Monday, April 10, 2006

New comics 4/5

Arch Enemies #1 (Drew Melbourne/Yvel Guichet, Dark Horse)
Wow, was this ever lame. I thought the concept sounded sort of amusing, with a superhero and a super-villain who are roommates in their secret identities but don't know it. I usually like books that offer twists on superhero formula, but this had really unfunny dialogue, annoying characters, a plot that went nowhere, and ugly art. I think I've seen Guichet's work elsewhere (I certainly know his name), but his exaggerated style definitely doesn't work for this kind of story; a more straightforward superhero style would probably better emphasize the twists on the genre, even if those twists are pretty lame on their own anyway. I just thought his figures looked crude and his storytelling was weak, although the writing is bad enough that the art probably couldn't have saved it. I will say that I thought it was kind of cool that the story started on the front cover, though.

Batman: Secrets #2 (Sam Kieth, DC)
I was less than enthusiastic about the first issue of this series, but Kieth seems to have found some of his old spark in this issue, and his art is looking better than it has in a while. I still wonder if Batman fans like this at all, because Kieth seems to be sort of molding the characters to his own story ends, but since I'm reading it for Kieth and prefer when he writes about his own creations anyway, I don't mind. Actually, the most interesting character is one that I assume is original, A.D.A. Terry Ammons, who falls in love with the Joker, and is one of your typical Sam Kieth damaged and overly sexual heroines. He writes those characters incredibly well, though, and even if this is still just a fairly typical Kieth story (and the added media criticism elements are rather clumsy), it's shaping up to be a good one, and it doesn't feel phoned in like his last couple of series. If it took writing about Batman to give his work some vitality again, then I'm all for it.

Ex Machina #19 (Brian K. Vaughan/Tony Harris, DC/Wildstorm)
This is probably the most overtly political arc yet, with little focus on Mitchell's superpowers. Which is good, because Vaughan has a real handle on the behind the scenes maneuvering of politicians, and even though there isn't any supernatural threat, there's the sense that a lot is at stake here. Vaughan takes on some thorny real-world issues but doesn't preach about them, which makes for a tense and engrossing read.

The Exterminators #4 (Simon Oliver/Tony Moore, DC/Vertigo)
I suppose that since I'm still reading this book after four issues my reservations weren't strong enough for me to lose interest. Not that I don't still have reservations - this seems to be a book without a clear direction or a well-defined lead character, but Oliver's got enough creepy ideas and plot twists that it generally keeps my interest, and Moore is good at drawing nasty bugs. Unlike some of the other recent Vertigo books that bored me, this is at least entertaining enough every month, and that's enough to keep me buying it for now.

Planetary #25 (Warren Ellis/John Cassaday, DC/Wildstorm)
At this point I could probably just reproduce what I said about the last issue of Planetary and it would all still apply. Not remembering what happened in recent issues is even worse this time because there isn't much of a self-contained story; it's time for the endgame - there are, I believe, only one or two more issues left - so all of the threads are coming together and it's all very meaningful, I'm sure, only I didn't have any idea who the dude was that Elijah was talking to for the entire issue. I'm sure it'll all read better in one sitting, which is the only way I'm going to be able to appreciate it, anyway.

Young Avengers #11 (Allan Heinberg/Jim Cheung, Marvel)
It's amazing that after 11 issues Heinberg is still packing the revelations about the ways that the characters are tied to the original Avengers, and doing it with well-researched (and documented!) continuity references. He also manages to throw in another cliffhanger and plenty of action. I'm disappointed that this book will be going on an indefinite hiatus after the next issue, because I think that Heinberg's got a lot of stories to tell once he's finally revealed everyone's origins, and I hope the book doesn't get derailed just as it's getting started.

Y the Last Man #44 (Brian K. Vaughan/Pia Guerra, DC/Vertigo)
I am thoroughly enjoying this new storyline, which brings back the great cliffhanger endings, smart, snappy dialogue and Vaughan's trademark random exposition about obscure facts, which I always find endearing even if it's usually awkwardly shoehorned into the dialogue. Vaughan's really building a sense of something important happening as he heads into the book's homestretch (which admittedly is still a ways off, but we're clearly being set up for it).

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