10.13.2006

10.11.06 Reviews (Few!) & Comics (Lots!)

I didn't find the time this week to read everything I picked up, but here's what I bought and a few quick impressions about the handful of books I did get to.

Tales of the Unexpected (DC): Lapham seems to be getting work all over these days and it appears to be falling flat for the most part. The lead story here is a painfully straightforward cop drama starring Crispus Allen. It borrows heavily from The Sixth Sense and throws in a spattering of Se7en. The back up story starring Dr. 13 is great though. Azzarello nails the narrative "voice" and the creepy sexual tension between Dr. 13 and his daughter. Cliff Chiang's pencils are drop dead gorgeous. It's nice to see recent attempts at 60's and 70's style books housing more than one story, but this one is hit and miss, though the Mignola cover helps. The Spectre = Grade C, Dr. 13 = Grade A, for an average of Grade B.

Powers #20 (Marvel/Icon): I don't know if it's the sporadic publishing schedule or what, but this book feels pretty flat nowadays. Maybe it reads better collected. Maybe it's past its prime. Maybe Bendis and Oeming should have pulled the plug when they were on top of their game. Nowadays it just feels like a tired rehash of earlier arcs that were inventive and fresh in their day, but now come off as repetitive and stale. Muder involving a "power," assemble the suspects, intro red herring, chase down red herring, be surprised at the 23rd hour by the real killer. Lather, rinse, and repeat for multiple arcs. Grade B-.

Fables: Special Edition #1 (DC/Vertigo): On the one hand, it's great to see DC getting behind a title like Fables and a writer like Bill Willingham, and offering up this reprint of the first issue along with a preview for the original hardcover graphic novel 1001 Nights of Snowfall for a mere 25 cents. On the other hand, the preview does not make me want to pick up 1001 Nights at all. I probably would have picked it up on faith, but now that I've seen a part of it, I'll pass. Grade B.

Worldstorm #1 (DC/Wildstorm): Somewhere very subtle in this book there's a hint of self-aware behavior. There's a hint of that post-modern, self referential voice that says "hey, we know we're rebooting a universe. We know we've done it before and it was all pretty silly. Just silly, silly superhero nonsense that was crappy, then had moments of brilliance, then sorta' just faded out. This time it might be better." Then there's heaping doses of just... "why, why, why-oh-why are they doing this?" Didn't we learn our lesson in the early 90's? I want to believe that we learned, and that we've assembled the right writers, the right artists, have salvaged the good bits, and will infuse this with a heaping dose of cool relevance. I want to believe that every one of these "new" titles will do for their namesakes what Joe Casey and Sean Phillips did for their original Wildcats reboot. And while there are fleeting moments of hope (Tranquility looks interesting with the premise and its retro-art, and I'm an admitted sucker for anything Wildcats related), none of this really looks different enough to inspire confidence. It really looks, judging solely from this book, like we're gearing up to repeat what we've already done. I mean, really. Deathblow, Wetworks, and Caitlin Fairchild? Like this? We really did that already. Oh, and PS - this book should have been a 25-center. Grade C-.

Gen 13 #1 (DC/Wildstorm): And so, the first "Worldstorm" title belts one out, clears first and second base, rounds third, and slides into home... only to be tagged out. There are isolated moments that almost play well (Freefall's t-shirt, Rainmaker's pseudo-lesbian overtones, the duplicity of the "parents"), but overall we have a confusing opening sequence, cliched origins of all the principal characters, some very dated feeling humor and pop culture references, and a last page that really doesn't ring true. And I hate to say it because it feels like a cheap shot, but the art is only slightly better than the 1990's Image house style that this was spawned from. Check out Caitlin's boobs as they appear to fly independently of her torso during her Gen-active sequence. Grade C-.

DMZ #12 (DC/Vertigo): This book never disappoints; I'm very excited to read this issue written *and* drawn by Brian Wood.

The Escapists #4 (Dark Horse): One of the best mini-series to come out in recent memory!

Rock Bottom (AiT/Planet-Lar): Know nothing about it, bought it solely because Joe Casey is writing and I'm a completist when it comes to his work.

Desolation Jones (DC/Wildstorm): One of the best Warren Ellis projects in some time, brilliant pencils from JH Williams III. Passed on my single issues and upgraded to the trade.

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