Monday, February 12, 2007

New comics 2/7

Astro City: The Dark Age Book Two #2 (Kurt Busiek/Brent Anderson, DC/Wildstorm)
Man, that is one cumbersome title. Anyway, this volume has been a little less focused than the first, which was all about one central mystery, but at the end of this issue we get a big revelation that's connected to the key part of Charles and Royal's back story, so that's something to hone in on. Actually, it seems like such a big something that I'd be surprised if it were addressed and resolved completely within this volume, as the Silver Agent mystery was in the last one. We'll see, I suppose.

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #1 (Robin Furth & Peter David/Jae Lee, Marvel)
This has gotten more attention than any first issue in a long time, and even as a big Stephen King fan, I think it's too much. Really, after all the hype about King's coming to comics, this has turned out to be a respectable but not spectacular adaptation of his work, overseen by him but written by others, and adding, at this point, essentially nothing new to the Dark Tower mythos. That's not to say it wasn't good - as someone who found the final Dark Tower novels incredibly frustrating, I was happy to be back in the earlier days of the saga, when it was about epic adventure and betrayals and not meta-fictional nonsense. Lee's art is beautiful as always, although I'm generally partial to his more abstract work, and everything here is a little too controlled. David captures the tone of King's prose maybe a little too well, over-relying on the made-up language of Roland's world, but the script (and Furth's plotting) never felt false. This is a solid, well-crafted adaptation, and I'm interested to read the rest of the series, but I'll be a lot more interested if I finally come across something new along the way.

Ex Machina #26 (Brian K. Vaughan/Tony Harris, DC/Wildstorm)
This was actually out last week, but I only just picked it up. Vaughan finally tackles 9/11 head-on after dancing around it for a long time, and throws in a city-wide blackout, too. The subplot with Kremlin and January trying to sabotage the mayor's administration continues as well, and lots of things seem to be building in a book that usually has fairly self-contained arcs. Plus, there's another creepy new villain, which is something Vaughan does very well in this series. Another promising opening to a new arc.

Fell #7 (Warren Ellis/Ben Templesmith, Image)
It's turned into quite an event when this book actually comes out, which is too bad, but this is another very good issue. I complained about Ellis turning Richard into one of his trademark badass smarter-than-everyone protagonists in the last interrogation issue, where he completely breaks the suspect down and gets exactly what he wants out of him. Here, he seems to be doing the same thing, only to have his confidence backfire on him, and it was a really nice inversion of the typical Ellis set-up, and a good humbling moment for the character. Now let's see if we can wait fewer than three or four months for the next issue to show up.

Newuniversal #3 (Warren Ellis/Salvador Larroca, Marvel)
I don't know how much longer I can give Ellis the benefit of the doubt on this one. The plot is moving at a snail's pace, most of the characters are unlikeable, and the ideas remained recycled from other comics. This issue spends three pages setting up some random group of thugs who then just get murdered by one of the main characters. I don't know what direction it's all going in, but I have a feeling we won't find out for a while, and in the meantime I have lost whatever interest I had after the first issue (which wasn't much to begin with). If this was a finite series, I'd stick around for the end, but in an ongoing, it doesn't seem worth it.

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