Monday, January 31, 2005

New comics 1/26

Planetary #22 (Warren Ellis/John Cassaday, DC/Wildstorm)
Once again I have only a vague recollection of what happened in the last issue, and almost no recollection of what the ongoing storyline is, but it doesn't really matter. Ellis is back to doing pulp pastiches, as here he posits particularly nasty versions of the Lone Ranger and The Shadow. It's some good stuff, although I kind of liked last issue's drug trip a little better. That one gave Cassaday a better chance to shine, although of course he does his usual excellent work here. Snow's evocation of the Nautilus and what happened there at the end of the issue would have far more meaning for me if I remembered what he was referring to, but at this point I don't worry about it. A long time ago Ellis said this series would run about 24 issues; it's hard to imagine it wrapping up that quickly, but I'd guess that there aren't that many issues left to go. Once it all ends, I'll read the whole thing through from beginning to end and I'm sure it'll make much more sense.

Uncanny X-Men #454 (Chris Claremont/Andy Park, Marvel)
I'm not sure why I even bother reviewing this every month, since I end up saying pretty much the same thing every time. This isn't the most egregiously bad issue in recent memory, but it's thoroughly forgettable, and hinges on the idea that Sage is this awesome badass of a character, when Claremont has never given us a single reason to care about her. Otherwise, this is all rote fight scenes and overblown dialogue as usual, and Park's art is merely serviceable. Since this is the end of this storyline, Alan Davis should be back on art for the next issue, so that will be one thing (and probably the only thing) to look forward to.

We3 #3 (Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely, DC/Vertigo)
The excellent mini-series wraps up in excellent fashion; this is definitely one of the best and most innovative comics I've read in quite some time. I'm kind of indifferent to all of the DCU stuff Morrison is set to do (All-Star Superman, Seven Soldiers), but I'll definitely be picking up Vimanarama to see if he can tell another short story as good as this one. The great thing about We3 is that, for all the experimental storytelling that Quitely does (which is truly remarkable), at its core it's a pretty straightforward story. This issue, with the climax, has a lot more splash pages and traditional panel layouts, although there is still plenty of the altered perspective that Quitely has been working with. I think Morrison is best when he sticks to one idea, as he does here, and doesn't try to include every crazy idea he ever had in a single story (as he did in Marvel Boy and in "Here Comes Tomorrow" in New X-Men, to name two examples of stuff of his that I've read). Regardless, this is the best Morrison work I've ever read, and just one of the finest examples of moving, powerful comics storytelling by anyone in the past few years.

Y The Last Man #30 (Bryan K. Vaughan/Pia Guerra, DC/Vertigo)
I like that we've found out how Yorick survived the plague by issue 30, that it's not dragged out until the end of the series, when it would inevitably be a disappointment. I also like that the explanation is relatively simple and unglamorous, kind of heading off the expectations right there. The story isn't about why Yorick survived; it's about what happened afterward, and Vaughan is wise to get it out of the way now so he can focus on other things. There's another cliffhanger, not quite as good as last issue's but still suspenseful, and again the wonderful sense that things are always moving forward, that no one and nothing is safe and you never know what will happen next. That's the best thing about this book and about Vaughan's writing, and 30 issues in, it's still just as exciting.

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