Archive for March, 2009

Into the Longbox

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Hey, these are close to on time.

Top Ten Second Season #4, Cannon and Ha. This was downright good. The characterization is all excellent and consistent, both internally and with the earlier season. The art is also a continuing delight. I recommend this if you enjoyed Top Ten. And if you haven’t read Top Ten, you should.

Saga of the Swamp Thing #21, Moore, Bissette, and Totleben. This is a re-issue of the point at which Swamp Thing stopped being a run-of-the-mill horror title and became a whole new mixture of magic, wonder, horror, and romance. Everything holds up remarkably well, especially the unique and expressive Bissette and Totleben art. Moore’s writing is well known and justifiably praised (often by me), but the spooky images and innovative layouts that defined the art on this run are already there. It’s a great read and a historical moment available for a buck. Grab one.


Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Reviews of Box and The Bishop’s Boys are up on Bell, Book, and Candle.

Into the Longbox

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

I’ve been busy, so once again a couple weeks worth at once.

Madame Xanadu #8, Wagner, Hadley, Friend. The first couple issues of this had great promise, but nothing essential seems to happen and the characters haven’t developed any nuance. Even the art that I found so compelling early on is becoming more pedestrian and dim. Last issue for me.

Anna Mercury #3-5, Ellis & Perico. I finished up the first run all at once. I hadn’t put this on my pull list and missed a few issues as they came out, but was able to catch up. All things considered I liked this quite a bit. It was evident Ellis was trying to end each issue on a cliffhanger, and just seeing how he’d pull that off every issue was fun. At the heart this is a pretty conventional SF thriller and, other than the style points, doesn’t aspire to be much more. It would be more gripping if the visuals of the action sequences were more tightly meshed. It’s often difficult to take in the layout of the areas and see where all the players are. As a result the scenes often seem like Anna dodging about in a hail of bullets until she’s magically where she needs to be, rather than a tense progression across a well-defined place. Even with that shortcoming, this is stylish genre fun.

Captain America #47, Brubaker, Guice, D’Armata. Still superior genre fare, but not a lot beyond that this issue. Not much else to say.

Batman #686: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader, Gaiman & Kubert. Apparently Batman’s dead at the moment in DC continuity, and DC’s taking the opportunity to let Gaiman tell an end-of-Batman story. It’s a little more complicated than that, of course, with a supernatural wake of some kind and several nested tales. It’s all well executed and there’s great attention to the detail of the Batman mythos(es). I’m enjoying it, but it doesn’t have the same feel to me as Moore’s Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow. Perhaps that’s a function of the multiple intentionally inconsistent stories that give the whole thing a feeling of meta-fiction rather than a superhero story. But, I am enjoying it.

Incoginto #2, Brubaker & Phillips. The volatile mix of noir and superhero tropes begins to bubble here, with more than a gritty setting coming from the noir side. There’s a lot to like here from Brubaker’s hard-boiled narration and twisted plot to the expressive blacks and whites of Phillips’s art (yeah, it’s a color book, but the colors aren’t the best part…).

Secret Six #7, Simone, Scott, Hazelwood. The Six’s cross country run and passage through the gauntlet of crazed superhuman killers ends this issue with a little more whimper than bang. We learn what Deadshot was up to, and it is unexpected for him, and most of the immediate plot tangles are resolved. Unlike Madame Xanadu above, these characters are being more defined with each off-the-cuff comment, and changing as the series progresses to boot. I only care a little about how these adventures are plotted out and affect the rest of the DC universe, but these characters are interesting enough to keep me coming back.