Wednesday, May 24, 2006

And now...part TWO of the senses-shattering, mind-blowing, death-defying, hyperbole-mongering, hair-splitting, time-killing
Whot aye b'ot and whot aye th'ot, weeks of May 13 through May 21.

S/A: The usual gang of Boom!ers. (Boom! Studios, $6.99)

Having decided to move on from zombies for a while, thank goodness, the fine folks at Boom! have decided to indulge in the more subtle and cerebral terrors of the fertle imaginations of good old H.P. Lovecraft (and August Derleth) in this anthology of several stories which aren't adaptations, but original works that attempt to evoke that good ol' nameless dread- and mostly succeed despite a formulaic approach to the scripting, with the exception of Keith Giffen's weirdo "Oddly Amorous Phineas Flynn", which reminded me of nothing less than that old Warner Bros. cartoon "The Dover Boys", for some reason. Many of the pleasures herein are artistic in nature; the lead story, for example, by Andrew Ritchie is sloppily rendered but manages to capture that fever-dream quality that HPL could evoke; also, Lee Carter on "Witch Hunter" makes a strong case for assuming the art chores on Hellblazer with a nicely atmospheric job, and it's always great to see Mark Badger's work whenever it pops up. Probably the most effective story here is "Quality Time" featuring a nightmarish school play, and whose main character dons a "King in Yellow" mask, a nod to horror fiction anthologist Robert Chambers. While it's not as entertaining as the Nameless Dread, it's still a great idea for an anthology series and I hope there are many more in the pipeline. B+

S/A: Paul Pope; Color: Jose Villarubia (DC, $5.99)

I'm afraid that I have to abandon all pretense of impartiality when it comes to Paul Pope, so yes, of course I loved this. Sure, the plot was fairly standard issue futuristic conspiracy action thriller, and could have just as easily have been another serial in THB, but Pope imbued it with his vivid imagination and his ability to provide a fresh spin on any superheroic scenario by virtue of his chaotic art style if nothing else...and he kept everything moving at a fast pace so it never got dull. What we are seeing here is a master storyteller at the peak of his powers, and we should enjoy it while we can. A

S: Mark Andreyko; A: Javier Pina, Fernando Blanco (DC, $2.99)

The latest issue of the poster girl for "Enjoy it while you can" (Say...maybe Paul Pope should do a one-shot!), and it's pretty much par for the spandex course- big battle scene, this time with a sentient computer menace, check; plot threads involving the ancillary characters, advanced gradually to keep us interested, check; skeevy badguy with cheesy name...hey! How did THAT get in there? Anyway, lots of Chase in this issue, so I liked. No complaints, other than an unusually lackluster Shawn Martinbrough cover, in which someone apparently failed to provide him with reference material to draw Kate's adversary- and why is there a pistol flying through the air and discharging just under the logo? Please don't say symbolism...B+

S: Warren Ellis; A: Ben Templesmith (Image, $1.99)

Not that I'd like to see him go away anytime soon, but really- why isn't Warren Ellis doing film and TV scripts? This issue, which is basically an extended interrogation scene, has more fascinating characterization, sharp dialogue, and plot twists than almost any current five films or TV shows that you can name. And comics, for that matter. Of course, it helps to have someone doing the art that can work that nine-panel grid mojo the way Templesmith can- rarely do talking heads engage so. And when you factor in that this is a very wallet-friendly buck ninety-nine... A

S: Bill Willingham; A: Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Mowgli, at the behest of Prince Charming, has been searching for Bigby Wolf for several issues now, and he finds him in somewhat surprising circumstances. Plus, we get a little ominous foreshadowing at the end. As always, for those who have been keeping up, another interesting chapter in the ongoing story. For those who haven't, hie thee to the comics shop and getteth thee some trades forthwith. A-

S:Brian Wood; A: Riccardo Burchielli (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Our boy Matt finds himself stuck between the opposing factions of New York and the rest of the country, and has some decisions to make. Maybe this book is beginning to wear me down, because I found myself actually caring about what happens to this guy instead of being annoyed at the premise. Guess I'll stick around a while and see what happens. A-

S: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti; A: Luke Ross (DC, $2.99)

Hex gets caught in the middle of a bloody love triangle, and darned if this wasn't the best issue of the series so far. This is the final issue for Ross; while his work could sometimes be stiff and lifeless, mostly it was solid and I'll miss him on this book. A-

S: Steven Seagle; A: Becky Cloonan (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

Seagle soft-pedals the religious jibes and gives us more of Adam in Africa, getting to the bottom (or trying to, anyway) of what happened to his girlfriend, and for now I'm interested, if nothing else but to see whether he can keep building on the momentum he's establishing. They keep trying, it seems, to make a Peter Gross out of Becky Cloonan, but she's just to talented to get pigeonholed into that narrow Vertigo house style and good for her. B+

100 BULLETS 72
S: Brian Azzarello; A: Eduardo Risso (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

No matter how many times he does it, I still get a kick out of those moments in this convoluted saga when Azzarello pulls out the "Croatoa" mnemonic key plot card, and we get one such here. Not exactly a pow-wham moment, but it was a bit of a surprise- and it's nice to get a "wow" surprise as opposed to a "where the heck did THAT come from" surprise on this book. A-

S: Rick Remender; A: Jerome Opena (Image, $2.99)

Climax to the whole "Dead Western" thing that's been going on for a few issues now, and on its own terms it's not bad. Everything proceeds in an orderly, expected fashion, and the chief delights are once more in the character interaction. Best thing about this issue, though, is the work of Opena, who is unknown to me- his stuff reminds me of an amalgam of 70's Filipinos like Gerry Talaoc and Alex Nino mixed with Dave Gibbons, John Bolton, and perhaps even Al Williamson inks. I'd like to see more, but I'm not so sure I want to buy something called Fear Agent to do so. Nice cover, too, by Andy Kuhn and Joe Cross. Nothing about this title will push comics forward, but it is an often enjoyable read. Geez, without the lowbrow stuff, how are we supposed to appreciate the highbrow stuff? B+

More later, including the Bizarro World softcover and Bluesman Vol. 1...

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