5.08.2008

5.07.08 Reviews

Wasteland #17 (Oni Press): Johnston and Mitten keep layering plot threads as major elements are put into motion here; we’ve got the ascension of Artisian Skot and some complications with the quest for the fabled A-REE-YASS-I. There’s so much dramatic tension coiled up in Skot with all of the secrets he’s carrying, I can hardly stand it! I have to note that Mitten’s pencils here have grown tremendously. I’ve been a fan since his Queen & Country run, but they really take on new life here with more detailed backgrounds and what looks like either heavier inks or a brush wash that gives the figures a more fully rendered weight. It’s clear that this creative team is in it for the long haul; Johnston keeps laying additional plot seeds, while Mitten is evolving his craft. I couldn’t be happier, looking forward to many more issues of this unique title. Grade A.

House of Mystery #1 (DC/Vertigo): This property has been re-tried a couple of times, but it certainly seems that this creative team and this incarnation have the capability of being a long running hit. Matthew Sturges provides an effective and organic introduction, touching upon the Cain and Abel mythos, how the House of Mystery works functionally with the pay as you go story currency in the realm, the opposing House of Secrets, and many of the concepts introduced by Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and the various offshoot books. Willingham’s embedded tale harkens back to the title's horror roots and was really a disturbing treat! Luca Rossi’s art is an exceptional find, reminding me in spots of Kevin O’Neill’s LOEG work, certainly one of the strongest artists in the DC stable at the moment, on par with DMZ’s Riccardo Burchielli or Scalped’s RM Guera. This title could quickly be Vertigo’s new breakout hit, one that would make the creators involved with the title’s legacy and this part of the DC ‘verse very proud. Grade A.

Invincible Iron Man #1 (Marvel): Fraction and Larroca have instantly created an accessible read for the throngs of moviegoers still high off the cinematic buzz that was created last weekend. This book quickly establishes all the characters, is unambiguous in terms of relaying their strengths and vices, and swiftly moves a rich plot right along. The framing device of “5 Nightmares” worked exceptionally well. By the time we’d gotten to #2, I was nervous and excited to see what the remaining ones would be. The creative team gives some respectful and affectionate nods to Ellis and Granov’s Extremis run on the title, which seems to inform much of the recent Iron Man canon, including the movie. Fraction’s library of work is a strong and diverse one, it now seems that he’s capable of adding a Rucka style “espio-thriller” to his toolbox. Larroca’s pencils really haven’t looked better. His photorealistic art is of course referenced, but doesn’t look stiff or inorganic in any way. I particularly enjoyed his design for Tony’s “day job” SHIELD Director’s suit and the magnificent image of the Helicarrier emerging from the clouds. These guys have all the essential components here; not only is this a near perfect first issue, but has the makings of being a terrific run on the property. “ – cotton and spandex. Three for $9.99. Got ‘em at Target. L-A-M-B-O-R-G-H-I-N-I.” Grade A.

Secret Invasion #2 (Marvel): I continue to enjoy Bendis’ portrayal of Ares; it’s so cool that he’s not (just) hired muscle and steps up with an opinion when things go crazy. It really seems as if Yu has taken his time with this art, gone are the overabundance of sketchy unfinished lines. His two page spreads are impressive and organic feeling. Loved Carol’s silent reaction panel. Dug the scene with Clint and Mockingbird. The script is actually pretty clever in the way it pseudo-answers questions, only to raise more doubt. Now we wonder which Cap died. Now we wonder about Jessica. It all makes this title hum right along with fun and believable gravitas. Can I just say that Marvel is kicking DC’s ass right now with events? Compare this to anything going on in the DCU at the moment, and you see clarity of concept, accessibility on every page, and a sheer joy in storytelling with no plot hammers, sacrifices of logic, or obtuse nonsense. Grade A-.

Conan #50 (Dark Horse): The washed out effect enveloping the art is a fitting touch, as this incarnation of the title wraps up and fades away. Overall, this was a very satisfying conclusion to the plot involving Ereshka and Iniri, complete with a great vintage bonus tale penciled by the great John Buscema. Tomas Giorello’s art on the main story feels like it’s in peak form here; notice how the spires in his cityscapes are reminiscent of P. Craig Russell’s work on the Ramadan story in Sandman #50. Notice the brilliant colors that pop as Iniri casts her spell; this is truly something magical. I love how the tale has come full circle back to the narrator from the original #0 issue: “Shall these histories survive the storms of the coming age, or the avarice of scheming men? This, I cannot know. However, be thou certain… as long as scrap, shard, fragment, or chaff of these texts remains… then so, too, will the tale.” I think this 50 issues will indeed endure the storms of the marketplace and avarice of men, and will be remembered one day as one of the definitive runs of the property. Grade B+.

All-New Atom #23 (DC): I decided to check in on this title once I remembered that Rick “Fear Agent” Remender was on scribe duties. It’s obvious to anyone who has an appreciation for Remender’s dialogue that he’s the writer; I love the titular character’s self-deprecating humor in the face of peril. Couple that sensibility with Pat Olliffe’s never-looked-better pencils, a Ladronn cover, and the brilliant strategy of treating the property as a retro-sci-fi affair rather than a superhero story, and you have a well played tale indeed. Grade B.

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