Time once more for a way overdue CONFESSIONS OF A SPINNER RACK JUNKIE, in which I opine in shortish fashion about comics that I have bought and/or received and/or read in the interval between October 1st and 15th, 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.
DETECTIVE COMICS #857: This textbook example of the power of art with vision and imagination to enhance and enliven otherwise ordinary scripts continues in full force here; while Rucka's story is no great shakes, J.H. Williams III makes it look real purty. And even though this particular storyline is run of the mill, his Batwoman isn't; I like the prickly-yet-caring personality she's shown so far, and the back-and-forth between her and her Alfred-figure military dad is intriguing. There's also a mildly eyebrow-lifting reveal at the end that piques my interest as well. So far, so good. The Question backup, not so much. It's steadfastly bland, and sure, I liked Renee Montoya from Gotham Central and other Rucka Bat-stories as much as anyone, but I'll continue to say it- jerry-rigging her into the Question persona was not a good idea, and if this is the best that can be done with her/it, then maybe we should just retire her/it. A-
HELLBLAZER #259: Two things- Simon Bisley art (and I don't always say that- sometimes he gets carried away with the absurdity and distortion, and not always in a good way) and the huh-what? re-introduction of Kathy George from Milligan's fan-favorite Shade- lift this up a notch from what we've been getting previously. I am happy that his current JCH storyline is going in unpredictable directions, but I can't help but feel like he's winging it now, as it seems like it should have wrapped two issues ago. B+
HEROGASM #5: The "Supies", a caped-set awards show notion that Adam Warren beat Garth to in Empowered months ago, provides the background for more extrapolation and enhancment of what he had already set in motion in The Boys. Surprising, perhaps: a bit of sympathy for the Homelander? Not so surprising: more "cum-sponge" jokes. Plus, Hughie sure is taking a long time to realize he's been buggered. As always, if you like the main title, you will need to be keeping up with this as well. B+
IMMORTAL WEAPONS #3: So far, this series has been very good, shining a spotlight on the warriors that Danny Rand brought back with him from the Tournament at the Heart of Heaven waaay back in his most recent series...but this issue is the best so far, and somewhat surprisingly it deals with the one Weapon who has had the least exposure, the Chinese folk hero-style Dog Brother. DB is nowhere to be found in this case, though, except in stories told by one street urchin to another, and it's their saga that provides most of the story, as well as a poignant ending that ties it all together in great, affecting fashion. Artist Tim Green, who we had seen doing a flashback story in the Immortal Iron Fist series, illustrates this with nuance skill in his finely-detailed style. The backup story continues the Iron Fist tale that I suspect was slated for his "on hiatus" title, and is interesting enough; it sports a new artist, Hatuey Diaz with an odd drawing style that reminds me a bit of what Faryl Dalyrmple did on Omega the Unknown a while back. A
INCREDIBLE HERCULES #135: Amadeus Cho's turn again, as his investigation into his past gets center stage once more in alternating fashion. This one's a labored old-time movie serial-style semi-farce that at least boasts a cool character name with Captain Japanazi and a decent enough reveal at the end, plus Rodney Buchemi's art works well enough...so it gets by. The Thorcules saga is better so far, though. B+
MADAME XANADU #15: Finale of the three-parter which has turned out to be a treat for not only fans of Madame X but those who miss Sandman Mystery Theatre as well. Even though this sometimes looked rushed, it was a huge treat to see the Kaluta art on interiors as well as exteriors; between this and Starstruck, we haven't seen this much MwK in our four color funnybooks since the old DC ERB days. B+
MARVEL DIVAS #3: As smartly illustrated, with well-done dramatics and well-placed levity in just the right proportion. Interesting cliffhanger this time out, considering the history between Patsy and Daimon Hellstorm, who, between Ghost Riders and this, has rarely, if ever, had it better (at least appearances-wise) in print before. Whoever commissioned that sex-kitten cover (#1's, of course) from Scott Campbell should be smacked in the back of the head. A
MODELS, INC. #2: On the other hand, this one disappoints just a bit, especially when compared to its sister publication cited above; it's soap-opera murder mystery plot is fine, and the character interaction works well enough, I suppose, but there's a sort of joylessness about this, rote-ness if you will, and that kinda sucks the fun out of it. Perhaps if the artist was a bit better at drawing attractive comic-book females, who knows. The intro page was cute. C+
PLANETARY #27: Yeah I read this early; the height of irony for such an overdue title if I do say so myself. I seem to recall reviewing the previous couple of issues quite favorably about, what was it, 2006?- but this one fails to inspire similar enthusiasm simply because it's fairly obvious that this was tossed out in a "Oh, all right, HERE" fashion. I remember Ellis having to do this sort of thing once before, when he was faced with having to write the (somewhat unexpected, if I read the letters page correctly) final issue of Hellstorm after having just launched what was intended to be a multi-issue epic...and he did it in grimly amusing fashion, having Daimon pop in on the characters that he was going to be in conflict with, and just ruthlessly destroying them, or at least neutering the threat they posed. I hadn't ever seen anything handled like that before in comics, and it has stuck with me to this day. This time, Ellis had a little more warning, and therefore chose to concentrate on one central part of the vast tapestry he spent all that time establishing...and while the inclination is to want more, I suppose he was being just as ruthless by pretty much ignoring others to clear up what happened to the missing member of the Planetary team at the expense of everything else. Of course, this all flows along smoothly and works OK as a story; Ellis being Ellis, we get the usual hosts of ideas cribbed from Metafilter and Boing Boing, all described to the reader as tersely as possible. And befitting the epilogue that this is, each character gets a chance to do something one last time, be it expository (Drums- his exchanges with Snow were always good for a chuckle) in nature or physical (Jakita, of course), it works within that "here we go again, one more time" framework. Ellis is but one half the equation, though- Cassaday really grew up in front of our eyes on this book (and elsewhere, X-books, what have you, I know), and his work, far more assured and expressive of course than at the beginning, is really what gets the whole across. In the hands of lesser artists, like the ones Ellis has laboring for him under a lot of his other titles, this would be an unpleasant slog...but Cassaday makes it work and work well, and neutralizes somewhat Ellis' sour tone. Planetary sure morphed into something unforeseen before it was done, and I'm not always sure that that was a good thing, but overall it was a diverting read and I'm glad I was along for the ride. A-
POWER GIRL #5: Three hot alien chicas crashland on Earth, one hot dude follows in pursuit. PG investigates, meets dude. Progresses pretty much how you think it will, but it plays to Amanda Connor's considerable strengths, and is therefore still worth your time. B+
THUNDERBOLTS #136: Diggle, you are forgiven. Now, let's see where we go from here. B+
UNDERGROUND #1: I reviewed this a month or so ago from an advance PDF, and here it is again in case you didn't read it then.
X-MEN vs. AGENTS OF ATLAS #1: I understand, this is just a stab at expanding the brand awareness of the struggling Agents of Atlas ongoing, now on a hiatus of some sort. That's all very well and good, and I suppose it's as good a way as any to indoctrinate the heathen as to the wonderful exploits of the Agents, who are done very well as always. Problem is, it's not just an AoA story, and no matter how well Parker writes them, I simply can't care less about whatever permutation of the X-Men we're being given...that ship sailed for me long ago, and that tempers my enjoyment of this marriage of convenience just a bit, even though both Carlos Pagulyan and especially Chris Samnee, who really should have a regular gig by now, provide very good visuals. I'll keep buying, because I am invested in the Agents enough to want to see where Parker is taking them, and yes, because Venus (even this version) is in it. The things we do for love sometimes. B-