And now, it's finally time to resume with CONFESSIONS OF A SPINNER RACK JUNKIE, now committed to catching up with comments on comics that I have bought and/or received since March 21st, 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.
100 BULLETS #100: No cut and paste this time. This finale was the entire series in a nutshell, I think; complicated and byzantine till the end, and as always immaculately illustrated- I think Ed Risso's work on this series has set a standard for commitment as well as gangster/noir art, as well as just plain ol' sequential storytelling. An admittedly small group, but there are some good names in it. I wish Azzarello hadn't been so obtuse in his scripting sometimes; it was often way too hard to tell the kinda-sorta bad guys from the kinda-sorta good guys, as well as to suss out their motivations for this act or that act...which I guess was the point in a lot of ways but often made keeping up more of a chore than you'd like for it to be. That said, I'm not really a big fan of Noir fiction in general, films, books, you name it, and that speaks to the talent of all concerned (as with Brubaker and Phillips on Criminal ), that I have followed this all these years and enjoyed all the gnarly polt twists as much as I have. I think I really do need to reread all 100 issues in a sitting before I render final judgment, but really, I think this has been a heck of a ride, exciting and baffling in equal measure, and while I can't wholeheartedly recommend it for just anybody, I think if you're the kind of reader that doesn't mind a bit of a challenge, you might like this series. You might also want to buy it in trades in order to get more of the story at once; one hundred singles is a lot of floppies to buy. Y'know, after all is said and done, I'll miss this comic- I'd got used to having it around. A-
AGENTS OF ATLAS #'s 3, 4, 5: Continuing on its merry way, picking right up where it left off from the previous series, missing only the assured art of Leonard Kirk- but his successors make up in energy and spirit what they lack in polish. #3 suffers from my complete indifference to Wolverine; #4's flashback mania went down better because I know Parker's just introducing plot threads to be developed later, but I find the Agents more compelling now than in the past, Venus excepted of course. #5 was an extended superguy fight with the saving grace of humor. #3: B; 4: B+; #5: A-.
BATTLE FOR THE COWL: ORACLE: THE CURE #1-3: I reviewed #1 in my last (to date, I guess, although they may let me do more someday) piece for PopSyndicate.com, but had not opined on the other two. I liked certain things about this series, but was unimpressed with how abruptly it was resolved, and while the...titillating covers by Guillem March were nicely done, the interior art was mediocre. I like the character as she is; I hope they don't plan to change the status quo...but that's kinda hypocritical of me considering that I'm not really a Bat-book buyer (that's gonna change soon, though). C+
B.P.R.D.: THE BLACK GODDESS #'s 4, 5: I'm sorry- I love the B.P.R.D. cast, and of course Guy Davis is one of today's greats as far as I'm concerned...heck, John Arcudi will get slack from me for all eternity simply by virtue of having written Major Bummer... but this whole storyline, with the mysterious Asian (?) dude and all the frigging frogs and giant robots and missing Liz Sherman has been dragged out so long it's flabby and confusing, and like X-Files (which this series invites comparison to in some ways), I'm at the point where I no longer care. What needs to be done is anybody's guess, and I'm signed up for the next mini, but I'm not getting a whole lot of bang for my buck, constant explosions within notwithstanding. B-
CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI13 #'s 12, 13: The whole Vampire Invasion of England thing remains fun and quite engrossing; lots of characters having to make difficult decisions and relating to each other in arresting fashion. I especially like the way Cornell is handling Pete Wisdom, Blade, and the Black Knight, and in a perfect world, that's why we'd have these kinds of titles, to show how one person, with a clue, can show us an interesting new side, or sides, to a character that we readers have previously dismissed or ignored completely (I raise my hand here). However the comics buying world in general is equally dismissive of such fine lines, and seeks more immediately gratifying criteria before he or she lays their money down, vampire missles from the Moon notwithstanding. And truth be told, as Steven Grant so astutely sums it up in his most recent Permanent Damage column, it's a comic mostly about magic and magic users, which rarely sells to a wide audience, and let's face it- awesome powers aside and 30 years' worth of stop-and-start characterization upgrade attempts aside, the lead is still pretty much an uninteresting cipher. Of course, this should be saved for the final review, when #15 ships; we still have a few more chapters to go, and this is another good one. At least Cornell gets to wind this up in unhurried fashion, and at least we got 16 issues. I wish Chase had gotten 16, to name but one fondly-remembered but shitcanned series. A-
DAREDEVIL #117,118: This book keeps spinning its wheels furiously, each new writer trying to put his own stamp on what Frank Miller did 30 frigging years ago, and that means putting Matt Murdock and his loved ones through the proverbial Trials of Job for months on end. But luckily these DD writers have been a mostly capable lot, and therefore what seems like the 800th return of the Kingpin storyline takes on some gravity and even pathos, thanks to Brubaker. Nice to see Mike Lark inking himself again, and even nicer to see the Owl used so well. Someday, I'll get tired of seeing Matt twisting on the hook for my entertainment...but for now, I'm not at that point just yet. #117: A-; #118: A
DETECTIVE #853: Gaiman's typically twee approach to writing, filtered through the grimy lens of six decades' worth of comics history, ambles along amiably until a surprisingly tender finale, all the more strange because given the subject it shouldn't work...but against all odds it does, and therein lies the talent that all his acolytes see and I have to look hard to find sometimes. And even more surprisingly, it works despite being saddled with relentlessly ordinary Kubert-son art. You just never know sometimes. B+
FABLES #'s 83, 84: I washed my hands of Jack of Fables long ago, and don't really have any desire to follow the spinoff mini The Literals, both of which form a trilogy miniseries with this, the motherbook, so I guess I'm not completely up to speed with everything that's going on, and I can live with that because Willingham's not really getting too far away from the storyline he set up before the spinoff madness commenced, and I, for one am grateful. That said, nothing much is going on in said storyline, and that's kinda annoying. Artwise, also pretty consistent (its middle name is Mark Buckingham, you know), but I vastly prefer the design-oriented but relatively restrained Buckingham to #84's loose and sloppy Tony Akins. As always, if you've been along for the ride thus far and are invested in the characters, you can't stop reading...but I can't imagine what someone new to the party would think. #83: B+; #84: B-.
