Dan Dare #1 (Virgin Comics):
Finally, the virgin I've been waiting to sink my teeth into! I have no frame of reference for this updating of the British pilot/hero, other than awareness that the property previously existed in some incarnation, but this was excellent! Right from the start, I found Dare's air of detachment intriguing, the way he casually strolls around with a degree of calm amusement. Ennis' script feels rather restrained for him, which is just fine since I can't really stomach his usual over-the-top style. There's a whole crew of interesting characters introduced, none of which feel forced or shoehorned in - in fact, they all manage to paint an interesting picture of this universe with their natural dialogue lacking even a hint of exposition, some interesting analogies to US policy that zing without being overt ("...if they see you ignorin' the law, they've got no reason whatsoever to obey it themselves."), and it feels dense and weighty without being sluggish at all. If you could imagine the dignity, charm, and old-school sense of adventure with a British version of Hal "Highball" Jordan in a post-apocalyptic Independence Day/Battlestar Galactica sort of blender, you're on your way to the new Dan Dare. Gary Erskine's pencils look sharp as ever (check out the fine detail in Digby's white hair) with effective moody coloring from Parasuraman A. This is the most promising first issue debut in quite some time. Grade A.
Casanova #11 (Image): I'm finally starting to warm to Fabio Moon's pencils and not long for the days of brother Gabriel Ba, as Moon seems to find his groove here. Without giving anything away, I dug the champagne sequence and ultimate fourth-wall-breaking reveal. I like the experimental glee that Fraction brings to this book and, I don't know... it's the little things, like the way he uses the word "parse" in the back matter that I just find pretty fucking endearing. It's really saying something that I often catch myself racing through the book in an effort to get to the back matter that much quicker. Grade A.
Fear Agent #17 (Dark Horse): So, from a sequential numbering standpoint, this is still a bit confusing. It was solicited as "Fear Agent: Hatchet Job #1" which would tend to indicate a mini-series, but here it is on the shelf as "Fear Agent #17" and umm, also "Hatchet Job 1 of 5." I mean, I get it and all, but instead of just keeping the sequential numbering (aka: #17) and letting the individual arcs speak for themselves, or go with a "series of mini-series" (aka: Blah Blah Blah #1 of 5), Dark Horse and Remender kinda' blur the line and try to put out a hybrid of both. Like I said, I get it, but it could have been done a lot cleaner. ANYWAY. The story is good. This feels like the Fear Agent I first got hooked on, like we're trending in the right direction here and finally getting back on track after the publisher move, weird numbering schema, and chronologically out of sequence story arcs. I'm once again enjoying the well-played Clemens quotes and atypical insights that peek out from the debaucherous adventures like "altruism born of selfishness," which is just crafty use of the language. Grade A-.