Sunday, June 04, 2006

New comics 6/1

Battlestar Galactica #0 (Greg Pak/Nigel Raynor, Dynamite)
I'm not usually keen on licensed comics, but I do like Battlestar Galactica, and I picked this up because it was only 25 cents, and I've liked Pak's work on the X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong mini-series. He's also got a good reputation for sci-fi and space opera stories, and the story in this issue isn't bad. Like most licensed comics, especially for properties with such tight, serialized continuity as BG, you can't help but feel that the story is inconsequential, despite its apparently serious revelations. Still, that doesn't necessarily bother me if it's a good story, and this is a pretty good story, or at least one that appears to have potential. But it's not quite good enough to overcome Raynor's atrocious art, which is cartoony and sloppy. None of the characters look like their TV counterparts (the President looks like a 14-year-old girl), the storytelling is weak and the style is all wrong for the serious tone. With better art I might have at least checked out one more issue, but as it is it's not worth bothering.

Black Gas #3 (Warren Ellis/Max Fiumara, Avatar)
Well, this turned out to be sort of pointless. In this issue, our heroes run away from the zombies, shoot the zombies, blow up the zombies and escape from the zombies, only to encounter the obvious twist ending that we've seen in countless other horror stories. Along the way Ellis tries to give them a moment or two of character development, but it doesn't amount to much. There are still some well-done creepy elements, using his interesting idea that the zombies know they're zombies and can't stop themselves (the little boy pleading to die because he's eating his mother was excellent). But this is just another in Ellis's tradition of picking a genre seemingly at random and playing with it a little for three issues without much direction. I have no idea why there's already a sequel set for September, but I don't think I'll be picking it up to find out.

Emissary #1 (Jason Rand/Juan Ferreyra, Image)
In a world without superheroes, some random dude starts flying and stopping jet planes with his mind and declares himself the savior of humanity. It sounded like a cool idea, but the execution here is fairly weak, focused on a cast of regular people and how they react to the coming of the Emissary. They're all stock types - the hotheaded crusading reporter and his by-the-book boss, a pair of put-upon detectives, a shoot-first-ask-questions-later military guy - and Rand's dialogue is often stilted and cliche-ridden. I like Ferreyra's moody art, but this issue doesn't do enough to make me care about who the Emissary is or what he wants to bother coming back to learn more.

The Middle Man Vol. 2 #4 (Javier Grillo-Marxuach/Les McClaine, Viper)
I think about 85% of this issue was a fight scene, with lots of wordless panels and splash pages, and it felt pretty inconsequential. The good guys win, and Grillo-Marxuach tries to add some poignancy to the end of the story, but it feels a little forced. This book is best when it focuses on silly situations and clever dialogue, which is in short supply in this issue. But even if I was sort of disappointed in the ending, it's still a fun book, and I'll pick up another mini if they ever get around to doing one.

Runaways #16 (Brian K. Vaughan/Adrian Alphona, Marvel)
I like how Vaughan confronts the relationship drama in this issue and gets it out in the open, and the way it leads to both moments of startling maturity and immaturity, a very realistic portrait of mercurial teens. Also, it's nice to see Karolina back already, and I'm glad her departure didn't just write her out of the book. Still nervous about who will die, since Vaughan has made every character interesting and valuable, and worth mourning.

Savage Dragon #126 (Erik Larsen, Image)
Finally the whole presidential election storyline is behind us, and Larsen holds back all his stylistic experimentation of late to tell a much more straightforward story about what happens when Mr. Glum takes over the world. It's a good balance between the humorous elements of Mr. Glum's earlier appearances and his current sinister nature, and an amusing exploration of mind control and what happens when a villain gets exactly what he wants. I'm sure Dragon is going to wake up soon and defeat Mr. Glum, but for now I'm sort of enjoying reading about the world where he's in charge.

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