Sunday, April 02, 2006

New comics 3/29

Fallen Angel #4 (Peter David/J.K. Woodward, IDW)
The origin of the Angel takes a rather predictable turn in this issue, but it's appropriate and fits with what we already know about her. I don't care if things are mysterious and thus never felt the burning need to learn the Angel's origin (or the Dragon's, either, speaking of another book out this week), but I know that some people can't stand not knowing something like that and thus David is appeasing them, and that's okay. Learning the origin doesn't necessarily take anything away from the character, it's just not a story that I find particularly fascinating. The present-day stuff, though, with Jude and Malachi, is interesting enough, and David is sufficiently tying it in to the origin as to not make the flashbacks seem gratuitous. At the same time, I'll be glad when the origin story is out of the way and things can move forward in the present.

Savage Dragon #124 (Erik Larsen, Image)
Larsen goes all out with the stylistic experimentation in this issue, which also happens to be the first one he's taken over lettering himself, finally filling every role in the creative process (he's been doing the coloring for a while now). While his coloring has always been competent and continues to improve, Larsen's lettering skills aren't quite up to par here, and clearly fall short of the stellar work he's had in the past from Chris Eliopoulos and John Workman. It ends up distracting from the story rather than integrating fluidly with the total package, which I imagine was Larsen's goal in taking over every aspect of production himself. His other experiments are more effective - he continues to flirt with pitch-perfect Silver Age style, mimicking even the paper stock and color schemes, and the two-page splash followed by the two-page 45-panel spread is pretty damn impressive. Larsen also continues to pulverize the Dragon mercilessly, making this strangely sadistic for such a colorful traditional superhero book. I'm still not quite sure where all the random interludes are going, but knowing Larsen they will build into an important plot point a few issues down the road.

Spike vs. Dracula #2 (Peter David/Joe Corroney, IDW)
Another entertaining little self-contained story, which I liked more than the first issue. It's refreshing that David is making each issue of this mini-series stand on its own while building a portrait of the ongoing rivalry between the title characters. It doesn't bother me as I thought it would that there is no real overarching narrative, and I like the jumps in time (the first issue took place in 1898, around the publication of the Dracula novel, while this one takes place in 1934, around the release of the Bela Lugosi Dracula film). I imagine we're going to see some more familiar Buffyverse characters as the chronology gets closer to the present day, and I look forward to that because David seems to have a pretty good handle on how to write them.

The Surrogates #5 (Robert Venditti/Brett Weldele, Top Shelf)
A satisfying if somewhat predictable conclusion, with the standard sci-fi messages about not trusting technology too much or allowing it to take the place of genuine human interaction, blah blah blah. It's actually much more affecting and effective than that makes it sound, even if the ultimate result is something slightly shopworn. Venditti is a good storyteller and a thoughtful futurist, and this story would probably make for an exciting movie. I'll definitely be on the lookout for whatever he does next.

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