Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Part of the problem with maintaining a comics/pop culture blog (and I insist that's what this is; I plan to start doing some more music and movie posts eventually), then taking an extended break, is that they still put out comics, and I still keep on picking them up- and pow! Before you know it, I have about a five foot high stack of stuff that I haven't written about at all. And this in mind- I stepped away for a while because reviewing comics had kinda become a chore, and I wanted a break. So what's a poor boy to do, but sing in a rock and roll band? Well, I won't become a Street Fighting Man, but I guess all I can do is do what I can, and I suppose that means that I'll try and knock out the odds-and-sods stuff I've read, then slowly try to get back on track with the regular ongoings that I peruse every two weeks. I may combine some titles, since I've gotten a couple of issues in a row since last I inflicted my opinions upon you. This could take a while, and will probably mean some long columns and some very short capsule reviews. So, tally ho, eh wot?

LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: CENTURY: 1910: More coherent, and therefore more satisfying, than Black Dossier- but Moore indulges his love of Threepenny Opera to no great effect and once more gives us the onerous "rape-as-motivation-for-a-female-character" trope that endears him to so many, and that tarnishes a series (not to mention a very interesting character) that one suspects has lost the interest of its scripter. I still like the concept, Moore and his artistic collaborator Kevin O'Neill (I'm still not a fan of his style, but he's no less accomplished a storyteller) still have good chemistry, and I did enjoy the byplay between the holdovers Mina Harker and Allan Quartermain, as well as Orlando from Dossier and newcomers Raffles, the gentleman thief (whom I'd heard of) and John Carnacki (whom I hadn't). For the next chapter I hope the humor's a little less precious and forced, the multitudes of "clever" literary Easter eggs are a little more geared towards quality rather than quantity, and the fellows get back to giving us more of what was so enjoyable about this series in the first place. B+

THE ORIGINALS GN: Moore's old Watchmen collaborator Dave Gibbons takes the stage as a solo act in this hardcover original graphic novel that I initially passed on due to the cost when it came out back in 2005, but after finding it in my LCS's 75% off box during one of their sidewalk sales, I couldn't say no. It's a slick and streamlined amalgam of A Clockwork Orange, Absolute Beginners and West Side Story, with perhaps a dash of Quadrophenia for good measure, and as such it's not startlingly original storywise but Gibbons' solidly efficient art, all done in black and white and gray tones with just enough innovative costume design and effective storytelling choices to make this more memorable that it probably ought to be, gets it by. Not essential, but a good read just the same. B+

HUNTRESS: YEAR ONE TPB: This one flew completely under my radar, not only the initial miniseries but this collection as well- but then again, I am not in the habit of picking up just any old Batman spinoff- until writer Ivory Madison, out of the blue, emailed me to inform that a copy of the trade was headed my way via, and then, well, what could I do? It would be churlish of me to ignore it...and its arrival unfortunately coincided with my little sabbatical, so it's taken me forever to getting around to reading and now commenting on it. So, for that I apologize, and I also am sorry to say that I wasn't all that impressed. A prose novelist, Madison keeps the dialogue down-to-earth, and good on her for it, even though she doesn't seem to be especially comfortable with the vagaries of scripting for comics; there's not a lot of snap in the captions and the flow is a bit sluggish. Madison gamely tries to provide depth and detail to her current canonical background, but utilizes recycled Godfatherisms (one can just smell the spaghetti sauce and hear the mandolins and accordions) and conflicted romance novel cliches, and the end result comes across like a made for the Lifetime Channel superhero action-movie: The Goddaughter Begins, or somesuch. And even then, I could take all this recycling and bosom-heaving a bit better if it were not illustrated by someone other than a bevy of generic DC Art Drones, who portray all these goings on in utterly generic modern-superhero-comics style without one iota of cleverness or originality. One problem as far as I'm concerned, I suppose, is that I have never at any point in the last 30 years been all that crazy about the Huntress character- I've always considered her origins jury-rigged and specious (she was originally the daughter of Catwoman and the Earth-2 Batman, ferchrissakes) and her very presence unnecessary and redundant. As a supposed avatar of feminism, she has rarely been portrayed as such, not when it's easier for artists to draw her in a variety of badass come-hither poses in her peekaboo cutout outfit. That's not so much in evidence here, for what that's worth- what little cheesecake the artists attempt barely registers since it's bland. I can recommend Huntress: Year One if you're a fan of the character, and aren't particularly picky about the art- it's very much on a par with the current Bat-output from DC, Morrison's indulgences aside. If this doesn't sound like you, you might want to take a pass or read a friend's copy. C+

ATOMIC ROBO AND THE DOGS OF WAR VOL. 2: It's official; after this and the first TPB, review here, I just don't get what people see in this. It seems like it's just made up of things the writers, and by extension internet tastemongers, think are cool- you know, giant robots, Nazis, that sort of thing (I'm surprised there are no sharks, ninjas or pirates, but it's early and there were a couple of giant sea monsters in the short stories in the back)- and they're presented in connect-the-dots fashion, with flat, unfunny (or not as funny as the scripter thinks, anyway) dialogue and a steadfast refusal to give us anything that even remotely resembles a satisfying payoff to the stories they set up. Sure, I get wanting to make the Robo a wisecracking, misunderstood action hero a la Hellboy, but having him stumble through every adventure, getting the hell beat out of him ceaselessly, and copping a lot of attitude for no real good reason gets awfully tiresome after a while. Mignola can get away with it because of his innovative storytelling style and his dry sense of humor, but Messrs. Cleavenger and Wegener are no Mike Mignola(s). While it at least, and thankfully so, moves along at a brisk clip, it never engages, and that's the kiss of death for this sort of entertainment. I don't think I'll invest any more of my time or money. C

OK, I meant to do more, and will eventually, but this will have to do for now. Cheers.

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