Monday, January 24, 2005

New comics 1/19

Cable & Deadpool #11 (Fabian Nicieza/Patrick Zircher, Marvel)
Nicieza continues to write a very entertaining book, one of the best reads in the bloated X-Men line. There's plenty of humor in this issue, with Deadpool getting in some good lines, and the amusing device of Cable's thoughts being rendered as cute cartoon characters. This also reads like an old-school serial, meaning that just because we have a new storyline it doesn't mean that Nicieza's hit the reset button. Far from it; each issue builds on the last, and there's a good sense of momentum and motivation. If only they could get some of the other X-books to read this well.

Madrox #5 (Peter David/Pablo Raimondi, Marvel)
Wow, two quality X-books in one week. It's like a miracle. David's mini-series wraps up in a satisfying fashion while leaving things open for what seems to be an inevitable ongoing series, re-launching X-Factor centered around Madrox's detective agency. I'd love to see David continue the adventures of Madrox, Strong Guy and Wolfsbane, especially if he can bring in some other characters from his old X-Factor run or just some other C-level X-characters to spice things up. It'd be even better if they signed Raimondi back up to do the art. Sad to see this end, but hopeful that something even better will come out of it.

Powers #8 (Brian Michael Bendis/Michael Avon Oeming, Marvel/Icon)
Although I've been disappointed with some of Bendis's recent work, I'm still enjoying this, and this new storyline is another effective mystery in the style of the early days of the first volume. The two ongoing subplots - Walker training the new Retro Girl and Deena's newfound powers - are pushed aside for this issue, but I have confidence that they'll keep building and that they'll pay off in interesting ways. This is the book that keeps my Bendis faith alive.

Tabloia #572-574 (Chris Wisnia, Salt Peter Press)
Wisnia is the co-artist on Sam Kieth's Ojo, and e-mailed me to ask if I'd review his self-published comic (note to other indie creators: I am always happy to accept review copies of comics). Despite their numbers, these are the first three issues of Tabloia, I believe; it's set up to look like a sensationalistic tabloid, a la the Weekly World News or some such, that's been publishing for years. These particular issues are not among this week's new comics, but were all out in recent months. The primary content is the first three parts of Wisnia's six-part thriller called "The Lump," which is quite good. It's a sort of Seven-style murder mystery mixed with some supernatural or pseudo-science undertones (it's still not quite clear). I thought some of the art on Ojo looked sketchy and rushed, but here Wisnia's art is better, with thick inking that enhances the noir feel and good use of shadows. The back-up features are less entertaining, with each essentially riding on one joke. "Dick Hammer: Conservative Republican Private Investigator" is exactly what it sounds like, a Sam Spade-style detective who spouts silly-sounding conservative viewpoints. "Dr. DeBunko" is a supernatural investigator who uses his powers of deduction to debunk the phenomena he investigates. He's kind of like the anti-Agent Mulder; he doesn't want to believe. And "Doris Danger" is an homage to old giant monster comics, inked by Dick Ayers, whose main appeal is its deliberately nonsensical plot twists and silly monster names like "Spluhh" and "Fuggabluh." There are also some nice pin-ups by big names including Mike Allred, Bill Sienkiewicz and Gene Colan. The production design is also impressive, with a dedication to the idea that it's a sleazy tabloid, and, most importantly, no typos (one of my pet peeves in low-budget comics). Worth checking out primarily for "The Lump," or at least watching for that story if it's ever collected. You can get more info here.

X-Men #166 (Peter Milligan/Salvador Larroca, Marvel)
After Cable & Deadpool and Madrox, this was kind of a disappointment, although admittedly not quite as bad as what Chuck Austen had been doing and what Chris Claremont is still doing. Milligan starts his run with a perfectly average X-Men story that doesn't break any new ground or do anything remotely interesting, and it's executed mainly with competence. That's about as excited as I can get for this story of the X-Men investigating a mutant community in Antarctica that's been attacked or overrun by a mysterious antagonist. Some of the storytelling is confusing, but mostly it gets its point across, and Milligan deals with the characterization that Austen left behind without taking it ridiculously over the top like Austen did. Larroca's art looks a little blurry, although that may be the fault of the coloring or even the production. There are a few creepy moments, but overall this is an inauspicious start to Milligan's run on the book.

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