Sunday, August 14, 2005

New comics 8/10

When it rains, it pours. Busy week, plus trying out a few new titles that ultimately weren't really worth the trouble.

Fables #40 (Bill Willingham/Mark Buckingham, DC/Vertigo)
Willingham finally reveals the Adversary, and it's...exactly who he's been hinting it would be all along. Which I think is good - no need to throw in a twist that wouldn't make sense with where the story has been leading. He offers a satisfying backstory for who the Adversary is and why he does what he does, and even almost makes him sympathetic, which is an impressive feat. Buckingham makes a welcome return on art, illustrating the flashback sequences in a cutesy storybook style that is a nice contrast to their gruesome content.

Ferro City #1 (Jason Armstrong, Image)
This has a very similar concept to Dean Motter's Terminal City and Electropolis series, with a hard-boiled noir-style detective in a futuristic city filled with robots. Like Motter's work, it marries Dashiell Hammett to retro-futurism, but it's only a mild success. Armstrong's art is sometimes too cartoony for the serious tone, and you really need color to fully convey the scope of the city of the future. Armstrong's writing is hit-and-miss, but the whole thing has a been-there-done-that feel that doesn't make me excited to pick up the next issue.

Gravity #3 (Sean McKeever/Mike Norton, Marvel)
McKeever gets in to some more serious stuff this issue, with Gravity getting his ass handed to him by a villain and considering giving up being a superhero. In some ways, this is a very predictable story, but at the same time it has a certain edge to it since Gravity isn't an established character, so there's no guaranteed status quo that everything will return to. This issue ended in an unexpected way, but I have a feeling that by the end of the series, things will be wrapped up pretty positively. Which is fine, since this is just about fun superhero storytelling, and it's succeeding at that.

House of M #5 (Brian Michael Bendis/Olivier Coipel, Marvel)
It's gotten to the point where even the guy at the comic book store is asking me why I'm buying this. For the record, it's not because I'm some Marvel zombie who has to buy every "important" crossover they put out. I honestly thought I'd like this: I do like a lot of Bendis's writing; this book is full of characters I like and am familiar with; and I generally enjoy Marvel crossovers that are suitably epic and tell a fun story. At this point I am still buying it only because I figure since I already bought half I might as well finish out the story. There is also still that small sliver of hope that something interesting might happen. Not in this issue, though; instead it's exactly what you'd guess would happen. Now that some of the heroes know that Layla Miller can make others remember the world the way it was, they go around and make a bunch of other heroes remember the old world, so they can form a team and defeat Magneto. That's it. Bendis does get a nice moment in with Peter Parker feeling tortured over all he's lost in the real world, but otherwise it's another pointless issue that advances the story a tiny bit in a completely bland and predictable way. I can only imagine that the climax is spectacular if it's really going to warrant all these extensive changes in the Marvel universe. I learned my lesson, though; I won't be picking up any of the follow-up books.

Mnemovore #5 (Hans Rodionoff & Ray Fawkes/Mike Huddleston, DC/Vertigo)
The story heads toward its climax, and this issue is more action than horror. I like this story, and I still find Huddleston's art awesomely creepy, but I think it's kind of lost focus on what it's supposed to be about. We get back to some of Kaley's family issues this time, but it sort of seems like too little, too late.

The Necromancer #1 (Joshua Ortega/Francis Manapul, Image/Top Cow)
I read about this online months ago and it sounded intriguing, a sort of mystical Buffy the Vampire Slayer type of riff. I should have known better than to trust Top Cow, since this is just a bunch of generic monsters and high school cliches, with inconsistent art thanks to five different inkers. Not bad, but totally mediocre and not worth picking up.

New Warriors #3 (Zeb Wells/Skottie Young, Marvel)
I'm glad that, at least according to Skottie Young, old Warriors fans are getting into this book. If there were any lingering doubts, this issue proves that Wells knows exactly what he's doing with the Warriors, referencing past continuity, forwarding some interesting character development and showing us what characters were up to in between this series and the last one. This is the first issue that isn't only about the main done-in-one story, and it's nice to see a little ongoing plot being put forth. I'm bummed that this isn't likely to get bumped up to an ongoing series, since I think Wells could really do a lot with the Warriors beyond the reality TV storyline.

Noble Causes #12 (Jay Faerber/Fran Bueno, Image)
Another solid issue, wrapping up several long-standing plotlines, with a classic soap opera twist at the end. I'm definitely looking forward to next issue's introduction of the nefarious Blackthorne family, who look like perfect nemeses for the Nobles and should give the book an added soap operatic dimension.

X-Men #174 (Peter Milligan/Salvador Larroca, Marvel)
Well, I gave Milligan two arcs to impress me, and while his work isn't as bad as what Claremont's been doing on Uncanny or what Austen did on this book in the past, it still hasn't grabbed me enough to care. This concludes the "Bizarre Love Triangle" arc, which after four issues leaves us pretty much where we were before. It raises a few questions about Mystique that I have no idea when it'll get around to answering, and Milligan's style still just seems a little off for this kind of superhero storytelling. Next issue's Black Panther crossover is a perfect jumping-off point, since I don't really want to buy two issues of a book I'm not reading just to understand the story, anyway. When Astonishing X-Men goes on hiatus next month, it'll be the first time since I started reading comics that I'm not regularly reading the X-Men. Which might make me sad, but mostly I just feel relieved. (I'll of course be back on board when Astonishing returns next year, though.)

1 comment:

Katie said...

Yes, it's another shameless "Josh you rock" comment, by me.

This has absolutely nothing to do with your post, but I just wanted to say that I just saw The Upside of Anger and was very pissed off. I remembered you giving it a lousy review, so I looked up what you said, and you were right about everything. Plus you pointed out a number of things I would have missed otherwise.

You kick ass, Josh. Please continue to be the only male reviewer I know of who consistently has the insight and courage to debunk sexism in movies. The world needs you.