DMZ #28 (DC/Vertigo): There are a couple of nuanced notes in this issue that I appreciated, like the portrayal of futility in the attempts at waging war in the modern technological age, or the interesting imagery that compares war to a senseless hunt, or the polar extremes that the FSA and USA are perceived by Soames to be. In the end, the denoument feels a bit abrupt with little overt explanation as to his motivations. Overall, these stand alone issues were mostly good, and occasionally great, but I’m tired of this arc and glad it’s concluded. Not to damn with feigned praise, that is to say that it will read much better collected, because it will read quicker. Sitting through so many of these done-in-one issues that trickle out monthly with no real thematic consistency, other than a formatting one, is hard. PS – The Young Liars preview looks less than intriguing; is Lapham losing it? Grade A-.
BPRD: 1946 #2 (Dark Horse): I enjoyed Bruttenholm and company’s really creepy exposure to the child Audo, the disturbing Russian narrator girl, and the drop of Vladimir Giurescu, as well as the tale of the trinity of demons. But, that was all hampered to some degree by Paul Azaceta’s art, which feels a little hurried and unfinished around the edges. Best line of the book, which could really sum up the entire BPRD universe if you think about it critically and dissect the word choices: “There are monsters in the world, Sergeant… and I’m afraid we’ve stumbled on one.” In what amounts to a triumph of writing over art, Grade B+.
The New Avengers #38 (Marvel): …or umm, Alias #38, as the continuing adventures of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage (starring artist Michael Gaydos even!) gets underway. Bendis has already taken a lot of heat for his talking head scripts and 10-page convo between Luke and Jessica, but I enjoyed it, even if Luke’s stubborn ego came off as more… well, stubborn, egotistical pride than his typical strong willed personality. I loved seeing Jessica so in control, focusing her energies on protecting her child, Carol Danvers’ handling of the whole Luke Cage “negotiation” in the face of fellow Avengers ready to arrest was also played nicely. This really humanizes her and actually stole the show a bit, as far as I was concerned. I always dig the sexual tension between Ares and every chic in the room; that’s just entertaining. For me, the draw here is the human dynamics, and I could really care less about the Skrull “Secret Invasion: The Infiltration” awkward mouthfull-ness. Moving on to continuity gaffes, umm… isn’t Danny Rand a little too tied up in The Seven Capital Cities tournament right now to be apartment hunting in New York? Bendis’ humor ranges from deadpan on (“I’m tired of this answer already.”) to really tired Tarantino references, such as “…walking the Earth like Caine in Kung Fu.” Pulp Fiction references? Really? Jules in the diner scene? Really? Grade B+.
X-Force #1 (Marvel): Clayton Crain’s art runs the gamut from looking clean and mean to being overly photo-referenced and CGI influenced. Overall, the inking suits the mood of the wet work, black ops, Stormwatch Black, Checkmate Black coverty goodness it’s going for. There are some solid text pieces between Logan and Scott, though I’m not really certain how Emma (the telepath!) wouldn’t know what they’re up to and could be effectively kept in the dark. Rahne’s presence (which I find quite interesting) is never really fleshed out, nor is the MacGuffin of what was stolen from SHIELD. Are we to assume it’s a component of Nimrod? Though it’s never positively identified, merely shown in voice over, the vials of “stuff” don’t appear to be Nimrodian in nature. There are also a couple of rough jump cuts in the scripting department that didn’t read smoothly and caused confusion between the William Stryker and Matthew Risman sect(s) of The Purifiers. It’s interesting that this team was previously assembled and is already falling apart. It’s a different artistic choice to depict, instead of a typical “assembling the team” issue, a couple individuals struggling to keep it together despite earlier losses and setbacks. At the end of the day, my curiosity is piqued on the story side and the fight scenes are a frenetic bloodbath that actually do not glamorize the violence, but instead offer a remorseful and horrific clinical detachment from it. An actually-better-than-I-thought-it-would-be, Grade B.