Sunday, December 18, 2005

New comics 12/14

Black Harvest #2 (Josh Howard, Devil's Due)
I liked the first issue of this series even though it was all set-up and atmosphere, and I like this issue, too, even though it's also all set-up and atmosphere. I do get a little wary of these horror series that start all, "Something bad is happening" and suck you in by making you wonder what's up with all the creepy stuff, and then just fail to deliver. Mnemovore was like that, and this certainly has the potential to be like that too. We're a third of the way in and Howard has yet to really reveal anything, but I like where he's going and I like his angular, cartoony art, so I'll stick around to see what happens.

Cable & Deadpool #23 (Fabian Nicieza/Patrick Zircher & Dave Ross, Marvel)
After the confusing way this storyline started out, it wraps up in a much more straightforward manner, and has an interesting twist at the end that's not your typical defeat of a villain. Ross's fill-in pages sometimes mix a little uneasily with Zircher's pages, but the inker is the same and the stylistic shift is not too jarring. Next issue, with Spider-Man fighting Deadpool, looks to be a more light-hearted quip-fest, which sounds good to me after all this dense plotting.

DMZ #2 (Brian Wood/Riccardo Burchielli, DC/Vertigo)
I'm still not quite sure what to make of this book. The first issue was a little awkward, but now that the set-up is out of the way, I do find myself a bit interested in Wood's war-torn Manhattan and wondering about the background of the civil war he's set up. On the other hand, the characters are all a little too stereotypically left-wing bleeding heart, and the political message is a little on the nose. If the characterization and plotting can outstrip the clumsy politics (and I'm not yet sure that it can), this might be worth reading. I suppose I'll give it another issue to find out.

Fables #44 (Bill Willingham/Mark Buckingham, DC/Vertigo)
This storyline is clearly not going in the politicized direction that I expected, although we do get a detour to modern-day Baghdad in this issue. Actually, although I know that Willingham is fairly conservative, he seems to be presenting Prince Charming as a Bush allegory in this issue - a charming pretty boy who always gets what he wants going after elected office just because he covets it, and then not knowing how to handle the serious stuff once he's actually in charge. Or maybe I'm reading too much into things. Either way, this is the most exciting issue yet of this story, and I don't even miss Snow and Bigby much. The ending is nicely twisted, and I look forward to seeing how Willingham integrated the Arabian fables into his cast.

GLX-Mas Special (Dan Slott/various, Marvel)
I hope this is a sign that there is more GLA stuff to come from Slott and Marvel, because there's plenty of fun potential in these characters. This issue highlights Slott's great sense of humor and inventiveness, puts a spotlight on each of the GLA characters and features some varied and expressive art. Slott clearly has plenty of stories to tell here, and I think the combination of humor and love for superhero storytelling makes this the best of his varied Marvel work.

Noble Causes #15 (Jay Faerber/Fran Bueno & Freddie E. Williams, Image)
I didn't write about the last two issues because I read them late thanks to a shipping mix-up, so let me say that I think the introduction of the Blackthorne family as nemeses to the Nobles is inspired, and has given this book a whole new lease on life. After the excellent cliffhangers of the last two issues, this one is a little more subdued, but I suppose there's a limit on how many shocking hook-ups you can have between the two families before pushing believability. I'm not a huge fan of Williams's art in the "flashback" sequences, which are really just part of the regular story, but overall I'm more interested in this book than I have been in a while.

Secret War #5 (Brian Michael Bendis/Gabriele Dell'Otto, Marvel)
Last week the Kevin Smith Spider-Man series, and now this? It's like an alternate universe or something. Obivously this wasn't as late as the Smith series, but it was still scheduled very poorly, and, as a big crossover event, loses a lot more by being late than the inconsequential Smith series does. On top of that, the last half of this series has been very anticlimactic, and this issue doesn't redeem it. Bendis sets up Nick Fury as some sort of fugitive from justice, which will probably be undone in some big New Avengers storyline that I won't read, and introduces a semi-interesting new character in Daisy Johnson, who's at least more fleshed out than Layla Miller. Otherwise, it's pretty much a waste, and again confirms to me that Bendis is best playing in smaller parts of the sandbox than in writing these huge, world-changing events. I think I've finally learned my lesson about what stuff of his to read.

Also out this week: X-Factor #1, continuing Peter David's story from his Madrox mini-series, which I really was looking forward to, but was not at my local store thanks to another shipping mishap. I'll report on it next week, I hope.

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