FINAL CRISIS: LEGION OF THREE WORLDS #4: Of course, the most notable thing (to me, anyway- I dare say precious few others give a damn) in this prodigal chapter is that someone at DC finally killed off Kinetix, which of course didn't make me happy at all...but hey- I didn't like the state Abnett and Lanning left her in, and it's not like any subsequent Legion writers were gonna use her anyway, so whatever. The rest of the comic is more of the same convoluted scripting and claustrophobic Perez art that we've gotten in issues previous. I follow out of idle curiosity, if nothing else. It's not boring, I'll give it that. B-
HELLBLAZER #253, 254: Hate to say it, but I'm beginning to think that there pretty much isn't anything left to do with this character without going to ridiculous extremes, like giving him a caped costume or black leather. Hey- John Constantine could be the next Spectre! Kidding! Pete Milligan's plugging away gamely, but to no great effect; he's bringing nothing to the book or the character that hasn't already been brought before, and it's not helping that he's saddled with run-of-the-mill Vertigo House Style artists. #254's Goran Sudzuka's pencils, combined with Rodney Ramos' inks, looks like nothing else than superhero specialist Jerry Ordway, totally wrong for this sort of thing, and really hamstrings Milligan's plague-ghost epic before it gets a chance to get off the ground. Get him on Justice Society and the hell away from here. I've followed ol' Conjob a long time, but he's in a real rut and I'm beginning to wonder if it's not time to cut bait. Both issues: C+
HEROGASM #1: The Boys spinoff, with Garth taking the piss from the big multi-character crossover cosmic epics which are all the rage these days as only Garthy can, which is to say crudely, crassly, and most important, funnily. John (Hitman) McCrea is his partner in crime this time. This reads exactly like its parent book, features most of the same characters, including Wee Hughie and sweet l'il ol' Starlight, which you just know is going to end badly and will be genuinely sad when it does- which begs the question of why exactly this is a separate series and not the next four issues of the regular ongoing. More sales, I suppose, but beware of watering down your best Scotch, Dynamite Entertainment... B+
HERO SQUARED: LOVE AND DEATH #2: Good Will Coasting. That would make a nifty title for a movie, wouldn't it? B
THE INCREDIBLES #1: Dell/Gold Key used to do this sort of thing all the time back in the day; sometimes they tried hard (sometimes not so hard, but that's not the case here) to replicate the charm, pizzazz, and cleverness of the adapted property, and either utterly failed or did not succeed in finding an audience, and only would run a couple of issues before exiting stage left. The Incredibles movie, in my opinion, is certainly one of Pixar's best, and maybe one of the best animated films ever. This comic doesn't come close to that standard, blame a lack of feeling or understanding of what made the source special, or other sort of nebulous criteria. That said, it's still quite readable, especially if you like the characters, and it may have gotten better since, I don't know. Regardless, insofar as #1 went, I was underwhelmed. C+
JACK STAFF #20: Paul Grist continues to manipulate his now-sprawling cast in as-always interesting fashion, with his dry humor and daredevil storytelling chops intact. As always, the delays are frustrating but the results are always usually worth the wait. I wish I could go into more detail, but it would take a lot longer than I want to spend on it...if you're not following this book, you're missing out on an entertaining read. In my opinion. A-
POWER GIRL #1: Worthwhile, as always, for Amanda Connor's art- but hubby Jimmy and writing partner Justin haven't done her (or PG) any favors by saddling them with an excessively talky script that sometimes neglects to portray their mostly likeable heroine in a positive light. As the Daughters of the Dragon/Heroes for Hire example, along with this, suggests, sometimes maintaining the quality between very good minis (and this includes the recently-concluded Terra) and the subsequent ongoings is problematic for the Graymiottis. I think this is worthwhile for the pretty pictures. Whether or not that translates to cost-effective is something else again. B+
TINY TITANS #14: Cuter than a cute thing all wrapped up in cute. Did I mention it's cute? A-
Many more to come, hopefully sooner rather than later. The hurrier I go the behinder I get, as the saying goes. Do you like me putting the covers next to the capsules, instead of at the top of the post like I used to? It's a little trouble, but I like them there.