say it, because he's never really been a favorite artist of mine, but I'd missed seeing Gross' work since Lucifer ended its run; like Buckingham, another artist whose style doesn't exactly yank my crank, I had gotten used to his work there, to the point where other artists' efforts didn't quite satisfy. At least we didn't have to spend time with the dessicated corpses of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser again, at least not until future issues. B+

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #11: It occurred to me the other day that I had yet to actully hold forth on this title; I suppose I'll try to redress that now. To me, this started out slow, with a lot of loud bang boom, interspersed with momentum-killing "debriefing" sequences that were designed to get us acquainted with the personalities of this new team, but really just kinda reminded us that nothing was at stake since obviously all concerned survived the events...and this diverse group, made up of many odds-and-sods Cosmic Marvel characters, complete with the requisite recycled Starlin and Kirby cosmic concepts- well, they talked all the freaking time, bickering when they weren't joking with each other, and I just couldn't warm. Nothing wrong with any of this, but it kinda kept me at arms' length for the first few issues, despite my ongoing love for the Adam Warlock and Gamora characters. It was just nothing I hadn't seen before. Then, about issue 5 or 6, at about the time the whole Secret Invasion thing came to a head (as it did with the Captain Britain book), it suddenly snapped into focus, as we got a pretty good mystery yarn out of the deal, along with some deft worldbuilding as we got acquainted with the settings and the extended cast. Then, for some reason (probably to give the characters a bit of space to stretch out in the spotlight, something which has been failing to work since Roy Thomas tried to do it with the X-Men back in 1968), writers Abnett and Lanning split the team up, and they are currently spread out here and there in groups of two. This particular issue hasn't really been all that well received around the Blogosphere; many found its account of the daughter of Captain Marvel (Phyla-Vell, nicknamed "Phy"- how the hell do you pronounce that, anyway), who's called "Quasar" (like about 3/4 of the Marvel U at one time or another, doesn't it seem) and an now-intelligent Drax the Destroyer (another Starlin Road Company charter member) searching for daughter Heather aka Moondragon (remember her, from Avengers and god knows where else?) to be talky and dull, poorly drawn by a pair of fill-in artists, and a cheat because of the misleading cover, which featured an apparently- living Captain Mar-Vell perpetrating an act of violence. Well, sure, these criticisms are valid, but I found myself enjoying this more than some; this has been the ongoing driving plotline for Drax since the beginning of the series, and I like this Quasar character for no good reason. The art was lackluster, for sure, and I really hope they're not going to be back on a regular basis. This is yet another fringe nouveau Marvel title that I am finding myself interested in- maybe it's because I've thought DnA were adept at this sort of Space Operatics since the Legion days- and this issue was not a deal-breaker. More of this, perhaps. And it would help if Nikki would come back, if they're gonna jam Vance Astro in. C+

HAUNTED TANK #4: This wants so much to entertain and provoke thought with its constant disjointed dialogue and hamfisted racial back-and-forth between Jeb Stuart's ghost and his descendant, but it just meanders and rambles, and the art is too run-of-the-mill to make it more palatable. This dog steadfastly refuses to hunt. Y'all. D+

HELLBOY: THE WILD HUNT #4: HB and his foine Oye-rish lass keep getting in deeper and deeper as we go further along into this kinda-involved, typically Mignola-ian mishmash of folklore, mythology, demonic lore and just plain ol' fistfighting. Duncan Fregredo remains of of Mike's best-ever collaborators, bringing everything, not only the quiet stuff but the hitting stuff to life in splendid fashion with his dynamic layout sense. Unfortunately, there's going to be a hiatus between this issue and #5; hate to hear that but it's OK, take your time, fellas. A

INVINCIBLE IRON FIST #23: Conventional wisdom says this has nothing going for it since Brubaction moved on, but conventional wisdom is, in this case, full of shit. This current storyline, in which Danny Rand and the Immortal Weapons are stuck in a ceaseless cycle of fighting for their lives in an extradimensional city, is right up there with the early issues of this title. Problem is, Travel Foreman's overrendered art is not as good as Aja and Co., and that hurts a bit. Still, after giving up on this title back around issue #14, like about 95% of fandom, I'm glad I got curious and went back. A-

