Friday, November 24, 2006

How about some Thanksgiving leftovers in the form of the
In which I continue to examine various works of sequential fiction I have read from November 5 through 24, some of which may still be on sale at your friendly neighborhood comics shop, if you move quickly!

S: Grant Morrison; A: J.H. Williams III. (DC, $3.99)

I don't know, folks- is it too much to ask from my big, multi-layered, metatextual grande finale that it be slightly easier to grasp than, oh, Finnegan's Wake? After reading through this twice, consulting the Barbelith thread (the most recent entries, anyway), and reading Ian's epochal Morrison interview at Newsarama, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on it, and one thing for sure- like most of Morrison's comics work, and I'm thinking specifically about the Filth (which I regard as a failure) and Flex Mentallo (in my opinion classic), the forest is most definitely hiding somewhere behind the trees, just sticking their branches far enough out to give us a glimmer of an idea about the breadth and scope of what Grant had planned. I say "had', because I honestly think that this would have probably torn our heads right off if he had seen fit to devote his entire attention to it, instead of spreading himself thin and thinner with all of the other DC projects he took on after he had launched this. Oh well, we can play "what if" until the Sheeda come back, and it doesn't matter one iota because what we have is what we'll have, barring some sort of "director's cut" special edition down the road- and what we have is an ambitious, sprawling, chaotic, and often clever as hell mess of a story that has to be admired more for what he tried to do, rather than what he actually did achieve. And, when he got that rare synergy with his artist (I'm thinking Ryan Sook on Zatanna, Fraser Irving on Klarion and Doug Mahnke on Frankenstein mostly, and yes, I'm getting to Williams soon) it was magical and when circumstances betrayed him (the Mister Miracle debacle, more than anything) it landed with a thud. I'm not entirely convinced it would have been better with Williams on art for the whole project- sometimes he hinders, rather than helps, viewer clarity with his involved and creative layout and design. I'm not sure a work this complex really needed to be made even more visually cluttered, just as it was with the last issue of Promethea, ironic indeed given how much time Morrison has spent during this series tweaking the beard of Alan Moore. Oh well, better a noble, crazy failure than a play-it-safe success, and Morrison's made a career out of that. I just wish I didn't feel like Groucho buying racing tips from Chico's "Tootsie-fruitsie ice cream man" in A Day at the Races after I've read it. B+

S: Ed Brubaker; A: Sean Phillips. (Marvel/Icon, $2.99)

OK, raise your hand if you didn't see the inevitable betrayal coming. Liar! It's a testament to how in sync Brubaker and Phillips are that such an obvious plot twist doesn't disappoint, but instead ups the ante as the real suspense is in how Leo's going to deal with this. And of course you know payback is due, and even that turns predictablilty on its head because I just don't see how he's going to pull it off. Folks, this is the good stuff. Hope they can keep it up. A

100 BULLETS 78
S: Brian Azzarello; A: Eduardo Risso. (DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

The Standard Review: Another well-done issue what will engage the already engaged, baffle the uninitiated, and even baffle the initiated upon occasion. I think I'll just cut and paste this review for the next 22 issues. A-

S: Paul Cornell; A: Trevor Hairsine. (Marvel, $3.99)

I don't know anything about the title character (still don't really, after reading this), not having read any X-books in the 90s, so I'll give it an incomplete on that score. Story-wise, not a bad idea, this British Secret Service vs. the Fairie Kingdom- but geez, the scripter writes like Warren Ellis after a lobotomy (there's a lot of disjointed, dead-end dialogue) and the artist does a really poor Bryan Hitch/Paul Neary imitation throughout. Works in spite of itself, because even after that I'm kinda interested in what happens next- but somebody's gonna have to grow a style or something before I'll really get excited. C+

S/A: Paul Grist. (Image, $3.50)

Memo to Morrison: Grist uses many of the same tricks you used in Seven Soldiers- time travel, rotating perspectives, eternal champions/menaces, nature of heroism, even Alan Moore pisstakes- but I don't freaking need a translator to understand it when he does. And his artist of choice doesn't feel the need to up the ante in the complicated poker game on his scripter, either. God Save Paul Grist, long may he run. A

S/A: Matt Wagner. (DC, 3.50)

Good news: I'm still enjoying the gist of what Wagner's doing- taking Batman all the way back to his early 30's roots, pulp fiction all the way. Wish his art didn't look so ham-fisted all the time. Bad news: I somehow failed to buy #3, and didn't even notice that I didn't have it until I got #4. B+

S: Keith Giffin, J.M. Dematteis; A: Julia Bax. (Boom! Studios, $3.99)

Once more Giffen and JMD make with the bwah, this time in service of a look at the beginnings of the super-team from whence their Hero Squared protagonists came, and it's amusing all the way through. It also serves as a nifty satire slash homage to the classic Marvel origin story, aided by Bax's somewhat stiff but well-laid out in Kirby style art. They won't revolutionize the industry or push comics in any one particular direction, but I've enjoyed every one of these Planetary Brigade outings so far, and this one keeps the streak alive. A-

S: Christopher Golden, Tom Sniegoski; A: Paul Azaceta. (Boom! Studios, $3.99)

End of Chapter One brings home nearly all the ongoing plot threads in very satisfying fashion as Dane, the guy with everybody's memories in his head, encounters the psycho trio who have been in hot pursuit in a very Hitchcockian finale set in a theatre- shades of Man Who Knew Too Much! Kudos especially to Azaceta for evoking that feeling. Looking forward to what happens next. A

That's all for now- more soon, including Mail Order Ninja 1 & 2, Stormwatch: Post Human Division 1, and Doctor Strange: The Oath 2.

This is part two of the bi-weekly Revue. Part one is here. In case you missed it the first time.

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