Into the Longbox

Once again, a few weeks of comics together.

Will Eisner’s The Spirit #21, Aragones, Evanier, Hardin, Faucher. This read like a pretty good Spirit story to me. That’s never a negative thing to say about a story. It moved along crisply; the characters acted like the Spirit cast; the art looked good. Overall, I liked the issue, but I didn’t love it. I guess these guys don’t inspire me, but it seems solid work.

Captain America #42, Brubaker, Epting, Ross. A big arc ties up this issue with plot front and center. Overall, it felt a little rushed. Considering how measured the pacing of the arc has been up until now, things reached a head awfully quickly. No one steps out of character and there are plenty of threads still out there to pull the story forward. Still a great series, but maybe not the greatest issue.

No Hero #1, Ellis and Ryp. The plan here seems to be an exploration of how much humanity one loses to become superhuman. This is the same team that brought us Black Summer, and the same sorts of strengths and weaknesses are on display here. The writing is solid enough but the subtleties of the art aren’t there. We’ll see where this goes.

Top Ten Season Two #1, Cannon and Ha. Top Ten is one of my favorite series: it’s Alan Moore writing Hill Street Blues in a city populated entirely by super-heroes. It’s fairly daring in that screwing either part of it up breaks the spell completely. Top Ten was both the character-driven serial and a clever, affectionate send-up of the super-hero genre. Alan Moore pulled this off brilliantly in words while Zander Cannon and Gene Ha’s incredibly detailed art filled the panel with both believable characters and obscure in-jokes.

As if to show how difficult this is, there was an attempt at a sequel by Paul Di Fillippo and Jerry Ordway that was unreadable if you’d read the original.

I picked up this attempt because of Cannon and Ha’s clear ties to the material. It’s not bad. The art’s gorgeous, and the characters all act like they should. The plot seems less subtle than Moore might have done, but it’s Top Ten. We’ll see how it develops, but I’ll stick around for another issue.

If you’ve never read Top Ten, I recommend picking up one of the trade paperbacks from the original run.

Doktor Sleepless #9, Ellis & Rodriguez. New arc in the Doktor Sleepless story after the revelations in issue 8. We jump ahead 2 months and add a new character. It’s worthwhile to see Heavenside from a new perspective and the plot’s moving ahead. Good issue.

All-Star Superman #12, Morrison & Quitely. While this wasn’t the front-to-back joy that some of the other issues in the series was, it kept the tone and warmth that brought the Silver Age to life. There were several genuinely moving moments and it tied up the series perfectly. This series captures the world of Silver Age Superman with the eyes of compassionate fans who show it to the world through those eyes. It’s really a great series.

Madame Xanadu #3 & #4, Wagner & Hadley. I approach every new Madame Xanadu twice. First I read through and enjoy the story that Hadley and Wagner are telling, and then I go back and gawp at the layouts and art. It’s amazing how much subliminal storytelling is going on in Hadley’s art. The plots are getting a little more rooted in the DC Universe than earlier issues (though that was Jason Blood wandering around Camelot).

It’s a nice mix for me. The comics snob in me gets to revel in the balanced storytelling and the comics geek in me gets to say “look it’s the StarHeart!” If you enjoy comics on either level, pick this up.

Secret Six #2, Simone, Scott, Hazlewood. This is probably my favorite book coming out these days. In just two issues I’ve gotten wrapped up in the lives of the Six and I’m pulling for them as they are wending their fast-paced way through their latest caper. And that’s really what this is: a well-executed caper movie set in the DC Universe. A great caper movie’s tough enough to carry off in the real world, but in the twisty passages of DC continuity it can be even trickier. They’re willing to ground the goings on in the DC world without making readers spend a week in Wikipedia to keep up. The book’s full of smart, clever dialog and expressive art that tells the story both at the scale of who’s doing what to who and how each character’s reacting to the goings on. It’s something of a trifle, yet, but so well done that one could easily expect more. Even if this is all there is, it’s an awful lot.

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