Suburban Glamour #1 (Image):
Jamie "Phonogram" McKelvie charges ahead on both art and writing chores for this four issue mini-series. From the very first the first page, the colors sold me. They just look beautiful and really make his clean pencils pop. Imagine Adrian "Optic Nerve" Tomine's strong, evocative pencils in full vibrant color and you'll get a sense for the dynamic nature of this work. McKelvie's already strong art has grown leaps and bounds in its panel to panel storytelling ability, and the additional layer of color makes it near perfect. By page three, I was all in like I had pocket aces due to his strong graphic design sense, the layout of that single page was just brilliant, sets the tone of the book, and could have stood on its own as a one page story ad for the series. The glamour component of the book is really only mildly intriguing; the idea of imaginary friends coming to life is neat, but not an extremely strong hook for me personally. For me, the suburban portion of the book was really what I felt was the book's strongest quality. The way that McKelvie deftly portrays the suburban lifestyle among a group of friends was quite charming. The speech patterns of these people felt real, I instantly cared for them, feeling as if I was listening to real people talk to eachother, not creations talking at me
as a part of the audience. Overall, their interactions really ring true, which is perhaps the best compliment you can pay a writer. And anyone that uses "Aubrey" as a character name has me from the get go (it's my daughter's middle name). I'm in for the whole series, with this issue starting off as a solid Grade A.
Ex Machina #31 (DC/Wildstorm): Vaughan brings us a well-rounded issue, which runs the gamut from humor ("Step away from the chicken."), to brief bouts of action, to the usual interlaced flashback sequences, to nefarious plotting, all the way to Vatican City for a new setting, a potential-filled religious quandry, and a surprisingly bilingual Chief of Security. As usual, the faux cliffhanger reads a little staged, highlighting the fact that Vaughan's material really reads better collected than it does forced to conform into the single installment floppy format. Grade A-.
The Mighty Avengers #5 (Marvel): Cho's art is still wonderfully emotional and pleasing to the eye with its graceful lines, Ares really steps up as more than hired muscle in a satisfying way, Carol Danvers gets a nice moment, and for once it all kinda' works and feels like a solid, fun Avengers book - with the exception of the Femme Ultron, which just doesn't bring the sense of impending danger that it's meant to. Grade B+.
Skyscrapers of the Midwest #4 (AdHouse Books): I've only sporadically followed this title, so it's really my own fault that I feel a bit lost, with no real grounding in the title. I will say that the full looking, wide eyed pencils remind me of Tony Millionaire's Billy Hazelnuts and I did enjoy the Nova Stealth interlude as it fades surreally back into the main story. There's also a page I just adore: "There wasn't pain. I wasn't frightened. I knew I was safe. Safe from the deep, hollow cold of Winter. We're here." Even for a hefty $5.00 price tag, this does feel like weighty material, perhaps it's a good candidate for "pick up the trade." Grade B.
Powers #26 (Marvel/Icon): After much griping, I believe I've finally thrown the towel in on Powers as a franchise. Oeming's art looks rushed, I'm tired of keeping up with all the macro-story elements in the air (with a sneaking suspicion they'll never get resolved), the dialogue doesn't have the rebellious charm it used to, Bendis' self-promotional and self-congratulatory lettercol has run its course, and I'm kinda' just left wondering what the point is anymore. I think this series should have wrapped up about 12-18 issues ago. Better to leave when you're on top than milk it until the bitter end when it's just past prime. Grade B-.
Marvel Comics Presents #2 (Marvel): The Vanguard story is the least sucky of the bunch, with a suitably dark art style, intriguing mystery, and dialogue that zips right along. The Hellcat story is totally unfocused and Immonen's usually superb art looks atypically harsh and rushed. The Taskmaster story is needless, save for Khoi Pham's pencils, which I loathed on X-Factor, yet here feel quite strong, reminiscent of Cary Nord's brilliant Conan work over at Dark Horse. Rounding out the doo is the almost unreadable Weapon Omega story. All in all, suffers from the typical woes of an anthology book. The bright spots are few and far between and become overshadowed by the dreck majority, which pushes the entire effort into not-worth-it, unbuyable territory. Bottom line for this title: Why? Grade C-.
I also picked up;
Awesome: The Indie Spinner Rack Anthology (Evil Twin Comics): Attempting to avoid my aversion to anthology books for the aforementioned reasons was thwarted instantly when I saw but two names in the credits: Ben Towle and Matt Kindt. Towle recently (tried to) put out a mini-series from Slave Labor Graphics called Midnight Sun, which was extremely strong, the best series from SLG in quite some time for my money, but it was pulled half way through due to low sales volume, a trade collecting the entire series supposedly due out this December. Matt Kindt, of Pistolwhip and 2 Sisters fame, recently put out Super Spy from Top Shelf, which was excellent. Let's hope that the inclusion of these two is representative of the larger group of creators. If so, I may have found an anthology book that actually stays in the collection long term!
Whiteout: Volume 1 (Oni Press): Of course, I read Whiteout when it debuted from Oni and marked Greg Rucka's first foray into comic book writing. I also handed out hundreds of free copies from the Oni site at San Jose State University during my Comics Activism days, but I digress. Eventually, I moved on to Queen & Country, which became the Greg Rucka book for me. It's been years since I've read Whiteout, but this attractive new digest sized trade dress and anticipation of the movie (Kate Beckinsale as Carrie Stetko!) brought me to plunk down the cash and experience it all anew.
Whiteout: Volume 2: Melt (Oni Press): Rucka mentioned at the San Diego Con that the script for the movie essentially blends the best elements of both series into one movie, so what better time to have both sitting on my bookshelf.