Monday, September 19, 2005

New comics 9/14

Desolation Jones #3 (Warren Ellis/J.H. Williams III, DC/Wildstorm)
This is a lot more straightforward than the last two issues, and it makes for a stronger story without all the confusing plot threads to keep track of. Ellis shows us a more sympathetic side of the lead character, and Williams really shows off some of the daring artwork that he showcased for so long on Promethea. Only a small part of the storyline's overall mystery is solved in this issue, though, so while it was a nice break, next time we'll no doubt be back to the dense and confusing main plot.

Fables #41 (Bill Willingham/Mark Buckingham, DC/Vertigo)
Willingham wraps up the "Homelands" story in a very satisfying fashion, offering up an intriguing twist and some great moral ambiguity, as well as refusing to tie up everything in a neat bow. Now that we know who the Adversary is, the series has a whole new driving force, but solving the mystery in no way takes away from its central appeal. I hope that Willingham will take some time to tell different sorts of stories before getting back to the battle with the Adversary, which certainly has plenty of potential for more interesting material in the future.

Gravity #4 (Sean McKeever/Mike Norton, Marvel)
I realize that this series has succeeded by playing on traditional superhero conventions to great effect, but this issue was maybe a little too conventional for me. Everything that happened was completely predictable, and I have a feeling that the series will wrap up in a predictable way next issue. McKeever has still done a great job of showing the title character's hopes and insecurities, and setting him apart from other similar heroes. And there is a warmth to the story that shines through very strongly. When I read the first issue, I compared it to Astro City, which takes superhero conventions and looks at them with fresh eyes, and in the close of the series I just hope that McKeever keeps his outlook fresh.

Mnemovore #6 (Hans Rodionoff & Ray Fawkes/Mike Huddleston, DC/Vertigo)
My interest in this series kind of flagged as it went on, and the ending is a little underwhelming. It's not helped by giant ads right in the middle of what should be a creepy, atmospheric ending. I like that there isn't a happy ending and things are left sort of ambiguous, but I think maybe I should have waited for the trade, since the story probably reads better in one sitting (and without all the intrusive ads).

The Pulse #11 (Brian Michael Bendis/Michael Gaydos, Marvel)
Just when I was ready to give up on this book entirely, it comes back with probably the strongest issue of its entire run. With Gaydos back on art and an old-fashioned mystery at the core, it felt like an old issue of Alias, just without the swearing. Bendis plays to all his strengths, including using an obscure character as the mystery's centerpiece, and giving huge superheroes down-to-earth dialogue about everyday concerns (and no doubt working out his own feelings on parenthood in the process). This feels like it has the chance to be what Alias used to be: a smart, personal book that allows Bendis to explore forgotten corners of the Marvel universe and the inner life of what I think is his best character (Jessica Jones). I'm definitely back on board, as long as we're not stuck with a House of M aftermath tie-in anytime soon.

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