8.29.2007

8.29.07 Reviews

Wasteland #11 (Oni Press): Ahem... just for the record, I postulated here at 13 Minutes months ago that A-Ree-Yass-I could turn out to be a veiled reference to Area 51 and that Wosh-Tun would be Washington, DC. Though people are just figuring it out now in the letter column, Antony Johnston flat out denies the DC reference and is more non-commital on confirming or denying Area 51 - so we'll see. That fun game aside, as usual, Johnston and Mitten continue to turn the heat up with beautifully rendered plot machinations involving the Sunners, the Council of Newbegin, our wayward travelers, and a whole host of baddies ready to storm the city gates. Just when you think the characters have their head above water and will get a moment's respite, they're plunged back down into the depths to take a swig of this nasty reality they inhabit. Wasteland is a searing adventure full of old fashioned sci-fi and modern socio-political sensibility. Grade A.

Ex Machina: Masquerade Special (DC/Wildstorm): Like any issue of Ex Machina, this special is full of big important ideas. This time out we get a nice tight analysis of the flawed logic of anonymous protest, how it loses credibility and the importance of the ideas being protested lose ground to the faceless nature of the protagonists. And that's some pretty hearty stuff. But, like the two issue special that came before it, I see absolutely no reason why this couldn't have been a one-shot issue between arcs of the regular series or even interspersed as a series of chopped up flashbacks, as so many other bits of the saga have unfolded. It seems just as random as the last special that this segment of the story would be called out separately for some arbitrary reason. My only other little gripe is that John Paul Leon's art is pleasant enough, but really sort of flat and stiff compared to the regular caliber of Tony Harris. Grade A-.

Local #10 (Oni Press): Though both Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly admit in their letter end piece essays that this issue is a bit of a downer, it wasn't the subject matter that got me down so much as the delivery. I can take strained familial dynamics and guys that just can't catch a break as they reflect on their lives and place in the world, it just needs to be engaging. Unfortunately, this is really one of only two issues of the series I can think of to date that falls just shy of my engage-o-meter, for some reason it was pretty flat and not that interesting. I do have a favorite page though that highlights the sign reading "Please don't do coke in the bathroom." If that doesn't sum up some of the deadpan paradoxical reality that Local is good at, well then I don't know what does. Thankfully, Ryan Kelly's art continues its Paul Pope/Farel Dalrymple goodness. Grade B+.

Hellboy: Darkness Calls #5 (Dark Horse): Yeah. Duncan Fegredo draw some nice monsters and swords and ooky looking catacombs and arcane rituals. Yeah. Mignola continues Hellboy's quest to understand his place in Ragna-Rok. And I know I'm going to catch hell for this, but... zzzz (God, no! Blasphemy!) zzzzzz. I'm just kinda' tired of all the different factions and bad guys and references to different prophecies. I think what I'm starting to realize is that I'm not a big fan of this brand of horror. The Hellboy bits I really used to enjoy were about him working for the Bureau of Paranormal Research & Defense. Slowly over time, Hellboy proper has moved further and further away from that. This is officially the last HB mini-series I'll be buying in single issues and I may pick up the eventual trades to stay current. We'll see. While over in BPRD, recently all those secret agenty bits with the Bureau that were tickling my fancy seem to have taken a back seat to more of Abe Sapien's origin and the personal quest things that Hellboy is doing. So, that leaves me in a place where I'm also committing to buy only the BPRD trades moving forward. Either it's time to wrap these stories up before they stick around too long, or (as I'm sure the die hard fans will say), this franchise is just no longer for me. Grade B-.

The Mice Templar #1 (Image): I'm sure there will be endless comparisons to Archaia Studio Press' Mouse Guard (I mean are little sword wielding rodents the new Pirates this year or what?), but for me, ASP's noble character-driven tale has this thing beat every day of the week and twice on Sundays. This book was boring! Not only does it seem really plot driven, but there's only so much "Kewl-One The Ancient Warrior & His Disciples Battle The Noble Harvest of Shadow Time at The Dawn of The Templar Generation United Legion of Mice Code Peace & Harmony Magic Tree of Curry Connor Darfur Black Anus Druid Witch" umm... bullshit that I can take. This thing is prose heavy, dense, not interesting, and really a struggle to get through. Oeming's penciling style is good, but I think could have benefitted from some more juice on the inking or coloring so's I could properlifically distinguishize one cheese-eatin' pink ear from another. And why do the mice call each other men? Whatever. Grade C-.

I also picked up;

Nothing Better: Volume 1: No Place Like Home (Dementian Comics): I was a big fan of Tyler Page's previous work Stylish Vittles and also picked up the first issue or two of Nothing Better. I was disappointed to see it cancelled (or put on hiatus?), but am really pleased to be able to support him and this trade. Definitely recommended!

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