Monday, February 06, 2006

New comics 2/1

Black Harvest #3 (Josh Howard, Devil's Due)
After half of this mini-series, I still don't have much of an idea what's going on and I'm not sure if I really care. There's a lot of creepy atmosphere and vaguely bad stuff, but not much in the way of a discernible plot, and I'm not sure if it's worth paying $3.25 an issue to see if anything develops. I still like Howard's art, but I've just gotten tired of waiting around for something interesting to happen.

The Exterminators #2 (Simon Oliver/Tony Moore, DC/Vertigo)
Oliver drops a nice twist in this issue by offing a character who appeared to be one of the main cast members in the first issue, but I still have no idea what this book is supposed to be about. I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way - it's got all sorts of interesting elements, including dark comedy, sci-fi, mystery and horror - but it's a little hard to figure out what to pay attention to. Still, unlike Josh Howard, Oliver has hooked me enough for now to keep reading to find out what's going on, and I still like his dialogue and Moore's straightforward art.

Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan #4 (Zeb Wells/Seth Fisher, Marvel)
It saddened me to read that Seth Fisher died this week, right as I had this sitting on my pile of stuff to read. His art is far and away the best thing about this series, and is definitely unique in the comics world. I'd always been kind of curious about his stuff, but hadn't picked up anything by him until this series, and now I might have to go back and check out some of his earlier work, since there won't be any more to come in the future, sadly. Anyway, this issue wraps up the goofy story of the FF and Iron Man fighting bizarre monsters in the Far East, and it's typically nonsensical and silly as the whole thing has been. Wells's sense of humor and flair for the absurd meshes well with Fisher's outlandish creations, and the whole thing is a fun read - but it's better simply as an artistic showcase.

Powers #16 (Brian Michael Bendis/Michael Avon Oeming, Marvel/Icon)
It really worries me that Bendis is giving super powers to both of his lead characters, since it seems to undermine the entire concept of this series. I didn't mind when he revealed Walker's back story as a centuries-old hero who had lost his powers, since it added a nice pathos to the character and didn't change his current status. But when the whole idea of the book is regular cops investigating crimes by people with super powers, what happens when the cops are no longer any different from the super heroes? It really seems to dilute the concept. That said, this is a perfectly good issue, and it plays into Walker's deep desire to be a hero again very effectively. Oeming also gets to cut loose with some crazy cosmic visuals, which is not something he usually gets a chance to do in a book that's more likely to feature five pages of people talking in an interrogation room. I still don't get the weird, rambling unfunny comedians that open and close each issue, but I imagine we'll find out the point of that soon enough.

X-Factor #3 (Peter David/Ryan Sook & Dennis Calero, Marvel)
Peter David has announced that Sook will be leaving the book after issue four, having penciled only a single full issue, and that's a shame. His art is expressive and beautiful, especially with Wade Von Grawbadger's always excellent thick inks. This issue once again suffers from a clash of art styles, with Sook and Calero (who has a more sketchy, dark style) splitting the pages about 50/50, and it'll be better once a single artist is handling a whole issue, even if it's Calero, whose style I'm not crazy about. As for the story, David continues weaving an interesting mystery and trying valiantly to justify the presence of Layla Miller, which he even comes close to doing this issue. It'll be nice when the art situation settles down and the focus can simply be on telling good stories with these characters.

Y the Last Man #42 (Brian K. Vaughan/Goran Sudzuka, DC/Vertigo)
This is yet another issue full of flashbacks, and I feel like it's been forever since we've focused on the main narrative. Still, it's far more informative than the pointless issue about 355's origin, and we learn some relevant information about what Ampersand was up to before he ended up in Yorick's possession, info that could lead to some enlightenment about the nature of the plague. It's nice to see that back in focus after some time on the backburner, and I hope by next issue we'll return to a story arc and some forward motion for the cast.

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