Black Summer #3 (Avatar Press):
It's quite refreshing to read a script that was so deeply rooted in logic and strong characterization. Whether these characters react to a situation calmly and rationally or emotionally and impulsively, most importantly, it plays believably
. Ellis is really firing on all cylinders here, and instead of relying too heavily on a wacky sci-fi core premise that makes a strong pitch but doesn't follow through, he really focuses here on personality drivers. And those are beautifully set against a larger socio-political backdrop. Add in Juan Jose Ryp's luscious art to sweeten the deal, and you just have icing on a delicious cake. His art boasts the fine lines and intricate details of Frank Quitely, yet somehow manages to be even more energetic in its kineticism. As the Seven Guns are hunted down by the government, this has become an exceptionally well done book and is one of Ellis' finest works to date. Grade A.
Green Lantern #24 (DC): The Sinestro Corps War chugs right along; it's pretty entertaining, but I don't have a lot to say since this is really a lot of middle. Ivan Reis' Sinestro is really brilliantly designed, totally capturing the essence of an alien badass. I was glad to see Parallax disposed of and I hope he stays that way for a long time, because I think he's pretty lame as a villain. The concept itself is interesting, but the way he's designed and portrayed looks horrible and does nothing except harken back to the 90's when he was really introduced. It was fun to see Kyle lose the Ion persona and be welcomed (back) into the Green Lantern Corps as a "regular" member, not the odd "torchbearer" mantle, but I just wish they'd drop the whole chunky mask idea with his costume redux. Notice that John Stewart and Guy Gardner don't even bother with the mask anymore. Grade B.
New Avengers #35 (Marvel): Confusing. Right off the bat, I'm confused by the cover. Is that supposed to be a Venom-Skrull-Symbiote-Wolverine? Umm, ok. Why? There's nothing even remotely related to any of that in this issue. Really, do something resembling anything for your cover. Just a couple pages later we have confusing nipples; Tigra exposing 80% of her breast, with a small sliver of cloth along one side. Unless her anatomy is significantly different from other humans, umm, last time I checked, a woman's nipples are generally located toward the center of the mass of flesh. It's impossible for her to show that much breast without exposing a nipple. Sorry, but that's such an obvious example of just plain dumb penciling. Dive in another couple pages and there's a pretty confusing opening shootout sequence. I have no idea how Tigra dodged the bullets from Jigsaw and/or the cops. Wouldn't a more dramatic denoument to that scene have been that Jigsaw shoots, the twitchy cops react by shooting back, and accidentally hit Tigra, the self-proclaimed "card carrying member of the Initiative?" *That* story thread had some mileage in it, but no, she just randomly flails around while people shoot at nothing in particular, and that plot point is basically abandoned. From there, we move on to a conglomeration of villains that highlights my ennui with the whole "Villains United" concept, where a random assemblage of less than stellar villains suddenly gets organized. It's a tired concept, no longer original, and I just can't buy The Hood as the boss of all bosses, filling in the void left by Wilson Fisk. These scenes play really phoned in are basically derivative of Scorsese's Goodfellas. If you're gonna' swipe, then swipe from the best I suppose. The Hood essentially lifts some dialogue from the mob movie explaining how he's going to build the "police department for wiseguys" as Ray Liota's character put it, establishing a governing body independent of any officials or superheroes. In his long winded monologue, The Hood explains how they won't go after heroes, they'll go after their families and friends. The next scene is him beating the shit out of Tigra (even shooting her in the leg), which is ballsy and quite chilling actually, but basically runs totally opposite of the thing he just said he was going to do. Confusing. Grade D.
X-Men: Die By The Sword #1 (Marvel): Oh, why oh why did I buy this? Two words: Pete Wisdom. I enjoyed his recent mini-series Wisdom and thought the concept of a fictitious MI-13, of which he was an agent, was pretty cool. But none of that really happens here. This is a pointless exercise and I don't have much to add except some random complaints. Obviously this is either an Excalibur, New Excalibur, or Exiles title, but since none of those sell well, let's create a generic title that just has X-Men in it. Claremont's script literally has people walking along talking to themselves for no apparent reason, as if they're carrying on a conversation with someone who's not there, or that the artist just forgot to draw. The art itself is amateurish and inconsistent at best, with words like "Slammo!" haphazardly littered about, and portrays Thunderbird as wider and taller than the door he just impossibly came through. We're never told why the party was going on or what the point of the book is, instead we segue into some straight fucking babble about the Omniverse, some dude called Jaspers, and the Captain Britain Corps. Wow, it's been a while since I've read something this awful. Grade F.
I also picked up;
James Sturm's America: God, Gold, and Golems (Drawn & Quarterly): Ever since I read his work on Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules, James Sturm is one of those guys who is an instant purchase regardless of subject matter, format, or publisher.