12.14.05 Reviews

Damn, there really are some great comics coming out right now. We live in a time when there is such a diversity of publishers and subject matter available. I don't remember feeling this... I don't know, satisfied, with an overall week's worth of material in quite a long time. Enjoy!

DMZ #2 (DC/Vertigo): This title is settling in nicely as the premise, protagonists, and conflicts all get sorted out. Totally engaged and ready for more. Grade B+.

New Avengers: Most Wanted Files (Marvel): Cool idea. Neat set up with a SHIELD agent’s email account, but as a former boss told me: "the value of an idea is not in its creation, but its execution." And this was executed poorly. Almost too much info about characters that are not quite interesting or serious enough to deserve it. I know that Bendis is capable of taking someone who is otherwise a doofus (The Purple Man, anyone?) and making him engaging and terrifying, but I can’t see him doing it with these clowns. I mean, generic names like Controller, Corruptor, and Constrictor? Hurricane strength whoopee cushions?! And hey, Centurius! That kid from Fat Albert called and he wants his mask back! The humor also falls a little flat throughout. All this with a $3.99 price tag drops us to Grade C-.

Captain Atom: Armageddon #3 (DC/Wildstorm): To my surprise, I’m still eating this up. Totally enjoying Captain Atom as the paladin of the DCU running around in the Wildstorm U. Cool to see Warblade is back, I don’t know if I ever read it all, but wasn’t Reno Bryce horribly disfigured or something in that last mini-series he was in? I love the later incarnations of the Wildcats and it’s always a treat to see them, makes me wonder how Casey feels about Will Pfeifer’s handling of these characters. Dig the foreshadowing by the President about “trusting authority.” Waiting for that team to show up any day now. Love Grifter, he’s like the glue that holds it all together. Awesome how he dutifully recruits the new Void and condenses years of Wildcats canon into “It’s superheroes and arch villains. It’s space wars, alien invasions, and laser beams. It’s secret origins and crazy adventures. You’re one of us now.” Dug the way Captain Atom notices the dichotomy between the DCU’s relationship between metahumans and humans and the same relationship in the Wildstorm U. Sure was eerie seeing smoke rising from the Washington Monument. Can’t wait to see how the “equation” posed by Majestros will be resolved in the coming months. Camuncoli’s art is also super strong and consistent here. Perhaps the most underrated crossover event of the year. Grade A.

Wildcats: Nemesis #4 (DC/Wildstorm): This series boasts some of the same characters, but the results are far different. Art is a bit more Danger Girl-esque, though not as polished. Hey, Talent Caldwell! Hey man, Grifter is supposed to look like a bad ass goverment operative, not a surfer dude. Story-wise, the motivations of Charis, the Coda, and just about everyone don’t make for a very clearly told confrontation. Just doesn’t feel as weighty or dramatic. I keep reading mainly out of mild curiosity and fondness for some of the characters who are being handled much better in the Captain Atom series. Grade B-.

Nothing Better #2 (Dementian): Spot on pencils conveying a wide range of emotions. Really interesting, engaging, and believable situations being depicted that make me smile in a nostalgic way about college life. Highly recommended. Grade A-.

X-Factor #1 (Marvel): All hail the return of Peter David to X-Factor! His X-Factor #87 remains one of my favorite single issues of all time. It was really a character study which made you deeply consider one’s mutant power or their worldview in a much different, more realistic, and more personal way. This first issue has similarities in that regard. He’s joined by San Jose’s local-boy-done-good, Ryan Sook! I love Ryan’s work, which started with a heavy Mignola influence but has beautifully blossomed into something uniquely his own. Rounding out the creative team is inker Wade Von Grawbadger, who is really a score. His inky, slightly dark style fits the tone of the material just fine. I was immediately taken with Multiple Man’s sarcastic and insightful narrative. David is showing off an ear for natural, smooth dialogue as evidenced by the bit of convo regarding the term “saps.” He has resurrected the voices of these characters that he helped to define, as with Rahne’s in-character rather utilitarian handling of Rictor’s attempted suicide. This also seems to dovetail nicely into Marvel’s decimation event, where 90% of the world’s mutants have been rendered powerless, without feeling too intrusive, as crossovers often do. Nice to se MM as the team lead instead of comic sidekick to Havok. Hilarious that he acquired the venture capital for the team from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire on a Harlan Ellison question. Peter David sends a clear message that he is not fucking around as an apparently alcoholic Siryn reaches body count of 2 in the first issue in some intense scenes that pull no punches. Impressive debut. Love the return of the mutant melodrama! Grade A-.

Local #2 (Oni Press): Charming and cute, when it should have been creepy and scary. And that was the point. The open ended conclusion with Megan and her pseudo-suitor worked quite well, which is a surprise to me since that was a pet peeve with some of Brian Wood’s Demo work. The pencils of Ryan Kelly are amazingly strong. This artist is definitely one to watch, it’s growing on me so strongly that I already like his style better than Paul Pope, which is ridiculous. It’s as if you took the strongest elements of Farel Darlymple and Paul Pope and cranked them out in a consistent, polished, emotive style. Grade B+.

Down #1-2 (Image/Top Cow): These books were not released this week. Right on, right? Warren Ellis and Tony Harris, right? Awesome creative team, right? Was totally getting into this by the end of the first ish. I’m pumped to see the second issue. I’m thinking yeah, here we go! And I get… Cully Hamner on art? Are you serious? Cully Hamner? We waited years past the original solicit for this book, for two issues to be released the same month… so we get could get Cully Hamner? I mean, I enjoyed Sonic Disruptors as much as the next guy (please note sarcasm), but he’s no Tony Harris. WTF, mate? Digging the story, but the art jump was downright *jarring.* First issue, Grade A-. Second issue, C+. Sigh...


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