Sunday, April 24, 2005

New comics 4/20

Cable & Deadpool #14 (Fabian Nicieza/Patrick Zircher, Marvel)
This is billed as the second part of a two-part story, although Nicieza has, from the beginning of the series, basically just been keeping an ongoing serial narrative, which is refreshing to see from Marvel these days. This issue especially doesn't feel like the end of anything, although it sort of resolves the murder mystery story in a particularly unresolved way. It also actually makes a point of putting the book in continuity with the recent X-Force mini-series; even though I don't care at all about that series, it's always nice to see a writer paying attention to continuity, and Nicieza is one of the best when it comes to that. As always, a much stronger read than you'd expect from the subject matter.

Ex Machina #10 (Brian K. Vaughan/Tony Harris, DC/Wildstorm)
An interesting conclusion to the "Tag" storyline that raises more questions than it answers, but in a good way. The opening sequence is just wonderful, one of the creepiest and most disurbing scenes I've read in a comic book, paced perfectly both by Vaughan and by Harris, with increasingly menacing art. Really excellent storytelling.

Livewires #3 (Adam Warren/Rick Mays, Marvel)
After the initial amusement of the first issue (and Warren's humor is always welcome), I'm kind of getting bored of this series. There isn't much in the way of an overarching story (although hints are made to that effect in this issue) and the characters are no more than the archetypes they were painted as in the first issue. Frankly, for all the jokes and the action set pieces, Warren has pretty much lost my interest.

Runaways #3 (Brian K. Vaughan/Adrian Alphona, Marvel)
There is some of the stereotypical "heroes have a misunderstanding and then fight" bit in this issue, but, as he did with the Cloak & Dagger crossover in the first series, Vaughan doesn't completely go the obvious route. I wonder at some of the characterization of the Excelsior members, especially Darkhawk, in this issue, but I trust all will be revealed soon enough, and I am curious about the identity of the mysterious figure on the last page.

Savage Dragon #121 (Erik Larsen, Image)
I don't really mind this book coming out infrequently these days, as Larsen is clearly making sure that the quality doesn't slip. It's a little weird that characters are still discussing results of the election five months after it happened in the real world, but it looks like Larsen is getting ready for another big change in the status quo, and I'm interested to see where that goes. I also like that he reminds us this issue that Mr. Glum isn't just comic relief, and shows some true consequences of Jennifer losing her powers. This is a book that never stands still, and Larsen is still able to take it in unexpected directions.

X-Men #169 (Peter Milligan/Salvador Larroca, Marvel)
Milligan's "Golgotha" arc has been all over the place, and this issue is one of those stories where the villain makes the heroes each face their worst nightmares. It's okay as those things go, although Milligan is still stuck with some of Chuck Austen's poor characterization, and the whole Bobby/Alex/Lorna love triangle is completely stupid and unbelievable. I'm not sure how this will all wrap up next issue as anything resembling a coherent story, but I'm willing to give Milligan a little more time to show me he knows what he's doing.

Young Avengers #3 (Allen Heinberg/Jim Cheung, Marvel)
Just may have surpassed Runaways as Marvel's best teen book. Like Vaughan, Heinberg knows how to use continuity to his advantage, weaving in elements of past stories without letting it bog down the current story he's telling with new characters. There are some interesting revelations in this issue, including one that has some Christopher Priest fans upset because it seems to negate one of his characters from The Crew. I have enough faith in Heinberg that I think he'll work it all in, though. Aside from the continuity, this is just a really good read, with sharp dialogue, interesting characterization and fun cliffhangers in each issue. Definitely worth checking out.


Anonymous said...

I am curious as to what type of art appeals to you. I have seen you give some pretty nasty reviews to artist that have proven to be really great and then turn around and compliment another artist whos skills are less than average. Would it be considered a matter of taste? Or is it you just don't like new artist?

Josh said...

I'm not quite sure what you mean. If you're talking about comic book art, I'd say that no one particular type appeals to me. Some of my favorite artists (John Cassaday, Frank Quitely) favor a more realistic style, while others are exaggerated (Adam Pollina) or even somewhat abstract (Jae Lee). I tend not to like art that strikes me as sloppy, which is why the Kubert brothers' work has always annoyed me. But simple is fine; I love Andi Watson and Michael Avon Oeming.

If you're referring to art in general, then of course it's a matter of taste; isn't it always? All I do is present my own tastes, and hope that readers find them interesting and well thought-out. You say that I give bad reviews to artists who are great and good reviews to those who are less than average, but I'm sure I'd disagree. I give bad reviews to art I think is bad, and good reviews to art I think is good. It's that simple.

I'm always happy to see work by new artists; one of the curses of critics is seeing so much that we sometimes place an overinflated value on the novel. If someone can approach an artform in a new and different way, I'm always excited to see that.