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN# 11: Basically action time, as Stark, still on the run from Stormin' Norman, scraps (for lack of a better word) with Rhodey in his War Machine armor, even though Pepper and Maria get some (brief) screen time too. It must be taking an inordinate amount of willpower for Fraction to be writing something this straightforward and non-showoffish; I wish the powers that be at Marvel would reward his effort with a more distinctive artist. Sal Larocca seems to be trying, but everything looks undernourished and Photoshopped to distraction, like someone scanned the pages out of a coloring book and then went to town on them in Adobe Creative Suite, hardly the effect you want with your rocketspeed slam bang action thriller. Could be better, could be worse, I guess, and it's still kinda odd to me that I'm as interested as I am. B-

JERSEY GODS #2: I'm really liking the Cooke-Pope mix of McDaid's artwork, but the story setup...I don't know. I'm finding myself unimpressed by the what-if-Kirby-wrote-a-Kevin Smith-flick scenario, and wondering how long my admittedly tentative interest will hold up. Well, not for another couple of issues, anyway. B-

THE MIGHTY #2: This under-the radar book remains interesting in spite of its low-key approach; its chief attraction remains Pete Snejbjerg's understated, mood-inducing art, so reminiscent of many fine artists of yore but not especially beholden to any (well, maybe Wally Wood). I remain intrigued with the direction this seems to be going in. B+

MYSTERIOUS THE UNFATHOMABLE #3: If they ever do a Mysterius movie, then I think they should get the fella that played Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation to play him. Anyway, on to the matter at hand; this issue starts out a little too helter-skelter and chaotic (unfathomable if you will) for my tastes, and I found myself lost at a couple of points, even though I've read the first two issues. Not good. But not to worry; characterization and humor prevail and win the day, and it was nothing that a quick skim of #2 and a reread of this issue couldn't remedy. Hate to do it, but I have to blame artist Tom Fowler for my difficulties in part; he's getting a bit cocky and drawing a hell of a lot of peripheral stuff that really doesn't need to be there, cluttering things up and making it more jumbled than it really should be. Oh well. Anyway, after some slight disconnect, I found this to be another enjoyable chapter (especially liked the notion of Dr. Seuss-like characters being real creatures, summonable if you know how to read the books- and the interlude with the strret huckster was amusing as well) of a most enjoyable series that I hope gets to continue beyond its initial run. B+

SCALPED #26: I seriously doubt that many of this title's regular readers were wondering what was up with 1/16th Kickapoo antagonist Diesel, who was last seen killing a kid who had opened up on him first, and now establishing himself as a bad ass in prison. He has been, up to this issue, one of the less compelling characters in the sprawling cast. But since we're dealing with Jason Aaron here, who (especially on this book) is simply writing out of his mind right now- so this look back at the events that made Diesel into the murderous prick he is is ten times more engrossing than it ought to be. Davide Furno is back, pinch hitting for Guera, and he makes up in kineticism what he lacks in rendering figures...and while he's a good choice to maintain the look and feel of the book as it is, I sure wish Guera had a little more Risso in him, if you know what I mean. A-

TOP 10 SEASON TWO #4: Against all odds, in my book anyway, Zander Cannon has done a bangup job of capturing the special feel that Alan Moore brought to the first run of this title, and having Gene Ha on board has certainly helped a lot. As I've stated on a couple of occasions now, many plot threads are dangling (few of them resolved in the Top 10 Special #1, which I have read as of this writing and will review soon) and since this apparently the last issue for now, I'm not so sure there will be any continuation, a Season Three if you will- and that will be a shame. I don't think sales have been anything to write home about, although I seem to recall they were pretty good for a Wildstorm title, so stay tuned, I guess. A

Coming sooner rather than later I hope I hope, reviews of the just-received comics and such I wrote about the other day.

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