Saturday, August 23, 2003

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What I bought and what I thought, week of August 20

Kind of a difficult week to rate- while most of what I bought was of good quality, almost everything had a flaw or two, preventing me from wholeheartedly embracing anything. Still, a good week.

The Target's been around since the mid-70s, but not much else has been done with him because writers have beither been unable or unwilling to dream up fresh situations in which to place him. Peter Milligan thought of something fresh a few years ago but unfortunately it's the only thing, apparently, he can think of so once again we get Chris Chance submerging his identity inside someone who he impersonates. A valid and logical, if somewhat cynical slant on this impersonator par excellence, but after one mini-series and the graphic novel (that I haven't read yet) of which this ongoing is a continuation, I'm thinking enough is enough. Javier Pulido saves the day with his expressive and deceptively simplistic art- as long as he's around I think I can be patient with Milligan. A-

The very thing that the likes of Neil Gaiman and the horde of CrossGen writers celebrate, Alan Moore sends up with this clever and fun spotlight on two of his Top 10 characters. A little slight, but always clever and while I think I like Zander Cannon better as Gene Ha's inker, he turns in a nice job with all the requisite Easter Egg-type stuff that 10 fans groove on. This is at least as witty as Shrek, which this resembles, and is a good first chapter to what promises to be a fun series. A-

In which the Kingpin finds out that, as the saying goes, "you can't go home again" and gets a convincing comeuppance from not only our hero but his former underlings as well. And if you think I've given everything away with major spoilers, well, you're usual with Bendis it's the dialogue and character interaction that make the difference, and it's sharp as always. Myself, I'm hoping that maybe this will signal an end to the Miller-inspired DD/Kingpin/Elektra/Bullseye related plots that have been a part of this book forever and ever, and perhaps an opportunity to go in some other direction for a while. Docked a notch for a silly and self-indulgent sequence, during the big climactic showdown, in which many of the artists associated with DD past (and Bendis, too) get a panel each. It's nice to see Romita Sr. and Colan get a panel, and I know that it's intended to reinforce the weary feeling Daredevil has at having to face down the Kingpin again like so many times over the years- but it's needlessly distracting. B+

A fine "morning after" type story in which we get a few more plot threads tied and prepare for the next big story arc. The focus is mostly on the halfbreed angel Elaine Belloc and her ghostly friend Mona, whose rescue was the main object of the previous big quest, and their story is resolved in winning fashion. The art, by fill-in David Hahn (someon who I'm not familiar with at all) is OK, if a little cutesy- kinda reminds me of a cross between Linda Medley and Mike Allred, only not that good. One thing I know- I'll never be mean to a hedgehog, if I ever run across one. B+

The original Cinnamon was an Old West-type character, if I recall correctly, that had one or two backup stories in Weird Western Tales, or something like that. Introduced with little fanfare and drawn by Jack Abel, I think...she dressed all in white, and was gunning for the men who killed her Daddy. The DC Implosion did her in, although I seem to recall her popping up here and there in Jonah Hex or Weird Western in the 80s. I don't think she's been used since, but I may be wrong because I've never been what you could call a hardcore western comics fan. Anyway, here she is now, all tarted up and decked out in a long brown leather duster a la Sharon Stone in The Quick and the Dead and coming across all Clint Eastwoody. That duster is muy caliente in the desert, I'll bet. Hope she wears a good deodorant. I kept having to remind myself that I wasn't reading an issue of 100 Bullets, because everyone talks that terse, TV crime show dialogue and the artists draw in a style that looks like mid 80s Mike Mignola crossed with 100 B's Eduardo Risso...problem is, they haven't been studying Risso long enough to have his style down pat and there are a lot of awkward-looking panels, perspective shots and poses. But in spite of everything, something about the character is compelling so I'll keep buying. B

1602 1
I liked Sandman for the most part, especially when someone with a strong, interesting style like Jill Thompson or Marc Hempel illustrated it. Gaiman came up with one really interesting concept, his Endless family, and embellished it wonderfully...and if his dialogue was stiff, mannered and florid, well who cared? It fit the concept. I've never read any of his prose novels, so I can't really judge his acumen in that area. 1602 would be easy to dismiss as Neil's attempt to do a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, for Marvel, and someone's already undertaken the task of annotating it just like he did with League...but I don't really think that's what he's up to. The League was public domain characters in a somewhat generic "evil menace threatens the world" fantasy story setting, and Moore's wit and imagination made it more than just that. Gaiman has no sense of humor, at least not in his writing, and the story he seems to be setting up is Marvels again, but in a different setting, with lots of heavy handed cameos and more Easter Eggs. Combined with poorly rendered, fuzzy looking Andy Kubert art, the feeling I got from all this was that this is just more insular Marvel lore, recycled in Victorian clothes for True Believers and Marvelites everywhere. Will it get more interesting? I think so...but I'm not going to wait long. Four issues tops. B-

We get Alan Moore good and Alan Moore bad this week. I like the concept and the world Moore has created for his pulp hero homage Strong. It's a lot of fun. But he's gone way too far with all the dreary, convoluted time travel crap and multiple worlds with multiple Strong families of all shapes and's like reading the same issue of What If? over and over and over again. Another attraction for me with this book has been the art by co-creator Chris Sprouse...but of course he's taking a break and this particular story arc is being illustrated by Jerry Ordway, whose precise and bland style doesn't add a thing. Best thing about this issue is Sprouse and Karl Story's cover, a nice swipe of Fantastic Four 26. C