Monday, January 02, 2006

New comics 12/29

Fallen Angel #1 (Peter David/J.K. Woodward, IDW)
I'm glad to see this book back on the stands, even if I have to pay an extra dollar for it and it's not clear whether it'll run past the initial arc. David delivers a strong story that marks a good jumping-on point for new readers and a clear break from the old series, since it takes place 18 years after the last DC issue. This is an interesting tactic, since none of the main characters appear to have aged at all (although Woodward's art makes it hard to tell at times), but it gives David the chance to age Lee's son and to change the status quo to represent a real fresh start. I don't think it's essential that we ever learn Lee's origin, but I'm interested to see what it is. I'm not crazy about Woodward's painted art, which does look pretty but has the stiffness of a lot of painted sequential art and is also sometimes a little indistinct. David Lopez's art on the original series, while not flashy, served the story better, I think. Still, all things considered, an auspicious return.

She-Hulk #3 (Dan Slott/Juan Bobillo & various, Marvel)
This was a good use of the over-sized issue, with the trial of She-Hulk really giving Slott a chance to show why she's a worthwhile character, and play around with continuity as he obviously enjoys doing. This was definitely the best and the funniest issue of the new series. All of the guest artists did good work, although seeing Paul Pelletier's pages did make me miss him as the regular artist on the book. I was a little on the fence about adding this to my pull list, but this issue clinched it for me. The back-up features (reprints of the first issues of The Savage She-Hulk and Sensational She-Hulk) were also fun reads. Savage was your typical Stan Lee stuff, with lots! of! exclamation points! and absurd plotting but an infectiously breakneck pace, and Sensational showed off a playful side of John Byrne that I haven't gotten to see before. I remember seeing issues of that series on the stands years ago when I started reading comics, and it always looked like fun. I wonder if there are any collections available.

Silent Dragon #6 (Andy Diggle/Leinil Yu, DC/Wildstorm)
This is an action-packed finale without a lot of twists or surprises, although I like that there's not a big romantic reunion, and things don't turn out all that well for Renjiro in the end. Although I liked this series a lot, I finished this issue with a bit of a "so what?" feeling. I think the middle issues were the strongest, when Diggle and Yu just cut loose with crazy action and snappy dialogue, and plotting maybe wasn't this book's strong suit. Nevertheless, it was one of the most entertaining mini-series in recent memory, and I remain disappointed that there probably won't be a follow-up.

X-Factor #2 (Peter David/Ryan Sook & Dennis Callero, Marvel)
It's only been two weeks since the first issue, but since that one was late I guess they wanted to get this out quickly to get things back on schedule. Thus we have a fill-in artist already, which is sort of disappointing since I like Sook's work (which is only on a few pages in this issue), and the two styles don't mesh that well. They don't even use the same inker, which is usually a good way to get a more consistent look. Callero's art is fine, though, reminding me a little of Michael Gaydos. David lays on the noir even thicker this issue and is revving up to another intriguing mystery. I'm still not sold on Layla Miller as a useful character, but otherwise this is delivering on the promise of the Madrox mini.

Young Avengers Special (Allan Heinberg/various, Marvel)
The second "jam" comic this week, not quite as successful as the She-Hulk issue, though. This is the comic book equivalent of a clip show, with a framing device featuring Jessica Jones talking to each of the team members as they recount their origins. It's a convenient way to get all of the origin stories out in one issue, and offers a logical reason for the multiple artists, but it does feel a bit forced, like all the "hey, remember when that happened"s in clip shows. Still, Heinberg's got a great ear for dialogue, and seeing him teamed up with Michael Gaydos on Jessica Jones makes me wish that he'd take over The Pulse after Brian Bendis leaves, instead of Paul Jenkins. This appears to fit just before the current story arc in the regular series, but aside from a little teaser at the end, it's not exactly essential. A relative disappointment from an otherwise strong series.

Also out this week: Revelations #5, which is the penultimate issue of the mini-series. I'll write a longer take when the last issue hits the stands.

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