Sunday, January 14, 2007

New comics catch-up

An avalanche of work kept me from posting this past week, plus shipping delays have kept some comics away from my local store. So here's a round-up of some of the notable releases of the last three weeks, plus brief notes on the rest. Certainly I am nothing if not thorough.

From 1/10:

Agents of Atlas #6 (Jeff Parker/Leonard Kirk, Marvel)
Once again, I had never read anything about these characters before this series, but I find Parker's massive retconning really off-putting, especially in this issue as he turns the team's longtime adversary into a retroactive ally from his first appearance, and makes everything they ever did into some big overarching storyline. It's a pointless continuity rewrite, and really makes it seem like Parker couldn't just allow these characters to move forward with a new story. I get that Yellow Claw is a rather racist character, and a certain rehabilitation of that image is fine, but I feel like this story does nothing more than the worst kind of retcon - invalidating what's happened before without adding any new value. Plus it's not very exciting. I liked this series a lot at first, but the second half just fell apart for me, despite the still-excellent art from Kirk. I'm glad it's over, and no longer hoping for it to launch as an ongoing.

Runaways #23 (Brian K. Vaughan/Adrian Alphona, Marvel)
Okay, so the cliffhanger at the end of the last issue turns out to be sort of a contrived misdirection, but otherwise this is a very good issue exploring Chase's self-destructive tendencies while also getting in some good character moments for Karolina, Xavin and Molly. It seems like there's so much more for Vaughan to explore with these characters, and it's a shame he's only got one more issue to do it. But the end of this one sets up a big climax, which I'm sure will be quite satisfying.

Also out 1/10: The second issue of the Peter David-written Wonder Man mini, which didn't ship locally. Despite the dodgy art and so-so plot of the first issue, I do plan to give this one more shot and pick this issue up next week. Also, the Warren Ellis-relaunch issue of Thunderbolts, which doesn't really grab me conceptually, but which I had planned to pick up for Ellis' involvement, just to give it a try. If it shipped here, I missed it, but I will probably also check it out next week.

From 1/4:

Newuniversal #2 (Warren Ellis/Salvador Larroca, Marvel)
I'm still not too impressed with this book. This issue, we get the shadowy government agency that wants to kill the new superheroes, and the weird in-betweeny dimension that's just like Ellis' old Wildstorm concept, The Bleed (which Wildstorm still uses). There's too much going on to get to know the characters very well, not that they seem all that worth getting to know at this point. And the art is still full of distracting celebrity photo-references. I still want to give Ellis the benefit of the doubt, so I'll stick with it for now, but if it were anyone else I would have given up already.

Scalped #1 (Jason Aaron/R.M. Guera, DC/Vertigo)
Aaron is the new Vertigo sensation thanks to his work on the Vietnam War mini The Other Side, of which I read the first issue and wasn't all that impressed. This is his hyped new ongoing, with a concept that interested me more than the umpteenth Vietnam War story: It's a crime drama set on an Indian reservation. Disappointingly, the first issue is sort of contrived and full of crime cliches, and trying too hard to seem cool. Also, Guera's murky art doesn't really suit the realistic tone; I couldn't tell until she was identified as such whether the main character's mother was meant to be the same age as he was, for example. So, a disappointment overall, although there was a semi-intriguing twist at the end that might get me to pick up the next issue to see if it does anything with the tweaked concept that it sets up.

Also out 1/4: Solid new issues of The Exterminators, Powers and Savage Dragon. Exterminators takes yet another new turn that seems to be moving further away from what it might be about, but it was interesting so I'll see where it leads. Powers continues its resurgence with some cool developments in the latest storyline, and Dragon gets back to beating people up, with a minimum of headache-inducing discussions about convoluted continuity.

From 12/28:

Crossing Midnight #2 (Mike Carey/Jim Fern, DC/Vertigo)
I was lukewarm on the first issue of this series, worried that it would suffer from the lack of direction that most recent Vertigo launches have experienced, but this issue fully piqued my interest, more than any new Vertigo series since Y and Fables. I'm still unsure of the overall direction, but there is a lot going on here, with the plot moving forward at a steady pace and some very creepy goings-on. I also really like Fern's simple, evocative art. It seems to me that what appeared to be the driving force of the book will be wrapped up by the end of the first storyline, so I don't know what the long-term plan is, but for now I'm definitely on board.

Jack of Fables #6 (Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges/Steve Leialoha, DC/Vertigo)
A new storyline starts, with Jack still on the run from his captors and recounting a story from his past. Once again, this feels like something that didn't need its own series to tell, but it's a fun little flashback story and the art from Leialoha, who's the regular inker on the main book, is not surprisingly reminiscent of Mark Buckingham's, although with its own, slightly more cartoony, style.

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